Can solar pave the way?

I love people with out of the box ideas …. Solar Roadways, really? On the one side it sounds ridiculous, on the other hand if Scott and Julie Brusaw can pull it off the potential is limitless! Imagine our roads that are largely eyesores, serving us as an energy source and a way to make the roads safer and reduce the environmental impact of cars, salt and storm water.

I’m not sure how the manufacturing stacks up on the environmental side, but the idea will no doubt evolve and has the potential to be brilliant! Their Indiegogo  fundraising campaign has raised $1,652,248USD to date and exceeded their goal by a mile. It shows that people are ready to try something new and care enough about our planet that they are essentially willing to give their money away for a cause without personal gain.

The construction will be far more expensive, but there are so many people that could benefit. Power companies could replace unsightly power lines with far more efficient subterranean power cables, that could carry fiber optic cables at the same time.

Road signage could be revolutionized with LED lighting the the way at night, warning of hazards. As a cyclist who has had too many close calls with motorists on their cell phones, perhaps the panels could flash around someone that is talking or texting, so that I can steer clear of them. Ah the uses are endless.

I wish Scott and Julie all the very best with their venture! It won’t be the answer, but it could well be another step closer.

Climate change solved through compassion

Last night I was very fortunate to attend a talk by Charles Kennel, where he summarized his 6 hour Climate Change lecture into a 30min presentation for the uninitiated.

It finally explained why so many people may be lulled into believing “nothing is happening”. It seems that the science community knew something was going on, but just could not figure out why the temperature wasn’t going up as they thought it would. Not wanting to look silly they made up a bunch of unsubstantiated claims, that could be struck down. Skepticism is born.

Unfortunately for all of us, the world is doing it’s best to try and stop our impacts from destroying the planet. Amazingly it has more or less succeeded. There are certainly far more severe weather events, yet for many parts of the world, we go with our lives like nothing were happening.

I say unfortunately, because we are living on credit and at some point, the earth will want that credit back. The excess energy that should be warming the atmosphere is going into melting arctic ice and being buried deep in the ocean…..one day that capacity will run out. And then….

After the talk I spoke to Dr Kennel and he said something very curious for a scientist. To him the answer doesn’t lie with investment in technology, with some radical climate experiment. No, the first step is compassion. The debt we are accumulating may not impact us massively, but it will almost certainly impact our children and this in more vulnerable parts of the world. So, we need to care about their futures. People, businesses and governments need to start caring about the impact purchasing decisions and business decisions have on future generations. The stuff we are pumping out now will be in the atmosphere for a 1000 years and the ocean temperature change may never be resolved but let’s not become Venus as Mars looks a tad dry.

Be compassionate when you choose to buy, think about others when you are running your business, and vote with your feet to secure the future for your children.

 

 

Get back on that horse

I’m not the biggest fan of horses, but I do agree with the old adage, that if you get bucked off the horse, you just have to get back on.

However, I’m not sure I would have the courage to do what Mike Coots did….

instagram.com/mikecoots

instagram.com/mikecoots

Yes, you see a prosthetic leg in that shot and given my recent stumbling steps at learning how to surf, that alone seems a remarkable feat to me…..however, that is just a small part….he lost his leg to a shark and still ventures back into the ocean. In fact he is a great advocate of sharks and marine conservation.

instagram.com/mikecoots

instagram.com/mikecoots

instagram.com/mikecoots

instagram.com/mikecoots

As a big fan of the ocean and a person happy to dive with sharks, I have always been a little uneasy, when on the surface. I can’t imagine the courage it takes to overcome the trauma of losing a limb….Mike seems to think it is something to laugh at.

instagram.com/mikecoots

Laughing at his injury instagram.com/mikecoots

Check out his website and Instagram account. He has some amazing images there.

Making the shift to happiness

I really enjoyed this post by Joshua Becker that takes empirical research and combines it with the fluffy idea of happiness. Add to that the latest list of the happiest countries in the world, and a picture emerges that perhaps the pursuit of wealth and things isn’t what will make us happier. Yes, it is fluffy stuff and very subjective, but if you get enough fluffy stuff and it all points in the same direction, perhaps there really is something to it!

There are many people that think if they get more money, a hot partner, that flash car, they will be happier…. but the grass is always greener.

Don’t believe me? Try these 10 studies:

1. From wealth to well-being? Money matters, but less than people think – Harvard Business School, 2009.

It seems that this bastion of wealth creation has been getting soft over the past years. The HBR advocating that money may not be everything and that once we have enough to be comfortable, our money linked happiness may in fact plateau? That is crazy talk!

2. Buying Experiences, not Possessions, Leads to Greater Happiness – San Francisco State University, 2009.

Stuff is just stuff, experiences create memories and people make us feel like we are part of something bigger. I’m not entirely convinced by the “hierarchy of needs” stuff, but there is a reason why people left alone will glum together.

3. The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude – University of Pennsylvania, 2005.

This one harps back to the original Ted talk I posted. Pick three new things to be thankful for everyday and the world will seem a better place. I have been working on this and interestingly it gets harder as you use up the obvious stuff, but it does make you realize just how lucky you are.

4. Trust, Morality – and Oxytocin? – Claremont Graduate University, 2011.

This one is hugtastic! If you don’t like hugs you are destined for the scrap yard of unhappiness. Ok, perhaps not, but you’ll need to find a new source of Oxytocin.

5. For a better work day, smile like you mean it –  Michigan State University, 2011.

Sounds like something out of a Peter Pan. “Think Happy Thoughts” … it won’t make you fly, but it may well make you feel better…oh and then smile and spread the love.

6. The Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network – University of California, San Diego, 2008.

You know those people that just always seem to drag you down? Well, tell them to snap out of it or “weed the garden” as my wife calls it. Surround yourself with happy people and they will help to lift you up.

7. Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being – University of British Columbia, 2012.

That title is quite the mouthful, but seems that bad kids aren’t the most popular. Seems that helping others does more than just make you feel good.

8. People who exercise on work days are happier, suffer less stress and are more productive – University of Bristol, 2008.

This one is certainly true for me. If I don’t exercise I can turn into a real grouch.

9. Is Volunteering a Public Health Intervention? – University of Exeter Medical School, 2013.

Seems that giving back not only makes you feel better, avoids depression, it also improves your well-being and  makes you live longer. If you volunteer enough, you can cheat death… OK, just kidding.

10. Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness  | University of California Berkeley, 2008.

I’m always intrigued by the causality elements of this sort of study. Spending more of one’s income on others apparently results in greater happiness. My question is, are the people that are spending more money on others already more happy anyway? I seem to spend a lot of money on the insurance, food and health industry. Perhaps, I should think of these payments as gifts to other peoples’ salaries and the payments wouldn’t hurt quite as much….hmmm, not sure my imagination can stretch so far. I will just have to invite my friend to dinner instead.

As a former healthcare professional, I was always amazed at the people who had all manner of pain or physical limitations that were happy as Larry. Whilst, some that had minor inconveniences would cry murder. There are soooo many things that we can control just by changing our attitudes. Is it time to make that choice?

 

Feel free to share your happiness

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Buddha

You know when you go to a store, for example, and the person behind the counter is happy and friendly and in response the customers are also much happier and friendly. Contrast that with the customer service person that may be in a bad mood, may just not want to be there. The customers in response are more transactional. Surely this must make day, of the person that is already not happy, just a little worse.

It takes virtually no energy to be friendly and interactive with people, but giving people that are having a bad day a tad of your joy, may well help push their day in a better directions as their future interactions may well cascade in a happier direction.

It reminds me of a time when we were mountaineering in Russia and as part of the acclimatization process we would climb higher every day, but then return to the village every night. Behind the bar was one of the most attractive women I had ever met, but she was also the most grouchy. Possibly as a result of being hit on by drunken men on a nightly basis.

Anyhow, For some reason I decided that I would take it upon myself to see if I could make her smile. I tried every time I went to the bar, but to no avail….finally on the last night I completely butchered a sentence in the local dialect and she burst out laughing…. for the rest of the night she was much friendlier.

I would go so far as saying that happiness grows by being shared.

Exploiting stereotypes

Generally I am not a big fan of stereotypes. We all have preconceived ideas and they can often get in the way of judging people on merit rather than past experience or worse on hearsay. However, in the case of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) they are being exploited to great effect!

Bikers are so often maligned as bad influences, violent and criminal elements, but BACA exploits that reputation to help children that have been abused. Arriving as a big presence, they send a clear message to the local community and the children, that they will protect them.  In many cases this has given the victims the confidence to speak out against their abusers and has given them a ‘family’ around which they can rebuild their lives after their ordeal.

Way to use a stereotype for good! It also demonstrates the dangers of judging a book by its cover.

The Road Not Taken

I have always loved this poem. I think it illustrates so well the way our lives diverge and how we will never know what lies at the end of the path, we just have to choose and make the best of it. There is no point taking one path and worrying that the other path might have been better… there will be other branches and other choices… make the most of the journey.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.

I guess, I got philosophical after a conversation with a friend yesterday, when we discussed the merits and pitfalls of religion and the way it makes people act.

It does a fantastic job of offering an explanation for something the human mind may never be able to grasp and gives hope to many. It brings people together and fosters community. Every group of people throughout the ages has had some form of religious belief and it has served well to organize society…. for better or for worse (not a big believer in human sacrifices etc.).

Sadly it is probably also the most divisive force in human history. All the “Holy wars” involving the Jews, Christians and Muslims involve the very same God. Why not just get on with believing what you believe. When you go to meet the maker and you chose the right path brilliant for you. You can smugly enjoy your schadenfreude at those that got it wrong. If you get reincarnated, I guess you’ll do it all again and if you get enlightened, bully for you.

Happiness comes from within, and people who think they will find happiness from interfering with or destroying other peoples lives are doomed to be unhappy. Lets face it, they will always find someone else to blame for their unhappiness.

Chose your paths and enjoy your walk. If someone decides to share your path, either enjoy their company or speed up or slow down and give yourself some space, don’t push them into the bushes. After all, you don’t own the path you are only a visitor.

First slow food now slow coffee with a smile

I’m a big fan of my morning coffee, but a personalized coffee cup designed by the 41-year-old barista and artist Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte would certainly add some wow. Each cup can take up to  40 hours to design and gives his masterpieces to customers who have exhibited kindness. Lafitte loves seeing the delight and appreciation in the faces of people that get their coffee in his art cups. Lafitte hopes that one day he may be able to craft his designs on a more permanent medium like ceramic mugs.

If you want a special cup , make your way to the British Museum and be kind to others!

Lafitte's work is on display inside the Starbucks opposite the British Museum in central London.

He gets daily requests from fans who come to the museum hoping he’ll produce a cup for them.
He gets daily requests from fans who come to the museum hoping he'll produce a cup for them.

He told Metro: “I love seeing people’s reaction to my drawings. I enjoy the joy and surprise on their faces.”

He told Metro : "I love seeing people’s reaction to my drawings. I enjoy the joy and surprise on their faces."

Some designs take up to 40 hours for him to complete.
Some designs take up to 40 hours for him to complete.

He tells BuzzFeed he would love to see his designs become real ceramic cups on day.

You can see more below and on his Facebook page.
You can see more below and on his Facebook page .

Learn to appreciate the little things

I was watching this clip and instantly thought that the is must be in England. The poor english are so reserved that they can’t even show that they are enjoying some amazing artistic talent when it happens in front of them. Instead they stoically stare over the top of the talented piano player. The ones snapping pictures and videos are probably tourists.

One shame about the video is that they don’t seem to have used the original soundtrack. I guess it didn’t record well, but it does detract from the authenticity. Still it looks like he is a brilliant piano player and it is a shame that the people treated to this free concert didn’t take a moment out of their busy life bubbles to go “wow what a treat!”.

Most of us can’t have amazing lives every moment of the day, but appreciating the little things along the way certainly makes them feel better!

 

Getting older, but not growing old

Stanisław Kowalski, from Świdnica, Poland was born in 1910 and he just set a new European centenarian record after running 100m in a remarkable 32.79 seconds (that is only a little over 3 times slower than the remarkable Usain Bolt)!

Watch video on Mail

Stanislaw Kowalski, 104, from Swidnica, Poland, has become the oldest person in Europe to run a 100m race – smashing the record previously held by a 96-year-old

Mr Kowalski spent the majority of his working life either walking or cycling the 10km (6miles) to work and took up running when he was a sprightly 92 years old. His secret to longevity: ‘Do not overfeed and do not eat at night. Sometimes you can drink 50 grams, but not every day.’

Possibly more remarkable is the indefatigable Fauja Singh, who may well be the only 100 year old to ever run a marathon. This British centenarian marathon runner of Punjabi Sikh descent, has a personal best time for the London Marathon (2003) is 6 hours 2 minutes set at the tender age of 92. It is a time he beat by 22 minutes at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

On 16 October 2011, Singh became the first 100-year-old to finish a marathon, completing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. So, if you are feeling old or down on yourself. Think about these two and give yourself a little kick. “If you don’t use it you lose it”… so keep using it!