Tag Archives: Vacations

Stuff, Stuff And More Stuff

by Richard

When we first moved into our house 12 years ago, I thought, “It’s huge. How will we ever fill this place up?” The easy answer to that question is simple: Just live here for 12 years.

Seriously. We’ve decided that we’d like to stress our marriage a bit more, so we decided that we’d like to do some home renovations, which include roofing over the great room and expanding the kitchen. To do that, we’re having to clean out the kitchen cabinets so we can store our stuff while the new kitchen takes shape.

And that is some seriously disheartening stuff. Not joking here. I thought we were pretty simple people. Turns out we’re just simple in the head. We’ve got souvenir cups from football teams that don’t even exist anymore. Cups from medeval recreation restaurants. Cups from vacations. Cups from cruises. And just plain everyday cups. Not to mention all the nice glasses, wine glasses, water glasses, shot glasses, margarita glasses and beer glasses.

It’s getting more than a little ridiculous.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time throwing stuff away because I’m always afraid I’m going to need it sometime in the future and then where will I be? Somewhere without that item I just threw away, that’s where.

Yeah, it’s silly, dudes. Especially considering that there’s stuff in the kitchen that I haven’t touched in years and then only once after several other years of disuse. (Bread machine, I’m looking at you.)

It started out funny, but it’s getting rather sickening to me. We’ve seriously got to trim down our collections of stuff. And not just the adults. I think the young dudes might be in for a rude surprise pretty soon.

But more on that later.

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Kindling The Fire For Reading

by Richard

I’m surprised I was able to hold out as long as I did. When Amazon.com first came out with their electronic reading device called the Kindle, everyone who knew me assumed that I would be first in line to buy one.

I almost was. It was a close call, but I managed to make the saving throw against the shiny. (That was a dungeons and dragons joke there. Pretty impressive considering I never actually played the game, yeah?)

Of course, hearing my bookshelves creak in the night and listening for (and praying it would never happen) the tell-tale pop of breaking wood as the overloaded shelves finally came crashing down, made for some sleepless nights. I knew I wasn’t the type of person to actually throw away books or give them to the library when I was done with them. (I’m a seagull at heart: “Mine! Mine! Mine!” when it comes to books.)

Something had to change. Which meant I finally gave in and bought a Kindle. I managed to fall in love with that one for about a year. Until they came out with a new version. Having already bought the first iteration, there was no way they were keeping v. 2 out of my sweaty, eager hands. Again, I loved it. Having all those books at my fingertips was amazing. I didn’t have to pack a separate suitcase for my books when I went on vacations. It was wonderful.

But what to do with the Kindle I no longer used? Oddly, I found rescue in the form of Hyper Lad. He’s not the biggest reader in the world, but he found the idea of an electronic reader to be irresistible. Seriously, books were cool as long as they weren’t plain old paper and ink. So I gave him his own Amazon.com account and a couple of bucks (since we’re big believers in supporting anyone who wants to read) and told him to go to town.

He immediately started downloading Stephen King books. Now, before he started using my former Kindle, Hyper Lad would never have actually read a Stephen King book, simply because they were too long. He’d take one look at the size of the book and decide he could never read something that long.

With the Kindle, though, the young dude’s able to fool himself. It’s the same book, but you can’t tell how big it is just from looking. All you see when looking at the book is the exterior of the Kindle. It never changes. It’s always thin. Right now he’s reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy with The Mist, The Shining and Cell (all by Stephen King) waiting in the wings.

That’s some good news. We’ve found a way for Hyper Lad to enjoy reading and we’re not cluttering up the house with my books any more. How can this not be a good thing?

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Freaky Friday: Who Am I?

by Richard

Knowing if you’re happy or now right now is a pretty easy task. Knowing whether you’ll be happy in the future, however, seems to be a bit more difficult, especially when we forget who we really are.

According to the latest research, most dudes and dudettes are appallingly bad at predicting their future happiness because they tend to forget one tiny fact in their calculations: Are they basically happy or basically sad people?

The new evidence comes from Jordi Quoidbach, a psychological scientist at the University of Liege, Belgium. Quoidbach and Elizabeth Dunn, his collaborator at the University of British Columbia, found that our natural sunny or negative dispositions might be a more powerful predictor of future happiness than any specific event. They also discovered that most of us ignore our own personalities when we think about what lies ahead – and thus miscalculate our future feelings.

Quoidbach and Dunn call this phenomenon “personality neglect,” which they tested in connection with the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In early October 2008, a large sample of Belgians predicted how they would feel the day after the U.S. presidential election if Barack Obama won and how they would feel if John McCain won. Then the day after the election, they reported how they actually felt, and completed personality tests. Nearly everyone in the study supported Obama, so most predicted they would be happy if he won.

What happened is that people who were grumpy before the election were — surprise! — still grumpy after the election. People who were happy before the election were basically happy after the election.

We are who we are.

“It might be worthwhile, before you make a big decision, to think about your personality and how you usually react,” Quoidbach says. Think about planning a vacation, for example. If you have a happy disposition, you probably don’t need to waste a lot of money and effort finding the perfect location (because you will be happy with most vacations anyway). By contrast, if you have a less happy disposition, you might be more prone to regret the slightest annoyance, so carefully planning every detail of the trip might be the best strategy for your future happiness. “Don’t focus too much on the event; think about who you are,” advises Quoidbach.

Okay, now this is pretty interesting. It goes with something I’ve thought for a long while now. Our outlook on the world influences what we see in the world, which influences our outlook on the world. That is, if we’re grumpy dudes, then we’ll be more likely to see stuff that will keep us grumpy. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle.

And it’s something I’m trying to change in myself. I know I’m one of those grumpy people. I always seem to see the bad things and not the good. I am, as I said, trying to change that. Instead of complaining about people tossing empty beer cans along a roadside that I have to see when I’m out riding my bike, I now try to be happy that there’s fewer than there used to be. It’s a small thing, but it’s a good thing.

Hey, there’s another one.

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