Winning Streak

The last few weeks have gone pretty well, as far as my sports teams are concerned. Let's review:
  • Minnesota Vikings: 3-0
  • Texas A&M football: 3-0
  • Minnesota Gopher football: 3-1 (with a close-fought loss to the then-#8 team)
  • Minnesota Twins: surged back to within two games of Detroit in the AL Central (these two teams face off 4 times this week)
  • My fantasy football team: 3-0
  • Teams that I've been glad to see lose: Steelers, Oklahoma, USC
This play sums up how things have been going:

Of course, we know what sports do. These teams will, at some point this season, let me down. But I'll have fun while I can.


Too busy to chat, but had to tell you this so you could rejoice with me...

I wore a sweatshirt yesterday. Yep, it was cold enough that after getting home I realized that I wanted another layer. And today, I'm wearing a sweater. Cool air! Layers! Fall! I love it!

PS - Yes, I realize that this weekend it is supposed to be back into the 90s but please don't bring that up. Right now it is a pleasant 63.


How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex. A review.

If you have been reading this blog for more than 5 minutes, you may be wondering to yourself why I would pick up this book in this first place. Why would a half of a blond republican couple, a Jesus-loving conservative Christian, want to read a book written by Cristina Page, vice president of NARAL Pro-choice New York and former executive director of NOW-NYC? Why would she even care what she has to say?

Well, critical thinking for one. It's always a nice brain exercise to read a well-footnoted book with exactly the opposite ideas as one's own. It really gets your brain thinking about exactly why and how they are completely wrong about what they are saying. Second, I wanted to understand where the "other side" is coming from. It's not enough to know that they are pro-choice, I wanted to know why.

In the first sense it failed because in order to logically argue, I think you have to start with at least one or two points on which you agree. The only thing Page and I agreed on was her preface. In it she gives a brief summary of how she came to understand the pro-life movement's ideology. She started out talking about her search for "common ground" in both side's spoken agreement with the idea of reducing the need for abortions and ended with her realization that there isn't any common ground because when discussing pro-choice versus pro-life, we aren't just talking about two different movements but two different agendas based on two very different sets of values. And that is about all we agree on - the fact that we can't and won't ever agree because we aren't starting off at the same place.

She spends the rest of the book oscillating between "revealing" the secrets about how pro-lifers think and taking illogical leaps with them. It was odd, the way she stated some things made it clear she thought it would seem unimaginable to the reader, as if she really wanted to follow every fact she stated with "Can you believe they think that way?" or even more so "Can you believe they admit to thinking that way?"

Many of her readers might actually have been astounded at what she said. About 50% of the time, I could easily believe that is how pro-lifers thinking because well, it's how I think. The other 50% of the time, I too was astounded - at how she took point A and got to point B. Such as, I don't think abortions should be legal, therefore I am against sex and think it is disgusting.

That second part was interesting too because in expanding on those beliefs and describing what they would mean to society if left unopposed, she revealed her way of thinking very clearly. And, much the same way she was shocked that pro-lifers would reveal their true feelings, I was almost shocked she would reveal hers. I suppose that again comes from our different sets of values. She doesn't feel the need to hide her delight in how, because of the pill, "Sex no longer had to be packaged with commitment devices..." anymore than I feel the need to hide my sadness in that fact.

So in the end, it failed at my second goal too because I realized I did understand how the far left pro-choicers thought all along. It was hard for me to completely grasp because it's based on values I won't ever be able to comprehend but I really knew it the whole time. What I really want to understand is what pro-choice Christians think. Because they should have the same values and foundation as me but they end up with the same outcome and belief as them, and to be honest, I just don't see how they do it. My initial thoughts on the subject would not put them in a good light but I'm willing to try and understand their reasoning. If anyone has any books on that subject, I would be interested.

That is were I probably should end this post, but I can't. I just have to point on the few stupid things I noticed while reading the book. Those statements that were almost laughable. I say almost, because the topic is just to sad for any real LOL moments, but these were close nonetheless. I'll limit myself to just two, although I could probably go on all day.

1) One of my favorite paragraphs:
Increased access to and use of modern contraception can lead to dramatic improvements in infant and maternal survival rates. In Finland, one country in which contraception is inculcated in the culture, 75% of women use birth control. In Finland, the life time risk of a mother dying in childbirth is 1 in 8,200 and 4 our of 1,000 Finnish infants do not make it to their first birthday. Compare this to Niger where 4 % of women use birth control. In that African country, 1 in 7 mothers die in childbirth, and 156 of 1,000 infants die before reaching age one.
Somehow I think there might be some other differences in those countries that are influencing those mortality rates.

2) She also brings up those wanting to spread information about how condoms don't protect against HPV (by requiring labels that state that fact), labels them the "anti-condom brigade," and dismisses their arguments because while "The HPV virus is common and worrisome...it is usually harmless. Most often, the human body defends itself from HPV and it disappears with no ill effects." Plus those strains that do cause problems can "usually be treated". She goes on to say that "just having one of those strains doesn't mean you'll get cervical cancer" and "cervical cancer in relatively rare" and "is actually on the decline in the United States" and is "highly preventable if detected early, which is what a Pap smear does". Interestingly, this book was written while the vaccine was still in trial periods so it is only briefly mentioned later in the book with the statement that it has the potential to be the "biggest vaccine ever." So is HPV a problem so big that it's vaccine's effect would surpass that of the smallpox or polio vaccines or is it a relatively insignificant problem that we needn't bother about? At the time, Page couldn't seem to make up her mind, although I'm pretty sure she wouldn't so vehemently dismiss HPV if the book was written today. I can't even go to the doctor without being offered a disposable MP3 player that will tell me all the dangers of the HPV virus and the benefits of the vaccine. Perhaps when talking about movements manipulating science, she should take the plank out of her own eye.


Fabric makes me happy I'm a girl.

I've been wanting to make a tote bag for a while now but wanted something more complex than the basic grocery sack type and was weary of attempting it. I'm actually not the best at sewing. Quilting I can do but with sewing, I need good tutorials or I get into trouble. But Fallon recently made a bag and it turned out so good that after a little pep talk from her, I headed off to a local fabric store she discovered. After roaming and roaming the store trying to pick from all the amazing fabric they had, I spent more money than I am willing to admit on 2.75 yards of fabric and left happy but broke.

But I think it was worth it!
I used the all day tote pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's Simply Sewing and really took my time and tried to do it right (I think it helped that I knew the fabric was expensive.) I left out the key clip (I hate those!) but it has two pockets inside for my cell phone and pens
plus a water bottle pocket on the outside and my very favorite part - a book slot. I'd never seen that before but I love it.
Now I can take one bag to work every day instead of my purse stuffed with a book, my lunch bag and my water bottle (I looked ridiculous when it rained and I can to carry all that while holding an umbrella). This is so much more convenient and colorful. And when it gets dirty, I can just throw it in the wash. Plus, that 2.75 yards of fabric was more than I need because I wanted to give the rest to Amanda to make me a matching wallet. She started selling them not too long ago, check them out (scroll to the bottom of the page, the pictures don't even do them justice, they are so cute!) I just have to wait until my slush fund recovers :-) Oh, I just love fun fabric. It makes life so much better.


Foreign Affairs Monday: Missile Defense

I could have written this in its normal Friday slot, since the news I discuss hit last Thursday. However, I was lazy. But I wanted to mention this before too much time elapsed, so here's a special Monday edition of FAF for you.

Last week, President Obama scrapped President Bush's plan to place a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Instead, the US will deploy a different type of missile, based at sea. This new system will be aimed at short- and medium-range missiles from Iran, instead of the long-range missiles the old system was designed for.

There are many that saw this as a bad security move, and a cave-in to Russia. Russia really did not like the old plan. From a defensive standpoint, though, I can see the benefit of this. As SecDef Gates explained, the new system will employ proven technology to defend against a more likely threat. Also, our government really needs to start reducing spending, and the old system was quite costly (of course, we need to cut other things besides defense spending).

Much of Bush missile defense system was a symbol, though. It was a symbol of alliance to Eastern Europe, especially Poland and the Czech Republic, who fear that Russia would like to regain its past dominant position over them. To Russia, it was a symbol of a powerful West encroaching on "their" neighborhood, as well as a symbol of US military might. As such, reaction to this move was negative in Eastern Europe and positive in Russia.

Since Russia was so adamant against the old system, our giving it up looks like a big win for them. And that is OK, as long as we get something out of it from them. Even if switching to the new system was a good idea on its own, we shouldn't be giving up that bargaining chip for free. We could use help from Russia on issues like Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, weapons sales, and natural gas. Hopefully, Obama made this move based on more than just hope that Russia would take it as a nice gesture.

One thing Obama might have been hoping for was progress in talks on a new nuclear treaty with Russia. I hope this is not the case, because I don't think such a treaty is that important to us. Russia would love to see us make big cuts in our arsenal, because they probably can't afford to keep the missiles they have now. If they have to make cuts anyway, best for them if we do it too. But not best for us.

Also, we need to send some new signal to Eastern Europe, and not just words, that we won't sell them down the river in exchange for better relations with Russia. I'm not sure what options we have, but I'm sure we could come up with something.

So, to conclude, I don't automatically think Obama's move was bad. If we can get something worthwhile in return from Russia, it won't hurt our position in the world, and it may help solve some difficult problems . Otherwise, this change in priorities will only make us look like pushovers.


Paper: Here to Stay

Remember when people used to say, "The Internet and computers will create a paperless society. We won't have to print stuff out all the time?" I was reminded of that the other day when I was substitute teaching. Well, I wasn't actually teaching. I was signed up for a job, but they didn't need me in a classroom, so I made copies.

The local high school has a website that parents can log onto to check their kids' grades. In order to give the parents access, the school is sending a letter to each parent with a username and password. You have two kids? You get two letters. Along with printing out the letters for each parent, the school also had to make a copy of each letter for its records. So that's a lot of paper that was consumed specifically because of the Internet.

I pondered this while I stared at the copy machine, and I thought, "Parents can't use this without Internet access. If they have that, they must have e-mail. Why not e-mail out this information?" I would suspect there is a substantial proportion of parents who will not make use of this service, so they'll just throw the letter away (I'd advise them to shred it). So this seems like a bad strategy.

I could save the school district so much money. But then again, the Post Office seems to need all the business it can get. And substitute teachers like me need work to do.


WFMW - Green Beans, the easy way!

I haven't done a Works for Me Wednesday in forever, not because I don't like them anymore, just because I haven't been able to think of anything to post about. But today, I do!

I love fresh green beans. It's my go to company vegetable side dish. Easy and if in season, frugal. I just steam them for ~7 minutes then toss in a pan with a little butter or olive oil and a clove or two of crushed garlic. Easy right? Well, not if you have to cut all those little ends off. I hate that part, it takes forever...but only if you use a knife. I know what you are thinking "Why, MacKenzie, how else would you cut all those ends of if you didn't use a knife?"

I'll tell you - a pizza cutter! Just line them a handful up, more or less evenly, then run them over with a pizza cutter on both ends and ta-da! Even a several lbs of green beans can be done in a few minutes. Pizza cutters for multiple purposes - it works for me!

*Today is also the day for excessive exclamation point usage apparently, who knew green beans are so exciting!


Verse 18!

I know I just posted a little while ago but this will be quick, relatively speaking. I have still been doing my Siesta Scripture Memory Verses, I just haven't been updating my box very well. We are up to 18! Even though a verse every two weeks doesn't sound like a whole lot, it really adds up. That is already 18 verses more than I would have memorized if I hadn't taken this small step. And while I don't have all of mine completely memorized (word perfectly with references is my "completely", in every case if I read the first word or two, I can finish it on my own.

This time, I wanted to take a verse from a parable I have claimed recently. I have it written somewhere that is currently unaccessible and I couldn't remember the reference so I just googled "parable judge nagging lady" and lo and behold, I found it! The NIV bible calls in the parable of the persistant woman but I find the line between persistance and nagging is quite thin.

The whole thing is longer than I want to memorize right now so I just picked a verses from the middle that summarizes the lesson but I wanted to post the whole thing for y'all me. My memory part is in bold.

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Luke 18:1-8

Kolache Festival!

Gilmore Girls was always my show. I really wanted to live in Stars Hollow, they always had such great local festivals going on. So when we heard some friends from our home group were going to a kolache festival at a nearby town, we had to join them even if it meant getting up before 8 on a Saturday morning to spend the day walking around in the rain.

The first stand that really interested me was a sauerkraut booth that talked about classically fermented sauerkraut. You might remember my attempt at that. It didn't go so well but I couldn't have been to far off as he used the same method as me (except he had the big fancy crock and cabbage shredder instead of a jar and a knife). He was very helpful, giving me some tips and his recipe ratio (it's only cabbage and salt). I might be ready to try it again because he also had samples and it was reallly tasty, even at nine in the morning. It was the last healthy thing I ate all day.

We explored some more craft booths but quickly realized what we really wanted were the pastries!
(The pictures in this post aren't the best, it is hard to take pictures, hold and umbrella and eat kolaches at the same time so something had to suffer and it certainly couldn't be the eating part!)

We tried the sausage and the strawberry and the poppy seed and the cream cheese (my favorite) and tested as many different bakeries as possible, trying to pick a favorite. We all pretty much decided we liked the same two bakeries the best (the others were too dry) but despite the yummy temptations of the award winning chocolate cream kolache, our stomachs were about to explode and we had. to. stop.

We ran into some other church folks, found a shelter from the rain where we could rest and chat, then walked around and admired the rest of the crafts and explored the fried food options (so we would be prepared for lunch, of course). Fallon and I broke off from the crowd to head over to the quilt show and when we made it back to the group, we were ready for some more food.
Of course, Neva and I had to get ours on a stick in good festival fashion! (Thanks Craig, for insisting this be an action shot :-) Don't I look so delicate?
Then we headed home, our feet and stomachs tired from the workout and ready for an afternoon nap.


Dying Arts

I found this article, entitled "5o things that are being killed by the internet." It made me nod a lot and say, "Definitely, definitely." Some of the British ones, though, I didn't understand. I'd like to comment on some of them:
  • 27) Knowing telephone numbers off by heart: "After typing the digits into your contacts book, you need never look at them again."
    I used to be really good at memorizing phone numbers. I had a number of them in my head, but now that's gone. But they say that Einstein refused to memorize his phone number, apparently because he didn't want to waste brain space, so maybe this is a good thing for me. Although I'm not sure how one avoids memorizing his own phone number.
  • 29) The mystery of foreign languages: "Sites like Babelfish offer instant, good-enough translations of dozens of languages – but kill their beauty and rhythm." I think this is a good thing. While speakers of major foreign languages will always be in demand, if the US could remedy its shortage of speakers of languages like Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu with technology, that would help us out a lot.
  • 30) Geographical knowledge: "With GPS systems spreading from cars to smartphones, knowing the way from A to B is a less prized skill. Just ask the London taxi drivers who spent years learning The Knowledge but are now undercut by minicabs." I don't use GPS in my car much, but it does seem like people who do fail to learn the local road system as well as people who rely on maps or Mapquest. I think it is useful to know how to get from place to place off the top of your head, or to be able to identify an alternate route on the fly, without having a pleasant voice tell you where to go.
  • 31) Privacy: "We may attack governments for the spread of surveillance culture, but users of social media websites make more information about themselves available than Big Brother could ever hoped to obtain by covert means." I've noticed this, and find it ironic.
  • 16) Hoaxes and conspiracy theories
    "The internet is often dismissed as awash with cranks, but it has proved far more potent at debunking conspiracy theories than perpetuating them. The excellent Snopes.com continues to deliver the final, sober, word on urban legends." I don't agree with this one. I think the Internet does as much to advance conspiracies as debunk them. The 9/11 "truther" movement lives on the internet, as do Obama birth certificate rumors. While Snopes is indeed a useful site, people tend to visit sites that agree with their world view. Conspiracy theorists are more likely to visit "Loose Change" than Popular Mechanics or other debunking sites.


Foreign Affairs Friday: Russian Gas

Russia has the world's largest reserves of natural gas (about 44 trillion cubic meters, for those counting at home). Not content to merely make money off of this gas, Russia also uses it as a political weapon. And a very potent weapon it is, because Russia supplies 25% of the EU's gas, and also controls most of the gas that comes out of Central Asia. Eastern European nations that were once part of the Soviet Union, such as Ukraine and Belarus, are particularly reliant on Russian gas. Russia uses this leverage to try to keep these countries from becoming too close to the West. Russia has shut off gas to Ukraine twice in recent years (in the dead of winter, when it is most needed) during pricing disputes. Clearly, it is in the best interest of Europe to diversify its gas supplies, and for Central Asia to diversify its customer base.

The way to do this is with new pipelines that bypass Russia. Unlike oil, which can be hauled anywhere via ship, natural gas is generally transported by pipelines, which are expensive and serve to tie producing and consuming countries together into long-term relationships. Currently, there are few pipelines that bypass Russia. One proposal, the Nabucco pipeline, would carry gas from Azerbaijan and potentially Turkmenistan to Turkey and then on to Europe.

Russia doesn't want to see diversification, of course. The South Stream pipeline on the above map is Russia's planned response. If they can lock up gas supplies, in order to keep them out of Nabucco, then that project would fail.

Russia has several advantages in this battle. One, all the existing pipelines that go through Russia. Two, their big gas company, Gazprom, is state-owned, so it works closely with the government. Three, the EU is made up of a number of countries, and getting them all to agree on the same energy policy is not easy.

As with most issues these days, the impact of China is important, as its gas requirements grow. It gives Russia another customer, which could potentially lead to increases in gas prices and more leverage over Europe. But it also gives Central Asian gas producers a new customer, which hurts Russia's attempts to monopolize natural gas.

There are signs, though, that nations like Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan want to sell gas to Europe. There are also indications that Eastern European countries are willing to get to work on building new pipelines. It is in the US' interest to free Russia's neighbors from its gas-fueled clutches. The battle over natural gas is only going to get hotter.


Worth the wait

Earlier this summer, a coupe of friends and I went to a local pottery shop for a girls night. The shop is run by a Christian couple. They played praise and worship music and talked to us about how God gave them the opportunity to open the shop up a couple years ago. It's a great place to relax and be crafty in. My only problem was choosing what to make. I finally went with a mug and a cross like most of the girls but I really want to go back and make a platter too (something colorful and fun that we use for all our "special days" like birthdays). Working with the clay was a lot like working with playdough. For the cross, I just used "cookie cutters" to make what I wanted and place it together. The mug was a bit trickier, I cut out and decorated it flat then wrapped it around a form and added a handle and bottom. Ours definitely had a homemade look to them but the owner's pieces are just gorgeous.

Fortunately, after that evening the fun wasn't over as we had to go back once it has cured to glaze it. Unfortunately, it was very hard trying to find a free time we could all meet up again. After 2 months of juggling schedules, we finally found a time and were able to glaze them and leave them to be fired. I picked them up a few days ago and just had to share! Aren't they cute for my first try?

The mug, which has dragonflies on it and says "I can do all things through Christ", is very girly and I think it will be perfect for sipping tea or cocoa out of while cuddled up on the couch with a book this winter (hey, it's still 95 our right now, a girl has to have dreams!). I tried to do something different and less girly with the cross. You can't really tell but the heart has a dark metallic finish and the green has little particles in it as well. I had so much fun and can't wait to go back.



I'm getting a little antsy to redesign the blog but don't really want to spend the hours and hours a full over haul needs. Our living room isn't big enough for me to rearrange the furniture so I can't even relieve the redecorating itch that way either. Instead I'm settling for updating our archives. I've been condensing our tags so they are a little more informative and have posted our most frequent ones to the left for easy browsing. Eventually I'll probably make a button(s) for them as well.

I went a bit further than that with my recipes and made a post that links to them all (or at least the ones I could find). I also noticed there are a number of recipes that I thought I had posted but didn't so you might find my posts are a bit recipe heavy this next week or two as I get that updated.


Driving for dollars

We, the BRC, are quite frugal and like to find odd ways to increase our income. Between of the two of us, Craig is a definitely more aggressive at the search. Being in a college town, medical studies are quite prolific but I tend to be protective of our bodies. He participated in a flu study last fall and has given plasma in the past but that is about where I draw the line. When he mentioned he saw another study in the paper, I was about to say "No!" but he quickly explained that this was not a medical study but a transportation study. Since I am the main driver, I was the one who had to qualify, which I did.

I went last Friday to start the process. They installed a GPS system in my car while I filled out a questionaire about my driving behavior...
  • How often do you drive without a seatbelt? Never
  • How often do you drive 10 or more mph over the speed limit? Never
  • How often do you feel the need to "get back" at driver's who pass you? Never
and personality...
  • True or False: I like exciting activities (skydiving, etc). False
  • True or False: I like to take risks. False
  • True or False: I like to experience frequent changes. False
After discovering that I am a boring driver and person, they gave me a couple booklets to record my trips. It's not hard, every time I go somewhere, I just record the date, time and purpose of the trip (commute, errands, recreation, etc) and at the end of the day, I email my results in. After three weeks, I take the GPS system back and get $100. A little extra cash and no more risk of bodily harm than my typical driving, it's a compromise both Craig and I can be happy with.

PS: They are still looking for participants so if you are a male or female between the ages of 18-25 or a male between 35-55 living in my area, you should check it out and see if you qualify. Here's the website.


Bad Day Smoothie

Yesterday was a very bad day. A bad day as in my first experiment didn't work, I had a really loooong meeting that pushed my experiment back and then right before I went home to eat dinner all by myself because Craig was gone on a business trip, I realized that the 3 week long experiment I had been working overtime/weekends on was totally worthless because of a ridiculously stupid error on my part.

So by 5:30, I was desperately craving a treat (and a punching bad to maim) but I managed to make it home for some real food. But after dinner, I knew I needed something sweet and unfortunately I had to go back to work at 7:30 for another hour to finish an experiment and I knew if I didn't nip it in the bud, I would be stopping for a milk shake as McDonald's is right on the way and I do not have that much self control. But I also knew I didn't really want a McDonald's milk shake because 1) almost nothing that comes from McDonald's can be considered real food and 2) I've learned that I don't really like fast food anymore. The last time I had any was about a month ago when I had to go straight from work to a bible study so I swung by Wendy's and got what I always used to get there - a junior bacon deluxe cheeseburger, a Caesar side salad and a small frosty. It was awful. I mean, it tasted the same as I remember it tasting except I didn't like it.

So I didn't want to waste my slush money on something that wasn't going to satisfy me and wasn't good for me anyway with it's corn syrup, corn syrup solids, artificial flavorings and red dye#40. So what's a girl to do? Well, she'll make herself a...

chocolate peanut butter smoothie:

1 cup of milk
1/4 c peanut butter
1 T cocoa
1-2T Honey
Frozen bananas, in chunks

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender until smooth. Add chunks of frozen bananas until consistency is thick enough for you. Normally this is enough for the two of us to share...but he wasn't around last night and I just couldn't throw out the extra now could I? :-)

Hat Tip to Keeper of the Home



Craig and I have had several wishful "where do we want to live when we finally move somewhere permanent?" conversations lately. I said Washington state was nice, he said Maine might be...we will probably meet somewhere in the middle. But I realized that where ever we go and whenever we get there, I really hope it has a fall. I love fall with it's back to school sales (Fresh pencils for 1c sales anyone? Why, yes please!) and the fall colors and crunchy leaves and warm sweaters and really nothing spoils all that joy like my weather bug alarming because the heat index is over 100. The knowledge that I won't need to wear a jean jacket for months is depressing. So is living next to a high school where the first day of school means waking up every morning to the sounds of the marching band before beginning the drive to at a snails pace so as to avoid teenagers texting as they cross the road. Maybe I like a conceptual fall more than an actual fall? No, I think I like fall, I just don't like hoards of teenagers.


Money Saving Tips For the Big Spender

We currently receive Money magazine here at the BRC household. I enjoy the investment advice; not necessarily tips on specific funds/stocks to buy, but rather info concerning general long-term strategies. I also like to complain about its annual "Best Places to Live" issue. A problem with the magazine, at least for me, is that it unsurprisingly caters to a more affluent clientele. Each month, the magazine has a feature in which it profiles a family and fixes its finances. These families always make well over $100,000, which makes the column less than useful for a working-class guy like me.

This tailoring of magazine content to wealthier readers manifest itself again this month, when Money gave us "103 ways to trim the fat, not the fun, from your budget" (magazines sure love their lists). Here are some of the tips:
  • Drop the pet insurance
  • Reduce the hours of your gardener (or get rid of him)
  • Play tennis at public courts, not the tennis club
  • Take a home-swap vacation (not an outlandish suggestion in and of itself, but this one assumes your family spends $325/night on lodging on a normal vacation).
I'm afraid these tips won't help us with our budget.