Daily Archives: October 2, 2011

What I was planning to talk about today


Nearly everyone has been binging on money. I was lucky enough, or cautious enough, not to go head over heels in debt during my binge. But it’s still time to cut back.

So, since I like experimenting with food, I’m going to experiment with whether I can trim back to eat well on the USDA “thrifty” food budget. The USDA comes out monthly with an estimate of how much it costs for households of various sizes and ages to eat at a “liberal”, “moderate”, “low-cost”, or “thrifty” level – unfortunately, it seems to take them a couple of months to work out the numbers. Now that it’s October, they’ve released the figures for August.

Well, you work with what you have. And two month old numbers are only the first problem. I could use their costs for a two-person household, ages 51-70; except that my husband is almost never home to eat lunch, and works late two nights a week, and a couple of times a week our son comes over for dinner. And I’m trying to lose weight, like pretty much every adult woman in the country.

Anyhow, the official “thrifty” July estimate for us was $350. (August wasn’t out yet last week when I started thinking about this project.) I massaged the numbers and decided that my goal is to spend not more than $300 on food this month. That doesn’t come near some of the more heroic mommy bloggers or extreme couponers; but we’re in our sixties, and my husband has had one heart attack, which was plenty. Thrift has to make room for nutrition.

Dinner tonight (for three) was chicken enchiladas, approximately. A closer description would be chicken burritos (homemade flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas) enjitomatas (the sauce was heavy on tomato and contained no chiles; I put a roasted slivered poblano in the filling instead). We’ll see how things go over the next month.

Better schools?

Oh dear. So, I got my first Officially Suggested Topic for PostADay, and it’s not clear I have anything to contribute. “If you could change how schools work, what would you change?” Heck, I haven’t had any school-age children for years. All I know about today’s public schools is what I hear from friends who are teachers, or friends who have kids still in school.

So, given that I have nothing to say, let’s see what I can come up with. There’s the obvious: Some school districts don’t have enough money to offer anybody a good education. (I live next door to Camden, NJ, famous for being the Poorest City in the US. I don’t care how dedicated they are, the Camden schools just can’t afford to provide a great result.) Some parents don’t care enough, or aren’t well enough educated themselves, or don’t have enough time and energy, to make sure their children benefit from what resources are available. But everybody knows these things.

Really, if I could change one thing about education in the United States, I would wave my wand and snap my fingers and transform this into a country that admires learning, a country where everybody knows that it’s fun to be curious about everything. Until we all realize that people who love mastering new information are sexy and that the mind is the best toy we all have, no amount of money or effort will turn this country into a place where education works.