Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Paid too much for that whistle

Posted in frugal by Kathy on March 27, 2010

One of my f/b friends posted this story told by Ben Franklin, and I liked it and wanted to pass it on:

Here is the story as told by Benjamin Franklin:

“When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, “He pays, indeed,” said I, “too much for his whistle.”

If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, “Poor man,” said I, “you pay too much for your whistle.”

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, “Mistaken man,” said I, “you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.”

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, “Alas!” say I, “he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.”

When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, “What a pity,” say I, “that she should pay so much for a whistle!”

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle. “

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“Why Limit God?”

Posted in creation by Kathy on March 21, 2010

Occasionally when I get into discussions with people who claim to believe the Bible but discount the first 11 chapters (the history of creation, the first several generations of mankind, the Flood, and the dispersion following the Tower of Babel), they say things like, “Well, God could have used evolution to make the world, like most scientists say, so when you insist on a literal interpretation, you’re just limiting God. He could do anything He wanted, so you’re in essence saying that He couldn’t have used evolution when you insist on believing a straight reading of the book of Genesis.”

I was made to think in this vein tonight, and I’ll offer an analogy.

Let’s say a woman you knew had just given birth, and she was telling you what happened. Suppose she told you she gave birth at home, and you said, “You mean, you had a C-section.” She’d probably look at you a little funny, and repeat, “No, I had my baby at home.” Then you said, “Right, you had your baby by C-section.” “No,” she insists, “I did not have a C-section — I gave birth at home. I didn’t even tear!” Finally, you realize you’re not making any headway, so you say, “Whatever, you had your baby — what does it matter whether you had a C-section or gave birth vaginally? And why are you limiting yourself? — you could have had a C-section, so it’s basically the same difference.”

You see, the woman wasn’t giving all the possibilities; she was merely giving actual history. And, yes, it does matter for historical purposes and accurate records whether her story was recorded properly. Why is it that we accept people’s accounts of something that happened without insisting that because it happened that way it was somehow limiting them on other things that might have happened? We don’t insist that our friends really stayed home when they actually went on vacation, so why should some people insist that believing history as written in the Bible is somehow a foolish exercise that limits God?

What evidence?

Posted in Christianity, creation by Kathy on March 16, 2010

Someone on an old post said something about there not being any verses in the Bible that specifically say the earth/universe is young — “young” meaning on the order of 10,000 years or less — much less than the Big Bang or the chance arising of life from nonliving materials would allow. [Leaving aside the history of Genesis with a pretty strict chronology that allows one to add up dates of each man being X years old when he fathered a particular son, working your way back to Adam who was created on day 6 of the existence of the universe, I guess.] There isn’t a verse which says, “And in the 4th year of the reign of David, king of Israel, the earth turned 2035 years old,” or anything like it. But I contend it’s not necessary, given the history — much like one could say, “In the year 1776, the American colonies declared their independence from Britain,” without reiterating 230 years later that the country is 230 years old. Past history suffices. He also said that “not all thinking Christians/Jews from time immemorial have subscribed to the young earth-young universe model.”

So I asked him, but have not yet received an answer (he may just be ignoring me, although he may ultimately answer), “What Biblical evidence do you have that the universe is old? Which Christian or Jew prior to, say, the 1800s believed that the earth/universe was old?”

Yes, I know there are verses that talk about the earth being old, but it depends on perspective. Compared to humans which live about 70 years, 1000 years would definitely qualify as “old.” But, I’m just curious if there are any verses which teach that the universe is hundreds of thousands or even millions or billions of years old. I’m not talking about fitting things in sideways, or twisting passages — like the “gap theory” which says there’s a gap of several millions of years between Gen. 1:1 & Gen. 1:2 — I’m talking about verses which teach it, not those that might possibly could maybe somehow be construed to allow for millions of years.

Also, if anybody knows any Bible-believing Christian or Jew prior to the 1800s (the century when long-age philosophy first became popular in modern times) who believed in an old universe/earth, please tell me his name or link somewhere to it.

Just curious. And here is a list of articles that are available that demonstrate my position.

Job Description?

Posted in children, Uncategorized by Kathy on March 16, 2010

Recently, I registered for something online (Financial Times), and they had the following fields for me to choose for my “position”:

Let’s see,

  • I’m certainly a partner in my marriage  – √
  • Definitely the CFO (chief financial officer — my husband hates dealing with money) – √
  • Director — Oh, certainly! – √
  • VP — I would say yes – √
  • I manage and supervise children all day long, so √
  • Secretary/Treasurer — yes to both – √
  • Department Head… yes, I head up the Mommy department 🙂 – √
  • Advisor — certainly, I advise my husband in money matters, because I’m the nerd – √
  • Other management — yes, I manage my laundry and manage to clean house too √
  • Tired – √ … oh, did it say REtired… no, I guess I’m not then 😉
  • Controller/Financial Officer — maybe according to my husband, I’m a little too much of a controller… √
  • Government official…. well, I do make the laws in my home and see that they’re enforced, so √

Next there was Job Responsibility…

  • Finance/Accounting — certainly! √
  • Strategy/Planning — oh, I plan my days and strategize how to get the most done in the least time, so definite √
  • Training — yes, I trained my children to pee in the potty and am trying to train them to be good citizens and loving brothers √
  • Banking and investment — sure √
  • financial adviser – yep! √
  • Research/ development — does cooking count? √
  • Consultancy… yes, my husband consults me before he does anything big… √
  • Money Manager and Money Management – √
  • Public Service… well, yes, I think I’m doing a public service to raise good children √
  • Student — always learning! √
  • Technology — yes, I like technology too and use it all the time √

Finally, there was “Industry”:

  • Banking – √
  • Financial Services – √
  • Communications and Media — yes, this blog plus my facebook – √
  • Govt/Public Service – as above, yes I make the rules in my home and I’m doing a public service by raising mannerly children √
  • Education – certainly, I love to learn stuff √
  • Manufacturing – does making stuff with construction paper count? If so, √
  • Other business services — certainly, busyness is my middle name! √
  • Transportation and logistics — oh, yes, taking my kids places, and trying to figure how best to do things √
  • Engineering/construction – yes, I’m really good at building with blocks √
  • Consumer – yes! √
  • Consultancy, with my husband √
  • Info management – all the time I deal with info – √
  • Property management — yes, I manage my house which is my property √
  • Real estate – yes, I’m trying to sell my house √
  • Fuel – for me car – how else am I supposed to get around? √
  • Energy/utilities – yes, I’m the one who pays the bills, and constantly turns stuff down or off

Yes, I do a lot. So I settled for “N/A” – “not applicable.” 🙂

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It all adds up

Posted in frugal by Kathy on March 8, 2010

Recently, I bought a Kill-a-Watt, and I’m very glad I did. It’s basically a little electronic meter you plug into your wall, and plug your electronic stuff into, and it tells you how much electricity it uses. Very simple concept. I first read about it many years ago in The Tightwad Gazette, but never got one. Whenever I would see one advertised, I wanted to get it, but never did until finally a couple of weeks ago.

While you can’t use it to test 220-volt appliances (like my dryer and stove), nor wired things like lights, ceiling fans, and central heat and air, if it can be plugged in to a regular two or three prong outlet, you can see how much electricity it uses.

One downside to it, is that it covers up both outlets, so if you have two things plugged into one outlet, you have to have one unplugged (unless you have an extension cord to reach it) while you test the energy usage of the other.

At $20, it will take me a little while to recoup the cost in electricity saved, but I think it’s worth it. Technically, I could have saved my money and just kept stuff unplugged and saved the money that way, but I would not have known if it were really worth it. For instance, leaving my microwave plugged in all the time draws a small amount of electricity — about 0.048kwh per day, which works out to about $1.40 per year, since my electricity costs about 3 cents per kwh. It’s worth that small cost to me, to avoid having to plug and unplug it every time I want to use it. My coffee maker costs about $3 per year, in latent usage plus making a pot of coffee per day (it’s a small pot — about 4 cups). Considering that I have a little clock on it and can set it to brew the coffee to be ready when I wake up, even if it cost $3 per year just to keep it in, it would be worth it to me. [I actually don’t like coffee, but this is for my husband when he wakes up.]

My husband was not pleased initially when I bought it, because he thought I was going to nag him about how much electricity things use, and make him stop using things like the space heater in the bathroom. That was not my intention at all — it was just to see what stuff uses, especially things like the computer and peripherals, or to see if our refrigerator was sucking electricity and needing to be replaced (it doesn’t), and if I could save money by turning stuff off either during the day while he’s gone to work, or at night when we’re not using it.

I haven’t completed the tour of the house to see how much stuff costs (the nightlight works out to about 30 cents per year, even plugged in constantly), our box fans and bedside lamps are also pretty low-cost, especially considering how little we use them. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the bathroom space heater only uses about 3 cents worth of electricity for 15 minutes of use. Honestly, I thought it was going to be worse than that. It all adds up, though — it would cost over $1000 in electricity if it were running on high 24/7. But, since we only use it once or twice (perhaps three times, depending on how cold it is in there and whether the kids take a bath) per day, and only during the winter months, it’s still worth it — and may even be a bargain, when you consider the cost of heating the entire house enough so that it is warm enough in the bathroom not to be chilly when you’re soaking wet.

Two things that I’ve seen already that can be unplugged to save money, with very little impact on our lives, are an air purifier (that I don’t think even works well), and some electronic devices we rarely use. The air purifier alone uses $3-4 of electricity every month, so just knowing that, we can recoup the cost of the Kill-a-Watt in about 5 months. I make DVDs out of VHS tapes, and have kept the VCR, camcorders, and the MovieBox gadget that connects these analog devices to the computer plugged in all the time. That made sense when I was transferring my own home movies, and those of my mom’s, etc., but I’ve not been doing much of that lately. I discovered, thanks to the Kill-a-Watt, that we can save $20 a year just by not having these things plugged in.

My office was a little convoluted when it came to what was plugged into which strip, and it turned out that in addition to those gadgets I mentioned above, we also had several other devices plugged in that we weren’t using. Since I’m not sure what was plugged in where, I don’t know how much electricity each thing used, so I’m going to have to retest. But this is another reason I’m glad to have gotten the thing — it helps to clear up the junky looking mess of wires (a little bit, anyway) behind our desks, because I actually stopped and took the time to figure out what was running. I could have done this without buying the gadget, but I hadn’t — it was the impetus of buying the gadget that made me really look at this.

I just did this a few hours ago, and am retesting my computer setup. Currently, I have my monitor, printer, and computer plugged in on one power strip, with the power strip plugged into the Kill-a-Watt. I’ll see how much electricity it uses while running, and then how much it uses when I shut things off for the night. It could be interesting. Since it’s all on one strip, I know I can flip the rocker switch to turn everything off at once, so it will use zero electricity overnight. I may just do that, once I see how much latent energy it pulls. Then tomorrow, I’ll figure out my husband’s power strip, which also has the modem and router plugged in. I’m guessing that we can drop our electric bills by nearly $10 per month, just by being conscientious about our usage — particularly our computers.

One thing that makes it a little difficult to see about latent energy usage is that it is usually so low that it may sit at 0.01 kwh for several hours, so it may make some things look like it draws more latent energy than another thing, when in reality, you just happened to notice it right after it turned to 0.02 kwh. But that’s still awfully low — 30 cents per year if it draws only 0.01 kwh for 24 hours, vs. 60 cents per year at 0.02 kwh.