Sentence To Ponder

“The activities that make people happiest include sex, exercise and gardening.”

The findings of British researchers who pinged tens of thousands of people on their smartphones and asked them simple questions: Who are they with? What are they doing? How happy are they?

More here. Also worth pondering. . . how good is the sex if one partner is responding to survey researchers?

You May Have Noticed

That I pressed pause two weeks ago. It wasn’t a planned break. I always try to be observant and to listen before “speaking”. Recently, I just haven’t felt any need to speak. I am fine, just contentedly observing and listening.

And against all odds, the humble blog’s regular readers continue to flourish.

Sawing Against The Stream

I listened to this excellent “Why Are American Teenagers So Sad and Anxious” podcast yesterday morning.

In one part, Derek Thompson discusses his “displacement” theory of childhood. Meaning as children and adolescents have spent more and more time on smart phones and other screens, there have been direct and indirect costs to their well-being. One indirect cost has been the “displacement” of play meaning much less outdoor activity with others. In the podcasters’ views, it’s difficult to underestimate the negative consequences of reduced play.

Then, in the afternoon, at mile 34 of my bike ride, I was rolling through the blueberry farms on Gull Harbor Rd. And right before hitting Boston Harbor Rd, there she was.

A 6-7 year old blonde girl who single-handedly is bucking the alone, indoor, screen life. I’ve seen her before in her backyard from Boston Harbor Rd. Her family’s compound is a chaotic mess of animals, hard panned dirt, junk including an abandoned bus, and more animals. Barefoot and dirty, if you only saw her in her backyard, you’d think it was Appalachia.

Yesterday, she was sitting on her driveway where it meets Gull Harbor Rd. Still barefoot, next to a chicken and a “Chicken Crossing” sign, she was sawing a piece of wood with a saw three-quarters her size.

The only thing that would’ve been better is if she was risking injury with a friend or two. I’m sure she has friends, but they were probably indoors on screens.

When Demand Outstrips Supply

Plug-in hybrid electric car math doesn’t add up.

I’m in the market for new wheels. I just can’t quite get used to all the attention the Prius V attracts from young women. And it’s hard to control when I punch it.

Thinking Toyota RAV4 Prime maybe. I found one in Oregon, but it’s marked up $5k over msrp. Someone will pay that, but should I?

Assume the price of gas moderates a bit, to $4/gallon. Then the mark up equates to 1,250 gallons. When using gas, the RAV4Prime gets 38 mpg. So 1,250 x 38 = 47,500 miles.

The RAV4 hybrid gets 40mpg. So if I opted for a less expensive, non-marked up RAV4 hybrid, I could drive 50,000 miles before reaching the Prime purchase price.

I also found a Prime in Sacramento that’s marked up $15,000.

Heaven help the quantitatively challenged.

How Well-Intentioned People Slowly Fall Apart

A clear, thought provoking excerpt from  Matthew Fray’s book, This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships.

Dig the last two paragraphs:

“If I had known that this drinking-glass situation and similar arguments would actually end my marriage—that the existence of love, trust, respect, and safety in our marriage was dependent on these moments I was writing off as petty disagreements—I would have made different choices.

I could have communicated my love and respect for her by not leaving tiny reminders for her each day that she wasn’t considered. That she wasn’t remembered. That she wasn’t respected. I could have carefully avoided leaving evidence that I would always choose my feelings and my preferences over hers.”

In one portion of my first year writing seminar, my students and I explore the concept of romantic love and the notion of “soulmates” more specifically. Next fall, in that context, we will read this essay. Eighteen and nineteen year olds don’t even remotely think about romantic relationships in Fray’s suggested terms because no one ever asks them to. In my teaching experience, when they are challenged to, they routinely rise to the occasion and reveal genuine maturity and depth.

More broadly, if you want to invite me to a dinner party, I would enjoy using this excerpt as a case study of sorts to engage other couples about the relative health of their relationships. It would be thrilling because it could go spectacularly wrong, but even then it would be revealing to hear people’s different perspectives on Fray’s telling of his divorce story.

Or I suppose, we can just keep talking about Elon Musk, the price of gas, and the weather.