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Yesterday I saw a funny letter reproduced online, purportedly written by a St. Louis guy who decided not to lend his 6-year-old son $20 to buy something.

He created a logo – Dad Savings and Loan: Because Apparently I Look Like I’m Made of Money – and explained why the loan had been declined. Among other things, the child had “insufficient funds and a history of not doing (his) chores.”

In addition, “over $80 has been spent on discretionary entertainment expenses since Christmas…an unsustainable amount of expenditure, and we cannot further compound the problem by financially assisting with (further) debt at this point.”

Dad-poses-as-bank-to-reject-loan-for-20

Classic! And it touched a particular nerve with me. Here’s why.

 


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thRecently we had DF’s granddaughter over for about six hours. Midway through the visit I heard this conversation coming from the living room:

“You don’t have a TV.”

“That’s right,” DF replied.

“I want you to have a TV,” said Rose, who recently turned three.

“I don’t want a TV.”

“I want to watch TV,” she clarified.

“If you want a TV, you buy it,” DF replied.

Rose laughed merrily. “Noooo, Opa, you buy it.”

“We don’t need a TV here,” DF said.

A few seconds later Rose had forgotten about our household’s screenless state, being more interested in playing with a few ornaments from my tabletop Christmas tree.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics re-drew its recommendations on very young children and screen time. Back in 2011 the AAP had suggested no screen time at all before age two, and no more than two hours per day for kids older than that. Right around that time the first iPad appeared.

 


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thJust got a press release from a company suggesting “fun and affordable” stocking stuffers. What got my attention was how it defines “affordable”: items under $50.

Um…no. I don’t spend $50 altogether on the stuffers for five stockings. In fact, I generally don’t spend anything at all (more on that in a minute).

On what non-frugal planet is “under $50” considered a low price for a small item? And when did stocking stuffers graduate from candy canes and stickers to things like $50 iTunes cards, Sharper Image six-port USB charging hubs ($29.98) and $30 bottles of perfume?

Little things mean a lot, but they shouldn’t have to cost a lot. Thus I refuse to pay a lot. Here are some ways to save.

 


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thA while back I put up a post called “Ask me (almost) anything,” in which I said I’d answer reader questions. Not all of them, mind you, but some of them.

I meant it, too. But you’ll notice I never said how soon I’d do it.

Now, three months later, I’m taking on three queries for starters. They’re fairly softball-ish questions, but I’m pretty tuckered out right now as I wind down the contracting gig.


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thNorth Carolina photographer Eric Pickersgill was in a café when a family’s non-togetherness spooked him deeply.

The father and two daughters were on their phones while the mother looked out the window, seeming “sad and alone in the company of her closest family.” Ultimately she gave in and took out her own phone.

From this Pickersgill found the inspiration for a photo series called “Removed,” a series of pictures that were semi-staged, yet all too real. Pickersgill would ask device-users to hold their poses while he removed the tablets and cell phones from their grasp.

The result is, well, the same sort of thing we see all the time in public places: People ignoring everything around them to fixate on handheld pixel-makers. But its static nature – men, women and children staring blankly into empty space – makes the exhibit deeply unsettling.

A few examples:

 


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