What's your plan?

A question I find useful with my kids is "what's your plan?":

  • What's your plan for snack at school today?
  • What's your plan if it gets cold while we're at the picnic?
  • What's your plan for these drawings?

It works well when trying to find a balance on responsibility: the issue is theirs to resolve, but it's not something I can just trust they'll handle unassisted. It acts as both a casual reminder and an opening for me to offer feedback if I end up thinking their plan is unrealistic.

I also like that it's easy to pull back from: I can try not asking, and see how it goes. Over time, as they become more capable, many things have moved out of this intermediate state while others have moved in.

Outdoor dancing is likely very safe

After the spontaneous contra dance at Porchfest, I'm helping organize another one. I wanted to get a better sense of how much covid risk an attendee would be taking, so I ran some numbers on microcovid. If everyone is masked and vaccinated, I count ~2.2 microcovids:
Why Not a Natural Gas Generator?

In the comments on my posts about backup power, several people suggested looking into natural gas generators. After learning more about them, though, and about our local infrastructure, I don't think they make sense for us.

Unlike propane, which will stay liquid at room temperature with reasonable pressure (~150psi), liquifying natural gas for efficient storage requires extremely low temperatures. This means you want to pipe it in, and our house has a pipe to feed our furnace. This is pretty common here in Boston, the main alternative being oil, delivered by truck.

Gas delivery is extremely reliable: I've never experienced an outage. It has to be this reliable, because appliances have been designed with the assumption that gas won't ever go out. Older furnaces and stoves have pilot lights, which constantly release a small amount of gas and burn it. If the gas went out the pilot would too, and then when the gas came back on the house would slowly fill with gas. This means that if there were to be an outage the utility wouldn't be able to turn the gas back on without technicians going door to door to every affected house.

Candy Innovation

What innovations in candy have there been since the '90s? Are there new flavors? Better imitations of existing flavors? New textures?

So far, all of the candy my kids have brought home seems to be things we could get 25 years ago. Though possibly flavors have improved, since I've only been trying what they've decided to share with me.

There have been some gains due to globalization, where candy that was previously hard to get in the US or unknown here is now more widely available, but has there been development beyond that?

Porchfest 2021

Yesterday, I played at Somerville Porchfest with several contradance friends. This is an annual festival that has been running since 2011, modeled after Ithaca's event of the same name. Bands sign up to play music on their porches and people wander around the city listening. It was canceled in 2020, and postponed to the Fall in 2021, so this was the first one in two and a half years. (And I had missed the previous event because I was travelling.)

I had initially been hoping to play with Kingfisher and then Whirlwind, But my bandmates weren't available and I ended up organizing a pickup group the day before. This ended up being super fun: unlike my regular bandmates, these were musicians I hadn't seen since before the pandemic (aside from my dad), and it was nice to be reminded of how much I like them all.

Issues with Giving Multiplier

See the end of this post for a response from Giving Multiplier.

Giving Multiplier launched last fall to promote effective giving. You may have read about it at the time in Future Perfect, but I learned about it more recently, from Giving What We Can. Since it aims to convince people to donate to excellent charities, many of which are GiveWell-recommended, you might expect I would be happy about this, unless you'd read last week's post about GiveWell's donation matching.

So: what is Giving Multiplier? You come in as a person who has a favorite charity in mind, and it suggests you split your donation between that charity and one of the charities it recommends.

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