New research study may reveal that people with kids live longer.

I read this article recently originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com1-aoKisu1Z7eqdOtuDJ4bVxQ If you want a longer life, consider creating one. They’ll help you out later.

This is the takeaway from a new nationwide study of Sweden in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Researchers tracked the lifespans of 1.5 million Swedes born between 1911 and 1925 and their children.

The people with kids outlived the childfree, especially later in life: At age 60, the gain in life expectancy was 1.5 years for women and 2 years for men, and the differences grew more pronounced from there.

Close relationships, psychologists are finding, have a profound effect on people. When we talk about how kids, partners, and friends offer social support, we’re speaking to how close bonds literally help regulate hormone levels and physiological arousal, helping to bring the body back into a healthy balance.

Like Jenny Anderson notes at Quartz, this study can’t conclusively say that having kids caused these Swedes to live longer; it’s an association. But the researchers, lead by Karin Modig at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, offer that it’s the best explanation, backed up the finding that people with kids who had been divorced still had greater lifespans than those without kids, with greater benefits for men. The finding echoesearlier research around how parents have better heart health than their child-free peers, and the folk wisdom that if you take care of kids when they’re young, they’ll look out for you when you’re old.

Technically, your brain’s efforts to keep your body’s systems in balance is calledallostasis, and getting it screwed up by stress and lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to disease. But thankfully, you don’t have to just rely on your brain and body for that stabilization — at a physiological level, that’s what friends (and parents and partners and adult children) are for.

 

The Pope on Panhandling: Give Without Worry

04sat1-blog427

New Yorkers, if not city dwellers everywhere, might acknowledge a debt to Pope Francis this week. He has offered a concrete, permanently useful prescription for dealing with panhandlers.

It’s this: Give them the money, and don’t worry about it.

The pope’s advice, from an interview with a Milan magazine published just before the beginning of Lent, is startlingly simple. It’sscripturally sound, yet possibly confounding, even subversive.

Living in the city — especially in metropolises where homelessness is an unsolved, unending crisis — means that at some point in your day, or week, a person seeming (or claiming) to be homeless, or suffering with a disability, will ask you for help.

You probably already have a panhandler policy.

You keep walking, or not. You give, or not. Loose coins, a dollar, or just a shake of the head. Your rule may be blanket, or case-by-case.

If it’s case by case, that means you have your own on-the-spot, individualized benefits program, with a bit of means-testing, mental health and character assessment, and criminal-background check — to the extent that any of this is possible from a second or two of looking someone up and down.

Francis’ solution eliminates that effort. But it is by no means effortless.

Speaking to the magazine Scarp de’ Tenis, which means Tennis Shoes, a monthly for and about the homeless and marginalized, the pope said that giving something to someone in need is “always right.” (We’re helped here by the translation in an article from Catholic News Service.)

But what if someone uses the money for, say, a glass of wine? (A perfectly Milanese question.) His answer: If “a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that’s O.K. Instead, ask yourself, what do youdo on the sly? What ‘happiness’ do you seek in secret?” Another way to look at it, he said, is to recognize how you are the “luckier” one, with a home, a spouse and children, and then ask why your responsibility to help should be pushed onto someone else.

Then he posed a greater challenge. He said the way of giving is as important as the gift. You should not simply drop a bill into a cup and walk away. You must stop, look the person in the eyes, and touch his or her hands.

The reason is to preserve dignity, to see another person not as a pathology or a social condition, but as a human, with a life whose value is equal to your own. This message runs through Francis’ preaching and writings, which always seem to turn on the practical and personal, often citing the people he met and served as a parish priest in Argentina.

His teaching on divorced and remarried Catholics has infuriated some conservative critics who accuse him, unfairly, of elevating compassion over doctrine. His recent statements on refugees and immigrants are the global version of his panhandler remarks — a rebuke aimed directly at the rich nations of Europe and at the United States.

America is in the middle of a raging argument over poor outcasts. The president speaks of building walls and repelling foreigners. That toxic mind-set can be opposed in Washington, but it can also be confronted on the sidewalk. You don’t know what that guy will do with your dollar. Maybe you’d disapprove of what he does. Maybe compassion is the right call.

Farewell to America Idol.

the-judges-ryan-american-idol-1992268-1024-768

“American Idol” kicked off its final season this year and for many viewers it will not be missed. It’s really easy to make fun of “Idol.” No one knows the recent winners and the last few years the show has had incredibly low ratings.

But lost in all the derogatory comments is the fact that “Idol” is the last singing competition to truly celebrate amateur musical performers. I think this is one of the only positive outcomes of the reality TV explosion.

Today TV is filled with people showing off beginner talents, from cooking to landscaping, flipping houses to socialites pulling out each others weaves on the streets of Atlanta. Even in an era of YouTube sensations making it big, nothing compares with a real, live talent show. There is something magical about someone being plucked from obscurity with the chance to be an actual rock star.

Sure, unassuming contestants appear on shows like NBC’s hit “The Voice”  yet those programs recruit skilled singers to audition, so you already know the competitors are talented. Originally, this was a way to avoid the awkward, terrible tryouts that made “Idol” famous. I believe the contest is a lot less interesting when a potential winner has already landed a record deal.

The best “Idol” success stories have all been about normal, everyday people with real homespun backstories.

Stories like Carrie Underwood, the college senior who had never been on a plane. Kellie Pickler, the waitress on roller skates. Jennifer Hudson, the cruise ship singer. Clay Aiken, the special education teacher. and of course Kelly Clarkson, trying to be a singer while working odd jobs.

At at the end of the day, “Idol” is still the only show where your average person can simply get in line at a local open audition and have a genuine shot at making it to the big leagues.

One reason “Idol” endured for so long is because it banked heavily on its “anyone can be a star!” premise. No matter how cynical I have become working on the fringe of the music business the potential “rags-to-riches” story is an still an alluring concept for me.

As a marketing man I find even the business model of American Idol sheer genius. The show was the brain child of producer and creator Simon Fuller . I met Simon in Tokyo before season 1 when he was looking to agencies like mine for sponsorship. He knew then he had a great concept.

Idol was beyond a craze or a fad it was an extremely successful business model that specialized in market interactivity.

The formula for this business model was simple, imagine a product, create an audience for the product, make the audience feel responsible for the product, and have the audience create the product. It puts on new spin on the adage, “If they build it they will come.”

The American Idol formula eliminated much of the risk normally associated with putting new products on the market. When Kelly Clarkson won the first contest the show’s audience had, through the process of voting for her over a several month period, already found the star they wanted and decided on the appropriate style to match.

When her first single appeared shortly after she was elected, those fans were more than happy to make it a number one title because, after all, they had helped create it.

It’s not hard to invest in something that you were a part of all along. One season 95 million voters had a hand in the selection of David Cook basically assuring his first album would be a double platinum seller. And forgetting about the record sales imagine the ad dollars earned with that size of an audience, Coca-Cola, Ford and Apple iTunes, not to mention the voting process was a boon to the relatively new phone feature from AT&T know as texting!

Idol changed TV and the recording business forever and I will miss it.

Does Google watch us every cyber second of the day?

googlespy-768450

Did you know when you use Gmail, Google’s email service, the company scans the content of your emails and the email addresses of your correspondents?  Google’s Gmail system also scans your incoming emails, even the ones coming from Yahoo and Hotmail.

If you feel safe because you’ve deleted emails you regretted sending, think again. Google never erases its own copies, even copies of the drafts you decided not to send – even copies of incomplete messages you didn’t save as drafts. And then there are those Google servers, which route the emails of thousands of companies that apparently don’t mind running the risk that their emails will be scanned. So whether you use Gmail itself, write to someone who uses Gmail, or, in many cases, simply email, Google’s gotcha.

Is all this tracking legal? Here is what a Google executive might say: “We are protected by our Terms of Service agreement, which in turn incorporates our Privacy Policy – legally binding contracts that are easy to access on our website.

Yes, we realize that almost no one has ever read these documents, but, hey, no one ever reads their mortgage documents or credit card contracts either, and they’re certainly valid. Our agreement states that when you use any of our products or services – even if you’re not aware you are using them – you agree to let us track you. It’s that simple.”

In other words – silly us – we give Google permission to track us simply by engaging in activities (the great “free’ email account) that allowed it to track us.

The terms of service agreement also says that the information you give the company “and those we work with” (who’s that, exactly?) can be used for almost any purpose. And the privacy policy states that Google can share your dossier with just about any individual or agency based on the company’s “good faith belief” that doing so is required by law or, incredibly, that doing so will “protect…the rights, property or safety of Google.”

What do you guys think? Are we watched every cyber second of the day?

“Nanakorobi yaoki”- when life knocks you down, get back up.

mainimage

The “Daruma” doll has been highly valued in Japan through the ages as lucky charms that fulfill people’s wishes. The beginnings of the Daruma are said to be an imitation of the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma, in a Zazen seated meditation position. Bodhidharma was born in India, he later became a priest; the 28th generation to take over from the teachings of Buddha, and then he traveled to China.

Despite the many difficulties he encountered there, the indomitable spirit of Bodhidharma persisted. This captured the hearts of the people, and during heavy floods a devotee carved a statue of Bodhidharma, which is currently enshrined at the temple of Shorinzan Darumaji. After the temple opened, to provide relief for farmers hit by famine, the high priest allowed the farmers, as a side job, to make papier mache Daruma (imitations of Bodhidharma) and sell them at festivals, where they quickly caused a sensation.

The passed on prayer used nowadays of “make a wish to a Daruma and if you endeavor it will be fulfilled”, is derived from silk farmers praying for “silkworms to make good cocoons” whilst filling one eye with ink, and when this prayer is fulfilled the remaining eye is filled in with ink.  In Japanese the term “get up” is used to refer to the opening up of old silkworn shells, you are praying to the Daruma who stands for the Japanese proverb of

These days, Daruma are made in varous regions of Japan but the vast majority of papier-mache Daruma are made in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, location of Shorinzan Darumaji Temple, as well as the surrounding area, and are known as “Takasaki Daruma”.

There are many theories as to why the Daruma are painted red, but it actually derives from the clothing of Bodhidharma. Red also appears to be the color that was used for charms in ancient times. In modern day, apart from red, many other colors of Daruma have appeared, such as white, yellow and green. Not only do they also vary in size, there is also a white version used for weddings, and there are also ones where you can write on the torso.

My “New” New Year Resolutions

I have made countless New Year resolutions in my life and one thing is for certain unless I use them to set real achievable goals for myself by February 1 the resolutions are forgotten.

This year I will yet again have two sets of resolutions…one set of practical resolutions that will make my life richer or even easier in some cases. The other set are the resolutions that may be harder to accomplish because outside forces that I cannot control may get in my way.

Every year I set business goals but the economy often effects not only me but my clients as well. If they have a bad year no matter what I do I may find the going tough. I will keep this set as business objectives. My practical list seems easier to tackle anyway.

First, I will learn to type…sounds simple right? I set this exact same goal last year but this year attending a meeting at Intel I was embarrased as I watched all the execs typying their meeting notes feverously. I put my laptop away and just listened intently.

I am even now typing this and my other blogs using my patented “hunt and peck” method. I have had enough. I am the product of the “old school” Catholic school system.
1180A232
The boys took shop, the girls took typing…this made sense to the nuns. Why would a boy ever need to type and for God’s sake why would a woman need to learn to use tools? In my case the Sisters of Loretta added yet another wrinkle, the so called “smart” students should take Latin. They say that is helpful in learning other languages. I can tell you it has not helped even a “sukoshi,” a “nid noi,” or a “nemnogo”. If I had used those two years to learn more Spanish for example I would not be putting leaning Spanish on my “practical” resolution list.
fat
Second, lose weight. It has been a tough and challenging year…some folks don’t eat when they tackle stress, I binge. Comfort food has been the best way for me to cope in this tough economy. I believe that food beats Xanax but if I continue on this path I will be one ton by 20117. Pizza and Pasta are the trusted, “go-to” menu items for me and I will try to cut them from my roster.

I am sure exercise should be on the list but most people put that on their lists and quickly leave that resolution on the shelf. In my case I have joint issues as well so I would be dropping exercise like a bad habit first sign of pain.

Third, re-learn to play a musical instrument. I have tried a few instruments when I was a teen but now I really regret not sticking with any of them. I recently attended a holiday party and held a guitar in my hands the whole night and could only join in one old rock song, “Brown Eyed Girl” I think.

With Apple’s help it has become so much easier to learn instruments I will have little excuse to not at least give it a shot. This may be the toughest resolution on my list because it does require some musical talent as well as perseverance but I have produced a great deal of music in my career and I should at least know how to make some chords on the piano!  One stand-by song that I can call up at a party would be nice…”Stand By Me” perhaps.

This year is starting to shape up like Bill Murray’s experience in Ground Hog Day.
Screenwriter
The fourth resolution is one that I should be ashamed not to complete. In my career I have written countless scripts for TV commercials and short films but each one has been for a client or brand. Why I have not been able to write even a small script for myself is already a mystery. Knowing my career and history my colleagues have even urged me to take my shot at it.

With all my time abroad, in all of the exotic countries I have been posted I should have a wealth of material. The coups, natural disasters, jungles, cults, superstitions, and the sheer variety of cultures I have experienced will make a great backdrop for any story I choose to write.

All of the other resolutions should not even be on a list. They are all things we should be doing as good citizens of the earth and just good people in general. For example, I have a grand daughter and grand son. I won’t need a list to remind me to love them and spoil them any more than I already do…this comes naturally.

I do have one request for all my friends, be kind in 2016. We all need a little extra love and attention these days.