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why short commutes rock


  • “Everywhere is walking distance, if you have the time”, comedian Steven Wright.
  • Commuting to work has been reported to be the least enjoyable activity in the survey performed by Princeton scientists: Noble laureate professor Daniel Kahneman, economist Alan B. Krueger, David A. Schkade, Norbert Schwarz and Arthur A. Stone.
  • “If we use an increase in our incomes…simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not tend to end up being any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods – such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job – then the evidence paints a very different picture.” says Robert H. Frank, economics professor at Cornell University..
  • “You can’t adapt to commuting, because it’s entirely unpredictable. Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.” says Daniel Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness” and a psychology professor at Harvard University.
  • “There’s a simple rule of thumb: Every ten minutes of commuting results in ten per cent fewer social connections. Commuting is connected to social isolation, which causes unhappiness.” says Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist.
  • “We find that people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being. If your trip is an hour each way, you’d have to make forty per cent more in salary to be as ‘satisfied’ with life as a noncommuter is…” from the article “Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox” by Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey, University of Basel and University of Zurich.
  • Read New Yorker article about commuting There and back again by Nick Paumgarten.

snow day

Well, hello. Guess what? I feel good. I knew that I would, now. And to keep myself from breaking into song, I’ll give you this week’s horoscope from Rob Brezsny:

CANCER (June 21-July 22): I’ve got three related questions for you, Cancerian. 1. Are there any roles you play in which your selfish and unselfish tendencies overlap? 2. What situations allow you to be most completely yourself as you provide a fine service to others? 3. Which of your skills generate the most blessings and gifts? The next 12 months will be a favorable time for you to identify these roles, situations, and skills, and cultivate them to the max. You’ll have prime opportunities to express your special genius while doing good deeds.

Anyway, winter has arrived quite dramatically here in Wisconsin, and my attitude has changed so much in the past month. The earlier sunsets don’t bother me anymore. Night doesn’t freak me out. I like it right now, and I don’t have the need to skip ahead to the future and obsess about all the unknowns. (And the knowns, i.e. eventual death.)

Plus, snowplows have been special to me since the last time I was recovering from a major anxiety episode (1995 for those who are counting). They were a reminder that people are out there, awake in the middle of the night, taking care of things. Very comforting at the time. Hey, whatever works.

School was canceled today, and my son hugged me when he heard the news. (Moon murmured a bit and went back to sleep.) I decided to go to the Y and swim before work, since the snow didn’t stop Pete from his regular 2-mile jog to his office. The roads were nasty, but I made it there. I took a later-than-usual lunch and then decided to work from home. My neighbors had a hard time getting up our shared drive and into their own garages. We had a pushing party.

In other news, did you hear Oprah gained some weight? I really liked what Kate Harding had to say about it. And that’s all for now. Stay cozy.

post-olympic garage sale

Today was our second try at having a garage sale. Pete and I did some serious garage cleaning during the Olympics, and found many items which potentially could be attractive to budget-minded strangers. So we set up a sale last Saturday, but ran into a problem. Labor Day weekend. Slow traffic.

It was no big deal to store everything for another week. Good decision, because today was much better. Between the four of us (including the kids) we made over $100 and sold some very junky, bulky stuff. The weather couldn’t have been nicer for sitting around and shooting the breeze with customers.

We hauled the leftovers off to St. Vincent de Paul, so now our garage is much less cluttered and messy. Our basement is much improved, too. I actually accomplished my summer home improvement goals: painting the upstairs, getting bookshelves for the basement, de-cluttering, and having a garage sale.

Don’t I deserve a new t-shirt? I’m kind of in love with this one. This one, too. I’m seriously thinking about spending some of my newly earned cash.

some painting photos

I had to use the flash to take these photos, so sorry about the poor image quality. All the paint is FreshAire from Home Depot. We’re really happy with it. No smell, and nice colors. (I haven’t taken any bathroom photos, but the color we used is Northern Pear Tree, and I love love love it. I would paint my body with it.)


Yes, the painting is complete. I actually finished the final room (the bathroom) by myself yesterday, because Moon was with her best friend Brooke, picking up Brooke’s boyfriend from the airport. Brooke’s internet boyfriend. He’s from Pennsylvania, and although they talk every day on the phone, they had never actually met in person.

He’s staying for 4 days. Brooke’s parents are making sure that they don’t spend a single minute unsupervised.

Moon, Brooke, and T (the boyfriend) came over to play Guitar Hero a few minutes after the new sectional sofa-thing was delivered. T seems like a nice kid, and plays Guitar Hero on expert. I hadn’t played for quite a while, but I can still sort of rock the medium.

Today Pete and I are going to hang pictures and try to straighten up a bit. It’s looking like home.

resting a bit

I’m in my PJ bottoms and a t-shirt, sweaty and paint-splattered… but we’ve finished yet another color. The stairwell is now Canyon Pebble. I just cleaned up the paint supplies, and we’re going to keep taping the kitchen after lunch. It’s starting to come together.

I’ll definitely post pictures after the whole thing is done. Our new sofa unit is being delivered on Friday.

In other news, I’m getting a haircut this afternoon. I better take a shower before then.

like a new place

My vacation started today, and I’m spending it painting the inside of the house with the kids. We started with the two biggest walls. After 15 years of white walls, we finally have color. It makes a pretty dramatic difference. We just finished a little touching up, and moved the TV and all the various electronics in front of one of the newly-painted walls. I think it opens the space up a bit.

Day 1, and I’m already exhausted. The hardest part was all the cleaning and vacuuming that needed to take place before we could start the real work.

The kids are amazing, though. Peter is a powerhouse with a paint roller, and Moon is precision embodied.

It’s an hour and a half past bedtime, and I’ll be up in 7 hours starting the next wall.