Sunday, March 20, 2011

friday photos

I think all Michigan bloggers have been obliged to mention the weather. Well, the weather from Friday and Saturday, because today is 45 and rainy.

But on Saturday, we got to re-introduce Genghis to grass. Photos from our mini-picnic (across the road, bananas and pancakes, Frisbee throwing).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

gaining some prospective

I've had best intentions for several days now to take a photo of my car to reveal my choice in the door color dilemma.

But it wouldn't be a very excited picture anyway, because I decided to go with the paint. The door looks exactly like the rest of my car.

My family seemed much more willing than my friends to put me into the cheapskate box. Unfortunately, I can't gloat over their seeming lack of insight into my true character because, had the decision been entirely up to me, I would have gone with the silver door. But Abe had a say in things, too. I figure that, budgets allowing, the spouse who wants a tad more class and decorum has the right of way in these matters.

It's probably a good thing, in the end. After all, we plan on driving this car for several more years ... to places like the grocery store, church, and ultimate Frisbee games.

Well, what's done is done.

Here's another way to think of the $250 door painting dilemma that I've been mulling over.

Question 1: Would you agree to pay $250 for someone to paint your door to match the rest of your car (assuming that without paying it wouldn't match).
Question 2: Would you agree to receive $250 for someone to paint your door to mismatch the rest of your car?

I found myself saying no to question 1 and no to question 2. If you think in terms of strict monetary payoff, that doesn't make any sense. Saying no to question 1 is like saying that I'd rather have $250 than a matching door. But then saying no to question 2 is like saying that I'd rather have a matching door than $250. My payoffs are exactly switched.

Here's a decision grid. This is formatted like the 2-player game payoff grids that economists often use (at least in my 101 econ class). You are the only player, and you have 2 choices to make: get the car painted to match (Q1 - column, payoffs as the second number, blues) and get the car painted to mismatch (Q2 - row, payoffs as the first number, blacks).

It makes sense to be in the upper left or bottom right corners. Your payoffs are the same for each decision. But I fall in the upper right corner. Economist explain this contradiction with Prospect Theory. Essentially, we value losses much greater than we value gains. So the pain I feel in giving away $250 is much greater than the joy I feel in receiving $250. And so the adage is true "It is greater to give than to receive".

Here's the classic graph used to illustrate Prospect Theory.

And so, while I won't give away $250 to match my car door, I won't receive $250 to mismatch it. You'd have to give me more.

How much more?

Well, I'm not sure. A lot, I think. Even more than if I hadn't just forked out $250 to get it painted. Which is evidence of yet another little behavioral twist that psychologists can use as a co-variate and economists can devise an equation for.

Friday, March 11, 2011

friday photos

I take my cues from the paparazzi when photographing Genghis because this is usually what happens as soon as he sees a camera.

The New Yorker has an ongoing cartoon caption contest (see a great example here). In a similar vein, if Genghis could talk, how would you caption him in this photo?

"I think I could eat this."
"Please, not while I'm in my jammies."
"There, there, camera."
"Just let me turn the angle to the right - it's my better side."

Monday, March 7, 2011

if stream of consciousness wore lace and covered its ankles

I was recently introduced to "Goodnight Dune", a re-interpretation of Margaret Wise Brown's classic "Goodnight Moon", through the lens of Frank Herbert's Dune (or perhaps, based on the rendition of the floating and bloated baron, inspired by the 1984 film).

It was a timely find, because I have been musing over Goodnight Moon lately. It's a new favorite of Genghis's. I find it an intriguing mix of Victorian illustrations and post-Modern text. Kind of Mother Goose meets Jack Kerouac. The bedroom is so classic - fireplace, mantelpieces, doll house, rocking chair and dressing gown. The colors a vintage orange and green. But the text is spaceless, rambling. It's almost like we're thrown into the middle of a story that's been going for some time, introduced to a "great green room" and then given a litany of all it contains. Who are these rabbits? (We don't even know they're rabbits but for the illustrations.) Where is the great green room? How did we get here?

We're not even introduced to the Moon, which carries the book's title. We only say goodnight to it. Over time, I've seen there isn't an exact match up with the list of things we're introduced to and things we say goodbye to. The Victorian in me wants to re-write the text - assure Genghis that the moon, the socks, the clocks are really there, before we say goodnight to them.

Then we get to the existential "goodnight nobody", which blows my mind every time.

Am I on to something? Could this be the start of a beautiful dissertation? Or is this simply the inevitable ending of reading the same 12-page board book over and over again for weeks?

Footnote 1: For a literary take on Goodnight Moon, see Sparknotes: Goodnight Moon.

Footnote 2: Is it just me or does the line "a quiet old lady whispering hush" invoke an image that may better fit in a Alfred Hitchcock film?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"no snow so far. food supplies low"

Tonight as I turned out the fridge looking for something resembling a fruit or vegetable to serve as a side to our standard roast and potatoes Sunday dinner, I felt like Hobbes when Calvin seceded from his family to run away to the Yukon.

Last Wednesday I planned to go to the grocery store.

While quickly pulling our car out of the side garage and around to the front, I someone managed to leave my driver's side door open. Apparently car doors and garage door railings don't get along very well. Instead of going to the grocery store, I went to the body shop, holding my door closed the whole way because its bent shape wouldn't allow it to latch.

Our car should be ready tomorrow. I managed to bum a ride for a quick grocery trip for essentials (milk, eggs). But each night I've opened the cupboards to just enough for one more meal. I don't think this is a miracle of the cruse of oil. We've just been steadily revising meal expectations.

Maybe we can use the money we saved on food to foot the repair bill.

The repair brought up an interesting values question for Abe & I. We had to get our car door replaced. The used replacement didn't match so we had to decide whether to get it painted. Here was the question: Did we want to

(A) Give up $250 or (B) Have a silver door on a maroon car?

I don't know if I'm more interested in hearing your own answer to this question or hearing what you think our answer was.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

friday photos

Moving picture show!

This week Genghis played the cup game while I tried to make dinner. But it was so much fun we both just ended up playing the cup game.

(Don't feel obliged to watch the whole thing - you get the point in the first 10 seconds.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

win your next chili contest by following this 1 crazy tip

and get a flat belly too*!

Really, though, white chili is always a high ranking dish at chili contests. This was a winner last week. We could eat this every week - easy, quick (well, it sits in a crock pot for 8 hours but otherwise quick), delicious.

Also, a shout out to the People's Choice winner of said chili contest - a great chili recipe with no meat or beans. No, really.

White Chicken Chili
1 c butter
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
4 c milk
2 tsp Tabasco
2 onions, chopped
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne (red) pepper
8 oz canned green chilies, chopped
2 lbs chicken breast
3 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 cans white beans (I use Great Northern and white kidney beans)

Melt butter and whisk in flour followed by chicken broth and milk. Add Tabasco, onion, seasonings, chilis, and chicken and cook in crock pot all day. 1 hour before serving, pull out chicken breasts and shred (should come apart easily). Put back in crock pot and add cheese and beans. Cook 30-60 minutes more.

*Okay, am I the only one who constantly gets this ad about getting a flat belly by following a super weird rule. I don't know what the rule is because I've never clicked on it. But I'm secretly dying to know.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

twenty-seven inch tyrant, or, friday photos

Things I didn't know a 6-month-old (7 today!) could do:

- Bite a 1-inch thick slice of pear in half, armed only with gums and determination
- Eat an entire waffle in one sitting (who needs baby sign language - grunting and rocking back and forth with mouth agape is quite communicative)
- Stuff his sock in his mouth - chew, suck, and smile happily for 15 minutes
- Nurse and suck his thumb at the same time
- Turn his head while in his baby bath to lap up the bath water with his tongue

Since Genghis now only derives pleasure when something is in his mouth, this week's (okay, last week's) Friday photos are devoted to his first experience with an apple.