Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Posted: 15 Jul 2009 06:30 PM PDTDisasters, particularly of the weather variety, roll through our world in late spring and early summer. It's easy to prepare yourself and your family, much harder to pick up the pieces once damage is done. Having lived on the Gulf Coast in the path of hurricanes like Katrina, Jeanne, and Gustav, I can tell you the old ounce-of-prevention cliché is right on.
Here are some tips from FEMA, NOAA and other government specialists about being prepared.
- Understand the weather and non-weather crises that could affect your family and home. Talk about them often together in a non-intimidating way. Take a look at your home and region, getting to know your vulnerabilities to storm surge, flood, wind.
- Consider subscribing to email alerts for storms, hurricanes, floods or earthquakes if your area is often at risk.
- Designate a safe-room or safest area in your house and make sure everyone is aware of which area and why. If evacuation might be an issue, identify the places you can go, locally and distantly.
- Make sure each family member knows escape routes and places to meet.
- Appoint a friend or relative out of your area to be a clearing house of information. As each family member finds safety, they should call that designee who'll be your single point of contact.
- Create a plan right now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate and remind everyone of that plan, often.
- Put a list of emergency telephone numbers by your phones. Make sure your young children know how and when to call 911 and what to say.
- Evaluate your insurance coverage periodically and remember that flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. Many insurance providers have redefined flood, so ask your agent. National Flood Insurance Program
- Keep a stock of non-perishable emergency supplies in or near your safest area or safe room. Make a disaster supply kit and refresh it from time to time.
- Buy a NOAA weather radio - do you know they come in wind-up, non-battery versions? If yours has batteries, replace them in June and December at the same time you do your smoke detectors.
Want to know more about the wind?
Read about tornados and being prepared.
Read about wind energy.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Posted: 15 Sep 2009 07:18 AM PDTYour brain is a complex organ. It is the controller of your body, your thoughts, your state of mind and your ultimately your life. There are some who abuse it, some who underuse it, and some who overuse it to the point of meltdown.
In this article we'll look at dozens of tactics that will help you maintain your brain into old age and help to increase your mental agility and cognitive development.
- Don't try and multitask, it can't be done.
Our brains can only focus and concentrate on one thing at a time, this is a proven scientific fact. While you can most likely handle multiple menial tasks, anything that requires you to concentrate, reason, or decide deserves full focus.
- Exercise your brain, not just your body.
A lot of us leave learning behind when we leave school, college or university. Keep the brain fit by learning something new, whether it be a language, a new skill or musical instrument.
- The world is a mystery.
Use your brain to constantly ask questions and explore your surroundings. Continually exercise your brain by not accepting everything you see and hear: question it and free your sense of curiosity.
- Use both hemispheres
Use the left hemisphere of your brain to practice logical, mathematical problems in your life. Use the right hemisphere to unleash your creativity. You will know what side is dominant so make it a point to practice using your non dominant hemisphere.
- Get to know your sleeping pattern.
Your brain needs sleep as much as your body but everybody is different. I function on 5-6 hours you might work best on 8-9 hours.
- Feed your brain decent information.
Your brain is learning throughout the night, so give it something worthwhile to feed it. Our brain is not restoring energy whilst we are sleeping it is cutting out the noise and going over the days events and processing it; give it some great material to process.
- If you want to learn more whilst studying, start pacing.
If you are reading a book, start pacing. Movement gets the blood flowing and this helps oxygenate your brain. I walked my way through university and have taught my sons study walking to help them memorize information.
- You've heard it before.
Exercise is probably the number 1 way to increase the brains capabilities in every way possible, from memory to creativity. There's no getting around it, we all need to exercise.
- Keep Social
Staying socially active has been shown to keep your brain sharp well into old age.
- Use the internet to keep your brain active.
A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centers in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning.
- Eat dark chocolate.
Yes, eating dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial for releasing an important brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine aids in learning and memory.
- Learn a song.
Learn the lyrics of some of your favorite songs to keep your listening skills and memory skills alive.
- Watch brain stimulating movies.
Movies that make you think (such as mysteries) help keep your brain and mind active.
- Play video games
This has been shown to increase cognitive abilities and can help fight Alzheimer's.
- Practice doing things with your non-dominant hand.
This stimulates the brain in many areas and also can be quite fun.
- Use meditation as a way to alleviate your stress.
There are thousands of studies about the beneficial effects of mediation and keeping your stress levels down is good for you. You lose brain cells the more stressed you feel, so controlling stress levels is important.
- Laugh as often as possible.
Laughing out loud boosts the immune system and releases endorphins, the bodies feel good chemicals.
- Think positive.
Thinking positively is a great way to keep your brain alive. Constant negative thinking depresses the mind and goes on to literally depress the immune system. Thinking more positive thoughts is a good way to keep stress down and spur you to take action for a better life.
- Practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude can increase your happiness level significantly which helps to alleviate stress which helps your whole brain and body.
Sex is another great way to keep your cardiovascular system healthy which means more oxygen to your brain which keeps the brain healthy.
- Read a great book.
No matter what type of books you read, they are all beneficial in keeping your brain healthy and active and ward off the aging process.
- Drink less alcohol.
Alcohol in moderation can actually be good for the brain, however too much alcohol can kill brain cells and your ability to be able to think and reason effectively.
A lot of people look forward to giving up work as we get older, however, working even in a part time job can keep the mind active. If you are retired you can do volunteer work to keep you active.
- Keep up to date with current events and news.
Keeping your brain fit is about feeding your mind with new information. Watching current affairs programs can help with this so long as they don't stress you out.
- Listen to music.
Listening to music that you wouldn't normally listen to is another good way to keep your brain active. Music has the ability to release positive emotions in you.
Dancing is a great all around for both mind and body. Learning s a new dance helps your cognitive skills, your spatial awareness, your social skills, your motor skills and helps keeps your body healthy.
- Throw a ball.
Throwing and catching a ball is great for sensory-guided movement. It can improve your brain’s visual, tactile and hand-eye coordination responses and keep them sharp well into old age.
- Eat well.
Eating certain types of food can really be beneficial to your brains chemistry. Avoid fatty foods and eat more vegetables and fruit. This is sound advice for brain and body.
- Drink plenty of water.
Drinking water helps the cells function properly and keeps you feeling hydrated from the inside out.
- Have a cup of tea.
Drinking tea, hot or cold, can stimulate your brain in many ways. Tea contains caffeine which can be good for you if drunk in moderation.
- Take a trip.
Have you always fancies traveling well it has been shown that traveling really does broaden your horizons.
- Use your debating skills.
Having friendly debates with friends and family can improve your logical, thinking, reasoning and creativity skills.
- Sleep a little longer.
Sleeping an extra few hours every now and again is good for rejuvenating your brain and help you learn faster.
- Take naps.
Taking a nap throughout the day can help keep you from feeling tired and help stave off 'brain fog'. A ten minute nap will do to help you function throughout the day.
- Turn down the TV.
If you watch a lot of TV turn it down to hone your listening and concentration skills.
- Break the cycle.
If you tend to do the same thing day in day out, try and break the pattern of your activities. Your brain relies on doing something different to keep it active, break your normal routine to do this.
- Learn a new word.
Learning anything new will help keep your brain healthy. Learning a new word each day is a simple way to accomplish this.
- Look at old photographs.
This is a great way to keep your memories alive and to strengthen cell connections within the brain.
- Do something outrageous.
Doing things we would normally never do like a bungee jump, a parachute jump, hill climbing, a helicopter ride, etc., will keep your brain alive, literally.
- Train your brain.
The 'cogni-fit' industry is huge and is growing every year and for good reason. Start playing some of these 'cogni-fit' games to keep your brain healthy and active.
- Take supplements.
Supplements like omega-3, folic acid with vitamin B-12, CoEnzyme Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and an all round strong multi-vitamin supplement, has been shown to slow down the aging process. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
A simple mindfulness exercise is to just sit and relax and pay attention to your breathing. This helps to promote relaxation, keep your mind focused, helps with concentration and does the body a world of good.
- Develop critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking involves you asking questions of yourself and the world around and looking for evidence of your assumptions.
- Become a philosopher.
Not literally, but start thinking about the bigger questions in life. This develops your brain on many levels. More than likely you will never come up with a definitive answer to the big questions but it keeps your brain and mind active.
- Make your own affirmations.
Affirmations are a great way to keep your mind focused on your life goals. When you use affirmations you are also using your imagination, and activating other regions in your brain which can help with memory, creativity and even releasing feel good chemicals.
- Thinking outside the box.
I always thought this was a strange saying as you cannot really think outside the box when you are always living inside the box of knowledge. However over the years I have come to realize it really means thinking without using your reasoning skills to look for alternatives and it can be a great way to keep your mind active.
- Sing out loud.
Singing is a great way to help you focus and get rid of stress. People who sing out loud feel happier as they are not internalizing thoughts but focusing on an ext renal action, their voice. It also aids memory.
|Written on 9/15/2009 by Steven Aitchison. Steven is the author of Change Your Thoughts and works as an alcohol and drugs counselor. He has a BSc in Psychology and has a passion for studying belief formation, thought processes and values and principles. His blog focuses on personal development through changing your thoughts but covers the whole personal development field.||Photo Credit: James Wheare|
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Posted: 11 Sep 2009 04:32 PM PDTYou work hard for your money and you want to get the most from every dollar. You certainly don’t want to end up wasting your cash by paying more than you need to. Yet many people do this every single day.
I’m no fan of “frugal living” tips that mean I spend hours of effort for the sake of saving a few pennies, so these are all items you can always save cash on with a minimal time investment. In some cases, you might actually end up saving yourself time too. Each item on the list below is one that I almost never pay full price for:
Other than underwear or bathing suits, I can’t remember when I last paid full price for an item of clothing (and I think even the underwear was on a buy-one-get-one-half-price offer).
Why drop $40 on a pair of jeans when you can get the same pair on ebay for half that? If you’ve never bought clothes on ebay before, give it a try; you’ll be surprised how many items are brand new, with labels, and from recent lines. Add “BNWT” (which stands for “Brand New With Tags”) to your search, if this is important to you.
Clothing chains change their stock every season, so check discount stores and even the online version of the store for “end of season” or “last season” garments. You can often make a great cash saving.
Second-hand clothes are even cheaper, often just a few dollars on ebay or from goodwill stores.
If I’m thinking about buying a particular book, I always check Amazon first – they seem to have a discount on almost every book, compared with the larger retail stores.
Check out the second hand sellers on Amazon as well: you can often get brand new and barely-used books a bit cheaper than the Amazon price – this is particularly useful for academic textbooks.
For leisure reading, don’t get into the habit of popping into your local bookstore just to browse and pick up something that catches your eye – you can end up spending a lot of money this way. Instead, try your library (free!) or second-hand book sales run by charities or local community groups, where you can pick up paperbacks for a dollar or less.
- Ebooks and Software
Always search for discount codes online when you’re thinking of buying an ebook. Authors often promote their books to readers of particular websites, newsletters or blogs, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t use the code if you can find it!
With most expensive software packages, there’s a freeware or shareware equivalent: try Google Docs or Open Office as alternatives to Microsoft Office, for instance. If you do need a pricey piece of software, can you make do with the previous version? I saved a substantial amount by buying Adobe Acrobat 8 instead of Adobe Acrobat 9.
- Exercise Equipment
It’s a sad fact that most exercise bikes, weights, cross-trainers and other equipment end up lying unused in garages and spare bedrooms. Many people get given these for Christmas – or buy them in the grips of a January resolution – and may not even get around to assembling them.
If you’re fitting out your home gym, try looking in classified ads in your local paper, on Craigslist (US-focused) or Gumtree (UK-focused). Ex-gym equipment is also an option – especially when a gym closes down. You might be able to save yourself a significant amount, though be aware that guarantees and safety claims may be invalidated by buying second-hand.
As with software, buying a slightly older model can save you a lot of cash.
There’s no easier way to burn cash than to buy DVDs as soon as they’re released. Wait just a few weeks or months, and that DVD may well be half the price or less. This goes particularly for box sets of TV series – it’s always cheaper to wait for a complete box set than to keep buying single DVDs.
Can’t wait to see the movie? Then rent it. You might decide it’s not worth re-watching – so buying it would have been a waste of cash anyway. If you do love it, wait until the price has dropped.
I’ve found that Play.com in the UK – PlayUSA if you’re in the US – has some incredible prices on DVDs, and Amazon is often similarly good.
- Restaurant meals
When you’re planning to eat out, always check online for coupons or vouchers. There’s certain to be a restaurant near you that’s offering a deal, especially if you’re going out on a weekday.
Here in the UK, the site Money Saving Expert lists restaurant deals. If you have a specific restaurant in mind and you live in the states, you might try spending $10 for a $25 gift voucher.
It’s also worth getting to know the places in your local area. Many restaurants will have happy hours, or deals on particular nights of the week. You may even find loyalty schemes or other bonuses for regular customers.
- Train/Coach Tickets
I don’t think I’ve ever bought a full-price train ticket. I have a student railcard that gives me a 33% discount on every train journey I take … and I pay even less by avoiding traveling at peak times, and by booking tickets in advance wherever possible.
If you know that you’re going to be travelling on a particular date (such as for a vacation or trip), then try to book your coach or train tickets in advance. There’s often a big discount for this, and train and coach lines will have online sites where you can book. Buying in person on the day is always the priciest way to get tickets.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
My wife and I have talked about this.
My best friend Ron and I have talked about this.
And I've talked to my own kids about this.
The person who gets ahead in life is often the person who has earned it.
And one way to earn it is to do what others are not willing to do.
In my line of work, I come across men and women every year who are creating their own future, perhaps by starting a business, or by taking advantage of the opportunities that are available.
This isn't luck, this is more than that.
When I was a senior in High School, there was another young man that worked at the grocery store at the corner of Anthony and Crescent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, whose name was Dave.
I worked there too as a carry out, over 30 years ago. But I had dreams of working somewhere else too. I wanted to work at a radio station and by the time I was 19, I had launched my full time radio career as a disc jockey which later led me to the advertising and marketing business I am in now.
11 years ago, I moved back to Fort Wayne, and just last weekend I saw Dave at the grocery store. Doing the same job. I hope he is happy. If I needed a job, I know I could do that job again, but I have other ambitions.
The advice I gave my kids, is the first step is to get a job. Any job, as long as it is legal and not harmful. Next, you learn that job and gain skills and either discover you like that type of work, or you hate that type of work.
I was a bus-boy and dishwasher as a kid. Hated it. Liked having money, but it motivated me to try something else. So I applied and was hired elsewhere, then quit the restaurant business.
The Art of Manliness blog wrote recently on this subject:
Posted: 30 Aug 2009 09:19 PM PDT
As a member of a Generation Y, I’m always on the look out for articles about people my age. While many sociologists and employers have very positive things to say about my generation, they also make critiques. A common criticism that many employers have about young people entering the workplace is that 20-somethings want all the trappings of a successful career but aren’t willing to put in the work needed to earn them. Young people just don’t want to pay their dues anymore.
Which isn’t surprising. Many members of Generation Y grew up getting trophies and accolades just for trying. In high school and college, many of these young people (and their coddling parents), demanded they receive good grades even if their work was shoddy. Consequently, the idea that you might actually have to earn success through hard work has gotten lost on many “millennials.”
Lifestyle pundits encourage such an attitude by saying that paying your dues is an antiquated idea. That really depends on how you define the phrase. If it means slogging through 80 hour weeks to move up the corporate ladder to a position that pays well but you hate or if it is used to make you jump through pointless hoops for no reason other than your higher-ups had to, then yeah, it’s not a very helpful philosophy. But to me paying your dues means putting in the time and work to attain your dream job.When you’re moving from point A to point B, it doesn’t matter if B is being a CEO or a rock star; you’ve got to pay your dues to get there. Here’s why.
You have to start somewhere. I know a couple of guys my age who are unemployed and living with their parents because they can’t get the job they feel they deserve, and they refuse to work a “menial” job because they think it’s beneath them. They expected to jump into their dream job right out of college. But you have to start on the “bottom” in every job, not only if you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder.
Reading through our “So You Want My Job” interviews, a common theme has emerged. The men who now have their dream jobs often started out working at the “bottom” to get the experience to move into what they really wanted to do. Jason Stoltzfus, started out as a regular roadie, and learned the trade and skills needed to become a guitar tech. Eitan Loewenstein put on sketch shows for an audience of two in a dingy theater above an ice cream shop before getting roles in national commercials. You’ve got to start somewhere and pay your dues to move up in the world.
Success comes from years of hard work. Not only do many millenials expect to land their dream job right away, they also expect to immediately live the same lifestyle they had when they left their parents’ house. They want nice clothes, nice furniture, a brand new car, and a nice house the moment they set out in life. Of course, in order to do this right off the bat, these young people have to take on huge amounts of debt.
I’ll admit that I get to thinking like this sometimes. I would love to have the same lifestyle I had when I lived with my parents. It was nice! But then I remember something my parents told me one day when I was moaning about not having money to buy some frivolous thing, and it put everything in perspective for me.
They said, “Brett, this house, the cars, the nice clothes, and the video games for Christmas we were able to buy for you and your siblings are the result of years of hard work. It didn’t happen overnight. We started out living in a one bedroom house with a metal roof in the middle of the New Mexico desert. But with patience and perseverance, we were able to make a life for our family.”
That shut up my whining.
In the age of seemingly overnight Internet millionaires, it’s easy to forget that success comes from years of hard work. Even the overnight successes weren’t really overnight. Take Facebook for example. Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook back in 2004. In just a few years it has become one of the most trafficked sites on the internet and has made Zuckerberg a millionaire.
While it seems Facebook is your typical overnight success, it was actually years in the making. Zuckerberg started programming back in middle school. While most teenagers were playing video games and watching MTV’s Total Request Live, Zuckerberg was hammering out code. Consequently, when the muses visited Zuckerberg in his dorm room, he was ready with the knowledge and skills to build Facebook. Even after Facebook launched it would take a few years for the site to grow to where it is today.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he posits that greatness comes through adherence to the “10,000 hour rule.” Pointing to people like the Beatles and Bill Gates, he argues that their success came from practicing their skills for 10,000 hours, not through some inherited genius.
We’d all love to be rich overnight, but unless you win the lottery, it just isn’t going to happen. The path to success is hewed through years of dedicated and relentless hard work. In short, you have to pay your dues before success comes.
Recognize tradeoffs exist when you live by your values. In news articles and blog posts discussing Generation Y, employers gripe that these young people don’t want to work as much, but they still want the high salaries and cushy benefits. As a law student, I heard about this a lot. Senior partners at firms complained that new associates were demanding lower case loads and fewer required billable hours, yet they still wanted the nice six figure salary so they could have the freedom to have a life outside of work.
I understand Generation Y’s desire to work less and have more time. Many from this generation came from homes where their Boomer parents were workaholics and hardly spent anytime with the family. But time is money. If you value your time, expect to earn less. If you value wealth and money, be prepared to put in a lot of hours at work. The key is to figure out what you value and accept the tradeoff.
Some might argue that there are plenty of people out there who make lots of money, but aren’t slaves to work. I’ll concede that such people exist, but would follow up with inquiring on what that person had to do to get to that position in life? More likely than not, they had to hustle their butt off. Exceptions exist, but I’m pretty sure most of these types of people spent years investing all their free time and money with the hope they would have more of it in the future. They had to make a trade-off: less time and money now, for more of it later. In other words, they paid their dues. Which takes us to our next point…
Be willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term goals. I like to study the lives of successful men to see if there are any principles I can glean from them and apply in my own life. A common trait among successful men is that they were willing to make short-term sacrifices, for long-term goals. They were willing to pay their dues upfront in order to reap rewards later.
My dad is a good example of this. His goal starting off in life was to be a federal game warden. After he graduated college, he started looking for a job as a state game warden so he could get the experience he needed for the fed job. But no job openings existed for a year. So my dad worked in a liquor store to make ends meet until an opening came up. It’s not the most glamorous job for a college graduate, but my dad was hungry and humble enough to do whatever it took to reach his goal.
Albert Einstein didn’t become a world renowned physicist right after he got his diploma. He graduated college trained to become a professor, but like in my dad’s situation, there weren’t any job openings. Did Einstein whine and complain that because he finished college he was entitled to a job? Nope. Instead he got a job as a clerk in a patent office in order pay his living expenses. In his spare time, Einstein continued his real work as a scientist and developed the special theory of relativity.
If you have a great goal, be willing to make sacrifices for it. If you want to start your own business, you may have to moonlight it a few years until you can quit your day job. Spend all your free time getting the skills and putting in the work to make your dream job a reality. If you want to get out of debt quickly, you may need to take on a second job delivering pizzas or working as a coffee barista. Whatever your goal is, you’re going to have to pay the piper upfront before the dance begins.DownloadThe Art of Manliness Free Man Cookbook DownloadThe Art of Manliness Guide to Being a Gentleman