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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Improve your Eyesight Natrually with Simple Shaolin Exercises

Shaolin Kung Fu
In ancient China, Shaolin monks developed a fighting style based on the physical characteristics and iconic elements of the personality of the Tiger.  They called this Tiger style Kung-Fu.  Since a Tiger has very keen eyesight, the monks developed methods of exercising their eyes to improve thier eyesight.  These would have been exercises that they trained and developed from a very young age.  They would have been performed by eveyone training in the Tiger style regardless of whether they had so-called "20/20 vision".  No matter how good you are at something, you can aways become better with more training.

I have been recently practicing the following exercises and have noticed an improvement in my eyesight over just the past couple months.

One exercise was to count the leaves on a far away tree.  With meditative patience they would focus in and count hundreds of leaves at a time.  (This is a good one to practice in the fall since the leaves are changing colors and you may be staring at leaves quite a bit anyway.)  Start up close with some leaves that are easy to make out and count 50 of them.  With patience, slowly pick trees that are farther away from you and then slowly increase the number of leaves you count.  Work your way up to 200 which will give you a good amount of time with your eyes focused at a distance.  Do this once daily.

Another exercise is to focus on an object very close to your face.  I usually choose my hand.  Get it as close to your eyes as you can while retaining a good focus on it.  Look at it for about 2-3 seconds after you've fully adjusted your focus on it, and then pick another object that is more than 20 feet away.  I generally pick a leaf on a tree or something else that has some fine detail that will allow me to really focus on finer and finer detail.  If you pick a flatt wall or something that doesn't have much texture or detail it will be hard to focus on.  Again, look at the object for 2-3 seconds after you have achieved a good focus.  Go back and forth between these two objects about 20 times and do this exercise daily.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pain is Only What you Make It - The Original Tale

Reference previous post: The Pain is Only What you Make It - Mind over Matter

With every impact, blood seeped out of my aching knuckles as I struck the wall-mounted training pad over …and over …and over again. Right, left, right left, right, left… My senior instructor, in his naturally menacing manner bellowed, “Punch harder!! I better feel the building shake! The pain is only what you make it.” as he walked out of the dojo and went upstairs to eat his lunch…

There were two of us testing for our black belts that day and we both took a healthy breath, focused in a little closer to our targets …and we punched harder. As our fists throbbed and knuckles stung, his words resounded in ears, and we persevered. My mind sunk into contemplation and became detached from my current situation. After many years of martial arts training, I knew the capabilities of my body, and I knew how it would react to certain types of damage. “They’re only knuckles. They’ll lose their skin and bleed. Since I’m human I know they’ll heal.”

“If the pain is only what I make it, then the fact that I’m stuck in this situation is unimportant.”
Physical pain is only a response to outside stimuli, and it tells a brain that there may be damage occurring at a certain location on the body. Essentially, it’s an electrical memo sent from your nerve endings to your brain and can be thought of as merely a form of communication. Well, if you are already aware of what is happening with your body, then you have no reason to read the memo. You have the option to disregard the memo in order to more effectively get your task done. Of course, the same philosophy can be applied to more than just the physical sort of pain or suffering.
“I know that I am in pain now, but I know that some time in the future I will no longer be in pain.”
Knowing that pain is temporary is also helpful. When you begin to realize that the climate of life is always changing, then you will always be prepared to embrace the approaching climate, be it painful or joyful. If this is the case, what difference does it make that there is pain now?

Leia Mais…

Friday, September 4, 2009

One Second Meditation Practice. A Moment of Clarity.

Twitter 365 - Ft Yotsuba [079]Image by KayVee.INC via Flickr

One-hour meditation too much to handle? 20 minutes? 5 minutes got you beat? Here's a new approach to meditation with one very westernized quality about it. It's very fast.

This method is less focused on meditation, but more about trying to sit peacefully and achieve a brief moment of clarity, or clarity of presence. This way of thinking comes from Zen philosophy. The idea here is to create an instantaneous state of mind, or state of being wherein your awareness or understanding of your immediate surroundings or situation is increased. Try not to exert effort when attempting this. It will inevitably lead to failure and regret. Failure to do something that you didn’t “try” to do, is not really a failure. If you want it to be a sunny day and it turns out rainy, you did not fail. If it rains, it rains; if it’s sunny, it’s sunny.

Hints to help you achieve a moment of clarity:

  1. Focus on your heartbeat until you can feel it pushing the blood throughout all of your arteries.
  2. Create a phrase or sentence that describes what it feels like to be alive.
  3. Look at your hand and try to understand that no matter what happens in this life, all that's sure is that you will have this body.
  4. Picture yourself from a bird's eye view. Visualize whatever you're doing at the moment and zoom out little by little to picture the room, building, trees, street, town, state, country, continent, planet, galaxy, and all of the cosmos.
  5. Imagine you have just been born and are seeing all of the things around you for the first time.
  6. Do not concentrate, just pay attention.
  7. Do something you absolutely love doing. Something that engages your mind and body 100%.
  8. Rise to a challenge that is slightly more than you think you are capable of.
  9. Breathe silently and listen to the other sounds your body may be making.
  10. Focus on your skin until it begins to tingle.
Have a nice day!

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How to Prioritize when Prioritizing is not a Priority

Everyone has something that they want to accomplish or get better at or do more often, and no matter how much we think about it, it just keeps slipping by. Another opportunity to eat healthier or practice a certain piano piece, etc. is trumped by other priorities, other obligations.

Accept that this will happen.

You have priorities. Everyone does, and always will, that’s just part of human nature. Priorities that are higher on the list get done before those that are lower. Sometimes you have control over the priorities list and sometimes you don’t. Priorities come bundled with an inherent level of importance depending on your lifestyle and the elements you cherish.

Increasing the importance of a priority.

If you have something in mind that you have wanted to undertake, but have not been able to find the time for it, there is a way to increase the importance. Generally speaking the items that are a "bigger" part of your life get more attention - the house, kids, job, etc. So with this philosophy, if you make something a larger part of your life, it will inherently become more of a priority.

Make your priorities a hobby!

If you make something a hobby it will become more important to you because of the fact that it has become a larger part of your life. My wife recently became fascinated with eating healthy. She fed that fascination by learning about food from the bottom up. She studied hundreds of healthy foods, read books, blogs, labels and talked to other people with similar minds. She became immersed in this knowledge and has gained an invaluable understanding of what is healthy and why . She made this lower-level priority into a hobby that expanded and consumed spare moments that would otherwise have been used doing other things. Her other priorities didn’t necessarily have to wane to make room for it, but they were simply rearranged to accomodate for it.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let Today be Forever Known as the "Inspiration Age"

I woke up this morning and the words "Inspiration Age" were ringing in my head. Not sure why, but when I got to thinking about it, akin to the industrial revolution of the 18th & 19th centuries or the Space Age which began in the 50's, it does stand to reason that the first part of the 2000's will forever be remembered as the "Inspiration Age".

Our world is on an extremely fast and volatile evolutionary path, and wherever we end up 50 years from now, what we do TODAY will have been the inspiration that crafted it.

In this article I've listed what I believe to be the major contributors to today's inspiration.

"Go Green"

Of course today's buzzword is "Green". This is getting engineers optimizing existing products and creating new technologies across the board as well as take a closer look at the entire Earth, its processes and their interrelations as a system. But this inspiration is not just limited to engineers, everyone conscientious enough is taking a fresh look at their daily life and coming up with new ways to optimize it that would have less of an environmental impact.

Budding New Technologies

So many technologies are in their infancy right now and there is much more research and learning being done than actual development or commercialization in the fields of cloning, consumer space flight, nano-technology, thought controlled devices and many more.

Revolutions in personal communication devices present an interesting topic for inspiration as well. New developments in everyday devices are revolutionizing how we go about our lives. What this means to me is the combination of all of our cool new gadgets into one tiny little device: Phone, Camera, PDA, Music player, and any other form of communication available “out there”. This has been on the horizon and greatly anticipated ever since cell phones started taking pictures and on the forefront of this effort is the iPhone which has been the first to really nail this. (it sounds to me like everything else pales in comparison – sorry Blackberry users). All of you people (myself included) who have been expecting this product for some time now, have provided a great deal of inspiration and motivation for product development engineers. Thanks everyone! From all of us.

These devices allow creative minds to focus on creativity, drawing inspiration and creating inspiration rather than organization of thoughts or communication.

Life Hackers

There seems to be a large presence of people out there who have become very interested in optimizing every facet of life. Relationships, chores, work, parenting, making money… or just day-to-day tasks - hence the creation of this blog. ☺ I think this is a fascinating concept and, like the convenient devices discussed above, the idea is that if you can optimize certain tasks so that you don’t need to spend as much doing them, you have more time to spend focusing on the more enjoyable things in life. Enjoyable things inherently offer more inspiration to people because you can generally allow yourself to contribute 100% of your focus to these things. If you are attempting to enjoy something against your natural instinct you most likely won’t allow yourself to be completely immersed in it.

Another benefit to "life hacking" is that it offers an entirely new subject to scrutinize – The optimization of life itself. This is completely new and very creative in itself. It provides inspiration for the scrutinization of a vast number of other subjects that we currently take for granted or accept for what they are.


Otherwise known as the Net Generation, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration, Millenials are basically the generation following the baby boomers. Many business owners are afraid of Millennials because they are known to expect too much of the work place and they have the desire to shape their lives according to their own personal schedule and goals as opposed to committing to a life and goals dictated by a company's progress. I can understand why this would be frightening to an employer, unless of course the employer is, themselves, a part of the millennial generation or at least understands them.

This leads to an exciting evolution of all businesses adapting this millennial mindset and being able to happily accommodate a world that moves faster than ever. Daily market changes, trends and expectations will be accommodated much easier and with greater success.


Life is extremely tenacious, we’ve been reminded of this throughout 300 million years of evolution. When life struggles it pulls out the heavy artillery. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, if you will… In our current economic state there are a lot of business tactics that are being used to ensure a company’s success through this hazardous economic environment. There is creativity being used everywhere in business right now to build stronger practices and keep companies alive. This will undoubtedly contribute revelations on heartier methods to the western industrial world that can be used in the future that will better accommodate a more diverse economic environment.

A New Awakening

This is along the same lines as the life hackers and millennials. Overall, it seems like today's society is becoming more aware of the intricacies of daily life and is making "living happily" more of a priority. I recently read A New Earth – Awakening to your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. It is an amazing book about the new spiritual revolution of today’s world. It coincides directly with the rise of eastern religion in the west and life hackers, and living happily. As stated above, when we are enjoying what we’re doing and living contently overall, it is easy to become completely immersed in all that we do. This then makes it easier to draw inspiration and create inspiration for all others.

Sharing of Ideas

Digital mediums such as blogs, e-books, networks, social groups, etc, make sharing ideas and knowledge a snap. This is pretty simple, the more ideas, the more inspiration available.

Cheers, to the inspiration age! It's a lot of hard work that we've got to do now to create a better future for everyone.

What do you think? Is this possible? 50 years from now, what will you be calling today's years?

Read this article at

Leia Mais…

Friday, February 20, 2009

How to Eat your Snack Slowly and Make it Last

Too many times I take out the 10am snack only to find that it has disappeared by 10:05 and I can't even place exactly what it tasted like.. This has happened to you, no doubt? Here's a list of tips to help you slow down, enjoy, appreciate, and actually make your snacks last. Eating one snack more slowly will help you avoid or at least postpone your cravings. (See questions to ask yourself when cravings hit )

1. Reward yourself - Use food only as a reward for being productive or accomplishing something. Don't go crazy though, you don't deserve a reward for everything , you know..

2. Keep busy - If you're simply busier, hypothetically, you won't have as much time to be snacking. Read my post on how to stay motivated and on task at work .

3. Clean out your mouth - Between each bite make sure your mouth is clean. Get all the extra goodies out from between your teeth and from all of the little places where food gets stuck. Take a sip of water if you want.

4. Portion control - Bring only as much food as you think you need to eat. Only buy the small bag of chips this time; only pack one handful of pretzels instead of three. Note that this is probably less that you would want to eat, but not more than you need to eat to stay content.

5. Bring a variety - Something like trail mix (it's good for you!) And eat only one thing at a time. One peanut, one raisin.. Take your time deciding which piece it will be next. Consult your taste buds and consider all of your options before making the BIG DECISION! Too much of the same thing can make you complacent and your appreciation for each bite will be reduced.

6. Exploit your own discomfort - Put your snack just out of your reach so that you are required to lean over or get out of your chair or otherwise inconvenience yourself in order to grab a bite.

7. Appreciation - Notice how much different a peanut tastes when you eat one (or one half) at a time as opposed to a handful. How many different flavors do you notice? What do you notice from the shape? How is one peanut different from another? How does the flavor change as you slowly eat your way through the peanut?

8. Include all senses - Smell your snack or look at it closely before putting a piece in your mouth. This goes along with appreciation. Chinese and Tibetan monks have even been known to listen to their food before consuming it. The idea here is that it makes each bite feel larger and more important.

9. No one can eat just one? - Take the challenge.

10. Set a timer - Say you want your one little bag of peanuts to last for 3 hours. Estimate how many peanuts are in the bag, divide that number by two. Divide 3 hours by the previous number you got, and that means at that interval you are allowing yourself to eat 2 peanuts. IE, if I had 24 peanuts (a handful) I could eat 2 of them every 5 minutes and they would last for an hour. Use a timer on your watch, phone, computer, etc.

As I wrote this list I made a couple handfuls of trailmix last for an excess of 3 hours. And I can still taste every bite! It was great. I challenge you to give it a try. And let me know how it went!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Read this article at my new location:

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

10 Tips on How to Stay Motivated at Work


You've had the "oh-man, I-don't-feel-like-I'm-doing-anything-meaningful-at-work-and-can't-bring-myself-to-stay-on-task-for-the-life-of-me" blues. I know, so have I.

No matter what your job is, it is most likely important that you have it, if not for the community or the planet, at least for the survival of you and your family. So whether or not you actually find the immediate task at hand entertaining or otherwise captivating, you must convince yourself that it is worth the battle if not for the sole purpose of your own survival.

Oh yeah, and if you really don't like your job and think you could do better, have more fun, contribute more to society at another job, by all means, QUIT and get another job! But that's a topic for another post...

If you do, in fact, enjoy your job (as I do) and feel that it is the right place for you to be right now, but sometimes have trouble staying on task or motivating yourself, I've come up with a list of little tricks I've tried to keep up a good work flow and avoid the bosses raised eyebrow that says: "Really, what is your purpose here?"

1. Make a to-do list. Write all of your tasks down on a piece of PAPER; not on the computer or in your PDA. Something that will remain right in front of your face no matter what you are doing.

2. Listen to music. But not just any music, and certainly not your favorite music (that can be distracting) find the right music to motivate you. I find that I work best to fast music with no lyrics. I also find Japanese drums to be invigorating, and there's always the old stand-by: Iron Maiden. Great for productivity.

3. Play games with yourself. Get in touch with your inner child and make believe that it is your duty to save the world and the only way to do it is to press a button at the bottom of your stack of papers (or something else relevant to your tasks).

4. Compete with peers. Maybe not outwardly, not if it would be awkward, but play a game where at the weekly meeting you have 2 more things to report than everyone else in the room. Or maybe you have assembled more product, or stocked more boxes than anyone else.

5. Stretch. Take a few minutes a few times a day and do some stretching. Feeling relaxed and avoiding fatigue is critical to getting good work done. Read this article on Eye Exercises that can be done at your desk. And here is a link to some stretching you can do without leaving your desk. (and here )

6. Try standing up. Stand up at your desk for a new perspective and a better posture. Read Try Standing up at your Desk for more info on how this can be beneficial.

7. Include yourself in more tasks - Force yourself to partake. Take on a challenge and give people something to expect from you. If there are short term results that people are expecting, it will be much more difficult to slack off.

8. Offer your services in other areas - Carry water jugs, refill the soap in the bathroom, fix someone else's computer, etc. IE: Take on some task that is not technically yours. This will give you a little variety and should make it easier to come back to your position with a new perspective.

9. Take a "Dry Bath". This is a technique that originated in ancient Chinese Kung-Fu. Rub your hands together vigorously until the palms heat up. Immediately rub your arms, shoulders, head, torso and legs. This is said to be good for blood flow, metabolism and internal organs. I find that it is also useful in waking yourself up or bringing you into the present moment.

10. Take a "Brain Bath". Also a concept from ancient China, a "brain bath" is removing yourself from an arduous environment and giving your senses something more soothing to experience. This can be listening to birds or a stream, looking at artwork or flowers, petting an animal or otherwise giving pleasure to your senses. This is good for invigorating the functions of the brain. Upon returning to work you may find that a portion of the dullness of your tasks has been eradicated.

There may be another list a little later since this was kind of fun. But for now, let me know if you use any of these or if I missed any big ones for you.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


After a few months of writing this blog, and some pretty good success and encouragement from reviewers, comments and other bloggers, I've decided to up the stakes and go for the domain name:

That seems to be the popular thing to do and I can see why. I'll be using WordPress from now on, and I'm extremely impressed with the system so far. I was able to import all of the existing articles from Blogger over to my new domain so all of the archived articles will be available for you.

If you are subscribed to MiniLifeHacks in a reader or by email you should not have to change anything. You will automatically be transferred over to the new domain.

Update your Bookmarks!
If you prefer to access the site to read the blog then you will need to update your bookmarks or favorites with the new web address:

New Stuff!
Not only do we have a new domain, we've got:
  • A new look - Enjoy easier reading, commenting, browsing etc. with our new layout.
  • Better search function - find the articles you're looking for with a search bar in the top right of the site.
  • Widgets - That's right, we'll be offering an array of nifty widgets to add to your homepage or blog. So check them out!
  • Closer contact - There is now a contact page where you can contact me directly without having to leave a comment. I like to encourage readers to ask about things they would like to see me post about.
Enough blabbering!! Check it out!!

Leia Mais…

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Avoid Over-Eating: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Cravings Hit

Chinese New Year candy trayImage by hale_popoki via Flickr

Try asking yourself some of these questions next time you get those cravings for sweets or fatty foods. Asking questions of yourself in general, is a good way to ensure you're actually conscious of what you're doing, and not acting on impulse.

Will it be more wasteful for me to drop this into the trash, or to store it in the fat cells in my body and then have to use my own energy to burn them up?

2. How does my stomach feel right now? Is it full?

3. If I could extract only the fat/calories in this food and put it in a cup, would I want to slurp it down?

4. Am I craving this because I actually want it, or because it is a physiological attraction of my senses to it? (A physiological desire would be a natural occurrence of which only the senses are in control, whereas an actual wanting is consciously controlled by rational thoughts in the brain. The rational thinking of the brain, despite popular belief, does have the power to trump the senses.)

5. How important is it that I eat this food? How important is it that I do not?

6. How different would my life be if I ate this junk food everyday, compared to if I did not eat this junk food at all?

7. Do my senses really have more control over my actions than my brain does?

8. How will I benefit from eating this, or will I?

Leave a comment and add to the list.
What do you ask yourself when cravings hit? What helps you? What hurts you?

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Leia Mais…

Friday, January 30, 2009

Did You Know? #8: Human Cell Replacement.

Every hour one billion cells in the body must be replaced.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Did You Know? #7: Female Sense of Hearing

A female's sense of hearing is usually increased slightly during fertility. This is attributed to the evolutionary necessity to be on the defense while carrying life.

Leia Mais…

Did You Know? #6: The Human Head

The average human head weighs about 8 pounds.

Leia Mais…

Keep Tabs on President Obama with the Weekly Video Address

With all this "change" in the air, and our new celebrity president, politics seems to be becoming more and more popular amongst the youth including popular internet media channels such as Facebook, MySpace and even Twitter.

These tools have evolved far enough to become a great platform to publicize to a younger audience. They're also at a point where they are actually very useful for finding out information about what our administration is doing. Instead of watching the news from the same channel every night and listening to the same editorials and opinions on the radio, it's now easier to get straight to the facts and follow all of this activity via direct internet channels.

The Whitehouse has a blog that is updated a few times a day documenting highlighted events. President Obama has even said that he plans to publish a weekly address online (every Saturday morning) for a brief update on the pressing issues.

If you haven't already checked out these tools, I would highly recommend taking a look around the new and improved White house site which includes a blog, executive orders called, weekly address videos and other fun stuff:

This is a good site that consolidates internet coverage of the administration into one convenient place:

Follow Barack Obama on Twitter:

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Understanding Basic Principles of Physics for a more Efficient Life

Diagram showing a Second Class LeverImage via Wikipedia

In order to fully understand what's going on around us and optimize our lives, I believe that it is essential to have a basic understanding of some principles of physics. Get to know how things really work. Instead of learning by trial and error, if you have some knowledge or understanding of how events might actually turn out, you can probably make better decisions.

I think I see the point.. but what exactly are you talking about? Let's say, for example, you bump into a lamp and it begins to topple over. Your tendency would be to grab it any way you can and save it from crashing to the floor. So you grab the lower portion of the lamp because that is the part that is moving the slowest. (assuming that it is simply falling over by pivoting about a point at the base of the lamp) But the lamp is too heavy and you don't can't generate enough torque in your wrist in time and you only end up lifting the base of the lamp from the table and hurting your wrist in the process.

Had you been able to apply the simple principle of leverage at the moment you took action, you may have realized that a much smaller amount of force would be required to stop the lamp if you tried to catch it by a point further away from the pivot. The image above depicts a "second class lever" which means that essentially the closer you apply force to the pivot point, the more force is required; and the further away you are, the less is required.

There are limitless of scenarios where you can observe the principles of leverage. IE: golf, faucet knobs, eating utensils, your forearm, pushups... etc.

There is enough information on Levers and Leverage out there, that I don't need to get into an entire lesson, I just want to make you aware of how knowing and applying these principles can benefit your life. Do some research on your own at the links below.

This one is a white paper on leverage as it applies to biomechanics:

Let me know if this makes sense; was it helpful? Is there a situation you can think of where you may have used physical leverage to your benefit in everyday life and not realized it? Is there a situation where, looking back, you could have used leverage to your advantage, and didn't?

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For the Evolution of Communication Between Motorists

The evolution and eventual civilization of human-kind is greatly attributed to the presence of communication between beings. As our communication techniques improve, we become more civilized and able to appropriately deal with various situations and hardships through many forms of communication. Besides the number of words in any given language, there are multitudes of gestures, sounds and expressions that help us to communicate without speaking. In order to have a successful society, and for people to work together, there must be good communication.

Communication major dimensions scheme

Image via Wikipedia

Currently, and for the past 80-90 years we have been building an alternate society within our society, where people dress up like machines with wheels (yes, I'm talking about cars) and eliminate all familiar forms of communication. We had originally included, and since implemented a few methods of simple communication between these vehicles. This was necessary so that people could exist together on the same streets while wielding these 3.000 lb. machines at high velocities and still retain some semblance of order in this highly volatile environment. As far as I can count the very primitive forms of communication we regularly use now are as follows:

Action Translation
Blinker "I'm changing direction"
Hazard lights "Something's wrong" or "Something's important" or "Watch out"
Horn "Watch out" or "Aahh" or "Hello" or "MOVE!"
Break lights "I'm stopping" or "back off"
Flashing headlights "Something's wrong" or "MOVE!" or "turn on your lights" or "dim your lights" or "Go ahead"
Revving engine "I'm ready to go" or "Hey there" or "I will go fast" or "I rock" or "I'm angry"
Spinning tires "I rock" or "I'm angry"
Yelling out the window Generally "I'm angry for some reason, but I can't tell you exactly why because I'm driving."

All of the above mentioned items are EXTREMELY primitive forms of communication and do not allow for any sort of coherent conveyance of thoughts. All of these things are extremely ambiguous and require contextual evaluation of them before translating them. In other words they could each mean many different things depending on a lot of other factors including driver mood or demeanor which is generally undetectable unless the drivers are in close proximity. There are a couple more forms of communication like swerving or speeding, but those are even more ambiguous than those shown above.

Common Chimpanzee  in Cameroon's South Province

Image via Wikipedia

Chimpanzees have many more methods of communication than the above list. Many audible forms include hoots and barks that convey and are understood by others as feelings of "fear", "puzzlement", "enjoyment", "annoyance", "rage", "distress" and "excitment". Already leaps and bounds ahead of todays motorists. Additionally, body language is extensively used among chimps, which is inherently impossible when driving an automobile, but can be related to speeding and swerving amogst other things that I mentioned are very hard to decipher concrete meaning from.

The more cars we add to the streets the more essential it is that we improve this system of communication. It seems that the majority of people, at least in the Northeast US have surprisingly stopped using blinkers, which contribute to a large percentage of the communication between vehicles. Besides being one of the originally designed communication features, it is also one of the clearest concepts for other drivers to interpret.

The automotive industry has obviously made enourmous progress since it's conception. Competition is stiff, improvements are made, and conveniences are added to every model, every year. And recently the stress has been on fuel consumption (which has a great deal of merit these days) but I feel that there is no urgency to address the language barrier between motorists.

How do you feel we can improve communication on the streets to avoid road rage?

Leia Mais…

The Best Invention Since Sliced Bread

Last year my wife and I were given a bread maker. I thought to myself, "Cool, a bread maker". Little did I know...

Generally, the thing I hate about kitchen gadgetry is the uselessness per unit time spent cleaning all of the bits and pieces. This is NOT the case with the bread maker - at least the one we have (The Sunbeam, below). There is ONE bucket thing and one stirring blade (not sharp) to wash when you're done. It's non-stick so it literally takes about 15 seconds to wash both of these things.

The bread it makes is great, (did I mention it makes pizza dough as well?) and it takes ME about 10 minutes to put together a loaf of bread. My wife can do it in about 3 minutes... Then you just set the time you want it to be done for, usually we let it bake overnight so that we can wake up to the smell of fresh bread and have a warm slice in the morning.

No kidding people, this is one of those things (like the Viva Paper Towels) that has changed my life forever.

Leia Mais…

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Good Way to Get Motivated - Just Do It

In addition to being an engineer, I'm also a musician. I've been writing songs for a few years now, but I've never played for anyone except immediate family and friends. I've been posturing myself and refining my tunes for a while to get them to a point where I'd be comfortable doing a show. I can't say that I'm quite to the "comfortable spot" yet, and playing the guitar doesn't really get top priority, always competing with work, martial arts, other side projects, blogging... etc.

A friend of mine is a professional theatrical performer and he recently offered for me to open up for his new show in 6 weeks! Despite my apprehension and unpreparedness, I finally decided that I had to heed my father's advice, "Grab for all the Gusto" and just commit to the show.

Grab for all the Gusto in life.
By committing myself to doing this and basically backing myself into a corner, I'll be forcing my priorities. Playing a show is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and despite my uncertainty, now that I have a deadline to meet I will be focusing on this new task.

I've used this technique before, I'll call it "over-commitment", with good success. When I was first getting into website development, in speaking with new clients I would commit myself to preparing things that were not part of my skill set. By committing this to clients, I was in fact committing to myself to learn whatever necessary skills were required.

What is your experience with forcing yourself to learn something? Have you intentionally over-committed in order to expedite the natural learning curve?

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Which came first: the Confidence or the Focus?

I am a big advocate of "effective focus", as it has been referred to at I believe the difference between CAN and CAN'T is largely a factor of how much focus is effectively given to a certain task.

In high school some friends of mine had a band and were looking for a trombonist. A trombone conveniently came available through a friend and I was pretty excited about a potential opportunity for me to join the band, but I’d never touched a trombone before. “Have no fear!” I told myself. I took the trombone home and spent every spare minute learning about the instrument. Not just how to play it, but more.. I learned the construction of it, the adjustments available, how many different ways it could be held, where its center of gravity was.. etc. When learning to play it, I was in a private place (my back yard) with zero distractions, where I could listen to the sound of the instrument and feel it’s reactions to my breath and that was it.

Three weeks later I attended my first band practice, and after one more week I played my first show. I stayed with the band for another 6 years and had a lot of fun. I dedicate that to two things in particular: Confidence in myself, and the ability to focus.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Tips for Safe Winter Driving - Build Confidence, Know Your Car

Winter is now in full swing and, at least where I live, the ice torments the roads with its icy chaos. Drivers begin to slow down as they become less and less confident with their driving in these hazardous conditions and lack of confidence is not something that you should allow yourself to have; not ever.

Confidence is the knowledge that you are fully able to do that which you attempt. The way I see it, lack of confidence can be overcome by knowing yourself. Know your limits and abilities and you will never see your confidence wane. If indeed you do notice yourself with a lack of confidence (driving a car in the snow or otherwise) learn from this and tell yourself, "I need to take this opportunity to learn my limits and abilities to increase my confidence during this task." This article is particularly about driving in the winter weather but can be applied across all disciplines.

When I was learning to drive a car, growing up in Maine, my father would take me to an empty parking lot during a big snow storm and allow me to drive around and get a feel for the car. Understand that when driving in the winter, you WILL hit ice, and your tires WILL spin. Trying to avoid slipping the car or spinning the tires is pointless. You will slip and slide so in order to be confident while doing so, you must know how to do it.

Allow yourself to discover how your car reacts in different situations. Learn how fast you can accelerate. Observe how much traction you get while braking. Spin the car out of control in an open parking lot, or any other controlled environment and then attempt to regain control. Use trial and error to figure out which way and how much to turn the wheel in order to regain control during any given amount of drift you may be experiencing.

Other important bits of information are the physical extents of the body of your car. Know exactly how big your car is and test your limits until you are able to easily judge where your bumpers are from the driver's seat. This will help to avoid ambiguities like "I'm not sure if I'm going to brake in time to avoid that other car so I will tense up and close my eyes and hope for the best."

If you'd like, feel free to share your winter driving story.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did You Know? #5: Eye Cones

If you look slightly to one side or the other of a dim star, you will be able to see it better. It will appear brighter. This goes for any object that requires more brightness to be seen. Look slightly to one side or the other.

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Did You Know? #4: Nerve Density

Nerves are closer (and therefore more sensitive) on some parts of the body, than they are on others. It is hard to distinguish the difference between one pencil touching the back of your neck, and two pencils touching the same area. But it is far easier to distinguish this difference on the fingertips or lips.

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Did You Know? #3: Magnetite Crystals

Migratory birds, mammals, Salmon and other animals are known to have “Magnetite Crystals” incorporated into geometric patterns in their brains that may effectively give them another sense – the sense of direction. Humans also carry Magnetite Crystals, however they are scattered about the brain in no particular pattern. This may mean that through the use of visual landmarks and other tools humans have evolved out of having this sense of direction.

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Did You Know? #2: Sick and Dizzy

The reason humans tend to become sick to our stomachs when we get dizzy is because the balance sensor (in the inner ear) does not agree with the information from the eyes. This makes the brain believe that we have ingested some sort of hallucinogen or other damaging substance so it tells the stomach to attempt to purge it.

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Did You Know? #1: Sight Processing

One third of the human brain is dedicated to processing sight information from the eyes.

What is this Did You Know section?

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Did You Know?

I’ll be adding a new “Did You Know?” section to Mini Life Hacks.

This section will be full of factoids about the human race, physics, evolution, biomechanics, the senses, etc. And the purpose is to help people understand these discreet facts or information packets since they contribute to the overall understanding of one’s self. The reason they are broken up into factoids is because they may not particularly relate directly to one another, and also because by reading one fact at a time it makes it easier for the mind to retain the information as opposed to being garbled with a bunch of other information.

To get to this section just click on the "Did You Know?" category. Please let me know if you enjoy this section and also leave a comment if you have a “Did You Know?” that you want to contribute.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Best Paper Towel in the Universe. Hands Down.

Viva paper towels are, by far, one of the best products I have ever used. And no, they're not paying me to say that.

I don't generally do product reviews, but I've just got to say something here.. These paper towels (and I use the word paper cautiously - it's more like magic material) are the most amazing things I've seen. They take a beating a keep on keepin' on. You can literally scrub the carpet with these, rinse them out, ring them dry and use them again.

My wife and I buy the small ones (pick-a-size) and really, one is all ya need... They do cost a bit more than most paper towels, but honestly, it's a whole different animal. These suckers will blow you away. I found a good deal on Amazon (who knew, they build lunar landers and sell paper towels...) for just a little over a dollar per roll. I'm sure your local bulk store has a decent deal too.

I seriously recommend that you check these out.

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Get Free Movies at RedBox

This will be a quick one. If you get movies at Redbox (those big red machines at grocery stores and drug stores) you should know about how to get them for free :)
You can use the codes below when you check out the movie - just press "Enter Code". You still need a credit card but it will not be charged unless you keep the movie for more than one day. Each of these codes will only work once per credit card:


This website has more codes, but the three above I have tried many times without fail. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sick of Staring at the Monitor? Try Eye Exercises!

My eye! My beautiful eye.Image by feastoffools via Flickr
It's a pain in the EYE to stare at a computer screen all day long. Trust me, I know... Eyes get fatigued and this can lead to discomfort, dry eyes, teary eyes, headaches etc.. Which can, in turn, lead to frustration, stress, unhappiness etc.. Which can, in turn, lead to depression, anxiety and other health issues... need I go on?

Some sources refer to this as "Computer Vision Syndrome". Personally I hate the word "syndrome" because it is used to describe a simple condition and in actuality, it has a cause and resolution just like everything else. The word syndrome invites people to exhibit undue concern... but enough on that for now.

I started doing some simple eye exercises a while ago, and have found that they work great for:

  • Relieving eye tension
  • Taking your mind off of work for a minute
  • Overall relaxation
  • Rejuvenating the eyes for the remainder of the day.
Try these quick exercises whenever you can. Once a day would be good, otherwise, just do them whenever you can. If you wait until you've already got a headache, the exercises probably won't get rid of the pain so try them occasionally throughout the day for the best results.

Exercise #1: Trace the screen.
Keep your head facing your monitor, keep your back and neck straight. Moving only your eyes, trace the frame of your monitor. When eyes move, they naturally "hop" from one spot to another, try to keep the movement as smooth as possible. One revolution around the frame of your monitor should take about 8-10 seconds to complete. Do this 5-6 times.

Exercise #2: Stretch your peripherals.
No, this doesn't mean yank on your mouse... Again, keeping your back and neck straight and your head facing forward, look UP with your eyes as far as you can. Hold this for 5 seconds and then look DOWN as far as you can; hold again for 5 seconds. Relax the eyes and close them for 5 seconds. Then look to the LEFT as far as you can for 5 seconds and then the RIGHT for 5 seconds. Again, relax the eyes and close them. Repeat this 5 times.

Then roll your eyes all around in the widest circles you can. Try 10 circles in each direction.

Exercise #3: Blink more often.
Not really an exercise, just don't forget to blink! It's been proven that people blink 5-6 times less than normal when working on a computer, so make a conscious effort to blink more often which simply keeps your eyes moistened and prevents them from drying out.

Exercise #4: Look to the horizon.
Pick an object with a good amount of detail at least 20 feet away, or as far as you can get, (if you're near a window, you can look outside at tree leaves or something) and focus on that object. Take a couple seconds to establish your focus and then take a few more to refine your focus on smaller and smaller details of the object. Remain in this focus for a couple seconds. Then hold up your hand about 6 inches or less from your face and bring your focus to that. Again hold this focus for a few seconds. Repeat this 5-10 times, or until you can feel your eyes really working. Then repeat it a few more times for good measure.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Watch TV Online to Save Time and Money.

First of all, don't watch pointless crap television. It's not good for you. Watch a the news and one or two shows that you really like, and don't bother with the rest. It's of no value to you and the progression of your life.

Secondly, if you pick the shows you want to watch and seek them out online you will be much more disciplined about not channel surfing. Most networks are broadcasting their shows online now and they are free to watch. Plus you miss out on lots of commercials. A one-hour show online is really only 40-50 minutes.

The TV in my house is only hooked up to my Wii. When my wife and I want to watch a show we go online, watch one show and then move on.

Check out these networks that broadcast full shows:
also, take a look at for a compilation of lots of shows from different sources all in one place.

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Optimum Comfort while Sunning on the Beach

Half Moon CayImage by ccheviron via FlickrI just got back from the Bahamas where I had, yes, a beautiful vacation, but also time to think and learn. While I was laying on my stomach on my towel in the miles and miles of white sand beach at Half Moon Cay (right), I was turning my head back and forth to keep my neck from straining. I figured there's got to be a more comfortable, less strenuous way to lay in the sun... (sarcasm...)

Then I realized that sand, especially when covered by a towel, is amorphous and can be formed any way you like and it will remain in that shape at least for a short time. I punched a hole in the sand directly underneath my head and made two trenches, one on each side of the hole so that I would be able to breathe. After that my head rested nicely, top and bottom, (forehead and chin) on the soft white sand piles and I was able to enjoy a few more hours of sun with no strain from having my head turned to the side.

Be safe, take care of your body, USE SUNSCREEN!

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

One More Thing Before the Bahamas

* (en) World Map * (pt) Mapa Mundo * (de) Welt...Image via WikipediaIf you need to get out of your driveway first thing in the morning to go on a cruise in the Bahamas, and you know it's going to snow, don't forget to park at the end of the driveway so that you only have to clear a small section behind your car....

Gotta go!! Be back in a week.
Sunshine, here I come!!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Frying Pan Tilts off the Burner When I Try to Cook..

I was just frying up a pound of chicken for dinner and getting rather annoyed that whenever I cook the frying pan tilts off of the burner because the handle is too heavy...

It's important that the bottom of the pan and the burner be in direct contact if you want to effectively use your electricity, as well as get an even heat in the pan. Air is a great insulator and you will lose a lot of heat if they are not in contact.

In the past I've tried to find a salt shaker or spice container of the perfect height to wedge under the handle and keep it flat, but that's annoying.. Today I got wicked smart and just moved the chicken to the far side of the pan! The weight of the chicken keeps it flat and I don't have to deal with balancing the pan on the salt. Works great, but you might have to offset the pan so that the chicken pile is centered on the burner in order to get it cooked evenly.

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How Can I Make Money in this Crappy Recession??

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseBeats me!!

No but seriously... I don't know. Here's what I do know, however. There's a whole lot of people out there scared of actually going to stores and spending their money. Those same people are coming home and spending time online looking for tips on saving money, self-help blogs to help with depression, political articles to keep up with how the media is portraying the recession... And they're frantically clicking all over the place to try to find peace of mind.

What I'm getting at, is that you should all make a million dollars with Google Adsense.... okay.. easier said than done, trust me. But they do make a lot of sense this year. They appeal to a demographic that is not required to spend a penny and are just looking for help, which is exactly the kind of demographic that is rapidly spreading all over the U.S. and beyond. And I think it will be many moons before companies stop advertising with Google, so we're pretty safe there.

You probably have already done this, but if not, check out to start putting ads from all sorts of companies on your blog.

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Don't tailgate, because you never know!!

Looking south above :en:Interstate 80, the Eas...Image via WikipediaWe all have the tendency to tailgate other cars when we're driving. Don't tell me you've never done it! First of all, it's not safe, that's obvious. And it's just rude, you're probably pissing someone off by doing it; you're "adding bad karma" to the universe, if you will.

A good way I've found to stop myself from doing it is by looking at the back of the driver's head, and trying to picture someone I know (particularly, someone I don't hate) and imagine that it is them driving the car. Because no matter who it actually is, they are a real person and have a real story just like the rest of us. It's amazing how much this little bit of consideration will change your attitude towards them and make you feel like you should be kindly backing off.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Learn How to Get Amazingly Clean Teeth!

Three toothbrushesImage via WikipediaIn general, the world is moving at a much faster rate today than it did a decade ago; things need to be accomplished quicker and people are more impatient than ever. Maybe, instead of impatience, I should say, we have a different level of patience now than we did in the past. If we isolate the level of patience we have today and quantify it, there's no justification to refer to it as "impatient"; such is the evolution of man.

Um.. This article is about teeth, right?!?... yeah....ok.

My point is that when people have to continually do one task, especially as mundane as brushing your teeth for any amount of time, it can seem very BORING, and you will have the desire to be finished so that you can move on to other things.

My advice: Do something else while you brush your teeth. Read the mail, check your email, feed the cats, read the newspaper, or all of the above.

Finding one-handed or no-handed tasks to do while you brush your teeth will make it feel much less like you are wasting your time in front of the mirror. If you're doing other things it should be easy to brush for an excess of 5 or even 10 minutes. And I guarantee you will notice that your teeth feel much cleaner if you double your brushing time. Granted, if you are preoccupied with something else, you will have a tendency to stop moving the brush, or get stuck brushing one section for a long time. Just be conscious of that and you'll get better at it with time!

Happy brushing!

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