Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Ten Deep Breaths

In addition to meditating daily, I’ve been trying to add ten deep breaths to my day. Anytime I remember, I take another couple deep breaths and add them to my count. It seems to have a good effect on my mood and feeling of well-being.

Instant Pot

For Christmas, I wanted an instant pot. It’s a pressure cooker with a brain. I ordered one on black Friday when it was on super sale. I finally tried it out yesterday on split pea soup. I was skeptical it would break everything down in a mere 15 minutes of pressure, but it did!

I was amazed. The soup prep didn’t need to happen until one hour before eating, as opposed to sometime in the morning. 

I bought the supplies to make sushi rolls. I’m excited. I think the rice cooking function is going to be one of my favorite features. I bought a huge bag of rice. It’s so cheap web you buy a lot and is so filling.

There are tons of recipes on YouTube – is a great place to start. You can follow along with people as they cook.

The Debrief

I see myself doing this after big parties, interactions or even meetings. I feel the need to discuss certain points that are bothering me or stuck in my head. It’s almost a need to resolve the issue and put it away. It’s easier with another person (it’s often my wife), but it can be done alone as well.

Just recognizing this helps me move on mentally and put certain things to bed will help me. I know that I need to “close the book” on things that were mentally taxing so I make it a point to debrief after events like that.

I really notice it after big family parties when lots of activity takes place. I feel better and much more at peace if I have a chance to discuss what happened and put it to bed.

Driving in a Blizzard, On Purpose

We had plans to see family yesterday for our annual Christmas celebration with my dad’s side of the family. It’s a lot smaller and a bit more spread out than other portions of my family, so we don’t always get a chance to get together. But we saw the weather forecast for the day would bring snow all day long, into the night.

Since the snow was gradually accumulating all day long, it seemed like nobody really panicked and the roads never got too bad. They were messy, but the constant accumulation wasn’t a problem for most people.

We used google maps for traffic updates and the M-DOT website to look at traffic cameras. Did you know you can look at these cameras from your computer and see how the traffic is flowing anywhere there is a traffic camera? There are hundreds of these things and you can probably access most of them. Read On…

Meal Train

What a great idea. When my son was born, my boss coordinated a meal train, which is a sign-up list for other people, family and friends, to join in and make or bring you food. There are many reasons why this might happen, new baby, family death, illness or other turbulent time in your life.

When we had this done for us, we appreciated it so much. Some people brought us food, and others ordered us takeout. It was a huge relief. We weren’t all that keen on making dinner when I was back to work and having somebody bring us cooked meals was a lifesaver.

I am setting one of these up right now. My coworker is expecting twins. Twins! Holy crap. He’s going to have his hands full.

The Information is Out There

Potatoes are great. I heard a podcast about a guy who is eating nothing but potatoes for a year (sounds extreme) to lose weight and break his food addiction. While I don’t want to do this, I did hear a lot of good things about potatoes and the nutrition they pack, contrary to popular “low carb” bible-thumpers. It made me want a baked potato, so I picked up a bag. They are stupid cheap. You can get a 5 lb bag for 1.99. That’s silly money.

For dinner yesterday, we planned to bake some up and top them with all sorts of goodness. Of course, the internet is rife with tips and tricks and recipes for what to do with a potato. The potato might be the most versatile vegetable ever.

I found an article from Cook’s Illustrated. This is a great magazine. We actually received this as a gift subscription for a while and loved it. They take a science approach to cooking and do all the hard work and testing for you. Want to know what cheap olive oil is probably just rancid garbage and which one is actually worth it? They will tell you. Want to cook the best, non-woody, asparagus? They will show you how. Want to bake the perfect potato? They did the testing. Read On…

Just Ask

I started following a bot on Twitter that retweets whenever anyone says the phrase “a bot that”. This gives you some insight as to what people are making bots do on Twitter. I found this because I follow a bot called @tinycarebot that just sends out reminders to do things like ‘breathe deeply’ or to ‘look up from twitter for a second and relax’.

This @abotthat retweeted a story about a bot that helps negotiate on your behalf with Comcast to get a lower bill. Pay less money to Comcast with no effort or cost on my part? I’m in! Read On…

White Noise / Brown Noise

My trick for getting work done in a shared office space (since about 2010) has been the website Simply Noise. It’s a white noise generator. It was one of the first, although now there are dozens or hundreds of options online.

I enjoy the brown noise, a bit more bass than regular white noise. When I have it on, it feels like a brain massage – that’s the only way I can describe it. Read On…

This Election

I don’t think too many people would say they are enjoying this election cycle. It’s been too long, too full of bad choices and just terrible all around. I will be glad when it’s over.

I don’t particularly like Hillary and I don’t like Trump either. I won’t be voting for either. I wish it wasn’t something that divided us on a daily basis and something that takes up valuable brain processing power. I see posts and memes daily about one candidate or the other. Then, friends or family of the poster immediately assume that person is voting for the other candidate and a nasty debate ensues. It’s terrible.

I think elections are a way for people to try and voice their opinions on a particular pet topic and voice their frustrations with certain aspects of their lives. They want their person to¬†win. Nobody really discusses whether or not their candidate (or the office of the presidency) even has the authority or mandate to make any change that will affect their lives. Fear-mongers will say they do, but what has history shown us? More often than not, they can’t. Read On…


I went to our Toastmasters club meeting last night and had a great time. It’s always something I still feel a little bit of hesitation attending, but always have a great time and learn a lot.

Our club is thriving with new members signing up at every meeting. Last night, our club president gave a moving speech about a loss in the family and then how he became an ordained buddhist monk. It was a touching story that I couldn’t have heard anywhere else.

Our table topics (that’s the impromptu portion where everybody gets to speak) was the little sayings that appear at the top of a teabag, aka banal platitudes.

Mine was “An attitude of gratitude brings opportunity.” I agreed with this notion and spoke about how we are working on learning about gratitude with my son. Read On…