Archive for March, 2009
financial planning

I came up with a plan today for how we’ll teach Holden about money.

Like many kids, he is going to get an allowance. But Papa is going to play banker along the way. Here are the details, the twist that I bring:

  1. Once Holden has gotten acquainted with adding and subtracting, he’s eligible for an allowance.  (It’s only fait that he keep his own books, right?)  The allowance comes with the usual strings attached:  a few light chores such as keeping his room clean, etc.  (Taking out heavy bags of trash comes later.)
  2. The allowance is nothing crazy or over the top — let’s say $5 per week.  Because a kid’s attention span is likely to be so short, I doubt that doing a monthly pay-out makes much sense; besides when he’s so young it doubles as a way of teaching him about days of the week (“Friday is pay day!”).
  3. The twist on pay day goes like this:  ”getting paid” is basically Monopoly Money.  We’ll keep a spreadsheet with to track his “account balance”.  Papa (as both boss and banker) has read/write access; young Holden will have read-only access to ease his mind a bit and to keep me honest.  ”Pay day” comes, we do an inventory of completed chores, and put $5 into the plus column for the week; if Holden wants cash, he’s going to have to make a withdrawal from the First National Bank of Papa’s Spreadsheet.

Not too shabby of a plan, eh?  Maybe not totally original but I think there’s some merit to it.  But as Holden hits additional milestones, we can up the ante…

  • Multiplication and division?  Got some knowledge of percentages under your belt?  Perhaps we can introduce the concept of an interest-bearing account.  And/or maybe special rates for money set aside as “savings”?
  • Ready to take on some more chores and more responsibilities?  Time to learn about salary/wage negotiation.  (If ever there are siblings, perhaps it becomes a matter of “collective bargaining“?)
  • And when it’s time to learn about things being really unfair, we can start having the ATM service charge come out of Holden’s end of the cash withdrawal, too…?
Now: Expert Crawler

Kitchen Utensil Duel: Fail

Crawling: Day 2

Maple Saturday

Yesterday was the first real day of spring here in the great frozen north.  It reached the low 60s, with blue skies and a nice, gentle breeze.  I started the morning off right with eating homemade brownies, drinking coffee, and pre-ordering Spent:  Sex, Evolution, & Consumer Behavior, by the evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller.


 I have been waiting for this book to come out for the past two years.  I first became acquainted with Geoffrey Miller’s work when I taught Animal Behavior for the first time.  Miller takes Darwinian ideas to a whole new testable level, and in his latest book, applies them to consumer behavior.  He skillfully argues that economics are influenced by traits and characteristics that are indicators of fitness, and further proposes that economic choices are often driven by factors  (such as the potential to pass on our genes), of which we are generally unaware.  In one study I assigned to my Animal Behavior students, Miller demonstrated that ovulating lap dancers received more tip money than non-ovulating lap dancers.  If you imagine that this article has a most colorfully-written Methods section, you are correct.  It describes the strip club from which study participants were recruited in agonizingly straightforward detail.  At any rate, I think his academic papers and books are provocative and interesting, although they are merely recapitulating (albeit it in a more scientific way), ideas similar to those espoused by the likes of Nietzsche regarding art and other exhibitions of culture as fitness indicators.

I am digressing wildly here—the point is that my day was pretty much made at 8:30 AM when I discovered that Geoffrey Miller’s book is finally about to be released to the masses.  Once we got our ducks in a row, we loaded Holden into the car and drove to Shelburne Farms to visit the sugarhouse and sugarbushes.  We got to take Holden on a horse-drawn wagon ride through the sugarbushes to see the intravenous taps that drain the tree sap into large reservoirs that collect this “liquid gold” for further processing in the sugarhouse.  Here we are, enjoying our tour of the woods during our wagon ride:


The sap is considered liquid gold because it takes 30-40 gallons of sap to produce a single gallon of maple syrup.  This surely explains why maple syrup is so expensive!  Here is a precious drop of sap being collected in a bucket attached to the tree:


Shelburne Farms is believed to be the first sugaring operation in the United States.  While we were there, we sampled some sugar on snow, which is maple syrup heated to a high temperature, then poured onto snow so that it hardens and caramelizes quickly.  It was yummy!  We also had a little mini-picnic with Holden on top of a hill overlooking the landscape.  It was beautiful!  



After our trip to the sugarhouse was complete, we went to Bistro Sauce in Shelburne and enjoyed a really fabulous lunch.  I hope that yesterday is a good indication of how the rest of our spring and summer will unfold.

For the full set of sugaring season pictures, click here.