A Great Springsteen Song – How’d I Miss This One?

I was chatting with our administrative assistant today at work, and she was telling me that she had just bought the Amazon Echo, and was enjoying listening to music on it.

She told me some of the songs that she had played, and then she mentioned a Springsteen song that I had never heard of – “Girls in Their Summer Clothes”, saying it was probably her favorite Bruce song.

So natually I couldn’t wait to get home and check it out, and here is what I found (courtesy of Wikipedia of course).

“Girls in Their Summer Clothes from Springsteen’s album Magic. Matched with a pop-oriented melody, Springsteen’s full-throated singing, and a pop-orchestral arrangement, the lyric portrays a series of warm small-town vignettes:

“Girls in Their Summer Clothes” has been cited as a singularly “breezy” song on the album, though A. O. Scott of The New York Times notes: “Not that ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes’ is untouched by melancholy. Its narrator, after all, stands and watches as the girls of the title ‘pass me by.'” Jay Lustig of The Star-Ledger writes that the song “unfolds gradually and at its own eccentric pace, with the music, and Springsteen’s vocals, getting progressively more intense.”
The song garnered two nominations for the Grammy Awards of 2009, Best Rock Song and Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, and ended up winning for Best Rock Song. (Again, how did I miss all of this???)
The music video (shown below) for the song was directed by Mark Pellington. Filmed on the Jersey Shore on a cold winter day, it showed girls and women of various ages, interspersed with shots of Springsteen strumming his vintage Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar. The backing E Street Band was not shown. Parts of the video mirrored the song’s imagery, especially the diner scene.
So here are some videos related to this song. The first is the music video mentioned above, followed by a video that offers an interesting behind the scenes look at filming part of this video. It’s kind of boring, but I guess that’s what makes it interesting, finding out how much work is involved for just a few seconds of video (like the jukebox in the sand).
The third and final video is a live performance of the video, because like with most things Springsteen related, you’ve got to see him live to really appreciate him and his music.
I’ve also included the lyrics at after the third video.
Watching the video makes me want to got to the shore!
Enjoy…

Lyrics

Well the street lights shine
Down on Blessing Avenue
Lovers they walk by
Holdin’ hands two by two

A breeze crosses the porch
Bicycle spokes spin ’round
Jacket’s on, I’m out the door
Tonight I’m gonna burn this town down

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

Kid’s rubber ball smacks
Off the gutter ‘neath the lamp light
Big bank clock chimes
Off go the sleepy front porch lights

Downtown the store’s alive
As the evening’s underway
Things been a little tight
But I know they’re gonna turn my way

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

Frankie’s Diner’s
Over on the edge of town
Neon sign spinnin’ round
Like a cross over the lost and found

Fluorescent lights
Flicker above Bob’s Grill
Shaniqua brings a coffee and asks “fill?”
And says “penny for your thoughts now my poor Bill”

She went away
She cut me like a knife
Had a beautiful thing
Maybe you just saved my life

In just a glance
Down here on Magic Street
Love’s a fool’s dance
I ain’t got much sense but I still got my feet

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by

Embarrassing Stories – A Wonderful Way to Get to Know One Another?

It’s been over a month since I’ve commented on anything written by one of my favorite behavioral economists – Dan Ariely.

But fortunately he answered a letter in last week’s Wall Street Journal, and I found his reply quite amusing. Here is the letter and his response:


Dear Dan,

I’m going to host a party soon with some old and new friends, and I want to do something to break the ice. Any advice? —Moran

In such situations, I find it very useful to start the evening by declaring that the event will operate under Las Vegas rules: What happens at the party stays at the party. Next I tell people that sharing embarrassing stories is a wonderful way to get to know one another. Finally, I get things going by sharing one about myself.

To give you the feel for it, here is the shortest such story anyone has ever shared with me: “I’m going on a blind date. I knock on the door. A woman opens it. I ask, ‘Is your daughter home?’ The door closes. I turn around and leave.”


I love the blind date story. I can just picture the guy standing there while the woman closes the door in his face; there’s nothing he can do or say to recover from such a moment. So the only option is to leave, and perhaps mull over where he went wrong in life.

Anyway, I’ve shared a few of my embarrassing moments in previous posts.

One was the story of I when I walked into a glass door, in full view of all of my students. There’s even video of it, at least the sound of it and my trying to act as if nothing happened afterwards…

There was another classroom story, and it involved my getting a case of the giggles in the middle of a lecture. It took a couple of minutes and a case of turning bright red, but I was able to get back to talking about bond amortization.

A third one I’ve previously mentioned was the time I leaned too far back in my office chair, while talking with a student. The chair tipped over and I was flat on my back. If that weren’t bad enough, while trying to fix the situation, my foot got stuck in a trashcan. Fortunately, this was in the days before cell phones, or I’m sure the student would have snapped a few quick pictures and a video.

So in keeping with Dan Ariely’s suggestion, I’ll share one more embarrassing story, this one a non-Villanova moment.

This was back in my college days, and I think it was my senior year. We were at Syracuse University for a dual swim meet, and it was the first event of the meet, the 400 medley relay. I was swimming the butterfly leg, and on the third lap I lifted my head to take a breath, but all I got was a huge mouthful of water. I started choking quite badly, and all I could do was to stop and hang on to the lane line until I recovered. Needless to say, our relay team was disqualified.

While this was going on, I looked over at my teammates for some moral support, but all I could see was hysterical laughing, including my coach.

But my moment of embarrassment wasn’t quite over. When I finally got out of the pool, I wrapped a towel around myself and went to change out of my racing suit into an older practice suit. Apparently at some point while I was choking, a few of my teammates thought it would be funny to cover the inside of my old bathing suit with Icy Hot. As I put on the old suit and then sat down, I began to feel a tremendous burning sensation.

When I realized what it was, I quickly took off my suit, in full view of everyone, and changed back into my racing suit. Fortunately, swim meets rarely got big crowds. Plus, it was an away meet. So the repercussions of my full monty were minimal, but it provided my teammates, and coach, with another source of laughter.

So maybe that’s more than you wanted to know, but I guess that’s the point of sharing an embarrassing moment. You are admitting your vulnerability, and I think doing so makes it easier for other people to relate to you, since we’ve all been embarrassed.

I might just try Ariely’s suggestion the next time I find myself in a social gathering. I’ve already got a few embarrassing stories to share, and I think I might claim the blind date as mine as well…

No Stupid Questions??

An idea for a blog post came to me today, and while doing some research on the topic, I stumbled across a subreddit page referred to as “No Stupid Questions“.

I’m not sure what that says about the topic I had been thinking about writing a post on, but that thought quickly vanished as I became fascinated with the types of questions people had posted to this reddit community.

Here’s a sample:

It seems every few minutes another question pops in the reddit listing that I want to put on my list above, but I need to stop, or I could do this all night.

By the way, in case any of the questions above pique your curiosity, you can just click on them to go the reddit page to read how people have answered the question. And amazingly enough, I believe every question listed above has at least one response.

It seems like no questions are off limits, and I’m sure a good number of them are just posted to try and get a laugh (or at least I hope so – do people really want to know where the “e” in Serbia comes from, or not know how meals work?) But it also seems that people believe reddit must be a useful place to find answers to that question that has been really bugging you, and you don’t know where else to find the answer. I guess that’s one of the reasons reddit is often referred to as the front page of the internet.

Here’s how reddit describes this community:

Don’t be embarrassed of your curiosity, everyone has questions that they may feel uncomfortable asking certain people, so this place gives you a nice area not to be judged about asking it. Everyone here is willing to help. All questions are welcome such as to how to change oil, to how to tie shoes. All questions are welcome, except clear trolls, please don’t be that guy.

Anyway, as often happens, the serendipitous nature of the internet directly led to a new blog post for me.

And in case you were wondering what my stupid question was, here it is:

If I eat five pounds of food, do I gain five pounds of weight? If that’s the case, what does it matter what the five pounds of food is?

I might have to post it to reddit and see what the response is, maybe it will lead to another blog post that basically writes itself…

Is This an Evil Move on Google’s Part?

Google has long prided itself on its motto, “Don’t Be Evil”.

And despite some bumps along the way, I think for the most part it has lived up to that motto.

However, one newspaper has raised some concerns about one of Google’s latest moves.

In an attempt to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, Google is making changes to the food it serves its employees: everything from blending burgers with mushrooms to a data-driven quest to create the most delicious vegan taco.

While that sounds like a noble cause, the story in Silicon Beat used words like “stealthily” and “surreptitious” to describe the approach that Google has used to influence its employees’ eating habits.

For almost a year, Google has been part of a bigger project run by the nonprofit World Resources Institute called the Better Buying Lab, which aims to study the barriers that prevent consumers from shifting away from meat-heavy diets and come up with strategies to help overcome them. Google recognizes that meat consumption is also an important part of its carbon footprint; by one estimate, raising livestock for meat, dairy, and eggs is responsible for 14.5% percentage of global emissions.

When Fast Company visited multiple Google cafeteria food stations, it found that each one was nudging diners to make one choice in particular: eat less meat.

The tweaks included listing a vegan burger first on a daily menu, putting the vegetable-broth choice for Vietnamese pho soup ahead of the meat broth, increasing the percentage of mushrooms in its hamburger patty from 20 percent to 50 percent, and offering up a prototype vegan taco that’s designed to be as tasty as any taco a carnivore would eat.

These changes are similar to other methods Google has used to encourage healthy eating habits, such as offering smaller-size plates, or tiny servings of smoothies near much larger-size water glasses to encourage people to drink less sugar and more water, or focusing on making salad stations as tempting as possible.

Google claims that it is not trying to guilt any employee into changing their eating habits, but is using data and behavioral science to affect change in a more positive way.

Maybe I’m biased, but I applaud Google for what it is doing. Eating less meat is good for people and the planet, and by offering plant-based options at its cafeterias, it is offering employees the opportunity to explore the benefits of such foods. And if they don’t like it, they can always go back to their old eating habits.

Hopefully some day I’ll get to tour the Google campus and try these vegan meals first hand, but in the meantime, I feel fortunate to work at perhaps the most vegan friendly college in the country – Villanova University.

In fact, just yesterday the campus dining halls were serving vegan minestrone soup, which was so good, I went back for seconds.

That doesn’t seem evil to me, but enlightened.

So Go Google, Go Nova, and Go Vegan.

 

Nodding Off While Blogging

It happened again.

Earlier today my wife asked if I had been falling asleep while writing my blog last night, because there were several typos.

I told her that I had, and so I went back to look at what I had done. Here are some examples:

  • “I felt it had loste, the Internet was some of its appeal”
  • “o I decided to see if I could find some new jokes realted to teh noble”
  •  “I just took at the jokes”

That’s pretty bad, and it shows what can happen when it is 11:30 at night, you want to keep your consecutive blog streak going (now at over 900 straight days), and you are completely exhausted.

This is the second time this has happened in the past three weeks, and I’m sure a major reason is my calc class; it has taken up an amazing amount of time and energy. The good news for me, and any grammarians out there, is that my final is on Tuesday.

I’m not saying that the content of my posts is going to get any better, or that future posts will be error free, but hopefully I can find time to work on the blog when I am more awake.

There has been one benefit from falling asleep while working on my blog – I can now better empathize with my readers.

P.S. I don’t think I’ll go back and edit last night’s blog; I’ll keep it up there as a reminder to do a better job…

Who Said Accountants Have No Humor?

Every year, when I get to a certain part in one of my courses, I tell the only joke that I know about finance/accounting:

  • What’s the difference between a guy and a bond?
    • Bonds mature

So this past year when I told it, I felt it had loste, the Internet was some of its appeal, or maybe it was all in the delivery.

o I decided to see if I could find some new jokes realted to teh noble profession of accounting. And as you can imagine, the Internet was more than willing to help with such a quest.

I soon realized that I could be reading accounting jokes fro the next few days If I checked out every link and read every joke. As a result, I just took at the jokes on the first site I came across, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites:

  • What do you call a trial balance that doesn’t balance? A late night.
  • It’s accrual world.
  • Where do homeless accountants live? In a tax shelter.

Four Laws of Accounting

  1. Trial balances don’t.
  2. Bank reconciliations never do.
  3. Working capital does not. 
  4. Return on investments never will.
  • What do you call a financial controller who always works through lunch, takes two days holiday every two years, is in the office every weekend, and leaves every night after 10 p.m.? Lazy.
  • Have you heard the joke about the interesting accountant? No. Me neither.
  • If an accountant’s wife cannot sleep, what does she say? “Darling, could you tell me about your work.”
  • There are 3 types of accountants. Those who can count and those who can’t.

I think that’s enough tomfoolery for now, and I’m sure you need a break from your hysterical laughing.

P.S. In keeping with the concept of full disclosure, I need to point out that I did use a second site for some of the jokes shown above…

Another Look at Money, Happiness, and Time

The link, if there is one, between money and happiness is something that fascinates me, and a topic I have written about several times. (here, here, here, here, and here).

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), “Buying Time Promotes Happiness“, looks at an often ignored way that people can increase their life satisfaction. Here is a summary of the article from the PNAS web site:

Despite rising incomes, people around the world are feeling increasingly pressed for time, undermining well-being. We show that the time famine of modern life can be reduced by using money to buy time. Surveys of large, diverse samples from four countries reveal that spending money on time-saving services is linked to greater life satisfaction. To establish causality, we show that working adults report greater happiness after spending money on a time-saving purchase than on a material purchase. (emphasis added) This research reveals a previously unexamined route from wealth to well-being: spending money to buy free time.

Despite this result, the researchers also found that very few people think to spend money this way. Sanford Devoe, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who studies the psychological effects of placing a monetary value on time (but was not involved with the study), says that these results add to a growing body of evidence showing that “people don’t spend their money to yield the greatest happiness.”

As for reasons why, there are some possible explanations.

Ashley Whillans, a social psychologist and the study’s lead author, suspects the abstract nature of time may be to blame. She believes that we’re hesitant to trade money, which is concrete and measurable, for time, which is much more uncertain.

Whillans also believes that some people believe that being busy is a status symbol, and so might opt to cut their lawn or clean their house, even if hiring someone else to do such chores might increase a person’s life satisfaction.

I think of this issue in a slightly different way, which is perhaps even more abstract than what Whillans is suggesting as a reason why people may not opt to use their money to have someone else do chores they find unpleasant, or at least more unpleasant than some alternative use of their time.

We’ve never hired someone to cut our lawn or clean our house, and while doing so may increase out short term happiness, I prefer to think of the long term. By doing such chores ourselves, my wife and I can put the money saved towards our retirement. Hopefully by the time we reach retirement, we can then take advantage of our leisure time more effectively because of the extra money we have saved. In addition, I feel that while we are younger and more able, it is easier to do such “unpleasant” tasks, as compared to how we might feel about such tasks when we are older and retired.

Obviously this perspective takes a longer run view of happiness than perhaps the authors, and seems consistent with the notion of the value of delayed gratification.

Of course, my beliefs could change overnight if we were to win the lottery.

If that were to happen, I might even hire someone to do my exercise and math homework for me…

P.S. The story where I found out about this study had an interesting paragraph that referenced a few other studies that looks at the link between money and happiness:

If you look at the many scientific studies on how to buy happiness, you find evidence supporting several other ways. Buying material goods, especially those that match our personality, can satisfy our need for establishing or expressing our identity. Spending money on others “pro-socially” — through charitable giving or to improve relationships with people we care about — fulfills our desire for human connections. And investing in experiences has been repeatedly shown to increase happiness.

P.S.S. And thanks to Dan Pink for posting this story on his Facebook page.

The Top Five Regrets of the Living

When people talk about regrets, they often focus on the regrets of the dying.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, which was published five years ago.

Here is a quick list of those top five regrets, you can read more about them here.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
3. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

These are the top five regrets of those on their deathbed, at which point there is no time left to correct those regrets.

So I thought it would be helpful to create a list of the top five regrets of the “living”:

  1. I wish I had read Jim Borden’s blog on a daily basis.
  2. I wish I had subscribed to Borden’s blog.
  3. I wish I had followed Jim Borden on Twitter and Facebook.
  4. I wish I had commented more on Borden’s posts.
  5. I wish I had sent Jim Borden $5 $10 $25 worth of Bitcoin to show appreciation for his dedicated blogging work.

The good news is that despite having all of these regrets, it’s never too late; if you want to be like Scotty P. and have no regrets, then the best thing to do is to start chipping away one item at a time on this updated list, preferably the last one

No ragrets…

What Price Would You Pay for Freedom and Opportunity?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called it “a heartbreaking tragedy.”

At least nine people are dead after a phone call from a Walmart employee led to the discovery of dozens of undocumented immigrants severely injured in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio Texas early Sunday, according to federal authorities. The back of the truck apparently had no air conditioning, and the temperature inside reached close to 150 degrees.

ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan deplored the discovery as the latest major case of human smuggling in the United States.

US Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat who represents parts of San Antonio, called for reform. “Horrific scene overnight in San Antonio where a human smuggling attempt turned deadly. Prosecute smugglers, pray for survivors and the victims’ families, stop the hysteria, reform our broken immigration system.”

My thoughts echo those of Rep. Doggett.

I can’t imagine how desperate a person must become before he or she finally decides that their best, and perhaps only, hope for a better life for themselves and their family involves being smuggled across the border. I am sure these individuals knew what they were doing was illegal, and they knew that there were risks associated with such an attempt.

Most, if not all of us, take our freedom for granted in the U.S. We also take for granted the amazing opportunities that are available to us. Both are part of what makes America great. Most of us did not have to do anything to take advantage of such freedom and opportunity, except to be born here – the proverbial luck of birth.

As I’ve written about before, it all just seems grossly unfair; why am I lucky enough to be sitting here writing about this tragic event? With a simple twist of fate, it could have been me or my family in that truck. Or maybe I decided to stay in my country, watching my family live in subhuman conditions. How long can a person be expected to do that, before he or she does something out of pure desperation? How important is freedom and opportunity to you – would you be willing to take the risks that these immigrants took?

We need to fix our immigration system; we need to be willing to offer to anyone, from anywhere, the same hope and opportunity that we were simply born into.

If the tables were reversed, I know I would hope that people in the U.S. would be willing to share their blessings with me.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragic event.

You Don’t Need Soap for This Kind of Bathing

Forest bathing—basically just being in the presence of trees—became part of a national public health program in Japan in 1982. The practice of forest bathing or orshinrin-yoku, is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.

The proper way to forest bathe is to relax rather try to than accomplish anything. Just be with trees. No hiking, no trail running. You can simply sit or just wander around.

In a 2009 study, Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, measured the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system before and after exposure to the woods. These cells are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention. Li’s subjects showed significant increases in NK cell activity in the week after a forest visit, and positive effects lasted a month following each weekend in the woods.

This is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function.

Another Japanese study found that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol (the stress hormone), lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.

A third study found that forest bathers showed significantly reduced hostility and depression scores, coupled with increased liveliness, after exposure to trees.

As evidenced by all of these studies, it appears that the Japanese take their forest bathing quite seriously.

City dwellers can benefit from the effects of trees with just a visit to the park. Brief exposure to greenery in urban environments can relieve stress levels, and experts have recommended doses of nature as part of treatment of attention disorders in children. This evidence suggests we don’t seem to need a lot of exposure to gain from nature.

When I first heard the term “forest bathing” I was imagining stripping down to your birthday suit and rolling around in the dirt and leaves in the middle of a forest. So I thought it was something that appealed to just a small part of our population.

nakedforestbathing

But now that I’ve heard what it really is, I’ll have to try and make forest bathing a regular habit.

I’m not sure I’m ready to start hugging any trees though.

treehug

And maybe after I do my forest bathing, I can take a Scottish Shower.

Note: much of the info for this blog came from an article on Quartz: The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health