Sabtu, 31 Januari 2009

0 Can You Achieve Effortless Wealth?

I know what we've all been told - If you want to get rich, you’ve got to work hard!

But don’t you know people who’ve worked hard all their lives and are still really poor? I’m sure we all know a lot of people like this – maybe you’re one of them. We can call them the hard working poor.

Does that mean that getting rich doesn’t depend on how hard you work? Well, my answer to that is – yes and no. You see, it all depends on what you mean by ‘work.’

I am a great believer in effortlessness. But there is an important difference between being effortless and being lazy. You see, Effortlessness is not laziness; it is not inertia; it is not sitting back and doing nothing and expecting all good things to come your way. No, you’ve got to do something. Maybe you’ve got to do a lot. Maybe you’ve got to get up early, keep going all day long and get to bed tired and late, and maybe you’ve got to do that every single day.

I know people like that, we all do. From an outsider’s perspective, all they do is work, work, and work. And they are rich. These are the hard working rich.

What I’d like to suggest, however, is that the hard working poor are the only ones who are actually working, if ‘work’ is defined as something unpleasant, a chore. The hardworking rich aren’t really working hard – in fact, they’re not working at all. They are doing what they love. They get up early, looking forward to the day ahead, keep going all day because they are driven by the love of what they do, and go to bed late because they don’t want to stop doing it.

When the hard working poor go home, they try to forget their work, or they sit at the dinner table complaining about it, or they go to a bar or a pub and get drunk to try and forget about it. And the next day they don’t want to get out of bed because they don’t love what they’re doing.

You are probably not going to get rich doing nothing. Rock stars get rich doing what they love. People who own their own business get rich doing what they love. The hard working rich are simply following their dreams, doing what they love and feeling great about it. And, as I hope we all know by now, feeling great comes before everything else – happiness and inner joy lead to a great life, and that includes money.

If you’re hoping for wealth to drop into your lap so that you can quit your horrible job and do what you’ve always wanted with your life, I’m afraid you’re probably always going to be poor. You have to do what you love first, and then the rest will follow. This is how the world works.

There are no shortcuts, no secrets, no ‘money for nothing.’ Forget all the hype, forget all those ridiculous 'squeeze pages' with pictures of people sitting on a tropical island with a laptop, offering you the secret to making a fortune on the Internet or in the stock market, or whatever. Forget quick money and forget about trying to find 'the secret.'

What do you love? Think about it, dream about it. It all starts in your mind. Do what you love and the money will come to you. Then you’ll be one of the hard working rich. And you’ll never have to work another day in your life.

Written on 1/31/2009 by Michael Miles. Michael writes about personal growth, communication, and increasing personal wealth at Effortless Abundance. You can download his book, Thirty Days to Change Your Life, for free. Photo Credit: brendan.wood

Jumat, 30 Januari 2009

0 Effective Ways To Backup Important Data

The other day my computer made a really unhealthy gurgling sound. To be honest, I feared the worst and spent half the day backing up my hard drive. It's beyond me as to why I choose to wait until the last minute to create back ups. I think it goes without saying that this should be done automatically every day, or at least every week.

Truth be known, I believe that most computer users neglect PC backups; then the worst happens. Unfortunately, this isn't a viable option for my business. If I neglect PC backups, I risk losing all of my business data.

I'm not a tech geek and make do with the things that work for me. Below is a list of backup options I'm currently using. Since I'm pretty compulsive about losing my backup, there are backups of backups. To me, one can never be too sure about keeping data safe.
  • Google Docs/ Zoho
    I use Google Docs and Zoho for all my completed client work. This means that once a client has received my project, I move the documents online to keep them safe and away from my hard drive. I feel this works really well as it keeps my hard drive uncluttered most of the time and therefore faster. If I need something fast, I know where to get it.

    If you wonder why I keep this data online and not on an external hard drive, it is simply for convenience reasons. Having the data online allows me to access it from any computer in the world. If a client sends me a frantic email and tells me he lost his articles, I can log in to my admin and resend the missing files, even if I'm working from an Internet cafe.

    You can upload many different formats to Google Docs and Zoho. I prefer Zoho, since they also support zip files which is great to compact storage.

  • USB
    I don't use USB memory sticks as a real backup but I do use them to transfer some files from A to B. While you could use these for backup purposes, I like to use USB storage for portability purposes instead.

  • CD and DVD
    To be honest, I only use these for my photos. I don't even keep all of my photos on CD's; most of them are stored on a secondary hard drive. They are convenient because you can easily share them with your friends and family when you travel if you want to leave a CD full of pictures behind.

    By the way, you can do this with memory sticks too. Next time you visit family or friends, why not take a 1GB memory stick with your photos for them. They make a great present and allow your loved ones to print out what they like.

  • Online Storage
    I have recently signed up with an online storage provider. I use Mozy for this and will be backing up my files over the next week or so. The only drawback to this is the initial backup; it takes ages. Most likely it will take a week for all my gear and that alone freaks me out a bit to be honest.

    I suppose, I just need to keep my computer running and go for it since I paid my membership already.

  • External hard drive
    This is my favorite form of backup. I actually have two external hard drives. One being a portable and light one, the other a massive monstrous thing with some 500GB. While external hard drives are great to have peace of mind, they too could die for sure. That is why I own two of them and between them and my online backup, I should really be 100% covered.

    I guess some of you are not as freaked out like me when it comes to backup and to be honest, except for the photos, everything else is replaceable. At least most of it.

  • Software
    Most computers these days come with their own built in backup software. I have Vista on my computer right now with a Windows backup restore center built in. This software lets me backup my hard drive on a separate partition on my computer. This means my hard drive will be split into two. Hopefully, the data will be kept intact on the partition if my main drive were ever to be fried.

    This software also allows me to schedule backups in advance which is handy because often I just forget.

  • Blog backup
    To backup my WordPress blog, I use a really cool Plugin called WP DB Backup. This Plugin is so cool, it allows me to backup to the server, whenever I like. Even better, it lets me schedule email or server based backups so that I don't have to think about them.

    Usually after I create a new niche blog, I back the blog up to the server. Then I set the scheduled backup and leave it be knowing I'll always have an up to date copy of my blog available if something goes wrong.

    If you run a blogger blog like Dumb Little Man, you might like this article.
Those are probably the most popular forms of backup for your data. I would love to hear from you guys on what you use to backup your data. Before I end this post, I like to leave you with one sentence: “Go backup now!

Written on 1/30/2009 by Monika Mundell. Monika is a passionate freelance writer and pro-blogger. Her blog Freelance Writing helps new freelance writers to get started in this exciting industry. If you like to work with Monika, feel free to visit her Portfolio site.Photo Credit: avlxyz

Kamis, 29 Januari 2009

0 5 Elaborate Tips To Make Your Blog Social Media Friendly

BlogsRegardless of the niche your blog operates in, there is no doubt that social media plays a crucial role in its success. Social media sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit and more recently microblogging sites like Twitter have emerged as excellent sources of free traffic for blog owners. As a blogger, ignoring such sites is a big mistake.

Most new bloggers seem to be aware of the fact that luring social media visitors to their blog is a decent way to gain traction. However, they do little to make their blog look appealing to those visitors and hence only a fraction become loyal subscribers.

To help on your quest for blogging stardom, here are a few tips that may help increase the attach rate brought with using social media. When I say attach rate, I means it has the ability to captivate social media users and gives easy options to users allowing them to share and promote articles. Also, keep in mind that these are general tips and things may vary depending upon the particular social site you are targeting (Digg users are different than Reddit users, etc.).

I'm not a designer but I understand that a friendly design, social media visitor friendly to be more specific, would allow the visitor to read the content easily without annoying ads popping up in between. The design should make navigation through the site easier and ensure the lack of clutter on the site.

A good design immediately captures the attention of a social media user or any visitor for that matter and there is a good chance that he would subscribe to or bookmark the site for future reference. Hence, if you plan to include social media in your blog's marketing strategy, then the layout of the blog should be well planned too.

Speed would refer to the time it takes for a web page to load in the browser. Keep in mind that internet surfers are an impatient lot and if your blog takes too long to load, they may immediately switch to a different destination not caring about what you had in store for them.

This directly correlates with the first factor (design) which I talked about. If you clutter the page with a lot of stuff like ads, images, symbols, javascripts and links, then it would take time to load all those things.

So, make sure that you check the loading time of your blog using a service like Pingdom tools and check which part is taking the longest time to load. If it's an unnecessary third party script then go ahead and remove it. Also, research well before choosing a web host because it plays an important role in the loading speed too.

Yeah, I know; great content is the most basic rule of good blogs. Every blogger knows it, talks about it, & advises it. And really, you can't escape the fact that if you want your blog to be popular and get more traffic, then it should produce content which is good and interesting. You may not be able to produce great content every other day. However, having a thoughtful blend of great articles and mediocre ones may do enough to keep an audience engaged.

If this was 2003, I would have probably said don't worry about the content as much, but now, with millions of blogs already out there and more coming up everyday, great content is the deciding factor and when it comes to social media, there are not many instances when crap blogs attract social media attention everyday. Only blogs with great content do.

So you've got a good design, ensured that the loading speed is fine, and written great content. Now you are ready to market your product. But wait, it's not over. Are you sure you are in a position to attract the maximum attention of social media visitors ? Do you have a nice RSS button visible easily which makes it easy for them to subscribe ? Do you have a list of great posts written by you previously firmly displayed on your blog sidebar ? Have you added the social media buttons using services like AddThis or ShareThis ?

These are just a few of the things you can do to make sure that you retain the maximum of those who visit your blog from a social media site. There are many other steps you can take depending upon the niche of your blog and the social site you are likely to get traffic from.

No matter what steps you take to make your blog social media friendly, if there's a burst of social media traffic and your blog crashes then all your efforts would go down the drain. So it's important to be prepared for such occasions. If you are on a hosted platform like Blogger or then you don't need to worry. However, if you host your blog on your own, make sure your host is able to handle a sudden burst of traffic. For self-hosted Wordpress blogs, there are plugins like WP Super Cache which help in preventing the demise of a blog when there's huge load on its server.

My suggestion would be to minimize the use of plugins in your Wordpress installation. Most of the time, a plugin is responsible for your blog going down in high traffic situations and not the host. If your blog does go down when it hits the Digg front page, check your plugins and disable most of them.

Overall, just make sure that you are prepared to leverage the traffic and get maximum returns in the form of loyal visitors.



Written on 1/29/2008 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. You can catch him at Jeet Blog where he blogs about different Web 2.0 apps and online tools and how they can help you become more productive.Photo Credit:
Annie Mole

Rabu, 28 Januari 2009

0 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Be a Complete Failure At Everything


Whatever that word means to you, it’s probably something you’ve been chasing for a while. By now, you’ve read about scrambling to the top of your career ladder, how to get the partner of your dreams, how to achieve your goals. You’ve mastered Getting Things Done, and learned every Zen Habit in the handbook.

But, let’s face it, success is hard – and uncertain. It might mean putting in long hours. It might mean learning new skills or doing things that scare you. It might mean some uncertainty and discomfort.

Failure is much simpler. If you want to be a complete failure at everything you do, read on: I’ve got ten easy-peasy steps for you. Heck, if you’re like most of us, you’re probably managing some of them already.

(And if you’re still set on being a big success? Read on anyway. You’ll know what to avoid...)

  1. Chase Other People’s Dreams
    The best way to be a complete failure is to get your definition of success utterly wrong from the start. Base your dreams on those your parents have for you, or on your friends’ ambitions. Decide that you, too, should want a 6 figure salary (even if it means working 14 hour days). If you’re really lucky, you’ll meet your goal – and then you’ll realise that it means nothing to you. After years of hard work, you’ll still have failed. Clever you.
  2. Start 17 Projects, Finish None
    If you want to be a failure, get great at starting things. An idea hits (“I’ll start a blog about making money on the internet?”) You jump straight into it. Two days later, you’re bored. Another idea hits (“I’ll take up martial arts and become a black-belt!”) You get lessons. A week later, another idea hits (“I could play guitar in a rock band!”) You buy all the equipment. ... Are you seeing a pattern? One great way to fail to ever meet your goal is to keep starting on new ones.
  3. Give Up When It Gets Tough
    Most long-term goals have their tough patches. Sure, it’s easy going at first, when your motivation is running high. But pretty soon, you’ll get bored, or tired, or fed-up. If you want to be a complete failure, that first period of discomfort is the time to quit. Don’t ever try to see something through to the end. It’s just too much work.
  4. Persist At All Costs
    Of course, there’s a more spectacular way to fail than by flaking out early on. Once you’ve started something, don’t even consider giving up. Your business has been floundering for months? Borrow more money to keep it afloat. You’re writing a novel that bores you to tears? Don’t give it – see it through to the bitter end. Rejected a dozen times by the girl/guy you’ve been asking out? Keep pestering them. You’re no quitter. (Though you’re well on the way to having a breakdown.)
  5. Never Ask For Help
    To be a failure, you have to insist on doing everything alone. Don’t ask for help. Struggle on with a far too heavy workload, because “if you want a job doing right, you have to do it yourself.” You should never admit to anything that smacks of weakness. And, of course, you wouldn’t dream of asking for directions.
  6. Trample On Other People
    One great way to fail in many areas, from relationships to friendships to work, is to treat other people like scum. If they’re in the way of your goal, step right on top of them. If they ask you for anything, refuse point-blank. If they make a mistake, scream at them. If they disagree with you, sulk for a week. To really fail in life, you need to alienate everyone who might help, support or care about you.
  7. Never Say No
    If you’re a bit too touchy-feely to crush heads underfoot on your descent into failure, then try this method instead: always say “yes” to whatever you’re asked to do. Your kid wants a present you can’t afford? Put it on your credit card. Your boss asks you to stay late and work Saturday? Be a martyr. Your community association needs a new secretary and they think you might like the job? Sure, you’ll do it. In fact, the only things you’ll say “no” to are your own hopes and dreams.
  8. Be Disorganized
    To increase your chances of failure in any venture, make sure you’re as disorganised about it as possible. Forget to invoice people who owe you money. Lose important documents. Turn up late, or in the wrong place, or ideally both. Don’t bother keeping a diary or calendar. Make sure you never have any healthy food in the house, so you can resort to expensive and greasy takeouts yet again.
  9. Stay In Your Comfort Zone
    If you ever get the opportunity to do something new, avoid it at all costs. New things are often scary – and scary is no fun at all, right? Stay right inside your cosy comfort zone, and never stretch or challenge yourself. A big part of being a complete failure is making sure you never have the chance to realise what your full potential is ... let alone reach it.
  10. Procrastinate
    My final tip, before you get started on your lifetime of complete and utter failure, is to procrastinate. Put everything off till the last minute ... then put it off a bit longer. Not only will you fail (your report/essay/tax return will be crap), you’ll also make yourself feel stressed. Your procrastination techniques should be things that hold no real interest for you – silly online games, rearranging the jars in the kitchen cupboard, watching paint dry ... That way, you’ll fail to accomplish anything and you’ll fail to have any fun. Make sure you add in a good dose of guilt, too.
These are just ten ways to be a complete failure – I’m sure there’s more! If you’ve got a good one, let us know in the comments!

Written on 1/28/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.Photo Credit: salimfadhley

Selasa, 27 Januari 2009

0 Cardiopulmonary Spatialization

[Image: From "Change of Heart: Rethinking the Prescriptive Medical Environment" by Marina Nicollier].

The idea that architecture might have medical effects on the people who experience it was the premise of a project by Marina Nicollier produced this year at Rice University.
In the project's accompanying documentation, Nicollier writes that we must learn "to create spaces that provide, through their experience and material substance, enough variability in environmental effects that individual differences in reception and response can be studied and used as a part of curative regimes."
In other words, the sensorial experience of architecture could play a role in healing – or, as Nicollier explains, "spaces themselves should act as experiential platforms that provide a broader spectrum of environmental qualities, so that we may better understand their effects on our psychology – and ultimately, on our physiology."

[Image: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

From the project description:
    The human body responds to its spatial and environmental surroundings in very subtle ways. Our most basic reactions to our environment can be read, essentially, in our vital signs; yet as many of these phenomena are subtle enough to be easily overlooked without some sort of monitoring device, they have been too often dismissed as fleeting emotional and sensorial effects that have little impact on our physiological system as a whole. These qualities can do much more. They can act as an architectural base for a very important body of research, expanding beyond the limited range of possibilities imposed on them by existing models of medical environments.
To perform a test-run for these propositions, Nicollier has designed a "cardiology research facility adjacent to two major medical institutions in Mexico City."
You would wander through the building, hooked up to electrocardiographs, every flutter of heart valve and sweat gland monitored by doctors from afar.

[Image: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

I was on Nicollier's final thesis review the other week, where I joked that the project was like a visual combination of Barbarella and Constant's New Babylon, by way of A Clockwork Orange – an immensely positive combination, I might add.
But that same impression strikes me today: that this is the kind of project Constant might have designed had he been more interested in the avant-garde spatial application of cardiac self-analysis.
It is the megastructure as medical cocoon, architecture designed to stimulate the human nervous system.

[Image: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier; think of it as a Foucauldian application of Winston Churchill's famous phrase, that "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us." Only here, those buildings cause heart palpitations].

Nicollier's cardiology research lab "relies on an experience-based design generated on a series of gradient intensities," she writes.
She then contrasts this brilliantly with the design of modernist sanitariums, highlighting what might be called the medical origin of modern architecture:
    Popular ideas about what constitutes a healthy environment gave rise to many of the components that became the formal trademarks of modernism – the flat roof was devised as a means to provide additional sunning surfaces for tubercular patients; while the deep verandas, wide private balconies, and covered corridors served as organizational tools to isolate contagious patients from the general staff.
    Visits to these establishments were prescribed, as were the conditions and durations of the exposures themselves. Today, of course, there is ongoing research to determine how and to what extent environmental factors such as temperature, natural and artificial light, and sound affect our health, and despite there having been some interesting conclusions, it is still an area of research that requires more investigation and exploratory trials.
Then, however, in the 1950s it was discovered that tuberculosis was only treatable through the use of antibiotics, and so architectural modernism – with its wide verandahs and flat roofs – lost its medical justification, so to speak. It became just another style to be mined for a new pastiche of superficial quirks and regional variations.

[Images: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

Even the siting of the project, in Mexico City, plays on this development. Early modern sanitariums and "health resorts," Nicollier writes, were designed with "specific needs regarding their site."
    Their regime of exposure to light, temperature, and clean air limited called for very particular climatic conditions falling within acceptable ranges. This is why the vast majority of these facilities were built in remote, rather idyllic locations near the coast or tucked away in alpine forests, away from any urban centers, which were considered to be too dense and dirty to be of any use for a treatment regime.
To wit, Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain.
Locating a facility like this, then, in Mexico City, a notoriously polluted megalopolis, is to suggest that architecture can counteract – that is, influentially avoid negation by – even the most invasive and unnatural of contexts. The building "supplements the environmental qualities of the city, incorporating them into its intensity gradients," in Nicollier's words.

[Images: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

But I find it almost overwhelmingly interesting to think that controlled exposure to a certain piece of architecture could actually be prescribed as a medical treatment. Viewed this way, the immersive experience of a well-designed space could actually stimulate one toward otherwise unknown medical highs and lows.
A building becomes almost pharmaceutical – or narcotic – in its level of influence over those who use it.
Could a building even become addictive?, one might ask. Could you experience something like withdrawal after going too long without experiencing it?
Could you someday receive a prescription from a doctor telling you to visit a certain building for twenty minutes everyday, because the phenomenological impact of its vaulted galleries might cure you of whatever – kidney stones, anemia, or even manic-depression? Male pattern baldness. Sexual frigidity.
Space is the treatment for the things that harm you.

[Image: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

During the project review, we discussed whether it might be possible for the building to act as a template or prototype for other such projects elsewhere. That is, could you produce a kind of spatial franchise in which certain combinations of color, materiality, texture, sequence, and even scent would be put to use for medical purposes? The light, sound, and temperature of the building would thus act as a general format, available to other designers in utterly dissimilar circumstances.
Perhaps it'd even be subject to regulation by the FDA and reproduced as a generic in Canada.

[Image: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

The sections, meanwhile, are beautiful in their own way –

[Images: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

– though I'm unashamedly a fan of the semi-psychedelic mood lighting of the actual models.

[Image: From "Change of Heart" by Marina Nicollier].

To read a complete description of the project and see larger images, check out this Flickr set of the project.

("Change of Heart" was produced at Rice University under the supervision of Dawn Finley, Eva Franch Gilabert, Farès el-Dahdah, and Albert Pope).

Senin, 26 Januari 2009

0 Hydro-Pharmacology

Medical researchers have found that some of the streams, rivers, and groundwater in Patancheru, India, are really "a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment."

[Image: The Iska Vagu stream near Hyderabad, India. "Indian factories that make lifesaving drugs swallowed by millions worldwide are creating the worst pharmaceutical pollution ever measured," we read, "spewing enough of one antibiotic into a stream each day to treat everyone living in Sweden for a work week." Photo by AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A].

"If you just swallow a few gasps of water," a German doctor said to MSNBC, "you're treated for everything. The question is for how long?"
Indeed, all of this has the unsurprising effect that "some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria." For instance, amongst this mix are high levels of Ciproflaxin:
    The more bacteria is exposed to a drug, the more likely that bacteria will mutate in a way that renders the drug ineffective. Such resistant bacteria can then possibly infect others who spread the bugs as they travel. Ciprofloxacin was once considered a powerful antibiotic of last resort, used to treat especially tenacious infections. But in recent years many bacteria have developed resistance to the drug, leaving it significantly less effective.
With sources of freshwater all over the world now showing at least trace signs of pharmaceutical pollution, is some kind of global superbug brewing?
Aside from the very real health implications of this story, though, I'm fascinated by these drugs' effect on the landscape; in other words, millions of pounds' worth of loose pharmaceuticals will surely someday form a detectable layer in the soil, given time.
Pharmaco-geological formations take shape in the sand, compacted into strange new types of stone. The locals dissolve slices of it in their tea, as it's used to treat illnesses.
Thousands of years pass; then millions. The rocks you're looking at in the wall of that canyon are made of lithified Prozac. Tylenol Gorge State Park.
A deltaic geography of sedimentary Tamiflu is eventually mined as a building material; temples of this unusually smooth rock are built; visits to them are believed to help prevent infection.
And how will this affect plants? If river grasses and trees begin to accumulate this novel class of mineral, taking pharmaceutical-rich waters up into their roots, will it change the way they grow? Day of the Triffids.
"We don't have any other source, so we're drinking it," a local woman named R. Durgamma explains to MSNBC. In a particularly chilling detail that reveals how those in power clearly know what is happening there, she adds: "When the local leaders come, we offer them water and they won't take it."

(Thanks, dad, for the link!)

0 State of Incorporation

I recently came across something I first read back in January 2004 about what might be called the private nationalization of Italy under Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – when your country becomes a labyrinth of overlapping properties owned by one man – and it seemed interesting enough that I thought I'd re-post it here. So:
    Hi there,

    I'm an Italian citizen living in Milan, in a building that was built by Immobiliare EdilNord, which is owned by the Prime Minister. I work part-time for the Pagine Utili, owned by the Prime Minister, but I might soon be contracted by Blockbuster, the famous chain owned by the Prime Minister. I've always been a fan of Milan, the soccer club of the Prime Minister. I go to work in a car which I first saw in an ad in Panorama, a weekly magazine owned by the Prime Minister, and which I bought secondhand from an employee of the Banca Mediolanum, a bank amongst whose biggest shareholders we find the Prime Minister. The insurance for the car is also owned by the Prime Minister, and when I'm driving I often listen to some radio stations... owned by the Prime Minister. When I leave my house I first accompany my neighbor, who works at the Finbanc Inversiones (owned by the Prime Minister) before I pick up some newspapers and magazines (also owned by the Prime Minister). Sometimes there's traffic on the way to work, and so to tell my colleagues I'll be late I use a cellphone of the Compagnia Telefonica Mobile, which sees the Prime Minister as one of its shareholders.

    Some afternoons I go shopping in the supermarkets built by one of the Prime Minister's construction and development companies, where I buy products produced, published, and sponsored by the Prime Minister. In the evening I nearly always watch the television, nowadays completely in the hands of the Prime Minister, on which the movies (often produced by the Prime Minister) are continuously interrupted by commercials made by the Prime Minister's own publicity agency. Thus, through satellite, I try to get out of Italy to see if anything good is being transmitted elsewhere, but then it happens that I find TV networks functioning under Mediaset – which is owned by the Prime Minister. Distrustful and tired, I do some surfing on the internet via the Jumpy Provider, of NewMedia Investment, another property of the Prime Minister, and there I find lots of declarations of the Prime Minister, nearly all against his political opponents. Sundays I like to stay at home and just read books – which come from publishing companies owned by the Prime Minister.

    Panta rei, everything proceeds – but for a while now I've heard a lot of whispering about the conflicts of interest in relation to our Prime Minister, so I ask myself: why? Is there something anomalous? This isn't how it's supposed to be?

    My sincere greetings,
    An Italian Citizen
Originally published on Indymedia Italia.

0 How to Stay Sane as the Job Market Plots Against You

depressedIf you are among the millions made redundant by this economy, you will find that idleness chips away at your self-esteem. As unemployment stretches from weeks into months, life essentials start eroding-- your energy, your sense of humor and even your sanity.

Solutions for coping with unemployment are not one-size-fits-all. How can you help resenting a list of tips that make coping with the complexities sound simple?

I am not purporting I will turn your boat around; my tips are simply about sidling away from the ledge of negativity. My tips are not so much about getting a job; they are more about getting through the day.
  1. Grieve, but don’t throw yourself on the funeral pyre.
    When you first get sacked, you are entitled to a few days of watching DVDs in your pajamas, letting your hair get matted and oily, and wallowing in self-pity. If you have pets, they will enjoy wallowing with you. If you have a spouse and children, they will be alarmed, but insist they give you a little grieving period.

  2. Get clean and get dressed.
    Keep the grieving brief. If it goes on for more than a week, force yourself off the couch and into the shower. Get out of bed at the same time everyday (in the morning!) and get dressed in street clothes, not sweats. You will feel better.

  3. Create a daily ritual.
    Doesn’t matter what your ritual is--you might choose to build a routine around a morning coffee and news reading. You might choose to walk to the corner store everyday and greet your neighbors. Consider starting the day with a few Sun Salutations or a couple of Krispy Kremes. You won’t be able to amble around the neighborhood when you’re working again, so try to appreciate the interlude.

  4. Conduct brief, organized online job searches.
    Check your Internet job sites at the same time everyday, perhaps after your Starbucks fix, or maybe sitting at your local Starbucks. Once you have registered for each job-search site and have created automatic searches, you need only check the newly listed positions.

    Avoid the self-defeating trap of spending hours cycling through the sites, reminding yourself how many jobs you are unqualified for.

    Seventy percent of available jobs are not advertised on the Internet, so keep your time on the Internet in proportion. Get on, get off, and move on.

  5. Connect with former colleagues and old friends.
    Don’t call it networking, call it staying in touch. “Networking” sounds and feels like using people. Call or email former colleagues and vendors to chat and to keep up with what’s going on in your field. If a job lead comes out of it, great, but the real benefit is preventing isolation.

    Contact people with appropriate frequency. Don’t stalk.

  6. Find a networking buddy.
    I didn’t say you wouldn’t have to network. You have to meet new people in your field―rule number one of job hunting, right? You need to join associations and attend their little mixers. If you are not a natural self promoter, this will suck and may not improve with time.

    Find someone to make the rounds with. You probably have former colleagues who would be happy to go on the circuit with you. Endure these events with a buddy and they might become fun or bearable at least.

  7. Exercise.
    Some people dread exercise more than professional association mixers. For me, it’s a tie. But exercise is like the shower with ten times more power. Exercise offers emotional benefits as well as physical benefits. You don’t need to train for a marathon, just exercise more than you are now. Take walks. Create a weight lifting routine you can do at home. Be satisfied with incremental improvements.

  8. Don’t drink (or eat) excessively.
    Drinking can make you forget your financial and self-worth problems for an evening. But ultimately, binge drinking increases depression. You can’t create a positive routine nursing a hang-over. Over-eating won’t increase your depression, but gaining weight will. You need to fit into your job interview suit.

  9. Volunteer.
    Do you need to be told the rewards of volunteering? Try something you have always been interested in and never had time. Do something that makes you feel good. Increase your marketable skills. At its most base level, volunteer work gets you out of the house. Watch this ABC news feature about jobless men banding together to build a homeless shelter.

  10. Take a class or take up a hobby.
    Similar to volunteering, taking a class gives you somewhere to go. You can take a class to increase job skills, but consider taking a subject for its own sake, like art history or Italian cooking.

    Pick up the hobby you’ve been neglecting or find a new hobby. If your hobby is too expensive, find a simpler one, like reading or gardening.
The common thread in all these tips is finding stability and new habits as you look for a new job. Your old routine is gone for good. Build a new, positive routine with whichever of these steps you think will help you.

Written on 1/26/2009 by Kate Mortell. Kate is a graduate of Marquette University and lives and works in New York City. She writes the blog,, a collection of travel journals and commentary on real estate, animal rights, gun control and whatever else might be under her skin at the moment.Photo Credit: rogerimp

Sabtu, 24 Januari 2009

0 How to Stay Awake at Work or School

Have you ever been so tired you almost fell asleep at work? Did you ever wish you could just crawl under your desk and take a nap like George Costanza?

Whether you were partying too hard the night before, up late feeding a newborn baby, or some other energy draining activity, you've got an emergency that needs to be addressed pronto!

Here are some steps you can take to make it through the day. They range from total retreat to commando "cowboy-up" tactics. Use the ones that will work for you and bookmark this for the next time this happens. ('Cause you know it will! Doh!)

1. Go Home "Sick." This is total retreat. Head into your boss's office and tell him or her that you are not feeling well and need to leave. Save this for only the most extreme situations. If you came into work there was probably something that needed to get done. If you just can't make it to 5 o'clock, then this can be a sweet relief. When you get home, get into bed and ditch the guilt. Go to sleep and start over again tomorrow. And then make a plan to have a better day tomorrow.

2. Staying Awake in Lecture Hall. This is can be a really tough one. The best way to handle this is with multiple tactics:
  • If allowed, bring coffee, discreet snacks, and gum.
  • Even if you are not a note taker, start writing down everything the teacher is saying to keep your mind alert.
  • Move as much as you can. Tap your foot or bounce your leg. Switch position in your chair frequently. Stretch. Move your head. Tap your fingers.
  • Pain. This is kind of an emergency procedure. If you can't stay awake consider pinching yourself. I know it's a little strange, but pain can keep you awake.
  • Stimulating Thoughts: think of something that makes you happy or makes you feel good. I'll leave it at that.
  • Online activity: this wasn't around when I was in college, but I would imagine if you're in the back of the class you could surf the web, email your friends, and read Dumb Little Man.
  • Entertain Yourself: see if you can summon your extrasensory powers by willing someone to look at you. Or try across the room flirting. Why not?
Don't do these things unless you want to fall out of your chair snoring and drooling:
  • Rest your head in your hand.
  • Rest close your eyes.
  • Lay your head down.
3. The Work Nap. If you are lucky enough to have a workplace that has an area for naps and if your workload can wait, then go ahead and take advantage of that benefit. Shoot for a 20-30 minute nap to take the edge off your exhaustion. A shorter nap will prevent you from waking up groggy. Bring some kind of an alarm with you such as your cell phone, or ask a colleague to wake you.

4. The Work at Home Nap. If you work at home, being sleepy on the job is not as much of a problem, or is it? The real problem is keeping it from becoming a habit. And actually the habit is only a problem if it interferes with your productivity, clients, or your family. If you successfully incorporate napping into your schedule, then go for it. But if it becomes something that cuts into your work, try to only do this if you are so tired you can't get any work done.

5. The Work at Home Nap with Kids. This is similar to situation number 2, because your "boss" is your kids. If the kids are young enough, try to get them to nap with you or nap when they nap. Of course don't leave young children unattended. If you're afraid you can't stay awake, call a friend, family member, or babysitter to come over and help you out. Lastly, you can always try #5, The Meditation Nap if you need to stay awake, but also need to get some rejuvenation.

6. The Meditation Nap. This is not a sleeping nap, but it will give you the similar feeling of renewal that you get after a short nap. In a nutshell a meditation nap is conscious quiet rest time. Here's how you do it.
  • Allot approximately 10-20 minutes.
  • Start by doing a couple stretches, whatever feels good.
  • Next take 10 deep breaths with eyes closed and sitting upright.
  • Take the rest of the time to empty your mind of everything. A good way to do this is to mentally repeat one word or phrase such as "empty the mind" or "peace" or "om" or whatever works for you. As thoughts come into your mind, notice them like clouds going by in the sky, but don't grab hold. Just keep coming back to your word.
At the end of your allotted time open your eyes, take another couple deep breaths and stretches. Optional: Lightly place your hands over your eyes during part of the time. This helps eye strain tremendously. You can also try giving yourself a face and head massage. Here is some additional info on meditation naps.

7. Physical Movement. When people are sleep deprived, exercise can increase alertness. This is good if you absolutely can not leave work early and you need to meet deadlines. Instead of giving into the head nodding and eyelid drooping, get up and get out for 10 minutes. Do some type of brisk physical movement like walking, jogging, jumping jacks, push ups, etc. If there is a stairwell, jog up and down the stairs 5 or 6 times.

8. Get Help from Colleagues. If you have some buddies at work, confide in them that you need their help with staying awake. See if there are any things you can work on together. Talking with co-workers will help keep your mind engaged and alert.

9. Pace Yourself. If you are just mildly tired, a good strategy is to simply take it real slow. Don't be too ambitious. Just take one thing at a time. And conserve your energy by avoiding conflict. Then at 5pm, zip on out to get home so you can rest!

10. Take Multiple Breaks. If your work doesn't give you unlimited breaks, take a bathroom break once an hour to get up and walk. And when you take your breaks, close your eyes for 5 minutes. Try splashing some cold water on your face before heading back to your work.

11. Stimulate the Mind. Find something to laugh about periodically during the day even if it is as simple as your ridiculous predicament. Find something that is interesting, fun, stimulating, or otherwise pleasurable to think about. Focus your mind on these thoughts as much as you can during the day to keep your mind awake.

12. Eat Frequent Snacks. Healthy is best. Protein is good for energy that won't make you sleepy. Avoid sugar because it will give you a little boost, but then when the sugar crash comes it will be harder to take given your sleepiness. Try not to eat too much or too little. If you're really hurting and can't do healthy, perhaps a steady stream of chocolate might do the trick. :)

13. Caffeine. The key here is not to take in too much too quickly. You'll have best results if you spread it out slowly over the day. This will keep your mind alert enough to stay awake, but it won't jolt you too much which could end up making you more tired later.

14. Commando. If your butt is on the line today, you need to get serious about staying awake which means you need to combine several of these tactics along with awakening your inner drill sergeant. Start with some fuel. Get some healthy food to eat during the day. Line up some caffeinated drinks that you can sip throughout the day. Each hour or half hour do 5 minutes of moving, stretching and deep breathing. Stay around people to keep your mind alert. If you have a buddy who can help keep you awake seek them out! And give yourself a a prize at the finish line to look forward to by planning a treat for making it through the day, even if it's simply slumping into bed when you get home.

Good luck! Being tired at work really stinks. The best thing you can do after it's all over is find a way to keep it from happening again.

Written by K. Stone of Life Learning Today.

If you believe your problem pertains to just getting poor sleep, answer these 7 questions to identify the best way to get some peaceful sleep again!!

Jumat, 23 Januari 2009

0 Twin Town

In what sounds like the plot of a John Carpenter film, the Daily Telegraph reports that a village in Brazil might be populated by genetically altered twins created by notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

[Image: The Brazilian twin town of Josef Mengele].

"For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins – most of them blond haired and blue eyed," we read. "But residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s, posing at first as a vet but then offering medical treatment to the women of the town."
According to an historian named Jorge Camarasa who has written a book about Mengele's bio-genetic legacy, "Candido Godoi may have been Mengele's laboratory, where he finally managed to fulfil his dreams of creating a master race of blond haired, blue eyed Aryans. There is testimony that he attended women, followed their pregnancies, treated them with new types of drugs and preparations, that he talked of artificial insemination in human beings, and that he continued working with animals, proclaiming that he was capable of getting cows to produce male twins."
The article points out that "the town's official crest shows two identical profiles and a road sign welcomes visitors to a 'Farming Community and Land of the Twins'. There is also a museum, the House of the Twins."
"Nobody knows for sure exactly what date Mengele arrived in Candido Godoi," Camarasa adds, "but the first twins were born in 1963, the year in which we first hear reports of his presence."
This sounds insanely implausible to me – more like a Nazi-infused origin story animated by a pronounced fear of witchcraft – but it's a fascinatingly bizarre proposition.
In many ways, meanwhile, it reminds me quite strikingly of a book called The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs, which I just picked up last week. The back cover description:
    The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children – three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets – and the good doctor – aren’t quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe’s past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein.
Only here, it's Dr. Mengele creating dark angels in the rain forest.

(Thanks, Steve!)

0 Planet Harddrive

[Image: "Conceptual diagram of satellite triangulation," courtesy of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations (ONCO)].

For several years I've been fascinated by what might be called the geological nature of harddrives – how certain mineral arrangements of metal and ferromagnetism result in our technological ability to store memories, save information, and leave previous versions of the present behind.
A harddrive, though, would be a geological object as much as a technical one; it is a content-rich, heavily processed re-configuration of the earth's surface.

[Image: Geometry in the sky. "Diagram showing conceptual photographs of how satellite versus star background would appear from three different locations on the surface of the earth," courtesy of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations (ONCO)].

This reminds me of another ongoing fantasy of mine, which is that perhaps someday we won't actually need harddrives at all: we'll simply use geology itself.
In other words, what if we could manipulate the earth's own magnetic field and thus program data into the natural energy curtains of the planet?
The earth would become a kind of spherical harddrive, with information stored in those moving webs of magnetic energy that both surround and penetrate its surface.
This extends yet further into an idea that perhaps whole planets out there, turning in space, are actually the harddrives of an intelligent species we otherwise have yet to encounter – like mnemonic Death Stars, they are spherical data-storage facilities made of content-rich bedrock – or, perhaps more interestingly, we might even yet discover, in some weird version of the future directed by James Cameron from a screenplay by Jules Verne, that the earth itself is already encoded with someone else's data, and that, down there in crustal formations of rock, crystalline archives shimmer.
I'm reminded of a line from William S. Burroughs's novel The Ticket That Exploded, in which we read that beneath all of this, hidden in the surface of the earth, is "a vast mineral consciousness near absolute zero thinking in slow formations of crystal."

[Image: "An IBM HDD head resting on a disk platter," courtesy of Wikipedia].

In any case, this all came to mind again last night when I saw an article in New Scientist about how 3D holograms might revolutionize data storage. One hologram-encoded DVD, for instance, could hold an incredible 1000GB of information.
So how would these 3D holograms be formed?
"A pair of laser beams is used to write data into discs of light-sensitive plastic, with both aiming at the same spot," the article explains. "One beam shines continuously, while the other pulses on and off to encode patches that represent digital 0s and 1s."
The question, then, would be whether or not you could build a geotechnical version of this, some vast and slow-moving machine – manufactured by Komatsu – that moves over exposed faces of bedrock and "encodes" that geological formation with data. You would use it to inscribe information into the planet.
To use a cheap pun, you could store terrabytes of information.
But it'd be like some new form of plowing in which the furrows you produce are not for seeds but for data. An entirely new landscape design process results: a fragment of the earth formatted to store encrypted files.
Data gardens.
They can even be read by satellite.

[Image: The "worldwide satellite triangulation camera station network," courtesy of NOAA's Geodesy Collection].

Like something out of H.P. Lovecraft – or the most unhinged imaginations of early European explorers – future humans will look down uneasily at the earth they walk upon, knowing that vast holograms span that rocky darkness, spun like inexplicable cobwebs through the planet.
Beneath a massive stretch of rock in the remotest state-owned corner of Nevada, top secret government holograms await their future decryption.
The planet thus becomes an archive.

(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: Geomagnetic Harddrive).

Kamis, 22 Januari 2009

0 5 Simple Steps to Clearing the Clutter (painlessly)

ClutterDo you ever feel that life is getting on top of you? Do you get overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done? Do you waste hours searching frantically for important documents, lost keys, mobile phone chargers and other essential items? Are you always running out of stamps and spare batteries?

For a lot of us, the answer to most of these questions is unfortunately "yes"...

Keeping your surroundings tidy and organized might sound like a chore, but it's actually one of the best ways to obtain peace of mind and a calmer outlook on life. Here's how to make tidying and decluttering as painless as possible.
  1. Schedule Some Time
    Like everything else on your to-do list, "tidy the house" will only get done if you schedule some time for it. Tasks like tidying, organizing and cleaning are incredibly easy to put off, because they're rarely urgent... until, of course, you lose that very important report, your passport or your car keys.

    You could schedule a whole day or weekend to have a big spring clean, but you'll probably find yourself slacking after a couple of hours of work. Instead, try giving yourself a target of just half an hour of non-stop tidying each day for a week. You'll be surprised just how much you can get through.

  2. Concentrate On One Place
    One big mistake when tidying is to try to do a bit of everything at once. Focus on getting one place completely cleared and organized; this will give you an instant motivational boost! (This is like the idea of creating a debt snowball, where you pay off the smallest debts first in order to gather momentum before tackling the larger ones.) A great place to start is your desk, as a cluttered desk will drag your mood down whenever you're working at it. In an hour you could:

    • Empty out all the desk drawers.
      • Bin anything you no longer need or any rubbish (candy bar wrappers, old receipts...)
      • Put items you haven't used in over two months into storage somewhere else (how often do you really use your Christmas card stampers?)
      • File important papers, such as invoices and receipts.

    • Make sure all the drawers are clean (wipe with a cloth and detergent if necessary) before replacing the items you do need, neatly, in them.

    • Take everything from the top of the desk.
      • File papers in appropriate folders, especially any which have been piled up for days.
      • Make sure your inbox and outbox haven't become storage containers for a mishmash of paper.
      • Check that pens and other items of stationary are working (refill staplers, replace glue sticks).

    • Clean the top of your desk
      • Wash up any mugs or other food containers
      • Where possible, store items in the space cleared in your desk drawers: having an empty desk is much more relaxing than having a cluttered one.
      • Get some cable ties (the ties which come with freezer bags for food should work) and fasten computer cables neatly.

    That might look like a long list, but it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes if you work fast.

  3. Tackle Something Each Day
    Once you've sorted out your desk, try moving on to some of these areas, most of which should take only 30-60 minutes to sort out:

    • Your closet and drawers of clothing (what can go to a charity or thrift store? What can be kept elsewhere until the appropriate season?)

    • Storage space under your bed (can you dispose of items you no longer use? Can you put anything up in the attic?)

    • Your "My documents" folder: don't dismiss electronic clutter, as it can be just as time-and-energy draining as physical mess.

    • Your kitchen cupboards (bin out of date foods, make a note of anything that needs replacing).

    • Your bathroom - how many bottles do you really need around the bath or shower?

    Keep up the momentum by doing some tidying each day. Even if you're really short of time, you can manage ten minutes to declutter a drawer.

  4. Keep Up Your Enthusiasm
    If you've been living in clutter for a long time, you might have a way to go before it's properly tidy. Keep yourself enthusiastic about decluttering by:

    • Getting other family members involved. This makes it much easy to "blitz" through a lot of work.

    • Putting on your favorite music while tidying. Something with a fast beat helps if you're trying to get it all done quickly!

    • Look at the progress you've made so far. Aren't you happier now you've got a clear desk and a tidy closet? Doesn't it make daily life much easier when you don't have to waste precious time hunting for something you've misplaced under all the clutter?

    • If you find yourself reluctant to part with items that you rarely or never use, why not sell them on ebay and spend the extra cash on something you really want?

  5. Don't Undo Your Good Work
    Once you've got things to a tidy state, it won't require much effort to keep them that way. Make sure that you get yourself into good habits so that things stay automatically tidy. For most people, this means making sure that items get tidied back to their proper places after use and spending a little time each week doing any extra tidying.

    Here's some tips that help to maintain a decluttered home:

    • Have a place for everything (especially items such as keys and important documents). Get into the habit of putting things away as soon as you've finished using them. For example, always put your keys back on their hook as soon as you come home.

    • Spend a few minutes at the end of each day getting any clutter under control. This might mean washing dishes, clearing your desk, or hanging up clean laundry.

    • Make children responsible for clearing away their own toys, books, games and so on. Toys and games can become clutter when there's no set place to store them: try buying a couple of big boxes or crates to put everything away in once it's been played with.
Good luck with your tidying! If you've got a great decluttering tip, why not share it with us in the comments?

Written on 1/23/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.Photo Credit: lorda

0 I can't be arsed to blog

So I shall patronise you all by just posting photos of Pumpkin.

I called her Pumpkin because I think she looks like black and gold/orange, which reminds me of pumpkins because those are Halloween colours. Ok fine, that doesn't make sense. I just think the name is cute lah, ok!

Anyway she learnt to respond to it by now, so no changing! :D

One day before I bought her:

It was love at first sight. Well, for me anyway. Pumpkin looks like she is deeply unsettled. Too bad for you doggie, you stuck with me!

Forlorn, would rather have a "true dog lover" owner.

Day one: We put her on the couch and she crawled up to my shoulder and promptly fell asleep. What a weird location to want to sleep on!



zzzzzzzzzzz again niaping against Mike's lap. I was so jealous!

Several minutes later...

This direction seems to be better...

After her bath

All nice and fluffed out

In the t-shirt that I bought for her that was meant for bunnies (because all the dog sizes are way too big for her)! It says "Good rabbit" on it, isn't that cute!?

(And in case you about to start yapping about cruelty to animals, I bought said tee coz Pumpkin even trembles in chill when there is a big wind, or in aircon, ok! She is a puppy and she gets very easily cold!)

Anyway even this bunny tee is too big for Pumps, her front paws slip out of it, so I've decided not to let her wear it unless I am keeping an eye on her. As you can see in the pic she wiggled in her sleep and somehow put 2 front paws into one paw hole. Siao. Hahaha!

On a completely un-dog-related note,

My first Lv-yi-se (Green one colour)!!

At first I had the three 4 suos and one 3 suo - which means I was waiting for a 3 suo (green one colour + one colour + pong pong) but 3 suo was dead, and so is 2 suo as you can see I gang-ed it.

So I was waiting for 5 suo, which makes the cards completely not chio lor! One colour so boring and common!

I had one fa cai earlier in the game and threw that out, then I mo-ed another fa cai and kept it, throwing out my 3 suo - and I zi mo-ed the last fa cai (my MJ kakis are way too pro to throw it one lor)!! Woohoo!!

The 1 flower also mine.

Ok I shall stop the MJ jargon here.

And yes I am acutely aware of the rolls of fats in some of the doggie photos, so here's me in better times and also my best boring angle:

Taken in the loo.

I was about to go shower when I thought, "Why waste the make up? May as well camwhore", so I did.

Till next time and Happy CNY!

Note to self: Blog about USA trip and also cupboard nearly killing me.

p/s: Pumpkin is also sleeping on my lap now as I am posting this. Everybody say Awwwwwwwww!
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