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How to grow gardens in the desert? Jordan has an answer


How to grow gardens in the desert? If you are the country Jordan, you use a combination of salt water and sunshine. Lots of both. To see how this engineering miracle occurs, see: BBC – Future – How to use seawater to grow food – in the desert.

It’s a great story, well told. Here’s to it scaling up in the future.

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Some thoughts on insurance companies and the use of wearable technology

When it comes to insurance and wearables, I think the effect of these devices will be limited. I think this because:

  1. I don’t believe people are consistent about using wearables. I have been using wearables and fitbits for some time. I believe most people are prone to not wearing them constantly. Inconsistent use will make it harder for insurers to guarantee you a  better rate or for you to achieve one.
  2. You are more likely to wear it and use it when you are trying to keep in shape. If you are not, you will likely not wear it. The insurer can’t know if you are getting out of shape or just no longer wearing it. (I used to use a Nike+ device for running, and I ran consistently, but I did not use the device consistently. Many days and weeks I just didn’t feel like it.) The use of wearables is mostly an upside for you, and of limited value to the insurer.
  3. One reason I gave up on using wearables consistently is that they don’t give you much new information. I walk and exercise consistently and so they often give me the same information consistently. Which means I tend to not wear them often. I don’t need the fitbit to tell me I walked 10,000 steps. I know I did because my commute to and from work plus my lunchtime walk consistently gives me that.
  4. My fitbit scale is great for tracking my weight over time, but an insurer could also just ask me my weight, height and waistline and get a sense of my eligibility for insurance, just like how they ask if I smoke. A very low tech way to measure things. Men with a waist over 40 inches are more prone to heart disease then men with much smaller waists, regardless of what a high tech scale says. A insurer needs a limited number of data points to assess your health risks.
  5. I believe there is limited return for insurers to get this much data. I base this on my current life insurer. I can get life insurance from 1-6X my salary (assuming I pay the corresponding rise in premiums) without providing medical data. They only ask for medical data if I ask for more than 6X. It likely isn’t of benefit for them to process the data for lower amounts, so they proceed without it.
  6. Insurers are data driven, for sure, but I think they are good at picking out a limited number of good numbers to determine what to charge you for insurance. I don’t think the numbers coming back from wearable tech is all that good.

So in short, I don’t believe people or insurers will get much benefit from wearable tech. People will not get breaks on their insurance, and insurers will not be able to reduce their risk substantially with the use of wearables.

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MindMup 2: a good web based mindmapping too

I’m a fan of mindmapping tools in general. One I’ve been using and enjoying lately is MindMup 2. 

Two things I like about it:

  1. It’s simple to modify your mindmaps on the go. You don’t need to do much to add or modify your map.
  2. It’s also simple to export your mindmap into a number of different formats. If you occasionally use mindmaps or you want to start with a mindmap to generate ideas but then you want to do the majority of the work in Word or some other tool, this is a good feature.

Mindmup_2 is a good tool. Go map your thoughts.

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How to ask for help (it’s not as obvious as you think)

If you are uncomfortable asking for help, read this: How to Ask for Help and Actually Get It – The New York Times. After you read it, write out the type of help you need and use the article’s guidelines to insure your request for help is more effective.

We all need help from time to time. Read that and you will be more effective in getting the help you need.

One last thought: show appreciation before, during and after someone helped you. Even if they say it is no big deal to help. If for no other reason, it acknowledges the effort someone has taken to help you.

Get help. Your life will get better as a result. And the people who help you will often feel better about themselves for helping you, so you are helping them too.

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Good advice on how to get started on that project / hobby / adventure you have always want to start


Good advice on how to get started on that project / hobby / adventure you have always want to start can be found here: How to Dare to Begin.

Beginning is often the biggest hurdle. Before you begin, you can imagine all the difficulties you will have, and such imaginings stop you before you can even start. If this applies to you, read the article. You may find yourself getting started after all.

Another thought: take an athlete’s approach to getting started and keeping at it. Get a coach. Get cheerleaders. Talk it up while you are doing the thing you’ve held off doing. Give yourself as much encouragement as you can. Give yourself a goal. Do all those things and you will find you not only get started but you keep going.

Good luck. Dare to do good things. Great things, eventually.

(Image from the article linked to.)

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Bill Murray’s advice on being a father

From a 2012 Bill Murray Interview in Esquire comes this:

If you bite on everything they throw at you, they will grind you down. You have to ignore a certain amount of stuff. The thing I keep saying to them lately is: “I have to love you, and I have the right to ignore you.” When my kids ask what I want for my birthday or Christmas or whatever, I use the same answer my father did: “Peace and quiet.” That was never a satisfactory answer to me as a kid — I wanted an answer like “A pipe.” But now I see the wisdom of it: All I want is you at your best — you making this an easier home to live in, you thinking of others.

Sounds right.

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When to think about your life, and when not to

There are times to think about your life, and times not to. Austin Kleon has a very simple rule to help him decide:

I have a very simple rule that serves me well: Don’t think too much about your life after dinnertime. Thinking too much at the end of the day is a recipe for despair. Everything looks better in the light of the morning. Cliché, maybe, but it works.

I first agreed with this. Afterwards, I concluded it depends on each individual. For me, I found a good time to think about my life was between midnight and two. It’s quiet then, I am tired but also relaxed. There’s no distractions, nothing else left to do but sleep. If I accomplished things in the daytime, it was especially good to think about what’s next in my life. Likewise if I had a good weekend, the best time to think about my life is Monday morning: I’m rested, energized, and feeling I can get a lot done during the week.

I found the time to not think about my life was any time I am really tired or sick or having a very bad day. Then the goal is not to reflect but to recover.

If anything, my rule is: if I need to recover, then I should not be reflecting.

I think we should all find times to reflect upon our lives and assess ourselves and where we’re heading. We just need to find the right times to do it, and do it then. And find the wrong times to do it and not do it then.