A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? I’m publishing my Friday link list earlier than usual this week, because we’re headed out of town first thing tomorrow morning. Our niece, Lauren Blair, is getting married in England this weekend, and we’re headed to the wedding.

To get there, it’s part driving, part ferry. We drive to a port town called Ouistreham (you pronounce it like we-strum) here in France, then drive our car onto a ferry, and the ferry lands in Portsmouth, England 4 hours later. After the ferry, we head straight North on a five hour drive to Billingham. It’s going to be a long travel day, but we’re heading to a part of England we’ve never visited before, and we’re excited to see what it’s like. Plus we get to see cousins!

Something else we’re looking forward to? When we arrive in Portsmouth, the first stop we’re going to make is a store that sells fascinators — the fancy hats/headpieces that you wear to weddings in England. We’re going to pick something out for me, Betty, and Flora. How awesome is that?

It’s been an exciting week for us, with a couple of big tasks that have filled our time. We found a car and negotiated a price. It’s a used car with 7 seats, called a VW Caddy. It comes from their commercial vehicle line, but is quite a bit smaller than the VW Transporter (also from their commercial line) we drove last time we lived here. We pick it up next week. We’re a bit nervous about it, but hope we end up loving it.

And… we put an offer on a house this morning! And found out it was accepted this afternoon!!! I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

But first, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

The decline in bird populations is “a staggering loss that suggests the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling.” (NYT)

-The tide is turning!! Hooray! The gunmaker Colt is suspending production of rifles for the civilian market — including the popular AR-15.

-Meet The Woman Who Poisoned Makeup To Help Over 600 Women Murder Their Husbands.

-This is astounding and horrific. 1 in 16 U.S. women say their first sexual intercourse was rape.

-Also astounding and horrific. The U.S. just massacred 30 farmers.

What really extends lifespan?

-There’s nothing wrong with good, harmless fun. (WP) The Kavanaugh news this week made me furious.

-Woah. Chess grandmasters lose around 10-20 pounds during the course of a single tournament.

-The Alt Summit Call for Presenters has closed — and there were over 1400 pitches! The Community Vote is now open to the public. You can check out the pitches and vote for up to ten.

-I finally ordered a pair of Rothy’s. I usually avoid light-colored flats because they look dirty and sad after one wear, but these are machine washable and I adore them! They come out of the wash looking like new. Plus they’re comfortable and made from plastic water bottles.

Americans, you’re doing tea wrong.

Here are some interesting things on Twitter I bookmarked to share with you:

-Did you know these massive tree trimmer saws existed? I had no idea.


-Would more people leave their job and starting a business if they didn’t risk losing their health insurance? Would businesses be able to grow and compete in more effective ways if they didn’t need to provide health insurance for employees? This tweet and comments present an interesting conversation.

-Do rape allegations really ruin lives? This researcher wrote a thread explaining that’s a myth.

-A theory on why people thought serial killers were smarter than the average person.

-If you’ve ever given an animal via programs like Heifer International, this is a really cool idea for making it meaningful to your kids.

I hope you have such a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


P.S. — We went to pick up mail at our cottage and realized gorgeous grape vines have grown all over the place! The grapes are just starting to turn purple.

16 thoughts on “A Few Things”

  1. Congratulations on the house!!! I first started following your blog in when you were living in France. It is exciting to see your pathways. Good luck

  2. I just can’t get over the pine nut farmers. These drone attacks have killed so many innocent civilians. And even in cases where they kill dangerous people, they’re essentially assassinations (no trial, no imprisonment– total human rights abuses). The abuse of power by the US at every level is sickening.

  3. Pingback: A Few Things – wildebee

  4. Congratulations on the new house! I’ve been enjoying this new chapter in your story, so looking forward to hearing more about it. Have fun at the wedding!

  5. The health insurance tweet is 100% spot on. I work in my family’s 90 year old small business and health insurance is so hard. We have about 50 total employees, but only about 20 take our health insurance. We are constantly looking for ways for it to be a great plan and affordable for both our employees and us. As it is, we spend between $17000-20000 a month on health insurance premiums as a business, and that doesn’t include employee contributions, and I’m not going to lie our plan options aren’t great. We’ve thought about paying 100% of premiums, but then our employees who on a spouses’ insurance plan will be forced to go on our plan, even if our plan is worse or more expensive. We would gladly contribute that monthly payment toward healthcare for all.

    Also, happy travels and yay for a new home and car!

    1. Sara, I have no advice for you, but…woo, that story just breaks my heart.

      My parents were both self employed (but a max of 2 employees), and I remember HATING not having basic insurance growing up. My friends got to go to the doctor when they were sick, and I just had to use Vick’s Vapor rub and…be sick. My parents are old enough to be on Medicare now, but before that, once I got a job and insurance, I’d always ask for an extra prescription for, like, a z pack just to give to them to have on hand.

    2. Hi! I don’t know where you live and if this would be a helpful option for you but my business of about your size uses TriNet and it makes health insurance so much better for us. Gusto is another fantastic and cheaper option if you live in a state where they offer health insurance. HR, payroll, health insurance and 401k all through their site has made our lives easier and overall costs much better, plus the insurance is really good.

    3. Regarding health insurance, my sister-in-law doesn’t have health insurance, and she recently had to stay overnight at a hospital (obv due to health concerns) – ONE night. She just got the invoice/bill – $30k. $30k!!!!!

      I own a small business (20 people, 11 of which are eligible for insurance), and we are going through annual renewal right now – 8% increase, and the increases come year after year. It is not cheap as an employer to offer healthcare. At year-end, along with everyone’s W2, I give each employee a summary of the “added benefits” received from the company the previous year (in hopes they’ll “add” that to their salary line) – it includes the insurance premium (health & dental) we covered, and the company IRA matches we made.

    4. I am a self-employed cancer survivor who needs ongoing treatment. My premiums and out-of-pocket cost for the monthly treatment I’m on is right around $800 a month (a lot for a single person!). This doesn’t include any of my co-pays for regular doctor visits or prescriptions. I love being self-employed, but dealing with health insurance causes me such an extreme amount of stress! When I was diagnosed with cancer I was 31 and worked for a small non-profit and wasn’t able to take time off for my heavy treatment because I HAD to keep my insurance, and the only way to do that was to stay employed (company was so small I wasn’t eligible for FMLA). The fatigue of commuting and working through 1.5 years of treatment was too much for me, which is why I became self-employed (working from home has been a game-changer). I wish there was a better way to do this. I want to work, I want to take care of my health, and I want my healthcare practitioners to get paid, but I don’t want to drown in debt. I also worry that if my health takes a turn for the worse, what will I do? I can’t not work, and I’m 36 so I’m far from retirement. I know I’m an extreme situation, but many others in the U.S. have similar insurmountable circumstances regarding health insurance and coverage.

  6. This is unrelated to the links above, but I just binged all of Netflix’s new show “Unbelievable” and I think you would enjoy it. It’s based on this Pulitzer-prize winning report about a horrible series of rapes 7-10 years ago: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/12/16/an-unbelievable-story-of-rape

    The show is, truly, unbelievable in so many ways (I could talk about it all day) – and I’m thrilled it’s getting the praise it deserves. Everyone should watch it.

    FYI – the report above is fantastic, but it definitely gives you spoilers for the show. I was selfishly glad I read it AFTER I finished the show, because I was able to be surprised by the twists and turns. (Which I know sounds awful, since this is a real, terrible thing that happened.) But reading the article after you finish watching will also allow you to fully appreciate the astounding accuracy to which Netflix brought the story to life. The barely missed a detail.

    1. My best friend can’t stop yelling from the treetops about this show too. She said to watch it with the whole family because the everyday bias is unreal (and men sometimes need to see it to understand how it happens).

  7. I saw an great big flock of migrating pelicans this past weekend, and it was so magnificent I cried. I also cried out of relief that we still have big flocks of migrating birds.

    The article helped me also understand that water birds are doing better than others, and that is something.

    I’m at a loss for words and very sad.

  8. My husband and I are people who have stuck with jobs we don’t like because of health insurance. We are fortunate to be relatively healthy (knock on wood) but with two kids and the convoluted rules regarding continuous coverage and preexisting conditions for most of my adult life (you know – like pregnancy!) being temporarily uninsured or under insured can really harm your financial stability.

  9. Billingham is only about 30 minutes from Durham- if you have time, the Durham Cathedral is definitely worth it. If the bell tower is open for climbing, do it!

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