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Your financial family tree: What our parents teach us about money

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Last weekend, Kim and I flew to Utah for a reunion with friends from the 2016 chautauqua in Ecuador. While in Salt Lake City, we met up with Jesse Mecham (the founder of You Need a Budget), visited Utah Olympic Park, and attended a Sunday morning performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Our group also spent an entire afternoon at the Mormon Family History Library, where we explored our genealogy. Not everyone was enthused about researching their family tree at first, but eventually even those who thought the exercise would be lame found themselves wrapped in it. It's fun — and enlightening — to unravel the threads of time and discover who your ancestors were and where they came from.

Kim at the Family History Library

Flying home from Salt Lake City, I got to thinking about how our family trees don't just influence our genetics. We inherit more than physical features from those who came before us. We also inherit culture and psychology and values. And yes, we inherit financial habits from our parents and grandparents.

Each of us has a financial family tree.

My Financial Family Tree

I write often about our money blueprints, the set of subconscious “scripts” that define our behaviors and attitudes toward money. Society at large — our friends, co-workers, the mass media — plays a role in writing these scripts, but most of our money blueprints are inherited from our family — especially our parents.

In a way, it's as if our money blueprints are a product of our financial family trees. Our grandparents passed their feelings about money to their children, and these children instilled their habits and attitudes into us.

When I look at my own relationship with money, it's easy to see how my present actions and attitudes — even at nearly fifty years old! — were inherited from my parents.

Here are a few examples:

  • My parents raised three boys in an 800-square-foot trailer house. My parents had 800 square feet for the entire family. The Portland condo that Kim and I sold last year was 1600 square feet. She and I had 800 square feet per person. But I don't need a big, fancy house. I'd be happy — might be happier, in fact — hunkered down in a single-wide trailer somewhere on a couple of acres.
  • Likewise, I don't need fancy cars. Growing up, I don't think my parents ever had a new car. We had old beaters that went by names like “Dirty Red” and “Dirty White”. Now, as an adult, I'm perfectly content to drive a 15-year-old Mini Cooper. I rarely feel the urge to own a new vehicle.
  • I inherited a similar attitude toward clothing. My father dressed like a farmer. My mother did her best to look nice, but on a budget. She bought clothes for us boys off close-out racks and at thrift stores. Although I do put some thought into quality and style nowadays, for most of my life I've been more interested in function not fashion.

Because of my meager origins, I'm willing to tolerate and accept certain things that others won't. I'm never frightened that I might end up poor because I've already been poor and have survived the experience. In some ways, my financial family tree set me up for success.

That said, my financial family tree also set me up for failure. I inherited some destructive habits.

  • My father was a master of compulsive spending — especially on big-ticket items that he couldn't truly afford. He bought computers. He bought sailboats. He bought airplanes. He bought stereo equipment. Some of my fondest memories are hanging out with dad for hours while he shopped for something he shouldn't buy. Unsurprisingly, I've struggled with compulsive spending most of my adult life.
  • My mother wasn't a compulsive spender in the same way my father was. Instead, she was something of a hoarder. She tended to buy more than we actually needed: more food, more clothes, more household supplies. This tendency became especially pronounced after dad died. When we moved mom to assisted living in 2011, her house house was packed with excess groceries and supplies. From mom, I've inherited a tendency to accumulate too much Stuff.
  • My parents never saved. They were always living on their last five dollars. If they had money, they spend it. If they'd had credit cards, they would have maxed them out. When I left home, I too lived paycheck to paycheck, no matter how good my salary was. (And I did get into trouble with credit cards.)

Not all of my money habits came from my parents. Many did, it's true, but I've developed new habits of my own. I've also “inherited” habits from my long-term relationships with Kris and Kim. (Kris and Kim have remarkably similar money habits, by the way.)

My Family Tree

Your Financial Family Tree

When I returned from Utah, I emailed family members to ask them what sorts of habits they'd inherited from their parents. My cousin Duane replied:

My dad had a huge impact on my relationship with money. He drilled holes through nickels rather than pay six cents for stainless steel washers. This was extreme and he did it more to be funny, but really illustrates how cheap he was. He strongly influenced my views of money. That's why I'm a cheap bastard.

My dad didn't feel he deserved money. Perhaps because he didn't like it. I have also felt I don't deserve money. I always give things away or sell them too cheaply.

I also asked members of the Get Rich Slowly group on Facebook about their financial family trees.

FB Group - Family Trees

The answers — both in the group and via private message — were fascinating. For instance, Angela wrote:

Both of my parents worked as bankers when they were younger, so they talked openly about money when I was growing up and checked in with each other regularly regarding finances. I didn't realize how unusual that was until I was married and that was not the case with my husband and his family.

My dad was also self-employed, so they had to pay for many things out of pocket, like doctor's visits and dental. So my dad would barter for services. I grew up knowing that bartering is a possibility…

I really value the transparent attitude regarding money that they passed down to me.

Luke, too, learned the value of talking about money openly — but as a reaction to what his parents did not do:

My parents never talked openly about money, their situation, their goals. They both tried their hand at managing the house and both succeeded and failed in different ways, but it lead to a lot of fighting because they were never on the same page.

My wife and I are completely open and honest about how we spend, what are goals are, and how we will get there together. If I die tomorrow, she will know how to manage our money when I’m gone.

Rebecca's parents weren't transparent about money when she was younger. Now, though, they regret that.

I was raised that talking about money was in very poor taste. You never asked what people made, etc. That came from my dad's side of the family.

My mom didn't have much growing up and was very frugal (washing and reusing all the plastic wrap kind of thing). But my mom loves to “splurge” on things, so money was used to treat yourself, a definite reward system. I definitely fall into that trap, an engrained emotional response to treat myself.

My dad now says his biggest parenting mistake was to not to talk to us and educate us about money, saving and investing.

Some people come from families that had money and knew how to handle it. For example, Stephen's grandparents retired early back before the FIRE movement was a even a thing:

I only recently put two and two together and realized that my grandparents on my dad's side saved aggressively – invested the savings – and retired early – the early version of FIRE…

They influenced me greatly with their wisdom. I was advised by my grandmother that when it came to my diet, I should consider everything in moderation including moderation. My grandfather advised me to never carry debt, and if I had any to pay it off as soon as possible which I tried to follow, and my grandfather would often have BBC current affair programs on which I would watch with him.

But you don't have to be raised with money to learn good habits. Laronda's parents were poor but still set a good example.

My mom grew up dirt-poor as the twelfth of thirteen children in Appalachia. I learned to be resourceful from her. She can up-cycle, mend, and re-purpose with the best of them. She's a wonderful from-scratch cook and is able to turn inexpensive ingredients into tasty dinners. (I'm feeding my own family her stewed beans and cornbread this evening.)

My dad grew up slightly better off but I don't get the impression his family discussed finances much. He taught my brothers and I how to do basic home and auto repairs and gave me an outfitted tool box when I left home.

Growing up, we never discussed money or how to manage it. My brothers and I knew money was a tense, to-be-generally-avoided topic, and we knew not to ask for things.

I've graduated to the middle class and use many of my parents' frugal methods like scratch-cooking, mending and DIY home repairs, but I consciously choose to talk about money frequently with my own spouse and with my three children. I'm hoping my kids are better equipped with money management knowledge and skills when they strike out on their own than I was, but I also hope they benefit from their grandparents' gifts of resourcefulness and general competence in the face of any household challenge.

Finally, here's a story from a reader named Frank:

Neither of my parents had any real financial literacy. My grandmother was my real parent, and she taught me everything I know about money.

As a child, she escaped a war-torn country. She got married. She and her husband had a farm, but he killed himself after all of their chickens died. My grandmother was left to raise two kids alone.

Somehow, she scraped together enough to buy a hotel. She sold it and built a bigger hotel. She sold that and split the money with with my mother. But mom spent it all because she didn't appreciate the work and investment that had gone into building the fortune. Meanwhile, my grandmother quadrupled her half of the wealth.

I'm terrified to be my parents. I've tried to learn from my grandmother. The best thing she taught me was to live well below my means. I'm doing that and busting my ass to make my money grow.

Other members of the Get Rich Slowly FB group pointed me to longer articles they've written about this subject. At Choose FI, Chad shared what his parents taught him about financial independence. Fritz Gilbert from Retirement Manifesto has written about 18 lessons he learned from his dad. And Frogdancer Jones' parents taught her to approach retirement from a position of strength.

Final Thoughts

Although I can't recall having read any academic studies on the subject, I'm convinced that we do inherit money blueprints from our financial family tree. Your basic money habits are a product of what you learned from your parents and grandparents.

In some cases, these blueprints are a reaction against how your family behaved. Most of the time, however, you mimic what you saw when you were young.

The good news is that you're not doomed follow in your family's footsteps. Although these money scripts are deeply-ingrained and will always linger in the back of your mind, you have the knowledge and ability to create better habits, to draw a new, improved money blueprint.

From experience, I can tell you that the transformation takes time. It won't happen overnight. But with enough patience and effort, you can change your frame of mind. You can become a money boss and produce a new branch on your financial family tree.

The post Your financial family tree: What our parents teach us about money appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

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12 days ago
I know my parents for sure had an impact in my financial life.
Columbus, Indiana
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Apple knows 5G is about infrastructure, NOT mobile phones

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With Apple shares down more than 20 percent from their all-time highs of only a few weeks ago, writers are piling-on about what’s wrong in Cupertino. But sometimes writers looking for a story don’t fully understand what they are talking about. And that seems to me to be the case with complaints that Apple is too far behind in adopting 5G networking technology in future iPhones. For all the legitimate stories about how Apple should have done this or that, 5G doesn’t belong on the list. And that’s because 5G isn’t really about mobile phones at all.

Just to get this out of the way, I see Apple shares currently presenting a huge buying opportunity. A good Christmas quarter will regain that lost 20 percent, and I don’t see any reason why Apple shouldn’t have a good Christmas quarter.

Back to 5G, I ran across this story about Apple being at a disadvantage to Samsung and others when it comes to introducing phones with 5G support. The gist of the story is that Apple is waiting for Intel to finish its 5G chipset while the other vendors are sticking with Qualcomm’s part that is already available. So Apple’s first 5G iPhone won’t appear until 2020 while Samsung’s will be out in 2019.

Apple and Qualcomm are in a $5+ billion legal dispute over claimed royalty evasion and IP theft, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Apple is trying to find alternate silicon suppliers. And Intel is somewhat delayed in its 5G roll-out. That all makes sense. But where I have a problem is with understanding how Apple is somehow at a strategic disadvantage by not having 5G in 2019.

5G networks aren’t here yet. They are close to being ready, but won’t start rolling-out until next year and most 5G networks won’t be available nationally until 2020 — just about the time Apple will be shipping its first 5G iPhone. So Apple’s a little behind, but not much really given the network build-outs still to happen. It’s hard to see much of a story here, frankly.

But it’s actually worse than that, because this story presumes that 5G support is somehow vital to mobile phones. It isn’t.

The first iPhone had 2G networking at a time when 3G networks were emerging, so we’ve been here before. But what’s different this time is that there’s little functional difference between 5G and the current 4G LTE (Long-term Evolution) networks we currently use.

Yes, there are myriad technical differences between 5G and LTE. 5G is way faster — at least 20 times faster than LTE. But the important question to ask here is why that speed difference matters for mobile phone users? It doesn’t. 5G is no killer app.

Remember that a killer app is an application so valuable to users that it justifies by itself buying the hardware upon which it runs. The original personal computer killer app was VisiCalc — the first spreadsheet.

What, then, does 5G enable mobile phone users to do that they can’t do today? I can’t think of anything. Sure, 5G will have us sharing 20 gigabits of bandwidth where LTE allows us to share just one gigabit, but what do we do that actually requires that kind of speed? Nothing.

I have a T-Mobile LTE portable WiFi hotspot that always gives me at least five megabits-per-second and I’ve seen speeds of up to 27 megabits-per-second. Both speeds can support, for example, streaming video at the highest resolution my phone can offer. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube — they all run flat-out already. What more is 5G going to offer me?

The traditional argument in this case is that we can’t know until the network is actually up and running at which point some developer will give us a compelling new class of app that does, in fact, need that kind of bandwidth. Only this time I don’t think it is going to work that way because, as I said, 5G isn’t actually about mobile phones at all. It’s about infrastructure. 

The current 5G roll-out is by far the most expensive network roll-out in wireless history. That’s because where previous network technologies generally made more efficient use of existing spectrum, 5G requires new spectrum — lots and lots of new spectrum. Much of this spectrum has been bought-back by wireless carriers from TV license holders. We’ll see this trend continue over the next decade or so until there will be no over-the-air TV left at all. At that point you’ll still be able to watch all the same TV, but it will be over 5G, instead.

The wireless carriers are paying billions for this spectrum not just to takeover TV carriage from broadcast — they want to take it over from cable, too. They fully expect to destroy cable TV over the next 15 years, taking not just TV viewers but also the even more important Internet users.

The whole idea behind 5G is that it will allow the wireless carriers to totally eat the lunches of wireline telephone, cable and Internet service providers while also supplanting broadcast TV.

5G is truly the one network that will rule them all.

Wireless carriers fully expect to turn traditional TV networks into content developers while putting traditional phone and cable companies simply out of business.

All networking will be wireless and truck rolls will end forever. No more cable guy.

This is pretty much inevitable. I remember explaining it to a crowd of PBS programmers in a meeting at Sundance back in 2002. Back then the network was spending $1.8 billion rolling-out digital HDTV and I suggested saving that money, selling the spectrum outright, and moving service first to cable and then to the Internet, using the money saved from both sources to endow PBS effectively forever. They thought I was crazy, when in fact I was only somewhat ahead of my time.

I’m sure there will be bandwidth-intensive mobile apps that take good advantage of 5G, but I doubt that any will be game-changing. Retina-type mobile displays long ago reached limits of perceivable visual difference, which is why phones had to get so big. You can make the display 4K, 5K or even 8K and on a phone it will look all the same. We can up refresh rates, I suppose, but anything beyond 144K (for those of us who aren’t teen gamers just 60K) is also beyond our physical ability to perceive as different. Or maybe we’ll have some type of retinal scan display that puts a 100-inch 8K 3D screen directly in our eyeballs, but I seriously doubt even that will require bandwidth much beyond LTE given that silicon will also improve and, along with it, video compression software.

Whatever amazing 5G mobile apps appear, the very earliest we’ll see them is 2020 or later when the 5G roll-outs are finally complete. And isn’t that when Apple is supposed to be shipping 5G phones?

See, they aren’t too late at all.

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12 days ago
5G is coming to Indianapolis via Verizon, it is exactly what this piece suggesting. The service will be $70/month ($50 if you are a Verizon Customer). I'm a Verizon customer and I would switch in a heart beat if my home was in the current rollout. I pay $60 to ATT to have a cable run to my house and a router for Wifi, many times my 4GLTE is faster than my house internet.
Columbus, Indiana
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Jameela Jamil calls out celebrities for promoting potentially harmful weight loss supplements that could give you the shits #teamJameela

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Jameela Jamil made news this week for calling out various celebrities for peddling so-called weight loss and detox supplements and teas. She also hoped they might “shit their pants in public.”

I am #teamJameela.

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Here is one of the celebrity endorsements that caught her attention, but sadly there are quite a few promoting Flat Tummy Co and all from women with a demographic most vulnerable to destructive messaging about food, body image, and diet — young women and teens.

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Jameela is right to call them out and she is right that one of the products from Flat Tummy Co could make you shit your pants. The tea is primarily laxatives, or at least you hope that is what it contains and not lead or antidepressants or dirt from the side of I-5 as studies tell us dietary supplements, which are unregulated, are often adulterated.

(By the way, I’m getting enraged every time I type Flat Tummy Co, because promoting a body image disorder with the actual name of your company is next level. I’m going to start calling them FTC, which could also stand for Fucking Terrible Celebrities because it is fucking terrible to use your platform in this way).

At Flat Tummy Co everything is pink and everyone is a Babe. Just seconds after you arrive “Babe Support” appears and when you buy you become a babe too. They anoint you. It’s like an angel getting its wings, but not at all. This is my chat from this morning and the pop up that appeared as I was typing. Another babe in Washington.


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Destructive messaging aside, here is a run down of some medical concerns with FTC products themselves:

Meal replacements are best done as part of a medically supervised weight loss program, not in a Regina-George-on-acid format. The kind of marketing from FTC could attract women who do not medically need to lose weight and contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food. Women who medically want to lose weight are unlikely to do so with these shakes. Essentially, they are a distraction from healthy eating and lifetstyle modification.

The teas sold by FTC are definitely geared to make you shit. The “activate tea” contains 2 possible laxatives: liquorice root and dandelion root.  The “cleanse tea” is almost all laxative — in addition to the liquorice and dandelion root there is senna, Cassia Chamaecrista, and rhubarb root. So 5 of the 7 ingredients are laxatives and the other two, peppermint and caraway, are often used to soothe bloat. I guess that would be needed to temper the colonic spasms.

Laxatives are not ecommended for weight loss or weight maintenance or to give you a “flat tummy.” (I’m shouting, but bold is easier to read than all caps). Laxatives are sadly used by people who suffer from bullemia, so exposing women to laxatives as a “normal” part of weight loss of maintenance is disgusting. It is destructive messaging.

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Liquorice or licorice in large amounts long-term can also lead to high blood pressure and there are concerns about it being harmful to a developing fetus. How much is in FTC’s product? Your guess is a good as mine!

Then there is the egregious use of “cleansing” and “detoxification,” which are medically nonsensical terms. There are also no “nasties” to eliminate. The Kardashians, helping woman be less informed about their bodies since 2018. I mean come on people, do you not have enough money? Giving women incorrect information about how their bodies work to sell product is the exact opposite of female empowerment.

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The lollipops, promoted by Kim Kardashian, make appetite suppressant claims. The first two ingredients are sugar, so there’s that. The active ingredient, Satiereal®, is a saffron extract. There is one study of 60 patients over 8 weeks on its impact on snacking —  one half of the participants took the saffron extract and half a placebo (as a capsule, not a sugar filled lollipop). The patients who took the extract lost 0.9 kg or about 2 lbs more over 8 weeks. That’s the only study.

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As the lollipops have 35 calories and the recommendation is 2 a day, over 8 weeks that is an extra 3,920 calories. That could be enough for some people to gain a pound. Or two.

What we do know about weight loss drugs or pharmacotherapy for weight loss is that they are only indicated for people with a BMI over 30 or for those who have a BMI over 27 who have other medical conditions. They should be medically supervised, not “Babe” supported, and only used in conjunction with lifestyle modification — provocative Instagram poses don’t count.

Appetite suppressants also have a long history of turning out to be dangerous. We don’t know what we don’t know.

Jameela Jamil is exactly right to call out celebrities for endorsing these products and the products themselves. There is no quick fix for weight loss, if there were we doctors would most definitely not be hiding it from you. We also wouldn’t wrap it in pink and call you babe.

FTC products are marketed to young women and teens, so it is no wonder who they pay to advertise on Instagram. The Kardashians and Cardi B and anyone else who sends young women to this website or any weight loss supplement/detox website should be ashamed of themselves. This is the exact messaging and the kind of products that cultivate eating disorders.

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And Jameela, if you read this, I was that teenager too.

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My recent article for the New York Times on my weight loss struggles.


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12 days ago
I love reading these posts.
Columbus, Indiana
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The Art of Buying a Book for a Serious Reader

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<spoiler> This post is sponsored by Simon and Schuster. </spoiler>

Buying a gift for a bookworm seems like it should be easy, but it proves to be a daunting task year after year. Before you drive yourself crazy sleuthing through your friends and families’ reading habits, we thought we'd provide some expert advice to help out this holiday season.

We turned to Tom Nissley, who is not only the author of A Reader's Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year, but also the owner of Phinney Books, a neighborhood bookstore in Seattle (where he'll also be opening a second store, Madison Books).

Here are his tried-and-true tips for buying books as gifts:

There's nothing I like better as a gift than a book, and that's exactly the thing my friends and family are most terrified to give me. I understand why. I have a lot of books. I have a lot of opinions about books. I even have a bookstore.

So what to do if you have a troublesome person like me on your gift list? You could always give them a shirt. It's quite possible they could use a new one. But fear not: You could still get them what they really want, and here's how.

Let's get the easiest solution out of the way first. Yes, it is perfectly fine to give a bookstore gift certificate!

It's hard to imagine a reader who would not be delighted to have carte blanche to browse around a store with free money and treat themselves to something they never would have bought otherwise. You could get a gift card from their favorite store, or perhaps since there are few things a bookworm likes more than discovering a new bookstore, you could give them a reason to try a store that's a little farther afield or in a place they might be visiting soon. (Or, if you want to be the most brilliant gift giver of all: May I suggest a gift card for a store in a place they don't plan to visit, accompanied by tickets for you to go there together. Along with the pleasure of the books and the shared trip, they'll appreciate that at least two hours of the trip are already earmarked for bookstore browsing.)

But what if you want to give an actual book?

You might start with one of my favorite genres: the witty, browsable reference book. (It's a genre I love so much, I wrote one myself: a literary almanac called A Reader's Book of Days.) Books like that make for fun reading, but even better: They don't create a burden, because they are meant to be sampled, to be browsed in one spare moment and put down until another arises. They add to the books you can read without displacing any others!

There are wonderful books of this kind across all subjects (favorites of mine include David Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film, Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract, and—to my surprise—Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's Perfumes: The Guide), but, as you might expect, there are many with books as their subject, including some delicious new ones, including James Mustich's superbly chosen and beautifully printed 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die and Jane Mount's brightly illustrated Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany, as well as, on the more puckish side, Paperback Crush, Gabrielle Moss' celebration of the Sweet Valley High era of teen romances, a follow-up to the same publisher's deeply enjoyable Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction.

Beyond that, my advice is to go either very new, or old. If there's a very new book by an author, or on a subject, you know your bookworm loves, snap it up! I say "very new" because this can be a tricky operation: The more your person loves an author, the more likely they are to grab their new book themselves as soon as it goes on sale. But here's your safety net: If you buy the book from a place where it can be easily exchanged, the book is, in essence, a gift certificate, in which case, see above.

And then there is my preferred option: going old. My favorite gift for my bookstore staff (and—hint, hint—for myself) is an old edition of a book I know they love. In this connected world, it's not so hard to track down a first edition (better yet, a signed first edition) of a favorite book, and many of them are fairly affordable, just as long as your beloved's favorite book isn't, say, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (well-worn, unsigned first edition currently available for $5,500).

Or perhaps there's a picture book they loved as a kid that has fallen out of print. I once, in less internet-y days, found a copy of Jellybeans for Breakfast at a library and presented my wife with a color-copied, hand-bound (well, stapled) edition of her childhood favorite, long out of print.

Similarly, especially if you are traveling, you might track down a foreign-language copy of a beloved book, just for the novelty of seeing those familiar words transformed. I doubt I'll ever read the copy of Nathanael West's Un milione tondo tondo my sister brought back from Italy, but I still love having it.

But going old is also a way of getting off the beaten path and finding a book that even your well-read recipient might not know about. The books I most love to discover as a reader (and a bookseller) are ones that have been hiding in plain sight: "lost classics" that were once beloved but have since been forgotten, or ones that never made a splash but have been kept alive by a small band of rabid fans.

For more of these "lost classics," check out these 47 books recommended by Phinney Books.

You can unearth such treasures with your own research (on Goodreads, or on the wonderful website
Neglected Books, or via my latest bookish obsession, the British podcast Backlisted), or you can rely on some of the excellent publishers who specialize in digging up (and making lovely books out of) such gems, including NYRB Classics, Pushkin Press, Australia's Text Classics, and the new American Mystery Classics imprint. More than once, I've given my book-loving mother-in-law a little stack of NYRB Classics. Even if I haven't read them myself, I can give them with confidence, because I trust NYRB's judgment. (And they're pretty.)

Or you could take advantage of the judgment of another expert: your local bookseller. Walk into your local bookshop, if you're lucky enough to have one, and explain that you're looking for a gift for someone who has read everything. They might ask for a few details to help them steer you to a superb book that your reader might not know about. Or just ask the question they most like hearing: "What are your favorite books that nobody knows about?"

Because while a bookseller is very happy to sell you a new bestseller, a bookseller is very, very, very, very, very happy to sell you that underrated book they love and know everyone else would, too, if they just knew about it. (Some of my favorite answers to that question: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis, The Golden Age by Joan London, Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara for short-story lovers, The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites for engineering types, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household for thriller fans, and The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John for anyone looking for a happy, but not stupid, book, which, based on my experience, is everyone.)

You could also rely on those experts by giving one of the most generous reader's gifts: a yearlong book subscription. Many bookstores and publishers around the world have launched such services, in which they send out a well-chosen book every month, sometimes in a box with other goodies (although what "goodie" is worth the space that could be occupied by another book, I have no idea). NYRB Classics has one for their own books, as does the British publisher Persephone, which specializes in beautifully bound reprints of fiction, mainly by women. Many stores offer "first-edition clubs" or specialty subject subscriptions, and some, like Brilliant Books in Michigan, and Heywood Hill and the Willoughby Book Club in the U.K., promise individually chosen "bespoke" subscriptions. I should mention that at Phinney Books we have two subscription programs, one for children's picture books and one, called Phinney by Post, that, as you might expect from the above, specializes in those lost classics I love to find.

Finally, if all those choices still daunt you, the other thing a book lover values is time. Reading books takes time, something we never have enough of, and if you can't give a book, or are terrified to choose the right one, you can always give the time to read one (or three). Give your favorite reader a gift of uninterrupted time, when they have no responsibilities or concerns but the pages in front of them (and perhaps someone to bring a snack and top off their drink), and they might be the most grateful of all.

What are your best tips for buying gifts for readers? Share them with us in the comments!

posted by Cybil on November, 14
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22 days ago
Amazing tips!
Columbus, Indiana
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A1C Advice: Change What You Consider High Blood Sugar

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When your A1C results are still too high 😣

If you’re frustrated that your HbA1c (A1C) hasn’t gone down despite your best efforts to exercise more, eat fewer carbs, and check your blood sugar more often, there may be one sneaky habit you haven’t noticed: what you consider an “okay” blood sugar is actually a “high” blood sugar that needs correcting with a bolus of insulin.

Your A1c is the culmination of your blood sugar levels over the course of the prior 2-3 months, which means an A1c of 8.0 percent translates to eAG” (estimated average glucose) of 183 mg/dL.

If your blood sugar is 183 mg/dL, this means that for a large part of every day, your blood sugar is either a little lower or a little higher than 183 mg/dL. Meanwhile, an A1c of 7.0 percent translates to 154 mg/dL. Merely a 30-point different, sure. But it has a tremendous impact on your A1c and overall blood sugar levels!

What You Consider a High Blood Sugar - a1c chart - how to reduce a1c - how to reduce blood glucose

High vs. High 

The trick, in this scenario, is to adjust the way you think of “high” BG. Sure, we all know 300 mg/dL is “high.” But, if you’re looking to get that 8.0% A1C down to a 7.0%, 183 mg/dL should now resonate with you as “high” as well.

It sounds so easy! But when you try putting it into practice, it can actually be quite tricky. So you see a 183 mg/dL on your meter screen; what do you do to correct it? It’s not high like a 300 mg/dL high, but it’s still, technically, “high” if the goal is to get to 7.0%. But are you registering it as such?

If not, it’s OK! Here are the steps to take to change that mindset, and reach your A1C goal. 🥅

Step 1: Get to the root of the problem 

You can’t fix something until you know (and understand) what the root cause of the problem is. Ask yourself: “What have I been considering a ‘high’ blood sugar that deserves an insulin correction?” Perhaps you need a week of observing and getting to know your honest answer to this question. By the end of the week, you might learn that you’re often around 200 mg/dL after lunch, or you spend the majority of your entire workday around 150 mg/dL and you never take a correction for it, because you’re used to that being “your normal.”

Step 2: Set a new standard of success (aka high BG)

Decide on your new standard of “high blood sugar.” In an ideal world, we’d all aim for that perfect, non-diabetic range of 70 to 120 mg/dL all day long. But, as you and I know all too well, that is pretty darn stressful! And fairly unrealistic for everyday life with diabetes. (The exception being those who are pregnant or eating The Bernstein Diet). Instead, you might decide that you’ll aim to correct any blood sugar over 140 mg/dL (based on the logic, of course, of how long it’s been since your last injection or bolus, to prevent “stacking” your insulin). Whatever your new goal is, write it down (tape it into your glucometer if you have to!) and embrace your new range as your new goal. ⭐

Step 3: Establish your correction factor 

Establish your Correction Factor …and use it! Your correction factor (CF) is the number of points 1 unit of insulin will reduce your blood sugar. For instance, the common CF is 1:50 or 1:75. Once your CF is established as 1:50, for example, when you see a 150 mg/dL on your glucometer 3 hours after lunch (when your meal bolus is past its peak), you could take a ½ unit of insulin to bring your blood sugar down 25 points. (Remember that certain variables like exercise and stress can impact your CF in that moment. Exercise would cause you to need less insulin for that correction, whereas a stressful conversation or work event could cause you to need more.)

Step 4: Tighten up fasting BGs

Take a look at your overnight and fasting blood sugars. If you’ve been seeing 160 mg/dL on your glucometer in the mornings and don’t do anything about it, that’s going to be a big contributor to your A1c frustration.< That means you’ve spent all night with a blood sugar well above the range of your target A1C. That alone can explain why your A1C is so much higher than your goal, even if you’ve been staying closer to your goal range during the day. Nighttime is 8 hours of your A1C result! Nip that one in the bud by studying your overnight blood sugars more closely and adjusting your insulin and medication doses.

Step 5: Increase background insulin doses

If you aren’t getting enough background/basal insulin, your efforts to lower your A1C will be pretty pointless. When was the last time you did a little basal testing? Evan a small increase of 1 additional unit per day in your background insulin dose can have a huge impact on your overall blood sugars. If you’re seeing habitual spikes and/or long-term high patterns in your levels, rethink your basal settings. Consider that your overall background/basal insulin doses need an increase. It’s an easy fix!

Step 6: Pinpoint other BG trouble spots 

For example, if you usually exercise with your blood sugar around 200 mg/dL because you’re terrified of going low, that’s going to be a daily portion of the day when you’re well above your goal range (if you’re trying to achieve an A1c of 7.0 percent). Learning how to exercise with in-range blood sugars isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a lengthy process of trial and error and more learning, but it can be done! Here are a few resources to help you expand your knowledge around exercising with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes using insulin:

Fit with Diabetes eBook by Diabetes Strong

The Diabetes Athlete’s Handbook by Sheri Colberg, PhD

Fasted Exercise with Type 1 Diabetes by Ginger Vieira

Bright Spots & Landmines by Adam Brown

Dealing with Diabetes Burnout by Ginger Vieira

The ongoing science experiment 

In the end, it’s all just learning, studying, improving and adjusting! The lifelong science experiment of life with diabetes. 🙌 You may have recently come out on the other side of a stressful divorce or been managing the diagnosis of something incredibly stressful like breast cancer–and those stressors in life had caused you to let your blood sugars run higher for a period of time. Hey, it happens! To any of us! (Mine, for example, was the addition of a 2nd child to keep alive on a daily basis! Parenting! Oy vey.) But when you’re ready to focus on reducing your A1c, make sure that your idea of a “normal” blood sugar vs. a “high” blood sugar lines up realistically with your goals.

The post A1C Advice: Change What You Consider High Blood Sugar appeared first on One Drop.

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76 days ago
This is the type of daily experimentation one has to do when managing diabetes. Thankfuly I don't have to add insulin to my monitoring, but controling the grams of carbs, exercise and mindset.
Columbus, Indiana
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It was about slavery.

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Do the racist Trumpists in your family claim the Civil War wasn’t about slavery but instead about states’ rights?

Yeah, mine too. A steady diet of the Southern Strategy and the Confederate Catechism occupies their minds with morally convenient ahistorical revisionism.

Civil War lessons often depend on where the classroom is.” In the classroom of our family, we teach our kids to consult primary sources, in this case the declarations of secession of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and our home state of Texas as well as the ordinances of secession.

Historian Kevin Kruse offered a helpful breakdown of these declarations on Twitter.

Here’s an embed of the video mentioned in the thread.

If that institution was discredited in the eyes of the world, then the Confederacy itself would be discredited in the eyes of history. So, it became a psychological necessity, I think, to deny that the Civil War was about slavery.

Source: Was the Civil War about Slavery? When did States Rights Become A Popular Explanation for Secession? – YouTube

Historian Kevin Gannon offered a great thread on the history of Robert E. Lee.

What about non-slaveholding southerners fighting in the Civil War? Historian Keri Leigh Merritt explains how oligarchy, then as now, brutalized and divided us all.

One of my favorite resources for teaching American history and social studies is “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”. Here it is on the states’ rights argument and how textbooks have misrepresented the Civil War.

Slavery was the underlying reason that South Carolina, followed by ten other states, left the Union. In 1860, leaders of the state were perfectly clear about why they were seceding. On Christmas Eve, they signed a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” Their first grievance was “that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations,” specifically this clause, which they quote: “No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up . . .” This is of course the Fugitive Slave Clause, under whose authority Congress had passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which South Carolina of course approved. This measure required officers of the law and even private citizens in free states to participate in capturing and returning African Americans when whites claimed them to be their slaves. This made the free states complicit with slavery. They wriggled around, trying to avoid full compliance. Pennsylvania, for example, passed a law recognizing the supremacy of the federal act but pointing out that Pennsylvanians still had the right to determine pay for their officers of the law, and they refused to pay for time spent capturing and returning alleged slaves. South Carolina attacked such displays of states’ rights:

But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations. . . . The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.

Thus South Carolina opposed states’ rights when claimed by free states. This is understandable. Historically, whatever faction has been out of power in America has pushed for states’ rights. White Southerners dominated the executive and judicial branches of the federal government throughout the 1850s—and through the Democratic Party, the legislative branch as well—so of course they opposed states’ rights. Slave owners were delighted when Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney decided in 1857 that throughout the nation, irrespective of the wishes of state or territorial governments, blacks had no rights that whites must respect. Slave owners pushed President Buchanan to use federal power to legitimize slaveholding in Kansas the next year. Only after they lost control of the executive branch in the 1860 election did slave owners begin to suggest limiting federal power.

South Carolina’s leaders went on to condemn New York for denying “even the right of transit for a slave” and other Northern states for letting African Americans vote. Before the Civil War, these matters were states’ rights. Nevertheless, South Carolina claimed the right to determine whether New York could prohibit slavery within New York or Vermont could define citizenship in Vermont. Carolinians also contested the rights of residents of other states even to think differently about their peculiar institution, giving as another reason for secession that Northerners “have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery.” In short, slavery permeates the document from start to finish. Of course, the election of Lincoln provided the trigger, but the abiding purpose of secession was to protect, maintain, and enhance slavery. Nor was South Carolina unusual; other states used similar language when they seceded.

Despite this clear evidence, before 1970 many textbooks held that almost anything but slavery—differences over tariffs and internal improvements, the conflict between agrarian South and industrial North, and especially “states’ rights”—led to secession. This was a form of Southern apologetics. Never was there any excuse for such bad scholarship, and in the aftermath of the civil rights movement most textbook authors came to agree with Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural “that slavery was somehow the cause of the war.” As The United States—A History of the Republic put it in 1981, “At the center of the conflict was slavery, the issue that would not go away.”

Source: Loewen, James W.. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (pp. 139-140). The New Press. Kindle Edition.

This is hard history, but as the states’ rights racists in our families reveal, we have to teach it and do a much better job than we have done so far.

It is often said that slavery was our country’s original sin, but it is much more than that. Slavery is our country’s origin. It was responsible for the growth of the American colonies, transforming them from far-flung, forgotten outposts of the British Empire to glimmering jewels in the crown of England. And slavery was a driving power behind the new nation’s territorial expansion and industrial maturation, making the United States a powerful force in the Americas and beyond.

Slavery was also our country’s Achilles heel, responsible for its near undoing. When the southern states seceded, they did so expressly to preserve slavery. So wholly dependent were white Southerners on the institution that they took up arms against their own to keep African Americans in bondage. They simply could not allow a world in which they did not have absolute authority to control black labor—and to regulate black behavior.

The central role that slavery played in the development of the United States is beyond dispute. And yet, we the people do not like to talk about slavery, or even think about it, much less teach it or learn it. The implications of doing so unnerve us. If the cornerstone of the Confederacy was slavery, then what does that say about those who revere the people who took up arms to keep African Americans in chains? If James Madison, the principal architect of the Constitution, could hold people in bondage his entire life, refusing to free a single soul even upon his death, then what does that say about our nation’s founders? About our nation itself?

Slavery is hard history. It is hard to comprehend the inhumanity that defined it. It is hard to discuss the violence that sustained it. It is hard to teach the ideology of white supremacy that justified it. And it is hard to learn about those who abided it.

We the people have a deep-seated aversion to hard history because we are uncomfortable with the implications it raises about the past as well as the present.

We the people would much rather have the Disney version of history, in which villains are easily spotted, suffering never lasts long, heroes invariably prevail and life always gets better. We prefer to pick and choose what aspects of the past to hold on to, gladly jettisoning that which makes us uneasy. We enjoy thinking about Thomas Jefferson proclaiming, “All men are created equal.” But we are deeply troubled by the prospect of the enslaved woman Sally Hemings, who bore him six children, declaring, “Me too.”

Literary performer and educator Regie Gibson had the truth of it when he said, “Our problem as Americans is we actually hate history. What we love is nostalgia.”

Slavery isn’t in the past. It’s in the headlines.

These recent events reveal, at least in part, how American schools are failing to teach a critical and essential portion of the nation’s legacy-the history and continuing impact of chattel slavery. Research for this report reveals that high school students don’t know much about the history of slavery in the United States, with only 8 percent able to identify it as the central cause of the Civil War. This should not be surprising, given that most adults wrongly identify “states’ rights” as the cause. Widespread ignorance about slavery, the antebellum South and the Confederacy persists to the present day, and is on display in controversies over monument removal in places like New Orleans, Louisiana, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where protests turned deadly in the summer of 2017. Students and adults alike may even hold fringe beliefs, including notions propagated by white nationalists, such as the idea that slavery wasn’t “so bad,” or that the Irish were enslaved.9 Few Americans acknowledge the role slavery played in states outside the South.

Teachers struggle to do justice to the nation’s legacy of racial injustice. They are poorly served by state standards and frameworks, popular textbooks and even their own academic preparation. For this report, we surveyed more than 1,700 social studies teachers across the country. A bare majority say they feel competent to teach about slavery. Most say that the available resources and preparation programs have failed them. Almost all regret this deficiency, recognizing that teaching the history of slavery is essential. When we reviewed a set of popular history textbooks, we saw why teachers felt a lack of support: Texts fail in key areas, including connecting slavery to the present and portraying the diversity of the experiences of the enslaved. State content standards, which are meant to set clear expectations for instruction, are scattershot at best, often making puzzling choices such as teaching about Harriet Tubman long before slavery, or equivocating on the cause of the Civil War. When we consider the available landscape of materials and expectations, it is no wonder that teachers struggle.

Source: Teaching Hard History: American Slavery

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104 days ago
Wow, for a immigrant living the US this is a lot of history to understand. It has also been inmensly helpful to see how/why there is a return to these topics now.
Columbus, Indiana
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