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Deep Thoughts

The Great British House Hunt

We’re MOVING!!

First of all, I am so excited to move to Bristol, England as it is my favorite city in the UK. I don’t know what we’ve done in our lives to deserve it, but we were lucky enough to be granted a place in one of the smallest, most sought after bases in the UK.

However, after the excitement of being allowed to live in the place of our dreams died down, we realized that at 30 years old, we are basically children with no personal belongings or anything of value to our name. Basically our most expensive possessions are photographs we took during vacations, because traveling is really the only thing we’ve ever spent money on. For that reason, the house buying process appears to be VERY overwhelming.

First of all, we don’t have very much money. Don’t get me wrong, we have good jobs and we live a pretty frugal life so we’ve saved up a little bit which we can use on a deposit– but as a person who has never had ANY debt, the fact that everyone is just out there buying houses with just 20 percent of the money they cost is crazy to me. What that says is that basically, the banks own EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD.

Secondly, stamp duty. W. T. F. remember that “deposit” I said we saved? That’s actually only going to cover the stamp duty tax, which is some tax you pay in England when you buy a house. Cool, thanks for halving my buying power.

Finally. OMG England! I am very excited to finally live in an English-speaking country where things are a bit easier to do… but the real question is whether or not I can assimilate. I’ve been making notes about how to blend in and so far it seems that as long as I lead with an apology, I’m good to go.

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Deep Thoughts

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about “Going Green”. In the US, the”it” car went from being a Hummer to a Prius in just a few years and you couldn’t walk in to a trendy store without seeing at least one clever version of a “Save the Planet” t-shirt.  “Going Green” became as much a part of pop culture as reality TV. By 2009, most of us had watched with teary eyes as polar bears began to drift towards extinction on broken bits of ice. We were bombarded with everything green; household products, toys, clothing, food… anything you could think of came in a “greener” version.

Around this time I became a science teacher, and part of my job was educating my classes about the planet and how to preserve it. So we researched endangered species, over fishing, deforestation, pollution… the list was endless. To make matters more complicated, there were a number of subsets within each of those issues, and at least a dozen charities, products and people dedicated to fixing them. Every year when I got to that unit, I would feel overwhelmed by my own helplessness in all of it.

Most of us really want to go green, but the idea of spending a ton of money on solar panels or efficient cars doesn’t sit well with our bank accounts. So, we buy the T-shirt, donate to the cause, and recycle. It’s true, every little bit counts; but there is an incredibly easy way to “go green” and add years to your life. The best part is, it doesn’t cost you anything.

Continue reading “It’s Not Easy Being Green”

Deep Thoughts

Know Who Your Friends Are

Facebook has completely changed the definition of a friend. Before Mark Zuckerberg turned us all into social stalkers, a friend was someone you connected with relatively regularly. You knew their family and usually saw them face to face once a year at very least. Now, Facebook makes it possible to have thousands of friends, a feat that would be nearly impossible 10 years ago. Though the benefits of a growing network are incredible, there is one very difficult downfall: staying connected to all of those “friends”.

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Deep Thoughts

Is Empathy becoming Extinct?

Empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their point of view is apparently on the decline. I recently stumbled upon an article about a study that indicates that young people seem to exhibit this quality less and less.  My initial reaction was shock, how can people become less empathetic?

It turns out that understanding other people’s emotions is a skill like any other, and it takes practice to maintain. We, like most animals, are born with the ability to identify with the feelings of others; to feel pain when we see others in pain. However, unlike our animalistic cousins, we also have the ability to forget this instinctive emotional connection to our world and it seems we are doing so quite efficiently.

Continue reading “Is Empathy becoming Extinct?”

Deep Thoughts

Commit To Playing The Field

Maximizing Your Free Time

If you understand economics (or you’ve read Freakonomics) then you know that there is no such thing as time that is actually “free”. Every moment of your life is worth something; every second you spend trolling Facebook is at the cost of something else.

So if you are like me, you’ve gone through more than one outrageous hobby to maximize your free time and lead a meaningful life.  The trouble is that few of those hobbies make it past the one week mark. Why? Because committing to a hobby is like dating to get married; instead of enjoying the moment, you’re critically examining every flaw and mentally trying to picture how it will fit in with your life in the long-term. You’re left with a heap of ex-hobbies and little to show for it.

There is one hobby for those of us who want to be well-rounded people, but just can’t commit: Trying New Things

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Deep Thoughts

Sustainable Happiness

How to Be Happy in the Long Run

HPI may be the new GDP. What does that mean? Well, instead of only measuring a country’s forward progress using financial benchmarks, we may start evaluating an even more important piece of the “success” puzzle; Sustainable Happiness.

HPI is the Happy Planet Index, a new initiative launched just two years ago by the New Economics Foundation. It takes into account factors like life expectancy, ecological foot print and life-satisfaction to compile a score between 1 and 100. A score of 100 would mean a country has found the secret recipe to happy inhabitants without negatively impacting their limited natural resources. Although the HPI data suggests we all have a long way to go before coming close to 100, the numbers deliver a powerful and hopeful message: That real happiness isn’t linked to using more stuff

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Politically Incorrect

Should We Care About Weiner’s Wiener?

*Jun 01 - 00:00*05_Flatbed_WEBWhile I don’t live in the US anymore, I still follow some of the news and it would have been impossible for me to ignore Anthony Weiner’s latest sexting scandal.

My first thought was, what a clown. Who would ever vote for this joker who got caught sending around nude pictures not once, but twice! Now that I’ve had a bit of time to think about the situation (and the novelty of his last name has worn off), I have a few arguments to make (GASP) in favor of the guy. Continue reading “Should We Care About Weiner’s Wiener?”

Politically Incorrect

Kim Kardashian Interview

With all of her money, clothes and perfectly lazered hairline, Kim may seem like a figment of our imagination. However when I sat her down for a chat I discovered she is… exactly how she comes across on TV.