Pippa and Grey returned to college this month – Grey in his car, Pippa on Greyhound.
When I tell people Pippa takes the Greyhound bus back and forth to her college when Covid isn’t raging, they’re like:
But it’s a great way for a college student to save money – it’s way cheaper than flying, or owning a car, or taking the train. And it’s the perfect antidote for the ivory tower kid who feels superior to everyone else (not a problem for Pips). The affordability and the wee hours of much of bus travel tends to attract all walks of life.
The bus left Baltimore at 3 AM. Eleven hours and many stops later, she disembarked in Akron. I called her: “How’d it go?”
“It was miserable. The bus was full and there was a woman across from me who talked loudly to herself the entire way.”
Ahhh, bus life.
The One Thing I Don’t Mind Overpaying For
I overpay the kids to do odd jobs around the house. I know what you’re thinking: That doesn’t sound like Barnaby.
But I’ve rationalized it. Grey (more than Pippa) really needs the money because he has a car, and hasn’t found much campus work beyond marching band ($1,000/yr). Nora and I can’t do everything around the house that we want to. And we’d pay an even higher rate to have a professional contractor do the work.
So when the kids came home for Christmas break, I put a list of chores and what they pay on the counter. Things like $20 for taking my car in for emissions inspection, and $100 for hanging 20 strings of Christmas lights:
Here’s Grey earning $10 for cooking a quality dinner:
These project dollars are more than I would have paid them in high school, but I still see it as a win-win. The household spins tighter, and Grey has slightly fuller pockets.
Can’t Buy Me Happiness
I feel for the person in Maine who won the $1.35B Mega Millions lottery a couple weeks ago. It’s the fourth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.
When people buy a lottery ticket, they think winning is going to solve all their problems. It solves some, but creates others…and still doesn’t fill the gaping void in the human heart.
Former baseballer Lenny Dykstra starred for the Mets and Phillies in the 1980s and ’90s. He earned $36M as a player and started a few businesses and enjoyed the high life. But it was never enough.
From SI: “I said, O.K., I know I’ll be happy when I buy my own Gulfstream,” said Dykstra, reflecting on the plane he purchased in 2007. “But I got down to the end of the nose, I looked back and I said, O.K., happy, come on, come on. So it’s not about the Gulfstream. But it is about the Gulfstream. Meaning it just wasn’t as good a Gulfstream as I wanted.”
Two years later, he was bankrupt and divorced. Later, he went to prison for financial fraud.
Related: See why I call the lottery a “voluntary tax”
Compacting the Compost, or Checking if I Fit?
On a happier note, let’s talk about death. Or what happens when you shed your earthly container, as the Hale-Bopp comet hitchhikers put it in 1997.
I loathe to admit any shared belief with the Heaven’s Gate cultists, except one: Our earthly body has no role in the afterlife. So no need to venerate it.
Thus I was intrigued to hear that Washington state is the first to allow human composting. According to the article, here’s how it works:
- The body is placed in the “Natural Organic Reduction” tumbler along with 200 gallons of wood chips
- A mix of bacteria, protozoa and fungi are added to speed up the reduction process
- Oxygen is repeatedly added to keep it in the 145-155 degree range
- Bones are crumbled to release the phosphorus
- Inorganic materials like dental fillings, screws, and pacemakers are removed
- After several weeks, you have four, 55-gallon drums of usable compost
Related: How to Keep Your Fear of Dying from Draining Your Estate
No word on cost, although one Washington provider calls it an “investment.”
There are three licensed facilities so far. One says they’ve completed eight bodies and have 420 “Precompose” members who have paid in advance.
My take: It’s not worth moving to Washington for, but I support it. I’d rather my dead body fertilize a big beautiful flower garden, versus leaching embalming chemicals into the earth.
You can use me for your vegetable garden too – just don’t tell the dinner guests. 🙂
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