Monthly Archives: September 2020

A Legend Lost

I never met her.  But I worshipped her from afar.  And she changed my life forever.  She was diminutive in size, but a giant in the legal world.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG) was the kind of hero who made an impression on everyone (regardless of political party).

She attended Harvard Law at a time when few women were allowed to do so, paving the way for the much more equal gender split found in law schools today.  She taught at a law school at a time when even fewer women were given that opportunity.  She felt firsthand the discrimination against women who bucked against traditional gender roles, and she aimed to change that for all.

As a practicing attorney she fought for men to receive caregiver deductions and widower Social Security benefits—because a woman can be the primary breadwinner in a couple too!  She fought for jury duty to be required of women as well as men—prior to that women were easily able to opt out.  How can a fair jury be seated without having a fair shot at seating women?

On the Supreme Court she helped women earn the right to attend the Virginia Military Institute.  She helped women extend the window of time within which they can file a pay discrimination case to be based on the date the woman learns she learns she is being paid less than her male counterparts rather than the date of hire (because how can she file before she knows of the issue?!).  She also wrote the majority opinion that ruled that mental illness is a disability, and deserving of the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

RBG was pervasive across many legal issues.  But her biggest influence on my life came in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.  Prior to this legislation it was very difficult for women to establish credit in their own names because they could be discriminated against based on gender or marital status (or race, or religion, or age).  RBG’s early work as an attorney laid the groundwork for this important law.

I am a middle-aged woman.  I spent my 30’s unmarried.  During that time I opened credit cards.  I purchased cars.  I purchased real estate.  All in my own name, without difficulty.  Since I married in my 40’s, I’ve been able to provide health insurance for my husband through my employer.  And I’ve been able to open credit cards and purchase cars and purchase real estate, without being required to include my husband in the credit process.

I never met her.  But she profoundly affected my life as I know it.  Thank you, Justice Ginsberg.  Your legacy will live on forever.

A New World for Entertainment

My idea of entertainment has changed quite a bit since mid-March.  Those who have been reading my posts for a while know that I love live music.  A normal summer for me would include 8 or more music festivals.  Fall and winter for me usually involve several concerts.  I also love theater, movies, and Friday evenings at my local brew pub.  Of course, thanks to a global pandemic, none of these things are happening as they used to.  But art finds a way.

I’m grateful that live music is still happening.  Over the last 6 months I’ve attended concerts in some very unusual ways.  Most of the “live” music I’ve seen has actually been recordings of shows from the past.  But I wasn’t there the first time, so watching those streams on my television was brand new for me.  Then came the “empty venue” shows.  Artists got creative and started playing live shows in empty venues to be streamed.  To make it easier for the bands, sometimes this even includes a Zoom with the fans so the band can see the fans reacting to the music.  (And I have to say…one of the coolest things I’ve experienced during this pandemic was watching one of my favorite bands watching me on a screen while they played.)  And then came the drive-in concerts.  Live concerts where tickets are sold by the carload.  Each car gets a designated space beside their car for tailgating and dancing.

Watching a new release movie has been a much different experience this summer as well.  “Straight to video” used to mean the movie was terrible.  Now it means it’s good enough that they really want people to see it, so it’s released immediately into streaming rental.  So I pop my own popcorn and watch from the comfort of my living room.

Big Ten football is soon to be making a reappearance.  And I won’t be disappointed to watch Penn State play.  I typically prefer to watch on TV anyway.  But for those who will miss the tailgating, there’s no rule saying you can’t tailgate at home!  Set up the canopy.  Fire up the grill.  Get out the cornhole boards.  You don’t have to be at Beaver Stadium to have the typical tailgate fun!  I had a few front yard cookouts over the summer just to break the monotony of quarantine, and it was really fun to chat with any neighbors that walked by and to share a socially distant beverage with a few friends.  Football could only make that better, right?

I haven’t really delved into socially distant Zoom theater, but I know it is happening.  I no longer eat and drink at my local brewpub, but I still enjoy their takeout food and canned beverages.  Whatever it is you normally love for entertainment, there is probably some new safe way to experience it like never before.

The hidden bonus of all this change is the cost.  Streaming a new release movie at home is less expensive than going out and buying popcorn and soda.  Streaming a concert is MUCH cheaper than going in person (sometimes it’s completely free!).  Even drive-in concerts saved me a bunch of money on food and beverage (because you can bring your own in your car!).  Eating and drinking at home is cheaper than in a restaurant.  A front yard tailgate is cheaper than football tickets.  My entertainment budget LOVES this pandemic.  (Not to mention that most of the music festival tickets I bought for this year I have rolled over to next year, so next year’s budget won’t feel that hit either).  We’re all feeling the fatigue of the pandemic.  But it is still possible to have a lot of fun in some creative ways.  And you can save money in the process!

Camping is Cool

Camping seems to be the cool way to have fun this year.  It’s an outdoor activity.  It’s by nature socially distant.  It’s a way to travel without being in contact with people or eating in restaurants.  And there are options for every budget.

You may think of camping as a tent in the woods and cooking over a fire.  You may think of camping as a giant motorhome in an RV resort bordering on Disneyworld.  And there are a million variations in between.

When my husband and I decided to go to a pair of drive-in concerts this weekend, I didn’t think twice about where to stay.  More than one night at a place more than an hour and a half from home in the summertime automatically made me think of camping.  I booked a site at a State Park near the concert.  For $60 I got a place to stay for those two nights.  If I hadn’t wanted to pay a little extra for convenience (electricity and showers), I could have chosen a site in a State Forest for free.  I packed and cooked my own food.  And I slept in my camper bed, which is actually more comfortable than the bed in the last hotel I visited.

Camping is often thought of as an activity unto itself.  But it’s more than that.  It’s a low-cost travel lodging option.  For many (hopefully including myself after I retire) it’s a full-time living choice.

Break out the hot-dogs and marshmallows.  Camping is cool!


Wrap It Up for the Future

The last few weeks my husband and I have been dabbling in make-ahead wrapped foods.  I bought a pack of burrito tortillas at the local warehouse club and threw caution to the wind.  I got out my Instant Pot and cooked up some chicken breasts in barbecue sauce.  I shredded the chicken then wrapped it up in the tortillas with some cheese.  It made 9 wraps that I wrapped individually in aluminum foil and put in the freezer.  A week later I took four of them on a camping trip, heated them up on our grill (still wrapped in the foil) and had a really easy (delicious) meal!

My husband decided to tackle the rest of the tortillas last Friday and make some burritos.  He’s a better cook than I am so he made his own refried beans, rice, and seasoned ground chicken to stuff them with (along with cheese, of course!).  Amazingly, what he prepared used exactly the remaining 7 tortillas from the jumbo pack I bought.  And then we had even more already prepared food that just needed to be heated up.

Now here is where my ultimate frugal side comes into play.  This weekend we went to a pair of drive-in concerts and stayed in a hotel (because I had enough hotel reward points for a free room).  And we didn’t want to eat in restaurants because of the pandemic.  But we had burritos and chicken wraps ready to go.  So one of the things I packed for the weekend was my slow cooker.  I know…who takes their slow cooker on a hotel vacation?!?!  I do.  It’s perfect for heating up those foil wrapped burritos and chicken wraps and toasting up the tortilla a little bit in the process.  We saved the cost of eating out.  We ate food that wasn’t fried.  We didn’t have to risk Covid to eat in a restaurant.  It was the perfect choice for us at this particular time in life.

Sometimes you stumble into a good idea that’s worth keeping around.  I’ve never taken my slow cooker on a hotel outing before.  But I probably will again someday.  And I’ve never made wraps or burritos just to put in the freezer for the future.  But I likely will again…very soon!  It’s terribly convenient on those days when you don’t want to cook to just reach into the freezer and have something home cooked that just needs to be heated.  Times are weird right now…but weird times can teach us things that are useful going forward!