Gift ideas!

by July

Let’s share holiday gift ideas.

I was prepared to hate everything about Oprah’s Favorite Things gift list, but when I saw a tempting cashmere sweater and the  “Letters to Me, When I Grow Up” book for children, I got sucked in to thinking about shopping for a few items.

Are you shopping for any of these hot toys?

What’s on kids’ wish lists? Here are 14 of the hottest toys for the holidays

And then you have the minimalist approach.

Here’s an idea: what if you decide to gift only experiences this year? How much more memorable will your holidays be?

Consider these experiences: concert tickets, a home-cooked meal, tickets to a play or a musical, breakfast in bed, a back rub, a foot rub, a full-body massage, a holiday parade, walking or driving somewhere without a plan, spending an evening talking with no distractions, making-out under the mistletoe, visiting a festival of lights, cutting down a Christmas tree, watching a sunrise, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, dancing, taking your children to a petting zoo, making snow angels, making a batch of hot apple cider, taking a vacation together, watching a wintertime sunset.

What other experiences can you give to someone you care about?

Is this a trend?

Majority Of Americans Would Skip Holiday Gift-Giving, Survey Says

Take a poll:

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Have you peaked yet?

by July

Here’s the age at which you’ll earn the most in your career

Does this graph match your experience?

Here are peak years for other parts of your life.

The age when you hit ‘peak loneliness’ – and other life milestones
A new study has found that 35 is the age at which men feel the most lonely. But when might you feel the most creative or content?

Of course each of us charts our own course for peaks and valleys so these broad conclusions can be meaningless for any one person.  Are you on the fast track for some of these milestones but a late bloomer for others?  Share your observations.

Suburbs and more

by July

What to Do When You’ve Picked the Wrong Suburb

It can be hard choosing a home to buy, and sometimes mistakes are made.  Do you know anyone who believes they chose poorly?

The Suburb of the Future, Almost Here
Millennials want a different kind of suburban development that is smart, efficient and sustainable.

Apparently millennials are still choosing suburban life, but suburban life is evolving.  Do you agree with the changes described in this article?  What other changes do you foresee?

The Best Places to Live in America
MONEY identified 100 spots that offer a healthy economy, affordable homes, and a high quality of life.

Did your town make the cut?  Some local residents were “shocked” and “disappointed” that our area was not included.

When you want to lose ‘just a few’ pounds

by July

Many of us would like to lose just a few pounds, maybe 10 pounds or less.  Often the extra weight has slowly crept up slowly over the years.

At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Mr. Edis, the chief executive and a founder of the smart-car start-up Dash, cuts an impressive figure to other people. But when he takes off his black V-neck T-shirt, he can see the extra pounds (he would like to be down to 185). And he is not fine with it.

Is Mr. Edis realistic?  Many of us are in his shoes, wishing to lose just 5-10 pounds. Partly it may be because we wistfully remember our body’s glory days, roughly from the teen years to mid thirties, and we’d like to recreate some of those bygone images.  Realistically it is nearly impossible for the average person to continue to weigh the same as they did back in their twenties so perhaps we should give up that hope once and for all.

Here’s someone else who’s gained a few pounds along the way.

‘I used to be 106lbs but now I’m 126lbs!’: Cher, 71, reveals she no longer fits into her crazy Seventies costumes… but she refuses to throw them out

What about you?  Do you want to lose just a “few” pounds?  Or do you believe that’s a fool’s errand and have accepted that you’ll probably carry that extra weight for the rest of your life?  Some of us here have lost considerably more weight, or are currently working on losing more.  Are you happy with your weight or do you fret about it?

Open thread

Today we have an open thread all day.

Locally we celebrate Columbus Day in a big way, but I wonder if that will soon change.

Should the United States Celebrate Columbus Day?

Here’s the NYT’s opinion on how “symbols of hate” should be treated.

Robert E. Lee, Christopher Columbus … and Pétain?

Should I throw out my Dr. Seuss books?

Dr. Seuss museum to replace mural after complaints of racism

Labor Day open thread

by July

We have a Labor Day open thread all day.

Here’s something to try.

Find your True Cost of Living

There are many cost of living rankings out there, but most of them give cost of living averages for the “average American household.” Here’s the issue – the “average American household” doesn’t exist. Income and expenses vary widely between a single millennial to a household of two parents and three kids. Our cost tool explores the costs and expenses of living in a place based on your own, specific needs.

The True Cost of Living tool allows you to add details like household size, income, occupation, and even food preferences.

 

Open thread

We have an open thread today all day.

Here’s a topic on my mind.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Many of you will be pleased that packing cubes are recommended.  Right now I’m looking for a more efficient toiletry bag, one that hangs on a hotel door hook..

In shopping for a rolling bag recently I noticed that four wheels (spinners) seem more popular than two wheels.  I prefer two wheels because it’s slightly more compact and I don’t notice the extra ease of a four-wheeler.

At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?

College majors, career paths, and salaries

by July

Students’ career paths after college are often surprising and difficult to predict given students’ majors. Not only do students from the same major transition into a surprising variety of occupations, they also earn very different incomes: to take one example, the 3.4 percent of English majors who become managers earn a median salary of $77,000, while the 8.3 percent of their counterparts who become elementary and middle school teachers earn $51,000. Different career paths and the associated earnings differences for students with the same college major are pervasive and important for understanding both the benefits of college majors and of college itself.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we have calculated annual median earnings for men and women of various ages who have graduated with a particular major and entered a given occupation. For each group of college graduates, we show the most common types of jobs, as well as the fractions of graduates who are unemployed, out of the labor force, and employed full- or part-time. In addition, among each group of workers with a particular major, we show the range of annual earnings and the percent who obtained education beyond a bachelor’s degree for the most common types of jobs. This interactive is intended to be a resource for those who seek a better understanding of how their college major can be used, as well as those interested in how college specialization and the labor market interact.

You can play with the interactive charts at The Hamilton Project.  Unfortunately these charts don’t take into account one of our favorite topics, college selectivity.

Open thread

by July

Open thread today all day.  To start off, here’s a question for you.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?

That question comes from this Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal.

The Q&A a Day Journal shows you what was going through your head each day—for five years of your life. Simply turn to today’s date, answer the question at the top of the page, and when you finish the journal, start over. As you return to the daily questions again over the years, you’ll notice how your answers change, or don’t!

So, what’t the craziest thing you’ve done for love?  Did it work out well?

What do you think of this journal or other ones that allow the writer to jot down short entries?  Do you keep a journal or sometimes wish you did?

The three P’s of perseverance

by July

… The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

Sheryl Sandberg’s latest book is about building resilience.  Have you heard of the “three P’s”?

… After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three Ps — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship,” Sandberg said. …

Here are more details.

Sheryl Sandberg spoke about her husband’s death in public for the first time in an emotional speech

Resilience is a critical life skill.  Some people seem to possess an abundance of resilience, but how much of it is is nurture and how much nature?  In other words, how much can be taught?  Do you think teaching about the three P’s can help?  Looking around you at relatives, friends, colleagues, and others, do you understand why some are more resilient than others?  Or is it mostly a mystery?  What are your thoughts?

Something else to consider. Are totebaggers as a group highly resilient, or is it more that they have not been severely tested?

Questions to get a conversation going

by July

7 Questions Interesting People Always Ask in Conversations
Replace those typical (and boring, I may add) questions like ‘What do you do for a living?’ with these refreshing questions that lead to great conversations.

I’m not crazy about some of these questions, particularly the first one.  Do you like these questions?  Do you typically use them in conversations?  What are some other good questions?

For fun, let’s get to know each other better and answer these questions in the comments.  If you’re up for this, answer all seven or pick a few.

1. What’s your story?
2. What was the highlight of your day (or week)?
3. What is one of your most defining moments in life?
4. What book has influenced you the most?
5. What was your dream job growing up?
6. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
7. Why did you choose your profession?

Let’s get clean

by July

32 Unexpected Places You Should Be Cleaning In Your Home
Gross. Just…gross.

I’ll admit our sliding-glass door tracks and my jewelry have not been cleaned in a long time.  There are other places that I prefer not to think about.

Revealed: The cleaning mistakes that could make your home DIRTIER – from making the bed too often to using a feather duster (so how many are YOU guilty of?)

Who knew it was a mistake to make your bed too often?

What cleaning mistakes do you make?  Which places do you neglect to clean on a regular basis?  Are you a clean freak, at least about some things?  Or are you a slob?  Or in between?  Any cleaning tips to share?  And tell us how you handle any family conflicts that arise from different preferences among household members.

How much do you love your job?

by July

4 Reasons I Chose To Stick With A Career I Don’t Love

Reason #2 has been mentioned here a few times.

I was fortunate that I loved my careers, if not always the specific jobs.  I even loved many of the part-time jobs I had while going to school because they involved photography, which I enjoy and even considered as a career..

What about you?  Do you love your career?  Do you love your job?  If not, why do you stick with it?  What “passions” would be part of your fantasy jobs?  What have you observed among people around you?