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My Hope for 2017

It’s 2017 and the world is in waiting as we prepare for a new administration to enter the White House for the next 4 years. While my political position is obvious, I am excited to see a resurgence of activism across the nation and I hope that this activism will be the key in working with peoples from across the globe to save civilization as we know it. The youth is suddenly cognizant of climate change and our precarious position as the biggest energy user and super power. 

I haven’t seen youth this interested in decades, and I’m pleased to see them wake up.  As Princess Leia said, “Help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope!” I’m looking to our youth to make the sacrifices needed and lead the way to a clean energy future. 

Generation Z

Generation Z is the new label placed on our youth today.  They are the first generation of kids who have been completely connected to social media since birth. If you’re like me, you’re having trouble remembering how these generations are different.  Here’s a quick guide to identify the youth since the Baby Boomers:

Generation X:
Born between 1966-1976 (41 million)
Referred to as the “lost” generation who were often “latchkey” kids.

Generation Y:
Born between 1977-1994 (71 million)
Referred to as sophisticated and tech wise, and indulged by Cable TV, satellite radio and the internet.

Generation Z:
Born between 1995-2012 (23 million)
Referred to gender fluid, hyper-stressed, connected but lonely.

According to The Guardian, Generation Z kids are online 3 hours per day and their most popular apps include Snapchat, Instagram and messaging app Kik. This Gen Z group has more mental health issues that center around low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and self-harm than previous generations.

They are generally unhappy with themselves probably because they have access to news and social media 24/7.  They see how many parties they weren’t invited to and how everyone seems to be having fun without them. Although they might have “1000” friends, they really don’t know most of them.

These kids don’t get to “play” or take breaks from academic and social pressures. Whether or not parents or teachers state this to them directly, the kids know that competition is fierce and they have to fight to succeed.

The good news is that Gen Z kids are smoking fewer cigarettes and drinking less alcohol than previous generations.

I think that with information overload, Generation Z kids are overwhelmed with what’s available to them and what everyone else is doing.  I believe that if these kids have the opportunity to do one project – something that they are fascinated by – they will benefit from focusing their energies and developing their projects.  This in itself will build self-worth and confidence, which would also make them happier.

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Worried About Fake News?

Here’s a Fact Checker’s Guide for detecting “fake news”:

Back in the day, media sources were limited largely to TV newscasters and journalists for newspapers and magazines. Journalists like Walter Cronkite delivered the news and we believed every word. Although “fake news” was not a thing back then, we knew whether the news leaned slightly left or right. 

Today, social media and the internet make it possible for anyone to conjure up propaganda under the guise of legitimate news.  While this is super bad, what’s worse are the people who “share” these articles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites.  By endorsing fake news, this misinformation can spread like wildfire.  People often share these stories after reading only the headlines, without even bothering to read the articles.

So here are a few tips to check if you’re reading Fake News.

  1. Check the article’s website
    Real: ABC News = abcnews.go.com
    Fake: ABC News = abcnews.com.co
    ** “.co” is an internet country code domain for Colombia
  2. Check the “Contact Us” page
    Fake news usually doesn’t have a Contact Us page
  3. Check the byline of the reporter
    Fake news journalists usually boast ridiculous claims
  4. Check for fake quotes
    Fake news makes claims from Snopes.com about legitimacy of the article
  5. Check the sources
    Fake news will not have links to sources
  6. Check the ads
    Fake news will have inappropriate ads
  7. Check search engines & sites dedicated to identifying fake news:
    Field Guide to Fake News Sites (Snopes.com)
    RealorSatire.com

The best way to stop fake news is to think before you share!

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Out With The Old, In With The New!

If your New Year’s Resolution includes finding a new job, here are some tips that the Washington Post suggests:

#1: Do your homework
Research the company (annual reports, website) so you are in the know. Also check out the interviewer (LinkedIn or online search) so you have some handy background information.

#2: Ask about the interview format
Be prepared for the SAR (situation, action, result) or the Case interview formats.  For the SAR, have several compelling stories that give you the opportunity to show them what you’ve accomplished in previous positions.  For the Case, you’ll be given a scenario and you’ll walk them through the process of solving the problem.  Either way, you’ll be evaluated on your approach.  Show them that shows that you are thorough, comprehensive, and logical.

#3: Let your passion shine through
Share your passion for the job opportunity and communicate your thoughts by telling the interviewer how this position aligns with your values, experience, and passion. Lean forward to show that you are interested and listen carefully to learn what you can about the job and the company needs.

#4: Close the deal
Even if they don’t ask, summarize all of the points that you discussed during the interview and why this is a good fit for you.  Ask about the next steps and follow up with a “thank-you” email.

By being prepared for the interview, you’ll increase your odds of landing that great job!

Trust Your Gut!

Except for driving directions (I have the worst sense of direction!), I always rely on my gut feelings when making important or risky decisions. Some call it premonitions, others, well, think it’s nonsense. But there’s research to prove that people who have “interoception,” or the ability to sense subtle physiological changes can help in making tough decisions.

John Coates, a former derivatives trader who is now a neuroscientist, conducted a study that found that London traders (stock market) who could more accurately detect their own heartbeat were more likely to thrive in financial markets. In other studies, researchers also found that people who could detect their heart rates performed better in laboratory studies of risky decision making. By noticing rapid and subtle bodily responses, these people gravitated away from unprofitable trades and toward profitable ones.

Sounds like it’s time to start listening to our bodies, and specifically to our heart rates! 

Handmade Gifts

When my girls were young, they collected little pins from the places we traveled to.  It gave them something to search for on the trips, and it became a memento to remind them of the trips after we returned home. 

Jaclyn started putting her pins on a hat that she got in Venice, and Nicole put them on a long velvet ribbon that she hung in her bedroom.  When they headed off to college back in 2003 and 2007, they left their pin collections behind. 

I just found them and created little displays. As I attached each pin to the frame, it brought back great memories of adventures from their youth. 

So glad they loved receiving them on Christmas morning!  

All Together for Christmas!

All set for Christmas!  Both Nicole and Jaclyn will be home on Christmas Eve and Day!  It’s been several years since Nicole’s been able to join us for Christmas because of her ER residency schedule.  Last year we Skyped with her but it’s just not the same…

We’ve set up our Christmas village that is filled with ceramic houses that we’ve made over the years. 

This will be the first Christmas that we didn’t build our Eco Xmas Tree; we bought a live tree to plant on our property in honor of our 2 new puppies (it helps us remember Christmases!).  And I made new Christmas stockings to hang from our mantel. 

Having the family together for Christmas is the best gift ever! Oh, the joy of this festive season!

Bonus Blog: Gift Tags!

Continuing the recycle and reuse philosophy from the last post about satin gift wrap: we make our gift tags out of recycled Christmas cards from the previous year.  Yup!  

I love all of the beautiful, funny, and clever cards we receive every year. After the holidays, we save the colorful Christmas cards (after we cut off the backside).  Then the following year, we hole punch the card, pull a hair tie through the hole, and simply tie the card around the fabric bow.  With a thick marker, we write the receiver’s name on the front of the card.  

Each gift tag is unique and exquisite!  And, we don’t cut down any trees and we don’t spend a penny on gift tags!  It's a win for us AND the planet!

Smart Wrapping Paper

Did you know that wrapping paper is a 3.2 billion dollar industry? With Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa around the corner millions of pounds of paper will be used to wrap gifts just once and then be piled up in trash cans that line every street around the world. Wasteful! I didn’t realize how much this bothered me until I had a dream about it.  When I woke up, I knew exactly what I needed to do.  This was kind of like my Eco-Xmas tree dream.  So here’s what I did:

I drove over to Fabrics R Us in San Jose to buy 20 yards of red and green satin.  Then I went to the Dollar Tree to buy 100 hair ties and scrunchies.  I added a few curtain rods to my Wrapping Room to hang all of the satin squares that I had cut in various sizes.  And voilà!  I was all set for a paperless Chistmas.

I grabbed a satin square and placed the gift item right in the center of it.  Then, I pulled all of the fabric up around the gift and tied it off – just like a girl’s pony tail.  With the extra fabric, I would pull it through another loop of the hair tie creating a beautiful “bow.”  It took 5 seconds to wrap!  No cutting wrapping paper, folding edges, taping ends, or adding ribbons.  The best part, after gifts were opened, we collected all of the satin sheets and then tossed them over the curtain rod for the next holiday.  We even put all of the hair ties in a Xmas box to be reused again.  

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