Jealous of other kids?

by Denver Dad

Do you ever get jealous of other kids? I’ve mentioned quite a few times that DD plays softball and I’m one of the coaches. She loves playing, but she is just not an athlete. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few girls who came in with little or no experience and pick it up so quickly. I can’t help feeling a bit jealous when I see them in comparison to DD.

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Being single and happy

by Grace aka costofcollege

What If Marriage Is Overrated?

Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist, studies single people.

… For years, DePaulo has been chipping away at the commonly held belief — a myth, in her view and according to her research — that marriage offers unique happiness and well-being benefits. These findings are seriously overstated or misleading, DePaulo has argued, and if there weren’t so much intense social pressure to get married, a lot more people would be single, and many of them might be happier as a result.

Maybe more people should consider staying single, according to DePaulo.

... they are more likely than married people to encourage, help and socialize with their friends and neighbors. They are also more likely to visit, support, advise and stay in touch with their siblings and parents.

In fact, people who live alone are often the life of their cities and towns. They tend to participate in more civic groups and public events, enroll in more art and music classes, and go out to dinner more often than people who live with others. Single people, regardless of whether they live alone or with others, also volunteer more for social service organizations, educational groups, hospitals and organizations devoted to the arts than people who are married.

Most totebaggers are married so that may color their opinions on this topic.  I question the view that single people contribute more to cities and town, but I believe a mix of singles and marrieds makes for a more vibrant community.

What’s your opinion on this?  What have you observed or experienced that influences your view?  How do you imagine your life if you (married) had never married or if you (single) were to marry?  Do you think people have a “personality” better suited for being married or being single?  Other thoughts?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything on your mind.

How was your weekend?  What are your plans for the coming week, including Memorial Day?

I was shocked, saddened, and angered by this story.  It made me wonder how many other similar situations have existed in the recent past or even today.

My Family’s Slave
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

Education attainment levels across America

by Grace aka costofcollege

These educational attainment maps covering the United States reveal stark contrasts in some areas.

Educational Attainment in America

You can take a look at major cities, rural areas, and your own neighborhood.  It appears that my home is in a locale significantly less educated than the areas surrounding me on three sides.

A comment from the original poster of this link on a CollegeConfidential thread.

One of the things that this map reveals is that many cities and towns have very, very discrete divisions between educated and uneducated populations–often a single street, and that street often corresponds with ethnic/racial demographics.

Check out Austin Blvd. in Chicago, the crazy little UWS “peninsula” extending into Harlem in NYC, Palo Alto proper vs. East Palo Alto (divided by Highway 101), Philadelphia (you don’t need me to point it out–it’s obvious), and so many other cities.

We still are very, very segregated.

This NYT article highlights segregation in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens

Does the map data in your location surprise you?  Does it appear accurate?  Would you use this type of information when house hunting?  Totebaggers probably seek to live among other highly educated people.  Have you ever searched for and moved your family to an educationally diverse neighborhood?

How would you cut your household spending?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Let’s look at the unpleasant version of a question that was posed here recently.  Instead of asking what you would do with an extra $2500 each month, today’s question is about tightening your belt.

How would you deal with being forced to trim $2500 (or another amount) from your monthly family budget?  The reason could be a job loss, new daycare or college expenses, or any number of other scenarios.

Pick a dollar amount or percentage, and tell us what you would cut from your budget.  Also, how could you boost your household income?  A side gig, SAHP returns to the work force, sell valuables, or other ways to “find money“?

To inspire you, take a look at this comparison of two very different family budgets.  How could an “average family” trim their budget?

Retail trends

by Grace aka costofcollege

When I think of my shopping habits 30, 20, or even five years ago I am astounded at how the retail landscape has changed.  And more changes are in store.  (Pun intended.)

Here are a few random stories that touch on different retail trends.

Sears Transformed America. It Deserves to Die With Dignity.

Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands

Costco’s biggest mistake in 2016

Now’s the Time for Big-Box Stores to Embrace the 19th Century

For retailers and their landlords, the future lies in giving customers a place to socialize and learn. Spending time with friends, meeting new people, and acquiring hands-on skills aren’t as enjoyable online. The challenge today is to recreate the old excitement for a new era, selling not exotic merchandise and unfamiliar culture but the pleasures of human contact and physical presence.

Death of the Shoe Salesman, Finally

Payless is reportedly filing for bankruptcy.  And what’s the future for shopping malls?

Mall Closures Ripple Through Small Town America

Mall Owners Rush to Get Out of the Mall Business
Surge in store closures prompts some shopping-center owners to walk away from troubled locations

What are some important retail changes you have seen? Malls, clothing, shoes, homes, cars, appliances, groceries, and travel have all been affected.  What are the upsides and downsides?  What changes do you expect within the next five years and beyond?

Holidays from hell

by Grace aka costofcollege

What was your holiday from hell?  Maybe you’ve not suffered from situations as horrible as those in the article linked below, but have you had any time time when your carefully planned trip did not turn out as smoothly as anticipated?  Illness, injury, missed flights, dismal accommodations, horrible weather, unruly or incompatible traveling companions, disappointing destinations, or something else?

Holidays from Hell: From frisky elephants to a loo filled with frogs, tourists reveal the hilarious moments their trips went VERY wrong

One of my recent travel disasters caused me to miss my kid’s college graduation ceremony.  The series of unfortunate events began with a widespread thunderstorm pattern that cancelled our flight and ended with me pulling up to campus the next day just after the last graduate had been handed their diploma.  In between were many snags, including a daylong wait at the originating airport, outrageously priced replacement tickets, misplaced luggage, unexpected highway construction on the way to campus, and a clueless cab driver who asked me for the best alternate route.

My sister once spent the night with her toddler at O’Hare International on Christmas Eve. What travel mishaps or disappointments have you had?  Can you laugh at them now in hindsight?

Change your location, change your personality

by Grace aka costofcollege

Your Personality Changes When You Move to a New Place

… The degree of influence that place has on an individual can depend on what’s driving that place’s personality to begin with. Jason Rentfrow, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, has reviewed three different potential factors that may, together or separately, drive state and regional variation: migration patterns, ecology, and social influence….

… the most powerful influence on someone who moves may be good ol’ peer pressure. Cultural institutions and values span generations and inculcate newcomers through “social contagion,” and people tend to absorb practices and values of those around them. Schaller says social susceptibility may be one of the strongest forces in encouraging new residents to dial up some personality traits while toning down others. For example, a network of happy people can make a person happier; on the other hand, adults who move to new areas where they are in the ideological minority often feel isolated and become less able to take the perspective of others.

This seems right.  For example, I’ve seen a person become more assertive and brash when they moved from the south to a big city up north.  Have you observed or experienced similar changes?  Is it better to adapt, or to keep your hometown personality?  If you’ve moved, how would you describe your hometown’s personality compared to that of your present location?

Happiness, marriage, divorce

by Grace aka costofcollege

Feeling romantic on this Valentine’s Day?  Here’s a theory that would support trying to stay in a marriage that is not horrible.

We have a script in our heads about what divorce does, much of it lifted from the divorce revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Two people meet … they fall in love … they develop irreconcilable differences, or they grow apart, and must split so that at least one of the parties can develop into their truest, highest self.

But more recent research suggests a very different truth about happiness. As Daniel Gilbert argues in the brilliant book “Stumbling on Happiness,” unless our circumstances are truly unbearable, our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness, like floodwater evening out across a plain. Whatever we are stuck with … whatever we commit to … we will find ways to make it work — and we will be just as happy with it as we would have been with any other outcome.

Under this theory, all other forces being equal, those who avoid divorce end up with the same long-term level of happiness that they would have had post-divorce … and they skip the short-term financial and emotional pains of separation.

What do you think?

And have you seen evidence of this trend?

Study: More Older Adults Prefer ‘Living Apart Together’

Among the comments, this one made me laugh:

My friends and I all want to be married on the national guard plan. 1 weekend a month. Two weeks in the summer.

Non-negotiables in house hunting

by Grace

Many of us have must-haves when shopping for a house.  These could include features like gas cooking, master bath with a large tub, eat-in kitchen, easy commute, top public schools, attached garage, no corner lot, two story, one story, etc.

What are your non-negotiables?  Look through this College Confidential discussion if you’d like to get more ideas.

Related, do you have any regrets about choosing your present home?  What features would you change if you could?

Bargain travel

by Grace aka costofcollege

Despite her initial doubts, this NYT travel writer gave a positive review of a trip she took using a bargain package deal.

Looking for a Bargain Vacation? Don’t Rule Out Hawaii

For years I’d seen online ads for surprisingly affordable prefab vacations — airfare and hotel, with maybe a car and a tour thrown in — through unexpected vendors like Groupon and Costco. I remember thinking, “Do people actually buy vacations through Costco?” To me, packaged bulk trips were the five-pound tub of mozzarella balls of travel. Sure, it’s a bargain, but how bland? What quality could you possibly get for that impossibly low price? I was, in short, the worst kind of travel snob.

I regularly check deals that come my way, mainly Groupon Getaway and Travelzoo.  But I’ve never tried any.  Sometimes they seem too good to be true and sometimes they seem to scrimp more than I’d like.  (Are the hotels lacking?  Can I get an aisle seat on the plane?)  Sometimes they don’t seem like such a great value when I start to compare low airfares and housing options that I could assemble on my own.  But I keep telling myself that one day I need to throw caution to the wind and buy a five-night inclusive trip to the Caribbean for under $600.  How bad could it be?

Here are three travel deals I recently came across, all departing from New York:

  • 11-day Thailand & China Tour w/Air for $1499 that includes hotels, transfers, daily breakfasts, and several tours including one of the Great Wall of China
  • London & Rome 6-Night Trip for $799 that includes air, hotels, transfers, daily breakfasts
  • Punta Cana 5-nights all-inclusive beach side resort including air for $589

Do these sound enticing to you?  Have you ever bought one of these deals or have you considered it?  Do you know people who’ve had good or bad experiences?  Do you avoid these mainly because they’re too conventional and you prefer more personalized travel?  In other words, are you a “travel snob”?  Any advice for someone who’s considering buying one of these deals?

Also, do you have any travel plans coming up or any dreamy destinations that you’d like to visit soon?

Your franchise dream

by Grace aka costofcollege

What it costs to open one of america’s ten most popular franchises

Inspired by this article, I let myself dream a little about having my own franchise business.  I don’t consider myself the traditional entrepreneurial type and I am not interested in any business that deals with food, but I have toyed with the idea of having a Kumon franchise.  The hours seem reasonable and I foresee an ongoing need for their services.

Here’s one list that has Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches (I’ve never heard of them) as number one.

The Top 10 Franchises of 2016

Some totebaggers run their own businesses, but most of us do not.  What’s your dream franchise or business of any kind?  And even if you don’t realistically see yourself as an entrepreneur, what business would you be interested in trying if the usual obstacles were magically removed?

 

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today’s post is open to any topic.  Here’s what was on my mind:

Since I’m trying to establish a more minimalist approach to possessions, this article caught my eye.

The Diderot Effect: Why We Want Things We Don’t Need — And What to Do About It

The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.

Some examples:

  • You buy a new dress and now you have to get shoes and earrings to match.
  • You buy a CrossFit membership and soon you’re paying for foam rollers, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and paleo meal plans.
  • You buy your kid an American Girl doll and find yourself purchasing more accessories than you ever knew existed for dolls.
  • You buy a new couch and suddenly you’re questioning the layout of your entire living room. Those chairs? That coffee table? That rug? They all gotta go.

Have you ever fallen victim to the Diderot Effect?  How’s your clutter management coming along these days?

Thanksgiving open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

We have an open thread for any discussion topics over the Thanksgiving weekend.  How are things going?

Related to previous conversations about the “bubble” in which we live, here’s a version called the Thanksgiving Bubble courtesy of CollegeConfidential.

Is Your Thanksgiving in an Elitist Bubble?

No green bean casserole: 0 points
From scratch using a recipe off epicurious and fresh green beans and mushrooms: 1 point
Canned soup base, canned green beans, French’s fried onions: 5 points

Heritage breed, free range, humanely raised, hormone free turkey sold by your local butcher or Whole Foods at price that could pay for a nice dinner out for a family of four: 0 points
Pre-cooked turkey dinner bought at Dean & DeLuca: 0 points
Fresh turkey, nothing special: 1 point
Frozen Butterball Turkey: 2 points
Store brand turkey that you saved up the store receipts for months to get for free: 3 points
Turkey you shot yourself in the woods, gutted and dressed yourself: 10 points, with bonus point given for deep frying it.

Homemade cranberry sauce with fancy ingredients like candied ginger, figs or kumquats: 0 points
Homemade cranberry sauce, nothing fancy: 1 point
Canned whole berry cranberry sauce: 2 points
Canned jelly cranberry sauce still bearing the ridge lines from the can (my favorite kind ): 5 points
No cranberry sauce because you’re from the deep south and they don’t do the cranberry thing there: 7 points

Fresh sweet potatoes with a brown sugar/rum glaze (family favorite): 0 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with store bought marshmallows: 2 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with homemade marshmallows: -2 points
Canned sweet potatoes with store bought marshmallows: 5 points

Fresh whipped cream for your pie: 0 points
Whipped Cream from a can: 1 point
Premium ice cream: 0 points
Store brand ice cream: 1 point
Cool Whip: 5 points

What’s your score, both from your childhood and from today?

 

Dealing with loss

A week ago Hillary Clinton suffered a crushing defeat at the polls.  A couple of days later one of her supporters encountered Clinton out hiking near her home in Chappaqua.

20161112-hrchiking

This news caught my eye because I remember after suffering one of the most devastating losses of my adult life I took to walking almost every day for hours.  It was therapeutic, and I frankly could not think of any other way to deal with my misfortune.  And it helped me understand that taking one day (or one step) at a time was an effective way to deal with life’s adversities.

How do you deal with loss and disappointment?  Whether it’s a small setback like not getting an expected promotion or a large one like the death of a loved one, we’ve all had to find ways to handle loss.  Do you try to put it out of your mind and carry on with your regular routine?  Do you exercise?  Do you overeat or drink?  Does religion offer you comfort?  Do you turn to deep self-analysis?  Do you seek out support from close friends?  What works, and doesn’t work, for you?

 

Grandparenting styles

by Grace aka costofcollege

The Hands-Off Grandma

… my mom is what you might call a “hands-off” Grandma—or Bubbe, as she is affectionately referred to. She loves her grandkids. She enjoys spending time with them, in small doses. She cares about their well-being and what is happening in their lives. But she is not interested in participating in the grunt work of raising them: the tasks that include bodily fluids and flailing limbs, tears and stall tactics and four outfit changes in as many minutes. In so far as it is possible to engineer, my mother, at 70, is looking to experience the good bits associated with young children, the fun bits, and not the slog.

For her, this is the line between what it is to be a grandparent and what it is to be a parent. This is the privilege you earn with the prefix “Grand.” “I’ve done my time,” she says, and she certainly has. She is the mother of three children, across eight years and two marriages. She did everything for us as we grew up—playdates, parties, projects—everything. She watches some of her friends “grandparent” in a way she finds unappealing, women, she says, who are attempting motherhood all over again. “I have my own life,” she reminds me, with perfect kindness and accuracy. “I don’t need to re-live having children through yours.”

What type of grandparents did you have and what type of grandparents are your own parents?  What would you prefer, hands off, hands on, or something in between?  What type of grandparent are you or will you be?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

We have an open thread today, but first a question.  Do you feel a need to bust out of your rut?

101 Rut-Busting Things to Do This Weekend
Tired of same-old Saturdays and dismal Sundays? From real-estate adventures to pet-related impetuousness, this list of suggestions will shake up your downtime. Bonus: Try the Random Idea Generator

Okay, most are outlandish and silly, but some got me thinking.  Coding, open houses, blindfolds . . .

Anything on the list catch your fancy?  Or do you have something else you’ve been thinking about doing to shake up your life a little?  Or maybe some of you are too busy juggling the basic functions of family life to even think about anything else now.

Halloween open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Here’s the most popular Halloween treat by state

Candy corn was the most popular in five states.  Really?

Influenster halloween candy map

Candy Corn Lovers Will Eat Candy Corn Anything—No Matter What It Tastes Like
Trick or treaters will score candy-corn flavored Oreos, Peeps and M&M’s, but confectioners often have no idea what candy corn should taste like; ‘eating an antique candlestick’

Here’s another description:  “It’s not candy, it’s not corn, it’s earwax formed in the shape of a rotten tooth”

What’s your favorite candy and how is your Halloween celebration coming along?

Charisma

by Grace aka costofcollege

What are the components to charisma?

Charismatic behavior can be broken down into three core elements: presence, power, and warmth.

When people describe their experience of seeing a charismatic person in action, whether Bill Clinton or the Dalai Lama, they often mention the individual’s extraordinary “presence.” Presence turns out to be a core component of charisma, the foundation upon which all else is built.

But if presence is the foundation on which charisma rests, power and warmth are the stuff of which it is built….

You need all three to be charismatic, but the degree of each determines the kind of charisma you have….

You can become more charismatic.

Stare like a lover, stand like a gorilla, speak like a preacher….

Learn more:

How to Master the Art and Science of Charisma

Do you agree with the components listed in the quote, or would you describe it differently?  Are you charismatic?  Do you work on it?  In what specific ways have you seen charisma benefit someone?  Who is the most charismatic person you personally know?  Can you teach your children to be more charismatic?  What suggestions would you have for someone trying to be more charismatic?

Democratic vs. Republican occupations

by Grace aka costofcollege

Your Surgeon Is Probably a Republican, Your Psychiatrist Probably a Democrat

New data show that, in certain medical fields, large majorities of physicians tend to share the political leanings of their colleagues, and a study suggests ideology could affect some treatment recommendations. In surgery, anesthesiology and urology, for example, around two-thirds of doctors who have registered a political affiliation are Republicans. In infectious disease medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics, more than two-thirds are Democrats.

The author suggests that salary and gender play a role in the political leanings of doctors.

Here’s another measure of politics and occupations that is based on political contributions.

Democratic vs. Republican occupations
Most librarians are Democrats. Most farmers are Republicans.
As a group, doctors are in the middle, though pediatricians lean left and urologists right

Do you see these trends among people you know?  Do you fit in with any overall political orientation among your colleagues, or do you usually feel out of place?  What about with your neighbors, friends, and relatives?  Do you talk politics in real life?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

We have an open thread today, with a side conversation about tracking apps.

What do you all think of tracking apps?  I’ve seen kids and parents go to both extremes.  Some kids are nonchalant about the use of this technology, finding nothing offensive about having parents know every move they make.  Others are fiercely resistant about their privacy and want none of it.

TRACKING APPS: HOW TO GET BUY-IN FROM YOUR TEEN

One mother I know wanted to use a tracking app for the times when her 19-year old daughter was taking public transportation late at night after work. Her daughter was against it, and they compromised with agreeing to regular texting from the daughter.   On the other hand, another mother and her twenty-something daughter seem to know each other’s every move by using Find My Friends.  Young people I know use that app to keep track of each other.

Do you or will you use a tracking app with your high school or college kids? What about with younger kids?  Do you think it’s helicoptering, or just a common sense safety measure?

Keeping family close

by Grace aka costofcollege

Do you maintain close ties with your parents, siblings, and extended family?

Frank Bruni and his family place great value in having a week-long family reunion every year.

… we’re also dedicated to it, and we’ve determined that Thanksgiving Day isn’t ample, that Christmas Eve passes too quickly, and that if each of us really means to be central in the others’ lives, we must make an investment, the biggest components of which are minutes, hours, days. As soon as our beach week this summer was done, we huddled over our calendars and traded scores of emails to figure out which week next summer we could all set aside. It wasn’t easy. But it was essential.

Marjorie Rosenblatt’s youngest child is in high school, and she wants to be sure to stay close to her kids as they become independent adults.

While I recognize this progression toward independence was our eventuality, even our goal, it felt and still feels somehow unnatural to me; how can we as parents know the comings and goings of and daily events in the lives of our children, only to accept that this degree of involvement would be relatively abruptly replaced by an occasional text or phone call? How can our family, an indivisible unit, disperse, and yet (we hope) continue to be solid? How can we stay close as a family as our lives diverge?

She suggests group travel, text threads, traditions, and care packages.  Gretchen Rubin and her family send frequent email “updates” to each other as a way to maintain close contact.

I like some of these ideas, but they do require a commitment to make them work.  I’ve seen how easy it is to let family ties fray.  One way I maintain contact with some extended family is through a private Facebook group, where we post updates about what is happening in our lives.  We feel we can share more on this private group than on our regular timeline.

Has your extended family kept close ties?  If so, how have you made it happen?  Have you thought about ways to maintain close contact with your children as they become adults?   If your children are grown, are you satisfied with the type of relationship you now have?  On the other hand, do you prefer to keep a friendly distance from some relatives?

What I ate yesterday

by Grace aka costofcollege

The Weird Appeal of ‘What I Ate Today’ Videos

Inspired by the popularity of YouTube “What I Ate Today” videos, I propose we all share similar information.

What did you eat yesterday?  List it all, if you dare.  Or you can make something up if you’d rather keep your secrets.  We’ll never know the difference anyway!  But I am genuinely curious about Totebaggers’ real eating habits.  If you can remember that long ago, list what you ate over two or more days.  Add commentary to help us understand your choices.

Was yesterday typical?  Was your day rushed or relaxed?  Did you cook, take out, go out, have leftovers, or something else?  Are you happy with your diet or do you wish you ate better?  Do family members struggle with trying to eat healthy?  What have you eaten today?

What are your favorite “fast food” meals, either traditional like McDonald’s or something easy to prepare at home?

Trend alert:  US retail sales of eating and drinking establishments are now higher than those of grocery stores.

Handyman for a day

by Grace aka costofcollege

I’ve been seeing variations on this Angie’s List deal.

$279 Handyman for the Day

Are you tempted?

Your list of projects around the house seems to keep growing with no end in sight. Skip the hassle and let the professionals do the work for less with this great offer!

$279.00 for 8 labor hours of skilled handyman services (1 worker for 8 hours or 2 workers for 4 hours each)
Deal can be used for everything from shelving installation to minor electrical and minor plumbing repairs

Assuming you could get a competent handyman, do you have any projects you’d like to get done?  I can think of a few, including that sagging garage trim that needs to be straightened, weatherstripping around some doors that needs to be replaced, and a new doorbell.  If I gave it more thought, I’m sure I could come up with lots more.  What about you?  How about landscaping or housecleaning chores that you’d like to take care of with a similar deal?

Have you ever used a service like this?  One thing I thought of was that I’d want to be very organized and make sure to have all the materials on hand so that minimal time would be wasted on trips to the hardware store.

What’s your next home project?

Adult summer camp

by Grace aka costofcollege

Seattle adult summer camp provides escape from stress

What’s your fantasy adult summer camp?  Active or lazy?  Luxury or bare bones?  Hiking, crafts, swimming, boating, sports, performing arts, computers, science, language immersion, reading, yoga, boozy parties, or something else?  The sky’s the limit.  Describe what your ideal camp schedule might be. Or, would you rather skip camp all together?

Did you attend camp as a child?  Do your children attend camp?  Many people I’ve known have strong opinions on sending away their children to sleepaway camps that last six weeks or more.

Here’s a summer camp that seems geared toward a young party crowd, with DJ dance parties and alcohol all day long.

We went to an adult summer camp—and had a blast

What is a Totebagger?

by Grace aka costofcollege

What is your definition of a Totebagger?  Can you list the essential qualities/values/behaviors of a TB?  I’d be curious to see what you write before you read any comments already posted.

While the TB profile may be crystal clear to most of you, I find it hard to describe with precision.  It probably contains an important core component, along with squishy edges that meld into other categories of people.

How Totebaggy are you?  100%, or considerably less?  What are your most Totebaggy values or behaviors, and what are your least?

How important is work?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Why Do Americans Work So Much?

Economist Benjamin M. Friedman studied why “increased productivity has not translated into increased leisure time”.  One reason may be that because of economic inequality, the gains of increasing productivity are not widely shared.  But that’s not the whole explanation, because rich people work very hard.

… he theorized that for many top earners, work is a labor of love. They are doing work they care about and are interested in, and doing more of it isn’t such a burden—it may even be a pleasure. They derive meaning from their jobs, and it is an important part of how they think of themselves. And, of course, they are compensated for it at a level that makes it worth their while.

Is there a danger in eliminating the need for work?

Mickey Kaus fears a future in which robots do all the work and we, consequently, have no basis for self-respect.
“Evolutionarily, we are designed for work. We are unhappy when we’re not working. We become a sociopathic bachelor herd…. What do we do with all these people who have no productive work?”

Even if robots don’t eliminate the pressing need to work for money, would a universal basic income cause more people to forego employment?  Earlier this month Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a plan to give a guaranteed monthly income to all residents.

The Dream—Or Is It a Nightmare?—of No Work

Work gives people something welfare never can. It’s a sense of self-worth and mastery, the feeling that we are in control of our lives. This is a source of abiding joy…. Studies show that people who receive public support are twice as likely as those not receiving public support to report feeling worthless. “Very happy” people work more hours each week than those who are “pretty happy,” who in turn work more hours than those who are “not too happy.”

Some people find it hard to imagine a fulfilled life without doing paid work or playing a key role in raising children.  Others find fulfillment in volunteer work.  What do you think?  How important is work?  Is it vital for self-respect and dignity?  Do we “need” to work?

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

What’s on your mind today?  Current events?

Here’s a distraction if you’d like it.

Psychologists Have Invented a Test to Measure Your Secret Need for Drama

Can you predict any totebaggers who might score high on the need for drama?  I think most totebaggers avoid drama.  Do you know any drama queens in real life?  Is it mainly tiresome or fun to be around them?  How did you score?

Graduation costs

by Grace aka costofcollege

This time of year many families are celebrating graduations, whether preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, or college.  The costs can mount up, as discussed in this CollegeConfidential thread.

Cap and gowns, diplomas, yearbooks, photos, rings, invitations, dinners, parties, travel, and gifts are some of the typical expenditures.  If your child is receiving honors of various types, costs for awards dinners can mount up.  One parent with twins complained she would be spending several hundred dollars for those.  Other end-of-year expenditures like recitals and proms can also strain family budgets.

How lavish is your spending for graduation celebrations?  What is common among your friends and relatives?  What about spending for other types of milestones, like First Communions or bat/bar mitzahs?

Are you a Rebel?

by Grace aka costofcollege

The start of the Totebag 30-Day Challenge seems an appropriate time to learn about Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies and how they affect habits.

When we try to form a new habit, we’re setting an expectation for ourselves. Therefore, to change our habits, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations.

I suggest you take this quiz before you read more.

Gretchen Rubin’s Quiz: The Four Tendencies

Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?

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Do you think the quiz reveals your tendencies?  Or is all this just a frivolous exercise in pseudo science?

If you’re participating in the Totebag 30-Day Challenge, go to the WEEK ONE page to check in.

Storage and the ‘4Ds’

by Grace aka costofcollege

Need to Store That? Booming Self-Storage Industry Says No Problem
Extra Space Storage shares surge; investment firms look to cash in

It’s possible to profit from our pack-rat habits.  Why is the self-storage industry booming?

… Some refer to the 4Ds—death, divorce, downsizing and dislocation….

Have you gone through any of the “4Ds”?  How did you deal with storage issues?  Any general tips for taming the storage beast?  Any good investment tips?

Related:

10 things to throw away right now


ALSO:
 Go vote for your preferred group activity if you plan to participate in the TOTEBAG 30-DAY CHALLENGE.

Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread to talk about anything we’d like.

We can keep conversations going online here indefinitely.  But what about IRL, either in person or on the phone?

The best way to end a conversation, according to science

I sometimes have a hard time easing out of a long-winded conversation, particularly on the phone.

In other news, I’m excited about possibly having a chance to make a difference in the upcoming New York presidential primary.  I’m very curious to see how my neighbors will vote.

Friday open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread to discuss anything on your mind.

The Totebag 30-Day Challenge is scheduled to begin on May 1.  My initial idea had been that each participant could pick a particular activity they want to do, not that we would all do the same thing. However, some Totebaggers would prefer that we all do the same activity.  A compromise would be to select one activity for the group, but leave open the option for individuals to select their own personalized challenge activity if they wish.

Let’s brainstorm.  You can suggest group challenge activities in the comments,  Or let us know if you have a particular activity you’re considering for yourself.

Advice for ‘your “average” excellent student’

by Grace aka costofcollege

Truthful advice about getting into top colleges, for your “average” excellent student

… Your excellent student, (especially if a white girl, or Asian), in a good school district, with excellent test scores, grades, and a range of ECs is very, very unlikely to get into any school with an acceptance rate under 20%. UNLESS the kid is, or does, something exceptional, or is hooked.

That’s one CollegeConfidential parent’s opinion after going through the college application process with her daughter this year.  I suggest you read through the discussion if you’re interested in this topic.

Many families have unrealistic expectations for their “average” excellent kids.

In our town (and all over the Northeast, I suspect), a smart, hard working white or asian girl with good/great stats is a dime a dozen. Actually, I think the same is applies to the boys as well.

We have a number of young men and women who are still shell shocked that they did not get into certain schools. It was all so predictable, and unfortunate that their parents did not “get it”. I know of one mother who is embarrassed her daughter was only accepted to UVA. It’s heartbreaking.

Not all Totebaggers aspire to have their children attend tippy-top colleges.  Some just want their children to be academically qualified for the most selective schools so as to be eligible for merit scholarships elsewhere.  Other Totebaggers would be happy with their children attending your average state school.

Your thoughts?

Our future virtual life

by Grace aka costofcollege

Where does your imagination take you as we consider the ways that technological innovations will continue to change our lives?

Here’s one way learning may be made more efficient and easier.

Scientists develop Matrix-style technique of ‘feeding’ information directly into your brain

“As we discover more about optimising, personalising, and adapting brain stimulation protocols, we’ll likely see these technologies become routine in training and classroom environments.

“It’s possible that brain stimulation could be implemented for classes like drivers’ training, SAT prep, and language learning.”

We may be able to implant memories of vacations that we actually never took.

More possible trends:

Anthem Tells Customers to Visit Virtual Doctors, Therapists, and Psychologists
Growing number of insurers push virtual visits to doctor

The Rich Are Already Using Robo-Advisers, and That Scares Banks

The Language Barrier Is About to Fall
Within 10 years, earpieces will whisper nearly simultaneous translations—and help knit the world closer together

Roaches to the rescue: insect provides blueprint for robotic first responder
Researchers at University of California at Berkeley are developing a mechanical roach after finding its exoskeleton is uniquely suited to fitting into small spaces

Robots will force experts to find other routes to the top
If grunt work of professions is automated, an important way that juniors hone skills will be lost

Domino’s Is Testing the World’s First Pizza-Delivery Robot

Isn’t sex the driving force behind so much of technology?

Makers of ‘mindblowing’ sex robot with virtual vagina swamped with orders

The sex toys of the future: Talking high-tech dolls can be given a personality via an app to create the ‘perfect lover’

What Women and Men Want from Sex Robots

And the scariest proposition of all?

A lot of people who make over $350,000 are about to get replaced by software

Let’s discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of how technology will affect the future for us and our children.

The 30-day challenge

by Grace aka costofcollege

The New Era of 30-Day Fitness Challenges
Options to help people spend a month focusing on running, yoga, exercises for abs and more are proliferating …

The 30-day exercise challenge is increasingly popular, especially as an alternative to New Year’s resolutions, which often fail this time of year. The pitch is to stick with a commitment for a month, whether to reach a specific benchmark, mix up a routine or try to establish an exercise habit.

Thirty-day challenges push people to chase goals big and small, from cutting out soda to writing a novel. More than 200 smartphone apps for Apple’s iOS operating system have “30 day challenge” in the title, 10 times the number available in 2014, according to App Annie, an analytics and market-data company. Internet searches for “30 day challenge” have climbed 140% since 2013, according to Google. Gyms and yoga studios offer them as a way to win customers, hoping that a 30-day stint will turn into a habit.

Some Totebaggers have done the Whole 30 Program successfully.  Many other types of 30-day challenges exist — eliminating soft drinks or another food from your diet, reading, acts of kindness, walking or running, planks or pushups, journaling, decluttering, etc.  Part of the appeal is that the commitment is relatively short term.

We recently had a post about the challenge of developing good habits.  What do you think of the 30-day challenge trend?  Have you tried it?  Is the idea appealing to you?  What activity have you done or would you consider doing?  Are you interested in doing a Totebag 30-day challenge, one where we could each pick a particular activity and track our progress here on the blog?

Heart attacks and other silent killers

by Grace aka costofcollege

She thought it was only a 24-hour bug. What she really had almost killed her.

A 46-year old woman awoke suddenly before dawn feeling “kind of funny”, and then ran to the bathroom to throw up.  Her husband insisted on taking her to the emergency room because he thought she could be having a heart attack.  It turns out he saved her life.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you and don’t trust your instincts. 

I would tell you to trust your instincts — except in this case my instinct was to chalk up my symptoms to something else and to worry about whether the doctors and nurses would think I was crazy. So I’ll say don’t trust your instincts, if your instincts are to wait and see what happens. When you just don’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Fredi says that 9 out of 10 women with my symptoms would not have gone to the hospital. I wouldn’t have gone either, if it weren’t for Tim.

Many women have no chest pain, no tightness, no pain in the arm or jaw until it is much too late. Many women suffering a heart attack simply “don’t feel right,” just as I did. So if that happens, don’t ignore the feeling and don’t worry about someone thinking you’re crazy. Get yourself checked out. The worst thing that happens is they send you home and tell you you’re fine. You can live with that.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought about similar scenarios, and hopes to make the right decision if a heart attack, stroke, or other calamity strikes.  I can relate to the woman in this article.  Once while on a tropical island vacation I woke up in the middle of the night with severe pain in one arm.  Although I considered that I might be having a heart attack, I ultimately decided not to go to the hospital.  It turned out to be the right choice, but I could have been deadly wrong.

Have you ever wavered in deciding whether to rush to the emergency room?  How did it turn out?  Do you feel confident about knowing how to react to the symptoms of heart disease, the “No. 1 killer of women in the United States”?  What lessons have you learned from the experiences of family or friends?  Any advice to share?

Skills that kids need

by Grace aka costofcollege

The skills Americans say kids need to succeed in life

Pew Research Center recently asked a national sample of adults to select among a list of 10 skills: “Regardless of whether or not you think these skills are good to have, which ones do you think are most important for children to get ahead in the world today?”

The answer was clear. Across the board, more respondents said communication skills were most important, followed by reading, math, teamwork, writing and logic. Science fell somewhere in the middle, with more than half of Americans saying it was important.

Rounding out the bottom were skills more associated with kids’ extracurricular activities: art, music (sorry, right-brained people) and athletics. There was virtually no difference in the responses based on whether the person was a parent of a child aged 18 and younger or not.

20160305.PewKidsSkillsI take it that communication skills include speaking and writing.  Go to the link to see differences based on the respondents’ level of education.

Your thoughts?

Touchy-feely

by Grace aka costofcollege

No Touching: The Countries That Dislike Physical Contact the Most
A study suggests you should hug a Finn, but not a Brit.

Do you greet a stranger by kissing them on the cheek or giving them a firm handshake? In the largest study ever quantifying where people were comfortable being touched and by whom, 1,300 men and women were asked the same question. The results suggest that when greeting most people, you’re better off with a handshake.

The participants, from Finland, France, Italy, Russia, and the U.K., detailed where strangers, family members, friends, and romantic partners were allowed to touch them. Researchers from the University of Oxford and Finland’s Aalto University then combined the results to create a so-called “heat map.”

It is not surprising that the study found “some nationalities were less enthusiastic about touching than others”.

…True to their stereotype, British participants were right at the bottom on the touchability index. And to the researchers’ surprise, Italians were less comfortable with being touched than Russians.

Some families are lavish in expressing affection with hugs and kisses.  Lately I’ve noticed that it’s still not uncommon to see Latin Americans and some Europeans of both genders walking arm in arm down the street.   It seems some stereotypes still hold.

These cultural norms can get tricky in dealing with business colleagues from different countries.  Intermarriage between different cultures is another area that can get complicated for families.

What’s your style, touchy-feely, stand-offish, or in between?  Have you had to adjust your style for family or business?  Any awkward situations?

What other cultural differences have you had to navigate in your personal or professional life?