Saturday, August 11, 2018

Getting internet domain in Nepali will be possible ‘soon’

Kathmandu, August 12

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit corporation with the responsibility for Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) management worldwide, says it is planning to support domain names in numerous scripts used for regional languages.

The list of proposed scripts also includes Devnagari, in which Nepali language is written.

“Work is on for nine Indian scripts – Bengali, Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu. These scripts are expected to cover many different local languages,” ICANN India head Samiran Gupta has been quoted in a Press Trust of India report.

Of them, the proposals for six scripts – Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Oriya and Telugu – are already released for public comment, according to the corporation.

The Neo-Brahmi Generation Panel, consisting of more than 60 technical experts and linguists from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Singapore, is working for these scripts.

It has been estimated that there are 4.2 billion internet users globally as of today, and it is expected to rise to 5 billion by 2022.

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Industries to face load shedding for two hours everyday till Thursday

Kathmandu, August 12

Nepal Electricity Authority says factories and industries in the country are likely to face a regular power outage of two hours everyday till coming Thursday.

The state-run energy distribution authority says the Authority power lines may be cut off to the industries as transmission of 100 megawatt power being imported from India will be interrupted from 9 am Monday to 6 pm on Thursday.

The Authority’s spokesperson Prabal Adhikari says the factories may have to suffer the load shedding in next four evenings.

Meanwhile, the construction of 220 KV substation in Dhalkebar of Dhanusha district has just been over, according to Adhikari. Earlier, a 132 KV substation was in operation there.

Adhikari claims the upgrading will allow the Authority to import 150 megawatt more electricity. It capacity will be extended to 400 megawatt by the next year.

It means Nepal can import power upto 1,000 megawatt after that.

Nepal has been currently importing 500 megawatt power from the southern neighbour.

The amount of import, however, fluctuates as per the change in season.

Meanwhile, the Authority has clarified that domestic users will not have to face load shedding again.


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Dating violence ‘common’ in Kathmandu, says a survey

Yuwalaya, a youth-led organisation working with youth and adolescents of Nepal, has called on stakeholders to pay attention to dating violence as it has been found common in many of dating relationships among Nepali youth and adolescents.

Revealing its survey report on the occasion of International Youth Day, on Sunday, the organisation says, “Dating violence is excessively present in the Nepali society, especially in the urban setting, but very rarely seen and discussed by stakeholders including sociologists and anthropologists, NGO workers, rights activists, youth campaigners, and people in dating relationships themselves.”

“For the promotion of violence-free and healthy relationships, the issue has to be discussed by the stakeholders and understood by the participants of dating relationships. This research is a preliminary effort to sensitise people about the issue.”

According to the organisation, a survey it conducted in March 2018 about dating violence is the first organised attempt to study the issue in Nepal.

Major findings of the survey are:

  • Almost half of youth and adolescents involved in dating relationships have experienced irritation by their partners when they are with their friends and families.
  • The most common form of physical violence in dating has been found to be verbal insult (around 20 per cent) following by expressing anger by throwing physical things and pushing each other.
  • Whereas over half of people involved in dating relationships do not want to speak if they face any form of sexual violence by their partners, more than 15 per cent have reported that they are forced to perform sexual acts including kissing by their partners.

The survey was conducted with the prime objective of identifying various forms of violence in dating relationship, conducted a survey among 155 adolescents and youth, including 85 girls and 70 boys, selected through a convenience sampling in Kathmandu Valley in March 2018.

Both boys and girls are used to victimising their partners and falling prey to multiple forms of dating violence. Whereas most forms of social and cultural relations in Nepal are apparently patriarchal, set up and controlled by men who tend to keep women in a lower position; dating relations as they exist in Nepal has a different trend.

The survey dealt with three specific aspects of dating violence: psychological violence, physical violence, and sexual violence.

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The Meg Movie Review: Jason Statham takes on a prehistoric shark

Jason Statham movies are normally a good watch. After dealing with a number of bad guys in his previous films, Statham, in The Meg, takes on a 70-foot shark out to chomp on everything. Although the movie is a bit over the top, the logic-defying sequences make the movie a fun watch.

The movie revolves around the story of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), the world’s best deep-sea rescue diver. After a rescue attempt goes sour, Taylor decides not to return to the sea. His claims that the ship, during the mission, was attacked by a mysterious creature are dismissed by doctors who call him crazy.

Five years on, while chilling in Thailand, he is approached by an old colleague, Mac (Cliff Curtis) and, Mac’s new boss, Zhang (Winston Chao) to go explore the unexplored seabed. Meanwhile, exploring this new world, a submarine is hit by something and leaves those on board are crippled. The rescue window is open for about 18 hours.

Reluctant to head into the waters again, Taylor finally decides to go after he discovers that his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is on board the sub. The movie then takes a dramatic turn when a portal is opened through which huge sharks, hitherto ‘extinct’, are unleashed.

The first half of the movie is gripping. It takes us deep into the ocean onto the world of marine biology. The story keeps the audience hooked with its thrills and spills and the occasional spine-tingling sensation evoked when biggest of the sharks called ‘Megladon’ (The Meg) sets loose in the open waters. The half ends on a scary note as Statham is inches away from being the Meg’s snack.

The second half, however, is a quite a drag. But the thrill remains as the protagonists try to kill the giant shark. The climax is poor as the director and the writer don’t have a proper plan to end the film. It is quite chaotic and this ruins the way the movie plays out.

Statham as Jason Taylor is good with his badass attitude which comes off extremely heroic–especially when he rescues Suyin (Bingbing LI) from a shark cage while the 70-foot beast is lurking around. His ‘just keep swimming’ scene in which he takes on the Meg with a harpoon is quite good too. His role does look two dimensional but he’s done justice to his role.

Bingbing Li as Suyin also delivers a mature performance as a fellow diver and a scientist. Her calm nature is total opposite to Statham’s heroic carefree attitude. Her chemistry with Statham is good along with her daughter Shuya Sophia Cai who is also calm.

Rainn Wilson as a billionaire marine biologist and Cliff Curtis as his aide are quite good even though their role is a bit subdued in the film along with various other who get eaten by the meg.

The story, inspired by a novel, has a different storyline from the book. The story is weak which makes part of the movie a drag. It has originality but its logic-defying sequences are, at times, hard to swallow. Some movies can get away with it but The Meg, with some ‘illogical’ scenes, makes one wonder what the directors were thinking.

The sound, music and cinematography are flawless. The CGI is just as good as it makes the shark look real and dangerous. The underwater scenes, including the one that features the giant squid, is quite a watch. Overall, the movie is average.

Run Time: 115 minutes
Director: Jon Turtletaub
Genre: Action
Cast: Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, Bingbing Li

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Friday, August 10, 2018

What Value Are You Really Getting?

The other day, Sarah and I were coming home from visiting some friends in another state. Typically on a road trip, we plan ahead a little and pack sandwiches and beverages for a meal on the road or in a park or something because it’s really inexpensive and filling and easy to do on the road. This time, however, we were empty-handed and also trying to hurry to get home, so we didn’t have the time to stop at a grocery store and get items for sandwiches and assemble them.

So, when we stopped for gas, we were right next to a fast food restaurant, so we drove right over into that parking lot and got into the drive-thru. It was a Taco Bell.

As I looked at the menu, just before we were about to order, I found myself wondering what kind of value I was getting here. What am I exchanging my hard earned money for?

Obviously, I’m hungry and I’m a little thirsty, too, and I’m pinched for time. Those are needs.

I wouldn’t mind something tasty that meets my cravings. Ideally, it’s easy to clean up if we’re eating in the car. Those are wants.

But what I’m not initially considering are other factors.

I want to have something healthy. I want to feel full enough so that I’m not hungry until after we’re home, but at the same time I don’t want to overstuff myself with calories. I want something that’s likely to be prepared in a sanitary fashion so I don’t get sick.

For all of that, I want to spend very little money.

Is any of that really addressed by that fast food menu?

To keep the cost low, a good approach is to order water as my beverage. That will quench my thirst better than pretty much anything else.

What can I eat that’s healthy and relatively inexpensive on this menu? I wasn’t sure, so I fired off a quick Google search and ended up ordering a bean burrito with some extra sauce packets. Total cost for me? Less than $2.

It checked off a lot of boxes. It was (comparatively) healthy. It sated my hunger. It tasted reasonably good. The water took care of my thirst. It kept the cost low.

The thing is, if I hadn’t thought through what I really wanted out of that meal, I would likely have spent between $5 and $10 on food that would have been a lot less healthy. It was that process of stepping back and asking what value I’m really getting that changed my order.

I got far more value out of my $1.50 bean burrito and my glass of water than I would have from $8 in food and beverages that I could have ordered. Both sate my hunger and thirst and both tasted reasonably good, but one was far less expensive, easier to clean up, and healthier.

The thing is, a surprising amount of the money we spend is on things that have extremely fleeting value, whereas the things that provide real value are usually much less expensive.

For example, a bowl of oatmeal and a hard boiled egg fills me up in the morning and is healthy and reasonably tasty for a fraction of a dollar. On the other hand, I could have two breakfast burritos, which would also fill me up and be perhaps even a little more tasty (a fleeting thing), but it would overload me on calories and cost a lot more.

Another: I could go buy some board game that seems amazing, costing me $40 or so, or I could play a game that’s already on my shelf. Sure, the new game would give me a burst of fun in the short term as I enjoy unpacking a game and reading the rules, but soon it becomes just another option on my shelf, of which I have many. One more option doesn’t make a great game night, so why add one more at a cost of $40?

The key in all of the stories is the straightforward question of what value am I really getting out of this expense? What is it that I’m getting in addition to what I already have, or what the least expensive option is?

Then, consider just that additional value in comparison to what you already have. Is what you’re getting beyond a single dollar menu item and a cup of water worth the extra $5? Is the new addition to your media collection worth the price compared to the value you can get from just watching what you already have access to?

What value are you really getting? And is it worth it to you?

The thing is, this is a great question to ask whenever you’re making a purchase, but the real power comes from making this your default approach. For me, I think it is my default approach in most situations, but not always. The more my normal routine is shaken up, the more likely it is that I don’t think in these terms.

So, how does one make it their default? How did I make it my default way of thinking in most situations, and how do I continue to move in that direction?

First of all, I think through these kinds of ordinary decisions in my spare time. I’ll literally walk through spending decisions like these in my mind when I’m waiting for my kids after soccer practice or taking a shower or driving somewhere. When they get really sticky, I’ll write about these kinds of decisions in my journal and work through the details with care.

I work through recently-made decisions and figure out if I made the right choice or not. I work through decisions that I know are coming up in my life.

The more you do this kind of critical thinking of your own choices, the more likely it is that you’ll end up making a great choice when similar choices appear in the future.

I don’t restrict this process to just spending decisions. Rather, I use it to try to improve all of the decisions I make and actions I take in life. It’s a really powerful process for self-improvement.

Second, I know what my values are and refine those values fairly often. This often overlaps with the above thinking process. If there’s something that I feel like I shouldn’t care so much about or that I should care about more, it’s usually because there’s some underlying value that I can feel but I don’t really understand. Digging around and rooting out that value and really understanding it makes it easier to make good decisions in everyday life.

For example, one of my big recent projects has been finding low cost and healthy foods, figuring out how to prepare them in a way that I really enjoy and then finding ways to get as many of them as possible in my diet. Oatmeal is a prime example – how can I make that as appealing to me as possible so that I’m cool with eating it most mornings?

I know that I value eating healthy, more than I used to when I was younger. I also value eating inexpensively. Yet, I don’t really like a plain bowl of oatmeal, which checks both of those boxes. Why not? What’s missing in that equation? Obviously, I value food having some protein content and being at least somewhat palatable to me, so how do I make oatmeal palatable enough so that I’ll eat it frequently? Pairing it with a hardboiled egg works, as does adding some fruit to it and letting it soak overnight in almond milk, which still adds up to a breakfast less than $1.

Finally, I experiment constantly until I find something that seems unequivocally good. After I make a choice, I’ll look back on it and ask myself whether it was an unquestionable win. If I can’t honestly say that it was, then I know the decision has room for improvement and that new approaches are worth trying.

That means I go back to the drawing board. Is there a more cost-efficient way of doing this? Is there a healthier way to eat that’s still satisfying? Did I get what I wanted out of this purchase? Did I have a good social interaction? Did I make a good professional move?

I try to come up with a better way of approaching things until I feel very happy with the results, and then I try to hammer that down as my “default” way of handling that type of situation and move on to other things.

In the end, I am of the belief that a well considered life is a better life, and that’s how I express it. The time and effort you spend sharpening your axe is time and effort that almost always pays for itself, provided you keep testing the axe and actually use it when it’s sufficiently sharp.

Always consider what value you’re getting out of a particular situation and whether the money, time, health, and effort you’re spending beyond the minimum to cover your needs is actually worth what you’re giving up by using that money, time, health, and effort in that way.

What value are you really getting?

The post What Value Are You Really Getting? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Doctors to get five year jail term if their negligence kills patient

Kathmandu, August 10

The new criminal code that comes into effect from August 17 has it that medical doctors will get a jail term upto five years if their negligence is proved to have caused the death of any patient.

The new provision tries to address increasing vandalism and attack on doctors and hospitals after patients die during treatment.

According to the new law, if investigations prove that negligence and recklessness of health professionals result in death of any patient, the doctors will be imprisoned for upto five years and fined upto Rs 50,0000.

Doctors will also face action if their wrong treatment results in any injury or serious illness.

Further, if doctors carry out treatment on patients with mala fide intent and the patients die, the health workers will be imprisoned for life. Likewise, they will be imprisoned for upto 10 years and fined upto Rs 100,000 if such treatment results in injury.

The law has it that those selling expired medicines will get a jail sentence upto one year and a fine upto Rs 10,000.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Bhaktapur Kidnapping: Home minister defends officers involved in ‘encounter’

Bhaktapur, August 10

Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has defended police officials involved in the killing of two men allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a boy in Bhaktapur.

Talking to mediapersons in Bharatpur, Minister Thapa, who had earlier said a probe would be commissioned to look into the case, said reportes about the ‘fake encounter’ were untrue. “Police opened fire on Nishan Khadka’s kidnappers in an encounter,” said Thapa.

Thapa also praised the police officials in the case for solving it within 24 hours.

Thapa, on Thursday, had told Parliament’s State Affairs and Good Governance Committee that an investigation would be launched into the case. But hours after he made the statement, the minister says he has already reached the conclusion that the killing was part of an ‘encounter’ and not pre-meditated murder.

According to a source, SSP Dhiraj Singh, Metropolitan Crime Investigation Bureau, met Minister Thapa on Thursday to discuss the case and convinced Thapa the two men were killed in a real encounter.

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Bangladesh enters Nepal hydropower industry with energy cooperation pact

Kathmandu, August 10

Amidst competitions between India and China to invest in Nepal’s hydropower industry, Bangladesh is officially entering the sector with a memorandum of understanding between the two governments.

Nepal and Bangladesh are signing the MoU on energy cooperation at a special function in Kathmandu on Friday.

Bangladeshi Minister of State for Energy, Nasrul Hamid, is already in Kathmandu to sign the agreement.

Before signing the agreement, minister-led delegations representing the two governments will hold a bilateral meeting. The meeting has been scheduled for 11 am in Kathmandu. Nepal will be represented by Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun.

For last few years, the governments had engaged in a discussion to establish cooperation in the energy sector.

“Bangladesh is ready to purchase power or make investments or work together in whatever way possible,” Joint Secretary at the Ministry Dinesh Ghimire says, “The memorandum of understanding will include these issues. We are excited about the agreement.”

The two countries will also agree to exchange cooperation in the renewable energy sector and support each other for capacity building of personnel, according to Ghimire.

Bilateral mechanisms will be established at various levels to implement the agreement by holding regular meetings. Currently, Nepal has such mechanisms to talk to India in the energy cooperation sector.

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The Wisdom of Frugality – Final Thoughts

wisdom of frugalityThis is the last entry in an eight part weekly series that provides a detailed look at the book The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott. If you’re new to the series, feel free to hop back to the first entry.

Let’s start off by recapping the other seven entries in this series.

What Is Simplicity? starts off by asking what is meant by “simplicity” in terms of how people live their lives and comes up with a number of meanings: economic prudence, living cheaply, being close to nature, being content with simple pleasures, asceticism (i.e., moral or religious reasons), physical or spiritual purity, living by a fixed routine, and aesthetic simplicity (such as a spartan apartment).

Why Simple Living Is Supposed to Improve Us digs into the idea that simplicity is supposed to make our lives better, offering four key reasons: it’s inherently good and fosters other virtues, it encourages happiness and well being, it can be beautiful, and it is in accordance with divine will. Westacott deals with each of those four reasons in depth here.

Why Simple Living Is Thought to Make Us Happier digs into the connection between happiness and simple living and offers nine reasons for that connection: it promotes virtue, it encourages working less, it provides all we need for happiness, it promotes serenity through detachment, it prepares one for hardships, it enhances capacity for pleasure, it fosters self-sufficiency and independence, it keeps one close to nature, and it promotes good health.

Why the Philosophy of Frugality Is a Hard Sell addresses the question indirectly posed in the previous chapter: if frugal living has such benefits, why don’t more people practice it? The big reason is that, although frugal living offers a bunch of benefits, it also has a bunch of drawbacks: it can lead to obsessive focus on savings, avoiding loss can turn into avoiding pleasure, it can make people uncharitable, and it can lead to a stagnant and boring life. At the same time, wealth and affluence have a great deal of appeal in very different dimensions of life.

The Pros and Cons of Extravagance takes the opposite angle and looks at the benefits and drawbacks of an affluent and extravagant life. A lifestyle of unaffordable extravagance is mostly criticized here (for good reason), but the ins and outs of extravagant living within one’s means (you earn a good income but spend well above what’s needed to merely meet your needs) are looked at carefully from both sides, in the end concluding that there’s a healthy balance to strike that’s different for everyone.

The Philosophy of Frugality in a Modern Economy takes on a common question about frugality: if everyone were frugal, wouldn’t that destroy the modern service-based economy? The counterargument given here is that the economy would likely stumble in the short term, but eventually the free market and the government would reorient themselves with solutions. Westacott offers a few potential ideas, including shorter workweeks and a slower pace of technological growth (allowing society to catch up and develop sensible societal practices around things like, say, social media).

The Environmentalist Case for Simple Living takes on the idea that simple living is great for the environment. While the two do have some strong overlap, the reality is that environmentalism and frugality, in the end, have different goals, and both sides are likely to adopt tactics (organic local foods, shopping for discounts, and so on) that the other side doesn’t value or even runs in opposition to the goals of the other side. Environmentalists and simple living types can and should share tactics, but they do diverge in many tactics and overall strategy.

As I read through this book and considered it through the lens of my own life and experiences and learning, I found myself coming to six distinct conclusions.

My Reasons for Being Frugal Are Only Somewhat Money Related

This is perhaps my biggest personal takeaway from The Wisdom of Frugality. Although my reasons for starting down a more frugal path were oriented heavily around finances, that’s only part of the reason that frugality has stuck firmly in my life.

One aspect of frugality that’s incredibly important to me is that it’s peaceful. I don’t feel stressed for money. I don’t worry that they won’t take my card at the grocery store because it’s maxed out or that I won’t have the cash in my checking account to buy food. I don’t really worry about money much at all at this point. I get a bit of personal pleasure and peacefulness out of finding the best “bang for the buck” for my money. I enjoy that sense of peace.

Another non-financial aspect of frugality that really clicks with me is that I’ve come to really value a more fixed routine in my life. Frugality and a fixed routine in life tend to go hand in hand. Earlier in my life, I didn’t schedule my time nearly as much and I found myself often stressed out and uncertain as to what I should be doing, and that often caused me to just throw money at problems that arose because of that stress and that unstructured life. My adoption of frugality and adoption of a more ordered and fixed routine in my life have gone hand in hand and have made my life much more peaceful.

That doesn’t mean that I avoid spontaneity, but more that an “ordinary day” for me is pretty structured, and that structure enables me to move forward on the things I care most about every single day.

Being Frugal Helps Make Me a Better Person in Other Aspects of Life

The practice of being frugal with my money, in the sense that I’m always looking for value for my dollar, has gradually led me to see out a similar sensibility with other resources I have in my life. My time. My energy. My focus. My physical health. My relationships. My skills.

In each of those areas, I have come to recognize that I need to invest some of myself in order to find the success that I want, but also that there is great value in figuring out how to get the most value out of those things. Sometimes, that can even mean applying more effort or time than I was doing before and simply doing it in a different way, such as in building strong social relationships.

What this has really come down to, more than anything, is figuring out what I actually value in life and what I need to do to achieve and acquire those things efficiently. For example, frugality is about acquiring things I need (or strongly want) with as much financial efficiency as possible. It’s not just frugality, though – many other practices are a part of my life because they’re about achieving or acquiring things I desire. I want more free time, so I tinker around with time management. I want a healthier body, so I experiment with diet and exercise. In each case, I’m working to figure out efficient and effective ways to get what I want out of life.

This even extends into areas that you might not really expect, like building and maintaining friendships. If I genuinely want more friendships, what do I need to do to build them effectively and efficiently? If I genuinely want to keep older friendships strong, what do I need to do to maintain them effectively and efficiently? Figuring out those tactics has made me into a more social person and a better friend to others – or at least closer to the type of person I want to meet in public and the type of person I’d want as a friend.

The first step is identifying a goal. The second step is figuring out how to get there as efficiently as possible. That’s a big part of frugality for me, and that principle has spread to most other areas of my life.

Frugality Allows Me to Be Extravagant in a Few Areas of My Life That I Care Deeply About

What I’ve found is that by being really frugal in the areas of my life that are less important to me, I can afford to spend more freely in areas that are really important to me.

Having money to occasionally travel with my family and with my wife is very important to me, so I put aside money to make sure it happens. My hobbies are very important to me, so I have a monthly hobby budget.

Things that aren’t important to me include having a new car every few years (we drive ours until a large number of mechanical problems pop up), having a huge home, having a refurbished kitchen with granite countertops, eating out constantly (I can make great food at home), having cable television, using name brand items for our household supplies and basic food staples, and so on. Not having those things really doesn’t bother me at all, so I don’t have those things. I simply don’t spend money on them if at all possible.

This is exactly the type of frugality that Westacott talks about in the chapter on extravagance. As Westacott points out, selective extravagance adds a great deal of joy and pleasure to life. It’s when that selective extravagance grows into extremes and invades areas of life that we don’t care as much about that it becomes a problem.

For me, those boundaries are set up by budgeting and by automatic transfers and bill pay. Most of our monthly financial moves are done almost automatically so that we know we’re heading towards our various goals and we know what money is set aside for the things we care about, like family vacations and hobbies and such.

I Am Not a Frugal “Absolutist”

I do not feel as though I have to be frugal in every single aspect of my life. During the periods in my life where I’ve done so for an extended period of time, I’ve found myself frustrated with the entire concept and usually ended up swinging back too far in the opposite direction, spending money with some recklessness.

Every single person out there is going to have a different set of values and a different set of things that are genuinely important to them. To me, frugality is about figuring out what those things are and then cutting back in other areas of life so that those things you truly care about are well supported.

That’s the “personal” part of personal finance. It’s a little different for everyone. I don’t expect you to care deeply about the same things I care deeply about. I don’t expect you to spend on the things I spend money on, or cut back on every single thing I cut back on.

Rather, you should be seeking out the things that are important to you and then seek out ways to live a simpler life with regards to all of those things you don’t care as much about, so that the things you do care about are well supported.

That means that some of the frugal tactics I write about are going to be fairly meaningless for you, and there are areas of life where you want to cut back where I don’t necessarily have a lot of experience because that cuts into an area that’s deeply meaningful for me and it’s not something that I actively cut into.

No one should be frugal in every aspect of their life. There is no aspect of life where everyone must be frugal. It’s all personal, and it comes down to figuring out what we each individually care about and then using tactics to maximize the support of those areas and minimize the expense of other areas.

A Big Part of My Reason for Writing About Frugality Is To Pierce the Veil of Frugality Being a Hard Sell

One of my main purposes of writing The Simple Dollar is to tear down the idea that frugality is some sort of burden to be worn as some kind of penance for overspending. Many people see frugality as a flavor of misery and thus, as Westacott points out, it can be a very hard sell.

I write because, to me, being frugal is simply a normal part of my life. It doesn’t make my life miserable. It doesn’t make my life weird. It makes my life better, every single day. It alleviates a lot of my financial worries without taking anything away from me that I care about, and it leaves me living a perfectly normal life.

It’s that normal life that I want to write about and share, so that people who read the site will gradually stop associating frugality with misery or with other negative traits and will perhaps start trying things on their own and realize for themselves that frugality is actually the opposite of misery.

Yes, figuring things out is sometimes a bit messy and difficult, and sometimes I do stumble into areas where I cut back too much. That’s part of life’s journey. On the whole, it’s not even close – I’d far rather be frugal as I am and enjoy all that it has brought into my life than be a big spender like I once was and be held down by the huge drawbacks of that lifestyle. I’ll take the “no worries” life that frugality gives me over the stress of financial problems any day of the week.

I Tend to Choose “Frugal” Over “Green,” Though I Highly Value Both

The last chapter in this book, where Westacott considers the overlaps and contradictions between simple living and environmentalism, helped me to really address that same overlap in my own life.

While I highly value “green” living and I especially value strategies that keep costs low in my life while also keeping my environmental footprint low, I’ve found that in the end I’m more likely to make the “frugal” choice than the “green” choice when they come into conflict with each other. This isn’t always true, but it’s true often enough that it’s a pretty sound general statement for me.

For example, I won’t invest some money and a lot of time into fixing up some old item just to bring it to a point of mediocre use. Instead, I’ll just go find a well-priced replacement for that item. Sure, I’ll probably look for it secondhand, but I think I’m far less interested in repairing broken down things than someone who would call themselves “green.” I tend to think that this kind of “green” appeals more to people with abundant time on their hands.

Another example: I don’t really obsess over buying certain produce just because it’s “organic” and “local.” Sure, given all things being equal, I’ll choose the local item or the organic item, but organic and local items don’t necessarily solve sustainability problems, either. In this regard, I don’t find easy answers like simply buying things that are labeled “organic” or “local” to be a compelling solution because there’s usually more to the story.

In the end, I think I need the “green” choice to be a very clear win, more so than I demand from the “frugal” choice. However, I’m usually glad when things overlap between the two.

Final Thoughts

Almost every page in The Wisdom of Frugality left me considering some aspect of why I am frugal and, to a smaller extent, why other people might choose to be frugal.

There’s always the obvious answer – “it saves money!” – but there really is more to it than that. The simple justification of saving fifty cents thanks to a frugal choice often isn’t enough to make that choice sustainably. It really has to come from the values you have in your life and relating those values to the decisions that you make. When that happens, the “choice” to save fifty cents by buying a store brand becomes much less of a “choice” and more of just a completely natural way of doing things.

In the end, the real lesson of this book is that frugality works best when you know what’s truly important to you and you’ve figured out how frugality works in accordance with those values. How does frugality support the things you truly care about? Does frugality let down things that you care about? When you start seeing patterns like that, frugality that’s really in line with your core values starts becoming a very wise choice.

If you’re interested in digging into these areas, you’re going to find a lot of value in The Wisdom of Frugality. If you’re just looking for a list of frugal tactics, you won’t find it here, but if you want to understand why people choose a frugal lifestyle on a deeper level beyond saving five dollars on this week’s grocery bill, this is a wonderful and thought provoking read.

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When Whole Life Insurance Doesn’t Last Your Whole Life

When you see the term “permanent life insurance,” does that lead you to believe that it will cover you for your entire life? That’s an honest mistake, but a potentially costly one.

“Permanent life insurance,” as Tamara Holmes at InsuranceQuotes points out, is an umbrella term for insurance that covers you for a long period of time. Unlike term life insurance, which only covers a fixed period of 20 to 30 years or so, permanent life insurance comes in several tiers.

Whole life insurance policies require policyholders to pay a set premium, but pays out a fixed amount if you die. Variable life insurance invests your premium and pays a benefit based on how the market performs. Universal life insurance, meanwhile, lets you adjust payments as needed, but also adjusts the death benefit accordingly.

However, some of those options have a maturity date, where they simply pay out the cash value to the policyholder. The Texas Department of Insurance points out that many of those policies reach their maturity date when the policyholder turns 95 or 100. At that point, the death benefit is paid out in cash and comes with significant tax consequences.

It’s an increasingly plausible scenario: Eight percent of women who are currently age 45 can expect to live to 100, according to a MarketWatch analysis of Social Security Administration actuarial data.

“After years of paying premiums for a policy you expect to remain in place until your death, you may lose the benefit of passing wealth to your heirs tax-free,” says certified financial planner Shomari Hearn with Palisades Hudson Financial Group. “Sometimes you won’t even get full value from your policy.”

A life insurance death benefit is typically exempt from federal taxation if it’s less than $5 million. If your policy matures, however, not only will your beneficiaries not receive the benefit, but the portion of the payout that exceeds the premiums paid will be taxed as ordinary income, according to Hearn.

In the case of a whole-life policy, the cash value will equal the death benefit plus accumulated interest, if any. Unfortunately, if you opt for variable life or a variable universal life to get a lower premium, you might be in for a surprise. “If investment results are poor, the cash value at maturity may be considerably less than the promised death benefit,” Hearn says.

Fortunately, there are ways to fix this issue. Hearn notes that if you’ve purchased your policy within the last 15 years or so, the maturity age is likely 120. Still, since age 100 was the default for many years prior to that, it pays to check the terms of your policy. Some older policies mature at 95 or 96.

If you’re stuck with an older policy and an early maturity date, you can ask your insurer for a “maturity extension rider” to extend the policy’s maturity age to 120. There may be a fee for the rider ($5 to $10 a month), but be aware that not all insurers offer it. Generally, though, the death benefit of a policy with an extension rider is the cash value of the policy at the original maturity date plus accumulated interest, without additional premiums.

“If the insurer grants the rider, you may be able to avoid a taxable event, and your beneficiaries will receive the policy’s benefits upon your death as originally planned,” Hearn says.

But even that may not prevent a tax hit. The Internal Revenue Service may rule that you still owe tax at the policy’s original maturity date under the principle of “constructive receipt.” Even if you don’t take the lump-sum payout, the IRS may have questions. Hearn notes that insurers are fighting the IRS on this, since the outcome is still unclear.

“However, it’s still worthwhile because a maturity rider will secure the policy’s death benefit for your beneficiaries,” Hearn says.

Unfortunately, Hearn says even obtaining that rider may be difficult for those who choose universal life over whole life insurance. Even those with a whole life policy have to hope the insurer will cooperate. If they won’t budge, you may be able to buy a replacement policy with the now-standard age 120 maturity. This is much easier to do when you’re healthy and younger than 70 than when you’re older and sicker.

Another option, a Section 1035 exchange, allows you to swap an old policy for a new one without incurring a taxable gain. As long as the owner and insured are the same on the old and new contracts, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“Make sure you obtain the replacement policy before surrendering your existing policy to avoid being left without coverage,” Hearn says.

Finally, if you can’t or don’t want to make an exchange and the maturity date is coming up, the best bad option on the table involves converting the policy into an annuity. This spreads out the tax liability over several years instead of having it all crash down on you in one year. A portion of each annuity payment is taxable, Hearn says.

“As more people live to celebrate their 100th birthdays, a firmer answer on how the IRS and insurers will handle policies with too-short maturation dates should eventually arrive, Hearn says. “In the meantime, policyholders need to take proactive steps if they wish to capture the full value of their ‘permanent’ insurance policies.”

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Test operation begins along Janakpur-Jaynagar broad gauge

Kathmandu, August 9

Nepal and India have jointly launched a test operation of Janakpur-Jaynagar broad gauge.

In the first phase, the test operation was conducted along an eight km stretch from Jaynagar to Khajuri, but it will be extended further, according to Prakash Bhakta Upadhyaya, spokesperson at the Department of Railways.

Recently, the task of laying tracks had been over along the route.

Nepal plans to begin the commercial operation of the railway from this December. For this, the two governments have already agreed that Nepal will rent coaches and human resources from India.

Upadhyaya says necessary technical human resources will be outsourced for next one and half years until when Nepali personnel train. The outsourced personnel will be mobilised in the training of local staff here.


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Nepal imported mobile phones worth Rs 25 billion in one year

Kathmandu, August 9

In the last fiscal year, Nepal imported mobile phones worth Rs 25 billion, according to the Department of Customs.

The Department says total monetary value of all mobile sets imported in the fiscal year 2017/18 is Rs 24.87 billion. The amount was Rs 22.66 million the previous.

During one year, Nepal imported 6.223 million sets. It is 268,000 more than the number recorded in the previous year. There were 5.955 mobile sets imported in the year 2016/17.

Analyses reveal that Nepali consumers are getting attracted to more expensive mobile sets over the passage of time. Most people have mobile phones in the price range of Rs 10,000-Rs 30,000. Most popular brands include Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Gionee, Colors, Micromax, Xiaomi, LG, Apple, Sony, ZTE, Coolpad and CG.

China has been the biggest exporter for mobile phones in Nepal. It supplied 5.413 million mobile sets worth Rs 19.72 billion.

Vietnam and India are in the second and third positions of the list.

Nepal imported 510,000 mobile sets worth Rs 4.72 billion from Vietnam and 295,000 sets worth Rs 388.6 million from India.

Nepal also imports mobile phones from the United States and Korea among others.

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Revisiting the Last Little Bit in the Container

Tubes of toothpaste. Bottles of shampoo. Soap dispensers. All of these things are easy to use at first when they’re full, but eventually they empty out, leaving just a bit of the soap or paste inside.

This isn’t just in our imaginations, either. Most packaged liquids and pastes tend to leave a little behind in the bottle or the tube:

In order to determine how much product does not come out, Consumer Reports conducted tests. A total of 22 products were tested, including glass cleaners, lotions, liquid detergents, and toothpaste. The tests found out that lotions were the hardest to empty, and pump bottles leave 20 percent of the lotion behind. Glass cleaners delivered most of the product. Plastic squeeze tubes can trap 10 percent of the toothpaste.

Last fall, Consumer Reports conducted similar tests on skin lotions, liquid detergents, condiments, and toothpaste. Testers emptied a product “in the usual way,” and waited a couple of days for the remains to settle. Then they “pumped, poured, squeezed, shook, and tapped as much as any frugal but rational consumer might.” Lastly, the testers weighed what was left inside. The results revealed that skin lotions left the most product, about one-fifth of their total contents. Toothpaste left one to 13 percent behind. Colgate and Crest brands were used in the tests.

Everyone seems to have a strategy for getting the last little bit out of the container.

For toothpaste tubes, for example, I’ve seen people roll the tube up carefully from the end, pressing down with every turn. There are even “keys” – little metal devices that help with this process by “turning” over the tube as you use it up. I’ve run toothpaste tubes over the edge of a countertop in order to get a few more uses out of the tube.

With things like shampoo, it’s a common strategy to add a little water to the bottle. Shaking it around with the water in there can produce enough “shampoo” to get another wash or two before the bottle is officially empty. I’ve seen bottles turned upside down (with the lid on) in order to cause all of the remaining shampoo or conditioner or body wash to drip down to the part of the container where the cap is, just to get one or two more washings out of the bottle.

My favorite trick? I take the cap off of the old shampoo bottle and tip it up so that it dumps into the capless top of the new shampoo bottle for 24 hours or so, until my next shower when I discard the old fully empty bottle.

Are these tactics really worth our time? It can be useful to squeeze another use out of these items when you forgot to pick up more at the store, but is it actually much of a money-saving tactic for the time invested?

Years ago, I concluded that it’s only worthwhile to do this if it’s trivially easy and takes no extra time or effort. If you’re spending 30 seconds getting just one more use out of that tube of toothpaste, you’re probably only gaining a few cents for that time and effort, and that’s not worth it. However, if it’s something trivially simple, like sitting your shampoo bottle upside down, then it’s worthwhile to use that tactic to get another use out of the bottle.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few additional tactics that help solve this problem.

First, focus on using the actual recommended amount of whatever it is you’re using and the last little bit becomes a little less relevant. With toothpaste, you’re generally supposed to just use a pea-sized amount, but the commercials show huge amounts being used and that’s often the pattern we follow in our own use. Similarly, things like dishwashing detergent and shampoo and body wash flow so freely that it’s easy to use far more than you should.

My solution is to use a dispenser that dispenses the right amount easily. Whenever I come across a good pump dispenser, I put it to use for things like shampoo and dish soap. I use wide mouth dollar store dispensers for both of those things. Whenever I buy a new bottle of shampoo from the store (for example), I turn it upside down on the dispenser, leaving it sit upside down on top of the container to get every last bit out. Then, with a pump container, I don’t run the risk of using far too much shampoo or dish soap. I just get a single pump and use it and then only get a second if the first doesn’t provide enough. This causes me to get far more out of the package.

If using the right amount of a particular item rather than too much of a particular item means that you cut the amount you use in half each time, then you’re cutting your costs related to that item by 50%. Let’s say, for example, that you buy a tube of toothpaste for $4 every other month, adding up to $24 a year. Cutting your toothpaste use per brushing in half means that a tube now lasts four months, meaning your cost adds up to only $12 per year. If you can do the same for shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, bath soap, dish soap, laundry soap, window cleaner, and so on, the savings add up to a pretty serious amount of money.

Second, I cut open toothpaste tubes with some tough scissors I keep in the bathroom. I have some really hefty scissors that stay in the bathroom by default and when a toothpaste tube gets low, I just cut off both ends with a single snip, then cut down the side with about two snips, which takes me maybe five seconds. I then just rub my brush around on the inside of the tube and the end of the tube to get the last bits of toothpaste out. I don’t even bother to roll up the tube as I go or anything – I just cut it open when it starts getting tough and from there I’ll get about ten or fifteen more brushes out of the contents for about five seconds of effort. My guesstimate is that this adds about 10% to the life of that tube, so if a tube costs me $4, that five seconds of effort saves about 40 cents. If I do that by default with every tube we use – and my wife and I go through about six or so tubes a year – that adds up to an hourly rate of about $288.

A quick principle here: things that take very little time and save a few cents are almost always worth making into part of a routine. If you can do something that saves a few cents in five or ten seconds or less, it’s almost always worthwhile to do it. Something that saves five cents for five seconds of effort adds up to a $36 an hour rate after taxes. To me, that’s always worth it.

Finally, you can turn the containers of thicker liquids and pastes into a mini-“jar”. Hand lotion is a perfect example of this.

All you have to do is use the product until it’s beginning to get difficult to squeeze out more of the contents. Then, cut the mostly empty tube in half the short way and scoop out the stuff remaining in the smaller end of the tube. Put the content you scoop out of the smaller end into the other end, then use the smaller end as a “cap” over the top of the other end to keep it from drying out. After that, you just use it like a jar – store it vertically and, when you need to use the contents, pull the smaller end off of the other end and scoop out what you need with your fingers. If there’s a pump in there, just cut off the pump’s straw as you won’t be needing it any more. This whole process takes about 30 seconds to set up and enables you to get quite a few more uses out of the tube’s content.

This is a great tactic to use if you have an expensive hand cream or something where you spent a healthy amount per use and don’t want the 15% or 20% still stuck in that tube to go to waste. This lets you use virtually everything that’s left in the tube or bottle with ease.

My general rule is this: if I can’t conveniently get at what’s left in the container by destroying/modifying the container or turning it upside down, then it’s not worth the time and effort. Those two tactics are so quick and slick that I don’t bother with anything else.

However, the real secret is to use the actual recommended amount. Just doing that will save you far more than just getting the last little bit out of the container.

Good luck.

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Are You Checking Your Credit Reports Often Enough?

Trying to earn and maintain healthy credit without checking your credit reports is like trying to lose weight without ever stepping on the scale.

Your odds of success are much better if you’ll take the time to check your credit reports on a regular basis, not just when you’re about to apply for a loan or you hear about the latest data breach on the news. It’s quick and free, so there’s really no reason you shouldn’t do it as soon as you get done reading this.

Your Free Annual Credit Reports

As an American citizen, you have the right to a free copy of all of your credit reports once every 12 months. You’ve had this right since 2003, when the Fair Credit Reporting Act was amended by an act called “FACTA.”

Although this federally mandated right to free annual credit reports has been around for about 15 years, a staggering number of consumers continue to ignore this option. Several years ago, a representative of the credit industry’s trade association told me, off the record, that only about 4% of free reports are claimed every year through their website, annualcreditreport.com. That means 96% go unclaimed, and they don’t roll over like cell phone minutes. Claim your free credit reports each year, or lose them.

Annual Credit Checks Are Only the Beginning

Your credit reports will change almost constantly over the course of a year. So while checking your three reports once is a year is a great place to start, there’s still a lot of room for surprises.

As a credit savvy consumer, you’re going to want to develop the habit of checking your credit reports every month, hopefully around the same time that you’re combing through your credit card and bank statements. Monthly credit checks will not necessarily protect your credit reports from problems, but they can certainly empower you to act quickly when and if problems arise.

Here are some of the key areas you should review during your monthly credit checks.

Incorrect credit reporting: It’s true that credit reporting errors can and do happen. Unfortunately, mistakes on your credit reports can potentially be a problem where your credit scores are concerned. You should check your credit reports carefully each month for any incorrect information. If you discover a problem, you can contact the creditor that’s reporting the error and/or dispute the mistake directly with the credit bureaus themselves.

Unauthorized inquiries: One of the first signs that you may be a victim of identity theft is a record of someone applying for credit in your name. Thankfully, your credit reports feature a way to track any time your credit has been accessed. Whenever a lender pulls a copy of your credit report(s), a record of that access, known as a hard inquiry, is added to your report(s). If you discover an unauthorized hard inquiry on your reports, you can take action with disputes, add a fraud alert to your reports, or freeze your credit reports if you’re worried that someone has stolen your personal information.

Fraudulent Accounts: Another indication that your identity may have been stolen is the appearance of unrecognized accounts on your credit reports. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to dispute any incorrect information on your credit reports, including accounts that don’t belong to you. If you’ve been the victim of true-name credit fraud you can file an official Identity Theft Report at IdentityTheft.gov or at your local police department. You can then send that report into the credit bureaus along with your dispute. The FCRA requires that any fraudulent accounts that are properly disputed be blocked from your reports within four business days.

Related Articles: 

John Ulzheimer is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books on the topic and has been interviewed and quoted thousands of times over the past 10 years. With time spent at Equifax and FICO, Ulzheimer is the only credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. He has been an expert witness in over 230 credit related lawsuits and has been qualified to testify in both federal and state courts on the topic of consumer credit.

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Biplav Maoists’ spokesperson arrested in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, August 8

Members of the Nepal Police’s Special Bureau have arrested the spokesperson of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Nepal Communist Party.

Spokesperson Khadga Bahadur Biswhokarma, who is also a former minister, was arrested from an undisclosed location in Kathmandu, sources said.

Police are yet to make details of the arrest public.

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Bhaktapur Kidnapping: Rights activist says encounter amounts to extra-judicial killing

Kathmandu, August 8

A prominent human rights activist says the recent killing by police of a man accused of abducting a child in Bhaktapur amounts to extra-judicial murder and the perpetrators should face their actions’ consequences.

Activist Charan Prasain, in an interview with Onlinekhabar said, that the ‘encounter’ at Ghyampe Danda was fake. He also called on the National Human Rights Commission to take the incident seriously.

“This is a very serious incident. I would like to say that abducting a child is a heinous crime. But this does not mean that the police can kill people accused in criminal cases. This looks like a fake encounter,” he added. “This is something we cannot accept.”

Prasain said that if police officials involved in the incident are not punished, anyone could be killed in the name of encounter. “Nepal’s constitution does not have provisions for capital punishment and no one has the authority to kill.”

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Nepal to lobby for ‘big’ investors’ involvement while revising commerce treaty with India

Kathmandu, August 8

Commerce officials of Nepal and India are beginning a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on Thursday in a bid to revise the existing Treaty of Trade and Commerce.

Nepali officials say they will lobby for the involvement of large scale investors from the southern neighbour in Nepali industries during the meeting.

Nepal’s another priority on the agenda will be measures to reduce its ever increasing trade deficit with India. Therefore, Nepal will seek India’s assistance in developing the country as a centre of production, not only as a destination to supply consumer products.

An official at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies says India will also be requested to establish factories of their popular products in Nepal.

“We have concluded that plants of Indian companies which have a big share in the Nepali market can be brought here,” the official informs, “Therefore, we are raising the issue of investment.”

The two governments had agreed to revise the treaty during a meeting of Inter-governmental Committee in April last week. Accordingly, Nepal is sending its eight-member delegation under the leadership of Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Rabi Shankar Sainju.

The two countries had last revised the treaty in 2009.

The meeting will last for two days.

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In eastern Nepal, a quest for the ‘water tiger’

The golden mahseer of the Himalayan Rivers, with its streamlined body and resplendent hues of olive green, silver, and yellow with a golden tinge, is a beautiful creature to behold, and a formidable challenge to bag.

This little adventure of mine meant a lot to me because it successfully motivated a group of veteran anglers from Dharan to set a record for the first ever mahseer catch-and-release among their fishing fraternity in the waters of the Sun Koshi, Tamor and Arun rivers in eastern Nepal.

In March 2005,  I decided to go on an angling tour of eastern Nepal’s Sapta Koshi river in quest of the legendary Himalayan fresh-water game fish, the golden mahseer (tor putitora), commonly called the pahenle sahar in Nepali. Jim Corbett called it the fish of ‘my dreams’ and went on to christen it ‘the tiger of the water’. Skene Dhu, a prominent writer named it the ‘Mighty Mahseer’.

The time for my reckless wandering into a godforsaken hostile territory was not right as the length and breadth of the country was hard hit by Maoist insurgency. Friends and family members called my single-mindedness nothing but ‘sheer lunacy’.  Perhaps, they sounded right but call it madness or call it destiny, that’s what drives anglers in pursuit of this most coveted quarry, the undisputed king of the Himalayan rivers.

After a 45 minute flight to Biratnagar, it took an hour on a taxi to get to Dharan, a well-planned and remarkably clean city and former recruitment center for the Brigade of Gurkhas. Soon, I was shaking hands with my fisher friends: Bharat Sunuwar, Tek Bahadur Limbu, Upendra Limbu and Prem GurungI knew I was in capable hands for the seasoned veterans, with more than 15 years of their angling in the Sun Koshi and the Tamor (a tributary of Sapta Koshi), knew these waters like the back of their hands. The trip would not have been impossible without them.

Mai Beni

Our final destination was Mai Beni, some 35km south of Dharan, a remote hillside slope that jutted out to the confluence of the snow-fed rivers, the Sun Koshi (locals also called it Dudh Koshi) and the Arun.

We made the first leg of the journey from Dharan to  Baraha Chhetra (a Hindu shrine) on the roof of a battered Land Rover (we couldn’t get seats)—leftovers from Dharan’s British Gurkha days. Can you imagine, these jeeps were good enough for 15/16 people, shuttle 40-odd commuters at a time crammed in like gundruk— a type of local spinach tamped down into an earthen pot, set out to ferment, then sundried and served as a popular curry.

Phew, the hour-long ride on the heavily rutted treacherous hill track in the rickety old jeep with sheer drops to the raging Sapta Koshi below happened to be one of the most hair-raising experiences of my life!

Our first layover was Baraha Chhetra, a small pilgrimage town lined up with tea houses, shops, living quarters and a dharmashala (rest house for the pilgrims). A stone paved path led to the famous Baraha temple, a Hindu god Vishnu in the manifestation of a pig. Hugging a wooded hillside, the temple looked onto the mighty Sapta Koshi, a stone’s throw away.

Our much-awaited angling began that evening. After the clammy day under the hot March sun, the light breeze that came off the river felt fresh and invigorating. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I stood before the magnificent Sapta Koshi, the largest river system in the country, which stretched out in all its glory, awesome and dignified, the water a soothing turquoise hue. The swirling depths, the sound of lapping waves against the gentle rumble of the river, the cool waft of air, the smell of Koshi water, and the lush wooded hills around made my already breezy and sparkling spirits running riot.

Total bliss!

Excited? Of course, I was for the prospect of fishing these legendary waters for the first time was just too overwhelming. I was the most euphoric of the group, anticipation and awe running at fever pitch. Devotees offered prayers and took holy dips at a nearby confluence where a small feeder stream called Coca met the Koshi.  Forested hills towered on the other side of the river. A suspension bridge over the Coca hung across the northern skyline, connecting two districts, Sunsari and Dhankuta.  Our angling that evening proved unsuccessful though and we retired for the day.

A stepping stone

We had company at the river bank the next morning—local fishermen. And while we fished using metal lures, they used flour paste for bait. We followed an anxious cast-and-retrieve routine, almost like the rhythmic ticking of a clock, over and over again, eager for a bite. The locals, however, followed a simpler more relaxed routine—simply stand-and-cast then wait with the patience of Solomon.

After something like two hours of working the riverbank up and down, our efforts paid off.  Prem landed a beautiful golden mahseer weighing nearly two kilos. The flurry of excitement was joined in by the local fishermen too. After a brief photo shoot and an exchange of pleasantries, we released the catch.

Even before I started this journey, I had a new sense of purpose all set in my mind–to release all the mahseer catches we made. I was rather dubious about the whole idea though for nothing of that sort had ever been done before by my fisher friends in their 15 years of angling. It would indeed be a Herculean task, I realised. To my great relief and delight, my wonderful friends agreed on the catch-and-release when I explained in length the steady decline in the golden mahseer population over the years and its threatened status.

I had no idea then that it would prove as a stepping stone in all future releases of mahseer catches made by my Dharan friends–to this day! Surprisingly, Prem, the most opposed to the idea turned out to be the first to admit openly that it was more fun and sporting releasing the catch, rather than keeping it back for eating.

The Dharan friends even went on to help me raise some awareness among the riverside community on the alarming phase that particular species was going through and the dire need to conserve them.

Bad vibe

We had no idea that the news about the Catch-n-release had already spread like bushfire—apparently picking bad vibes.

Eyebrows were raised and fingers pointed at us when we walked by the bazaar. For the locals, releasing a hooked fish was unimaginable and unacceptable–nothing less than a cultural shock. No sane person in their community would ever do a thing like that.

It did, however, help me rub shoulders with the locals, who listened curiously to what I had to say.  I particularly shed light on the popular but unethical methods like blast fishing, poisoning, electro-fishing, fishing during the spawning season and rampant gill-netting. Gorey, a senior local fisherman, who happened to drop by the tea house, although deeply skeptical, was my eager audience.

I began, “Gorey bhai, I’m here not to mislead you or trying to persuade you to release your catches, because I know that’s your bread and butter. All I want to say is that there’s an urgent need to save the golden mahseer from being destroyed by unethical means, if we’re to enjoy harvesting it year after year.

It’s time we preserved it for posterity, so that our children and grandchildren, too, can reap the rewards.”

“Secondly, the fishing must stop during the breeding time. A spawning female mahseer”, I explained, “lays eggs in batches of nearly 25,000 eggs per kilo of body weight.”

“So a golden mahseer weighing 10 kilos lays some 225,000 eggs,” I went on.

“Unfortunately, mahseer eggs and fries have a high mortality rate for they undergo rough waters and harsh conditions,” I explained.

“If, say, only 25% of them survive and make it to adulthood, what will we have the next season:  56,250 to be exact, plus the spawning mother, right? But, if we kill the breeding female we will lose all 56,251. No?”

I did my best to get the startling facts across, hoping that Gorey understood the facts, the issues and the consequences. And though he looked confused and overwhelmed by the figures at times he made it a point to nod vigorously.

Boundless Koshi

Our hike to Mai Beni began the next morning, each guy lugging a backpack weighing no less than 10 kilos. Prem’s weighed a whopping 30 kilos. Besides, a few pieces of clothing and our fishing gear, most parts of the load was taken up by food supplies, including enough rice and dal (lentils) for the entire trip and pots and pans to cook it. For a city slicker like me, it felt like venturing into the “world’s last great wilderness!”

The trail followed the contours of the boundless Sapta Koshi all along. I stopped occasionally to gaze silently down in awe at the great expanse of water that transformed itself into deep pools followed by raging whitewater rapids. Rocks and huge boulders, some the size of a truck, lay piled up against the river banks.

The trail cut across rugged terrain with no sign of habitation until we arrived at Ghumti Khola, the proposed site for a hydroelectric dam, then a small settlement called Tribenighat. A closely knit village at the confluence of the Sun Koshi and the Tammar river, the latter spanned by a suspension bridge.

After Tribeni, the river downstream takes on the name of Sapta Koshi, a merger of seven rivers, namely Sun Koshi, Indrawati, Tama Koshi, Likhu, Dudh Koshi, Arun, and Tamor and flows south to the plains of nearby India and ultimately the Ganges or the holy Ganga.

Tribeni is also known as Majhini Ghat named after a lady from a Majhi (fishermen) ethnic group; ghat translates to a river bank or a cremation ground for the Hindus. As the local legend goes, this lady used to ferry travelers across the Tammar River in her dugout canoe long before the present bridge was erected.

The locals also say that she once ferried late King Mahendra( Late King Birendra’s father) across the river. Unaware of the stranger’s identity, the Majhini insisted that before she’d take him across he must help her carry some firewood up from the river bank. By all accounts, the king did so, with pleasure.

These areas of Nepal’s eastern lower hills are inhabited mostly by ethnic Rais, especially of the Bantawa and Chamling clans, who live by fishing, raising goats, chickens and selling bamboos by ferrying them down the Sun Koshi, but grow very few crops.

Rice is an extreme rarity in those parts and corn serves as both the staple crop and the daily meals for the locals.  We had to survive on dhindo (cooked corn flour dough) after our stock of rice and dal (lentils) we back-packed along ran out.  We stopped briefly for tea and a little snack at Tribeni, and then continued on.

Our next village stop was Shimle, which boasted of an imposing suspension bridge over the river Arun, which divided Bhojpur from Dhankuta district.

End of Part 1 of 2


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Four killed, 17 hurt in Chitwan collision

Chitwan, August 8

At least four persons died and 17 persons sustained injuries when a truck and a bus collided head on at Bhanu Chok, Ratnanagar Municipality-10 of Chitwan district along the East-West Highway on late Tuesday night.

The truck (Na 5 Kha 5941) heading towards Narayangadh from the eastern side hit the bus (Na 6 Kha 1471) coming from the opposite direction, according to police. The Makalu Yatayat bus was heading to Kakarbhitta of Jhapa district from Kathmandu carrying passengers whereas the truck was laden with bricks.

The victims have been identified as Mohan Ghising (34) from Chapur of Rautahat, his assistant Buddhiman Lama (30) from the same place and two bus passengers–Bishnu Prasad Thapa (48) from Thankot of Kathmandu, and Tara Baral (42) from Khumling of Taplejun, informs DSP Prabhu Prasad Dhakal.

All of them had died during treatment at a local health facility.

Thirteen of the victims are undergoing treatment at Purano Medical College whereas four have been admitted to Chitwan Medical College.

Further investigation is underway.

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When Your Career Is Comfortable, But You Yearn for a Change

You’re at a job that’s comfortable and secure and, frankly, fairly easy in many ways. There might be a few elements that you don’t really like, but for the most part, it’s fine.

Here’s the catch, though: you’re still pretty unhappy at work. You don’t enjoy going to work. You don’t enjoy most of the things you do at work. The little problems at work are like little pebbles in your shoes, building a minor issue into something that’s almost intolerable. Perhaps you simply yearn to be doing something different, maybe something a little more challenging or something that’s a little less stressful.

Does this sound like you?

It certainly sounds like my own situation several years ago. I held down a job that was about 20% interesting tasks, 20% meetings, 15% tangling with bureaucracy, 25% maintenance, and 20% travel. I really enjoyed the 20% of my work that was interesting and I enjoyed my relationship with my coworkers, but I basically dreaded the rest of the job.

I tried a number of different approaches, most of which I’ll talk about below, but eventually I decided that a career change was the right decision for me. I now work from home as a freelance writer, and it was perhaps the best professional decision I’ve ever made, flipping those percentages around to a proportion that I am very happy with (I’d call it about 70% interesting work, 0% meeting, 10% tangling with bureaucracy, 20% maintenance, and 0% travel). (However, that path came with a catch: it involved a big drop in income for quite a while – an issue we’ll get back to in a bit.)

At the same time, I have a few friends – and quite a few readers – who find themselves at a similar crossroads, and simply switching careers isn’t necessarily the best option for them. Every situation is different – some people in this situation are young and some are old, some have a ton of financial responsibilities while others have few, some have skills that are easily transferable, while others do not.

Here are six strategies you might want to consider if you’re in a comfortable place in your career but you’re yearning for a change.

Stick With It

The first and most obvious option is to simply stick with your current job and current career trajectory. While this might not seem like a great choice, if you do it in a smart fashion, it can be quite worthwhile. Your job provides security and good pay and benefits and it’s at least comfortable if not exciting.

There are a few things you can do here to accentuate the positives and minimize the negatives without putting your job at risk, though.

First of all, you can simply start spending a little less and putting more away for retirement. Just bump up your retirement contributions at work and look for a few simple ways in your life to cut back, like buying store brand dish soap. Having a financial target can put a light at the end of the tunnel like nothing else.

Another tactic is to master contentment. Don’t spend your time dwelling on the irritating aspects of your life. Rather, spend your time looking at the good things in your life. One practical way to work on this is to start a gratitude journal. Each day, simply list five things about your life that you’re grateful for, particularly things you noticed within the last day, and intentionally not repeating anything more often than once per week.

A third tactic is use your non-working time with more purpose. Rather than coming home and crashing, find something purposeful to do with that time. Volunteer work? A serious hobby? Community involvement? Figure out a thing or two that you really want to get involved with in your life and start committing time and energy to it rather than just going home and vegetating.

Benefits: You keep your pay and benefits. You keep the security.

Drawbacks: You’re still stuck where you are and generally unhappy with it.

Strategy in a Nutshell: Start spending less than you earn and saving aggressively for retirement, perhaps even an early retirement.

Talk to Your Boss About New Projects

Even the best job in the world can sometimes become boring and routine, and for people who relish challenges, that can lead to a sense of unhappiness. The solution is pretty easy, though: find a new challenge within the framework of your job.

If you want to largely keep things as they are but would like some new challenges at work, just sit down and talk to your boss about helping you find those new challenges. What kind of projects can you take on? What kind of tweaks to your current work can you handle?

My strong recommendation is to have a realistic and well-considered idea of what you might want to actually do at work that you’re not currently doing. What kind of project do you have in mind? Spend some time envisioning what exactly you’d like to be doing and, perhaps even more importantly, how it would benefit the organization more than it would cost the organization.

For example, in my previous job as a programmer, I would often take on different side projects and fill up as much as half of my week with them. I’d contribute to key open source projects that we relied on. I’d rewrite and optimize some of the underlying software libraries that we used, just to make everything a little bit faster. I’d thoroughly document everything and, near the end of my tenure there, I converted all of that into a wiki. The goal was to find new challenges as much as I reasonably could and it helped greatly.

Trust me: if you are a valued employee who has a record of producing good work, your boss will likely be supportive of your desire to find new challenges at work. Just make sure that you have some clear ideas and an explanation of how they’ll be beneficial to the business without detracting from your other responsibilities.

Benefits: You keep your pay and benefits. Your job is still pretty secure. You’ll take on some new and interesting challenges.

Drawbacks: You might have a little less security than simply doing nothing at all, as there is a risk that you fail at the new projects if you and your boss don’t pick appropriate ones.

Strategy in a Nutshell: Meet with your supervisor and keep a positive tone about your current job, but ask for new projects and challenges.

Switch Jobs in the Same Career Path

It may be that you don’t dislike your career as much as you dislike the circumstances of your particular job. Perhaps you’re frustrated by workplace dynamics, or maybe you find yourself doing uninteresting tasks while being regularly turned away from interesting and cutting edge tasks.

If that sounds like your situation, changing jobs within your career path might be a good move. It does come with some risk – you might find that the new workplace is somehow worse than your current one – but there are a number of ways to mitigate that risk and a number of strong benefits of switching to a new job. Let’s consider both.

First of all, there’s a good chance that you may be able to increase your pay by switching jobs. This is a common tactic for people, particularly early in their career, to bump their pay. They jump from job to job, seeking a higher salary. This strategy can still hold true later in one’s career as well. The key, of course, is to not let an increase in pay inflate your lifestyle. If you see a big increase in pay due to a job switch, keep your spending the same and set up a very healthy 401(k) or Roth IRA contribution to gobble up most of the increase.

Second, the actual process of switching jobs can add a bit of risk to your current job. During the process of interviewing, word can get back to your current employer regarding your job search, which can put you on shaky ground at your current job. A good approach here is to start your job search by talking to people you trust in your own professional network and see what they know of. Often, when you use a good mutual contact as a reference, you can get in with a position without your current employer knowing about it.

Finally, don’t burn bridges during this type of transition. Do everything you can to make the transition as smooth as possible. Give notice of your exit and stick by that notice. Don’t destroy any relationships on your way out the door, even if the relationships aren’t all that strong to begin with. You may end up in a situation where you need to move back to this previous employer or may need a relationship with one of your fellow employees there. Don’t destroy those things in a desire to vent all of your feelings as you exit.

Benefits: You have a good chance at increasing your pay. You get a fresh start within your current career path.

Drawbacks: There is some risk in switching jobs, both in the applying and interview process and whether the new job is a good fit for you.

Strategy in a Nutshell: Quietly check your professional network for opportunities. Apply for new jobs when they truly seem like compelling opportunities. Don’t burn bridges at your current job.

De-Emphasize Your Job’s Place in Your Life

This is a surprisingly effective strategy if you have a job that doesn’t require much of your effort to do well. Many people find themselves in a “maintenance” position that they can handle easily and thus only have to actually “work” a small number of hours per week, or the work that they do doesn’t require intense effort on their part.

If that sounds like you, start considering your work as something you do to support the main focus of your life, rather than letting the work be the focus.

I have a friend who has a job as a loan officer at a bank. His focus, however, is on his church and his community, where he is a leader. He focuses his thoughts and energy on those two communities, even doing tasks related to them while at work if there’s nothing else to do. He views his job purely as a way to obtain the resources he needs to do the things he cares most about.

This can be a great strategy to use if you have something else you want to focus your energy on, whether it’s something that will never return a financial reward (like charitable work or community building) or something that requires a very long runway (like writing science fiction novels or designing board games).

The challenge, of course, is that it can become obvious at work that your focus isn’t on the workplace. If you’re able to maintain your quality of work while doing this, then that’s great; if you’re not, then you can end up putting your job at risk. The real risk is when your work starts slipping and you don’t notice it because your focus is elsewhere. Be attentive to performance reviews if you’re taking this approach.

Benefits: You keep your pay and benefits. You can focus your energy and thoughts on something else that’s more important to you.

Drawbacks: Your job is probably going to become less secure, especially over time, as you move close to doing the minimum at work.

Strategy in a Nutshell: Find another area of your life to focus on. Figure out ways to use downtime at work to accentuate that focus. Stop worrying about work when you’re not there. Spend less than you earn and save the difference so that you have a cushion against the risk of a downturn in your career.

Start a Side Gig

Some people have the entrepreneurship bug and dream of starting their own business where they can set their own hours and decide for themselves what needs to be done. The dream of owning a restaurant or a lawn care business or a comic book store or a Youtube channel runs deep in some people, but they believe they don’t have the opportunity to make it happen.

The truth is you can always make entrepreneurship happen. There are always avenues to use your spare time doing something you enjoy by your own rules and make money. It might take a long time and might not earn a lot of money per hour (especially at first), but it gives you a sense of control and self-determination that you can’t get as an employee, and some people yearn for that.

For those who don’t want the risk of entrepreneurship, another side gig option is to simply take on a second job or some form of consulting related to your career path. Those opportunities are safer, but in many career paths, they won’t earn as much as your main career path.

Naturally, the disadvantage here comes from figuratively burning the candle at both ends. It takes a lot of time and energy to make entrepreneurship work, and the same is true for a second job.

Benefits: You keep your pay and benefits. You gain some interesting challenges and likely some additional pay.

Drawbacks: You run the risk of burnout as you’re essentially adding a second job to the mix. You likely slightly decrease your security at work as your effort devoted to work slips a little.

Strategy in a Nutshell: Find something that meshes your skills with something you’re interested in. Dive into doing that in your spare time. Worry about making money later – start by doing something of value first.

Go Back to School

A final option is to simply reboot your career by going back to school for education in a new career path that’s more in line with what you’ve discovered about yourself since your teen years (where many people made career choices before realizing who they actually were).

For example, one member of my family went back to school in her forties, transitioning from a career in microbiology to a career in nursing. Another friend of mine rebooted his career from teaching into computer programming.

For most, this kind of reboot requires returning to school for some type of education or training. Not only is this often expensive, it also may require a period of no employment, which can be really challenging. Of course, you may be able to obtain much of the education you need during the evenings or weekends to flex around your current career, and community college prices can help lower the costs.

Another concern is that your new career may not be as lucrative as your current one (of course, the opposite may also be true). If this appears to be the case and you’re considering this path, you should cut back on your spending now rather than later and get your finances in healthy shape for this change. Set it as a goal a year or two from now and spend that time planning carefully, minimizing debt, and maximizing savings.

Benefits: You keep your pay and benefits, at least for a while. You’re heading toward a more meaningful and enjoyable career path.

Drawbacks: Your new career might pay less and have fewer benefits, especially at first. The costs of schooling might be intense.

Strategy in a Nutshell: Start spending less than you earn and start saving for the cost of your career change. Figure out what you’d like to study. Seek out evening classes that can get you started on that educational path without causing you to walk away from your current job.

Final Thoughts

If you spend your days dreaming of a big career change in your life, there are many options for making that dream happen. Perhaps you can start from scratch with a fresh education or by starting a side gig. Maybe you can alter your current path by seeking new responsibilities and challenges or finding a new job. Or, perhaps, the best option is to simply stay put.

Whatever it is that you choose, it is far better to have considered the options and settled on the one that works best for you. It’s also worth noting that it’s almost always better to be working for something you care about, even if it’s harder, than to drift through something that just leaves your days feeling empty. The key is to make changes with some financial responsibility and intelligent long term plans.

Good luck!

The post When Your Career Is Comfortable, But You Yearn for a Change appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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