Public Service Message!

Make sure your tires are fully inflated.

I don't think that's actually my problem, since all of the other tires were fine, but I lost a tire at speed yesterday on my commute and it's not fun. Even less fun when you're in the middle of a construction zone and there's no place to pull over and you end up driving about a mile on the flat until it's almost ready to come completely apart.

For the amount of damage to the tire, I'm a little surprised that my wheel seems to have escaped unharmed.

But yeah, check your tires.

  

Hellish Times

I feel the need to complain about the last few weeks...

Let me count the suck...
1) Kirsten ended up in the hospital for 5 days. It was a kidney stone, but I was very worried at first that it was far-too-early labor. Kidney stones are easy to deal with... if you can do the diagnostic work with a CT scan. You can't do that with a pregnant woman though, so it was a lot of morphine and waiting. (Morphine on the other hand is apparently perfectly safe.)
2) I had to cancel classes for a week since I was spending my time at the hospital. I was already going to be short a few days when comparing the length of the semester to the things I wanted to say and now I have to cut out interesting and important material.
3) The day we got out of the hospital, Sarah developed a terrible cold including just a touch of pneumonia. It was probably viral, but the standard treatment is to give some antibiotics. However, when a 20-month-old has a horrible sore throat, getting them to swallow anything is a huge battle.
4) After a week of that, things had settled down and I drove back to work. Unfortunately, half way back to Walla Walla, I got a telephone call from Kirsten asking "How big does a cut need to be to need stitches?" Sarah had apparently climbed the toilet to try to get a toothbrush and then fallen on the toilet brush gashing open her eyebrow. Five hours in the ER later, Sarah has a nice little set of four stitches, and I'm stuck driving in the dark not sure what's actually going on.

Now though, a week later, it seems like things are somewhat back to normal. Finally!

Oh, and some good news, I made the final three for a tenure-track job. Interview on the 9th.

  

Wedding Ramblings

In honor of Valentine's Day, today's post addresses the true cost of a lavish wedding. In addition to the Dartmouth participants, several of K's girlfriends have recently gotten engaged, and thus she has had the opportunity to play wedding planner and dress consultant. One friend is clearly going to have a very high-end wedding, but the other three are going to have what I would call a "more reasonable" budget.

Of course, the key here is the extreme subjectivity of what is "reasonable". Popular wedding website TheKnot.com reports that the average wedding is now about $27,800. According to Richard Markel, president of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. (in 2008) fell between $21,000 and $24,000. Clearly location matters as well, but let's work from a conservative value of $20k.

A friend of ours got married in a very elegant $99 dress, and last year we attended a wedding where the bride's dress was upwards of $15k. I honestly would not have known the difference, and I think that many guys would say the same. However, I'm sure that most women in attendance could tell, and most importantly the brides themselves knew the cost. The "bride-as-center-of-the-universe" is not something that I understand 100%, but from my own experience I know that I wanted my wife to be perfectly happy on her/our big day, and if happiness cost a little bit (or, honestly, a lot) of money, then I was pleased to pull out the checkbook.

First, the grinch-y perspective: the cost of a wedding is a decent start on a down payment on a house or condo. Alternatively, if the cost of your wedding were instead invested towards retirement, that $20,000 would grown into $160,000 (assume 8% APY over 35 years), and $8k-worth-of-dress would grow to $64,000.

On the other hand, who is to say that we can assume that the stock market will approach an 8% return? Multiple previous posts have highlighted my skepticism; accounting for inflation and taxes, honestly I think that 5% is more reasonable, if itself rather optimistic. If the kind/size cake doesn't matter, that can save you $1,000. Make your own invitations, or select a less elegant design, hire a younger photographer, or (here's the tricky one) invite fewer people. Want to trim some fat off the catering bill? Don't serve meat. Don't be cheap or leave your guests feeling mistreated, but thriftiness is making a comeback these days, and if you and your fiance(e) are on a tight budget, your friends and family will understand and support you.

This is my point; prioritize your expenses and try to save money on details that don't matter as much to the two of you... but don't be afraid to pay full price on the wedding elements that really matter most. Yes it's possible that every dollar you spend now could be invested and turn into $10 in 40 years, but do you really want to postpone happiness for 40 years? Moderation, people.

  

Wisdom Teeth

I had one of my wisdom teeth pulled out almost exactly a year ago. To figure out where exactly the roots of the tooth were going, they did a panoramic x-ray (which showed that it was a simple tooth to extract) and the surgeon said "did you know that you have a huge cavity in your other top wisdom tooth?" In my visits to the dentist over the summer, she confirmed that I was going to have to get that tooth out too, but since it wasn't hurting and since the removal would hurt, I put things off. (Also, she wants me to get the remaning three wisdom teeth taken out all at once and that requires more recovery time and my bottom ones are doing just fine.)

So, I could have gotten things taken care of last year, but selling the house and moving too precidence. I could have done it over the summer, but I was watching Sarah full time and just didn't feel like it. I could have gotten it done a couple weeks ago during "October break", but I had better things to be doing.

Now though, it's kind of hurting. Well, more than just "kind of". My mouth hurts! And, of course, now I can't get an appointment. The surgeon I was referred to does all of his extractions on Fridays, which would work with my schedule. However, he has to do a consult with you first and he only does that on Mondays and Wednesdays when I'll be out of town. The semester is rapidly coming to a close though and I don't want to miss any classes because we need to get through all the material for the semester. Of course, if I'm crying and rolling on the ground in a week or two, I'm not sure how effective of a teacher I'll be.

Now I'm thinking that I should maybe find a doctor here in Walla Walla. Make an appointment for early Thursday afternoon. Get the tooth extracted, give myself 2 hours to clot, and then hop on the plane home. That, however, strikes me as being somewhat insane.

  

33.2 mpg

I've got to say that I'm pretty happy with how my car drives. You put it in sixth, set the cruise for about 5% over the speed limit, and just let the miles unwind. My mileage would be even better if I didn't have to climb over a mountain pass.

One thing though, remember how you used to be able to spot the expensive BMWs driving down the road in the early 2000s? They always had the blue lights. Now I just notice that everyone on the road has yellowish headlights. My eyes are adjusted to the color of my own HIDs.

  

Arby's

When I think of Arby's, I think "Mmm, tasty roast beef sandwich, but even worse for you than McDonalds."

That's not what the Arby's in Yakima, Washington, thinks though. (Yakima, by the way, is "the Palm Springs of Washington" which is worth a separate post some day.) According to the roadside sign, at the next exit is "Arby's Roast Beef Restaurant."

Arby's Roast Beef Restaurant. Makes me think I should wear my formal overalls go go get something. Kids, put on your good shoes, we're going to a fancy restaurant, Arby's Roast Beef Restaurant! Or, I suppose it could be where you take a date that you don't like. "You have to take me to a real restaurant this date!" "Ok, we'll go to Arby's Roast Beef Restaurant!" I'd imagine that that date ends early though.