Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, friends!

We've been trying to scope out how many kids live in our neighborhood. Which sounds creepy. But we just want to know how many trick-or-treaters to expect. It's a fairly new subdivision, and I think this will be the first year that there are more houses than empty lots, so it's hard to know whether parents are accustomed to taking their kids to church or grandma's, or whether they'll trapse them through the neighborhood in their light up sneakers wearing sweatshirts under their costumes thanks to the glorious 45 degree Fall weather we've been having, braving the construction debris in hopes of neighbors who buy the good candy. Raisins may be nature's candy but this is Industrialized Civilization, people, and the children want their processed sugars. So the cone of uncertainty persists. Will we get trick-or-treaters? Or can we eat all the candy we bought? Mike seems to be banking on a low turnout, as evidenced by the reeses wrappers in the trash.

Tonight we're having a few friends over to carve pumpkins and eat tacos. Mike and I are fairly laid-back, and one of the friends who's coming tonight is a bit of a Party Controller, so she's taken the reins and mandated that we all wear costumes. My sister and her friend (who's flying in tonight from Virginia) have come up with a stellar costume idea, further proving to me that she got all the genes that make you clever and hilarious. They're going as passengers from the Titanic: fancy gowns, pearls, and pincurls, topped with life jackets. Pretty dang clever, right?

So we're all going to go pick up the friend at the airport. In our costumes. Which are the same as disguises. To mask our real identities.

It promises to be a real Homeland Security Hootenanny.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Relatively speaking, I had a great day

This morning I heard a wreck happen outside my window. By the time I looked to see what had happened, one driver was out of her car, kind of stumbling around with her hands on her head. I could see that her airbag had deployed, but she was walking around and not visibly injured, so it was hard to tell if she was in pain or really upset about smashing up her SUV. Several people were close when it happened, so they rushed to help and make sure everyone was okay. The other driver, a younger girl who was probably on her way to class, seemend fine and was out of her small car making calls on her cell phone. (Sidenote: If I were in a wreck, I'd probably call my husband and my dad first. Is that wrong? Then I'd think "...911? I call 911 for a wreck, right? It's not really an emergency. But surely they'd have taught me if there was some other number. Are they going to send all the emergency vehicles as a precaution, or do I have to tell them if we need them? Do we need the ambulance? Maybe I'm bleeding internally. Is the car going to catch on fire? Do I have to pay if they come? No, that's what taxes do. What about a tow truck? Do I need a tow truck? I should call Daddy back and ask.") Lots of drivers honked when they drove past, as if the wreck was an unthinkable inconvenience to them.

A cop arrived, then a firetruck and an ambulance, then another cop and some wreckers. Several guys looked at, and into, both cars, examining the damage. The tow truck workers swept the road to clean up all the bits of plastic and glass and metal. Within an hour of it happening, everything was gone and back to normal. Except for the drivers in the wreck. I prayed that they wouldn't be injured, that they wouldn't stress about money or getting in trouble with their parents or being yelled at and that they weren't missing out on or running late for something important. It's hard not to be disappointed and angry when something like that happens. But it's even harder to have someone disappointed with and angry at you for getting into a wreck. Which is something I'll try to remember, hoping I'll never need to remember.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Because I likes to win

When I'd study about sunk costs in my economics courses, there was always some example about a nonrefundable expense. You pay for something in advance and then some conflict arises. People often decide to keep the (original) commitment because otherwise they'll have wasted their money (so the text reports). In economics you learn that one of the dumb things people who don't study economics do is look to the past to make decisions about the future, incorrectly drawing conclusions about getting their money's worth or believing that if they cut their losses, all will have been for naught. Morons.

So economists came up with a fancy name for teaching their moron friends to make a rational decision at a time when it might be hard to make a rational decision. Mostly they did it because they operate under the impression that people are rational, and when they aren't, it really throws a kink in the works. When other losers act irrationally and negate economists' very existence and basic principles, it gets 'em all worked up. Or they just have a good laugh at lesser humans' feeble minds. Either way, what they named the principle is sunk costs. What I like about sunk costs is that it's simple. In theory. When you can't recover costs you've already incurred, don't get all emotional about it and dwell on what could have been. You have to make your brain forget about the sunk costs you've incurred. Because the cost is sunk. Deciding to pay the cost was a different decision. You have to make a completely independent, different, new, unrelated decision about what to do next. The two decisions aren't linked. Nothing complicated about that idea.

What I don't like about sunk costs is that in practice, it's not always so simple. Isn't that always the way. For me, the problem usually goes like so: I paid for this entire plate (okay, more like this entire bag) of food; I have to eat it all to get my money's worth. It's just going to sit on my plate (fine, more like someone else's plate) if I don't eat it. It's wasted food; therefore, wasted money. Somehow I forget to make an independent decision about when to stop eating, and I also forget about how food has calories. It's true for other decisions I make as well. It's easy not to make a rational decision when money, or some other valuable resource, is involved. But I am hoping to make sunk costs one of the basic principles in MY life, so that's the idear behind the blawg title. I strive to claim victories in the name of sunk costs. And also any other kinds of victories I can claim.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I don't intend to talk only about food

We've had dinner with my mama the past two nights. My daddy has been working late all week, so he's been scarce until bedtime, and my sister works until 8 most nights, so my husband and I feel obligated to go and keep Mama and Granny (daddy's mama, who lives there too) company until daddy and my sister get home. It's only right. And delicious. Monday she and I cooked up some winning jambalaya, and last night she offered us spaghetti when we called from the grocery section of wal-mart to ask for the number to a pizza place so we could call in our order and pick up dinner on the way home. And it has been supremely nice not to have a sink full of dirty pots and pans to scrub or ignore at the end of the night. Whenever we go to Mama's for a meal, Granny always does the dishes. This summer she fell and broke her elbow, and for weeks all she would say is "I can't wait to get better so I can wash dishes again." She stores canned goods in her dishwasher, so great is her love of handwashing the dishes. Or perhaps her love of green beans, very young early peas, and canned pink salmon. Anyway, for dessert both times we've had some really great/guilt-inducing cheesecake. Originally, we prepared the cheesecake for some relatives, but then Mama got busy scraping popcorn ceilings and priming walls all weekend, and I got busy forgetting all about our ailing family members. So instead we ate it in their honor and vowed to make them another. And to actually take it to them. But for what it's worth, that cheesecake is the tastiest memorial I've ever eaten. I believe my sister put it best when she said, "the miles between us (the relatives and us) taste so good with cherries on top."

The weather has been pretty ridiculous this week, going from 40 in the mornings to upwards of 70 in the afternoons. Apart from being fairly lovely and typical fall weather, it really confounds mealtimes. In the morning all you can think about is hot, heavy, wintery foods, and by the time evening rolls around you're so clammy from the warmth that you just want to stand in front of the fridge with the door wide open and eat grapes. Where's the happy medium? Sandwiches? Burgers? Every night is like Sophie's Choice. Except the foregone meal doesn't have to die at the hands of Nazis, and instead of poisoning ourselves at the end, we eat dinner. And sometimes we let Bojangles' or the Target Cafe make the decision for us. You can see the haunting similarities.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall has loosed my shackles. And rurnt my bread.

It's finally Fall! No better time to start a blog, that's what I always say. In honor of the season, and because we had some brown bananas, I made a banana bread yesterday morning. It smelled truly magical and autumnal, but a critical error at some point in the process resulted in more of a banana burnt-on-the-edges, mush-in-the-middle square-shaped concoction. My husband ate some anyway, because he was starving, masking his disappointment for my sake. He tried, for me, which I will remember come Christmas. So because I like to cover things up and hope they get better while I'm not looking, then I covered it up and we high-tailed it to Atlanta Bread Company. A guy behind me in line had never been before, and was discussing the menu with his girl friend (relationship unknown), questioning the concept of a loaf of soup. I wanted to turn around and impart my knowledge on the matter, which is that the loaf of soup is God's way of saying to me, "Erin, I know the desires of your heart." But I refrained, fearing that he might then decide to order one, and I'd rather not jeopardize my chances during a busy Sunday lunch rush. So yesterday, for the first time in months, I was able to order a loaf of frontier chicken chili without funny looks from all the other hot, sweaty patrons and employees. Not that the looks stopped me before, but there's only so much judgment one person can endure, and all the sweaty gawking really saps my joy when I'm trying to devour a gigantic hunk of toasted sourdough filled with chili in the heat of the August sun. As I got ready for work this morning, the weather man reported that it was 39 degrees outside, and if that's not God saying "Well done good and faithful one" on my soup pick, then I don't know what is.

And tonight we're having jambalaya. Which I will recruit my mama's help in making, so that it does not go the way of the season's first banana bread (attempt). Good riddance, Summer. I'm done with you and your flimsy salads. Bring on the hot and hearty Fall food.