The Curious Autodidact

May 3, 2015

Money Changes Everything…

Looking at money in a realistic manner can be a life long goal and learning to live within your means is something few people master.

Dr. Kate Levinson has run money seminars for women for years and is interviewed on an NPR member station KUOW with calls from listeners that are fascinating. She is talking about her book Emotional Currency and about our country’s taboo about speaking frankly about money matters. She posits that having too little or too much money can both be major issues and that money can be a very emotionally charged topic. It’s worth a listen to hear her theories through years as a money coach and to hear the callers who certainly add value to the discussion.


April 13, 2015

National Health Care Decision Day: April 16th

If you are reading this you no longer look like the baby in this picture, life passes quickly, and we are all rushing about putting off health care papers that may be vitally important for our closest friends and family.

April 16th has been set aside as National Health Care Decisions Day.

We are all going to die and in our death denying culture in the US it can be hard to muster up the energy to face getting your affairs in order.

Only a small percentage of Americans have take time out to write up a will or update a will made years ago, maybe when you married or had your first offspring. Many who have gotten a will together have one that hasn’t been updated or may not include your wishes about medical intervention. You hear tales of court cases where a divorced mate never bothered to update their will or insurance when they remarried leaving their wealth to the ex.

Compassion and Choices of Washington has put together some marvelous free tools to help you and your family and friends to detail your values and even provides a little quiz to make sure that when the conversation has been properly understood for those involved.

Just a click away is their Values Worksheet to help you rate your most important wished 1-5. This is a great way to begin a conversation with your family and friends and make clear what is most important to you and what is not. No matter what your feelings about end of life choice this is a useful straight forward tool.

After filling out the Values Worksheet and taking time to discuss the finer points you should have your mate or health care agent fill out the Health Care Decisions IQ Test

If you each fill it out you will be certain that you are totally understanding the others wishes or know that the conversation isn’t concluded.

If you find these resources helpful slip a check in the mail for them to continue offering these services for free to all, they rely on donations to keep their agency going.

Watching the documentary Consider the Conversation will also spark an open discussion and make you aware that it is important no matter what your age, religion, gender or race. Buy a copy to support the filmmakers and show it at your next family gathering, or community club it is important we not keep out heads in the sand around issues of choice.

Journalist Ellen Goodman has put together this site that may be of interest, The Conversation Project.

We might all hope that we just die in our sleep but that chance is not likely and your family will be so much more at ease to know they have done just what you wanted as detailed by your own writing.

Just do it!

March 18, 2015

Six Million Worms: Sustainability Behind Bars

The dream of a sustainable prison? A sustainable farmer on the inside? Yes, this is an inspired TEDx Talk by Nick Hacherney that took place at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Center about how sustainability can work behind bars and change lives forever. Everyone needs something to get them up out of the bed in the morning. Nick found his inspiration in a sustainability program in prison.

This sixteen minute talk about their worm program and how they spread the gospel of the worm to other facilities. 36 million tons of food waste is disposed of in our country and this inmate and others are making a huge difference. This talk is inspiring and shows that no matter where you are you can make the world a better place!

You can donate to the Sustainability in Prison Project (SPP)  here.

from their website:

“Although each endeavor and corrections institution is unique, our experiences point to five

Essential Components for every SPP program:

1. Partnerships and collaborations with multiple benefits

2. Bringing nature “inside”

3. Engagement and education

4. Safe and sustainable operations

5. Evaluation, dissemination, and tracking”

March 4, 2015

Clever Info-Graphic: The Cost of Cute


A sucker for visual displays of information I enjoyed this look at what pets cost to maintain called Pet Obsessed: The Cost of Cute. It has often been said that everyone wants to be reincarnated as a pet in America, I guess this illustration might show why this is so often mentioned.

September 12, 2012

The US Dollar Coin: What Happened to the Women?

Filed under: money saving ideas,women heroes — Honilima @ 11:06 am

Perhaps it is the quirky person who loves the dollar coin. But who didn’t love finally seeing a woman on a coin?

Initially it was Susan B. Anthony (a woman way before her time who was against slavery before the Civil War but is best known as a passionate suffragette). Her coin was designed by Frank Gasparro and introduced in 1979 to the great joy of women all over the country. BUT it was a similar in size and color to the traditional quarter (what WERE they thinking?) so it became hated almost immediately by all but the fans of Susan B. and especially by vending machines that were not equipped to deal with this new-fangled coin.

Then came an improvement the coins, designed by Glenna Goodacre, and introduced in 2000. These coins were made gold colored with copper core clad by manganese brass, featuring Sacajawea the famous Shoshone guide of the Lewis and Clark expedition with her child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. What most people don’t know is that since 2009 it has had a different reverse image. Initially it featued the best known reverse an eagle, designed by Thomas D. Rogers. In 2007, the Native American $1 Coin Act, specified that the one dollar coin shall depict “images celebrating the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the development of the United States and the history of the United States.” Since then it has featured four different images, none of which I have remembered coming across!

Then in 2007 the Presidential Dollar coins made their appearance and we are back to the dead white guys on the coins. These you will mostly see with the image George Washington as they minted fewer and fewer primarily for the collector market after 2011.

If you want to make a friend ask a teller at the bank for some dollar coins. They usually have them in their trays, they have to count them every night, and customers generally don’t want them. They work great in parking meters, for bus fares, garage sales, or just to try to start a trend of accepting coins instead of bills for the smaller denominations as so many countries have done.

If you can’t sleep and need a little dry reading here’s the report that details how much money would be saved by using dollar coins instead of the more traditional paper, start a trend today and adopt the dollar coin.

We are one of the few countries in the world with currency that is all the same color and size making it a nightmare for those with low vision.

August 6, 2012

Are You up to Date?

Filed under: helpful hints,money saving ideas — Honilima @ 11:00 am

Taking time to update your files on a certain day every year will help trigger the memory that it should be done.

Five Cent Nickel a financial blog of merit has a great article on organizing your financial papers Lifehacker
has their own ideas on organizing your various records.

A week after your birthday is also a wise time to update your will, a list of your passwords, and any new account numbers you may have obtained since last year. Did you make a copy of the content of your wallet to leave somewhere safe at home? What about the phone number to call if you misplace your wallet or find it has been stolen? Do you have a date three times a year to trigger getting one of your three credit reports?

February 28, 2012

As Americans Contemplate $5 a Gallon Gas…

As people begin to freak out about $5 a gallon gas we must remember there are other options and that much of the rest of the world has been paying more for many years. Ask a friend in Europe how they’d feel about a five u.s. dollar gallon of gas and they’d likely jump with joy. Here’s a reminder about our country’s use of oil:

January 5, 2012

Clean Clothes!

Filed under: helpful hints,money saving ideas — Honilima @ 12:46 pm

Children enjoy ride on steam powered train

Last summer the 20-something daughter of a friend came home complaining about her dry cleaning bill and it was all I could do not to jump down her throat about the waste of money and all the chemicals she was being exposed to. I calmly asked her why she didn’t hand wash and she said she didn’t know how! I was astonished to learn this and later asked her younger sister about her hand washing skills and she didn’t know either, but her philosophy was if it didn’t go in the washer and dryer she didn’t wear it. Naturally I sent them both this little on-line tutorial about hand washing and encouraged her to save money by not tithing her pay to the local dry cleaner.

I have never taken for granted access to a washing machine. Hardly a week goes by when I use the washing machine that I don’t think about how many women have no access to such machines, who must carry water from far far away to hand wash the family’s clothes.

Here’s a clever article about saving money on washing and another on-line calculator that will help you to realize how much you are spending each time you run these great inventions that so many of us are fortunate to have access to in our homes, down the hall, or in our neighborhoods.

December 31, 2011

Only 20% of Plastic Water Bottles in America get Recycled? Huh?

Filed under: environmental ideas,money saving ideas,social justice — Honilima @ 9:35 pm

There are a few topics that Americans don’t like to talk about, they are for the most part topics I do like to talk and learn about; such as the failure of our prison system and our odd relationship with trash.

We have such a weird relationship to consumption and to trash. A friend who was visiting from Sweden this summer was talking about her country’s campaign to get people aware of wasting food. She was raised in America and is astonished with our relationship to food after living overseas so long. I have often thought if we could raise people’s awareness of not wasting food here we could resolve the problem of food insecurity that is a growing issue in America with the struggling economy.

A documentary that will change your relationship with trash is called Waste Land From their website: ” Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker (DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, BLINDSIGHT and COUNTDOWN TO ZERO) and co-directors João Jardim and Karen Harley have great access to the entire process and, in the end, offer stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.”

It is an excellent film.

As if this isn’t enough take a moment to listen to the Diane Rehm’s WAMU radio program talking frankly about hoarding . This will bring new insights to this phenomena and bend your thinking about what you do and don’t keep. Pass it on if you haven’t used it in the past year… This is a bit like “Scared Straight” for people who have a tendency of being a pack rat!

June 10, 2011

Warren Watch: Spring 2011

Hon. Elizabeth Warren, photo from Fast Company Magazine

Any reader of this blog knows that Elizabeth Warren is my heroine. She has rocked the financial world and has the “good old boys” worried enough to try to block her confirmation. She is one of my favorite boat rockers. Things in the DC hearing room got a little rocky a few weeks back when Rep. Patrick Henry, a republican from North Carolina, accused Ms. Warren of lying. The New York Times called it “a rare collapse of decorum that usually pervades discussions among even the most fervent opponents on Capitol Hill.” This all leaves me to ask the question, “What are they afraid of?” I think the answer is they are afraid of a super-intelligent driven woman who wants to fight for the wider public and make financial things understood by the average American.

A recent article in the Nation quoted a woman saying quite candidly about it all that, “the boys don’t want to have an independent woman in their clubhouse”

Alternet had a posting about the attack at the hearing entitled “Why she Scares the Hell out of Republicans” and The American Prospect features her in an article entitled, “The Strongest Progressive in the Room” by Robert Kutter.

I can’t help but reflect back on the movies Inside Job and Client 9. I look forward to seeing the HBO production of “Too Big to Fail” based on a book of the same name.

Don’t give up Elizabeth, the county is counting on you to do what it right—against all odds. You go girl!

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