Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Singles, Psychos, and Crazies... oh my!

Some News of the Weird I have come across recently:

This week (Sept. 21-27) is National Singles Week! Who knew?
So to celebrate National Singles Week, as a single person, I will be walking down the aisle as a bridesmaid in my friend Mariel's wedding this Saturday in San Antonio. As the only single person in the wedding party, actually. And you know what? I'm quite looking forward to my first time traveling alone and exploring a city all by myself.

American Psycho is being made into a ... wait for it.... BROADWAY MUSICAL!
Surely Phil Collins will make a cameo and sing "Sussidio" for all the freaks (ahem, nice people of New York) who would go see such a thing. Ok, I'll admit it. I would totally be there.

Amy Winehouse is actually my age and makes me feel better about myself.
Check out this collage of celebrities who are the big 2-5 like Amy and me. Scary, huh?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If I were Sarah Palin's child...

my name would be
Engine Nighthawk Palin!

Which I think is just a tad bit cooler than Holley's Wood Corps Palin. Just a tiny smidge. :)

What's yours? Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

When your little sister hits her almost-mid-twenties, you know you're getting old...

In honor of Nat's 24th birthday tomorrow (which is also Talk Like a Pirate Day, FYI), here are some pics from CuteOverload of her fave animal: the camel! Apparently he is hitched up outside of a trailer park, where he is fighting an epic battle with a bucket. I'm not so sure this isn't somewhere in Alabama.

Original Source


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time to play the I TOLD YOU SO game!

... with my parents. Well, kinda. So, as an overspending 20-something with overbearing parents who think they know everything (anyone with me?), many a discussion has been had in my household about my trips here and there, my penchant for sushi over canned tuna and a fancy burger over peanut butter and jelly. I tell them over and over again that I am enjoying life to the fullest (and having a damned good go of it), and that they are jealous and blah blah blah.

So today, in Slate Magazine, I came across this GREAT article in the "Geezers" section that basically backs me up. The point of the story is: Money CAN buy happiness, and while it's good to save, it's also good to buy this happiness while you're young and healthy and can really enjoy it. So to my dear parents and grandparents, I say a big fat "BOOOYAH!"

Spend It While You Can

Turns out money can buy you happiness. But it buys more happiness when you're young.

By Ray Fisman

We're frequently told, by news-you-can-use segments and bank ads hawking savings accounts, that Americans are not saving enough for their retirements. Yet just as often we're reminded that, given the fleeting nature of human existence, we should eat, drink, and be merry while we still can. Thriftiness is making a comeback in the wake of our latest speculative bubble, but some new evidence may help to tip the scales back in favor of the carpe diem approach to life. It turns out that money can buy you happiness—but young people get a lot more happiness out of their dollars than old people do.

Recent research by economists Amy Finkelstein, Erzo Luttmer, and Matthew Notowidigdo suggests that you'll get a bigger bang for your consumer buck by spending while you're healthy, before old age starts to take the fun out of life's indulgences. Their research is part of a larger academic enterprise attempting to understand what makes us happy. Economics is a field more associated with rational calculation than emotion, but there's an ever-growing subculture of "happiness economists." Just as mainstream economists spend their time figuring out things like gross national product—how much a country produces in dollar terms—these happiness scholars churn out numbers like gross national happiness (how much happiness a country produces).

It's relatively easy to measure things like corporate profits and trade flows. Measuring a person's psychic well-being is trickier, though happiness economists take a relatively straightforward approach: For the most part, they just ask people if they're happy. They then try to figure out what makes people say yes or no. Perhaps not surprisingly, money-obsessed economists have been fixated on whether higher incomes make us happier. And after much debate, their conclusion is that money does indeed buy happiness. Or, as an economist would put it, there's a positive marginal utility of consumption. People in rich countries say they're happier than people in poor countries, and in just about every nation, the well-to-do report being happier than their impoverished counterparts.

Of course, an extra dollar may not bring the same joy to all people. For some, happiness is only as far away as the next swipe of their Amex; for others, there's pleasure to be had in having nothing at all. It's also true that what makes us happy today might not do the trick tomorrow—the money-happiness connection may change throughout a person's lifetime.

How does ill health affect this relationship? Healthy people are happier than sick ones. That's obvious. But once you're sick, does money buy you more happiness or less? On the one hand, you can't enjoy your new Mustang convertible if you're laid up in the hospital. On the other hand, money can buy a lot of comforts for those suffering from debilitating illness (a full-time housekeeper; a nice, soft La-Z-Boy).

Finkelstein and her co-authors use the "Health and Retirement Survey," which follows a sample of retired persons, asking them questions about, among other things, income, health, and whether they agree with the statement "Much of the time I was happy during the past week." The study allowed the researchers to determine whether rich retirees say they're happier than poor retirees. And since the survey goes back to the same participants year after year, it's also possible to track a single person's happiness over time to see how it's affected by health.

The authors find that healthy retirees are a pretty contented lot—only 13 percent of respondents reported not being happy. The rich are happier—going from an annual income of $25,000 to $50,000 reduces the likelihood of saying you're unhappy by nearly five percentage points. But that's only if the respondents are healthy. The extra money has a much smaller effect on happiness for the sick and infirm—the authors calculate that the happiness effect of higher income is only about one-quarter as much for respondents with multiple chronic diseases. So, having a lot of money to throw around once you're retired is great … but only while you're healthy enough to spend it.

The researchers' findings reinforce claims that economists have made elsewhere that Americans aren't really undersaving all that much for their golden years. As Tim Harford has noted in Slate, since when you're retired it's possible to spend more time lining up for early bird dinners and clipping coupons, you don't need as much money to get by on. And if money isn't going to bring you as much happiness in your old age, that's further reason not to oversave. If you've always wanted to samba till dawn in Rio or see Angkor Wat at sunrise, do it now, when you're healthy and you know you'll still enjoy it.

The authors also have a surprising suggestion regarding health insurance: We'd actually be better off if insurance companies reduced the portion of medical expenditures they pay for. Your monthly insurance payments would end up costing you less, and while you'd shell out more for hospital stays and other medical expenses if illness struck, well, at that point you wouldn't be healthy enough to enjoy spending the extra cash anyway.

The authors' findings should be a wake-up call to those already in the midst of their golden years who still have their health but face increasingly unfavorable odds of staying that way. You really should treat yourself to that dinner at Chez Panisse you've been putting off for a special occasion. And what if you're young and fit? The odds of living to see another healthy day are stacked in your favor, but who knows what could happen tomorrow? It's not every day an economics paper gives you an excuse to spend your money and live life to the fullest. I'd say seize the moment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go Figure

I followed the lead from Katie and took a quiz to tell me which year I belong in... go figure - 1984, baby! I was two years old in 1984, and I've always said I should have been older in the 80s. I definitely have the hair for it! I'm not so sure about the "wild" part, but cheesy - if you know me, you know there's no question!

You Belong in 1984

Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

Drama Queen

I laughed so hard at this guy/gal:

HBO deemed disturbing and seedy... surprise, surprise!

First, let me preface this by saying that I'm having the hardest time making myself read anything that I can't finish in one or two sittings. Yes, I'm serious. After taking YA Lit in the spring, for which I read nearly 40 books in four or so months, and then Kiddie Lit this summer (we're talking >50 in two months)... I just can't pick up anything "serious" or long. It's pitiful. Lately, I've been on a vampire kick following Breaking Dawn's release (don't even get me started on my beloved Twilight series). I read the first of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, which HBO has recently adapted into a new, very disturbing and seedy series. Suffice it to say: they took some liberties and sweet ole Charlaine is probably having a hissy fit over in Arkansas. A short synopsis: Sookie is a clairvoyant waitress at a small-town Louisiana watering hole in a modern world where vampires roam freely thanks to the invention of synthetic blood, now sold in gas stations and restaurants. She is modest, but intelligent and witty, and she finds that she can't read the mind of Bill the Vampire, with whom she eventually falls in love (did you see it coming?). There's a murder mystery and there are bad vampires and all that jazz. So HBO's TrueBlood takes this and turns it into this romp-fest with nekkid (and very graphic) scenes every ten minutes, and everyone drops the F-bomb and says GD, including Bill, while sweet ole Sookie says (in a TERRIBLE Southern accent, "Yaaallll... yew know I hate when you yewse the Jay-wohrd." Seriously awful. But of course I'll keep watching. I'm no prude (I love me some Entourage - oh Ari and Vinnie), but this actually shocked me! I didn't know I was shockable anymore! Crazy.

A few things...

First of all, can I just say that I REALLY want this pup:

Look at the happiness on that face! Reminds me of when Nat and I would play "airplane" when we were little... which would usually end in disaster as most highly-dangerous-yet-seemingly-innocent children's games do. At least when Nat and I were involved. But I digress. Will someone PLEASE buy me a puppy? I already have name(s) picked out. Rose or Rosie for a girl (Ryan Adams and the Cardinals reference, obvi) or Potter for a boy (as in Harry). I really just want two of them.

On another note, I have become addicted to watching How I Met Your Mother. Has anyone else besides me missed the genius of this sitcom? (Yes, the one with Doogie Howser as a metrosexual skirtchaser.) A friend and classmate of mine, whose opinion I value greatly when it comes to sources of entertainment, recommended it to me, and now my sleep schedule is suffering and Netflix is working extra hard to send me DVDs three times a week. But seriously - check it out if you haven't. It reminds me of FRIENDS (oh how I miss it), but a bit wittier. And I find myself thinking that Ted (lead character, to the right in the photo - how cute is he?) is the male version of myself. It's quite eerie.