Sunday, June 3, 2007

Surprise Someone With a Pineapple Picnic

Going to pick someone up later today?
Going for a bike ride or hike?
Put a pop-top can of pineapple chunks in the refrigerator
to chill. (It could even be placed in the freezer for
about an hour to help it hold the chill longer.)
Take the can and some little (3 oz) paper cups with you.
Take one spoon for serving and toothpicks for eating.
Place the can in a plastic bag to recycle later.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

zenhabits can help you shape up your life

There are many books, articles and blogs from which to gather strategies for a sustainable lifestyle. If you want a concise yet comprehensive listing of ways to make your life run better, take a look at Leo's zenhabits blog post called Handbook for Life: 52 Tips for Happiness and Productivity.
It's a great place to start.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Protect Yourself Against Power Outages

Of course, we would prefer not to lose electrical power at all. And sometimes some of us may feel that power companies could do a better job getting power back faster, but the fact of the matter is that they don't know where the outages will occur, nor with what severity. And it simply is not possible to have enough equipment and manpower on hand for events that occur occasionally. I remember trying to get a hotel room while traveling, and all the hotels on a long stretch of highway were booked solid, largely because they were housing workers brought in to help get power back to the area. But here are a couple things that you can do to lessen the impact of a loss of power before it occurs.
1) Listen to the weather reports frequently so you can know if a storm is expected. Charge your cell phone in advance of the storm.
2) Extend the ability of your refrigerator to withstand a loss of power
by freezing giant ice bars. Half gallon plastic containers from milk with twist caps may work well. Make sure not to fill them to the top: room is needed because the water will take up more space when it turns into ice, so first test out one bottle, at about 85% full. Keep some of these containers on hand so that some can be kept in the freezer during an outage and some can be placed in the refrigerator. With their bulk and density they may be able to extend the quality of your food by a few hours. You might make some smaller containers to position close to certain foods. Keeping a gallon or two of water in the refrigerator will also add some extra coldness.
3) You may want to avoid losing work that you are doing on your home computer. It may be worth investing in an uninterruptible power supply. A UPS takes over in the instance of a loss of power so that unsaved work is not lost.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Have You Heard of CERT?

Last night I went to a meeting of a club I belong to.
After the meeting some of us continued the good
conversation at a restaurant, lengthening the night
such that my drive home extended just into the
next day.
Just 5 minutes from home, I went around a curve
and encountered a car that had just lost its good looks.
Despite the 20 year old driver driving as what he
perceived to be a sensible speed, the combination
of curve and wet pavement from an earlier rain proved
too much for the car to handle, so the guardrail served
its purpose by preventing the car from journeying
down the wooded slope. Boy was okay; car was not.
He had already called for help. I took a couple small
red traffic cones out of my car and positioned them on
the road to alert other vehicles to the stationary mess.
The boy was surprised that I had these supplies and
got them out matter-of-factly.
I explained to him that
I had received training from CERT -
Emergency Response Team. CERT volunteers spend
about 20 hours in basic training learning various skills
to respond to emergency situations. Sometimes they
may be the first to arrive on the scene and can do some
things to facilitate resolution of a situation by the First
Responders- Police, Firefighters,and EMS. Sometimes they
will supplement First Responders by performing support
tasks suitable to their level of training.
I have provided just a quick overview of CERT here.
To learn more about it, you may want to take a look at
CERT Los Angeles site. They may be able to help you
locate a CERT group in your area. CERT is in all 50 states.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Renee Zellweger Is Grounded - the Good Way!

I didn't expect to come across such interesting content in a BJ's
Journal, but there it was, in the February, 2007 issue: an interview
with actress Renee Zellweger.
A couple of her answers were particularly thoughtful:

Q. What are some goals you've set for yourself?
A. My goals are pretty simple, and I've known them from an early age:
to be able to take care of myself and to be a person I can respect. Also, as I get older I hope that no one has a worse day for having encountered me. I'd like to always try to find a way to make a contribution to the world.

Q. Your field is so competitive, with new actors breaking through every day. How would you like fans to remember you?
A. I think being remembered is about hoping the people who love you
recognize what's good about you. That's the most you can really hope for, isn't it?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today Show and Martha Stewart Show Offer Lessons on Laughter

It's been confirmed:
Laughter really is the best medicine.
Two shows covered this topic recently:
Check out the giggles on the Today Show.
(Brief commercial precedes segment)
Not only will real laughter generate the release
of endorphins, the "feel good" hormone, but they say
simulating laughter will get the same beneficial results.
On the Martha Stewart Show, they got it down to basics
by showing how to practice smiling. Martha's
guest, Linda Kaplan Thaler, co-author of The Power of Nice,
demonstrated how holding a pencil horizontally in the
mouth creates a happy look.
A friend mentioned to me he was a bit nervous before
taking a test. He took a moment to put a smile on his face,
and it helped him relax. I tried this, and it works!
So, laugh all you can!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

These Are Four Star Foods!

Here are the four criteria for making this list:
* food is nutritious (benefits exceed deficits by wholesome margin)
* food is inexpensive (no need to trade health gain for wallet pain)
* food needs little/no prep time (no kitchen fatigue)
* food is portable (not too heavy to carry, before or after you eat it)

Here they are:
- banana
- clementine
- apple
- yogurt
- kirby cucumber
- grape tomatoes
- baby carrots
- snow peas
- yams (see earlier post)
- hard boiled egg
- applesauce (in ready cups)

Most of these items are readily available year round.
Hard boiled eggs can stay up to a week in the frig.
A small (8 oz) plastic bottle of water frozen can provide
extension of quality. (Allow room for ice expansion).
What other four star foods can you add to the list?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Can Early Adopters Live With Non-Adopters?

Do you know someone like this?
If you are reading this right now, chances are it means that you have enough computer knowledge to click enough keys to get here.

Do you know someone who does not own a computer or use one?
Have they ever expressed their thoughts about computers, or have you tried to get them to use one? Do they use other devices such as microwave ovens, VCR, or cell phones?
Yesterday a woman who uses email avidly for her business explained to me that her husband does not use a computer, but he does most of the cooking...hmm...that could be a viable package!
Someone I know who has a thriving blog mentioned that one of their siblings probably does not have an email address.
Then there's a woman I encounter on a path - she walks her dog, I ride my bike - after chatting a few times, she disclosed that she does not have a computer. I did notice as we talked that she exchanged greetings with most passersby, calling out to them by name.
And within a family, there can be a few members who readily make use of the computer/Internet and others who do not.
Interesting, too, are the people who use the computer heavily for just one thing, and have little inclination to go beyond that one program or website.
So, how does this uneven adoption of technology effect people in your social interactions?
In what ways does it effect the quality of life?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Customer Service Was Outstanding!

BusinessWeekOnline recently posted a list of its top 25 companies in customer service and it brought to mind an experience my family had while traveling in Columbia, South Carolina a few years ago. We had been on the road for six days, and with snowstorms and illness, we had needed to adjust our schedule and geographic ambitions several times. We found ourselves that evening at a Sonic trying to order some of those red-colored, crushed-ice kind of drinks that many fast food places offer.
Fatigued from our journey, I was having trouble figuring out exactly which version and size of those drinks my companions wanted, so I faltered several times placing the order through the speaker near the car. The carhop patiently explained the details of the drinks, and when she brought the order to the car, again inquired if what she brought matched our expectations, adding that she would get replacements if needed. A couple minutes later, as she walked past our vehicle, she made eye contact and gave a questioning look to see if we were still satisfied with our order.
Not only had our thirst been quenched, but she had managed to boost our spirits again. An incredible return on our $4 investment. What made this all the more amazing is that she maintained her please-the-customer demeanor while wearing a hat with a tiny propeller on top.
For some more thoughts on the subject, may I suggest
JoelonSoftware for his "Seven steps to remarkable customer service."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Choosing the Right Size Parade

Matching the scope of the activity helps!
Parents may wish to share enjoyable activities with their children,

taking pleasure in the looks of amazement on their young faces.
Parents may go to considerable effort to avail themselves of
activities on a large scale.
This effort will go largely unrealized by toddlers. They do not
have the ability to grasp distance or amount of money.
At one point, we considered driving to the big city to see the
St. Patrick's Day parade. Instead, we opted for the St. Patrick's Day
parade in a neighboring town.
Took us just 15 minutes to get there.
Parking was easy and free.
We ran into some people we know.
Didn't have to find a bathroom.
Oh, and the bagpipers were just five feet away from us as
they went by!

Monday, February 5, 2007

SketchSwap: It's All About Give and Take

What a well designed system!
In my travels in, the social bookmarking site, I came
across a site that's beautiful in its simplicity. It's called SketchSwap.
You sketch something and submit it.
In return, you get a sketch back that someone else drew.
No one gets a grade.
No one keeps score.
You give something and you get something.
Nice, huh?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

A Birthday Party Can Be Fun!

Tradition. Culture.
These things are sometimes referenced as though set in stone.
But it's just not so.
About 200 years ago, do you think people were hiring magicians
and fretting over whether their child's birthday party was splashy
enough? Nah. Little by little, things changed. To the point where
it's hard to find the fun in all the stress of pulling off one of those
mammoth events.
Some basic points:
. Find out what your child wants most and ask them to be flexible
about some of the lesser details.
. Even what they want most may be a reflection of fleeting
perceptions. Check in with them after a few days to see if
they still want that same content in their party.
. Take care of the basics. No matter where the party is, etc.
the birthday child and guests will tend to enjoy the party
more if their thirst is quenched and if they have enough room
to watch and participate.
A group of people have taken initiative to encourage parents to
make healthier birthday party choices. They have listed the
many reasons that birthday parties have taken on unmanageable
dimensions. No doubt you will recognize many of them. Explore
the alternatives!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Parents Can Gain Perspective!

As their children grow and develop, parents may find themselves
next to other parents with children of the same age - standing on the
sidelines of a soccer field, sitting in the bleachers of a baseball or
basketball game. During the half-time or in-between innings, parents
may take the opportunity to exchange updates on their offspring's
antics, tendencies, and inclinations. This exchange is valuable
for easing frustration.
What can also be valuable is to have conversations with parents
whose children are 3-5 years older. These conversations can
help parents have perspective on their children's behavior,
help them see what is typical of a developmental stage, even
when a behavior lasts for six months! These conversations
may be even more valuable to have in today's world of
computers and cell phones, so that parents can thoughtfully
develop their family's technology policies.
Parents may have to make some effort to create the opportunities
to speak with the parents with older children as they might not run
into them as readily. And then, parents can return the favor!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Mendelson Leads the Way in Career Planning

More than one hat could fit!
This post is about a book, Home Comforts The Art and Science of Keeping House
, and its author, Cheryl Mendelson. While my attentiveness to home care is not as high as that of the author (you need only refer to the prior post to discern that) what I most appreciate is the author's courage to be multi-faceted. On reading the book's jacket I discovered that besides being a homemaking guru Mendelson "daylights" as a lawyer.
While classifications serve to give us speedy answers (searching by occupational codes, keywords, etc.) they make us vulnerable to missing the complexities and subtleties of human knowledge and experience. How wonderful for Mendelson that she has multiple channels through which to implement her skills!
Perhaps some of us really do have one passion, and pursuing that singularity in a positive manner benefits both the individual as well as others. Let's realize, too, that there is value in mental diversity. Some innovation comes from intensive pursuit in one field; some develops as a result of meshing together unique threads of thought.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

One Good Shortcut Deserves Another!

We had made plans for another mother to bring her child
over to our house for a playdate. On that morning I quickly
went around, trying to get the most amount of improvement
in the appearance of the house for the amount of time at hand.
When I spotted the unwashed frying pan on the rangetop, I
decided to make like a magician and simply place it in the oven.
Unbeknownst to me, the other mom had also taken a shortcut
that morning, preparing a coffeecake which she figured could
very nicely be baked in..... my oven!
Have you had a shortcut backfire?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Take a Break at the Computer!

Some of us are spending more time in front of our home computers.
Keep some things nearby to help stay comfortable:
  • a closed bottle of water to regularly hydrate.
  • barbells (or equal-sized soup cans) for some light lifting.
  • nailclippers to use while doing computer maintenance.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Crackers to the Rescue!

While artisan breads and fancy wraps may offer us variety in consumption,
the basic cracker can still command status with its versatility. Keeping a box
or two of these in your car can ward off hunger if you are unexpectedly delayed.
They can also play another role if you find your car stuck on ice or snow.
Dump some in front and behind the tire that has been spinning. The texture of
the crackers may create just enough traction for the tire to grip to get the car
moving. This worked for me when I somewhat casually had parked on a lawn.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Experts Find Yams to be a Healthy Choice

Yams show up on many tables on Thanksgiving,
and they are a good choice any day. Yams are:
Place 4-10 yams on a foil-lined, low-sided baking pan at 350 degrees.
Smaller ones will be soft in about 60 minutes, larger ones may take almost twice as long. Position and remove accordingly.
Not only are yams nutritious, they are convenient:
Baked yams freeze really well - for a month or more - in freezer bags, either individually or in groups.
In warm months, yams can be eaten as a cold snack.
In winter months, yams can be heated, even taken on an outing and used as a "handwarmer" until eaten!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Halloween Can Be More Than Candy

Everyone liked this idea!
Besides giving the traditional candy this past Halloween,

we placed used children's books in plastic bins near
the door. Both parents and children readily selected titles.
Tip: Books for readers can be in one bin and listener books
can be in another.