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My Study Partners

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Who I’ve been spending all my time with lately:

 

 

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Trying Out WordPress Mobile

December 7, 2010 2 comments

I’m trying out WordPress Mobile for iPhone. So far, I don’t think the learning curve will be that steep but the comfortability curve will be. My fingers have the dexterity and thickness of bratwurst so typing on the iPhone is a challenge and I hate making typos, let alone publishing them.

Between this and my new favorite tool aka Prezi, I may yet become a productive member of society. Like many smartphone users, my first apps were largely entertainment based or what I’d seen on friends’ phones that was ‘cool.’ Now I am focusing more on apps that build my capacity to be productive and creative.

That shift makes sense because I can now go days without turning on my laptop. This iPhone is now really just an extension of my computer and it needs to be configured as such. Mobile apps are no longer just about entertainment or a cool novelty that makes life a bit better; apps are now also about performing at your peak.

There are big implications in this–vanishing time away from work, blurred lines between private and public space, evolving conditions for decision-making, etc. We should be mindful of those. I should be mindful of those, and I will, right after I finish this post, send some tweets and reply to a few emails.

Categories: Uncategorized

Great Info Well Presented

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

This presentation by Swedish physician and researcher Hans Rosling is fascinating for a number of reasons.  Using over 120,000 calculations tied to income per person and life expectancy, Rosling and his team have tracked the arc of global human progress over the last 200 years.  As if that weren’t enough, the resulting presentation of their findings is not only informative but also memorable and easily grasped by virtually anyone.

Some have complained that Rosling is measuring progress by Western standards, ie. money equals progress and that the income growth demonstrated in the presentation cannot continue.  There is perhaps some validity to this charge but few would argue that the longer life expectancies we now enjoy are not welcomed by all.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Roasted Winter Vegetables

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.

Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

Can also substitute white potatoes for squash and sweet potatoes.

Source–unknown

I See a Standing Desk in My Immediate Future

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

When I left work behind for graduate school and stay-at-home-fatherhood, I also left behind my desk.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just work at the dining room table, a thought which shows how clueless I was at the time.

Within a few days, the need for a desk became obvious.  In years past, finding a space in our home for an office was not difficult–just pick an empty bedroom or head to the basement.  But early on in this massive life makeover, my wife and I downsized to a much smaller place in order to eliminate our commutes.  Even still, I had the perfect spot: a sort of awkward corner of my bedroom that seemed perfect for an office nook.

But this space truly was awkward as I could find no desk to fit it.  In a fit of inspiration at IKEA, I purchased 8 feet of kitchen counter, then stopped off at Home Depot for some L-brackets and bolts.  Add a chair, a couple of shelves and some wire baskets and my office was complete.  The cost of the desk was less than $100.

My office

But I also like to move around a bit when I work and would love to be able to have a workspace in my kitchen.  The solution is a standing desk, which would provide that mobility without taking up too much space.

Standing desks, or stand up work environments (SUWE) used to be quite common in the days before typewriters, telephones and computers and recently they’ve been making a comeback.  And for good reason.  As our jobs and lifestyles have changed to incorporate more and more time on a computer, most of us have passed that time seated at a desk or with the computer on our lap.  But now many are coming to believe  that all this sitting comes at a cost–increased muscle fatigue, decreased metabolism, perhaps even lower levels of creativity.

My friend Scott acquired this GeekDesk recently.  I love the name GeekDesk and love the motorized height adjustment even more.  Scott says he doesn’t raise the desk every day and that the multitasking environment of the modern office is easier for him to manage when seated.  The desk does get raised when he has to complete an intense task like writing or statistical modeling.  By standing, he’s better able to expend any nervous energy that would otherwise distract him.   Here’s a picture of his desk in its natural habitat:

Scott's desk

But at $800 plus shipping, I’ll let my next employer purchase one for me.  The standing desk in my immediate future is this one.  Built out of baker’s rack parts for less than $20.  Cheap, sturdy, easy to assemble, made for a kitchen location–what’s not to love?  I’ll let you know when I get it set up.

The Talk, Round One

November 4, 2010 4 comments

As I mentioned the other day, my son Sam will soon be entering puberty.  Prior to that, he’ll be discussing it will his 5th grade class.

In an effort to prep him for these events, my wife and I gave Sam this book the other night.  I asked him to take a break from reading his latest Young James Bond and instead take a couple of nights to review “What’s Happening To Me?”  I asked if he had heard that his class would be studying puberty in health class and did he know what that meant.  He said he knew of the upcoming lessons but didn’t really know what puberty was.

Without resorting to a planned speech, I asked him if he could obviously tell the difference between a 10-year-old and an 18-year-old.  He listed several–bigger, facial hair on boys, girls have boobs, etc.  Puberty, I said, is the process by which that happens, how we physically grow up.  Then I mentioned that all animals have the same basic imperatives–feed, fight, flight and reproduce.  Human bodies go through puberty so they will be able to do reproduce.  No freak outs, on either part.

I told him to create a list of questions and we’d review those in a couple of days.  I also mentioned that this was the first of many conversations we would have on this topic, that there were additional books we can and will give him and that he will have a lot of questions to ask us in the coming years.

This evening before dinner we reviewed his questions and I must admit the first round wasn’t too bad.  Why do sebaceous glands produce so much oil?  What does testosterone do?  What is the purpose of circumcision?  The only possibly blush-inducing query: what is a venereal disease?  On this last one, apparently the book mentioned them but did not explain what they were.  Rather than being surprised at the question, I was more surprised that the book still used that term instead of STD.

We’re early in the game but so far, so good.  Total conversation time for both conversations–less than 20 minutes.  Total expenditure at the bookstore–about $20 bucks.  Parents, why is this so hard?

A Scary Gary Halloween

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

As promised, see below for a picture of the family taken prior to tonight’s trick or treating.  Daughter Kate is a devil, son Sam is The Joker, wife Susan is a convict and I am Chilean Coal Miner #21.

We enjoyed going to house to house with the kids but were surprised again this year at how few kids trick or treat, even in kid-heavy neighborhoods on weekend nights.  I know that many churches and schools have trunk or treat events, where the kids walk through a parking lot from car to car and say hello to people they already know.  Why have we deemed this a good thing?

Halloween used to be a time when kids and adults wandered neighborhoods, met new neighbors and caught up with old ones.  Have we retreated to the “safe” and familiar because of ridiculous and untrue urban legends or because we prefer to associate only with what we know?  Or are we just so damned fat we won’t walk anywhere?

 

Available for weddings and bar mitzvahs