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Louisiana happier than NYC?

I moved from New York to Louisiana, indefinitely, over 4 months ago.  I was working freelance for about 4 months here, temporarily before that (puts me at about 8-9 months in this sunny state).  Now if you know me, you know that I quickly and unexpectedly fell in love with New York city.  I lived in New York for 3 years and it really feels like my true home.  But why am I more productive here?  Why am I being told that I seem happier with my work and my time here?  Why do I have a more positive outlook here?  There are surely a LOT of factors involved, and I have some theories... but apparently a big fancy-pants scientific, economic, and psychological study has revealed that I moved from this  year's most UNHAPPY state to the MOST happy state:

Southern States Are the Happiest 6 of the Top 10 States in a Happiness Study Are in the South
Dec. 17, 2009 -- There may be something to be said for southern hospitality and sunshine. A new study shows that Southern states are the happiest while coastal rivals New York and California are at the bottom of the list.

Researchers ranked the happiest states (plus the District of Columbia) on self-reported measures of happiness as well as objective measures like sunshine, congestion, and housing affordability and found six out of the top 10 happiest states were in the South.

Louisiana topped the list, followed by Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona rounding out the top five.

New York ranked dead last at number 51 and California fared only slightly better at number 46.

"We have been asked a lot whether we expected that states like New York and California would do so badly in the happiness ranking," says researcher Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, in a news release. "Many people think these states would be marvelous places to live in. The problem is that if too many individuals think that way, they move into those states, and the resulting congestion and house prices make it a non-fulfilling prophecy."

In the study, published in Science, researchers took a different approach in ranking the happiest states. Rather than relying solely on surveys that ask people how happy they are or economists' measures of quality-of-life data, researchers decided to combine the two and compare how the states measured up.

They used information from a 2005-2008 nationwide life satisfaction survey of 1.3 million Americans and a 2003 study with objective happiness indicators for each state, such as how much rain and sunshine each state received, number of hazardous waste sites, commuting time, violent crime, air quality, spending on education and highways, and cost of living.

When they compared the tables side by side, they found a very close correlation between how happy people said they were and objective quality-of-life measures.

"We wanted to study whether people's feelings of satisfaction with their own lives are reliable, that is, whether they match up to reality -- of sunshine hours, congestion, air quality, etc -- in their own state. And they do match," says Oswald. "When human beings give you an answer on a numerical scale about how satisfied they are with their lives, it is best to pay attention. Their answers are reliable. This suggests that life-satisfaction survey data might be very useful for governments to use in the design of economic and social policies."
 

 
I know, I know... "poo on that, Joe... Us bitter awesome and badass New Yorkers can take on anything, especially those Republican redneck southerners, so whatever... we LIKE misery!"  Hey... I FEEL you.  I'm there.  It's a bit of a surprise to me as well, but it comes at a time when I can understand and sympathize with these results.  It is more of a personal (and frankly, coincidental) situation that makes me feel this way, but nonetheless I can't help but point it towards some other issues that are bothering me.

I heard on the radio this morning that the global summit on Climate Control in Copenhagen, Denmark is hitting some snags with China not going along with the restrictions and goals to limit carbon emission (to be set in part by President Obama), and will not agree to participate entirely.  The protests are becoming extreme and larger by the day.  It is immensely surprising to hear talk in New York, and an outlook that tries so hard (and even enforces laws) to keep a "green" city, whereas I hear opposite talk at times down here.  

I was recently at a favorite (for the town) lunch spot.  This place is PACKED every day at lunch and they must turn over 200 tables every day between 11:00 and 2:00.  This place still uses those old, BIG plastic cups that nearly everyone throws away.  They don't have recycling cans, they don't encourage customers to reuse or return the cups... I see literally POUNDS upon pounds of plastic thrown away at this place every day.  This sort of infuriates my girlfriend and I... and on top of it all I overheard comments about "once you start proving that the earth is getting warmer, then you can start taxing my emissions (or something to that effect).  It was supremely frustrating, and that brought me to another news article I heard on the radio, talking about how Psychologists are studying the effect on a person's mental well-being as a result of the threat of Global Climate change...  I also then thought of the fact that Louisiana still has "parishes" not "counties"... Suffice to say, the 'progressive' movement down here is not as predominant as it is in New York, however is that ultimately important?  To be so concerned as to be unhappy?  Most people I know down here are Progressive Democrats or newly independent (politically), and fairly progressive or liberal.  We have a film center that supports all lifestyles and even hosted a gay and lesbian film festival.  We have an art gallery that hosts worldwide artists and pieces, including graffiti and tattoo art.  The Hollywood scene is still blossoming, and we have more and more artists, musicians and filmmakers in town.

Ithink it is in a stage of evolution and progression that is still not so "furrowed at the brow" as New York is, and that could explain a lot of the happiness. My mind was just racing today as I heard/ read these articles.  It's an interesting set of concepts... just thinking on my keyboard here... your thoughts?

Julian Casablancas

So the guy from the Strokes put out a solo album titled "Phrazes for the Young" and it is amazing.  It hits a new-wave indi-rock mixed stride that I've been waiting for but didn't know.  Check it out, it's bitchin.


Superdrag is back

Dude... these guys rocked me when I was 17, they rocked when I was 22, and they have a new album. They are rocking me now. Check them out - SUPERDRAG.com




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Golf

I'm increasingly both satisfied by and obsessed with golf as of late.  I am having a blast playing with my buddy Russell, and we both had one eagle today (he on a par 5 and I on a short par 4).  I know it's both impractical and too late for me to make anything serious of golf, but there is a gratification that one receives when they do well and enjoy it.  Maybe it's a door for a new social circle?  I don't like those golf assholes that hang around the clubhouse or work there... usually.  But I have some great friends that can be weekend warrior hacks with me, and I'd love to keep it up.

It's just an expensive hobby.  But the exercise, fresh air, and enjoyment are a great balance.  I guess after a certain point I figured I'd be all ART and nothing else... but these hobbies don't die, and I am having fun.

Whatever Works


This movie is playing at the Robinson Film Center here in Shreveport for a few more days.  So Woody Allen hires Larry David to basically portray a character like him (big surprise), and there is a love interest with a  younger woman (yeah...), an attraction to a neurotic older man (okay... I see where it's going), and yada-yada-yada.  I expected this movie to be the be-all end-all of annoying and stressful argumentative dialogue, and I was willing to see how it rubbed me.


First off, I'm a big fan of Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I went in hoping to like it.  I thought I'd most-likely enjoy the movie on some level.  The first ten minutes had me guessing about how it would go, but once a few more characters were introduced, I really loved the film.  The stress of George Costanza and Larry David is there, in a weird *(reinvented) way, but it doesn't bother me.

I can see how some would find this to be motive to jump off a bridge or rip your ears off.  The guy is annoying... let's face it, he likes to argue and pick apart every little annoying thing about other human beings... but I accept that and can see his vision.  It's sick, yes... but at least I'm being honest here.

I don't have the energy to expound right now, but tomorrow or sometime this week, I'll post my little recent tirade and episode of an encounter with a less-than-helpful person while apartment hunting.  It is this sort of thing that makes me appreciate the energy put towards understanding (even if stressful) the human condition through whimsy comedy.

If you can see this movie in your area, I recommend giving it a try.  You just might get pleasantly annoyed.
 


Ms. Her

I am getting tired of not holding her, not seeing her, not hearing her bitch about her day.  I'm excited to see her, hold her, hear her bitch about her day.  Excited to drive down here with her, put up with her stress, and drunken rants.  I miss her.  I'll see her soon.

Inspiration Quotes and Car Dealers

I'm really sick of inspirational quotes left on twitter.  I know, I know, "quit bitching about something as stupid as twitter."  You're right, and I am very self-aware (see my avatar up top?), but when someone who is marketing themselves indirectly through the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, or Chuck Jones, or Cookie Monster, or whatever, I get annoyed, because you could just as well be giving advice of your own, when asked.  I mean sure, they are meaningful words, and they apply on an individual basis for some of the potential readers.  But frankly I'd rather hear what you had for breakfast or what projects you are working on.  Give me advice on getting an agent or lawyer that won't screw me over, or how to mix the greatest palette you've found to date.  But don't tell me something that is an obvious marketing ploy by asking vague questions and giving vague quotes. 

I mean, to anyone who is experienced at all, it's clearly a marketing angle.  "Let's say inspirational things that others said, and it will make you think and feel good, so you'll come buy our product."  Okay, that's somewhat fair, but if you're going to make quotes, MAKE SOME DAMN QUOTES.  Give me a nugget of YOUR wisdom, not some feigned humility based on what not-a-president, but a president's WIFE said decades ago, that didn't even relate to what you're pawning!  I mean really, why do I care what Henry Ford said when he had a headache (actually, that may be more interesting).

This 'riddle me this, riddle me that' way of garnishing intrigue is just a big turn-off for me.  But hey, it's all fair game, so go ahead if you wish.  I'm just gonna see through it... it's not personal... it's just... meh.

Now to the real topic (that was just a little bitch-fest on my part):

I was recently car shopping, as I no longer have the fragrant homeless-infested subways of the NYC MTA to whisk me to my designations, and I was considering three similar models, unexpectedly, after some deliberation, shopping, price and availability research, and other variables.  It's not what I expected, but after a week of reading, shopping and calling friends, this is what I landed upon:



Now the Mazda 3 hatchback (far right) was my first choice, but it (A) burned more gas and (B) cost at least 25% more.  Along with the '09 Vibe (center), it is a 'year-old-new' car, which tend to give you a little more room on the price... or so you'd think.

In my research, I stumbled upon some great review websites, ratings, reliability, pricing, local deals, dealer incentives, appraisal websites, and eventually several great in-depth car buying articles.  Some as detailed as you can imagine, and others from an undercover reporter getting jobs at dealerships to find out the 'truth' behind those prices and sales tactics.  I really (and I must stress REALLY) did some homework on this and felt well-prepared to take on any situation, with my honest-as-usual approach.

I was up-front and honest with them, without giving away too much.  First, I visited the used carlots at major dealerships in the area, relying on the ones with the good reputations first.  I didnt' commit to anything, just told them I wanted to test out a couple cars I saw advertised on cars.com and didn't have time to talk numbers, other than spitting out at the end what I'm willing to pay, and I'd "get back to them."  Most of the salesmen seemed nice enough at this point, but I later learn that as per most peoples' predictions, this is complete bullshit.

Now I may be a silly, bitter seer of the human condition, and its biggest critic... but I am an honest man, first and foremost, and I try to be optimistic as MUCH as I can.  This means I see the good in people, even if I come across as cynical.  Some of my best friends have even criticized me (constructively), saying I see the good even in evil people, if I spend enough time with them (not true, but you get the gist).  So I go after a task like car shopping with optimism and honesty, expecting it to be reciprocated, at least on some level.

What did I find?  Those cliche's about car salesmen and saleswomen are true.  I had a woman try to SHUSH her sales manager (she's the owner, BTW) when he suggested another car in my price range... a car that should have been MORE than the one she was pushing on me, simply because she thought I was interested in this one and too stupid to pick up on it.  "I don't know where you get your numbers from, but maybe you missed something... this car is invoiced at over $19,000."  Uh, okay.  Sure it is.  And you're just 'losing money on this' just to 'see me happy with the car I want.'  Sure.  That's how business works, because I have an idiot hat on and pair of gullible pants.  If I was born yesterday, I'd still see through your bullshit.

So I go to the Pontiac dealer to look at the new Vibe (Toyota engine, great reviews... I'll give the failing line of GM a try).  This salesmen was a 20 year old good-ole southern boy, a breath of fresh air.  I mentioned what I WILL pay, first thing.  I make it clear I'm not paying more, and I get a "well, we can come very close to that, I'm sure... you see we can instantly take off 3 grand with our incentives and rebates being offered right now."  

Great, so instantly we're close to my price range.

Yeah...

2 test drives and a week later, we sit down to talk numbers and he comes out 4.5 grand above what I want to pay.  Really?  Really, the incentives are now $500 less and you just found out that this model is $500 more than sticker?  Really, the pontiacs are th hot line right now?  Really?  Sure.

The only consolation in this deal is that I went across the street to test drive a little '07 Toyota Matrix, mentioned my price, and returned a few days later.  I told the guy I had 20 minutes and just wanted to talk rough figures to see if we're on the same page, because I'm sick of getting lied to.  I tell him, he hits me back with $400 over, including a $300 radio modification.  I tell him if he throws it in, it's a deal... 5 minutes later, we're scheduling the pickup.

Lesson?  Car dealers and salespeople SUCK and LIE.  Except for a few.  Shop at Yokem Toyota if you're in the Shreveport area, and avoid Moffitt Mazda.  I know this lesson is stupid, but I had to end this somehow, and simply saying "I friggin' hate people sometimes, because I'm too optimistically honest" would have been pretty weak.  O well.  They're both weak.  But I got the Toyota and I'm happy.  Suck it, Mazda.

Living away, liking work, missing home

Kinda lame, but I like it here.  There are great people that aren't pissy, aren't lame, aren't too busy, but aren't clingy.  I get immersed in my work and find that I have just enough time to still need more free time.  So what's to complain about?  It works out well, except for the fact that Danielle is not around yet.  I miss her a lot and I can't wait to get our house together here.  I know we'll have tons of fun and really make the best of it from every angle  (especially for our careers/professions).

I'd love to say that I miss New York, but I am finding more and more that I just miss the poeple.  Yeah, NYC is cool... yeah, there's more to do... and I REALLY miss Brian, Doreen, Brendan, Rina, Dan, Tara, Ed, Heather, Lauri, Soo, M, Jenny, David, Tristan, etc... but when it comes down to it, I get into the work and the place is secondary.  I really just want good friends, and that always leads to missing them when you go elsewhere.  Will we go back?  maybe.  Will we try CA?  maybe.  We'll see.  We could have an incredible quality of life here, and we have to give it a shot.

I can't wait for Danielle's birthday.  She's gonna love it, and that makes me happy.  Her friend(s) will visit and we'll have too much fun.  I just hope she doesn't get TOO plastered.  Hangovers aren't as fun as their move counterparts.

Back to work now.

On the LJ.

I've finally logged in and have a place to be an asshole in an honest open way-- though that's not really too different than any given day-- I'll surely update infrequently and strangely enough.



Posted by ShoZu