Do It Yourself! Welcome to the land of How-To's and D.I.Y! <![CDATA[Thanksgiving Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
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<![CDATA[ Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 01:21:16 +0000 <![CDATA[Lobo Tom Yum Paste Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Mon, 28 May 2012 09:58:32 +0000 <![CDATA[ Which fork in the road do I take and will it matter ?]]> Synchronicity:The Art Of Coincidence, Choice, And Unlocking Your Mind by Dr. Kirby Surprise is an adventure into the world of Synchronicity in which inner worlds and outer ones converge like a mirror image. The mirror is into the unconscious state.

A Synchronicity Event, or SE, is about experiencing your own life more fully within a predefined and familiar context. The universe of the experiential domain is specific to the brain's memory and perception of events based on patterns of matches. Truth itself does not change; however, your understanding of what constitutes truth may change or evolve over time.

An SE is also a reflection of the mechanism by which a person internalizes how things should work, as opposed to the reality of things working in actuality. This dilemma in the understanding of SE can interfere with how a person interprets legal or ethical codes.

Dr. Surprise also explains how bilingual people can visualize things differently depending upon their language of reference. This makes sense because language translation isn't always an exact science. There are idioms and cultural terms specific to a given language or experiential domain and not easily transferable with a uniform understanding in foreign languages/contexts.

Dr. Surprise explains how people can act within the time frame of the here and now. Yet, the very same people can interpret the current reality outside the limits of the present time and space.

Despite these differences, people have free will which guides them in making choices. Without free will, humans could not be judged by their actions and there would be no commandments or accountability as to consequences of actions.

Free will drives choices and paths. Sometimes the choices are random, as with the popular analogy of a fork in the road. Other choices are driven by a complex set of incentives, disincentives, and social mores.

Next logically is the area of learning. The art of learning is not repetition but a change in behavior directed to a more optimal set of possibilities. A more positive future is dependent upon a change in behavior in anticipation of a higher state of being or contentment.

Synchronicity: The Art Of Coincidence, Choice, And Unlocking Your Mind is a thoughtful book which is aimed at explaining the dynamics of the present and thought processes associated with reaching higher states of being or contentment. The presentation is easy to read and comprehend.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 01:08:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Learning how to be effective instead of just busy...]]> To do lists... Getting Things Done... Time Management... Usually they're all focused on complex methodologies or the amount of things you can accomplish in a given timeframe (usually a day).  But instead of being busy, what if you focused on how effective you were in getting the necessary things done? Heck... what if it was also pretty simple?  That's what you get in the book Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry.  To me, this was a book that "clicked" immediately and helped me see where I was going wrong in terms of frantically trying to do and be everything to everybody.

Contents: Foreword - The Agony of Crisis Management; Introduction - Personal Kanban - 100% New Age Free; The Basics of Personal Kanban; Building Your First Personal Kanban; My Time Management is in League with the Freeway; Nature Flows; Components of a Quality Life; Finding Our Priorities; Strive for Improvement; Endgame; Appendix A - Personal Kanban Design Patterns; Appendix B - Personal Kanban and Social Media

The basics of Personal Kanban are very simple. You need to be able to place work in context with who you are and what you need to accomplish.  Next, limits need to be placed on the WIP (Work In Progress) so that you can be effective in what you're doing.  Finally, you look at what you've done and learn how you might be able to do it more effectively next time.  That's really about it.  The tools to implement Personal Kanban are even more basic... sticky notes and a whiteboard/wall with three columns for Ready, WIP, and Done.  As you choose items from your Backlog (all those sticky notes with tasks and to do's written on them) that are ready to be worked based on your overall context, you move them into the Ready column.  As you start to work on them, they move into the WIP column.  And then to see and feel that sense of completion, the sticky note moves into the Done column. The goal isn't to have 100 items in Ready or WIP all the time.  If that's the case, you haven't gained anything.  Instead, the items that are Ready are ones that make sense to start based on the current situation. Even more important, the WIP column should only have a small number of items actually being worked on (try starting with three) at any given time.  If you have 15 items "in process", you're not managing anything. You're just reacting to whatever is squeaking the loudest. By understanding your own personal workflow limits, you'll know what you can and can't accomplish in a truly effective manner.  Again, it's not how productive or busy you are... it's how effective you are in what you choose to do.

The authors have an easy-going flow between them when it comes to writing style. Having also followed them on Twitter, I can see where that comes from. They enjoy what they do, and it shows through in this book.  By the time I was a third of the way through, I was already planning out my own implementation. The fact that I could start immediately and improve it as I went along was right in line with what kanban is all about... incremental improvements to become more effective and cut down on wasted effort.

I'd recommend Personal Kanban to anyone who is looking to get their work and/or personal life under control. The concepts work equally well in both environments, and you don't have to commit to an all-or-nothing methodology that costs major dollars to get started "properly".  It's hard to argue against sticky notes. :)  This will also be a book that I'll revisit on a periodic basis to look for new angles and slants on how I'm doing within the framework.  Overall, this is great material with the potential to make major differences in your life.

Obtained From: Amazon
Payment: Purchase]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 00:51:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Facilitate Building a Web Business]]>

Tim Ferriss'The Four Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich  is a proactive book on how to perform work more intelligently. In the process, a much higher state of efficiency results in people working less and getting a higher yield from the work that they complete.

A major theme of the book is to beat the system by concentrating on high yield work product results. Achievement of large goals can bring an adrenaline rush. These techniques have been applied to weight loss; such that, people have been known to lose 28 pounds in only 18 hours. Ferriss teaches that readers should identify the twenty percent of sources that yield eighty percent or a plurality of the desired results. This is strategic management at its best.

Another management technique is to shorten drastically the budgeted completion time to force the completion of a project. Sometimes, this method yields results although more monitoring may be required to verify that crucial steps are not omitted.

Ferriss advises readers to sell merchandise within the $20 to $200 price range. In addition, internet sources are provided to assist in running a business more optimally.

Products to be sold may be located at, and is the largest business to business marketplace. will e-publish books for free. The sales are made through all major online retailers. Free conferences can be arranged at Wufoo is a web application that helps visitors create professional online forms. Wufoo facilitates the forms design, database building, the backend and scripts needed to collect and interpret data.

The Four Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere And Join The New Rich can get readers started on essential elements involved in generating traffic for new websites or sites in a developmental stage. The contents are easy to understand and implement. Lastly, the price is affordable for the general public, small and large businesses alike. This book is not a complete get rich quick scheme.
Readers will be required to manage building a website and product dissemination.

Credits: First Published On Blogcritics

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<![CDATA[ Look mom, no mouse...]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:44:55 +0000 <![CDATA[ Keep More of What You Earn]]> Dollars and Uncommon Sense- Basic Training for Your Money by Steven Repak CFP
is an excellent book on how to save money on virtually every item in the household
budget. Steven Repak points out the areas of excess; such as,  spending too much money on
rent, eating too frequently in restaurants and living on credit cards. Debt is like a drug.

There are six key traits to wealth building. People who have these traits do the following:
1. They spend less money than they make.
2. They have little or no debt.
3. They save.
4. They have long term plans for their money.
5. They do not let emotions cloud their judgment.
6. They start saving early in their careers.

Steven Repak explains that spending more than you make leads to going broke.
In addition, most people confuse the things they want with those that they need.
If you are spending over 40% of the monthly income on housing, that is a
huge red flag screaming that you are in a house that you cannot afford.

If you want a bigger house, then you need to have a smaller car payment.
If you would rather have a nicer car, you need to have a smaller house.
Allocate most of the monthly debt payment toward the debt with the highest
interest rate. Pay the minimums on all the rest.

Steven Repak explains that workers should pay themselves first before spending
money on anything else. Susan Orman provides similar advice in her seminars.
The only debts that can be considered beneficial are home mortgages, student
loans and business loans. At bottom, the less debt you have- the more money
you will have.

Dollars and Uncommon Sense is a practical resource on how to keep more
of your hard earned money. Steven Repak provides standardized worksheets
to track spending methodically. Numerous useful websites are provided to
facilitate this process at the end of the book. The top useful websites cited include
bankrate, choosetosave, crestmontresearch, floodsmart and powerpay.
Dollars and Uncommon Sense is easy to read. The content is substantial
and the price is affordable.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics]]> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 04:53:46 +0000
<![CDATA[ How To Make A BIg Bang]]>  
How To Make A Big Bang
Authors: Andrew Flambaum and Victor Flambaum
Reviewed by fran lewis
One young girl named Amunet is about to set a chain of events that will rock the world and the fate of those on Earth. Creating a flower, a blue flower, called Ossumia, she hopes to create a new Universe billions of years from now better than ours. As she names the pyramid within it Chaos and the second Divinity, Amunet explains to the reader the meaning of each and how it will impact humanity. Fast forward 14 billion years and meet Alice K. Alice has been chosen to leave her world and join another. She is to live with an alien group and teach them about our world and hopefully us about their world. But, as the imperfections in the blue flower are needed to help create the world Amunet wanted, Alice is about to go on a journey that would end the world, fall down a black hole and hopefully save herself, the cat and one strange parrot her only companions on this journey. Imagine winning a contest and being selected for this special voyage along with a ship that can verbally guide her, named Joe, Alice sets forth, against the advice of many, on this journey. As she realizes the gravity of what happens and the end result she wishes and asks the ship to take her back to see the devastation that occurred when Earth disappears and the sun’s light goes out forever. Can one young human create a new Universe and world better than the one that no longer exists? Will she survive? How to Make   Big Bang? You are about to find out what that means and much more.
Learning more about Alice and voyage learn about the fall of the solar system, the planets surrendering and Alice finding a new home on a planet called Utopia. Sounds perfect doesn’t it. But, when you learn more about the inhabitants and their life you just might not think that perfect is the real way to go and living in a carbon copy society where everyone and everything looks and does the same thing really the perfect life.
Alice and her group encounter Anushol and learn more about Utopia and the lives of those there. Artificial perfection is how they perceive their society and what happens to them and their collapse is no surprise when an inner revolt changes everything and their perfect world crumbles. Moving the story ahead ten more years.
Utopia no longer exists and Alice and her travelers wind up on another planet to be attacked by robots. These robots were placed there in order to create the proper habitat for future civilizations. An inner revolt and a social disturbance added to the fact they wanted to create a perfect human specimen with no imperfections gave way to the end of the Utopians except for one last person in a lone cell. Alice and her group wind up on another constellation filled with strange inhabitants namely robots. These robots are supposed to create an environment for humans to come. The life chain described is really quite unique and the end result remains to be seen. Technology is quite different. Travel not the way we know it and Alice is about to enter what the authors call Dark Matter which according them is hypothetical. Defined in their glossary as 25 percent of the universe’s content with properties of invisibility and transparency including gravity. Dark Matter exists because its gravitational attraction changes the movement or motion of stars and galaxies as Alice learns more about her new world and the mysteries surrounding it. Hence they describe and define the Big Bang Theory, which according to the dictionary means that the universe originated sometime between 10 and 20 billion years ago from a cataclysmic explosion of a small volume of matter at very high density and temperature. This theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe according to Wikipedia. 1]According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state, which expandedrapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in its present continuously expanding state. According to the most recent measurements and observations, this original state existed approximately 13.7 billion years ago,[2][3]which is considered the age of the Universeand the time the Big Bang occurred. (Wikipedia).
How does this relate to Alice and her voyagers well now things begin to change for them as their ship takes on another form, namely human, they meet those behind this confusion and change called the Djinns who take on any form they choose and Saifan seems to be their guide. Now, you should know that Djinns enjoy playing the piano and watching the erasures of the world as a hobby. But, there is much more. Would you believe it if I told you there are millions of these Djinns and they are heading off to war. Dark Matter Saifan tells Alice protects her world from their world. He goes on to explain even more. But, think about this. What would you do if you had all the time in the world to do whatever you wanted? What would you do if your life was or seemed endless? Their weapons are cosmic and their standards are bigger than ours. Boundless ability and infinite time! What do you think? So, what happens when Alice challenges the leader? You guessed it they wind up back on their ship at what you might say square one. So, we begin to think that maybe we think too much, ponder the wrong thoughts and never think out of the box. Alice carried with her a photograph from the previous year and saw herself before all of this changed her life and her as well. Sometimes one glance in a picture is all you need to make you realize you are not the same person. Poor Alice and her travelers are now trapped on the rim of a black hole with no sun and no solar system in sight. Alice is no longer part of the human world. How would you feel if you were now considered an Alien with no real home or place to go. Amunet and Keku warned her. The Djinns ejected them. Where would they go next and what will happen when the cosmic journey filled with scientific facts and a glossary of terms at the end of the book takes this group on an adventure of more than a lifetime.
Using the right words is not always easy and as Alice learns she needs to learn more than just about the cosmos and the universe as she meets Sytus a captain in the titan army and embarks on another journey. Learning what they do and how they materialize is quite fascinating. Trying to explain her plight and the part she played in the extinction of earth and the solar system more complicated. From the cosmos, to neutrons to the planets and the way the world and universe work this book gives the reader more than just a unique plot and novel but a total cosmic journey too. So who will prevail: the titans or the djinns? So, how does a universe get destroy? What happens to the djinns? What finally is the fate of the Titans and what do you rule? Absolutely nothing: Just one book cosmic graveyard: That is the end of the Big Bang at least for now as the travelers need to find yet another place to live.
Poor Alice finds herself in a cemetery and realizes the headstone is hers. A news article in a planetary paper tells of her untimely death. A dream that she has would connect all of the stars you might say as Alice takes trip back to her classroom, learns more about the past and they find themselves in a prison in Xakoxe with a jailer named Zyxler.
Alice, Mara and Meowhugs meet many along the way in many different universes, wars fought, some won and the end result will find them not where they expected to be. No giant planet but in a field of asteroids. As Keku and Amunet come back into the picture we find out he has to go to their version of summer school for doing a project that did not come out the right way. Amunet has a more pressing problem, as she now has to take a class in Manipulation the one word that applies to all that happens in this novel. Poor Amunet who started the entire chain reaction at the beginning finds herself front and center facing a difficult situation. As Alice learns and so does she it is not your career, your job performance or confidence that matters or will get you ahead in life. You need to be deceitful, manipulative and everything she is not. Liars win according to do this teacher and Amunet is going to pay the price for defying her as she pits her against her best friend Keku in a mind game. The price is too high for her as she chooses her own fate. Will someone come to her aide? Examining her own Universe she finds a note form someone that might explain it all. But what happens in class the next day will definitely give you pause for thought. What does happen in class? Find out when you read it for yourself. Just where do Alice and the travelers wind up you won’t believe it? Will Amunet figure out a way to save her and her friends? This book brings to light what happens when different worlds collide, different groups of people cannot get along and the Universes as we know them collide and only some will survive. Alice retraces her past, sees the future and understands the present but what will happen to her? Who are the creators and what does she learn when she meets Amunet? Manipulation: Deceit, Truths, friendship and fear! Which wins out? You decide after reading this book and the starling ending. One thought provoking book. One Alice! Two authors that bring to light so many issues about life, the Universe, the cosmos and survival of the fittest and true friendship. A cosmic journey in print better than Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5 that will send the reader wanting more and hoping the authors will continue the journey.
Fran Lewis: reviewer

]]> Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:24:05 +0000
<![CDATA[Travel Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Tue, 10 Jan 2012 01:15:40 +0000 <![CDATA[ Changing your life, one small act at a time...]]> 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life by Linda Cohen. What perfect timing... This gave me some ideas and inspiration for things I could do above and beyond the "say something nice to someone" efforts. It also caused me to think outside of the more traditional person-oriented acts of kindness.

Food For The Body, Nourishment For The Soul (food); Change The Toilet Paper (paying it forward); Volunteer With A Vengeance (volunteer work); Clear The Clutter (donations); Dollars And Sense (money); Slow Down (driving); My Home Away From Home (synagogue-related mitzvahs); The Reusable Bag Lady (environmental conscience); In The Doghouse (animals); What Goes Around Comes Around (teachable family moments); Expressions Of Gratitude (a hundred ways to say thank you); Blow Out The Candles (birthdays); Do Unto Others (thought, speech, and action); Oh, The Places We'll Go (traveling and vacations); The Final Good-bye (death and grieving); Resources; List of Charities

Ms. Cohen lost her father in 2006, and people were asked to donate to a small group of charities in his name as a mitzvah of tzedakah (donating money in someone's memory to a charity). This mitzvah, or blessing in English, prompted her to start thinking about beginning her own mitzvah project.  That idea turned into her 1000 Mitzvahs project (with a .org website of the same name).  This project, while outwardly focused on others, also helped her deal with the emotions and grief of her father's death.  She found that by giving kindness to others, she also changed her entire perspective on life and the role she could play in the lives of others.

Fortunately, the book doesn't try and list all 1000 mitzvahs that are covered on her blog site.  Instead, she has grouped a number of them into basic categories that give you an idea of the types of things you can do in various parts of your life. Some might not be applicable to your situation (such as synagogue-related mitzvahs), but it doesn't take much effort to apply those same activities and actions to similar groups that do align with your life.  For me, it was interesting to see how acts of kindness could be done in situations that weren't people-oriented. One example was asking for a regular cup when going into Starbucks to have a coffee that would be consumed on-site. Why use paper resources and generate waste if there is no need to? Another example was donating pet supplies to a local animal shelter. Yes, kindness to animals is definitely worthy of pursuit, but it wasn't something that I had connected to my own efforts.

1,000 Mitzvahs is a good book to read regardless of your particular religious (or non-religious) affiliations. You won't relate to every one of the acts she describes, as some won't be applicable to your current life situations. But there are more than enough other mitzvahs you can learn from and incorporate into your own life. It might even motivate you to start your own personal "daily acts of kindness" project. It's a given that you'll make the world a little better, and you'll also change yourself in the process.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed]]> Mon, 9 Jan 2012 14:04:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Wisdom & Insight in These Pages Could Save Your Life]]> SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE.  On page 13, she writes, "We must keep on facing the challenges presented by the difficult people God has placed in our paths. Doing so we can save our lives--at least emotionally if not physically. Difficult people can harm us is we don't have a strategy to deal with them."

Unless you live in complete isolation as a hermit (and who does?), you have some difficult people in your life (family, co-workers, professional colleagues, friends, or you-name-it). In easy-to-understand straight-forward teaching, Bottke gives readers critical relationship tools. In the opening pages, Bottke explains, "The primary goal of this book is to help you identify the role you play in your relationships with difficult people and empower you t make new choices--choices that will bring freedom and forever change the story of your life regardless of whether the difficult people around you ever change one iota." (Page 12)

SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE provides excellent insight and step-by-step action for every reader. I highly recommend this book. In fact, you should probably buy at least two of them--one for yourself and one to give to someone else. It is that good.]]> Wed, 4 Jan 2012 14:09:42 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Perfect Book for the Savvy Writer]]> BUSINESS TIPS AND TAXES FOR WRITERS. For the last 25+ years, I've been active in the publishing world as a writer, an editor, a former literary agent and currently a book publisher. I've learned the hard way that when you need help, you turn to an expert. For a book contract, you turn to a literary attorney--not your lawyer friend who knows nothing about publishing. It's the same with taxes and properly running your freelance business. You need to turn to an expert--a Certified Public Accountant like Carol Topp who is also an author and has lived in the world of freelance writing.

This book is a quick read yet packed with solid advice and information for the writer. Every writer can profit from the valuable contents in these pages.]]> Sat, 31 Dec 2011 21:11:22 +0000
<![CDATA[My 2012 Resolutions!]]> Tue, 27 Dec 2011 22:15:25 +0000 <![CDATA[ My New Favorite Time Suck!]]>

When you sign up, you go through Facebook (don't you always have to nowadays?) and I skipped the permissions allowing them to post as me or post when I'm not online, I don't let anyone do that. They import your friends and your photo from Facebook and after inputting basic info, they encourage you to create your own virtual vision boards for everything that you love in life. I have 7: Inspirations (for photos), Not All Who Wander Are Lost (for travel), Cooking Fun!, Getting My Fashion On, Home is Where the Heart Is (for home decor), DIY Goodies, and Music Is What Life Sounds Like. You can create as many or as little as you like.

After you're all signed up, you come to the homepage where you can see what your Facebook friends that are on Pinterest are sharing. You can repin it to one of your boards and add a new message or description, like it or comment on it or all three. When your friends have bored you, you can go to the top and click on Everything which will pop up with sub-categories based on interests. Click on what you like and have fun! There are even how to and a variety of videos under their video section. There is a Popular tab and a Gifts tab with a price range breakdown so you can search for gifts within your budget.


I finally had a chance to really explore it today and I added the Pin It bookmarklet to my toolbar to make it easier to pin things I find on the net to my boards. They also have buttons to add to your website for other Pinners to easily pin your blog/site/review to their board. I've spent HOURS on it, falling in love with some cute outfit or some amazing sunset photo or something or other. The only problem I've encountered is when I tried to upload my own pin (first from my SD card and then, from my desktop, both times a failure). It took way too long and didn't end up uploading anything. It could be my computer, so don't let that scare you off. This is definitely worth checking out, especially if you want to visually organize all the cool things you find on the web that inspire you.]]> Tue, 27 Dec 2011 05:33:50 +0000
<![CDATA[Books Quick Tip by DavidStanley]]>]]> Sun, 25 Dec 2011 21:02:35 +0000 <![CDATA[ Head First C Programming is a Home Run!]]>
*This is an early release and you can only get it from O' for now...]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2011 04:04:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ A must have Web Application Security Resource!]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2011 03:45:10 +0000 <![CDATA[ Realizing the Dream]]>
There is much to learn. This is not the first such book I've read, but it would be a great choice as an introduction to learning about log cabins. J. Wayne Fears writes in a manner that is easy to follow and understood by anyone, not just someone practiced in construction. But then, the book isn't really about the actual construction (a glossary does list log cabin builders and kits). It is more of an introduction to the dream, familiarizing the reader with all the considerations to be made going into such a project.

Not least among such considerations, the author notes, is thinking through if one truly appreciates a life of solitude and seclusion. Log cabins tend to be built in secluded areas of wilderness, and that does not mean a life of convenience transported from the suburbs. He suggests trying out such a lifestyle if even for a short vacation, to be sure that one is comfortable with it. There are trade-offs to be made, but the benefits can be tremendous. He recounts the story of a couple who longed for a log home in the woods, built one, moved in, only to find they couldn't bear the disconnect from the life of convenience and social connection to which they were accustomed.

Fears also makes it clear that this book is not about log homes. It is about log cabins. Anyone who has started to even scratch at the surface of learning about log cabins knows that it is difficult to find anything about actual cabins, that is, 1,000 square feet and less. Paging through contemporary magazines about log homes, one finds log McMansions, not cabins.

If, however, one does want a cabin, and a true wilderness lifestyle, Fears goes over many important considerations. He writes about choosing a good site and how to go about buying it, what inspections to get first. He writes about different kinds of building materials, pros and cons, from logs to roofing materials. He writes about the benefits of wood stoves over fireplaces, and encourages not installing electricity at all, but gives advice if one does want to plug in from time to time.

And more: how to split wood, how to install good lighting and not cause cabin fires, how to create a shooting range that is safe. He also writes about how to have a good water system, but once again, staying with the wilderness experience, he leans toward the outhouse, explaining how to keep it relatively maintenance free and always clean with a few simple moves. Composting toilets got their coverage, too. The author even covers cabin cooking, more times than not done outdoors on a fire ring, and he includes plans for building the perfect bench by the fire. Not to be missed are rules for visitors and preventing vandalism when you are back in the city.

Photographs are beautiful and helpful, often showing cabins the author himself has built, and quite a few simple blueprints are included, mostly for cabins 400 to 800 square feet in size. Links are embedded in the text, especially convenient in a Kindle version, and I followed up on several of them, learning even more.

Smart, clearly written, sensible—this is a book to take the dream into reality. Enjoy.]]> Thu, 15 Dec 2011 00:45:17 +0000
<![CDATA[Happiness Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>

I mean, the definition of happiness is different from the other. One would say happiness is having a good career and a family living in a huge house, while some would say "as long as I am healthy, I am happy...". I've heard many say, riches would make them happy. Many put happiness in line with fulfillment; but really what is fulfillment? Humans have the uncanny ability to be dissatisfied with what they have almost....always, because they always want more and we just desire more. I saw some kids playing in the playground the other day and they looked sincerely happy. I wondered what do they have that adults are missing?

Really, as fallible beings, we really don't know what we want, nor do we really know what would make us happy. For me, one needs to make himself happy. Being satisfied with who you are equals happiness. Happiness means having and being satisfied with what you really need than what you think you want.]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2011 21:24:31 +0000
<![CDATA[20 Stocking Stuffers Under $15]]> Thu, 8 Dec 2011 18:34:04 +0000 <![CDATA[Life Lessons Learned in 2011]]> 2011 Resolutions list that I did back in January? As the year ends, I'd like to take a look back to see what lessons I've learned this year. I think it's important to look back to see what you've been through, what made you stronger, what you learned and use it to go forward in life. Here is what I learned this year, hopefully it'll help you in some way. What did you learn?]]> Fri, 2 Dec 2011 19:47:37 +0000 <![CDATA[ Stir Laugh and Repeat by Martha Cheves reviewed by fran lewis]]> Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Move over Paula Dean, Emeril, and Rachel Ray: Make way for the new Queen of Southern hospitality and cooking our very own Martha Cheves. From her home made pies to her delicious desserts Martha sends the reader into mouth-watering heaven as she describes in detail how each recipe was created and the stories behind them. As a total non-cook and someone who has trouble boiling water without burning it or making an egg hard without it exploding; even I can follow and create one of her clear, concise and easy to understand recipes.

As I read each one, I began thinking how great it would be to her as a friend and neighbor. Having Martha as a neighbor would mean never having to cook or bring in take out ever again. Hopefully including me as one of her food testers I would get to sample and gladly volunteer to try out her new recipes and never have to use a microwave or a stove ever again.
As I read each one, I began thinking how great it would be to her as a friend and neighbor. Having Martha as a neighbor would mean never having to cook or bring in take out ever again. Hopefully including me as one of her food testers I would get to sample and gladly volunteer to try out her new recipes and never have to use a microwave or a stove ever again.

From her creative ways of dealing with leftovers and her fun filled family traditions, this book motivated me to try one of her recipes and share them with my friends and family too and finally break in my new and unused stove.

As a child, I watched my grandmother create homemade chicken soup, chocolate pudding and even grind her own meat. I loved licking the spoon while the chocolate was hot. However, she would never allow anyone, including my mom, to go near her stove or broiler. The kitchen was her domain only.

How great for Martha's children to grow up with a mom who made every meal an adventure and fun. Mystery night sounded great and her banana pudding story was funny.

As a true chicken lover, I decided to put the Basil Grilled Chicken Recipe to the test. If I can make it, anyone can. I agree with Martha that forty dollars for dinner is steep and that making your own meals is not only healthier because you know what ingredients are in it and you can enjoy the benefits of your own home made meal.

To make sure that I did total justice to this recipe I had my husband create it and make it. I read the recipe to him and went with him to get the ingredients. However, in order to make sure it came out the way Martha would make it, I watched as he created the best meal I have had in a long time. Your Basil Grilled Chicken gets five stars from me and so does this cookbook.

Bon Appétit Everyone:

Congrats Martha: Hope to see you on your own cooking show on the food channel.
Fran]]> Thu, 1 Dec 2011 23:34:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ 18 minutes to stop reacting, plan your next moves, and accomplish something significant...]]> All too often, we seem to live our days on auto-pilot.  The hours, days, and months fly by, and we look back and wonder what we accomplished.  Worse, we might be living our days in reaction mode, responding to the loudest noises in an attempt to gain some sanity and get work done.  Of course, that never happens, as your agenda rarely is the same as those who want and need your time and resources.

Peter Bregman aims to help you get off that treadmill with his book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done.  This isn't yet another "system" to follow to have a place for all things and to keep all things in their place.  Instead, it's a framework for developing a habit of taking 18 minutes throughout the day to plan out what you need to do, regroup on an hourly basis, and then review the results.  It made a lot of sense to me, and he solidified something I've been vaguely trying to do on my own.

Each chapter is small, only about three to five pages.  It's not hard to read his story or illustration that makes his point, understand how that idea links into the larger whole of your life, and decide what step or steps you need to take to make it happen.  As you will see in the table of contents listed at the end of this review, the book is structured into four parts.  The first part is a call to slow down, step off the highway, and start thinking about where you're going.  In parts two, three, and four, he drills further down into the actions and decisions that are needed to move you forward both at the day and life level.  By thinking what your year is about, then your day, then this particular moment, all your actions and decisions start to work towards a common goal to accomplish something significant, something beyond just keeping your head above water.  The 18 minute habit is key to this process.  You start the day by setting the tasks you want and need to accomplish (and then you schedule them).  Throughout the day on an hourly basis, you take one minute to step back, take a deep breath, and refocus on what you've done and what you're going to do in the next hour.  Finally, you end the day with a review of how everything went, what you learned, and whether there's any loose ends that need to be tied up before you mentally shut off for the night.  This ritual, once you do it often enough, becomes habit and leads you to take concrete steps throughout the day to control your direction (instead of the direction controlling you).

I liked 18 Minutes for a number of reasons.  Bregman is realistic in that he knows you probably won't be able to stick to a complicated system that requires a complete change in the way you do things.  You can start where you are with 18 Minutes, incorporating one or two items that resonate with you.  Once those are ingrained, work on a few more, all the while remembering to start the day with a plan, regroup throughout the day, and end the day with a review to learn what worked and what didn't.  For me, the immediate "to do" is to start the one minute regrouping action.  Instead of going from fire to fire, I'll start stepping back for one minute an hour to consciously reset and regroup so I can start the next hour with renewed focus.

18 Minutes is well worth reading.  Go ahead and put it down on your daily task list... schedule it in. :)  If you've read productivity books before, you've likely seen a number of these tips and such.  But seeing them woven together in this structure makes much more sense than just tossing out random tips, hoping one or two will stick.

Part One - Pause - Hover Above Your World: Slowing the Spin - Reducing Your Forward Momentum; The Girl Who Stopped Alligator Man - The Incredible Power of a Brief Pause; The Day Andy Left Work Early - Stopping in Order to Speed Up; Frostbite in the Spring - Seeing the World as It Is, Not as You Expect It to Be; Multiple Personalities Are Not a Disorder - Expanding Your View of Yourself; Why We're Fascinated with Susan Boyle - Recognizing Your Own Potential; You Don't Have to Like Him - Where Do You Want to Land?;
Part Two - What Is This Year About? - Find Your Focus: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do - Choosing Your Next Move at the Intersection; Reinvent the Game - Element One - Leverage Your Strengths; I'll Just Take the Shrimp - Element Two - Embrace Your Weakness; Headed Seats - Element Three - Assert Your Differences; The Pilot Who Saved 155 Passengers - Element Four Pursue Your Passion (Desire); Anyone Can Learn to Do a Handstand - Element Four - Pursue Your Passion (Persistence); A Recipe for Finding the Right Word - Element Four - Pursue Your Passion (Ease); What Matters to You? - Element Four - Pursue Your Passion (Meaning); I'm the Parent I HAve to Be - Avoiding Tunnel Vision; I've Missed More Than Nine Thousand Shots - Avoiding Surrender After Failure; When the Future Is Uncertain - Avoiding Paralysis; Maybe - Avoiding the Rush to Judgement; What Is This Year About? - Creating Your Annual Focus
Part Three - What Is This Day About? - Get the Right Things Done: Dude, What Happened - Planning Ahead; Bird by Bird - Deciding What to Do; Wrong Floor - Deciding What Not to Do; When Tomorrow? - Using Your Calendar; The Three-Day Rule - Getting Things Off Your To-Do List; Who Are You? - The Power of a Beep; It's Amazing What You Find When You Look - Evening Minutes - Reviewing and Learning; An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day - Creating a Daily Ritual
Part Four - What Is This Moment About? - Mastering Distraction:
Mastering Your Initiative: Move the Table - Avoiding the Need for Motivation; Never Quit a Diet While Reading the Dessert Menu - We Need Less Motivation Than We Think; The Nintendo Wii Solution - Having Fun; The One-Two Punch - Getting Started and Keeping It Going; Am I the Kind of Person Who... - Telling the Right Story About Yourself; The Hornets Stung My Mind - Getting Out of Your Own Way
Mastering Your Boundaries: The Time Suck of Collaboration - Saying Yes Appropriately; But Daddy... - Saying No Convincingly; The Third Time - Knowing When to Say Something; We're Not Let Yet - Increating Transition Time; I Don't Want to Go to Ski Class - Decreasing Transition Time; We'll Regress. We'll Forget You. We'll Replace You - Managing the Tension of Relaxation
Mastering Yourself: Does Obama Wear a Pearl Necklace? - Creating Productive Distractions; Whould You Smoke Pot While You're Working? - Avoiding Switch-Tasking; It's Not the Skills We Actually Have That Matter - Getting Over Perfectionism; Why Won't This Work for You? - The Value of Getting Things Half Right; Don't Use a Basketball on a Football Field - Staying Flexible
Conclusion - Now What?: You Don't Have Ten Gold Behaviors - Choosing Your One Thing
Acknowledgments; Index; About the Author

Obtained From: Publicist
Payment: Free]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2011 01:23:46 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Masterpiece By Sahvanna Arienta]]> Lightworker-Discover Your Sacred Role as Healer, Guide and Being of Light
explains how to make the most of your own spirituality to change both
yourself and the world. Sahvanna Arienta describes in simple English
how the poets, seers and saints help lift us from the darkness to the light.

The emotional dimension of humankind consists of the good as well as bad.
Good emotions are love, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, acceptance, generosity,
tolerance and understanding. The converse emotions are hatred, fear,
intolerance, greed, apathy, lust and envy. All of these emotions act
in contention; however, humankind cannot exist without both  good
and bad emotional components. Our inherent free will predefines making
choices both good and bad.

Lightworkers function from a higher plane which predefines spiritual
yearnings like powerful intuition, self-discipline, justice and risk for a
higher purpose. Lightworkers just under the Divine level serve
as teachers for humanity, create enormous shifts in consciousness,
create a heightened spiritual awareness and heal the planet's energy.
Famous lightworkers in this category include Jesus Christ,
Buddha, Mother Mary, St. Michael the Archangel and Muhammad.

Lightworkers have classic physical and emotional manifestations.
Examples of these manifestations include having prophetic dreams,
premonitions of catastrophic world events, having an overactive
central nervous system, having out of body experiences and
communicating with deceased persons.

Sahvanna Arienta explains how to sharpen intuitive skills.
The sum total of intuition includes having an open mind,
remaining calm to allow information to flow unencumbered,
setting aside ego, avoiding attachments to a particular outcome
and paying attention to subtle nuances.

Some of the most famous lightworkers have had monumental
difficulties in life and their contributions to this earth
weren't recognized until decades after their death. One such
lightworker was President Abraham Lincoln. He lead the
United States through the Civil War and the famous
Emancipation Proclamation which freed an entire race.

President Lincoln's tribulations are best expressed in
his own words. " I am now the most miserable man living,
if what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human
family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth.
Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell;
I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible;
I must die or be better, it appears to me. "

Lightworker-Discover Your Sacred Role as Healer, Guide and Being of Light
is a wonderful book which covers the mechanics of overcoming
the dark side of humankind epitomized in literary works like
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Both believers and
non-believers can enjoy this work because the contents deals with
the complicated interplay between good and bad.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics]]> Thu, 24 Nov 2011 05:12:31 +0000
<![CDATA[ Unlearning What You Know]]>
The book does present a common sense idea that non-business people often realize, but that many business people don't seem to understand: what we "think" is true, actually isn't often the case. For example, a poll among NBA players in 2003-04 asked them what NBA player they would wish was on their team to take a last minute shot. The players overwhelming responded Kobe Bryant. Yet, Bryant's stats for such shots were terrible (he was the 2nd worst in the NBA). The best person to choose for such a shot was Travis Outlaw. There are several other stories such as these throughout the book.

I enjoyed reading UNTHINKING. The book is worth reading just for all the stories: from the origins of eBay to the rise and fall of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW to why wealthy runners limp. Besides just being an interesting book to read, it has appeal to those who work in the business world, particularly marketers and advertisers.]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 03:54:49 +0000
<![CDATA[Thanksgiving Quick Tip by djevoke]]>
My favorite part of this holiday is sitting around a table and giving thanks for what we're grateful for in our crazy lives. It forces everyone to slow down, take stock of the last year and spend a moment or two in gratitude. Be sure to have a hidden stash of tissues, this tradition has been known to bring on the tears from time to time!

Check out my Thanksgiving Playlist and How to Host a Potluck Thanksgiving lists for some music and tips on how to make the most of this holiday :) And everyone, I hope that you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by great food, gratitude and loved ones! Happy Thanksgiving!!!]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 22:55:24 +0000
<![CDATA[ Another exceptional book to share...]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 19:52:42 +0000 <![CDATA[ How to become more fit than your kids !]]> Fit Moms For Life-How to Have Endless Energy To Outlast Your Kids is an excellent
reference which explains the conditions precedent to having a successful fitness
program that will pass the test of time, as well as classic impediments to success.

The fundamental pillars are mindset or positive attitude. Little is possible if the
reader doesn't internalize the goals of the program. Nutrition is critical because
junk food can derail any serious effort at weight maintenance/stabilization over
the long term. Strength training is helpful if done incrementally and with many
reps.  Burst training helps to strengthen the muscles and shape the body.

Ultimately, the coterie of people around you is critical in order to
maintain confidence levels and a positive attitude. Naysayers can be a
detriment to this whole process of personal transformation. In addition,
participants must come to understand the things that hold each of us back.
i.e. past trauma, negative attitudes, negative belief systems, lack of
assertiveness etc.

Dustin Maher provides ample stories of successful participants in the overall
program of fitness and weight maintenance. The fitness program has numerous
exercises to depict the principles of learning like the front plank, push-ups,
wall sit, cardio endurance and others. The higher the intensity of the workout,
the longer the metabolism will be raised afterwar
d. Important tools in the
exercise routine are dumbbells, the stability ball, steps, yoga mats and
mechanical exercise machines like inclines.

The top 15 foods to eat include onions, sweet corn, pineapple, avocado,
asparagus, sweet peas, mango, eggplant, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi,
cabbage, watermelon, sweet potato, grapefruit and mushroom. Dustin Maher
recommends that eating be journalized. Sample meals are provided to
serve as a guide. Eating out requires a strict adherence to the main course,
portion control and limiting bread and chips. Another important aspect
is to read labels and eliminate transfats. Sometimes, blood tests can be
helpful to identify classic inflammation markers, although the book
does not emphasize this aspect.

There are excellent references in the back of the book. These references
cover positive thinking, nutrition, strength training and raising healthy
kids. Dustin's workout DVD programs are set forth at the very end
of the book. The presentation is easy to read, understand and apply.
The cost is reasonable.

Always discuss the program of nutrition and fitness with your personal
physician, physical therapist and nutritionist. Sometimes, a physician
may consider special scans like head/neck ultrasound to assess the
possibility of strokes from extreme head/neck range of motion exercises.
The presentation does not emphasize this aspect in body conditioning.

Make certain that you understand contraindications for every exercise
selected in the program. In addition, your physician may require that
you test for food allergies before finalizing the diet regime.
In addition, people with celiac disease cannot consume gluten products.
Gluten may be present in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains.
Celiac disease sufferers have an inflammatory response in the small intestine
when consuming even small portions of gluten rich foods. There is some basic
discussion of gluten in the presentation.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics]]> Sat, 12 Nov 2011 23:56:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Brother LX-2500 Sewing Machine]]> Pros: lightweight, easy to operate
Cons: none for me
The Bottom Line:
“A stitch in time, saves nine”
~American Proverb

It has been several years [decades] since I purchased a new sewing machine.  I've looked them over for some time but they all looked like you needed a PhD to operate them.  Looking for a basic machine, for repairs and small sewing projects, I finally came across the Brother LX2500portable sewing machine.    The last two machines I owned were Kenmore, inexpensive machines that still produced clothing for a family of 5, upholstery a sofa, and a myriad of other projects.   I selected the Brother because I was familiar with the name and it looked like a basic machine I could use, since I am a self-taught sewer.

Specs & gadgets:
~12" x 6" x 15-1/2"
~weight 12 lbs
~operates on 110v
~25 year warranty
~buit in 17 stitches
~automatic buttonhole maker
~drop in top bobbin
~LED light
~drop arm for sleeves, cuffs, etc.
~automatic bobbin winding system
~built in blind hem stitch
~zipper foot
~zigzag foot
~buttonhole foot
~button sewing foot
~darning plate
~extra needles supplied
~extra bobbins supplied
~itty-bitty screwdriver
~instructional DVD
~operating manual

Like I said, I was looking for a basic machine.    All those computer operated gizmos look fantastic and I am sure a lot of people enjoy using all their features, but I am at the point where I do simple repairs and make a new sofa cover for our dogs sofa every couple of months.   The Brother LX2500 is a basic sewing and mending machine, extremely easy to use, and reasonably priced.   Another great feature I appreciated was the weight of the puppy, only 12 pounds.

It came with a DVD which covered the operation, cleaning, and storage of your machine.   I always find it amazing that they assume anymore that everyone has access to equipment that plays a DVD.   I remember the first VCR I purchased, it came with a VCR tape telling you how to hook up the machine, what irony ... boggled my mind even then.    However, it was nice to watch the DVD and pick up the basics of the machine.  I'll keep the operational manual handy witht the machine in case I run into any problems.

This machine does have 17 stitches built into the memory bank.   In general I'll probably only use 3-4 of them, but in case I decide to whip up something special on it sometime, there are decorative stitches already available.   I did play around the first couple of times I used it, just to get the hang of all the different selections, as well as the nifty buttonhole maker.    That was always my downfall on my older machine when I made clothing, I had to set up my own buttonholes by manipulation.  

One thing I really enjoy is the jam-free bobbin installation.   You simply slide back the cover and drop it in from the top.    No more trying to maneuver it through a vertical bobbin case holder where I never seemed to get it set properly on the first shot.   Now I just drop it in and I'm good to go.   It does say it has a small storage compartment for your extra goodies, located on the front of the machine, that slides open.    It is awkward to open for one thing and for another there is nothing to keep your goodies in check.   Once you finally manage to slide it off the machine, everything just tumbles out.    I'll stick with storing my extras in my sewing basket.

Optional accessories available from their web store:
Quilting foot
5mm narrow hem foot
5mm cording foot
5mm open toe foot
5mm pintuck foot
7mm open toe foot
Adjustable zipper & piping foot
Binding foot
Blind stitch foot
Braiding foot
Clearview foot
Concealed zipper foot
Edge joining foot
Fringe foot
Non-stick foot
Overlock foot
Picot foot
Picot Foot
Quilting guide for foot holder
Walking Foot

Overall impression:
This has been one of the easiest machines I've used.   The drop in bobbin feature is extremely nice since my fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be and the reverse stitch button is handy right at the front of the sewing surface.   I did decide to tackle a larger project since I had this new machine and had no problems whipping up a set of drapes measuring 106" x 110" since I could not find anything ready made at any store.   I did send away for the blind stitch foot for this project and came to love it dearly.  

It is extremely quiet in operation, runs smoothly, and does everything it promised it would do in the manual [and DVD].    All those years of chugging away on my old Kenmore, I always had a secret yen for a Brother machine, and now I have one of my own.   I wouldn't trade this one for anything.


My thanks to Dawn, H&G CL, for adding this to the database in her usual prompt manner :)

]]> Sat, 12 Nov 2011 17:44:32 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not the Only Vegan Resource You MIght Need, But Great Information for the Journey...]]> Alicia Silverstone's Vegan/kindness tome went with us on a recent road trip. The passengers in the car passed it around and read up on some of what Alicia had to say. She gives great information on how and why to go Vegan. She shares delicious recipes. Her peanut butter cups and Rustic Pasta are amazing, and many pages in our copy of The Kind Diet have become stained and/or dogeared in the months since the road trip.

Alicia's voice is friendly girl-next-doorsy and she shares little stories, encouragement and pictures from her life. Her book is part why, and focused on the Kindness of plant eating, to animals, the planet and the human body. (Without graphic pictures and horrific stories of packing plants.) The how of her book is broken down into simple categories. In each category, she gives hints and examples and role models.The just getting started category, of those who are taking baby steps into Vegan eating, she labels flirts. The stricter and more devoted Vegan category is next, with tips and hints for those willing and ready to commit to a strict plant-based diet. Finally, she gives insight on the next class of plant-eaters, the Superheroes, those who embrace Veganism and take their passion to the next level. Some of her ingredients are not super easily grabbed at the local grocery store. Some I had not even heard of. She explores the debates on grains, sugars and soy. Discusses organics, pantry supplies, and the pros and cons of eating Nightshade vegetables. Her information includes a good, solid overview of how to get the nutrition the body needs from eating plants.

I don't think this should be the only Vegan cookbook you purchase, if you are Vegan or going that direction. However, it's a good one to grab if you are a flirt, and it should take you to the edge of the Superhero chasm. We refer to it and cook from it often.]]> Fri, 4 Nov 2011 02:31:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ Smoke'em If You've Got'em! Baking'em Is Pretty Good Too!!!]]> With Halloween in our rearview mirror and Christmas dreams on the horizon, it seems to me that fewer and fewer people take the time to stop and actually celebrate Thanksgiving.  I wrote a review on that topic last year and you're welcome to look at it if you'd like, but for this particular review, I'm focusing on the mother of all birds.  I'm giving up some love for the almighty turkey, that roasted vision of mouth watering manna that takes center stage on many tables at Thanksgiving.

On the surface, turkeys aren't much to look at.  They don't possess the coolness of falcons, nor do they have any majestic flair like bald eagles.  Heck, as goofy as peacocks look and sound, they've still got those beautiful tails going for them. 

What do turkeys have?  Well, the males are a bit more fashionable-looking than the females, what with their beards and fancy feathers.  But other than that, the only things that turkeys have going for them are caruncles and snoods.  I know what you're thinking.  What the heck is a caruncle and a snood?  The caruncle is that fleshy growth found on a turkey's neck, and the snood is that droopy thing that hangs from its beak.  Really sexy, ain't it?

Okay, okay.  I'm not trying to be shallow here.  I'm well aware that beauty is only skin deep.  It's what's on the inside that counts, right?  Luckily enough for you, me, and every other poultry lovin' human on this planet, what's on the inside is exactly what makes turkeys so great.  They are some of the most delicious creatures you'll ever run into!

As a consumable, turkeys are perfect.  They are big, so they can either A) feed a lot of people or B) feed two or three guys in my weight range.  They also have a large cavity, which means you'll be able to add plenty of stuffing to the menu when you cook one up.  Also, you can marinade them with just about anything and they'll taste great.

On top of all of this, you get to use a turkey baster!  Of all of the kitchen gizmos in the world, few of them can match the brilliance of a gigantic turkey baster.  You merely suck up the juices and droppings that come off of your turkey while it's baking and spray them right back over the top of the bird!

And just when you think turkeys can't be any more awesome, I offer up to you the Cajun Injector!  If you're not familiar with Cajun Injector, it's basically a massive needle that looks eerily similar to the ones used by nurses and doctors to inject or draw numerous fluids from your body.  Cajun Injectors always come with marinade (I highly recommend their Creole Butter) and all you have to do is shoot up your bird with the marinade of your choice (I like to do this over night) and then put it in the oven and let it cook for the suggested time based on the bird's weight.

But, Kendall, can a turkey be even more awesome you ask?  Heck yeah, it can!  How?  By smoking a turkey instead of baking it.  There are a number of smokers on the market that you can purchase for yourself.  While I have only baked turkeys, my father has smoked many turkeys over the years.  It's a process that takes quite a bit longer than traditional baking methods, but it is well worth the effort.  I remember my dad getting up at three in the morning on Thanksgiving just to get the turkey started.  It wouldn't come off of the smoker until at least noon.  The meat falls right off of the bone and the smoked flavor rules!

A few people prefer to fry turkeys.  It's a much faster way to cook the bird than baking or smoking but, in my opinion, it comes out so greasy that the natural flavor of the turkey gets lost in the ooze.

So, while turkeys might not be the prettiest winged creatures out there, they are definitely one of the tastiest.  If you plan on celebrating Thanksgiving this year, be sure to partake in some turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

]]> Thu, 3 Nov 2011 21:45:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ When The Shadows Began To Dance by Yamaya Cruz]]> When The Shadows Began To Dance
by Yamaya Cruz involves how a teenage lady can internalize
coping mechanisms to deal with a seemingly hopeless situation.

The story commences with arguments in a
household partially disheveled. Both parents
seem to be in a painful relationship evidenced
by mom's chain-smoking. Nelly is a teen being
cared for by a local mental health clinic.

The symptoms are more complex than simply
behavioral issues, although schizophrenia is
the differential diagnosis. Cognitive therapy
sessions are offered for treatment along with
antipsychotic medication.

The presentation does not say so; however,
schizophrenia patients may be helped by
nutritive counseling which is aimed at
detecting the following: 1)

o Blood sugar problems made worse by excess
   stimulant and excessive pharma use

o Essential fat imbalances

o Too many oxidants and not enough antioxidants
    like Vitamins A,C,E and Selenium

o Niacin (Vitamin B3) therapy

o Methylation problems helped by B12 and folic acid

o Pyroluria and the need for zinc

o Food allergies

Intuitively, Nelly has a dismissive view toward
the medications which could be helpful but
potentially valueless in her case. The proviso
is that Nelly needs to consult with a nutritionist
who may be able to balance the brain chemistry
with naturally based vitamins, herbs and high
quality food.

The largest ongoing puzzle is how junk food
establishments are readily available in many
poorer neighborhoods. Yet, there is a visible
scarcity of fruit and vegetable stores where
real food can be consumed. Interesting, this
dynamic could be at the heart of Nelly's craving
for a state of well being.

Throughout the presentation, readers get the
impression that Nelly has a good bit of common
sense in striving to uplift herself from a
seemingly hopeless predicament.

Later, Nelly would internalize the words of Orunmila.
"Now it's time for you to learn the secrets
of your past, and the key to survival. It's time
for everyone to look inside themselves and
master the forces of the Universe. "

In my own experience, this is good advice.
Herein are the secrets which Nelly can and
does put to good use.

The presentation is interspersed with the
violent acts of some gang members. One such scene
involves Chobo, Nico, Cabron, FB and Diablo
involved in harassing a young woman. The words are
"Negrita, usted es una chica mala" which means
loosely "Black woman you are one bad lady or chick ".

The presentation concludes with the words
"Nelly? Are you still with us?"
A distant voice cries out. "No, I was gone."

Overall, the presentation provides ample
examples of coping strategies under very
difficult circumstances.

1. Brain Bio Center]]> Sun, 30 Oct 2011 03:24:34 +0000
<![CDATA[How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party!]]>
Note: due to to keep costs low, I only wanted to purchase a few liquors, so I limited my menu because of that. If you are looking for great Halloween drinks, check out this complete list of Halloween drinks! Food recipes from Martha Stewart and Dessert recipes from: Good Housekeeping and]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2011 03:02:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Best Book on How to Paint Better for Artists I Ever Read]]> BEST BOOK ON PAINTING TIPS FROM CHARLES WEBSTER HAWTHORNE (1872-1930)

 As An artist and a writer, I study all the time the masters in those fields, those who struggled and won. Why? Because I am still struggling and need their tools to win.


I recently read Charles Webster Hawthorne on Painting, collected by Mrs. Charles. W. Hawthorne with an Introduction by Edwin Dickinson, an Appreciation by Hans Hoffman, and Biographical Notes by Joseph Hawthorne, his son.


Here are the forty tools I gleaned from Hawthorne’s tips to help his students create more masterful paintings. In working to understand these forty tools, I felt like one of his students. I wish the same for you:


1.       Never try to recreate a painting

2.      Anything is beautiful I f you have vision and want to appeal to humanity

3.      The painter is a high priest who believes in the beauty and the glory of human existence, showing sympathy and understanding

4.      An artist is a poet and a poet is an artist; both are preachers

5.      An artist must learn to see the beauty in the ugly, even if they do not paint it

6.      Rather make something bog out of something little than vice versa

7.      Anything is painter’s fodder

8.      Surprise

9.      Good painting is an excitement, an aesthetic emotion; reasonable painting destroys emotion

10.  Study continually; develop yourself

11.  Know when you are licked; start another

12.  No amount of good drawing will pull your painting out if your colors don’t work

13.  Fundamental skill patterns one spot of paint next to another artistically

14.  Overdo in color rather than go limp

15.  Think color first, then object and paint the color you see

16.  Hold light against shadow, rather than light against light

17.  Everything in painting is a matter of silhouettes

18.  Nothing cheapens a canvas more than the same color running through it

19.  Harmony and vitality come from the use of different colors

20.  There is nothing harder than black in sunlight and beware of brown outdoors

21.  There is no such thing as an edge in nature

22.  When white goes warm it loses its power

23.  In floral still lifes, the background is as important as the subject

24.  Do what you see not what you know

25.  Look out for being too lavish in accents—it makes your painting look spotty and dry

26.  There is sincerity in painting from nature that is lost when you make it up

27.  A painting is like an after-dinner talk—if you want to be remembered, say one thing and stop

28.  The light does not stop at the fold of the upper lid but stops at the pupil

29.  Avoid painting the whites of the eye too light

30.  The highlight should be complementary to the color it falls on

31.  Make edges subtle rather than obvious

32.  See the big simple music the old masters saw when they painted the figure and paint the big note on your own canvas

33.  Paint people as if they would bleed if you pricked them

34.  A painting of high intensity looks better unvarnished

35.  If you don’t do what you don’t know, you don’t give yourself away—never fire your last show—power is real strength—don’t give all, have reserve

36.  Study Manet to study how to make spots of watercolor come together as one

37.  Always use good watercolor paper

38.  Work watercolor very wet and allow the colors to run together

39.  Yell with watercolor

40.  Study Sargent’s watercolors to get an education in the study of edges, architecture in shadow


Read Charles Webster Hawthorne on your own and make your own notes out of your understanding of what you need to grow as a painting artist. We all come to our paints and pictures from different talents and places. However, I do suggest you find the 1939 first edition if you can, because the 1960 paperback has no illustrations, which make Hawthorne’s notes much more meaningful.


Happy painting, collecting, viewing and being in the beauty others have created for your enjoyment!

]]> Sun, 16 Oct 2011 20:35:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ "The waist is the commander in chief of the body."]]> It must be fun to write a book like 2007's ANATOMY OF YANG FAMILY TAI CHI. Certainly, joy and a desire to bring joy to others by means of this famous martial art radiates forth from all 108  pages by author Steffan de Graffenried. The literature, DVDS and courses offered on martial arts are vast. Core concepts like qi (chi), empty and full, straight but not straight and others are mysterious and cry out for clear explanations in current, colloquial English. And all this de Graffenried merrily and lucidly delivers.


Here are a handful of salient points picked at random that stay with me from ANATOMY OF YANG FAMILY TAI CHI


* * *  In Taoist thinking tai chi "birthed the universe ... is the mother of Yin and Yang."


* * * Tai Chi has two goals: (1) Become conscious of how you move. Let there be no movement that is unconscious. (2) Interpret the energy that others are expanding through the technique of "pushing hands."


* * * Both when fighting several opponents and in daily life, be aware of more going on around you than you can see.


* * * Commentary on a classic Chinese text:  "The waist is the commander in chief of the body." The waist must be flexible and fully maneuverable.


* * * Waist and legs have the largest muscle groups in the body. Between them they "control the majority of the body movements which comprise each Tai Chi posture."


* * * As in Feldenkrais exercises (my gloss) "Tai Chi Chuan manipulates the conscious mind, not ... physical force."


* * * Once upon a time, tai chi masters made their students spend five years doing standing postures only!  Then commenced the movements linking the 108 postures of Yang Family long form tai chi. Nowadays most instructors "teach movement from one posture to another quite early."


* * * Stand like the pole suspending two pans of a scale. Especially do not commit the commonest error in tai chi -- of leaning forward. Stand "as though a steel rod were inserted into the crown of your head down along the inside of the spine and then exiting through the perineum and into the floor."


* * * When you make a turn from standing like a scale or balance, turn "like a wheel." That is: rotate your upper torso "like a freewheel we created with that imaginary steel rod."


* * * Never hold your breath. "In-Out In-Out Don't Stop." Both inhalation and exhalation should be equally long and even.


* * *  A much quoted Chinese martial arts proverb is: "inch long, inch strong." The farther you can stretch or reach, the more power you deliver. In my words: build strength through length. Don't let anyone convince you that stretching exercises are of little importance.


 ANATOMY OF YANG FAMILY TAI CHI has other features worth noting:


-- Author de Graffenried begins with a 7 generation "genealogical" tree tracing his training back to Manchu Dynasty Master Yang Lu-Chan.


-- He briefly embeds tai chi within the larger family of martial arts and cosmic Chinese views of the universe, man's place in it and human health. He cites texts from Chinese classics, as rendered into English by Fei Lincoln. There are a few score black and white photographs and diagrams. These are, alas, rather grainy and fuzzy.


-- ANATOMY OF YANG FAMILY TAI CHI  concludes with practical illustrated  "Exercises to Improve Your Tai Chi," followed by References and a select Bibliography and finally a one page "About the Author," with photograph. Since 1992 Steffan de Graffenried has been studying Yang Family Tai Chi with Grand Master Wong Doc-Fai.


Here are my personal  concluding observations about  tai chi for normal Americans.


-- (1) Here in Black Mountain, North Carolina near Asheville, I have taken three continuous years of Yang Family tai chi instruction: two years with one instructor, then one year to date with another instructor (three classes a week), supplemented by weekly classes in a church vestibule with an ordained minister who is the second teacher's long graduated star pupil. I have gone to a few other classes here and there with four other local adepts, including one who is very close to master status. My conclusion is that tai chi is VERY instructor-specific. Every teacher is unique in what he or she offers. No matter what you learn with one, expect to start "from scratch" if you move to another teacher. I am 76 years old, not physically gifted, a very slow learner, but I love tai chi.


-- (2) You have to have had some hands-on training in tai chi if you are to get much from reading and pondering ANATOMY OF YANG FAMILY TAI CHI. I don't mean that you have to have five or ten years of training! No. But you should have had a minimum, I think, of 10 - 20 hours with the same teacher either one-on-one or in a regular class meeting at least weekly. You cannot teach yourself tai chi from this or any other book in the complete absence of training by another human face-to-face nor without some daily practice of tai chi.


-- (3) Similar philosophies and beliefs about healthy postures and movement are found in tai chi, qi gong (chi kung), pilates and feldenkrais. My occasionally sought physical therapist is adept in dance and is also a teacher of feldenkrais classes. My one-on-one pilates teacher began as a ballet dancer and is highly proficient in reiki. Common to these approaches to movement are beliefs that pain is bad and to be avoided; circular motions of arms, legs and torso are superior to linear lunges; and that the best posture whether sitting or standing is via an erect spine. Pretend you are a Jane Austen heroine sitting on a couch in a Masterpiece Theatre episode awaiting the arrival of Mr Darcy!


A totally different approach to movement is displayed in some other martial arts, notably karate, and in painful contact sports such as American football.


Take up de Graffenried's ANATOMY OF YANG FAMILY TAI CHI with confidence. He knows what he is talking about and he explains tai chi very well. Bounce the author's analyses and philosophizing off  your tai chi instructor. Ask how she or he assesses de Graffenried's stretching exercises. Above all:




"The waist is the commander in chief of the body." (p.29)]]> Sat, 8 Oct 2011 21:00:59 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed?]]>
Hmmm…I have to say I have a good number of friends. But only a small number I can call ‘TRUE FRIENDS’. There is really not much different from one friend or the other true friend, both are fun to be with, and I would be lying if I said that the period of how long you’ve known each other really does matter. I mean, I’ve known some friends for 10 years and while others I’ve known for only 6 years. Yet, most of my true friends always fall either on the 18 year or 6-8 year period.

I mean a true friend is someone who accepts you for what you are, accepts your flaws and mistakes, and would support your decisions. He or she is not afraid to tell you things you need to hear rather than only things you want to hear. There are friends you can count on and call upon when you need help, there are friends you’d rather have fun with since you have a lot in common, there are friends you look up to for advise because you hold them in high regard and there are friends who give you tough ‘love‘ and is always looking out for you.

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A true friend is always ready to forgive, they ask nothing in return for favors, and is always there to support. A true friend would always consider how would you feel, and always hold your feelings into consideration. They never force you to believe what they believe but would be open to advise when you ask. They also only advise when they ask, and remember, Honesty is a virtue.

Friends….well, they are the ones who hang around for fun. They are the ones you are maybe fond of more, and usually, regrettably we often disregard, neglect our true friends for many reasons. Yet, they are always there when you need them; some may say they are gullible, but their hearts are indeed into who they are and what they feel they should do. They also never get jealous, and they are always happy for the good things that happen to you. They celebrate for your fortunes and are saddened by your misfortunes, that they do everything they can to make things easier.

Hug a ‘true friend’ today. Among my online friends, I have a few I call ‘true friends’ and I have no best friend, but I do have great friends. It is an uncommon bond. Never neglect a ‘real’ friend, because one day they may just wake up and it’ll be too late for you….

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<![CDATA[ Do you know your own capabilities and how to work toward them?]]>  

When I read a How-To book, I want to really know the details on How-To do whatever my goal objective is.  This book gives you that core information and takes it up another notch with the where to go to get the basic tools to start your own home tutoring business.


The author makes you access yourself, know your market, think about your choices, understand the dynamics of the situation, and empower yourself to develop a course of action.  There is so much information placed inside these pages that if you do not get your answer here it is not a question that can be answered.


I encourage everyone to read this book to gain an insight on what it takes to become a home tutor but also to tap into the ESL area, which is booming right now with no end in sight to its expansion.


Kimberly knows of what she speaks, as this was her home based business and all the wonderful insights she has, she is sharing.  When you are good at what you do, you have no fear of teaching others!]]> Sun, 2 Oct 2011 02:14:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Excellent content and structure...]]> It's nice when a book not only delivers on its stated objective, but it also opens my eyes to a better understanding of a related subject.  Metasploit: The Penetration Tester's Guide by David Kennedy, Jim O'Gorman, Devon Kerns, and Mati Aharoni falls solidly into that class.  In addition to learning how I can use Metasploit for network penetration testing, I also saw just how easy it is for someone to compromise a system with very little effort or knowledge.  You can never rest when it comes to network and system security.

Introduction; The Absolute Basics of Penetration Testing; Metasploit Basics; Intelligence Gathering; Vulnerability Scanning; The Joy of Exploitation; Meterpreter; Avoiding Detection; Exploitation Using Client-Side Attacks; Metasploit Auxiliary Modules; The Social-Engineer Toolkit; Fast-Track; Karmetasploit; Building Your Own Module; Creating Your Own Exploits; Porting Exploits to the Metasploit Framework; Meterpreter Scripting; Simulated Penetration Testing; Configuring Your Target Machines; Cheat Sheet; Index

The authors set an ambitious goal in trying to write a book that is useful for both beginners and experienced users of Metasploit.  Usually that means that neither side ends up being happy.  I can say as a member of the beginner group, I can say they were successful on that end of the scale.  There's a fine balance between step-by-step hand holding and the assumption that the reader already knows everything.  After an introduction to a structured approach to penetration testing, they start to cover the basics of how someone might use Metasploit to probe a network, gather information on potential attack vectors, and then exploit those potential weaknesses.  The major features are covered as opposed to trying to write about every last setting, so the material doesn't bog down in minutia.  It's also nice that they set up a fictional penetration test scenario, and follow it through the different chapters.  It makes for good continuity.  As the book progresses, the emphasis moves towards creating your own modules to run within the Metasploit framework.  Not every tester will need or want to go that route, but it's a reminder of how flexible this tool can be.

The bonus of this book was realizing how easy it is to launch various attacks without much effort.  I guess I really hadn't thought through what would be necessary to set up phishing attacks, either by sending infected documents or setting up a fake site to collect personal information.  With Metasploit, it's nothing more than selecting some options and running the tool.  You can argue whether Metasploit is a good or bad thing depending on who is using it, but it's a certainty that this type of behavior will exist and happen regardless.  By writing this book, the authors have helped even the playing field between the black hats and the white hats.

Metasploit: The Penetration Tester's Guide is a book that should be on the shelf of any serious computer security professional.  And if you're just starting to dabble in the world of network security, this is a great resource to start your journey.

Obtained From: Publisher
Payment: Free]]> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 02:31:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ Energy Fields and Healing]]> The Encyclopedia of Energy Medicine by Linnie Thomas
is a considerable work on the various modalities which
involve the transfer of energy to provide relief to different
parts of the body. The Emotional Freedom Technique
utilizes the tapping of meridian endpoints to create positive
changes in the emotional and physical health of patients.
Ohashiatsu utilizes gentle finger pressure to provide a
therapeutic relief throughout the body.

The dynamics of Thought Field Therapy describe how
eye movement changes unblock trapped energy in the
nervous and circulatory system of patients. The therapy is
utilized to conquer stress, anxiety and fears of all kinds.

When TFT is applied to problems, the result is to
address fundamental causes, balance the body's
energy system and facilitate the elimination of
most negative emotions or fears quickly.
Thought Field Therapy Freedom Techniques often
work when all else fails.

The therapy has been used for weight loss, smoking
cessation, phobias, trauma relief and much more.
Thought Field Therapy, or TFT for short, uses a
tapping sequence in the form of a healing code
to balance the body's energy system .

Once rebalancing occurs, patients can eliminate
most negative emotions expeditiously, while promoting
the body's own natural healing ability. TFT meridian
tapping therapy is a highly effective, generally
non-invasive and an uncomplicated self-help
alternative to long-term, or drug-related

Cranio Sacral Therapy aims to achieve myofacial
release through manipulative bodywork to break up
stubborn pockets of chronic tension in the connective
body tissue. During the course of our lives, the body
becomes conditioned to stresses and traumas.
If stresses or traumas are overpowering, they become
locked in the body as sites of inertia until a
release is achieved. These sites of inertia effect
the natural rhythmical movements and hinder the
ability of our body to manifest correct cellular
level patterns or sequences.

Common causes of inertia are psychological stresses,
the trauma of birth and environmental toxins.
Due to an accumulation of these stresses, tissues
can become imprinted with the memory of unresolved
experiences until released through stimulation.

Esogetic Color Puncture utilizes color and esogetic
herb oil to activate dreams in order to release excess
energy and tension. Colorpuncture involves focusing
colored light on acupuncture (and other) points on the
skin in order to energize powerful healing impulses.
Light is absorbed by the skin and transmitted along
energy pathways or meridians deep in the body.
The light stimulates intra-cellular communication
which supports healing.

The Resonance Repattern Institute uses breath
repatterning to achieve the release of unconscious
patterns stored in early childhood experiences.
The repatterning is aimed at identifying and
satisfying needs not satisfied as far back as
pre-birth states in the womb. When your frequencies
vibrate in sync (known as coherence), you will
experience health. When your frequencies vibrate
out of sync (known as non-coherence), you will resonate
with and experience disease and pain. And so, the
quality of your life depends on whether or not
frequencies are in sync or out of sync.

Resonance Repatterning is a system that allows
you to identify and change your resonance from
out-of-sync frequency patterns that cause
stresses to in-sync frequency patterns which
promote living life more fully.

Overall, the volume provides quality information
on a plethora of alternative medicine modalities
which can provide chronic pain relief cheaply.

Credits- First Published on Blogcritics]]> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 00:49:56 +0000
<![CDATA[ This Ball Is Definitely A Home Run!]]> Many people outside of Louisiana have probably heard of products from companies like Zatarain's and Tony Chachere's, but I don't know how many people are familiar with Ball's Cajun Seasoning.  Ball's Cajun Foods is a company in Lake Charles, LA that offers a number of spices (including salt-free ones) and cooking mixes.  This review pertains strictly to Ball's Cajun Seasoning. 

For fans of a lot of Cajun seasonings, you'll notice that Ball's Cajun Seasoning is a finer ground product.  It is an all purpose seasoning that replaces salt and pepper in just about any dish you want to add it to.  It's got just the right amount of spice for anyone who enjoys a slight kick to their food, but also has a perfect seasoning blend that enhances the flavor of what you are adding it to. A lot of other companies out there rely on heat to cover up the lack of overall taste in their products (and I'm not knocking them for that), but Ball's appears to have put flavor first, and I love them for that.

I personally use Ball's Cajun Seasoning as a rub for pork and beef steaks, as well as with chicken.  It's good to mix into a marinade as well to provide even more flavor to your meat.  Whenever I make a gumbo, I toss in a bit of Ball's to give it some extra flavor.  I like to sprinkle a bit on boiled or deviled eggs as well. 

I have also come across people who shake Ball's Cajun Seasoning on salads and just about anything else you can think of.

The seasoning features salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, sugar, secret spices, garlic, celery, and onions.


]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 16:17:42 +0000
<![CDATA[ Healing Therapies That Are Cheap and Effective]]> Natural Physician's Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND
is a considerable work which covers healing modalities
including vitamins, herbs , acupressure and others.

For instance, aloe vera juice is known to lower blood sugar levels.
Alpha lipoic acid is helpful for cardiac autonomic neuropathy,
dementia, type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and skin aging.
Glutamine is helpful for wound healing, inflammatory bowel
disease and leaky gut syndrome. Arthritis may be helped by using
lipoic acid, Vitamins C and E, Selenium and Grapeseed Oil Extract.

Arginine may be helpful for angina, congestive heart failure,
diabetic foot ulcers, high blood pressure, interstitial cystitis,
bladder and pelvic floor problems. Artichokes are a good tonic for
arterial health and wellness. Noxvomica is used for colitis and
bladder infections.

Stevia is a classic replacement for white sugar. The preparation
is sold in most health food stores. Diabetics and persons trying
to lose weight may benefit by using stevia as a sugar substitute.
Some bakeries utilize stevia and other herbs to make sugar-free
cookies and cakes.

Tea Tree Oil is a classic tonic for mouth and gum infections,
as well as skin infections. Eye and ear infections may be helped
by colloidal silver.

Gallstone issues may be treated with milk thistle, tumeric,
peppermint and Vitamin C. Aortic elasticity may be enhanced
by the use of garlic. Arrhythmias may be helped with the use
of Coenzyme Q 10.

Vitamins and herbs should be taken with the concurrence of
your medical provider, nutritionist or diet professional. Periodic blood
tests may be taken to monitor glucose levels, as well as
classic inflammation markers associated with chronic diseases
amd medical conditions which cannot be cured but must be monitored.

Overall, Natural Physician's Healing Therapies is a very helpful
work which may be utilized to manage chronic health conditions
utilizing natural modalities. The book has a considerable
bibliography to assist in authenticating the medical protocols.

Credits: First Published on Blogcritics]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:18:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Mastering Creative Anxiety]]>
Mastering Creative Anxiety is the book that anyone who has a non-traditional job, career, or calling should read. I think that a lot of people assume that creative people are very calm and grounded, fully immersed in their craft. When at our best, we are. However, that's not the complete picture. Just like everyone else, we have bills to pay and have to work hard keep that precarious balance between work and life. Moreover, when we let fear, stress, and anxiety run the show, we become scattered, unproductive, and hypercritical.

Recognizing anxiety is half the battle. Letting go of the fear and the imaginary phantoms. Clarifying and pinpointing the real issue. Then, getting back to work.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Four Purposes of Life]]>
The Four Purposes of Life tells us that not only is having it all possible but having a balance between all the parts of our lives is crucial. The book looks at the four purposes and is taught in stages or levels. For instance, in the first stage, we learn all the basics such as self- discipline, well-being, money, intuition, feeling, courage, love, knowing yourself, etc. From here, the other three purposes are more about finding your calling and providing service.

I'm thinking that the average person would be lucky to gain even a foundational understanding of half of the basics. Mastering these would probably take more than a single lifetime. I guess it's a journey not a destination.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Bhagavad Gita]]>
It's been a few years and my outlook has changed. Although the material is the same, this time when I read through The Bhagavad Gita, I became very interested in the concept of the path of action. Several things clicked into place for me. Like many, I tended to associate isolation and spiritual commitment as part of the same equation. Yet, in my own life, I have found that I feel most like my true self (closest to being part of that big picture) when I am going about my day to day activities fully engaged.

It's truly amazing that works created so very long ago can have such a profound meaning even now. I guess, certain concepts and lines of questioning never really go out of style. And I've only just now broken the surface of my explorations of this work.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Sams Teach Yourself Foursquare in 10 Minutes]]>
For those new to Foursquare, it is a game. It could be best described as a geotracking game where your own physical movements are part of the game play. For instance, if you go to the corner store, you can check in to that location on the app. Then, you head off to a restaurant and check in there. Each time, you check in you gain points and given enough points you earn badges and titles such as Mayor of McDonalds.

For a brick and mortar business, I can see the promotional value of Foursquare. You can reward regular patrons with special offers. Some may even come in more frequently if there's a bit of competition. Plus, it adds a bit of fun to the everyday. Apart from a few free deals and maybe a buddy texting you saying he's right around the corner, I can't say I see the fun for individuals though. Plus, the potential privacy problems scare me more than the description of the game intrigues me.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Branding Yourself]]>
No matter whether you work for someone else or own a business, it's important that your actions (including online content) reflect who you truly are and what you want others to know about you. Branding Yourself takes you through the process of defining your brand and then using social media to promote and strengthen that brand.

Branding Yourself is presented in a semi-informal way, almost as if the authors are tweeting and conversing online. It's a great example of real meaningful conversations that engage readers. I hope newbies take note. Far too often, when people are introduced to social media they try to strong-arm their way trying to reach as many people as possible but providing very little value. It's rather like those annoying guys at conferences who think that the aim is to get rid of a pile of business cards.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Outsmarting Google]]>
Although people are becoming more aware that quality content is key to bringing potential customers to their sites, there is still quite a lot of misunderstandings about the significance of page rankings. Many will still do anything to get their rank up. To this end, they plant links on link farms which inevitably backfires. Next, they try to optimize keywords in their site content. When they go overboard, of course, Google freezes them out.

Building trust with Google takes time. Yes, there are ways and means to help that process along. Outsmarting Google even provides a lot of good advice for doing so. However, the best advice this book provides is to create a website that provides quality content for potential customers.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Using itunes 10]]>
Essentially, any download you need for your iphone(music, ringtones, movies, ebooks, etc), itunes can help. That's probably pretty obvious to most iphone users. What's interesting though is that itunes is now looking to make things easier for the user, both on their pc and their mobile devices: organizing, syncing, reducing clutter, creating playlist, multiple media options. Thus, opening up possibilities for a wider range of users.

Using itunes provides a good description of the various features complete with step by step instructions. There are also lots of pictures and videos that you can watch online. Suitable for those new to itunes but equally valuable to those who haven't used itunes in a while.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Yoga for Computer Users]]>
Yoga for Computer Users provides some simple exercise that you can do to release that tension while stretching those tight muscles. The poses are very easy to do, even if you've never done yoga before and are completely out of shape. Most of these exercises only take a minute or two and are meant to be sitting.

I definitely carry a lot of tension in my shoulders, neck, and back. Since getting this book, I've been taking little breaks once or twice a day to do the full range of desktop yoga postures. I've been surprised at how energized I feel afterwards.]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:00:00 +0000