Category Archives: advice

How to go about cleaning your place when you hate cleaning

I hate cleaning my house. I like a clean house, but I hate cleaning it. So I am always on the look out for ideas that can help with this.

I have to say that I practice most of the tips here: The Lazy Person’s Guide to a Happy Home: Tips for People Who (Really) Hate Cleaning | Apartment Therapy.

Another tip I have that isn’t here is to keep a notepad and pen nearby. I find I often have the best ideas spring to mind when I am cleaning. When I pause to write them down, I am amazed at how productive I am. It makes me feel like I am getting more out of cleaning that just a clean/less messy space.


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Freedom 48 – how to retire early

My former colleague and all around great person, Annie English, has a book and a blog on how to retire young. The Toronto Star has reviewed it here: Here’s how this couple retired at 48 in expensive Toronto: Roseman | Toronto Star. Annie and her husband, Rich, were disciplined before retirement, and that discipline has paid off. If you want to learn how they did it, check out the Star article, or their blog, Retired At 48. If this is something you want to achieve, buy the book, too.

Negotiating tips: a good story about negotiating with Steve Jobs

Over at Operating Partner, DFJ, Heide Roizen has a great case study of how to negotiate with someone as tough to deal with as Steve Jobs. You may not be in IT, and you may never have to negotiate with someone as demanding and smart as Jobs, but check it out: you can learn something useful and read a great story too.


Need a cheap domain? has some good deals right now

Right now, has .us domains for $1.10 (Canadian) and for $6.41.

I was tempted to get, but I may get something just for test purposes. (I am testing using cloud sites, and it is helpful to have a domain name, vs going with the full domain name that some of the cloud sites provide).

If you are Canadian or want a .ca domain, then is a better choice ( has .ca domains for $13.03, vs $9.99 at

Finally, from what I hear, has deals all the time. It is worth visiting them from time to time to see what is available.

My 10 seconds of happiness exercise

I often struggle with how to get through the long, cold winter. If you do too, or are dealing with other difficulties that can make you sad and miserable, try this exercise that I find helps.

For a period of no more than 10 seconds, do something that makes you happy. It can be looking at something beautiful, enjoying a piece of music or a piece of food, or saying something good to someone you love. Choose the best thing you can think of. In that 10 seconds, don’t think of anything else, just that. Think about it before you do it, think about it while you are doing it, then think about it after you have done it. That’s it. That’s the exercise.

Now, maybe you think 10 seconds is too short and a minute or more is something you can focus on. Great! Do that then. Or you so enjoyed that 10 seconds of admiring the snow, or sipping you tea or juice, that you are going to move on and try the exercise with something else. Also great. Whatever you do, try the exercise and then try to do it repeatedly through the day, week.

Happiness is hard to define, and still harder to quantify. But I think that each of us, in our own way, can build up the part of ourselves capable of being happy and work it and make it stronger. The heart literally gets stronger through exercise. The heart figuratively can stronger through exercise, too. At least I think so. Try this exercise and tell me what you think.

The best, easiest, and most effective New Year’s resolution to make (perfect for procrastinators, too) is

The best, easiest, and most effective New Year’s resolution to make (perfect for procrastinators, too) is this: I resolve to make a new resolution every week (or month, or quarter or season, or….you get the idea).

It sounds like a lame suggestion, but think about it for a minute. By making this resolution, you have already made a resolution. Good for you! One down. That out of the way, you can decide what is a schedule you are most likely to stick to. Once a week? Possible, but tough. Monthly? More likely. I personally like quarterly or seasonally. The idea of having a new resolution every season is a great way to kick off a season. In spring you can resolve to plant new / more plants. In summer you can resolve to go to the beach more, or go on that trip you always wanted, or spend more time in the park reading or exercising. In fall you can resolve to get out and take in more culture. And in winter you can resolve to get in shape for next spring and fall.

Whatever you do, keep a list. You will be surprised at the end of the year how many resolutions that you made and kept.

The other good thing about this approach is that you keep up the resolutions, rather than making a bunch in January, only to have them die off.

Good luck!

A new year’s resolution…for your Mac

Come January 1, alot of people will resolve to lose their excess weight and get fit. And what is good for people is also good for …Macs! In this article, Ten ways to turn your Mac into a lean, mean, agile machine…right now (or Jan. 1 :) ), you can learn various ways to slim down your Mac while you wait for Mac OS X v 10.6.

Do a good deed: cheer at a marathon

If you want to make a lot of people feel better, here’s a very easy way to do it. All you need is a nearby marathon.

Go down to where the race is. Get yourself a coffee or tea. Then as the runners come by, cheer them on.Tell them they’re looking good, they’re doing great, hang in there, tell them about upcoming downhills, cheer, clap, yell woohoo. Whatever works for you. The best runners will appreciate you just being there. The rest will be rejuvenated by your encouagement.

I went down today to the Toronto marathon yesterday and in a short time made a few dozen people smile. Having run a few myself, I know how great it is for people to turn out and do that.

Everyone in a marathon is struggling to do their best in the face of great difficulty. Even the best of runners. Your encouragment is greatly appreciated. You can make a dozen people feel better in the time it takes you to finish your tea.

Bernie’s Rule of Wearing Red

With regards to the question: when should one wear red? There are two occasions when one should wear red:

  1. If you feel like wearing red, then go and wear red!
  2. If you really don’t feel like wearing red, then you must wear red.

Great women’s clothes at Anthropologie

has great clothes. Anyone who can make a cardigan this well….

… deserves a look! :)

Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks

According to the blog, Bits ,

Starbucks announced today it will give most any customer two consecutive hours a day of free Wi-Fi access. Specifically, that offer applies to anyone who uses its prepaid Starbucks Card at least once a month. That represents as many as 60 hours of access for the price of one $2 cup of coffee.

It’s interesting to think of Starbucks as a network service provider. It has the potential to open up lots of other business opportunities for them as well. See Bits for more info.

Cloud paintings from Richard Herman

I love the cloud paintings of Richard Herman. You can find out more about his work and even purchase it from the fine Toronto art gallery, Art Interiors.

How to be a creative person? follow these rules

From the excellent tumblelog, Daily Meh

It mirrors some of the ideas from the book, Art and Fear, that I blogged about earlier.

How to make a dark room seem light (and well lit)…

…by reading this article, Chasing the Darkness With Sleight of Hand in the New York Times, which presents a nice case study on how to make a dark room light up. It features a room by Jeffrey Bilhuber, a Manhattan interior designer, whose client had a bedroom in their apartment with very little light. The end result is light and very attractive. Lots of good ideas to borrow here.

Wanting to move up from cheap wine at the LCBO? Look to Matthew Sullivan for advice.

Matthew Sullivan has a great idea for a wine blog. His blog, the Short Cellar, is all about:

“….offering some advice about the joy of aging wine as I build my own cellar from the ground up, detailing what is going in, when it comes out, and what happened to it along the way. My emphasis will be on wines that are easily available in Ontario and that only take a year or two before developing into something special. Who has time to wait 10 years? I’m patient, but not a saint. There’s a perception that having a wine cellar implies expertise or money. This is a myth. You’re never too young, dumb, or soaked in debt to want a better bottle of wine. It’s true that a cellar takes some foresight and knowledge, but only enough to guess what you are going to have for dinner three years from now, and the knowledge that you’ll want something extraordinary to wash it down. You can spend any amount that you wish on wine, but the sweet spot is between $15 and $25. At that level, there are some exceptional wines that will mature marvellously, but there’s no guilt in drinking them at any time since, litre for litre, they are still cheaper than a latte.”

Sounds like a great idea. See The Short Cellar for more.

Great reasons to start a blog from

people who wonder, “why blog?”, the people at have listed
a number of strong reasons why you should in their article, How To Use Your Blog To Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!

article is written from a viewpoint of how to use a blog to improve
yourself, and the bonuses they list regarding blogging (e.g. track
progress, get feedback, share knowledge) apply to anyone, either
personally or professionally.

Want to get published? has the story

The New York Times has a good summary on the various web sites offering publishing services in their article: Got a Manuscript? Publishing Now a Snap – New York Times. There are references to, and others.

If you have been always dying to see your work bound in hardcover, check out this article and then the sites they mention.

Chicken Schnitzel and other great Hungarian food at Country Style Hungarian Restaurant in Toronto’s Annex

blogto does a great job of covering Toronto, including restaurants. And this review of Country Style Hungarian Restaurant is no exception.

There used to be a number of Hungarian restaurants in the Annex, including the Korona, my old favourite. Sadly, most of them are gone. But not Country Style. Head on over to 450 Bloor St West and have one of these…

…and you will be very glad you did! :)

(image link to blogto)

How to pick locks

I stumbled across this demo of how to pick a master lock #175. There are alot of these videos! If your lock is in one of them, you should get rid of it.

That said, it is impressive to see some of these videos. It’s hackers for hardware.

YouTube – How to pick a Master Lock #175 with a paper clip…

How to simplify your life with four rules

Over at the well done blog, Zen Habits, is a list of The Four Laws of Simplicity, and How to Apply Them to Life

The laws themselves are:

1. Collect everything in one place.
2. Choose the essential.
3. Eliminate the rest.
4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly and nicely.

But see their article for good advice on how to apply them.

How to build a very small house

There are a number of architects and builders specializing in very small dwellings for people.

Tumbleweed Houses are appropriately named and nicely done. It makes being a nomad seem grand! You should visit the site, just to see what can be packed into such a small space.

Bread lovers – this blog is for you

If you love bread, or want to learn how to bake it, the Bread Blog has lots of great recipes and instructions on how to make all kinds of bread, including one of my favourites, Panettone (chocolate chip, no less)

Get smarter! Go use some creative tools from has these great creative tools that can

help you and your organization become even more creative.

I highly recommend them.

What to eat in Toronto in 2008! Or a great new year resolution

I think I have the perfect new year resolution for people in Toronto: eat all of this food before 2009! Forget that dieting stuff, this is the year to Eat, Drink and be Daring (as the good folks as Toronto Life recommend).

Go to the article…but not on an empty stomach!

Inexpensive gift ideas at Real Simple

The good folks over at have some great ideas for this Christmas. They have a nice Holiday Gift List Worksheet and a list 50 Gifts Under $50.If you are not close to done or could use some help, go there now.

(Tip from

Great Gift Ideas for Christmas and any other times

Over at is a list of 40 Simple Gift Ideas to Spark a Smile | . If you are stuck for gift ideas, check it out. They have separated out into:

* Unique Gifts
* Gifts that Touch the Soul
* Books that Change Lives
* Alternative Wrapping Ideas

Who wouldn’t like something like this?

Stuck for a new idea? Here’s the tool you need! :)

Go here!

Right now I am working on a “nutritious neon appliance”…I think my kids will love it.

How to get people to read your email in December?


Make it very short. Too the point. Like this. :)

Geekdad on the Science of Raising Smart Kids

I think the geekdad blog at Wired is great. (Hey, lots of geeks eventually have children! :) ) There’s lots of good, practical advice there. (Plus cool gadgets).

The latest article,The Science of Raising Smart Kids has some good advice on getting your kids to be smarter. It’s all about how you praise your kids. Go to the article for more details.

Get your Christmas presents here at Art Interiors

This Toronto Based Gallery Specializing in Art from Up and Coming Artists has a great annual festival of small works of art on sale for $50 to $250. And the people who run it are great people too.

You don’t fail until you say you do…or Never, Never, Never, Never give up had a pointer to this great collection of people who failed or were considered failures: They Did Not Give Up

Anyone suffering from one of life’s many setbacks can take comfort from this.

Are you paying for ringtones? Don’t. Read why…

WiReD’s compiler blog has the story here

Go on. Fail. Alot. :)

Over at is a good article on how to fail and why it is important. Some of the points are:

  • Fail with grace
  • Have a plan B
  • Forgive and relive
  • Get perspective
  • Stop doing that!
  • Do something

Go see How to Fail at Practically Anything and start failing today!

How to clean your home in 19 minutes (roughly)

CNN has cribbed some material from Real Simple and the FlyLady to help you get your home cleaned in a flash. I don’t know if you can do it in 19 minutes, but it can be close. :)

How to clean your home in 19 minutes –

Also, if you have kids (or a sloppy spouse/roommate who won’t clean up), get some baskets and keep them nearby. Then go around the house, scoop up some stuff and put it in their room. Time = 1-2 minutes.

Hey, smart people don’t spend all day cleaning…they have better things to do! :)

Image: James Worrell at

Cook’s: for serious cooks and people who are serious about cooking

If you are serious about cooking, or want to know the definitive way to cook something, I highly recommend Cook’s Illustrated.
It’s a great magazine about cooking as opposed to a collection of recipes. You will get recipes, too, but you will discover a whole lot more about the process of transforming food.

Plus they have reviews of cooking tools, premade sauces, menus, and much more.

More on good, cheap wine under $10 from the LCBO and other places

The has been good enough to set up a searchable database of wine recommendations based on Beppi Crossariol’s wine columns found regularly in their paper. You can search the database in a number of ways, including wines under $10 (you will find around 20 bottles). Some of them are wines I mentioned earlier (like Corten from Moldova) but others are new to me (including some tetra pak ones, no less).

The other nice thing about this is that you can find the wine, and then go to the article. Beppi’s a good writer with good and varied taste: the articles are worth a read, too.

Check outThe Wine Butler

How to be creative and other super ideas at gapingvoid

There are lots of great ideas and fantastic drawings over at gapingvoid. I really liked this section: how to be creative

Tech 101 from Business Week – this week – what is an RSS feed

For some , the notion of an RSS feed may be new. So check out this on

What’s an RSS Feed?

Once you get used to RSS feeds, you will be glad you did.

P.S. There are lots of other good links there too, including Blogging For Beginners

A better life in no time?

CNN, in conjunction with

has some advice on how to live A better life in no time

While my first response is to be snide, it is good, if not earth shattering advice. At the very least, look at it and say: yup, got that covered. :)

How to stay focused and easily track time while working on your computer

The Web site, The Printable CEO™, has a great tool called the Emergent Task Timer. It

  • allows you to easily capture tasks you have to do as they come up
  • easily track the time you spend on them
  • reminds you when to update your info.

Check it out at: Emergent Task Timer Online (Flash Alpha)

Or go to David Seah’s site for more productivity tips:

David Seah