Monthly Archives: March 2015

A mental health first aid check list you might find useful

If you know someone is physically injured, you apply First Aid to either repair the injury or limit it until you can get further help.

Likewise, I think of this list as a form of mental health first aid: Eponis | Sinope – Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up. It’s not meant to replace professional help, if you need that, but it may be the thing you need to get you through a rough patch (speaking from personal experience).

Advertisements

Periscope, Meerkat, and the future of virtual tourism

If you haven’t heard, Meerkat and Periscope are two apps that allow one person to stream an event and have others watch it. For example, here is an artist streaming her work on a painting while others watch and  interact: Wendy MacNaughton paints live on Periscope My… – Austin Kleon.

It’s an interesting idea. Once people get creative, there will be all types of events that people stream, from the obvious (porn, music concerts) to things no one thought of before.

I think one of these not so obvious ones will be virtual tourism. Essentially someone will visit a place like Japan and stream the cherry blossom festival or go to Pamplona for the running of the bulls and others will watch in real time. Maybe people will sponsor the person ahead of time, or the person will wear a shirt with ads on it, or find some way to make revenue. In return, lots of people can see something they might not be able to see otherwise.

People will use Periscope and Meerkat in all kinds of ways. Expect this to be one of them.

(Image via techcrunch)

Making pesto without a recipe (and why you should)

Food52 has a number of good guides to making dishes and sauces without a strict recipe, including this one: How to Make Any Pesto in 5 Steps.

Once you do it once or twice, you will more or less be making it without a recipe.

I’d encourage you to skip basil and pine nuts and go with other greens and nuts, especially greens you may have in your fridge that are about to give up the ghost. I found that the combination of the oil and the greens give the pesto it’s sauce quality, while the nuts and cheese and garlic give it the flavour. So if you don’t like garlic (really?), drop it. Likewise if you have nut allergies.  For additional flavour, add some wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to taste at the end. And of course, add salt to taste.

Why you should make pesto is easy: once you have it, you can add it to food in all kinds of ways to make your food tastier. It is a very versatile sauce.

Once you have pesto, you can add it to roast meats or vegetables. I opened up a boneless pork roast, spread it on the inside, and closed it up. You could do the same with a boneless chicken breast. (Or add some to just cooked fish.) I tossed my roasted vegetables in a bowl with some pesto until they were lightly and evenly coated.

Another idea is to make a pasta sauce with 2 parts pesto to 1 part cream and warm them in a pot while you cook some pasta until it is al dente. Then drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce until the pasta is covered.

If you have some tomatoes, quarter them and lightly toss them with some pesto for an easy salad.

Or take 1 part mayo and 1 part pesto, combine, and use as a sandwich spread.

Lots of ways to use pesto. Enjoy!

(Image via a link to the Food52 post.)

 

 

 

What happens when Queen Elizabeth II dies?

Alot! As you can see when you read this: What happens when Queen Elizabeth II dies – Business Insider. It’s fascinating, and the number of things that will change will surprise you.

Speaking of surprises, this chart surprised me:

It is amazing to see how many other world leaders have come and gone in the era of Queen Elizabeth II.

Well worth a read.

The pros and cons of FitBits and other wearable fitness devices (plus my own thoughts)

Here’s two recent pieces on the pros and cons of wearable fitness devices.

Pro: Wearables and Self-Awareness (Personal) – NYTimes.com.

Con: Science Says FitBit Is a Joke | Mother Jones

I tend to agree with Krugman’s pro views in the NYTimes.  In a nutshell, Krugman’s view is that having a tracker like a FitBit makes it harder to lie to yourself about your fitness. A FitBit will let you know and help you track when you are active or sedentary, just like a scale will tell you when you are eating too much or too little.

The Mother Jones article has good points, too. FitBits have limits. They aren’t for all kinds or exercise, they may not be precise, and some apps on a smartphone can do just as good a job. That said, their title is a joke and their article is misleading. For example, trackers start at much lower than $100. As well, for people walking or running, carrying a smartphone is not always a good option. FitBits are more accurate than the article let’s on, and the readings that they provide is a reasonably close measure of your activity. The limits to wearable fitness devices are real, but Mother Jones overstate their case.

Do you or I need any of these devices? No. Based on my fitbit, I can walk a mile in about 2000 steps. If I were to sit down with a free service like Google maps, I could easily plot out a 5 mile walking route that, if I walked daily, would mean I would  hit at least 10,000 steps a day. (10,000 steps is my daily goal). Or I could just go for an hour walk and not worry about a route at all. (It takes me around that time to walk 5 miles if I walk it at a good pace.) Either way, a map or a watch can easily replace a wearable device. If you can’t afford or don’t want a wearable device, just use a map, a watch, and a log book, and you will get similar benefits.

Why I like my FitBit is that it does the work for me. I can walk anywhere I want, for as long as I want, and it will keep track of all that for me. Plus it keeps a ongoing record I can look up when I want. Finally, like Krugman noted, it prevents me from lying to myself about how active I am.

A wearable device is an aid, and like any aid, it helps you achieve your desired outcome. If you don’t need such an aid, don’t use it. As for me, the fitbit helps me meet my fitness goals and I am glad I have it.

Janet Yellen, Forecasting Ace

I didn’t expect a positive review of Janet Yellen in the wsj, but this piece, linked to below, is really positive. Here’s a sample:

Steering central bank policy depends more than anything on assessing where the economy is heading. Yet, central bankers, surprisingly, are seldom picked for their forecasting acumen. More often they are former public servants, bankers or academics.

Then there is Janet Yellen.

Her forecasts as a Fed official have been strikingly accurate, as the release of 2009 transcripts to the Fed’s deliberations make clear. If she worked on Wall Street, she’d be a “hot hand.” This does not mean as chairwoman she is necessarily right; but it does suggest her forecasts deserve the benefit of the doubt.

via Janet Yellen, Forecasting Ace – Real Time Economics – WSJ. A really good piece.

Want to start a startup? All you need for that is here

And by here, I mean this site: Startup Stash – Curated resources and tools for startups. It is an amazing collection of tools you likely will need, for one thing. Plus, it has a superb user interface that not only groups the tools well, but gives you a sense of all the things you need to think about if you are going to go forward and create your own startup.

If you aren’t seriously thinking about startups, but would like to know about new tools to make you more productive at work, then I recommend you check out this site too.

Kudos to the creator of the site. Well worth a visit.