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Archive for November, 2016

Are your holidays stuffed with too much stuff ?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Before we even carved our Thanksgiving turkeys, we were already being bombarded with holiday advertisements. Now that it’s almost December, our digital screens and mailboxes are overflowing with the season’s best deals on the latest and greatest “stuff”. With all of the surrounding festivity, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the overconsumption associated with the season.

Many of us hit the stores immediately following Thanksgiving dinner (or Halloween for some) and don’t stop shopping until Christmas Eve. We buy “stuff” for family members, friends, co-workers, gifts exchanges, our homes, our kids and ourselves. Then we see more great deals that we just can’t pass up, so we buy more stuff. Then we worry if all of the stuff we bought was enough. Will the kids be disappointed on Christmas morning? Did I get enough for dad? How much did my sister spend last year; maybe I should get her one more little thing? And off we go, back to the hustle and bustle to buy more stuff.

While it’s a wonderful time of the year and giving feels good, do we all really need more stuff?

There are 300,000 items in the average American home. Some reports indicate that over the past 50 years, the number of goods we consume has doubled, and the average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size to accommodate this increased consumption. British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily. Forbes estimates that the average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month – even though most women actually wear only 20% of what they own. In 1930, that figure was nine.

And who among us has not felt the burden of owning too much stuff? Toy boxes are overflowing and garages are packed full with 25% of people who own two-car garages admitting they have no room for cars. It’s estimated that we will spend 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items in our lifetime. We’re stressed about how to organize and manage the stuff we already have, and then we go out and buy more…? This doesn’t even take into account the amount of money we’re spending and the excessive amount of credit card debt we’re racking up.

Overconsumption and the obsession for acquiring more stuff can take the holiday season from merry to maddening. This year, try to control the urge to acquire and give more stuff, and see if your holidays become a little less strained and a little more meaningful for you and the people you love.

12 topics to save a post-election Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

After a polarizing and heated election season, light-hearted conversations during tomorrow’s Thanksgiving family gatherings can become ticking time bombs. Just one comment from an oblivious grandfather, tipsy aunt, or political extremist cousin could ignite the bomb’s flame with little to no warning. Instead of naively walking into the battleground unprepared, arm yourself with these 12 topic-changers that could save the entire 2016 holiday season:

  1. How about Brangelina, why do you think they really broke up?
  2. Yep, we all disagree on politics, but what do we think about Harambe?
  3. Has anyone bought the new iPhone yet; I can’t believe there’s not a headphone jack!
  4. Do leggings count as pants?
  5. What do you think of people who constantly reply-all on large group emails?
  6. I can’t make up my mind; do you think kids should get participation trophies?
  7. Have you seen the new common core math they’re teaching kids today; why can’t they just do it like we did?
  8. What does Starbucks call its small size drink again…venti?
  9. So, what do you think about Marvin Lewis as the Bengals coach?
  10. Can you believe they added the word “selfie” to the dictionary?
  11. I saw someone put ketchup on his cheese coney at Skyline Chili yesterday…
  12. I can’t believe there are actually stores open on Thanksgiving!

 

To the heavens.

Friday, November 18th, 2016

stockholm-2016-2

Raise your hands high, open and wide — you are free.

Shot by: Jon Keeling

The fashion of politics.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Reflecting on the long list of changes facing America after the presidential election, fashion is certainly on the list. For politicians, where someone observes every move they make, what they wear plays a big part in non-verbal communication and their overall image. It’s typical for politicians and their teams, especially the President and First Lady, to have a fashion strategy – one that portrays the right image and communicates the right message. In a movie called, The Adjustment Bureau, a political candidate, played by actor Matt Damon, gives an off-script speech that perfectly exemplifies the art of dressing a politician, saying, “This tie was selected for me by a group of specialists, in Tenafly New Jersey, who chose it over fifty six other ties we tested. In fact, our data suggests that I have to stick to either a tie that is red or a tie that is blue. A yellow tie made it look as if I was taking my situation lightly and I may in fact pull my pants down at any moment. A silver tie meant that I’d forgotten my roots. My shoes, you know, shiny shoes we associate with a high priced lawyers and bankers. If you want to get a working man’s vote you need to scuff up your shoes a little bit, but you can’t scuff ’em so much that you alienate the lawyers and the bankers, cause you need them to pay for the specialist back in Tenafly. So what is the proper scuffing amount? Do you know we actually paid a consultant seventy three hundred dollars to tell us that…[he takes off his shoe and brings it up to show everyone]…this is the perfect amount of scuffing.”

While that scene may or may not be an exaggeration of the process, it’s clear those serving in public office don’t just shop for themselves “off the rack” and choose to wear whatever they please. As First Lady, Michelle Obama worked with a team of stylists to choose her outfits carefully, aiming to tell a unique story with each wearing. Her clothing choices often made front-page news and she worked with many up and coming designers on custom pieces to help boost their careers (who could forget the gorgeous state dinner dress by Brandon Maxwell?). President Barack Obama was also mindful of his fashion choices. GQ Magazine recently called him the most stylish president since JFK because of his perfectly tailored suits and on-point color combinations.

Alas, as we say goodbye to the trendy first family, we will likely see some big fashion changes in the White House over the next four years. Unlike the Obamas and many first families before them, Melania and Donald Trump seem to have their own style. As with many of the previously standard presidential customs, the Trumps are shaking things up. Throwing out the pomp and circumstance surrounding White House fashion, Melania Trump personally selected and purchased online her Republican National Convention dress (it was not haute couture as many first ladies before her have done). Melania doesn’t have a stylist and “isn’t working with any designers,” a spokeswoman for Melania told Women’s Wear Daily of the choice. “Such certitude on Trump’s part is by far an anomaly in the galaxy of politicians’ wives, who are known to over-pack for international photo-ops, never mind their first formal speaking engagement,” noted Women’s Wear Daily. President-elect Donald Trump takes a similar blasé approach; electing to wear his own line of comparatively in-expensive ties from his Macy’s line with Italian made Brioni suits.

There’s no doubt the Trumps have shaken up the conventions of politics, adding a new casual demeanor to the system. As we see a wide variety of substantial White House changes, fashion will likely play a big role in re-defining the conventional demeanor of a “standard” first family.

 

2016 Election Winner: Democracy.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Regardless of the sentiment behind the shock being experienced today, the feeling was largely caused by the inaccurate media predictions of the campaign outcome. Looking at social media opinion, the projected popular vote, and even the number of individual yard signs, a Trump presidency seemed feasible. However, the media continued to report otherwise. Mrs. Clinton’s victory would be “substantial but not overwhelming,” The Huffington Post had reported, after assuring its readers that “she’s got this.” The New York Times’ Upshot projection early Tuesday evening said that Mrs. Clinton was an 84 percent favorite to win the presidency.

This type of media reporting throughout the election that went against what seemed like a majority popular opinion via social media and other popular vote polls brewed conspiracy theories of ‘rigged’ elections. Many people accused Clinton of using her ‘behind-the-scenes’ political influence to buy and skew votes in her favor. Others took to lashing out on our entire system of democracy, saying it was ineffective and untrustworthy. Donald Trump himself preemptively challenged the results of the election, claiming in media appearances and rallies that the entire system is “rigged.” This election evolved into more than a presidential election, it became a movement that challenged America’s fundamental beliefs and system of democracy that was once considered the gold standard.

So while the election of Donald Trump may not feel like a victory for nearly half of Americans, it was certainly a win for the system of democracy as a whole. At a time when the American people were truly starting to doubt the power of their individual voices and lose faith in the fairness and fundamental system of democracy, they saw democracy prevail. According to USA TODAY, voter turnout was up 4.7% in this presidential election. This proves that despite poor media predictions and a general upheaval in an emotionally charged election, Americans shared their voices and in the end democracy was the winner.