The standard 3 x 5 American flag is a bargain. For less than $40, it is made of nylon, each stripe is of red or white nylon cloth sewn together with the others, and the stars are embroidered on. They look like they will last forever, but the life of a flag taken down each night is only about 5 years. I am on my second, and I see it is beginning to fray. I will probably need a new one before the end of the year. The fraying always begins at the lower outside corner, the one that flaps most in the wind. Flags made of polyester last longer, but are heavier, especially when wet, and do not wave well in light breezes. The choice is of waviness or durability. I will stick with nylon.
The Wall Street Journal must think I am rich—very rich. As part of my subscription, they periodically include a slick magazine of homes for sale all over the country priced at about $20 million for openers. But a recent WSJ article says that it now takes at least $40 million for something really nice. You wouldn’t want your friends to pity you.
Research suggests happiness throughout a lifetime is U-shaped, hitting bottom in our 40s. A possible reason for this midlife dip may be the gradual realization that we are unlikely to fulfill our inflated youthful ambitions—that we may just be average people after all.
Later we realize average is not so bad.
The head librarian at the company where I once worked was the perfect stereotype of a librarian with her hair in a bun, wearing sensible shoes, and a stickler for order. She often complained how the users messed up her library by reshelving the books in the wrong places or tearing pages from magazines. I jokingly suggested that she should just lock the doors to keep out all of the users. That would keep it pristine. She thought I was serious.
When my wife complains of my dirtying up the house, I suggest we lock the doors and live in a tent in the backyard. Guests could admire our spotless house by peering in a window, then join us in our tent.
We can always preserve something by eliminating its useful function.
The National Audubon Society recently announced nearly half of North American birds are in danger of losing their habitats by 2080. When I see a statement like that, I am depressed by the thought that it is both obvious and inevitable. Of course, the more people there are, the fewer there is of every other living thing, and the world still seems to prefer more people.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. bought the rights to two life-saving heart drugs and immediately raised their prices by 525% and 212%. “More pharmaceutical companies,” says WSJ, “are buying drugs that they see as undervalued, then raising the prices. . . . Since 2008, branded drug prices have increased 127%.” (Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit, began in 2006.)
A new and growing category of clothing is “Athleisure,” stylish athletic wear with emphasis on “leisure.” In a recent survey, 1 0f 4 adults has not exercised in the past year. They just look the part. A recent headline combined the trends: “A Quarter of Americans are Completely Sedentary and Chipotle Will Now Deliver.”
Jason Gay, a WSJ columnist, says. “This week, I’m going to walk to Chipotle. Not for me. For America.”