Earlier this year I finally fell down the rabbit hole that is Instagram Stories, and now I spend way too much time on Instagram. This week, the app started rolling out a new feature to combat Insta-addiction, a “Your Activity” tracker that shows you how much time you spend in the app, and lets you set limits to help reduce the number of hours you pour into scrolling you feed each day.
To find the new feature, launch the Instagram app, go to your profile page, and then tap the hamburger icon (the three lines stacked on top of each other) on the top right side of your screen. From there, tap “Your Activity” to launch the feature and tweak your settings.Screenshot: David Murphy
If you’re an avid Instagram user, you’ll want to brace yourself. You’ll first see a graph of how much time you’ve spent in the app over the past week, as well as an average for the week:Not bad!Screenshot: David Murphy
If that number is too high (it probably is), Instagram offers a few options to help you reduce it. Tap “Notification Settings” to customize which push notifications you want the app to send you, which can help prevent you from getting sucked into the ‘gram when you need to be working on something else. Tap the “Set Daily Reminder” option to get a special notification when you’ve surpassed a daily time limit you’ve set for yourself in the app.Screenshot: David Murphy
If you don’t see the “Your Activity” tracker on your Instagram app, make sure you’re running its latest version. It’s also possible that it hasn’t rolled out to you yet—I didn’t have it on my Android app, but my Lifehacker colleague had it on his iOS app, for example.
While you’re waiting, consider exploring the similar tool that Facebook (Instagram’s owner) has deployed within its social networking apps. Pull up your Settings menu in Facebook, scroll down, and you should see a “Your Time on Facebook” option that will give you the same information—and more customization—as Instagram’s activity tracker.
You can also use your iOS device’s Screen Time feature, or Android device’s Digital Wellbeing feature, to see how your Instagram (or Facebook) use tracks against the rest of your life on your smartphone. Perhaps you aren’t as addicted as you think?
Collecting video games is easy. All you have to do is create an eBay account and click “Buy It Now” on every video game you ever wanted. Congratulations, you have a video game collection! Your bank account balance is now negative a million dollars.
It’s collecting video games without going broke that’s hard.
In the first installment of this series, I gave some general tips for starting, maintaining, and building a game collection while getting the best deals you can and not spending money you don’t have to. For the follow-up entries, I’ll be going into detail about specific topics, starting with this question: What are the best places to find old video games, and, more importantly, how can you use those places most effectively?It’s not enough to tell you to go to garage sales, retro video game stores, or conventions. The real question is, what do you do once you get there? The games are out there, and these tips can give you a much better chance of being the one who finds them first.
Special tip: Since haggling over prices is something you can do in most situations where old games are concerned, I’ll add some Haggle Notes to each section.Photo: San Mateo County Libraries/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)Garage Sales: Always Ask!
Whether you call them garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, rummage sales, or something else, traveling to other people’s homes and buying their used stuff is a time-honored weekend tradition. These days, it’s easy to find sales thanks to Craigslist and GPS. But there’s also a lot more competition over video games.
If you see a Craigslist ad for a garage sale listing video games, you should be there right when it opens, right? Not necessarily. The cutthroat nature of competition these days means that if a posting specifically lists video games, one or more buyers is likely to contact the seller ahead of time, trying to buy the best stuff the night before the sale begins. Some buyers also show up hours before the sale opens, not caring if the listing says “no early birds.”
If you find that this keeps happening in your area (and if you’d rather not adopt these same cutthroat tactics), the best thing to do might be to just start ignoring any sale that advertises games, and going to the ones that do not instead. “But Chris,” you say, “those sales don’t have video games.” Oh, but they might. Most people who have garage sales don’t drag out every single item that they might be willing to sell. So whenever you go to any garage sale, ask, “Do you have any old video game stuff?”Okay, maybe that part is obvious. But what is less obvious is that if they say “no,” you need to follow this up with a list of specific brand names and items, which may actually jog their memory better than “video games.” Start running down the list: “Like, Nintendo, Atari, Sega Genesis, Game Boys, old computer games, PlayStation…”
I don’t know why this is the case, but I’ve often had someone who just said “no” to “do you have video games” then hear “Game Boy” and say, “Oh, Game Boy? Yeah, I have one, hold on.” The folks I know who regularly do garage sales say that most of the stuff they find is found this way. Always ask!
Haggle Notes: Garage sales are a great place to practice haggling. It’s assumed that you’ll be dickering over the price of any item, no matter how cheap. If it’s marked $10, offer $5. If it’s marked $10 and you’d only buy it if it was $2, offer $2. If there’s a box of games for a dollar each, you’re best off just quickly asking how much for the whole box, as sellers at garage sales are usually fine with volume discounts. However, if the item is already an amazing deal and you’re not likely to save significant money, like a copy of Earthbound for five bucks, just buy it rather than trying to save a dollar or two. Remember: it’s not yours until you’ve paid, and every extra second you spend haggling is time another buyer could start grabbing stuff off the table.Photo: Sandor Somkuti/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)Flea Markets: Get Up Early!
Known as “car boot sales” in some places, flea markets are where multiple sellers all bring their wares to a single place. More sellers means more opportunities to find games, but it also means more immediate competition. That means you’ll want to get there early and move fast.
If the sellers at your flea market start setting up at 6 a.m., that’s probably a great time to get there, if you can. The earlier, the better. Once you get there, make multiple passes through the flea market’s aisles:
Lap 1: Walk Fast. Briskly go through all the aisles, scanning for telltale signs of games at each table. If you see a video game dealer—someone who sells games at marked-up prices—feel free to cast a glance over their table to see what’s on offer, but don’t spend much time digging there or haggling until you’ve seen everything else. What you’re looking for are the big steals, the caches of games that are way too cheap. Those will disappear first.
Lap 2: Walk Slower, In The Opposite Direction. Go back to the beginning of the flea market and do another lap, but go the opposite direction down each aisle. Getting a different perspective on things might cause you to notice stuff you didn’t see the first time through. Walk more slowly this time. Stop at every table and take a closer look. Dig in boxes. Look for places where games might be hiding: Does that box of dollar DVD movies have a Smash Bros. Melee? Is there a Parasite Eve in that box of classical music CDs? This might also be a good time to delve deeper into the stores of the video game dealers, but I usually save that for…
Lap 3: Walk Even Slower. It’s the final countdown. Leave no stone unturned. You might even want to ask the sellers if they have game stuff. Even if they don’t, they might say that they’ll bring it next week. (You might ask them to hold it for you.) At this point, definitely look at all the stuff that the game dealers have, and ask them about pricing. Just because that copy of Mario 3 is absurdly priced at $30 doesn’t mean that everything at their booth will be too expensive. I’ve bought lots of stuff from the “expensive” dealers that everyone else avoids, and it’s usually more obscure stuff like PC games, imports, weird hardware, or other under-the-radar rares that they have a hard time finding buyers for at a flea market.
Haggle Notes: Haggling is just as acceptable at the flea market as at garage sales, although the vendors are more likely to be experienced negotiators in their own right. If you’re going to be going to the same flea market every week, you’ll probably start building up relationships with these sellers, so be nice and try to buy a few things from them to break the ice and show you’re serious. Bundling items up and asking for one price works here as well. The rule of “if it’s really cheap, just buy it and run” still applies. And if you can’t get to the flea market early, consider going late, when you’re more likely to be able to make a deal on something that’s sat there all day.Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)Thrift Stores And Pawn Shops: Form Relationships
These stores carry all manner of miscellaneous second-hand goods, so there’s always a chance you’ll find video games there. With competition being intense, though, they likely won’t last long. If you’re planning on going to the same thrift store over and over, chat up the folks who work there. Let them know you’re looking for games. Maybe they’ll tip you off to the fact that there’s another customer who comes in every morning and buys them all. Maybe they’ll walk into the back room and haul out a box of games that they hadn’t gotten around to putting out yet. Either way, just bringing up the subject is never a bad idea.
Haggle Notes: Straight-up asking for lower prices is probably going to be considered rude at a retail store. However, if an item has been sitting there for months at the same price and hasn’t sold, you might want to strike up a conversation to see if the clerk has the authority to lower the price to move it. They might also have the ability to reduce a price if the item is damaged.Photo: William Tung/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)Game Conventions: Dig, Dig, Dig
As I said in the introduction to this series, game conventions are the best place to buy games, whether it’s a big annual show or a more regular local gaming-focused buy/sell/trade event. Either way, learn and visit what’s in your area.
Once you get there, think of it like a big flea market. The first hour, after the doors open up, are when all the really, really good deals will still be on the vendors’ tables. Try to go a little quickly and get a sense of what’s out there on the tables or see if there’s anything you should snag immediately.
Concentrate less on the big professional vendors at this point and more on the collectors who use these conventions to offload their extra stuff. They’re more likely to have lower prices, but big vendors, like local game stores who set up booths at the convention, might have some deals as well. Often, these stores use conventions as a way of clearing out stuff that they don’t sell at their store: boxes, manuals, imports, magazines, computer games, toys, etc. If you don’t see it, ask!
Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land and scanned for huge deals, walk around more slowly and dig. There will probably be more bargains buried! Conventions are really a numbers game: There are so many video games there that you’re more likely to find a good deal.
Coming back for the second day of a convention can be a good opportunity as well. Sometimes sellers will bring more items for the second day, so check around for new bargains. When the convention enters its waning hours, try to strike a bargain for some stuff that’s been sitting there the whole show, especially if it’s bulky and you don’t think the seller will want to carry it home.
Haggle Notes: There are all different kinds of convention vendors. Some might be retail stores and therefore less likely to be able to do much of a discount. Some might be collectors who will happily knock a few bucks off the price of anything if it means making a sale, or give you a big discount on stuff if you bundle it all together. Conventions and buy/sell/trade events are generally considered places where it’s socially acceptable to haggle, so try it out.Photo: Ian Muttoo/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)Brick-And-Mortar Stores: Figure Out How They Operate
If you’re lucky enough to live near any stores that specialize in buying and selling classic video games, congratulations! These will surely be a boon to your collecting hobby. Any time you enter a game store, try to answer the question, “What kind of store is this?” Some stores are very locked-down or buttoned-up with their policies—they won’t go digging around in the back for you if you have a special request, or they won’t lower their sticker price at all. But other stores are more laid-back about haggling or selling you stuff that’s not out on the floor.
In general, stores tend to price and display the most popular stuff, which today means 1990s console games and hardware. But that store might also have things like loose game manuals, big-box PC games, magazines, oddball hardware, import games, or older Atari-era games sitting behind the counter. If you’re interested in buying that kind of stuff, ask about it.
Manuals are an excellent icebreaker slash litmus test. Every video game store on Earth has a giant box of game manuals in the back. Ask if they have manuals for sale. If they say “no” or “we don’t sell those separately,” there’s a pretty good chance they’re not going to bring out anything else for you either. But if they respond by bringing out a big box of instruction booklets, that opens the door to asking more questions—and you might also get some manuals you need!
If you’re on vacation or otherwise just going to hit that store once, you have one opportunity to ask if they have anything cool. But if you are going to be frequenting a store, try to build a long-term relationship and let them know what you want. I guarantee you that whatever the store is, they have people coming in looking to trade old PC games, magazines, or other things that the store cares less about. If you’re interested in that stuff, ask what happens when the store gets them. Maybe they could hold a box of stuff for you.
Haggle Notes: While haggling is an accepted, even expected, part of flea markets and conventions, that’s less true in a video game store. Of course, you should ask, especially if you’re proposing a discount on a bundle of games, a less desirable product, or damaged goods. If someone says they can’t alter prices, it’s rude to keep trying. Sometimes you’re dealing with the store’s owner, who has the ability to change prices around, but sometimes you’re talking to an employee who cannot.Photo: Stuart C. Wilson (Getty Images for eBay)eBay: Learn To Snipe
The mother of all marketplaces, eBay connects buyers and sellers from all over the world. It’s impossible to overstate what a benefit this has been to collectors. Anything you want is there, and the ferocious competition keeps prices in check. It can be the only place you’ll ever see that one elusive item you’re looking for, and it can also be a place to get amazing deals—if you know how to use it.
You probably already know that there are two major ways to sell something on eBay: auction or Buy It Now. Auctions can be where the rarest of the rare stuff goes for exorbitant, record-breaking prices. But more common games that are put up for auction will generally end at lower prices than Buy It Nows. The reason is simple: Auctions are a pain in the ass—you have to bid, you have to wait—and many buyers just don’t even bother with them, thus lowering demand.
With few exceptions, the only time you should be bidding on an auction is in the final three seconds. Right before the auction ends, put in the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. This is the best practice for multiple reasons. It stops people from seeing your bid and reacting to it, because they don’t have time to think about whether they want to go higher. It also stops you from being outbid by someone else, then getting “auction fever” and deciding to pay more than you wanted to. This does require you to be honest with yourself about the maximum you’re willing to pay for something—but that’s a very good skill to develop regardless.
If you won’t be in front of your computer when the item ends, that’s easily solvable by using a sniping service like Gixen. Input the item number and your maximum bid, and it’ll place it automatically for you. Set it and forget it, as Ron Popeil would say.
As for Buy It Now items: Every day, every minute, there are amazing deals being posted on eBay, items with BIN prices well under the going rate. You can set up saved eBay searches for whatever you’re looking for, then filter that search only to Buy It Now items, and then sort them by Newly Listed. Save that search and head over to eBay’s Feed page, and now you’ve got a constantly-updating flow of new auctions you can keep open in another browser tab while you’re doing whatever it is you do on the internet.
Of course, there are more online shopping sites that offer used video games than eBay. Many more, actually. How many of them you want to be constantly checking depends on how deep a rabbit hole you want to go down, as each one will have different tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of them.
Haggle Notes: eBay offers sellers the option to add a “Best Offer” feature to their items, which lets you send an offer to the seller for them to consider. Don’t assume that you know how low a seller will go! Some might only be willing to knock a few bucks off the price of a high-value item, but I’ve had many situations when a seller will take half price or even less. This has mostly happened with amateur sellers, or people who just flip stuff fast on eBay and aren’t experts in anything in particular.
Recently, eBay has started adding a “Make Offer” option onto auctions with zero bids. If the seller accepts your offer, the auction ends and you win. If you see a newly-listed auction with zero bids that doesn’t have a Make Offer option, you could try to write to the seller and ask if they’d be interested in adding a BIN option. Sometimes they write back and say yes—and now you’re the first one who knows they added it.In Conclusion
It’s not hard to know where to look for old video games, but it’s tricker to master when you should go to these places and what you should do once you’re there. Feel free to share your own strategies and tips in the comments—or just keep them to yourself. I get it.
We already know that exercise benefits your mental health, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. But if you want a workout that will make you feel really great, maybe what you need is to join a team.
There’s science behind this idea, but if you’ve ever worked out with a group, it also just makes sense. When I trained for a marathon with a coaching group, I knew that my buddies would be there at every Saturday long run. We’d grumble together through the hardest miles and then “like” each other’s Facebook posts about it afterward. The next year, I showed up but life had taken my friends in other directions. There was no longer anyone in the group who ran my same pace and also showed up consistently. I tried for a while, but I ended up dropping out.
There’s more to a team (or close-knit training group) than just encouraging you through a workout. When I played roller derby, I had no trouble hitting the gym on my own because I knew my teammates were counting on me. I also knew they were doing the same on their days away from practice, because we were all building this beautiful, unstoppable machine together.
Plus, it’s just nice to be around people who care about the same things you do, whether that’s your soccer team or your pottery class. We’re just happier when we have friends. One study published earlier this year found that:
The difference in mental health burden between individuals who participated in popular (team-based) sports versus those who do not exercise was approximately the same as the difference in mental health burden ... between individuals with a difference in household income of more than US$25,000.
So it turns out money can buy happiness. But a team or training group can give you that same benefit a lot cheaper.
Image: rawpixel on Unsplash
The holiday season is a time for family, friends, charity, and a tremendous amount of waste.
Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time during the year, according to the Stanford Recycling Center. That’s 25 million tons of garbage.
Obviously, much of that is terrible for the environment. And as we look for ways to reduce waste in order to help a dying planet, there’s much that can be done during the holiday season to mitigate our environmental footprint.Cut Back on the Gift Wrap and Bows
This might seem the most obvious, but it’s also one of the more important items on this list. Glossy wrapping paper, bows and ribbons are not recyclable, and mixing them into your recycling bin with paper and cardboard makes a mess of the recycling process.
If you can’t resist wrapping up your presents, USA Today recommends saving your bows for reuse (and trashing the ones that are truly unusable), buying plain wrapping paper (no glitter, metallic finish, etc.), which is recyclable, or reusable gift bags, and forgoing ribbon all together (unless you reuse it). Another thing to note: If your Christmas cards are decorated with glitter, embossed or printed on shiny photo paper, you can’t recycle them. One tip: You can tear the card to recycle at least a portion of it, per USA Today. Look for recyclable cards yourself, or send e-cards.Don’t Give the Gift of Plastic
So many items are wrapped in plastic, which we could all cut back on consuming. Rather than giving your child a new toy, for example, or your spouse a new kitchen utensil encased in plastic packaging, try self-contained gifts like a candle or book. And if you’re giving a gift card, opt for cash or a paper version instead of a plastic card.
One other thing to keep in mind: Batteries are an environmental scourge. Try to avoid buying presents that require them; if you do, gift rechargeable batteries with the present.Do Give the Gift of Experience/Service
Rather than buying another plastic toy, synthetic sweater or tech gadget, consider giving your loved ones and friends services and experiences. That could be a spa day, music lessons, an annual pass to a state park, a bike-share membership, a garden plot in a community garden, personalized coupons, etc. Maybe you can show your grandpa how to use FaceTime and schedule weekly calls, or Grandma how to download photos and albums onto her phone.Don’t Order From Amazon
Having things shipped from Amazon to your door is easy, but it’s also terrible for the environment. Reports BuzzFeed:
Expedited shipping means your packages may not be as consolidated as they could be, leading to more cars and trucks required to deliver them, and an increase in packaging waste, which researchers have found is adding more congestion to our cities, pollutants to our air, and cardboard to our landfills.
But if you do, try to make all of your purchases at one time and select frustration-free packaging if possible. Per the store’s site, “Amazon Certified Frustration-Free Packaging is recyclable and comes without excess packaging materials.” At the very least, opt out of two-day shipping (which means, yes, no last-minute shopping this year).Take a Reusable Bag to the Grocery Store
If you shop in-person this holiday season, take a few totes with you or a larger reusable bag to haul your gifts around, rather than the store’s paper or plastic. It’s a small tip, but will make a difference. If you do use the store’s paper bags, consider fashioning wrapping paper out of them.Recycle Your Cardboard
Chances are, you’re not going to go completely green this holiday season. And so one of the more important things you can do is recycle the cardboard boxes and wrapping paper you do use, rather than throwing it all in the trash. Cardboard, in particular, is actually one of the easier materials to recycle, assuming it makes it in your bin, broken down flat.
Photo: Claire Lower
May I confess something? I don’t enjoy baking. Maybe it’s because I have grown to dislike anything that even vaguely reminds me of my former life as a chemist, or maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but baking is not fun for me, and I avoid it whenever I can (and make A.A. Newton do it instead). I do, however, like eating sweets, and an icebox cake lets me combine my love of eating delicious desserts with my love of not doing very much.
If you also hate to measure, but love sugar, or are perhaps a literal child, the pumpkin icebox cake is the Thanksgiving dessert for you. It’s seasonal, it’s riffable, and it’s easy—some might even say “fun”—to assemble. Is it “just a pile of cookies and whipped cream?” Yes. Yes, it is. But you can’t honestly tell me that sounds bad.
Another thing I like about this cake is that you can decide exactly how pumpkin-y you want it to be. Just fold in tablespoons of pumpkin puree until you reach your desired level of seasonal squash flavor, and do the same with those complementary spices. You can also change the cookies if you want. I used Anna’s Ginger Thins, but graham crackers or those pumpkin spice Oreos would work, too. For what it’s worth, graham crackers make the most stable base, but even the ginger thins—which shatter if you whisper at them—will hold together if you give them enough time in the fridge. If you want to be really lazy, or want to make this more child-friendly, swap whipped cream for whipped topping. (It doesn’t need to be sweetened, and will keep its structure even if your kids get carried away when “gently” folding in the pumpkin.)Pumpkin Icebox CakeIngredients:2 pints of heavy whipping cream 1/4 cup powdered sugar1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin puree2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blendCookies, the amount of which will vary depending on the size and shape of your cake pan (I used two sleeves of ginger thins, which is about 60 Oreo-sized cookies.)Instructions:
Combine the cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer or immersion blender until soft peaks form. (I prefer the immersion blender in the this case, as it makes a denser whipped cream that keeps its structure a little better than the fluffier stuff.) Gently fold in some pumpkin puree, taste, and add more if you want to. Fold in the pumpkin spice.
Lay down your cookies in whatever shape you wish them to take. You can put them in a casserole dish, a pie pan, or just build them freeform on a plate. Scrape the whipped cream into a piping bag (or freezer bag with the tip snipped off) and pipe it out in an even layer, using an offset spatula to smooth it out. Lay down more cookies, repeat. If you like really thick layers of cream, you may only get a couple of layers; thinner layers will—obviously—require more cookies. Continue alternating cream and cookies until your cake has reached the height you wish it to, then pop the whole thing in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight, until the cookies have softened and the cake is sliceable. Just before serving, sprinkle on some more pumpkin spice, or let the kids decorate it with candy and sprinkles.
Everyone who fled the Camp Fire has a story about when they knew things were going to be very, very bad on that fateful Thursday that the flames tore through the town of Paradise and the surrounding region.
Jeremy Vesely’s came when the spot fire on the ridge above his newly-built home went from smokey to tree-engulfing flames in 30 minutes. For Rachel Aradia, it hit when she saw the panic on her coworkers’ faces as she walked into work at Sundance Art Glass.
Further south, Rebecca Gamette’s moment of reckoning came when she went to feed the donkeys at 6:30 a.m. on her and her husband’s Butte Valley property. The thick smell of smoke hung on the early morning air of like an unwelcome houseguest. When she saw the smoke plume hovering over Paradise 10 miles to the northeast, the place she had called home until 2008, it crystallized.
“We’re in trouble,” she told her husband.
These are the stories that will be recounted in bars and at church services, retold to children and grandchildren. They hold power because they’re a clear demarcation line of before and after the fire that basically wiped the 27,000-person town off the map. And they could be what keeps a community together as thousands of people who lost everything try to decide what comes next.
If Paradise the community still exists, the town that once was is gone. Until last week, it was a place like countless others across the West, sustained by a mix of retail, healthcare, and forestry as well as education courtesy of California State, Chico and Butte College in neighboring towns. The town featured a busy commercial strip that added a Starbucks last year, and a national forest just outside city limits. Paradise is considered part of the wildland-urban interface, the fastest growing type of land cover in the U.S.
The growth of that interface means more American than ever are living in harm’s way when fires explode, an increasingly common phenomenon as the climate warms. But even if Paradise is an Everytown USA in one sense, what’s happened there is also singularly horrific.
At least 7,860 structures have been lost, according to the latest estimate from Cal Fire. The number has and will continue to rise as firefighters assess the aftermath there and the damage to surrounding communities like Magalia. Already the most destructive and deadliest fire in California’s history, the Camp Fire will almost certainly be a multi-billion dollar disaster.
And the disaster area could be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Even those who still have houses will have a hard time going back if and when they’re allowed to. Roads are clogged with debris, power is out, and water is unsafe to drink.
Research shows that nearly half of all homes are rebuilt in the wake of wildfires within five years. It’s unclear if it’s typically community members or new developers doing the rebuilding. But the cost, emotional duress, and myriad challenges that crop up can create huge barriers. All with nothing remotely close to the scale and scope of the Camp Fire’s devastation in modern American history, all that research may now be out the window.
Vesely, whose house survived the flames even as some of his neighbors’ houses did not, is currently staying about 80 miles south of Paradise in Roseville. But he said he and his wife are considering buying a trailer so they can be mobile over the coming months—something afforded to him thanks to working remotely for a software development company—to freely visit neighbors, friends, and members of his church who have been displaced. In a time where the world has been turned upside down, those human bonds are crucial for staying sane.
“We saw them last night and it was an amazing stress reliever,” he said of his neighbors from Paradise. “The weight was lifted off just by seeing and talking with them.”
Ironically, he and his wife built their house to serve as a meeting place for church members, but now there’s no telling when they’ll be able to gather again. He said his pastor has been checking in with people on Facebook, and it’s possible that they could use Facebook Live to hold services and retain some semblance of community.
Gamette’s house also survived. Though she has water in the form of a year-round spring, electricity is still out at her property so she can’t access that water. Her plan is to head back with a generator in tow and live as best she can with that until power is restored. She knows her task is likely going to be easier than what her friends in Paradise face, though.
“I hope they’ll find a way to stay and organize,” she said. “There is a spirit there, but there aren’t many businesses left. I don’t know how people will support themselves in the meantime even trying to rebuild.”
In Chico, a town of 93,000 about 30 minutes down the road from Paradise, residents have welcomed survivors. The local food co-op gives out free soup and is handling shipments of food and supplies coming in from other co-ops around the state. The Chico Peace and Justice Center is collecting and distributing other items. Even a local tattoo shop is all-in on the support, distributing blankets and clothing to people who left Paradise with only the clothes on their backs.
But the crushing reality is that thousands of people are now homeless, including Paradise’s entire town council. The Walmart parking lot in Chico has become a tent city. And with up to 10 percent of the county’s housing stock wiped out and many Paradise residents facing the grinding process of insurance claims, it’s simply unclear whether those who want to stay close to home while they sort things out will even be able to.
Numerous businesses were also lost to the flames, meaning many are also jobless. Those competing pressures are enough that some are already considering leaving for good.
“The local area won’t have enough rentals and jobs to absorb those displaced,” said Aradia, who lost the home she was living in with her father. With her place of employment also wiped out and her father close to retirement, they’re planning to leave to be closer to family in Oregon.
Insurance could help some like Vesely, whose policy could help fund his trailer plan. But moving forward, insurance rates will remember the blaze. California requires insurers to cover policyholders while they’re rebuilding and at least one renewal, but after that, rates could spike. And while California has a program called the FAIR plan that insures high-risk individuals, those policies come with high premiums some may not be able to afford.
That opens the door to the prospect of speculators coming in and buying up property, turning Paradise into something it wasn’t.
“It does have this very small town feel to it,” Emily Teague, Gamette’s daughter who grew up in Paradise, told Earther. “A lot of people are worried developers will come in and make it ritzier.”
There’s also the uncomfortable question about whether Paradise even should be rebuilt at all. Like the coasts, the wildland-urban interface is becoming a risky place to live in our warming world. Make no mistake: The thousands of people who are homeless because of the Camp Fire are climate refugees. And with forests set to become more flammable, there could be more like them if we don’t take a hard look at how we choose to live.
It’s not like Paradise was unprepared. It created the Paradise Ridge Fire Safe Council in the wake the 2008 Humboldt Fire that destroyed 74 homes in town in an effort to prepare for the big one. The town had evacuations zones. When residents saw the Camp Fire was headed for town, many quickly cleared the ubiquitous pine needles from their roofs before dousing them with water and fleeing for their lives.
None of it mattered. And no amount of preparation will necessarily be enough to protect whatever becomes of Paradise in an era where fire season is year round long and major conflagrations are the new normal.
The residents in Paradise will have to confront the same thorny questions as their brethren in Mexico Beach, which was rocked by Hurricane Michael earlier this year. Frankly, there are no easy answers.
Solimo Household Essentials Sale | AmazonGraphic: Shep McAllister
Of the seemingly dozens of private label brands Amazon has launched this year, Solimo is probably the broadest. Encompassing everything from gummy vitamins to shampoo to coffee pods to razors, it aims to be your everything when it comes to home essentials.
For a limited time, Amazon’s offering discounts on dozens of different items, including their ultra-popular melatonin gummies, a big bottle olive oil, food storage bags, and a lot more. Like I said, it’s a really broad brand.
Some of the deals are straight discounts (usually 20%, as far as I can tell), and some require you to clip an on-page coupon. Some deals combine both, so you can stack the savings.
Image: Getty Images
Babies can be mystical, confusing little buggers. Just when they appear to have conquered the art of sleeping through the night, they’re up every other hour. They go ticking through the milestones fast and furious until all of a sudden, they’re regressing.
There are so many apps out there that seek to make parenting through the baby stages a little easier or more informed, but there is one app in particular that a couple of parents in our Offspring Facebook Group swear by: Wonder Weeks.
The Wonder Weeks app is derived from the book of the same name and it leans on decades of research to help understand the milestones (or “leaps”) of a baby’s mental development, what it means in terms of his fussiness level or sleep patterns—and how you can help stimulate his development to get through it.
The app can send notifications about leaps; you can even add leaps to your calendar so you know when they’re about to hit. It explains what’s happening in your baby’s brain when they start to smile for the first time, why their appetite drops off or why they suddenly become clingy.
“My daughter is on the 5th leap and it is such a quality, practical dose of information for each leap,” Miki says.
Another group member, Brendan, agrees: “It has helped not only when our weary minds needed an explanation for why our sweet baby had turned into a monster, but also whenever I got curious about his development.”
Image: Monica Silvestre/Pexels
Can you picture yourself up there on that stage, laying down some wisdom for the masses in a perfectly rehearsed presentation, a respectful audience listening in awe? Well, you have to get past the pitch first. Here’s how to get out of the slush pile, according to a TEDx producer.
Tricia Brouk wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about what she looks for when she goes through talk pitches. The first thing to know is that there are so, so many. And that’s not surprising; entire careers have been launched or transformed by a viral TEDx talk. Brouk has some specific things she’s looking for when it comes to offering this opportunity.Keep It Short
Learning to pitch is its own art form. Maybe you’re an excellent public speaker who can write a long, well-structured talk. However, you need to be able to present the basic importance of your idea in just a few words. Only 15, to be exact:
Start with the idea and why you are the right person to take the stage and deliver this big idea. While it must be a big idea, you need to be able to communicate it in 15 words or less. Organizers are busy, and they don’t have time to read through lengthy pitches. Share what the audience will take away, as well as the global impact of the talk. Don’t save the most important part of your pitch for the end; people may stop reading before they ever get to it, landing you in the “no” pile.
That’s very few words! It’s also an excellent exercise. How short can your idea get? How clear are you on what you’re trying to say? Hone the concept down. There will be space in the application process for you to expand, but the person reading these wants to know what they’re getting into ASAP.Don’t Try To Sell Anything
Except your idea. Many TEDx speakers are promoting not just their concept, but a book or coaching style or product. Producers don’t necessarily object to that, but if your pitch is clearly just centering on your need to sell something, it’s going to be rejected:
Seventy-five percent of the potential speakers who apply to my events, including TEDxLincolnSquare, The Speaker Salon, and currently Speakers Who Dare, end up pitching their business. That’s a lot of people who do not understand the art of a pitch, and who subsequently end up in the no pile.
If the thing you’re selling doesn’t have an edifying idea attached to it, maybe what you need to do is make a commercial.Watch a Bunch Of Talks
Brouk doesn’t say this exactly—she recommends you know the difference between a good and bad talk. Watching them seems like the best way to do this. You’ll not only see what made it through the screening process, you’ll identify what you like and don’t like about speakers. Different styles make speak to you, or you may realize that this form of idea sharing isn’t what you want to do at all. The side benefit is that you might also learn something new in your research.Practice
Watching isn’t enough. Let’s say you do make it through the pitch process; you definitely don’t want this to be your first speaking gig. Brouk suggests that people figure out if public speaking is even for them by trying to actually do it:
Public speaking is hard work. It’s time-consuming, and it’s emotionally and physically draining — especially if you are an introvert. But introverts can become engaging public speakers by flexing the muscle of being in public. Practice by going to events and coming out of the corner. If you have a speaking engagement, take extra time that day to sit quietly, meditate, and refuel. If you are an extrovert, be sure to save your voice before you take the stage — you can always socialize after your talk.
Good advice. If you are selling something, you definitely want to save some energy for after the applause.
Hi, I’m Nick, welcome to my YouTube tutorial channel. Here’s thirty seconds of excruciating introduction, two minutes showing you how to open an app, five minutes explaining an irrelevant task, and then five seconds of the actual tip you googled. Actually, we’ve got three tips: three ways to find the “real” part of a how-to video.Check the comments
This is obvious, but it also runs counter to the first rule of the internet: Never read the comments. The comments on tutorial videos, however, are unusually helpful; you’ll find someone else who was equally frustrated with this video, and who heroically summed up the point in one line.
If such a comment isn’t among the top three comments, stop reading and try the next step:Skim the transcript
Under the video, click the three dots, to the right of the thumbs-up/thumbs-down buttons. Select “Open transcript” from the drop-down menu. Skim through it, or ctrl-F for your keywords. Most of these transcripts are computer-generated, so they might be inaccurate. But you can still find the right section, click the line in the transcript, and you’ll go right to that point in the video.
Thanks to redditor FlyingKanga for that one.Watch at double speed
If you’re stuck watching the whole video, at least speed up the narrator. It might not actually shorten your search time, but it’ll feel less like you’re talking to the president of the Slow Talkers of America.
Hover over the video. Right under the progress bar, click the gear icon. Select “Speed” from the drop-up menu. Select “2.” Now you are a time lord.