Secrets to Stress-Free Flying

In January 2015 Eileen Dube of Glendale, Calif., spent $2,268 booking round-trip flights online from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., for her husband, herself, and their two daughters for a mid-March vacation. When she went to select their seats, all that was available were middle seats or ones that required an additional fee. “I called the airline because I was sure there must be a mistake—we weren’t departing for over two months,” she says.Read the entire article on Consumer Reports

“The world has always been messy,” President Obama said in 2014 after a string of doom-and-gloom news events. “In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.”Read the entire article on The New York Times

Although a number of my friends and relatives have battled infertility over the years, I never knew much about what they were going through — in part because I, like many others, never asked.

Our collective sense of etiquette, coupled with squeamishness about the human body and its failures, conspire to make conversation about disability of any kind taboo. And as Belle Boggs argues, infertility is among the most devastating of disabilities — even more so for its invisibility — and one of the least openly discussed.

“The Art of Waiting,” an eye-opening, gorgeously written blend of memoir, reportage, and cultural analysis, breaks this taboo to powerful effect. Examining infertility and childlessness through the lens of her own struggle to become pregnant, Boggs presents not only a courageous account of her personal experience but an illuminating, wide-ranging study of the medical, psychological, social, and historical aspects of a condition that affects one in eight couples nationwide.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

We’re working all wrong. Productivity often declines for workers after they exceed 40 hours a week, according to research by John Pencavel of Stanford University. Yet according to Gallup, Americans with full-time jobs work an average of 47 hours a week. While it may be great to have 35-hour work-weeks, afternoon siestas, and a schedule based on our bodies’ rhythms, that’s usually not possible in today’s world. So here’s my guide — based on the latest in scientific research — on how to turn the 45-hour work-week most of us have into a more productive, healthy one.

6:00-7:00 a.m. – Wake up. If showering immediately isn’t your thing, meditate or get a small chore out of the way first. Do not check e-mails or your phone, because it will waste time and get you off to a slow start. And while many people like to get their workout out of the way, it’s actually better to wait until the afternoon. You can either eat breakfast or take a snack for later. Most of the research on whether breakfast in the morning is actually good for you is inconclusive (and sponsored by cereal companies).

8:00-8:30 a.m. – Get to work. Arriving by 8:30 is preferable for many jobs. That way, if you’re running late, you’re still in before 9:00. You get an early start on the day, and you might be able to leave early without a guilty conscience.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

A couple days before my recent vacation to Mexico, I grew anxious. Not about crime or Zika, but from the guilt of it all. This was the worst kind of remorse: mother’s guilt. My husband and sons were staying home. I secretly hoped to get so sick I couldn’t travel or get a work assignment so pressing I would need to cancel my plans. No such luck.

 I reluctantly packed my bags for four days. But when I got back, I was not humming Frank Sinatra. Regrets? I actually had none. In fact, the way I think about vacations will never be the same.

 Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. My sons — 3 and 5 — are possibly the most adorable children ever born. My husband is the kind of partner Sheryl Sandberg conjures in her book Lean In. Still, this working mom needs to get away from having it all.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

OVER THE NEXT several weeks, I will explore the economic choices facing the United States and its relations with the rest of the world. The election season obviously makes this timely, yet the real choices facing our country will not be settled in November. The debates will take place over many years. We had best become informed about our real choices, dilemmas, and opportunities.

My contention is that with the right choices — far better choices than we’ve been making recently — America’s economic future is bright. Indeed, we are the lucky beneficiaries of a revolution in technologies that can raise prosperity, slash poverty, increase leisure time, extend healthy lives, and protect the environment. Sounds good, perhaps too good to be true; but it is true. The pervasive pessimism — that American children today will grow up to worse living standards than their parents — is a real possibility, but not an inevitability.

The most important concept about our economic future is that it is our choice and in our hands, both individually and collectively as citizens.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Today’s 65-year-olds can expect to spend an average of $130,000 on health care during their retirement, from premiums to copayments to eyeglasses, according to new estimates.

The average single 65-year-old woman can expect to need $135,000 to spend on health care in retirement, while a man will spend $125,000, according to estimates from Fidelity Investments. The difference is because the woman is expected to live longer, an additional 22 years, compared with 20 years more for the man.

Every year, Fidelity estimates how much it will cost for today’s average 65-year-olds to cover health-care expenses for the rest of their lives if they retire now. For a while, it looked as if health care costs were holding steady, but Fidelity this year says couples need to set aside a record $260,000 for Medicare premiums and all other out-of-pocket medical costs, up 6 percent from last year and 18 percent from 2014.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Jack Parker is known for his wizardry on the ice, notching more victories during his 40 years at the helm of the Boston University men’s hockey team than just about any other coach in the country.

Yet it was another winter sport that brought him to his knees, and ultimately to seek treatment.

Parker took up skiing at the urging of his twin brother after retiring from BU three years ago, but there was nowhere to hide from a lifelong uneasiness with heights when faced with the prospect of whizzing down an 8,000-foot mountain in Utah.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

College has gotten so expensive that it’s weighing on even the parents of third-graders, threatening to leave them too debt-saddled to retire.

Tim Williams, a 62-year-old part-time mail carrier from Clearlake, Calif., has spent 12 years paying down a nearly $12,000 loan to help one of his sons pay for college. He now owes more than half that; his monthly payment is about $105. His children and his ex-wife have student debt of their own.

That wouldn’t be a problem if Williams were making the nearly $80,000 he used to earn as a general contractor and union carpenter—but he earns less than half that now, while his medical bills pile up. “I’m just barely scraping by,” he said.Read the entire article on Bloomberg

THE AVERAGE citizen has now heard (multiple times) the story of people with psychiatric diagnoses who are slipping through the state’s cracks, how their families are desperate but lack resources, and how the mental health system is failing us all. Yet there are two related stories that are hardly getting told: one good, and the other very, very bad.

Let’s start with the latter. While so many people argue for increased access to treatment, few stop to examine those elements of which it is composed. Here’s just a handful of the many points getting missed:

• Patients of the mental health system are dying, on average, 25 years younger than the rest of us, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Ever experienced a bout of anxiety at work?Read the entire article on The New York Times

The end of tuition

JUST AS surely as the sun rises on Provincetown and sets on Pittsfield, tuition and fees are again rising for students at public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. Students will work more hours, take on more debt, or drop out.

In the past decade, tuition and fees increased by thousands of dollars. This fall, they’ll jump by nearly 7.8 percent at the state universities and 5.8 percent at UMass.

Why? Because the story of the past 20 years has been a downward slope in public spending and an equivalent rise in tuition and fees. State appropriations for public higher education in Massachusetts are down 11 percent from spending levels in 2002, even though UMass, for example, now educates 30,000 more students. Tuition and fees have made up the difference.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

FOR THREE years in the late ’80s, I was a police reporter in Boston. One of those years, 1986, was especially deadly, with 105 murders recorded in the city. In all that time, I never witnessed a shooting or a killing. Now I see them all the time, on social media.

As a reporter, I was as close as you could get to crime without being actually involved. Visiting homicide scenes, interviewing grief-stricken families, chasing down reluctant witnesses, talking to cops, I’d write it all down and put it in the next day’s Boston Herald.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

ESSEX — When Charlie Virden started the fifth grade this year in this seaside town, the 10-year-old right away noticed a big difference, as if a heavy burden had been lifted.

“I can’t believe how light my backpack is!” he exclaimed to his parents.

That’s because Essex Elementary School, in a bold move sure to delight students and many parents, has stopped assigning homework. Worried the nightly assignments were robbing students of time that could be better spent playing or relaxing with family, educators called a temporary truce in the homework wars.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

America’s pediatricians are tired of watching their patients traumatized by gun violence and racism.

Now, they’re launching an effort to do something about it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday issued recommendations that children under 6 be shielded from on-screen violence, that video games stop awarding points for shooting living targets, and that the media avoid downplaying the proven link between virtual and real violence.Read the entire article on Stat News

We’ve all experienced the delicious madness when love first blooms — whether it happens in a bar, on a snowy street or when one person slips a hand into yours by a campfire. Your faces glow with that radiating aura. You marvel at the miraculous ways you are both the same! You’re up all night, sleepless, not eating. There are bursts of overflowing communication, and having crazy, silly fun in public. Every second apart produces an ache, and every minute together goes too fast. Your solar system has a new sun.Read the entire article on The New York Times

It was a dreary and rainy morning, and yoga seemed like the perfect cure. I drove to the class, enjoyed a peaceful hour, and felt great. Then I walked out to the parking lot and discovered that I had left my car running with the keys inside.

My first thought?

Don’t tell the kids.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

Philadelphia — First you get your coat. I don’t care if you don’t remember where you left it, you find it. If there was a lot of blood you ask someone to go quickly to the basement to get you a new set of scrubs. You put on your coat and you go into the bathroom. You look in the mirror and you say it. You use the mother’s name and you use her child’s name. You may not adjust this part in any way.

I will show you: If it were my mother you would say, “Mrs. Rosenberg. I have terrible, terrible news. Naomi died today.” You say it out loud until you can say it clearly and loudly. How loudly? Loudly enough. If it takes you fewer than five tries you are rushing it and you will not do it right. You take your time.

After the bathroom you do nothing before you go to her. You don’t make a phone call, you do not talk to the medical student, you do not put in an order. You never make her wait. She is his mother.Read the entire article on The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Men make more money just six years after enrolling in college than women do 10 years after entering school, a wage gap that persists across public and private four-year universities, according to a study released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.

The study used data from the College Scorecard, a government database that includes earnings for students who received financial aid, to gauge how quickly the gender wage gap sets in after college. The analysis focuses on students who entered school in 2001 or 2002, the most recent cohort that includes six-year and 10-year data, and found men at the six-year mark pulling in roughly $4,000 a year more than women at 10 years.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

When my husband and I moved to Teele Square, one condition in choosing a home was that it be along a commercial route so that I wouldn’t feel afraid walking alone at night. Several times a week, I descend Holland Street to Davis Square to catch the Red Line or a yoga class at Samara or a session at The Burren.

By now, I’ve surely thumped that sidewalk 600 times, passing Dave’s and Nellie’s and Renee’s along the way — though as far as I know, I’ve never set eyes on Dave or Nellie or Renee. I also pass the House of Tibet Kitchen. I doubt I would have ever noticed it were it not for the cook, Gyeltsen, who often sits on the stoop smoking and smiling at passersby.

Making eye contact on the street is something I work at. I say “work” because my tendency toward shyness counteracts my desire to connect. It’s always easier not to look up, but I’m trying to put a stake in the ground for an old world where we knew our neighbors and it mattered that we acknowledge one another.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe

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