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Leigh Newman (186 posts)
More than a few times, I've wondered what it would be like to wander around the world with a sack of chocolate coins. Every time I met somebody, I would give them a coin and they'd feel great and I'd feel great (save for when I had to explain myself to terrified parents who might question why a weird, stranger-lady is giving their kids candy not on Halloween). It'd be like handing out money, only affordable.
Now I can see my plan is all wrong. You can eat and enjoy a piece of chocolate, but not laugh about it. A balloon artist named Addi Somekh from Los Angeles California (the kind of guy you find at birthday parties, making balloon swords and dogs—only about one zillion times more creative) has taken to trotting across the globe, making hats—and connections—with everyone from Vietnamese tribesman to Floridian retirement-community residents. As you see in this video, his reason for doing so goes way past a quick chuckle or photo op:
31 Ways to Get Happy For Free
90 seconds to a Better mood
The joy of being frugal is a lot like the joy of eating one illicit grape while wandering the produce section—everybody experiences it, but nobody wants to talk about it. Two days ago, however, ABC news did a story about the cheapest family in America, who buy almost expired meat, freeze on-sale milk and hit the grocery store with walkie-talkies so they can talk to each other about deals while in different aisles. It had me laughing my head off and taking notes as to how they do it (hint: they prep for 4 hours before going to the store), because, let's face it, their total for 4 kids and 2 parents was $120 dollars—and that was for food for the WHOLE month!
Watch the ABC video clip
Saving ideas from the Coupon Mom
Suze Orman: the emergency stash.
This week is Banned Books week and, as a country, we're all supposed to be discussing what fate befalls a culture when books are destroyed or banned. I'm as afraid of ignorance and hate as the next guy, and so apparently is Ray Bradbury who (along with his camera-loving kitty ) made this short film for the National Endowment for the Arts about book burning...supposedly. What really comes across is why we all should love libraries. "All the people are waiting for me," Bradbury says, about his excitement upon entering one and how he thinks of books as friends. "Libraries are people."
Sadly, I know what awaits me at my local branch—little kids running wild as their babysitters chat and a long row of computers where people put together resumes. Our local library has become part-daycare facility and part employment center—and looks like an IRS office, minus the charm. The trainings and child-friendly crafts classes are much needed by the community, but listening to Bradbury talk I had such a longing for the library of my youth—filled with big globes and polished wood and, in the children's section, a goldfish pond with a mural of Alice in Wonderland.
"You go into the library and discover yourself," Bradbury says. Considering the pace and demands of this life, it would behoove us all to venture over to the downtown of our towns and visit the main branch where books rule the day and the librarians still "hush." I keep thinking that a massage by a professional (instead of me rubbing my own neck) or an appointment with a therapist (instead of a rambling rant to my ceiling before bed) will help me discover something, but perhaps I need a few hours with a different kind of person—like Anna Karenina or Billy Budd or even Ray Bradbury, as since as he claims, one of characters in the novel Fahrenheit 451 is, in fact, Ray Bradbury.
5 books everyone should read once
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It's happened to most of us. We sit down on a plane or at bus stop or a coffee shop, starting chit-chatting with the fellow passenger or grandma-looking wait
Now there's a site for that, Emotional Baggage Check where you're given a little suitcase into which you can deposit your troubles—and dump them anonymously and without guilt on somebody else. There's also a baggage carousel where other people will pick up your suitcases, read them, and then send you a song to cheer you up (the most popular as of this morning being Keep Your Head Up By Andy Grammer.) Interestingly enough, the first time, I tried the carousel—thinking, hey, lay some problems on me, I can take it today and give back some positive energy—I received a little note saying there weren't enough full suitcases. It occurred to me: Isn't this how it always happens? When you're ready for the tough stuff, it so rarely comes to pass.
Last week, the world went crazy when scientists at UC Berkley discovered a way to use MRI machines and computational models to create images that the brain "sees"—in effect giving us a window on what goes on inside our heads. The video that the research team created, comparing the "pictures" shown to people on a TV screen and the "pictures" inside their minds showed the two to be shockingly—but not completely similar, as you can see below.
Much of the discussion, including this smart, thoughtful write up on Mashable, focused on using this technology to record our dreams and watch them. I'd like to do that too, if only to figure out why I'm always falling off cliffs. But I also wonder what other things would look like, things other than the pop culture and artsy images that the researchers chose. For example, what if we could see an image of how our romantic partners see us inside their brains. Would emotions color those images—blue for "love," say, and green for just plain "like?"
When it came to little kids, we might be huge and towering in their minds. Or to our spouses, we might be revised (hopefully) with bigger smiles or long sexy hair down to our waist. Not to overlook our own cerebral cortex. I'd like to see what my husband and kids look like in my brain. And, while I'm at it, I'd like see what I look like to myself. The plain old mirror, I'm quite certain, will never give me the real big—or inner—picture.
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Monday is too stressful. Wednesday is already hump day. But Tuesday is "you" day: a day when you have the energy to do—or plan—something fresh and unexpected that might just turn your whole week around.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century, are now online. How to read and interact
with these ancient Hebrew texts—in English.
Wake and smell the joe after work this Thursday, National Coffee Day. How to spike up your night with a killer coffee-vodka cocktail.
Arch West, inventor of the Dorito passed away last week at age 97. How he created the American "Age of the Snack" and how to pay homage with a homemade, healthy version of the nacho-cheese chip.
If you haven't already, try to honor Self-Esteem Month before it ends in three days. How to up your sense of self with a handy, how-to kit.
I have a not-so secret confession. I am not a good driver. In my youth, I did some remarkable things with a car including: hitting a gasoline station bollard (but not the gasoline tank!), backing up and up and up and into my parents's house, and—the after-dinner family folklore favorite—turning around a corner too quickly, car flying through the air, landing in a fountain but not taking my foot off the gas, and flying back out of the fountain and...into a large hedge.
None of these accidents resulted in a wrecked car or trauma. They were fender benders. And at my ripe age of 39, I am now a fender bender connoisseur. I drive so slowly that it is impossible for me to do any kind of real damage, yet I still reverse into trees or the headlights/tail lights/bumpers of other cars.
"I'm not a good driver," I mouth into the rearview mirror at the irate parade of other drivers who follow me, their plans thwarted by my 18 miles-per-hour (neighborhood) or 50 miles-per-hour (highway) speeds. "I'm not a good driver," I tell my kids as I triple strap them into car seats that resemble the bulletproof, oxygen-poor, watertight titanium capsules used by Navy Seals to sneak into hostile international waters. "I'm not a good driver," I say as I hand over the keys to my husband, who sighs, rolls up his precious never-to-be-read newspaper and takes over the wheel for 12-hour stretches.
Then, last year, along came Joshua Foer, author of MoonWalking with Einstein, a book that everyone should read if only to understand that, hey, you already are a good driver or typist or figure skater; you simply need to get your brain off the "OK plateau" on which its rests, stymied by its unconscious acceptance of your minor competence. Foer's struggle was with memory. He wanted to remember better in order to compete in a memory competition.
Clearly I could never be a contender in such a competition, as I realized when I stumbled on this revelatory talk of his, about his book that I'd already read. His points made so much sense! And yet, I'd forgotten all of them ! So for all us who need a leg up on basic skills which we want to master, from remembering to driving to knitting, pizza making, and basic knots, here' s a recap courtesy of Behance:
Growing up, I was obsessed with a series of books called A Very Young——. Each book profiled the day of, say, a child dancer or a child horseback rider or child trapeze artist through exquisite photographs of them training or practicing or eating dinner. I was just a very young child child and looked up to these strange, wondrous people my age who somehow knew what they wanted to do. So when Hulu started a new series called A Day in the Life that tracks interesting adults living their lives over the course of 24 hours, I expected the same kind of approach, especially from the episode featuring Misty Copeland, an African-American ballet dancer. I tuned in for long romantic shots of Misty in a tutu or Misty at the barre or Misty putting on glittering eyeshadow before fluttering on stage for a performance of Swan Lake. Instead the program showed this:
What impressed me most was not that Misty had a real life—one that didn't involve leg warmers—but what she did with her life. Sure, some of her activities had to have been arranged for the cameras, but the truth is, she spent her morning talking to aspiring dancers at the Boys and Girls Club ("I wish I could have had a black woman to talk to. There aren't very many in my field, and I didn't get to meet one..."), then spent her lunch designing dance clothes for people of all sizes ("If I'm a medium, what do all the other people wear?"), then rehearsed for eight hours on her supposed "vacation" from American Ballet Theatre, and, finally, performed for a charity event.
I had to wonder, What would my day look like if it were filmed? Would it reflect the same kind generosity? Everywhere she went, she was helping others. So I made up a little test. Once a month, I'm going to flip open my datebook (or click on a random day in the calendar) and see how I spent that day, and if there was anything scheduled that required my efforts on the behalf of others. If I can pencil in "pick up lock thing for front door," I can also pencil in "drop off meal for lady next door, sick, alone, vegetarian."
How helping others can boost your happiness
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One woman mourns the end of soap operas (specifically All My Children), using all the qualities that we love about soap opera—melodrama and unrequited love.
"How many things could I have? I'm black, then lesbian. I can't be the poster child for everything." Comedian Wanda Sykes goes public with her breast cancer story—and advises to have yourself checked.
A 200-year-old overdue apology for a Native American tribe's stolen canoe.
Napping like the Greeks and seven other health tips from around the globe.
The Life Lifter: 62-year-old Diane Nyad will retry swimming from Florida to Cuba, and jumps back in the water tonight!