Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

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…

Make Lists, Not War

This is the mantra of Workflowy, which I’ve previously written about here – Make Lists, Not War. I don’t know anybody that works for Workflowy so I’m not speaking for them.

I interpret this in many ways. The first, is that most things can be broken down easily into smaller steps, or into a list. This has a calming effect because it’s progress towards a goal or task, sometimes a large one. The war here is in your mind. Don’t stress about a future task that seems daunting, put it on a list. If that’s not enough, take 5 minutes and write down all the steps that need to occur to get that task completed. Guaranteed mood improvement. Read On…

Google Allo 

Google just released Allo, the new chat that is supposed to, but not sure if it replaces Hangouts.

The fun feature is the Google Assistant. You can chat with it and ask questions. You can even ask for it to send you information at a certain time, like the daily weather. 

We’ll see if it works it’s way onto my daily app rotation. I’m not going to force it.

I don’t even know my own password

In our world of infinite logins and passwords, the standard personal password is (or should be) a thing of the past. No longer should we be reusing the password MegaPhone$1234 for every login we have.

I have 880 logins.


That is astounding. I wouldn’t even know the number if it were not for this tool I’m about to convince you that you need. Read On…

Uninterrupted Blocks of Time

I never realized how important a huge block of time is, with no disruptions. It’s invaluable. Being able to create and think about something for hours on end is really the key to providing value to others.

Unfortunately, this is not the norm in most workplaces. The open floor plan, on call nature, and walk up tendencies people have lead to short bursts of activity punctuated by disruptions. 

My combat plan for this has been: Read On…