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Disgraced Designer John Galliano Is No Longer Teaching A Class At Parsons

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gallianoFormer Dior designer John Galliano will no longer teach a master class at Parsons in New York due to his unwillingness to discuss his career.

It seems John Galliano’s career as a teacher is over before it has even started.

The master class he was scheduled to teach at New York’s Parsons fashion college was yesterday cancelled, and an email was sent to the establishment's students explaining why.

“We are writing to follow-up on messages we shared with you on April 26 about the planned workshop with John Galliano,” begins the email which was forwarded to The Cut . “It was a condition of our agreeing to host Mr. Galliano that we also hold a larger forum, which would include a frank discussion of his career. Ultimately, an agreement could not be reached with Mr. Galliano regarding the details of that forum, and so the program will not move forward.”

READ: Parsons students launch petition against John Galliano

In the initial email announcing the class, it was stated that students would be encouraged to interact with Galliano throughout the four days in an effort to understand the pressures faced by those who helm an international design house. On the final day, the college “expected to invite students, faculty and staff to ask Mr. Galliano how his trajectory as a designer was changed by his offensive remarks and to learn from that example.” But it appears the former Dior designer was uncomfortable with the prospect of talking about his hampered career openly.

Yesterday’s email also hinted at the opposition felt by some of the students towards Galliano teaching at the college, saying: “Over the last several weeks, many members of the university community wrote to express their views about this visit. Regardless of your opinion, you remind us all that it is our commitment to debate, and our willingness to support the possibility of change, that makes Parsons and The New School such an extraordinary place to learn.”

As yet there is no word from Galliano’s representative, but the situation is undoubtedly a blow to his attempts to re-enter the fashion world.

SEE ALSO: The Rise And Fall Of John Galliano

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Here's What I Learned From Living On $1.50 A Day

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italian food flag capreseNo matter how frugal a food-budgeter you are, eating on a $1.50 a day — the amount a person living in extreme poverty has to spend on their food — isn’t easy.

Having just completed the Live Below The Line challenge, a campaign that tasks participants with eating on $1.50 a day, for five days, to raise funds to support the estimated 1.4 billion people worldwide who face this exact challenge daily, I found out firsthand.

Here’s what spending just $7.50 on five days worth of food taught me.

It’s nearly impossible to eat healthy.

While I maintain that you can buy healthy fruits and veggies and still stick to a budget, my eyes were opened to just how difficult it is to live on $1.50 and do the same.

Because I normally make a conscious effort to eat plenty of greens and organic fruits, I tried to approach the challenge in somewhat the same fashion. But, $7.50 doesn’t go very far, unless you’re making meals out of cheap staples like ramen and bread.

With my budget, I bought a cheap (and small) bag of coffee ($1.50), baby spinach ($1.29), peanut butter ($2), milk ($1.09), eggs ($.99 —but had a “free” coupon), bananas (.75), russet potato ($.39), cheese ($1.40), and yogurt ($.40, also with a “free” coupon).

Technically, I was $2.31 over budget with those items from the start, but because I didn’t think I’d eat all the peanut butter, cheese, and eggs, I let it slide. (Ignorance is bliss; I ate every last bit!)

Hunger will make you compromise your values.

As if living “below the line” itself isn’t tough enough, I teach yoga and spinning for a living, and am training for a marathon. Because of my activity, I probably eat more than the average person.

For the first three days, I drank a lot of coffee and water to float myself to the lunch hour, and used the banana, spinach, milk, peanut butter, and ice cubes to make smoothies for lunch.

Day one dinner was spinach and cheese on top of a baked potato. I was hungry, but not yet out of my mind. The second day held much of the same, but with scrambled eggs and cheese for dinner.

Day three was when I fell apart. After having some yogurt and a banana for lunch, I devoured half of my son’s (not involved in the challenge) mac and cheese while making him lunch.

I didn’t eat it all—but let’s be honest: I essentially stole food right out of my child’s mouth.

You can’t afford to get sick.

On day one of the challenge, my husband got the stomach flu. Though he was fortunate enough to stay at home using a sick day, his stomach medicine cost about $9.

For a person living in extreme poverty, there’s probably no paid sick day or room in the budget for Pepto Bismol.

Kids blow your budget.

To buy myself some “time” at the grocery store while getting said stomach medicine, I let my son choose a treat:  A Horizon single serve chocolate milk—for $1.29.

The fact that one little milk with a straw would cause a mother in poverty to nearly blow her entire food budget for the day was not lost on me.

You have limited access to public places.

As a freelance writer, I rely on coffee shop-provided Wi-Fi to work when my son is at preschool.

Though I spend $2 on a coffee to do so, it’s more cost-effective than driving back home to work. But, I had to make adjustments during the challenge, and rely on free public library facilities instead.

Though not a huge sacrifice, I had to work in my car in the parking lot for an hour (tapping into their Wi-Fi) until it opened.

I also realized that those living in poverty have limited access to conveniences most of us take for granted–including being the “paying customer” that most business require you to be in order to use their restroom when you or your kid has to “go.”

The bottom line on living below the line:

Though I survived the challenge (minus that Mac & Cheese moment), it was an eye opening experience far beyond hunger and food cravings.

I realized that when you are in living in poverty, the general disruptions of life are challenges that never let up–despite how meticulously you ration, plan, and budget.

Though I’m thrilled to be done, it was an enlightening experiment that will made me think about money in terms far beyond interest rates, debt reduction, and wealth-building.

I recommend the Live Below the Line challenge to anyone looking for a fresh perspective and reminder of  why most of us have so much to appreciate—regardless of how stressed or frustrated living without the income or career we truly want can be at times.

If you’d like to contribute to the cause, please feel free to donate at my official Live Below the Line Page. Every $250 raised will provide 1,000 school lunches to kids in need.

SEE ALSO: 13 money secrets from the Amish >

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Mayor Bloomberg Is Not Pleased About A Giant Cupcake With His Face On It

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bloomberg cupcake

New York City's Mayor Mike Bloomberg was not too pleased when he heard that a cupcake shop was planning to create a 25-pound cake with his face on it.

An AM New York reporter asked the mayor about the cupcake  a publicity stunt for a new sweets shop  at a press conference the other day, and Bloomberg reportedly rolled his eyes, saying "this is one of the dumbest things people have ever done."

The mayor is known for his wide-ranging public health initiatives: He's required chain restaurants to post calorie counts and worked to cut sodium in popular products. He also tried to impose a city-wide ban on large, sugary-sodas earlier this year, but the ban was blocked just a day before it was supposed to go into effect.

It's safe to say he won't be in line at The House of Cupcakes, the West Village cupcake shop promising to unveil the 35,800-calorie cupcake version of the mayor at its grand opening tomorrow.

The shop, owned by Ron and Ruthie Bzdewka, past winners of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, will give away free cupcakes to its first 1,000 customers. It will also send some cupcakes over to City Hall as a "show of respect," AMNY reported.

SEE ALSO: The Rise And Fall Of The Gourmet Cupcake

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Lay's Reveals Its Newest Potato Chip Flavor

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chicken and waffles and cheesy garlic bread lays

America has voted, and the newest flavor added to the Lay's lineup will be Cheesy Garlic Bread.

The flavor beat out Chicken and Waffles and Sriracha in the Lay's Do Us A Flavor Contest, and Eva Longoria will officially announce it as the winner at a party tonight in Hollywood.

Contest participant Karen Weber-Mendham proposed the cheesy chip flavor, and she will earn $1 million or 1% of the new flavor's net sales (whichever is higher), according to a Frito-Lay statement.

On her Twitter page, Weber-Mendham says she is from northern Wisconsin and describes herself as a "mom of 3 crazy kids, youth librarian super-hero, margarita drinker, bad speller, potato chip eater, sarcasm user, chocolate addict, banned book reader, smiler!" She's been Tweeting up a storm with the #savegarlicbread hashtag all this month.

We tested the Cheesy Garlic Bread chips earlier this spring and gave them this review: 

"Garlic Cheesy Bread and Sriracha are pretty simple and they taste exactly how you'd expect them to taste.

If you like cheesy bread, you'll like the flavor in the chips, but maybe not the texture (it doesn't come close to replicating the experience of eating a piece of a loaf)."

SEE ALSO: Inside Lay's Crazy Process For Making Chicken & Waffle Flavor Chips >

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9 Totally Under-The-Radar Superfoods

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Maca Powder 2Just when we thought superfoods may have lost their luster, we came across nine nutritionally-stellar, totally under-the-radar powerhouses.

Forget salmon, avocado, and walnuts — these yummy foods and spices stem from a mix of ancient Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Middle-Eastern diets, and pack one heckuva better-body punch.

Read on to get the scoop straight from the experts on these exciting new superfoods. 

Fennel Seeds naturally de-bloat and detox the body.

Sprinkle some of these glorious little seeds on your next salad or roasted vegetables, toss them into your morning scramble or dinner stir-fry, even chew on them alone after any meal,” suggests Candice Kumai, chef and star of E!’s new show "Playing with Fire" and author of "Cook Yourself Sexy."

Here’s why: Fennel seeds have been used in alternative medicine for over 4,000 years to help naturally de-bloat and detox the body. They also aid in digestion and have inherent anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, they’re rich in antioxidants, fiber, and iron.



Curry Powder may help prevent heart attacks.

“The secret to this popular Southeast Asian dish is the curry powder itself,” says Kumai. The main component, a.k.a. curcumin, is a bright yellow powder derived from turmeric. “Curcumin is a phytonutrient (which means a plant-based nutrient) that has the same qualities as antioxidants,” explains Kumai. “Phytonutrients can help to boost immune function — they are also known to possibly lower the risk of heart disease." 

“This golden-hued Indian spice (also known as Indian saffron) is a member of the ginger family that has strong antioxidant properties and has been well-researched for its cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Samantha Lynch, R.D., founder of Samantha Lynch Nutrition in New York City.

“Home remedies and uses date back thousands of years for relieving menstrual cramps, respiratory conditions, intestinal worms, liver obstruction, ulcers, and inflammation," says Lynch. "Local folklore says that the herb strengthens the immune system, relieves inflammation, and improves digestion, among other conditions.”

Yet, it’s the spice often overlooked on the kitchen rack when it should be the frontrunner. “I have been sneaking turmeric into our family meals for the past year without anyone noticing — I sprinkle it on fish, in spinach, and even on eggs in the morning,” says Lynch. Bring. It. On.



Umeboshi plums are thought to help reduce bloating and improve digesiton.

Considered by some as the king (or queen, for that matter) of "alkaline foods," these pickled plums are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and are actually more like an apricot than a plum.

Ume-plums offer a complex taste explosion — they are simultaneously very sour and salty. As for health pros: They may aid in digestion and help with bloating, and also contain some immunity-boosting properties — even possibly helping the liver in metabolizing fat. Their prime pairing is a bowl of steamed rice, or simply use them to create a paste or marinade by removing the fleshy party of the fruit from the seed, suggests Kumai.



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5 Reasons Retirees Should Be Flocking To Tennessee

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Tennessee landscape Bird MountainMost workers would probably rather retire in Naples than Nashville.

But maybe it's time to give Tennessee a chance. Nashville is shaping up to be the country's newest boomtown and Tennessee was just listed as the No. 1 state to retire in by Bankrate.com.

These days it seems like a new retirement list comes out every week, always with another state ranking supreme.

So we decided to chat with Chris Kahn, a research and statistics analyst for Bankrate, to find out exactly what sets Tennessee a cut above the rest.

A low cost of living:  Most of today's workers share a common retirement fear –– outliving their money. That's why cost of living is of the utmost importance when picking a place to live long-term. "You should not plan as if you're going on vacation," Kahn said. "You should plan as if you're going to be paying the bills for the next 10, 20 years." Bankrate found Tennessee's cost of living to be the second lowest in the country, just behind Oklahoma.

Taxes: Taxes are enemy no. 1 to retirees, since many will wind up living on a fixed income. Tennessee carries the third-lowest tax burden out of all 50 states and Washington D.C. The state is noted for having no income tax. But beware the 6% tax on interest and dividend income (capital gains are exempt). The state's sales tax rate is 7%State inheritance tax laws only allow tax-free transfers to a spouse.

Access to medical care: Even with Medicare benefits, a 65-year-old couple could need nearly $400,000 to cover out-of-pocket health care costs during retirement, according to research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. That means picking a retirement spot with affordable medical care is crucial. Tennesseans spend about $6,411 per capita on health care, below the national average of $6,815. Inpatient hospital care is about $1,462 a day versus the national average of $1,910, according to the Kaiser Foundation. 

Average temperature: Who wants to spend their golden years digging their car out of the snow and worrying about a Nor'easter?Tennessee is one of the sunnier states in the country. The state ranked 15th nationwide for its temperatures, meaning its weather is moderate most of the year, Kahn said.

Crime: Seniors are one of the most vulnerable age groups for crime, and unfortunately, prevention isn't Tennessee's strong suit. The state ranked No. 47 out of all states for the highest levels of property crime and violent crime per capita, Kahn said. "The crime rate is very high compared to the rest of the country," he said. However, as with all states, crime rates typically fall the farther a person moves away from metropolitan areas. 

The bottom line: Whether you're months or decades away from retiring, everyone's priorities for picking their final destination will vary, whether it's being close to a coastline or being close to family. 

"A lot of folks, when they're deciding where to go, they have their dream place — but it's not necessarily the cheapest or (the place) with the lowest taxes," Kahn said.  "It’s fine to keep having those dreams, but be sure to be informed before you go."

SEE ALSO: 13 money lies you should stop telling yourself by age 40 >

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American Airlines Threw A Party To Welcome A Crucial New Plane [PHOTOS]

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AA BOEING 773 DELIVERY FLIGHT

In November, 2011 just days before filing for bankruptcy, American Airlines became the first carrier in the United States to order the world’s most efficient and successful long-haul airliner, the Boeing 777-300ER.

On January 31, 2013, American inaugurated its first Boeing 777-300ER service with a flight between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was onboard this historic flight and my expectations were absolutely exceeded in nearly every way.

On April 24-25, American’s Boeing 777-300, the "new face" of the airline, had its official Grand Opening / Coming Out Party, with a two-day delivery flight event that we were fortunate enough to be invited on.

The location: the World’s “Mecca of Commercial Aviation” — Seattle, Washington.

Editor's Note: You can read more about Chris' tour of the 737 and 777 factory here, and about the aircraft delivery hereAmerican Airlines paid for Chris' hotel.

Boeing provided a breakfast under a party tent, complete with a DJ, making for a very festive mood.



Just before boarding began, there were group photo shots with two banners: one commemorating the delivery and one honoring a seriously ill “AA Rockstar”, DFW agent Angie Barakat, who was unable to make the flight.



Finally, everyone gathered for the big ribbon cutting on the red carpet and after the parade of hoopla, boarding for the appropriately numbered flight 9777 began.



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What The Figures In Abstract Paintings Would Look Like In Real Life

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Hungarian photographer Flóra Borsi is no stranger to manipulating photographs for her art, and now she's taking on master painters in her latest project The Real Life Models.

The 19-year-old emerging artist imagined what the exaggerated bodies in abstract and surrealist paintings would actually look like if they were real people.

She explains her project in her own words:

Nowadays almost every photographer use graphics software to complete the picture, like many painters used 'original version' in the past.

Some artists use pure imagination to paint their artwork, others may prefer to create art by using a real life model as reference for the anatomy.

What if these abstract models were real people?

Check out four of Borsi's imagined models from paintings by Picasso and Austrian painter Rudolf Hausner.

Flora Borsi abstract models

 

Flora Borsi abstract models

 

Flora Borsi abstract models

 

Flora Borsi abstract models

SEE ALSO: See What Happened When A Photographer Wrapped His Models' Faces In Scotch Tape

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The 23 Highest-Paid Media Executives In The World

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Bob IgerWho are the highest-paid people in media?

Naturally, Disney's Bob Iger, Comcast's Brian Roberts, and News Corps.' Rupert Murdoch are among the best paid, but none of them is the highest-paid executive of last year.

We've scoured through the top media companies' most recent SEC filings to compile a list of the highest-paid media executives of 2012. We only included people who earned at least $5 million in the past year.

One person took home a huge compensation package of $62.2 million.

Note: The SEC reports the top five paid executives of publicly traded U.S companies.

23. Jeffrey Katzenberg (DreamWorks Animation): $5.2 million

Base Salary: $365,386

Bonus: none

All other awards and compensation: $4.8 million

2011 salary: $4 million in stock awards (His base salary was $1)

This marks the first time Katzenberg has taken a salary in two years. 

Last year, the CEO donated $2 million to Obama's re-election campaign, making him one of Hollywood's largest contributors.

DreamWorks Animation posted an $83 million loss in its fourth quarter after the poor debut of holiday film, "Rise of the Guardians." This year, the studio is back on track with a box-office hit from "The Croods." The studio recently announced a sequel is in the works.

Notable properties owned: "Shrek," "Madagascar," "How to Train Your Dragon" franchises and Classic Media (consists of "Casper," "Rocky & Bullwinkle," and "Veggie Tales" among other titles)

(Source: SEC)



22. C. William Eccleshare (Clear Channel Communications): $5.4 million

Base Salary: $1 million

Bonus: $405,096

All other awards and compensation: $4 million

2011 salary: $3.1 million

Under Eccleshare's guidance as CEO, the largest radio station group owner in the U.S. invested in Ryan Seacrest's television and film production company to create new content last year.

Previously, Eccleshare served as Chairman and CEO of BBDO EMEA from 2005 to 2009.

Notable properties owned: 850 radio stations including Z100, K102, and 107.5 WGCI, iHeartRadio, Clear Channel Outdoor advertising, Clear Channel Entertainment, Premiere Networks, Katz Media Group, Total Traffic Network

(Source: SEC)



21. Jon Feltheimer (Lionsgate): $6.4 million

Base Salary: $1.2 million

Bonus: $5 million

All other awards and compensation: $215,669

2011 salary: $7.9 million

Feltheimer has been CEO since 2000 and worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment from 1991 to 1999.

Last year, Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment giving them the rights to the lucrative "The Hunger Games" franchise.

This year, Lionsgate sold half of TV Guide to CBS and its studio changed branding, ditching iconic gates for a space theme reflecting Universal's. 

Notable properties owned: Lionsgate Films, Madate Pictures, Roadside Attractions, Summit Entertainment, TV Guide Network, Epix, Celestial Tiger Entertainment

(Source: SEC)



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HOUSE OF THE DAY: Central Park Townhouse With An Indoor Pool Hits The Market For $37 Million

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central park west townhouse

A townhouse with an impressive history on NYC's Central Park West was just listed for $37 million.

Built by a developer in 1887, it's one of just a few townhouses left on the park. The six-level home belonged to Abigail Disney, a grandniece of Walt, before it sold to former Coach COO Keith Monda, according to Curbed.

Monda sold the home to an undisclosed buyer last year after it was listed for just over $22 million, and now it's back on the market.

The home has some impressive features, including 12,000 square feet of space, a glass-and-steel staircase, and a home gym with an indoor lap pool.

Sotheby's has the listing.

The townhouse is located on 85th Street and Central Park West.



It was built in 1887, but is completely modern inside.



The "parlor floor" has a double-height ceiling and a glass-and-steel staircase.



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Enter To Win A Kindle Fire From Business Insider

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ipadmini

We're giving you a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD.  Become a newsletter subscriber now to enter.  If you're the lucky winner you will have a host of features at your fingertips.  

Entry deadline is May 31.

As a newsletter subscriber, you'll get daily updates and alerts on topics that matter most to you. You must subscribe to at least one newsletter to be eligible, so if you haven't already, be sure to choose one or more before submitting your entry.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER >

On or after May 31, 2013, we'll announce the lucky winner.

You must be a legal resident of the U.S. and a newsletter subscriber to win.

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Lincoln's New MKZ Looks Nice, But It Has A Lot Of Flaws [PHOTOS]

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2013 Lincoln MKZ review

In December, Ford announced it was rebranding its luxury brand Lincoln, which is languishing in eighth place in the American luxury segment.

That plan involved a name change, a big marketing push, and the 2013 MKZ, the first of four new Lincoln cars Ford plans to debut over the next four years.

Lincoln has made some iconic, amazing cars in its day. It has made some truly terrible ones.

This MKZ is neither.

It's based on the Ford Fusion, with different bodywork. The Fusion is a great $21,000 car. But, even with a sexier body and luxury features, it is not a great $37,815 car.

The new MKZ is certainly a step forward for Lincoln, but it reveals how far the brand has to go to put itself on the level of the top luxury brands it hopes to compete with.

Read my full review, or click through for a photo tour of the 2013 MKZ.

We drove a very well-equipped, ruby red MKZ, with a total price tag of $51,185.



It's a great-looking car, especially from the outside.



Lincoln says it focused on simplicity, elegance, and newness in the 2013 MKZ. From this point of view, they did an excellent job.



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Here's What $5 Million Buys In Housing Markets Around America

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5 million house 4

We recently took a look at what $500,000 and $1 million buys in housing markets around the U.S.

Not too many people have $5 million to spend on a home, but we thought we'd see what kinds of mansions that amount of money would buy.

Our friends at Zillow helped us round up $5 million homes from coast to coast.

Marion, MA: $4.73 million will get you a five-bedroom, 6,500-square-foot waterfront estate with views of Buzzard's Bay, Bird Island, and Cape Cod.

Click here to see the home on Zillow.



Englewood, CO: $4.75 million buys a 9,000-square-foot home with six bedrooms, a pool, and a hot tub.

Click here to see the home on Zillow.



Bedford, NY: $4.85 million gets you a five-bedroom home of almost 10,000 square feet on a four-acre lot with a pool in a wooded setting.

Click here to see the home on Zillow.



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David Foster Wallace's Legendary Graduation Speech Is Now An Awesome Short Film

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Novelist David Foster Wallace gave a speech called "This Is Water" to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College.

The speech, which has become legendary, discusses how meaningless daily routines take over our lives and that we have to choose how we think, and what we pay attention to.

"This Is Water" is a brilliant speech and the short film by The Glossary brings it to life in a wonderful way. It's worth 10 minutes of your time today. You can also read a transcript of the speech below.

THIS IS WATER - By David Foster Wallace from The Glossary on Vimeo.

(Transcript via Marginalia.org)

(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon's graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.

Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."

It's easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people's two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy's interpretation is true and the other guy's is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person's most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don't worry that I'm getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being "well-adjusted", which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education -- least in my own case -- is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.

As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.

By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates' actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat out won't want to.

But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

"This is water."

"This is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

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Madonna Sells French Painting For $7 Million At Auction

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Madonna art sothebys

Madonna made a $3.8 million profit after she sold an art work titled “Three Women at the Red Table” by French artist Fernand Léger during a Sotheby's auction in New York on Tuesday.

The singer had originally purchased the 1921 painting for $3.4 million in 1990 and sold it for $7.2 million Tuesday to a South American bidder, reports the Wall Street Journal.

And she's donating 100% of the profits to her Ray of Light Foundation  supporting girls' education projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.

Before the auction, Madonna posed with the piece — which hung in her New York City apartment's living room for decades — and instagrammed a photo with the caption: "At Sotheby's next to my painting. Saying a Prayer for a generous collector Who loves Leger and the idea of empowering GIRLS! Thank you Sotheby's. Thank you Pierre!"

"Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!" Madonna wrote on her Facebook page after the auction.

SEE ALSO: What Madonna And Others Wore To The Met's Punk Gala >

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The Best Restaurants, Bars, And Clubs In Shanghai

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After four weeks of voting, Reddit users on the /r/shanghai page chose the best things to eat, drink, and do in Shanghai.

Over 800 people voted on 17 different categories, from the best Chinese restaurant to the best street food. Here are the winners:

  • Best Chinese Restaurant: Lost Heaven
  • Best Asian Restaurant: Kebabs on the Grille
  • Best Street Food: chuanr
  • Best Western Food: Jean Georges
  • Best Pizza: New York Style Pizza
  • Best Burger: NY Steak and Burger
  • Best Brunch: Mr. Pancake House
  • Best Bar: Kaiba Tap House
  • Best Dive Bar: Perry's
  • Best Cocktails: Senator Saloon
  • Best Value Food/Drink Deal: Kaiba Tap House
  • Best Night Club: Bar 88
  • Best Late Night Food: chuanr
  • Best Live Music Venue: Yuyintang
  • Best Coffee: Cafe del Vulcan
  • Best Weekend Destination: Moganshan
  • The r/Shanghai "Hidden Gem Award": Mr. X

See the infographic below for the full list of winners and runners-up:

Best of Shanghai

SEE ALSO: The 45 Best Restaurants In America >

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Inside Iron Man's $117 Million Malibu Mansion

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iron man mansion

It’s closing in on Summer Movie Season (yes, it’s capitalized). For the next several months movie studios will be throwing out their blockbusters, and personally this is my favorite time of the year to see movies. (I’m a sucker for big-budget popcorn flicks.)

One of the major tentpole movies coming out this summer is Iron Man 3. This is a big deal for a lot of people, including me. When I was younger I had a thing for robots. In my confused little brain, I somehow thought that Iron Man was a robot, not some dude in a tin suit. Either way, for a few months Iron Man was my favorite superhero. To this day, I still have some warm feelings about the guy, meaning I’m pumped for the movie.

In preparation for the next installment in the series, I rewatched the first two movies. One of the things that struck me was Iron Man’s house. It’s gorgeous, open, and a million more adjectives. This led me to ask: How much would Iron Man’s house cost?

After I crunched the numbers and battled the Internet, my best guess was about $117,250,000. To put this into perspective, Iron Man’s house is more than twice the price of Wayne Manor. You’ll never hear me say that Iron Man is better than Batman, but someone out there is going to put a checkmark in Tony Stark’s column.

How I Did It

You know this: I needed a size, location, and comparables in order to value Tony Stark’s palatial abode. Of these three things, all were somewhat difficult to come by, though they were definitely not as hard to source as in some of my previous projects. I’m still reeling from evaluating Howl’s Moving Castle and Hogwarts. In fact, compared to those two projects, evaluating Iron Man’s digs was easy.

I’ll start with what “Iron Man house” I picked and a location.

Where Does a Genius, Billionaire, Philanthropists Live?

tony stark mansion listingWhere has Iron Man lived over the years? That’s quite a question and the answer depends on what “Iron Man” you’re talking about. Iron Man started life in comic books, but because the movie is right around the corner, I decided to look at the home from the Iron Man movie series. What did I find? Iron Man’s huge, state-of-the-art home is located on California’s Point Dume, which is itself located in Malibu, CA.

While this information was great to find, there was a little problem. Point Dume—the cliff, at least—are protected. In other words, you can’t build a massive home on the cliffs of Point Dume. I’m sorry to break the news to you; I cried as well.

It turns out that during the lead-up to the first movie, production designers wanted to film in a home that resembled a John Lautner creation. The problem—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—was that the homes in the area weren’t fancy enough. They looked like they were owned by poor millionaires, opposed to billionaires.

Instead of using a real house, director John Favreau picked a cliff top and CGI-ed a fancy house onto it. The interior shots were filmed inside a sound stage.

In Evaluations, Size Matters

tony stark mansion

It’s typically pretty easy to figure out a way to put a square footage to a fictional house. Yes, some homes are easier than others, but it can be done with enough time and energy. The Iron Man house proved to be the exception. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a way to evaluate the home’s size. There aren’t models; there aren’t blueprints. It was a sad day indeed.

What this meant was that I needed to be a bit liberal in how I came up with an estimated size. I had several options at this point, none of which I was too excited about. I might have been putting a price tag to a fictional property, but darn it, I wanted that price to be as accurate as possible. My options were:

  • Find a home that inspired the Iron Man house
  • Make up a random number
  • Find the largest home in the area and assume Stark’s digs were at least as big

After looking into all of these, I decide to base the square footage on a home that partially inspired the fictional abode. I mentioned above that Iron Man’s home was base on John Lautner designs. I decided that Casa Marbisa (25,000 square feet) was a pretty good match. To be on the safe side, I searched for a Malibu home with a similar square footage. Earlier this year, billionaire Howard Marks sold his 20,000 square foot Malibu home. This led me to believe Casa Marbrisa was in the same ballpark, at least size-wise.

How Many Zeros?

iron man 3 house

As with similar posts, I had a couple of different means of figuring out the price of Iron Man’s badass abode. If you’ve read my previous evaluations, you know I do this by finding either comparable homes and their price per square foot or by looking at the average cost per square foot of all homes in an area. In this case, I looked at that Tony Malibu home that sold earlier this year. It sold for $75 million—the most any home was sold for in the area. This comes to $3,750 per square foot of property.

I thought this was a pretty good start, but ultimately pretty low. This led me to wonder how much a view is worth. I’ve read that an outstanding ocean view can add anywhere from 20 to 30 percent to a home’s value. Now, if the view Iron Man has isn’t exceptional, I don’t know what is. So, I added an additional 25 percent to the cost. This brought the price to about $4,690 per square foot.

Putting It Together

Armed with both our fictional home’s square footage and a price, I slapped them together using a handy concept known as “multiplication” to come up with a price point of $117,250,000.

This buys you just the house, and doesn’t include the insane amount of gadgets Stark has threaded through the structure. In fact, if I added in Jarvis—the artificial intelligence that runs the house—the price could easily increase by $150 million. My bet is it would be a lot more, as that price is how much it costs to develop current artificial intelligence programs like Siri—which are, obviously, far less advanced than Jarvis. But  this is moot since Stark would never leave Jarvis behind if he sold his pad.

Bonus Armor

If you do a quick search of the Internet, you’ll come across a rumor that surfaced a while back about a so-called “Iron Man house” that went on the market back in 2010 for $25 million. As far as I can tell, this was a case of the Internet being wrong. I know—how often does that happen? Photos associated with the rumor are said to be of The Razor Residence in La Jolla, CA. There’s also the little fact that The Razor is a only 11,000 square feet, and that’s just not enough room to house Stark and his toys.

SEE ALSO: Get caught up with the "Iron Man" series, here >

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A Year's Worth Of This Family's Garbage Can Fit In A Quart-Sized Jar

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Bea Johnson Zero Waste Home.PNG

Five years ago Bea Johnson and her husband and two sons were looking for a home closer to the restaurants, shops and school in their coastal California town.

During the year they spent house hunting, the family of four moved into a small apartment, took only the possessions that were absolutely necessary and left the rest in storage.

“After living with just the necessities, we realized that we had much more time to spend with our family when we weren’t spending it caring for a large house and lots of belongings,” says Johnson.

Then, when they did decide on a house, they chose one half the size of their previous home and simplified by selling most of their old stuff.

Around that time, Johnson and her husband began investigating environmental issues. “We read books, watched documentaries, and what we learned worried us and made us sad for our kids’ futures,” she says. “So we decided to do something about it. My husband quit his job to start a sustainability consulting company, and I tackled greening our house.”

It was then that Johnson devised a system to reduce the family’s garbage—she calls it the Zero Waste Home. She started by swapping everything disposable in their home (paper towels, water bottles, grocery bags) for reusables.

Today, she says, her family’s yearly waste can fit in a quart-size jar.

She spoke with us about how to get started, her zero-waste strategies and the one sustainable habit she’s just not down with.

LearnVest: Was there something you read or saw that you modeled your Zero Waste Home after?

Johnson: No. Actually, there were no blogs or really anything about being zero waste, so I had to test everything for myself—I did a lot of Googling. Today, the zero-waste lifestyle is easy for us—we don’t even think about it. But [when we were getting started], we had to experiment to find what our limitations were.

What are the basic tenets of the zero-waste lifestyle?

What we do is based on what we call “The Five R’s,” which should be applied in order.

1. Refuse whatever we do not need. For example: junk mail and freebies.

2. Reduce what we do need by donating or selling anything that isn’t absolutely necessary for us to live comfortably.

3. Reuse by buying secondhand, swapping disposable items for reusable items, and shopping with reusable packaging.

4. Recycle. By this point, if you’ve applied the first three R’s, you should be left with very little recycling. For example, what’s left in our recycling bin are bottles of wine that friends bring over and papers sent home from our sons’ school.

5. Rot. Compost anything that can be composted.

How did your sons react to the change in your lifestyle?

Our sons [ages 13 and 11] didn’t even know we were doing zero waste until we pointed it out to them. To them, what we do is totally normal. And, the kids have really enjoyed the simplicity aspect of the lifestyle. It clears their heads, keeps them focused, and they say it’s much easier to clean their rooms.

“When my husband compared bank statements from before our zero-waste lifestyle, he found we were saving 40% on annual household costs by living this way.”

What is your process for grocery shopping?

For my weekly grocery run, I bring what I call my shopping kit: three totes, five glass jars (one each for meat, fish, solid cheese, grated cheese and deli meat for the kids’ lunches), two different sizes of cloth bags for dried bulk goods and mesh bags for produce.

I buy olive oil, honey, peanut butter, cereal, snacks—almost everything—from the bulk section in our grocery store where the items are unpackaged. I buy grated cheese from the salad bar and, every week, I ask for ten baguettes unpackaged from the bakery. I put them in a pillowcase and then cut them in half, freeze them and then thaw them out as we need them. The produce section is also great for unpackaged foods. The only food that my family eats with disposable packaging is butter—that’s it. We tried making our own butter, but we found that it was not a sustainable option for us.

Do you have any tips for someone who’s just starting to shop this way?

It can be a little hard at first, because people tend to want to replace the brands they’re used to—for example, Oreo cookies—with a bulk alternative. But it’s best not to try to replace brands that you’re used to having but instead embrace the products that are available to you in the bulk section.

Do you explain to the salespeople why you’re using alternative packaging?

I’ve found that the easiest explanation is simply to tell them I don’t have a trashcan. Then they don’t question it.

Do you spend more money shopping this way?

No, we’ve found that it saves money. My husband was worried that buying reusables and shopping the bulk aisle of the health food store would be financially draining, but when he compared bank statements from when we hadn’t begun our zero waste lifestyle in 2005 to 2010, he found that we were saving 40% on annual household costs by living this way. He has been fully onboard ever since.

Wow, that’s great. And what about junk mail—how do you handle that?

We’ve pretty much eradicated junk mail, though we probably get like one piece a week now and even that’s frustrating. There are different ways of doing it, but the most important thing is to go to dmachoice.org and take your name off those mailing lists. Then go to optoutprescreen.com, which is for credit card offers, and then to catalogchoice.org for catalogs. And when you’re sent something, if it’s first class, you can write on it “return to sender.” If it’s third-class mail, you have to open it and contact them directly.

You mentioned finding your family’s limits—what are those?

I tried canning and have decided that it’s something I’ll do only once a year. I can tomatoes because I’ve found they’re the only nonseasonal produce that I miss in the winter. I’m all about keeping things as simple as possible, so I’m not going to can 20 different things.

Also, we tried to do zero recycling, which for us meant that we had to refuse bottles of wine from friends (we get our wine bottles refilled from a local winery), and we had to make [our own recycled] paper out of all the paper that was coming in from the kids’ school. But on rainy days in the winter, it’s really hard to get the paper to dry. And when you say no to your friends who bring wine, then you’re really restricting yourself.

I’m French, so I’m not going to say no to a glass of wine, and I don’t want anything to be socially restrictive. Life to me is all about sharing experiences and spending more time with friends and family. We found that the best balance for us is to continue doing some recycling rather than go to extremes that are not sustainable in the long run.

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The True Cost Of Living Like Jay Gatsby [Infographic]

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MyVoucherCodes, a UK coupon website, calculated how expensive it would be to live like Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby.

They took into account Gatsby's home, parties, servants, and even the cost of maintaining the vast estate described in "The Great Gatsby," and then translated that price to what it would cost today.

The total cost of living like Gatsby would be $34,320,880. The cost of fruit and champagne alone was estimated at $81,300, not to mention his planes, boats, and car.

You can read the full explanation of how MyVoucherCodes created the infographic at their website, and view it in full below.

Cost of Being the Great Gatsby Infographic

SEE ALSO: How To Live Like A Modern Day Great Gatsby

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