Showing posts with label useful things. Show all posts
Showing posts with label useful things. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2015



Over the summer, I was at a wedding for a friend's friend of a friend where I knew one person for certain, and had a passing acquaintance with one of the groomsmen. This took place at a posh winery that had an "inspirational talk" prior to the dinner. I was not impressed. The term"Inspirational Talk" carries a dubious sheen.  It covers a potentially vast and probably boring territory of possibilities, and I wanted to walk around the winery, whereas now to be polite, I had to sit in a dim room and watch videos on socially responsible entrepreneurs in the Philippines. 

When the videos ended, the lights went up and a man appeared. He was British entrepreneur Dylan Wilk. He was lively and mischievous, and had a penchant for driving over the speed limit. He had been so successful at his prior career that he had retired early, and Human Nature was a company he was managing as a retiree. The goal of Human Nature, at least one of them, was to raise the poor out of poverty. Along the way, this company he and his wife Anna Meloto-Wilk, the founder, have put all their savings into this company and possibly set in motion a minor tidal wave of change. 

At the back of the room were lip balms Wilk had brought with him that he was giving away for free. He asked for nothing, he expected nothing, he was just there to provide an inspirational talk. 

Wilk himself is the perfect salesman. He creates a little itch somewhere in that part of your brain that you can only scratch by googling. Then comes: How can I help? What can I do? 

Here is the site where you can buy Human Nature products.

And the Lip Balm? I'm not a fan of the bright green packaging, but it's high quality stuff.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015



Two things that have been on my mind lately, catching waterfalls and cleaning my mental thought processes. To help move this along, I've been reading/attempting to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (it's akin to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - but for the brain). And I thought I would share some excerpts.

"Spend not the remnant of thy days in thoughts and fancies concerning other men, when it is not in relation to some common good, when by it thou art hindered from some other better work. That is, spend not thy time in thinking, what such a man doth, and to what end; what he saith, and what he thinks, and what he is about, and such other things or curiosities which make a man to rove and wander from the care and observation of that part of himself, which is rational, and overruling. See therefore in the whole series and connection of they thoughts, that thou be careful to prevent what is idle and impertinent: but especially, whatsoever is curious and malicious: that thou must use thyself to think only of such things, of which if a man upon a sudden should ask thee what it is that thou art now thinking, thou mayest answer This, and That, freely and boldly, that so by thy thoughts it may presently appear that in all thee is sincere, and peaceable; as becometh one that is made for society, and regards not pleasures, nor gives way to any voluptuous imaginations at all: free from all contentiousness, envy, suspicion, and from whatsoever else thou wouldest blush to confess thy thoughts were set upon."

That is a very high bar, I think, to cleanse your thoughts so perfectly that you can allow yourself to be entirely transparent. You see the pattern: he lays out the common traps human pitfalls: envy, petty thoughts, malice and then lays out the standard: freedom from these hidden thoughts, thought which would otherwise make you blush in the light of day.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


If you ever have the need, here is an online site to find editors and writing professionals.

Kierkegaard is one of the most prolific writers I have ever known. And his thoughts are unique, even mildly intriguing, so this article provides a nice introduction to the man. 

From Flip and Tumble. 

For those times when you are searching for a word, but you only know the definition, but not the word. 

I'm constantly on the search for quality, affordable outdoor gear that isn't ugly. To put it mildly, it's been a process. Clymb is an online flash sale site for outdoor clothing, gear, and adventures. It's one of the few (and only) discounts for outdoor gear I have found, and I am looking hard. If you use the link, we both get $10 in credit. 

This is a way to donate through the travel agency I used to travel through Nepal. I know that everyone at Himalayan High Treks has a genuine interest in directly helping this country, and returning people to work as soon as possible.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Window vase

How to Intentionally Design a Happier Life
Having a better life takes work, and some good tips.

30 Day Minimalism Challenge
Habits are hard to break. My running theory is that it will take a good 30 days to reset daily habits.

5 Dinners You to Make from Pantry Staples
I'm going to try the chickpea recipe. I needed this more than water.

Before I Go
What are your priorities in this life? Do you know? Maybe reading this will speed that thought process right up.

Let's All Agree to Put an End to this Unhealthy Habit
The habit of judging people. In case it's not obvious.  I think this has two parts - judgment is a habit, and the less you judge others, the less you judge yourself.

Hopper App
I've used this for domestic flights and its pretty good, and this way I know I can just stop looking. Hours will be saved.

Minimalist Bike Lights
I've been eyeing these. You can take them on an off very easily, and then use them all over the place.

Charles & Keith
For the shoes.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


I'm allergic to alcohol, and there are all sorts of suggestions out there, mostly from well meaning friends to drink a bottle of pepto bismo before going out, take anti-histamines, slowly build up tolerance by downing a glass of wine a day. My question has always been - is it really worth it to get sloshed? How important is it to go wine tasting? 

Then this appeared. I'm on the fence. #Firstworldproblems.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



So this is my private, not so secret obsession: creativity, and how to nurture it. Or, to put it more bluntly, how can I get my muse to appear when I need her? 

Creativity comes in many forms. You can see it expressed most obviously in the arts, but also in novel scientific approaches, inventions, or the kind of thinking that diverges from the norm. What if you were to study this process, steadily over time, in people who have been able to channel their creativity to achieve great levels of success? Would a pattern emerge? 

This is precisely what Nancy Andreasen has done, in her article Secrets of the Creative Brain. She monitored participants' REST: Random Episodic Silent Thoughts, which are periods of free association. In doing so, she found that 
"almost all of my subjects confirmed that when eureka moments occur, they tend to be precipitated by long periods of preparation and incubation, and to strike when the mind is relaxed - during that state we called REST."

What is it that the mind is doing during REST? Andreasen's theory is that the mind is making subconscious connections, knitting together random bits of information into a comprehensive whole. The creative mind, as opposed to the non-creative, is exceptionally good at this process. Andreasen theorizes that  
"creative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way - seeing things that others cannot see."

However, as a caveat, "not all of these connections actually exist." 

In practice, the characteristic that a successful creative needs to truly thrive, is persistence. When you create something that is entirely novel, you are going against the grain of what has gone before, and this will be met automatically with skepticism. To succeed, you need to have an inherent belief in your work. You need to continue to push forward in the face of contention, and to meet resistance with perseverance. 

I'm paraphrasing, of course. The article goes into far greater depth than what I've written. I just picked out some titillating items, but you can read the full piece Here. I highly recommend it. 

Friday, July 11, 2014


Happy Friday! Here are some thoughts you might want to take with you into the weekend...

Monday, June 9, 2014



Small changes.

Sleep is a necessity. Sleep is a luxury. You know what makes sleep better? A sleep mask. It blocks out all ambient light, and helps you really get the most of those precious Zzzzz's. 

A recent discovery. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


1 Laugh.
2 Read.
3 Say please.
4 Floss.
5 Doubt.
6 Exercise.
7 Learn.
8 Don't hate.
9 Cut the bullshit.
10 Chill. 
- @TheTweetOfGod

Friday, May 2, 2014


Seaside, Italy
The picture above has nothing to do with anything.

That said, on the right hand side, if you scroll down a bit, I've listed some blogs that you may find useful. They range on a variety of topics, not just writing, because there's already a whole bunch of writing blogs out there, and there's more to life. There's that whole other part that you may have been neglecting. To summarize, here's some sites I've found, along with a brief description:

The blog that every other blog wants to be. Funny and warm, this blog always hits on topics that everyone wants to read. 

Many useful articles on how to achieve wellness and wellbeing. 

A great resource for clean and natural beauty and skincare products. And some great discussions.

I don't know how, but somehow the author culls and distills information guaranteed to stimulate your brain. Don't know how she does it. It's a miracle.

A great resource for photographers, and wannabe photographers, such as myself. I need to start using manual mode on the SLR camera I don't have. Yet. 

Firsthand knowledge of the situation in Egypt. She doesn't update often, but the content is worth it.

This is where you can find a large community of independent authors, and their respective books. You should be able to find many independent books all in one place, along with listings, descriptions, and even blogs of the corresponding authors. I sometimes hang out there as well, but I like being able to include completely unrelated pics with my posts. Personal preference.  

Monday, March 24, 2014



Artifact the Film
In 2008, the band 30 Seconds to Mars was sued by their own record label for $30 million dollars. This is a pretty entertaining documentary about the raw deal musicians get when they get screwed by sign with a major record label. No more guilt about downloading that album, eh?

Self-Publishing Changed My Life, But My Publisher Grew My Sales
So...the epic battle between the forces of Self publishing v. Traditional publishing continues!

Advice From Artists on How to Overcome Creative Block, Handle Criticism, and Nurture Your Sense of Self Worth
Here's a collection of advice from established authors, good to look at when you're feeling bummed, need to pick your self-worth out of the toilet and so on. Those days come and go.

The End of Facebook
Now that Facebook is in the business of making money, they're no longer in the business of providing you with a forum to reach your audience of followers. If you use Facebook to promote yourself or your business, this is worth a look.

Free Stuff
550 Free Audiobooks
I've probably posted this before, but since that was awhile go, here it is again. Free stuff!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Statue landscape Apps
This app allows you to share pictures, video, quotes, and other memories with your network of family and friends. This is being promoted for people with kids to share and preserve memories. I, however, can think of many other uses, such as if you're collaborating with people and want to share ideas in different formats. There is a lot of untapped potential here. 

It's kind of mysterious. I sometimes try to get away with that air of mystery, but it never works as well as this.

Sometimes, I try to include articles about staying calm, about not multi-tasking, about training and restructuring your thought processes. Simplification. Here is one more great way to simplify it up. Just stop giving a fuck. Nothing more simple than that.

I divide up exercises into what body part they are meant to address: running to build up leg muscles, yoga for arm strength (climbing if you really want definition), and then exercises like these for that part between the arms and legs. That part.

I'm in transition right now and looking at a lot of different perspectives as to where to go. Here's a good one to think about. 

Brain training! Yay! There is a podcast linked to this article, where the author explains in greater detail how to optimize the workings of your brain. The podcast takes more time, but probes a little deeper. If you manage to optimize the way your brain functions, then your reward will be focus and contentment. It's not a bad goal. 

This post kind of speaks for itself right? 

Monday, February 17, 2014


embed photo.png
It's 2014 and I just joined Flickr! Yes, that same Flickr, founded 10 years and 87 millions users ago, and now I am totally on board. Why?

Well, for one thing, Flickr can be used to store photos that I can then embed onto this blog. There is a huge debate going on about whether storing photos on Google or Flickr is better, and the reason I hopped on the Flickr train is because Blogger will give me 1 GB of photo storage, Google+ gives me 15 GB, while Flickr will give me 1 Terabyte of completely free storage.  Check my logic: 1GB < 15 GB < 1 TB.* 

With a measly 1 GB of storage using Blogger and undying flames of passion for blogging without ever getting paid, sooner or later I was going to run out of storage. To remedy this, I found that I could store photos on Flickr, and then embed them onto this blog instead. 

To embed a photo is fairly straightforward if you look at the photo above: 

  1. Make sure that you are not using the new beta version of Flickr. I tried it and it sucks.** Instead of simply embedding that one photo you wanted, it will unleash a slideshow of all your photos. No one wants that, Flickr. To make sure you are using the old version of Flickr, look at the bottom left of the photo. There should be a white box that says "Try our new photo experience beta." Don't click on that. If that isn't there, then congratulations you're in the new beta Flickr. Get out. Click on the bottom left corner to return to the old version.
  2. Next, click on the lower right hand corner box with the arrow icon shown above.
  3. Click on "Grab the HTML" code. Click on Html.*** Determine the size you want, and copy the code that appears.
  4. Return to Blogger, go to HTML instead of Compose on your post, and paste the code where you want your photo to appear. Your photo should appear under the Compose view, and you're done.
Now, here is a trick I figured out for those shifty types (like myself) who want to store pictures on Flickr, but don't want to make those pictures public on Flickr. See photos below for steps on how to do this.
  1. Open up the image on Flickr and select the size you want. Now, right click on the photo and select "Copy Image URL."

Embed photo.png
2.  Now hit the "Insert Image" icon on Blogger (see below), select "From a URL" and paste the image URL you copied from Flickr. The image should appear and show up on your post.  Done.

photo url.png

* In the name of honesty, I also chose Flickr storage over, say, Photo Bucket, because I'm already trolling around Flickr and this wouldn't add too much time to my virtual commute. 
** It took precious hours of my life to figure out that the "slideshow" problem that was making me cry tears of blood was due to a feature of the new beta Flickr, and that to solve it, I only needed to go back to the old one. If nothing else, this warning should save hours of people's lives.
*** Correction: Click on HTML, not embed. Embed will give you a slideshow. HTML will just embed that one photo.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Black Bird
The new year seems to be the trendy time to make goals. People want to exercise more, to eat better, to learn a new skill, to just generally turn into a better person. Me? I'm going to stop multi-tasking. 
"There's really interesting work showing that when you're focused on what you're doing, you become happier, even if what you're doing is incredibly boring" 
- Maria Konnikova, author of How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Based on Konnikova's work, trying to do maximize productivity by doing multiple things at the same time has the opposite effect - you just end up doing a lot of things badly, and are less happy as a result. There's a discipline needed to reign yourself in from multi-tasking, but if you can achieve this discipline, you learn to really focus when you need to. I, for one, need to.  

You can take a look at the article or listen to the podcast here.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Lit Branches 2
Travel I'm fascinated by it. I fantasize about it, and I didn't need yet another reason to do it, but it's still fun to look, because second only to the act of being in another country, is the anticipation that comes before. 

Book Reviews
Sooner or later it's going to happen. You decide to write a book review. Possibly on Goodreads. When evaluating someone else's creation, it's always good to go in with some ground rules. This is a good one.

This entire blog. It's great. It's informative and straightforward, and parses through so much political BS like a serrated blade through hypothetical butter. It's possibly the most informative, feet-on-the-ground blog about what's really happening in Egypt, if you wanted to know.

I consider the decision to commit to blogging or the decision to quit as a moment of transition, so it's always interesting to see that what caused the change. I've always found it to be creative outlet. It serves me rather than the other way around. If blogging does not serve you, then it is better to let it go.

Orphan Black
Have you heard of this? I found out only recently - and life became more exciting. This a BBC show about clones that revolves around a female lead. It hooks you right away. It does not let up. Even it you're not into clones, it doesn't matter. It's just a good show. That's all I'm going to say. Anything else would ruin it for you.

Understanding Health Insurance
Short, easy to understand articles that explains heath insurance in simple terms.

Monday, January 27, 2014


“In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.” 
From Navating Stuckness, by Jonathan Harris
This is one of the parting quotes from a very strong article about one man's roundabout way of coming back to doing what he loves. It's one of those stories to tuck away somewhere, so you can find and reread it when you're feeling like you've lost your way. I'm going to go write now.

Friday, January 24, 2014


waterside Muir beach
Now that the Christmas behemoth is behind us, why not just jump on over to the other extreme, eh? You're probably broke anyway. Or even better, you can read an article about someone who went through all the hard parts so you can skip straight to the lessons learned. However, you may want to go through the not spending part to break out of the habit of spending. Just a thought.

Okay, this is fairly self-serving, I admit it. What I'm hoping this offers is an entryway into the reader's mind. One of the questions facing writers is what a reader wants. This should hopefully clear up some of that mystery.  

There may be a few here that you haven't heard about. I'm going to try out the photography apps, because I usually don't use my phone to take pictures. Nothing beats a real camera for beautiful details, but I could be wrong. There may be a post on this waiting to happen. 

I don't make resolutions on new years. It seems to limit you to making all changes all at once, at the beginning of the year, just so that you can forget them about a week later. These are some interesting ideas here that you might want to try - whenever I see a list, I tend to pick and choose what to try. Apparently checking email immediately upon waking is a bad thing - I'm going to try not to do this and see if life improves.

Creativity App
This app claims to boost your creativity by providing that "coffee house" allure anywhere you go - for when you don't have time to go to a cafe, but still want to recreate those special moments.

Why You Should Be Writing Short Fiction
I don't read short fiction, and on that basis, I don't write short fiction, and that was that. Then I read this post - from 2012 no less, but it's still valid - and realized that I shouldn't make decisions based on my own self-centered, short-sighted preferences. Time to fire up that pen. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


“The only way we will avoid being crushed by the weight of the hundreds or thousands of emails we receive every day is to free ourselves from the need to treat each one like it matters and like it merits a response. The only way we will avoid being emotionally crushed by having other people not respond to our emails is to stop expecting a response. If we can adapt our expectations to fit the realities of this new paradigm, we will all crawl out from under the weight of the curse of email. Email will prove a blessing.”
 - Tim Challies

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Wilkinson Books Front

It was one of those days where you back into an alley...only to discover a bookstore.

In the middle of the day, which is the only time I gravitate towards alleyways, I took a random turn and there it was: seemingly built into the wall was a series of three windows. Outside each was a polite cart of books. In each window stood a shelf, and on the shelves were more books. All different kinds. All selected with taste. 

I chatted with the owner, Wilkinson (surprised?), and he handed me his card. The store, he explained, was inspired by his European travels, where he saw people selling books on the roadside by laying their wares out on blankets. You walk by. You browse. You buy. It's the kind of idea that can vary between romantic reminiscence or book prostitution, depending on your inclinations.

I found the idea charming, both in concept and execution. 
bookseller card sunny books Bookstore Bookstore 2
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