Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Using 43Things to Support Your Goals

I mentioned 43Things previously in my post “Creating Realistic New Year's Resolutions”. I had suggested using is under using a support organization to achieve your resolutions. Consider it social networking for your goals, it can be helpful in keeping you motivated and inspired.

One of the things that WeightWatchers has done right is to make use of support groups. With their weekly meetings, many members receive motivation and encouragement to stick to their diet. 43Things is nice because it gives you the chance to find other people with similar goals to yourself and members can encourage and motivate each other. Sure not every goal needs motivation, but it can be fun to compare notes or to read about someone that has done what you wish to do has to say about their experience with that goal. It costs nothing to join 43Things as it is ad supported.

43Things Homepage

What do you want to do with your life? While this question can certainly lead to a lot of soul searching, it can also get you thinking about some goals that you have, things that you’d like to do but have put on the backburner or forgotten. When I started writing this there were over 1.400 million people with over 1.100 million goals at 43Things. These goals vary from trying caviar, to learning to golf, to a whole host of things.

Type in the goal that you’re thinking about it in the “What do you want to do with your life?” and you’ll see how many other people are doing that goal along with some others that have. You can select that you want to do this or that you have done this.

Toward the top of profile page (my profile is here) for all members at 43Things you find the member’s name listed with some boxes or tabs for “Things”, “Cheers”, “Photos”, and “Entries” (see picture Profile Top below). Under the “Things” tab is listed “Wants to do # things”, where “#’ is the number of things that the member wants to do, along with entries that they have made about those things. Under the “Cheers” tab, you’ll find “Recently received”, “Recently given”, and “Most cheered”. I’ll go into cheers a little later. Under the “Photos” tab you’ll find any pictures that the members might have posted related to their goals. The “Entries” tab shows the members entries from their most recent to their oldest ones.

Profile Top

Toward the bottom of the profile page for all the members at 43Things you’ll find the member’s name listed with some boxes listing “is going # places”, “is meeting # people”, “is consuming # items”, and “is working on # lists”, where “#”is the number of things, people, places, and lists (see photo Profile Bottom below). From the “is going # places’ you can see where the member wants to go as well as where they have been. There are tabs here for “Places”, “Events”, “Cheers”, “Photos”, and “Entries” (similar to the setup of 43Things). I haven’t done too much yet with the “is meeting # people” or “is consuming # items” area yet. If you go to the “is working on # lists” area, you’ll see that there are tabs for books, movies, music, places, people, and more. Some of the of the lists include “bands that I have seen live”, “places I want to go”, “Rolling Stone’s top 100 albums of the 80’s” and many more as well as various lists for award winning books, music, and movies. Some of the lists are very interesting and make you think about things that you’ve done in your life or that you would like to do. They can also give you good ideas for things that you might want to do.

Profile Bottom

43Things will send you a reminder about your goal based on how you set up your goal. Reminders can be setup so that you receive them every day, in a couple of days, once a week, next week, in a couple of weeks, next month, in about six months, or by next year. So depending upon what you wish to do you’ll be sent a reminder about it.

For many of the goals that are listed you’ll find some people that have done it. They can rate if they think it is worth doing, which can be helpful for some of the goals that are a little more out there. They can also describe their experiences with that particular goal and you can use some of these experiences to help determine if you really want to do that goal or not.

As I mentioned above you can “cheer” other people on in their goals. Some members do a simple “cheer”, while others will give more input. 43Things has limited the number of cheers that you can give in a day and this seems to vary, so you’ll want to be selective in what goals you cheer and for whom, but why not encourage others in their pursuits, it is nice to see people succeed in their goals.

One word of caution, like many sites online, you might want to set up some kind of limits to how much time you want to spend at 43Things, as you could easily find yourself lost surfing through all the various possibilities.

Maybe you can give 43Things a try. You just might find yourself doing some interesting things and making friends. Good luck in your goals.

Have you become a mentor yet? Don’t forget that January is National Mentor Month in the U.S. If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

Where I've Been

"Tissue box" Courtesy of scol22

I just reported back to work yesterday after being sick for over a week. I hope to get back to doing my regular posts shortly. I just wanted to let everyone know that I was still alive.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Our Tumblr is Up And Running

Our Tumblr is up and running. Tumblr is a tumblelog, that is to say a variation of a blog favoring shorter-form, mixed-media posts over the longer more familiar posts usually associated with blogs. Tumblr allows me to post links, photos, quotes, chat, and video. Tumblelogs differ from blogs mostly in that while there might be some commentary by the author, it is usually shorter than a blog (if there is any at all). I believe that the format of Tumblr allows for better posting and sharing of the content that one might typically expect to find in a links page on many websites.

I decided to create one Tumblr for the Systems Overload blog as well as the DC Heron Family blog. I thought that it didn’t make sense to maintain two Tumblrs. While I will often have links in my posts, this allows me the opportunity to put many of this in one area where you can navigate through them quickly. I can also put links to sites that are related to posts that I have done or that I thought might be of interest to you. You can get to our Tumbr by clicking on the Links tab found near the top of our blog (I have highlighted this with a yellow box in the screenshot of our blog below).

At the bottom of the page are buttons that will allow you to go to the next page or the previous page. In this case the next page is actually items that that were posted earlier, while the previous page brings you to the items that are newer, the opposite of how previous and next work (in my mind anyways). You can also ”Browse the Archive”. When you open up the archive, it will show you all the pages in our Tumblr, so you can go right to the page you wish to see, bypassing the next and previous buttons. “Subscribe via RSS” allows you to subscribe to our Tumblr via RSS feeds, so you would receive an RSS feed whenever we update our Tumblr. “Powered by Tumblr” brings you to the Tumblr homepage, where you can learn more about Tumblr and even create your own if you wish.

Looking in our Tumblr archive, you’ll probably notice that it was actually created in November 2007. Last weekend I finally got it into a condition that I could accept publishing. While the nature of a tumblelog is always changing, our Tumblr is a work in progress, so don’t be surprised to see other changes from time to time.

We’re excited about our Tumblr being up and running. We hope that you’ll enjoy it.

If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Who Mentored You?

Courtesy of ywel

As part of the National Mentor Month, January 24th is Thank Your Mentor Day. Some of us have had very special mentors that really helped shape who we are and give us some direction at a time that we needed it. Many others have had mentors that have been there quietly in the background, just being their and maybe their contribution wasn’t noticed (or appreciated).

This leads the who mentored you (which is also a web site that promotes mentoring)? Parents and grandparents are obvious choices for most people, while teachers should be right up there along with ministers, neighbors, friends, and so on. While some parents are better equipped for the job than others, there is no doubt that they have one of the largest influences on who we become. Teachers may just be doing their jobs, but we did learn, which is amazing when you think about it. There are many people in the world that are not able to get a good education; or they attend schools that are literally falling a part (possibly unsafe), not properly funded (maybe not able to provide textbooks and supplies), where good teachers are scarse, or survival is the priority and not education (think about some of the inner-city schools or those in war zones). It’s also possible that a minister or two has helped shape your life. While ministers can teach you all kinds of things about your particular religion, they can also teach you so much about life and attitudes that you take in yours.

I’m deeply thankful for the parents that raised me. I was fortunate enough to be raised by a mother and father that lived under the same roof, an opportunity that many kids don’t have. They were always supportive in most anything that we wanted to do. They really wanted us to go to collage. My mother started nursing school when I started college and got first her R.N. (Registered Nurse) and later her B.S.N. (Batchelor of Science in Nursing) at a time when many people are thinking more about retirement or just enjoying that their kids are starting to leave the house. My father dropped out of high school to help raise younger siblings but he did get his G.E.D., became a Master Plumber, and took a variety of trainings.

I was blessed with a variety of great teachers who encouraged me to learn. I remember Mr. Hammond, my 4th grade teacher, predicting that Ronald Reagan was going to be the 40th president of the U.S. when Gerald Ford was still president. I remember Mr. Gossman, my 7th grade English teacher, inspiring me to want to write. My 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Hood, further developed my interest in reading. Mr. Thompson taught me an interest in the government. Mr. Schroeder taught me that there was more than one political and economic system. I believe that most of my teachers provided some valuable lessons. I was also fortunate enough go to college.

Reverend Jerry Smith stands out from the variety of ministers that I have experienced in my life. While he had several traits that you would come to expect in a minister, he also seemed to embody those traits in his life and in his actions. He was caring and giving. He proof read several papers that I had written. Years after he had moved onto other churches, he performed the funeral service for my mother. I can’t think of anyone else that would have done a better job.

In honor of the Thank Your Mentor day, maybe you can take the time to thank some of your mentors and better yet payback some of their efforts by becoming a mentor yourself!

If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

17 Recipe Ideas for Your Playoff Party

Courtesy of pedro2004

Now that NFL playoffs have begun, there will be tons of pizzas and all kinds of fat drenched snack foods consumed, why not throw a healthy playoff (or even a Superbowl) party? Here are 17 recipe ideas that you can make your party a healthy one.

Since more and more people are concerned about the foods that they’re eating, you might be surprised to find that your quests appreciate the opportunity to eat healthier food. We had a New Year’s party and had all the guests bring things made from healthier recipes and it seemed that it went over pretty well with everyone, many people wanted recipes for things that they didn’t make! If you have some friends that might object to a healthy foods-only party, you could make sure that there are at least a couple of non-healthy versions of things that they like, or if you ask in advance, you might find that everyone is alright with healthy foods. Besides, then they might not feel so guilty about drinking that beer (weather it be a light one or not). In addition many people are on special diets that are hard to follow when they only have the normal party fare food items available.

You could serve a vegetable or fruit platter with a variety of healthier dips mentioned below. Many of the traditional party snacks and meals can be made with fat-free/reduced and diet friendlier ingredients. Without further adieu…

  1. From Real Simple.com here comes 9 healthy snacks ideas including one where plain nonfat yogurt, crumbled Feta cheese, cloves minced garlic, chopped toasted walnuts, freshly ground black pepper, and hot sauce are paired with cherry tomatoes, a whole-wheat pita, or baby carrots. These were designed to tide people over till dinner and includes

  1. Mozzarella-Stuffed Pesto Turkey Meatballs
  2. Black-Jack Chicken Quesadillas
  3. Pita Pizza
  4. Yummy Shrimp and Crab Dip
  5. Crispy potato skins
  6. Southwestern potato skins
  7. Vegetable salsa
  8. Better-for-You Buffalo Wings Recipe
  9. Cheese Fondue Recipe
  10. Deluxe Microwave Nachos Recipe
  11. Football in a Blanket Bites Recipe
  12. Game-Day Spicy Popcorn Recipe
  13. Thin & Crispy BBQ Chicken Pizza Snack Wedges Recipe
  14. Crispbread with Tzatkiki Recipe
  15. Fruit Sticks with Yogurt Recipe
  16. Hot Spiced Apple Juice Recipe

Although each recipe idea is linked so that you should be able to go right to it, a listing of which recipes came from which site follows. 1 comes from Realsimple.com. 2-5 come from Healthy Better Recipes.com. 6-8 come from the Mayo Clinic. 9-14 come from Medicine Net.com, note there are several slasa and dip recipes here that you might want to check out. 15-17 come from Weightloss.com.au.

Don’t forget to use creativity in addition to the healthier party foods and make use of the playoff/Superbowl theme. Certainly you can use some of these ideas for other parties (maybe for March Madness?). I wish you healthy and fun party and with any luck your team(s) won’t disappoint you.

Have you become a mentor yet? Don’t forget that January is National Mentor Month in the U.S. If you liked this article, please share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Some Breaking News

I've run across three different posts recently that I thought that I should bring to your attention.

Mashable has reported that Facebook has banned the application Secret Crush. The was because it was discovered that the application installed Zango spyware on the users that installed it. This does bring some credibility to the initial fear that Facebook applications could become a breeding ground for spyware, malware, and etc when they opened up the application platform. Facebook acted relatively quickly to remove the application after reports surfaced at Mashable. I wonder about their ability to discover other applications that are less than honorable as there will be more and more attempts to do this in the future. So don't be so quick to install the next Facebook application time you're invited to install.

Also from the Facebook front (again reported by Mashable) is Clean Profile application. After installing the application, you can see unplugged versions of friends' profiles that also have the application installed as well. To use it you use a special log in page, so you can still use the normal Facebook log in page to see all the stuff on your friends' profiles if you want. When viewing a friend's profile that has Clean Profile installed you'll see their profile picture, mutual friends, photo albums, basic other information, and you'll have access to their "wall". It looks like the "mini-feed" is planned to be shown later, but at the moment it is empty. While this doesn't uninstall any applications that you don't want or really clean up your profile, it is nice to have.

Zen Habits has announced that all of their content is now Public Domain and can be used freely and without restrictions. Of course Leo Babauta has said that he would like to be credited and he would like to see a share from any proceeds. This has generated a lot of buzz and as I write this he has received 145 Diggs. It will be interesting to see what develops and what Leo comes up with next.

Don't forget that January is National Mentor month in the U.S. You can really make a difference in someone's life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

2 Must-Have Diet Books

Courtesy of ctr

Have you decided to go on a “diet” or maybe you have decided that you wanted to take control of your diet and eat healthier. Well I have 2 books that should be in your library and a cornerstone of your efforts.

Have you ever wondered why diets fail? “Diets fail because they tell you what foods to eat and when eat them. They fail because they force you to follow someone else’s tastes, cravings, and moods.” “Diets fail because control of your nutritional lifestyle has been taken from you and put in someone else’s hands. Whatever choice you once had over one of life’s most basic and enjoyable areas—eating—is gone. And human nature dictates that sooner or later we will refuse to live this way.” So says Stephen Moss Author of “Lose Weight with THE POWER OF ONE”. We have all heard of a million of those quick-fix mentality of gimmick diets that are all the rage and then it is time to move onto the next diet. We have become programmed to think that we lose weight quickly our problem will be gone, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that this is true. Diet has come to mean that you severely limit the selection and quantities of what you eat.

In more general terms, diet refers to what you eat and the various habits associated with your food intake. As with addictions to alcoholism, gambling, shopping, and so on, the activity/behavior is often a symptom of other problems and becomes a coping mechanism for many people. The activity is a way of dealing with stress, problems, and an escape. For many of us, we don’t really give enough thought to what we eat, and then we wonder why we’re overweight (or maybe we don’t think about it at all). Many of us have control of our diet away (if we were ever in control).

“Lose Weight with THE POWER OF ONE” is not a traditional diet book, it doesn’t tell you what to eat or when. Instead of rules it gives you eight broad guidelines about eating to follow. It isn’t preachy but delivers its message via the fictional story of Karen. We follow our heroine on her journey to get control of her life and her diet. Most of the strategies are common sense and you might have heard of them before but they’re explained so that you can understand them and it is up to you to incorporate it into your life. One of the best strategies is number eight, which allows you to forget the other strategies (momentarily) when circumstances dictate or you have a strong urge to take a vacation from them. Maybe you have been to a party, dinner, or celebration where it was not possible to eat anything healthy and you blew your current diet and then lost the motivation to continue. Strategy six is to stop eating when you don’t feel hungry any longer but before you have that stuffed feeling that many of us use to gauge when we stop eating.

Now that you have the strategies needed to take control of your diet, you’ll need to have something to eat. This is where the second book, “Lickety-Split Meals: For Health Conscious People on the Go!’ by Zonya Foco comes in. This is the cookbook with healthier and quick meals. One of the biggest barriers faced by people for not eating healthier is that they don’t believe that they have the time to make healthy meals. This book provides a good start to creating quick and healthier meals. It also provides suggestions to replace many of those unhealthy ingredients that make many recipes unhealthy. Most of the ingredients used in the recipes aren’t hard to find, and don’t require going to special stores to buy them. There are a lot of ideas that can be used by people that aren’t gourmet chefs let alone used to making healthy meals. If you happen to be a gourmet or experienced cook, you might find the recipes too simple, but it is the simplicity and ease with which the recipes can be made that is the highlight of this book.

Armed with these two books, I wish you well in taking control of your diet. Remember that all your life you’ll need to eat, so why not eat healthier. Are there any other health conscious cookbooks that any of you can’t live without or would recommend, I would love to hear about them.

Friday, January 4, 2008

14 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Life

Austria in August 2006

So the year is still new. Here are fourteen simple things that you can do to make your life better.

  • Treat others the way that you would like to be treated. If more people really followed this, the world would be a way better place!

  • Smile more. It is easy to do and people will wonder what you’re up to. It is also hard to stay down when you smile.

  • Laugh more.

  • Make a new friend. It is usually exciting to make new friends. There is the newness and getting to know them better.

  • Pay it forward. You might have heard of the book written by Catherine Ryan Hyde or the movie starring Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey, and Helen Hunt. You might be inspired or find some ideas at Pay It Forward Movement. Imagine how much better the world would be if everyone was looking for a way to help others.

  • Be a mentor. As I indicted in my Be A Mentor post, January is National Mentor Month in the U.S. You can share your knowledge and experiences and help someone. Almost anyone can be a mentor, why not give it a try?

  • Spend quality time with those important to you. Make sure to schedule time in for your family and friends. Let them know who you feel about them and what they mean to you. You can also renew an old relationship. There is probably a friend that you have been meaning to call. Pick up the phone or go pay them a visit.

  • Help someone. Maybe you could baby sit the kid(s) of a family member or friend that is in need of some away time. You probably know of someone that could use your help. You’ll feel better after helping them.

  • Walk more often. Walking in nature or alone a scenic path can do a lot to lower your stress levels and calm you. Maybe you could walk to the corner store for those few things that you need to pick up instead of driving there.

  • Slow down. Our multi-tasking world often has us thinking of what we’re going to do next and so we are often not really thinking about what we’re doing at the moment. Sometimes we need to take a breath and regroup. You do not always need to do everything at 90 miles an hour.

  • Be grateful for what you have. It is easy to get hung up on the things that you don’t have but we need to realize that we all do have a lot to be grateful for and should appreciate what we do have. Things could always be better, but they could certainly always be worse (I wouldn’t deal too much on how they could be worse but it might be a useful exercise from time to time.

  • Schedule time to do your projects/goals/resolutions and do them. This does mean that you need to know what you plan to do ahead of time, but here you’re scheduling time so that you can do these things and actually do them, stop putting them off.

  • Do more of what you like to do. If there is something you like to do, you can afford to do it, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, why not do more of it. It is amazing how much joy you can get from a hobby or activity that you really like to do.

  • Turn off a light. If you’re leaving a room without planning to come back in it shortly, then turn out the light. Look for ways to save energy around your home and in your life. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Recycle your garbage. This is the bit for the environment and saving energy.

If you apply as many of these as possible, you’ll be surprised at how much better you life can be. Good luck.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Things I Want to See in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections

Courtesy of woodsy

As the first of primaries and caucuses for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election are about to begin, here are some things that I would like to see from all the candidates that are running.

1. Solutions. There are a host of problems facing America and the world today, I would like to see solutions to our biggest problems. Creativity is welcome and even encouraged.

2. Limit the mud slinging. Candidates and their staffs should stay away from the negative campaigning that they have done in the past. They should instead focus on their positions and what they intend to do (point 5).

3. Energy. The oil supply on the planet is limited and will not last forever. America’s dependency on it has hurt us in the past and is hurting us now. We need real use and development of alternative energy. I heard Dan Carlin suggest a “Manhattan Project for Energy”, which would be a real war-time effort by the public and private sectors to find a replacement to oil. In addition to the use of oil as fuel we need viable and ecologically friendly alternatives to plastics used by industry and in consumer products.

4. Environment. Since the world is an enclosed environment, we can not think that we can continue to pollute and destroy it without it one day coming back to hurt us (or our kids, grandkids, etc.). We need viable and ecologically friendly alternatives to plastics.

5. Say what you will do, not what you think that I want to hear. Candidates in the past have made a lot of promises to every group under the sun, saying what they thought “everyone wanted to hear” to get elected. Most of these promises later fell by the wayside. If you intend to do something tell us, even if it might cost you votes. Then everyone would know who they’re really voting for.

6. Don’t focus on the “hot button issues”. These are the issues that get people made and will probably never go away (i.e. gay marriage, abortion, gun control, and etc.). We need to see more focus on the other points raised here.

7. Fiscal responsibility. Money being spent by our government is taken from all the taxpayers and there is not an unlimited supply of taxpayer money available. In the candidates private lives they would not buy services or products that they couldn’t afford or that did do what they were supposed to do, so why should they allow this at the taxpayers’ expense. The candidates can not spend beyond their incomes, so they should allow the government to do this indefinitely.

8. Remember that the Constitution says “We the people” and not “We the special interests”. A lot of legislation passed in Washington is because of the efforts of special interests groups and not really on behalf of the voters’s interests. This needs to stop. The American Revolution was fought amongst other things because of taxation without representation.

9. A review of the commitments of the American federal government for relevancy and cost. Bear in mind that much of the federal budget is spent on entitlement programs that aren’t so easy to cut. A review of everything spent by all departments needs to be done and we should know why the money is spent and determine if it is still relevant and worth while to continue the spending. Is this something that we really want to spend our money on? Is this important and relevant to us today and in the future. This should include a review of our military commitments and how we use the military? We have troops all over the world, is that something that still makes sense for us today and are all these engagements really sustainable?

10. End to all our current “wars on”. While the “War on Terror” comes to mind, this also includes the “War on Drugs” and all the other “Wars on…”. The logic behind all of these wars has been flawed. Wars have traditionally had a tangible real goal or target, but how do you know if and when you have defeated drugs or terror? The American federal government does not have unlimited resources of funds to do this. Spending by our government grew astronomically as a result of the “Cold War”, can we really continue this with all of these other wars?

11. Remember the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Our founding fathers created our federal government with intent that it be limited. The bill of rights was created and approved to protect and preserve freedoms that were deemed worth protecting. Laws limiting our freedom of choice (or other freedoms) should be seriously considered before approval. Would our founding fathers approve of Big Brother or the Nanny State where the government dictates what you can and can’t do?

While these things are a drop in the proverbial bucket, doing them could be a real start to creating a future needed by America.