NASA doesn’t have replacements for its aging spacesuits

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NASA may be running out of spacesuits. 

According to a new report from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General, NASA may not have enough spacesuits to make it through 2024—the year when the Space Station is expected to end its operational life under NASA and the other international agencies.

The suits, called extravehicular mobility units (EMUs), are designed to keep astronauts safe when taking spacewalks outside of the ISS.

The OIG report said that “only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units – a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk – are still in use, raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS.” Read more…

More about Astronauts, Space Exploration, Spacewalks, Spacesuits, and Nasa

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NASA may be running out of spacesuits. 

According to a new report from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General, NASA may not have enough spacesuits to make it through 2024—the year when the Space Station is expected to end its operational life under NASA and the other international agencies.

The suits, called extravehicular mobility units (EMUs), are designed to keep astronauts safe when taking spacewalks outside of the ISS.

The OIG report said that “only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units – a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk – are still in use, raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS.” Read more…

More about Astronauts, Space Exploration, Spacewalks, Spacesuits, and Nasa

Now you can eat a BBQ-flavored PayDay, because America

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Americans have always loved candy bars. Now, candy bars will be loving America right back.

The Hershey Company has announced that it will be rolling out special editions of their most popular candy — Kit Kat, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, and PayDay just to name a few — nationally under the theme “Taste of America.”

The collection of candy has new flavors “inspired by the unique tastes of iconic, U.S. summer destinations,” states the official press release.

Six states will be honored with the Hershey’s treatment: California, Georgia, New York, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida. And what exactly will the flavors be? Read more…

More about Bbq, America, Candy, Twizzlers, and Payday

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Americans have always loved candy bars. Now, candy bars will be loving America right back.

The Hershey Company has announced that it will be rolling out special editions of their most popular candy — Kit Kat, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, and PayDay just to name a few — nationally under the theme “Taste of America.”

The collection of candy has new flavors “inspired by the unique tastes of iconic, U.S. summer destinations,” states the official press release.

Six states will be honored with the Hershey’s treatment: California, Georgia, New York, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida. And what exactly will the flavors be? Read more…

More about Bbq, America, Candy, Twizzlers, and Payday

Now there’s a dating app in Slack. What could possibly go wrong?

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You can already do a lot of things in Slack. Set up a meeting. Crack a few jokes with coworkers. But what if you could also find your soulmate?

If Feeld, the dating app that bills itself as a place “where you can meet couples or singles” has their way, you just might. They’ve just unveiled Slack integration that aims to connect people within individual teams. It works by relying on a mutual expression of interest. 

You tell the Feeld bot who your crush is, and if they feel the same way, it’ll tell you. Then you can start chatting, with the somewhat awkward knowledge that you both like each other enough to mention it to a bot. Read more…

More about Feeld, Slack, Dating Apps, Dating And Relationships, and Sex And Relationship

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You can already do a lot of things in Slack. Set up a meeting. Crack a few jokes with coworkers. But what if you could also find your soulmate?

If Feeld, the dating app that bills itself as a place “where you can meet couples or singles” has their way, you just might. They’ve just unveiled Slack integration that aims to connect people within individual teams. It works by relying on a mutual expression of interest. 

You tell the Feeld bot who your crush is, and if they feel the same way, it’ll tell you. Then you can start chatting, with the somewhat awkward knowledge that you both like each other enough to mention it to a bot. Read more…

More about Feeld, Slack, Dating Apps, Dating And Relationships, and Sex And Relationship

This ad for a bong cleaner is just perfectly cheesy

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There are some stoner stereotypes that just aren’t going away anytime soon.

The internet tends to fall in love with low-budget commercials that are just cheesy and awkward enough to be admirable. Combine the cheese factor with weed, and you’ve got yourself a viral video in the making.

The internet’s favorite new goofy spot is from Resolution, a self-described “bad ass cleaning company” that creates a special gel which will clean your glass bongs and pipes. You see, when you smoke the sticky icky through a glass pipe, it leaves a gross, thick resin behind, which can be difficult to clean. Most people use rubbing alcohol and salt, but a number of products claiming to clean pipes better have popped up recently.  Read more…

More about Marijuana, Ads, Funny, Viral Videos, and Watercooler

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There are some stoner stereotypes that just aren’t going away anytime soon.

The internet tends to fall in love with low-budget commercials that are just cheesy and awkward enough to be admirable. Combine the cheese factor with weed, and you’ve got yourself a viral video in the making.

The internet’s favorite new goofy spot is from Resolution, a self-described “bad ass cleaning company” that creates a special gel which will clean your glass bongs and pipes. You see, when you smoke the sticky icky through a glass pipe, it leaves a gross, thick resin behind, which can be difficult to clean. Most people use rubbing alcohol and salt, but a number of products claiming to clean pipes better have popped up recently.  Read more…

More about Marijuana, Ads, Funny, Viral Videos, and Watercooler

Shocker: United Airlines has the most in-flight animal deaths

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Next time you’re taking a plane trip, you might want to consider leaving your pets at home … especially if you’re flying United.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s February 2017 Air Data Consumer Report, United had the most animal deaths of all United States airlines in 2016 — for the second year in a row, might we add.

Yikes.

It’s been a terrible, no good, very bad couple of months for United — from leggings-gate to the infamously violent removal of a passenger from an overbooked flight.

And just this week a giant rabbit unexpectedly died on one of United’s transatlantic flights, so add that to next year’s report. Read more…

More about Business, Death, Animals, Conversations, and Delta

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Next time you’re taking a plane trip, you might want to consider leaving your pets at home … especially if you’re flying United.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s February 2017 Air Data Consumer Report, United had the most animal deaths of all United States airlines in 2016 — for the second year in a row, might we add.

Yikes.

It’s been a terrible, no good, very bad couple of months for United — from leggings-gate to the infamously violent removal of a passenger from an overbooked flight.

And just this week a giant rabbit unexpectedly died on one of United’s transatlantic flights, so add that to next year’s report. Read more…

More about Business, Death, Animals, Conversations, and Delta

A Look Back at Expo 67’s U.S. Pavilion

Bold on the outside, campy on the inside—the Buckminster Fuller and Cambridge Seven Associates project showed visitors that the world’s superpower could have fun, too.

Expo 67, which opened 50 years ago today, brought optimistic and mostly temporary architecture from around the globe onto three sites along the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal under the theme of Man and His World. One pavilion that still stands today provided some of the most memorable fair experiences.

In Design for a Fair: The United States Exhibition at Expo 67 Montreal, Canada, viewers can immerse themselves in the playful cultural exhibits by Cambridge Seven Associates inside a 20-story geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller.

Filmed by Peter Chermayeff, a founding principal of Cambridge Seven, Design for a Fair uses the voices of the pavilion’s creators to explain their mission and the user experience.

Inside, visitors were greeted to seven levels of exhibits showcasing “Creative America,” which included the space program, Hollywood, popular music, and contemporary art. They could either experience them quickly, by taking the fair’s train through the the structure, or walk in and travel up via a slow-moving escalator.

Despite all of its visual delights, one of the designers recounts in the film that they received complaints from U.S. congressmen lamenting the lack of industrial might and weaponry. In 2013, Daniela Sheinin wrote for the Journal of Transnational American Studies that the pavilion was admired by most visitors from abroad and people along the U.S. coasts, but not as much in the American heartland:

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called the U.S. Pavilion a “masterpiece of intelligent wit and… self-irony.” “Alas, the exhibit inside the dome is… scandalous,” reported the Birmingham Sun-Bulletin; “It is vulgar, ostentatious and somehow suggests the false but blatant victory of the homosexual.”

In fact, the exhibits conveyed an ironic and campy side of America—a liberating departure from what Sheinin describes as a “stodgy, heavy-handed past in U.S. propaganda.” She also notes that the campiness wasn’t always an inside joke.

Fuller’s idea for a dome had been previously rejected for the 1964 New York World’s Fair by its president, Robert Moses. The dome in Montreal leaked and there were reports of droppings falling from a NASA satellite where birds were nesting. Nearly a decade after Expo 67 closed, a fire melted the translucent skin on the dome, leaving only its steel bones.

Fuller, who died in 1983, was interested in better connecting modern architecture to environmental needs. Fittingly, after it sat vacant for another 15 years, Environment Canada purchased the structure, turning it into a museum devoted to the water ecosystem of the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence River region. Today, it is known as the Montreal Biosphère and focuses on environmental issues and sustainable development. No American camp left to be found.

17 Easy Positive Changes You Can Make In Your Life Right Now

There are many positive actions and habits we know we should do, like working out, eating healthily and not spending beyond our means. We know the big things that will make our lives better, but the fact that they’re big tasks means they can feel daunting or overwhelming. And so we easily give up on […]

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There are many positive actions and habits we know we should do, like working out, eating healthily and not spending beyond our means. We know the big things that will make our lives better, but the fact that they’re big tasks means they can feel daunting or overwhelming.

And so we easily give up on them.

Life isn’t always about big, bold milestones. It’s also about the little things that can bring you a more positive and fulfilling lifestyle.

If you feel the same way, then you should know that there are small positive changes you can still do to make your life better. Pick one thing from the list below and test it out. If you like it and it’s becoming a regular habit, add another one in.

And the best thing about these small changes? They require no extra money or prep time.

So, what are you waiting for? Scroll down the list, pick a number and start making positive changes.

17 Things That Will Bring You Positive Changes

1. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day as much as you can. However, a spontaneous wild night out every now and then won’t hurt anyone.

2. Watch some comedy every day to keep those laughter muscles warmed up.

3. Have a healthy breakfast to set yourself up well for the day. Oatmeal with fruits, a smoothie or even a homemade granola will do.

healthy breakfast

4. Consider playing the songs you love as you’re getting ready in the morning. It will give your day a great start even before you leave the house.

5. Unfollow people on Facebook. A major factor in feeling bad is comparing ourselves to other people. Seeing your high school buddy’s “perfect” holiday, kids or home isn’t going to boost your self-esteem. It’s best to remove them from your view.

6. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the time for. Make it simple and achievable, like dining at a particular restaurant or trying out a new recipe.

7. While you’re lying in bed at night, think of five things that went well that day. They don’t have to be big or dramatic. It can be a nice lunch, a free gift at the store or a cute baby that smiled at you. As a result, you’ll be able to train your brain to focus on the good rather than the bad.

8. Talk back to your negative thoughts. If your friend told you she’d had an unproductive day, would you respond negatively or positively? Consider it the same for yourself. Being harsh on yourself won’t help you achieve more. In fact, it can only make you feel crappy.

9. Keep a notebook and jot down all the things that make you feel alive. You’d be amazed at how this simple act can switch your brain into feeling good.

10. At least once a week, wear an outfit that makes you feel great. Wear your most fabulous clothes, underwear included. Do your hair in a style you love, put on some makeup, and head out looking good. You’ll be amazed at how differently people will treat you.

11. Send a text once a week to someone you know and tell them why you think they’re awesome. This will boost your positivity.

12. If you want to work out but can’t find the motivation, just go for a walk. It’s better than nothing and will get your blood pumping. The best way to get fit is to see yourself as someone who works out and keeps fit.

walking exercise

13. Drop the word “should”. Keep an eye out for how often you say it and ask yourself if it’s making you feel better or worse. Is it something genuinely important to you? Who said you should do it? Do they know you better than you know yourself? Ask yourself these questions and you’ll know why the word won’t help you.

14. If you’re a procrastinator, introduce the “yucky task, nice task” process. It works just as it sounds. Get your yucky task done first and give yourself a reward or do a nicer task after.

15. Another positive change you can do is clear your inbox of all the newsletters you’re signed up to. Put them in a separate folder, delete them, or pare them down to just the ones you love to receive. The feeling of freedom that comes from an uncluttered inbox is worth more than the sporadic, fleeting bonus you might get from one of your newsletters.

16. Add one more piece of fruit into your day and mix it up with the usual ones you have every day. Make it a daily challenge to see the different kinds of fruit you can eat. In addition to helping you start with some positive changes, it can also help you be healthier.

17. Finally, if you’re a news junkie, set a timer and allow yourself to read the news for an allotted period of time only. Our news has changed over the past few years and they’re designed to hook you in. Generally, we feel worse after watching story upon story of terror and bad news, so limit your exposure. If you’re not a news junkie, why not take a break from watching?

So, there you have it. These are the 17 small changes that can add up to big results. Where will you start?

The post 17 Easy Positive Changes You Can Make In Your Life Right Now appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How To Maximize Your Potential While Embracing Your Weaknesses

What do successful people actually do with their weaknesses? That is a question worth pondering. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that people who are truly successful don’t shy away from their weaknesses. In fact, they are alright sharing them. As a leader (which I believe you are), it will actually […]

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What do successful people actually do with their weaknesses?

That is a question worth pondering. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that people who are truly successful don’t shy away from their weaknesses. In fact, they are alright sharing them.

As a leader (which I believe you are), it will actually inspire those around you if they see you succeed in spite of your weaknesses. It will give them the courage to be better as well as to press on.

To help you figure things out, here’s how to maximize your potential.

Why peace is essential

sense of peace

You don’t have to feel like you are climbing uphill as you work on maximizing your potential. You can actually get a sense of peace when you come to terms with a skill that doesn’t come naturally to you. It will help you attain the patience needed to make progress.

With that feeling of frustration off of your shoulders, you can focus more on how you can start working on your goal.

How weaknesses trump strengths

Your weaknesses can teach you more about how to work with people and the importance of cooperation. It’s also a place where growth can feel very rewarding.

The right relationship with your weaknesses will allow you to focus more energy on maximizing your potential. Essentially, you’ll be able to achieve success faster when you are able to do this. In addition to figuring out what you are not good at by the process of elimination, you’ll be able to know what you are really good at.

Remember, focusing solely on your strengths can be detrimental to you. You might miss out on the opportunity to grow.

How to handle reaching a plateau with a weakness

Investing in things you are naturally good at should not be an excuse to avoid things that don’t come naturally to you. Bear in mind, however, that when you do invest in improving on a weakness, you are likely to hit a plateau.

So, what do you do?

This is where you change things up. Changing your approach can raise the ceiling in your area of assumed weakness.

As Gary Keller, in his #1 bestseller book entitled The One Thing, said, “Natural ability can only take us so far before we hit our achievement ceiling. Models and Systems will help you break through that ceiling of achievement.”

You may never be a world-class lumberjack, but a chainsaw will take you further than an axe. Trying a new approach may be what you need.

A University of Florida basketball player, Canyon Barry, used an unconventional underhand free throw style to hit 42 shots in a row, setting a school record.

You might not look cool to some using a different approach to raise the ceiling of a weakness, but who cares. Just keep hitting your own free throws.

Just because it doesn’t come naturally to you doesn’t mean it’s a weakness

Most things don’t come naturally. They need to be learned. If you are struggling, maybe the issue is with your learning and not your innate ability.

This is where a growth mindset (believing that most basic abilities can be developed) over a fixed mindset (believing that things like intelligence or talent are fixed traits) really makes a huge difference.

As Carol S. Dweck said in her book, Mindset“In the growth mindset, experiencing difficulty simply indicates the need to put in more effort. In the fixed mindset, difficulty means you do not have the ability.”

A reader who wrote to her also commented the following:

“We should be careful not to view failure as a proof of stupidity but rather as a lack of knowledge, skill or experience which can all be remedied”

Can you raise the ceiling of that assumed weakness with a different learning approach and mindset? Think about it.

facing weaknesses

The one thing worse than a weakness

The real thing that is going to hold you back is your bad habits. I believe that is the one thing that’s likely to determine your success. It’s not hard to see how bad habits can dampen your strengths and amplify your weaknesses.

A key element to embracing our weakness is facing those accompanying bad habits head on. It will not only help you raise the ceiling on a weakness, but it’s likely to boost your strengths, too.

Ready to maximize your potential?

It doesn’t feel good to know you are living below your potential. Mediocrity is not a crown to be worn proudly. Although it’s true that some things don’t come naturally to you, it doesn’t mean that they have to hold you back.

Freely admit your weaknesses and be transparent with them. Embrace the peace that comes with that decision and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you feel like your progress is slowing down, it’s when you change things up. Just believe that you can raise the ceiling of that weakness.

Be sure to kick those bad habits and just go maximize your potential!

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How To Start Building Confidence: A Story From A (Formerly) Fearful Guy

As a 4-year-old, I recall clinging to my father’s leg at a friend’s birthday party. I was terrified to go into the other room, where other kids were whacking a piñata with a long stick. That model followed me the rest of my life. Being an unconfident male in America is not a winning recipe […]

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As a 4-year-old, I recall clinging to my father’s leg at a friend’s birthday party. I was terrified to go into the other room, where other kids were whacking a piñata with a long stick. That model followed me the rest of my life.

Being an unconfident male in America is not a winning recipe for success and I knew that. For decades, I had no clue what to do to get out of it. At times, I felt doomed to a life of misery, despair, and loneliness.

But that wasn’t acceptable. I couldn’t live with that defining my life. Even though I felt completely annihilated, I figured a way out must exist. Otherwise, life won’t even be worth living.

And today, as a young 34-year-old man, I’ve got all the confidence in the world despite things being rough at the moment. My wife and I have $30,000+ in medical debt (and growing) and she has perplexing health problems that baffle doctors.

I have every reason to feel anxious and fearful and yet I’m not. I’m certainly not perfect, so fear and doubt creep in from time-to-time. But, I’m happier and more joyful than ever before. And if you met me, you’d think things are going quite well.

If you are wondering how I started building confidence, here are a few lessons I learned along the way:

Consider Your Mind A Dangerous Place You Never Go Alone

dangerous mind

Remember your parents telling you,”Never go near that place. It’s dangerous. You could get hurt.”

What happens in your mind? If you’re a fearful person, you’ll notice the thoughts start buzzing. Although you try not to think about them, they still gain power. You tell yourself not to act on them, but you still find yourself doing that.

And often, you feel completely overwhelmed and defeated. Fear runs your life. You don’t talk to people you want to. You don’t ask women for dates. You don’t leave the house, even though you want to.

True, isn’t it?

That’s exactly how I handled fear for a long time and I got the same old results — more fear. Failure after failure made me feel trapped and at a dead end. I felt stumped, defeated and totally lost.

That’s why I no longer hide anything or live in my mi-nd anymore. I had to constantly practice sharing my thinking with others whom I trust to listen without judgment. I keep pouring those fearful thoughts out of my head so they won’t have an opportunity to grow and gain strength.

You Can Only Neglect the Spiritual Dimension of Your Life to Your Detriment

To cope with my fear, shame, guilt and poor self-esteem, I developed an addiction. The addiction took my naturally fearful disposition and magnified its intensity 100 times.

Eventually, I learned the spiritual part of life had to come first. It’s kept me out of my addiction and it’s transformed me from fearful to confident.

Spiritually, I simply trust that all will work out and everything is under the control of a supreme God. That gives me the confidence that all I have to do is continue to grow as a person and keep trying. Something will work out. I don’t know what or when, but I know it will.

spiritual confidence

Can you gain confidence without spirituality? Perhaps. But, I think it’s like not taking vitamin C when you have a cold. You can do other things (like rest). But you’re throwing away a key part of the puzzle.

Have an Insane Desire to Serve Others

My natural fear kept me withdrawn and isolated. The addiction made it even worse that coming out became impossible.

But, as I learned what worked, it became clear that serving others was the key. When I thought about my fear, I realized how self-focused it made me.

These are the thoughts that would often cross my mind:

• What’s that person thinking of me?
• Oh no, I did something wrong.
• What should I say?
• Will I fail?
• I’m an idiot.

If you ever find yourself constantly thinking about these things, get out of that thinking. I actually started this right away before feeling confident. Although I knew I didn’t have the confidence or skills to accomplish large things, I knew could deal with the smaller stuff.

I didn’t just serve others by volunteering to serve soup at a homeless shelter once a month. It’s actually a daily practice. When a friend calls, I pick up immediately. If someone asks for help, I say “Yes” 90% of the time.

Whenever someone has a small problem, I clarify it for them. A friend wakes me up at 6:30 in the morning with a phone call, I answer right away, rather than calling back at a more convenient time.

Identify Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses

Building confidence comes from knowing yourself. Just like everyone else, you have strengths and weaknesses.

I always thought confidence means appearing invulnerable, like Superman. You have no weaknesses and you never feel afraid.

In reality, however, that’s just trying to stuff feelings and it only increased my fear.

When you’re trapped in fear, you falsely believe you have more weaknesses than strengths. It prevents you from seeing yourself accurately.

But, take a look. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you’ll find. You’ll realize that as you learn how to deal with your fear, you’ll find you have more good parts which you didn’t know you had.

The good parts of you will grow while the bad and negative will fall away and become much less apparent in your life.

That’s how it worked for me. I couldn’t have done it without looking at the bad (greedy, critical, demanding) and good (intelligent, helpful, funny). And today, I feel like I’m 95% the good version of me. You can ask my friends, my wife, and even strangers, and they’d say positive things about me.

Only Focus on What You Can Control

Historically, so much of my fear has been based on outcomes of situations. I want to:

• Have people respond my way
• Always win
• Never have any rough patches
• Be a fearless superhero winner like James Bond

When I didn’t get the desired outcomes, I beat myself up and felt guilty and ashamed. Clearly, because I didn’t get the woman, the job, the friend, or the money, I was a “bad” person.

I rarely do that anymore, because about 90% of life doesn’t work out your way.
Only 10% does. So, focus on that 10% and grow the heck out of it. Keep trying until you find what works and do less of what doesn’t.

In a given day, I can’t control much. I’m self-employed. I can only control how and when I reach out to prospective clients, and how many of them I contact. Whether they choose to do business with me or not isn’t in my control.

So, I can only make contacts and chat with interested prospects. After that, I just have to trust that everything falls into place.

In the grand scheme of things, I realized that isn’t much.

Understand The Paradoxical Ways Your Mind Works

Human minds sometimes work the opposite of what appears to make sense. For example, if you have ever said to yourself, ”I’m going to walk right up to that girl and ask her for her phone number” and then promptly avoided doing it, you’ve probably felt confused as to why.

Well, it’s because you’re using willpower but you don’t have enough confidence. You still feel fearful and it shows most of the time.

So, the first paradox is this:

• To overcome your fear, let it enter

I no longer say to myself, ”Uh-oh. I’m getting fearful again. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it…Oh no! Here it is. I’m screwed. This is gonna be rough.”

Instead, I allow the fear to enter. Whenever it comes in, I feel numbness and tingling in my arms. My hands sweat a little. My back and neck tighten up.

However, I don’t get fearful of those sensations. I let them happen. I know they’ll pass and I’ll be alright. And that diminishes the power fear has over me.

Other paradoxes include:

• You get what you give
• Seek to understand to be understood
• Listen to others and you’ll be heard
• You get what you oppose
• Do it because you don’t want to
• Embrace your vulnerability

Feelings Often Don’t Fit the Facts

My wife of nearly 8 years and I met online. We talked a few times by phone before meeting. And once, I said something to her which I later thought was quite rude.

I panicked. I thought I had blown it and she would never talk to me again.

I’ve shared the story with her several times. I no longer remember her exact response, but she can’t recall anything unusual from our phone conversations.

However, she does recall the awkwardness of our first date. She thought I was a cheapskate because we went to a friend’s house for dinner, then to a local zoo by the lake (free), and then watched a horror movie (rented) at home.

Seemed fine to me since I thought it made sense to keep it casual when meeting the first time. Unfortunately, that’s not what she was expecting.

Anyway, my feelings told me I had ruined our relationship before it started. Then they told me the date was fine.

In both cases, my feelings were different than reality.

So today, if I’m feeling anxious, fearful, or wondering how I did or how to take what someone said, I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I simply move on to what’s next and focus on that.

And if I’m having a hard time with feelings that refuse to go away, I talk to someone else.

Yes, You Can Skyrocket Your Confidence, Too

You may, like me, have been born with low self-confidence. You may also have had catastrophic life experiences which ruined the confidence you have had.

Well, you can get your confidence back. Or find it for the first time.

No matter how stressful or intimidating it can be, you can absolutely learn how to feel confident in any situation. That can happen even if you don’t have a shred of confidence now.

These tips can make that possible. But, of course, it will still be up to you to take action.

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The Case for Weed Reparations

Oakland is leading the nation in defining what racial equity means by revising its medical cannabis business permit process to favor applicants who’ve been swept up in the war on drugs.

We often forget that an abundance of living-wage and wealth-creating jobs exist in low-income communities. Unfortunately, they happen to be in the drug-selling business.

For many decades, law enforcement has been directed to lock up anyone who tries to make a living in this field, especially if they are black. As criminal justice scholar Michelle Alexander wrote in a 2013 op-ed for The New York Times: “We’ve spent billions of dollars, arrested and caged millions of people, destroyed countless families and futures, and yet marijuana remains as popular and plentiful as ever. Why has this insanity continued for so long?”

Well, because racism. In Oakland, California, efforts are now underway to repair what the war on drugs destroyed through mass incarceration: In May 2016, the city amended its existing local medical marijuana regulation ordinance to provide more opportunities for people of color to open their own dispensaries. Most importantly, under the new equity permit program, people with prior convictions for weed-related crimes would have first dibs on getting a city license.

To flesh out the details for this program, the city commissioned a race and equity analysis report, to ensure that the new marijuana permitting process would benefit the right people. There is nothing more alarming in that report than the arrest data it relies upon for the program’s foundation: In 2015, African Americans made up 30 percent of the population but 77 percent of cannabis arrests, compared to 4 percent for whites.   


(City of Oakland)

And 2015 was no an aberration. Further analysis on arrest data from 1998 to 2015 turned up an even wider disparity—African-Americans comprised 90 percent of arrests; whites were 3.91 percent.

Some might speculate that the gap accurately reflects the faces of who sells and uses weed. But if white Oaklanders are so low on the weed consumption and possession scale (and, as a stroll around the area would reveal, they are definitely not), then why are they the ones opening dispensaries and outlets? As Amanda Chicago Lewis reported for Buzzfeed last year:

Nobody keeps official statistics on race and cannabis business ownership. But based on more than 150 interviews with dispensary owners, industry insiders, and salespeople who interact with a lot of pot shops, it appears that fewer than three dozen of the 3,200 to 3,600 storefront marijuana dispensaries in the United States are owned by black people—about 1%.

Oakland’s plan, which city council passed last month, seeks to correct this. The race and equity analysis report turned up a number of reasons why African Americans haven’t been able to access the medical cannabis industry. It also explains how the white-controlled legal marijuana trade is—dare we say—gentrifying the one market in which underemployed African Americans were able to make a living:  

In general, access to capital for starting a cannabis business is restricted because of federal regulations and further limited in low income communities due to the lack of personal wealth. Those with assets and a head start have the ability to surge forward with real estate acquisition and leasing that could lock new operations out of being able to set up shop in Oakland.Living wage” underground jobs in marginalized communities are in danger of being pushed out of those communities.

The new equity permit program gives normally disenfranchised African Americans a leg up in the medical marijuana market. Under this program, cannabis business permits would be prioritized for “equity applicants,” defined as someone whose annual income is less than 80 percent of Oakland’s average median income (AMI), and who lives in one of the 21 police beat areas where weed arrests have been most prevalent or who was convicted after November 5, 1996 for a weed-related crime.

The city’s permitting process will now roll out in two phases, the first of which would award at least half of all of permits to “equity applicants,” who will be provided with entrepreneurial mentors, technical assistance (for business plan prep and municipal regulations compliance), and help with other procurement needs. The program also calls for “equity incubators,” where general (non-equity) marijuana business hopefuls can spruce up their own permit applications by offering rent-free real estate for helping cultivate up-and-coming black business owners.

Other perks of the equity program include relaxed criminal background checks, zero-interest small business loans, and conditional approval for equity applicants even if they don’t have all of their financing or real estate secured upfront. The program’s costs will be covered by the $3.4 million in licensing fees that the city has already collected from existing cannabis businesses. This is basically a reparations plan for black people who’ve been swept up into draconian drug policies and mass incarceration.

Will this ordinance actually take effect? The weed-friendly California legislature is unlikely to try to preempt it, as other states have done when cities have attempted to take business matters into their own hands. The only wild card here is what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may do to ham this up, given his allergies to economically logical marijuana laws. In his thirst to keep the war on drugs going, he may be willing to crack down on more marijuana users no matter what their race is.

That’s the wrong kind of equity. “A better answer,” wrote Michelle Alexander in her New York Times op-ed, “is to give all youth the same punishment that college students and suburban white youth have received for their marijuana use, which is basically none at all.”