For the Birds

Birds of a feather flock together. The saying came to mind when I recently drove by a park where a couple of hundred Canada geese were resting comfortably in the cold. Research shows that it’s not only birds that hang out with their own kind. People do too. It’s a myth that opposites attract; in fact, similar do. Multiple studies and simple observations show this. I even found this when I studied audience reactions to an African film. Even though the film was made in a completely different culture and region, audience members were drawn to the characters and story because of the cultural proximity. One person said, “They’re African like me!” In a time and place lacking locally made films, seeing people like them on a screen was significant. If you give cameras to budding photography students, and they go and shoot people who look like them. Whites photograph whites. Polynesians photograph Polynesians, etc. Ask people with whom they socialize and they will likely tell you about friends from their church, neighborhood, work or kid’s school. They tend to be of the same ethnicity, economic strata and education level. They also tend to be the same religion. We are quite naturally drawn to those who are similar us. But we don’t have to limit ourselves. We are not birds! We have the sophistication to be driven by factors other than instinct! We have free will, live in complex social networks, and have the ability to create new realities. We can actually rise above the narrow limitations of our social groups and actively seek out new ones. But it takes intentionality. I used to work with a very close-knit group. Even though group members were spread around the world, we had a pretty narrow...

Get Control Of Your Money Jan06

Get Control Of Your Money...

  With the New Year comes lots of attention on starting over and getting things in order. Try finding a parking spot at your local gym! And check out the closet organizing systems on sale in January! One area worth evaluating is your financial life. If you’re like me, you need a system to keep track of your income, bills, spending, and budgeting. For the past four years I’ve used a great piece of software called YNAB, short for You Need A Budget. Even though I’m still working on the budgeting aspect, YNAB has certainly helped me keep better records and track my spending. Now YNAB has taken its method and software to a completely new level. Instead of relying on a downloadable software package, YNAB has now become an online tool that connects all of your devices with your banks, credit cards and other financial institutions. Being web-based, it can more easily updated, and improved, and not rely on your precious storage of Dropbox. I can access YNAB on my computer, smart phone or tablet, all perfectly in sync and up-to-date with your banks and each other. Reconciling is not longer a much-dreaded, tedious process, rather a simple matter of assigning imported expenses to your priorities. YNAB‘s founder, Jesse Meecham, says he and other early adopters of the new YNAB are actually reconciling more often because it’s less work, making them keep on top of their financial activity more than ever. I am currently taking advantage of a free 34-day trial, using YNAB to sync with my financial institutions and give me a birds-eye view of all my accounts in one screen. No more logging onto separate bank websites to check on balances; I can even see my current mortgage status! In a...