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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

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Grab Bag Shop Stop:

… I was hoping to get this post out this morning… but some still might need an idea or two…

It’s Father’s Day….. as in TODAY….and you forgot to get the man something. It’s not too late.

I thought up a few ideas I might do if I hadn’t already sent him an awesome DVD, but that’s me…. this year…. unlike many previous years…. when I did space out…… so here we go:

Canvas Prints

1. Find/take/print some frame-worthy photos, print the home page of any one of the Photo-to-Canvas sites, wrap them together in a box and inform him that he can choose which photo and what size and shape canvas he would like, and you will order it up for him… because, ya know, you wanted to make sure he got it JUST the way HE wanted it. ūüôā

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2. Print up your own gift certificate for some shared experience to do together; dinner out, a round of golf, a trip to the Reagan library (which I hear is A-MAZ-ING and not to be missed… who knew?) or some other local-to-him destination, and wrap it up in a box.

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3. Print the cover image of a book you will buy him (it’s been ordered, and is on it’s way, right?) and wrap it up in a box.

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4. Tell him you are keeping your gift a surprise, because spontaneity is the spice of life. Let him know that you will be giving him 24 hours head notice in the near future, and that you will pick him up and take him to do something special. This buys you a few days to put some plan into action.

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5. Organize a softball game for this afternoon with a few other families. This will grow over the years to an all-day tournament with 8 teams, 100+ players and over 200 attendees. You will not be expected to provide any other gifts. Trust me on this one. ūüôā

Grab Bag Pillow Talk:

Not as sexy as it sounds.

As a matter of fact, it’s something probably 99% of us don’t do (I know I haven’t ever done this ūüė≥…. but only because I didn’t really know I could). So I’m gonna try it.

IT is …. washing your pillows. Found this on a great blog called CleanMySpace.com.

Clean Your Pillows

Grab Bag Recipe Righteousness:

Feeling a bit guilty when you slog white flour, sugar and butter into a bowl? Here are a number of substitutions, along with where they work best:

Recipe Subs057251ac8

Grab Bag Business Brilliance:

I registered with a very cool website called Quora.com. Quora poses intriguing questions and members submit answers. All members can vote on which answers they like the best. Some of them get you thinking which, I assume, is the point.

For instance….. a recent question was:¬†

“What’s the shrewdest, smartest maneuver you’ve ever seen in business?”

One of the answers I include below. Most are a good read¬†(read ’em here). Many have something you can learn.

Back in the 1970s, liquid hand soap was sold by one guy: Robert Taylor, and his small company, Minnetonka.  It was his invention, and he knew he was on to something big. Test  audiences loved the product and, despite barely having enough resources  to do so, Minnetonka decided to go all in and make a push to take the product nationwide.
There was only one problem: Nothing he was selling could be patented.¬† The concept of liquid soap wasn’t new, and simple pumps had been around¬† since the dawn of civilization. As a result, Taylor knew several huge¬† soap manufacturers were ready to happily steal his idea the very moment¬† it looked like it could succeed on a large scale. Armed with superior¬† resources and the ability to quickly R&D an imitation product, the¬† industry giants were ready to crush tiny Minnetonka.
Taylor, however, was ready for this. Before any other company had the¬† chance, Taylor decided to go shopping one day and bought a few plastic¬† pumps. And by a few we mean FUCKING ALL OF THEM. There were only two¬† companies nationwide manufacturing those little pumps, and Taylor ponied¬† up $12 million — more than the total net worth of his company at the¬† time — and ordered¬†100 million of them,¬† effectively buying every single pump these two companies would be able¬† to manufacture for the next year or two.¬†

Unknown

Anyway, without the part required to dispense the soap, there was¬† nothing the major companies could do but sit and watch Taylor slowly own the entire market. His product would become known as¬†SoftSoap.¬†Two years after his little stunt, Colgate-Palmolive¬† would be forced to just buy SoftSoap from Taylor … for $61 million.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Put yourself through these short games and see “how old” your brain is:

BrainAge Games

Grab Bag Funny Father’s Day Stuff:

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Happy 34th Anniversary to My Wonderful Husband ūüôā

Grab Bag Workout Warriors:

In case you get bored in the gym:

Workout Warriors

Grab Bag Sleep Snacks:

Super foods for super sleeeeeeeeppp.

Cocoa

Hot cocoa at bedtime!: Chocolate contains tryptophan to make you happy and relaxed, and chocolate is, in fact, one of the richest dietary sources of magnesium, a natural sedative that can greatly improve sleep. A deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain.

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Tea time: Just pick the right tea for bedtime: Try Valerian, chamomile, sage or lemon balm.

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Go nuts: Walnuts. Super high in melatonin, which offers super sleep and is an antioxidant.

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Cheers! Cherry! Juice!: ¬Ĺ-1 cup of tart cherry juice¬†one hour before bed has been shown to improve sleep.

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Seeds of change: If you have trouble staying asleep or wake frequently throughout the night, your serotonin and melatonin levels may be out of whack. Sesame seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds all can help.¬†Pumpkin seed powder is the new “warm glass of milk”. Try an evening snack of ¬ľ cup pumpkin seeds (or 2 tablespoons pumpkin powder), 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds and ¬ĺ cup of unsweetened Greek yogurt.

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Nighty Night ūüôā

Grab Bag Good Tips:

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Get rid of labels and sticky gunk: Equal parts veg. oil and baking soda… leave on 2-3 minutes and use your fingers to rub off.

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When buying fruit and veggies, always soak them in a 1:4 ratio of vinegar and water to help remove toxins and pesticides. Leave them soaking for up to an hour, longer with nonorganic apples. At the end of the bath, sometimes you can even see cloudy like stuff in the water from the skins and waxes, and dirt on the bottom. The vinegar is KEY.

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Put onions in pantyhose, and tie knots between onion. Plus it makes a freaky wall art installation ūüôā

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Place ethylene absorbers in your fridge. A set of 3¬†costs $16. These little pods absorb the ethylene emitted by fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh up to 3x longer. Here’s a¬†handy list of ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive foods.

Grab Bag Inspire Me:

There’s a great website called Quora.com, where they pose all kinds of questions and the answers are shared and voted on.

Here are the top answers to the question,

“What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done that no one knows about?”

Anonymous

7765 votes

My ma has my kidney. 

I can never tell her. She would have never agreed. And she will regret it forever if I told her now.

She thinks it’s someone who sold it to us. And that she was so lucky to have got a “donor” within 3 months of needing it.

The amazing feeling of having done this for my ma is something I can never explain to anyone. No one knows about this – except my wife!

Anonymous

2802 votes

At 27, I used all my money to buy my parents a house. They didn’t know it was all my money at the time.

I sold a tech company for a small exit in 2010. Everyone was extremely proud of me, but no one knew the exact amount I made, but everyone assumed I did really well. In actuality, I only made just over a hundred thousand dollars. I purposefully hid the amount because I wanted to use all the money to buy my parents a house, and I knew that my parents would never accept me buying them a house with the money from my sale. So with no one knowing, I drained my account (after paying taxes) and bought my parents a 1-story house in Texas (where I grew up). I did this because they had been living in a small two-story house that, in recent years, could no longer accommodate my sick and increasingly wheel-chair-bound dad.

Everyone assumed I had made a large amount of money and that this was one of many things I used the money on. In reality, this was my exit and my dream gift. This gift allowed my dad to live out the remainder of his life in dignity and it brought a tremendous stabilizing force to our family life. It stands as the nicest thing I’ll likely ever do.

Since then, I’ve made more money, my dad passed away, and my mom lives in that house, now full of great memories. We look back with great joy at those last few years with my dad, and I’m glad I could make it as comfortable for him as possible.

Anonymous

2717 votes

One day as a young child I found $23 scattered on a field and it brought me great joy.

I’ve grown old, and I’ve never told anyone this but now when I walk past an empty playground or schoolyard I go in and take some money from my wallet and drop it on the ground.

Clare Tomlinson, Paramedic

544 votes

A few years ago one of my friends was really struggling for money, so I took her out for lunch and while we were out and about, I put ¬£20 in her pocket so she would find it later on and think it was just money that she had forgotten about! She was one of those people that never would have asked for help and never complained about “being skint”, She never would have accepted a handout from anyone, so I thought this was the next best thing!

A few days later she told me about finding the money in her pocket and how pleased she was that she could use it for some food shopping.

To this day I have never told her where the money came from, and I never will. It was only a small amount of money (Which was all I could afford to give away at the time) but it meant a massive amount to my friend.

Lucas Mund, History teacher and trivia geek

222 votes

Just after college my wife and I were planning our wedding. Both of us did not have good jobs but had lots debt from college. We both were living at our parents’ houses until we could get enough money for the wedding and an apartment. We had a hard time even paying for gas to drive the 30 mins each way to see each other.

Then one day my mom found an envelope in her mailbox that had my wife and I’s names on it so she gave it to us. It didn’t have a stamp or address. Someone had just dropped it in her mailbox. Inside was $300 cash. No note, name or anything. That $300 went a long way for us at the time.

Now that we are on our feet, when my wife and I know someone is in need we drop $300 cash in their mailbox in a plain envelope. We have done this 3 times so far and we love it each time!

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Some language skills to practice! Good game with various types of challenges and levels.

THE RIGHT WORD

RIGHT WORD

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Sent to me recently:

This is a deceptively simple philosophy that I have been working on, and refining, for most of my life.  I am delighted to say that, finally, I have refined it down to its essence sufficiently to share it with a select band of friends who may appreciate its elegance and simplicity.

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Thanks to Pat M. for sending this in.

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Grab Bag Scattagory:

The opening line of Thrillist.com‘s review of this product had me laughing so hard I thought this might be a Funny Stuff entry. But if it is well made, there is surely a place for this product.

Aside from the couch potato visual that first comes to mind, I’m thinkin’ seniors, handicapped, and really anyone with limited capabilities, might truly benefit from the possibilities of this concept.

Adding in the fact that this is in the vein of my guru Joseph Pilates, a man who invented “furniture” which he envisioned in people’s home that would convert to exercise equipment, and I am sold on the “useful idea” category, Thrillist’s opening line notwithstanding:

This is what you’d get if an exercise bike banged a La-Z-Boy….

….the ChairMaster’s not only a crazy comfortable recliner “great for watching TV”…¬†…. but its undercarriage actually slides out to reveal a set of stationary adjustable-resistance pedals, providing little excuse for you to not get fit while you sit. What’s more …¬†there’re seven accessories including resistance bands, a “mini-stepper”, and velcro ankle straps that, when added to specific parts on the rig, enable a full-body workout comprising 50 different exercises to keep you entertained while watching¬†Wicked Tuna: Hooked Up.

Grab Bag Soap Dope:

I have mentioned my recipe for hand soap in a prior post, but it’s time to come clean and share my delight. It is the best hand soap I’ve ever useddoes not dry out your hands, no chemicals, no artificial fragrance, feels great, smalls great, inexpensive, no gross slimy soap bar… I could go on and on.

BUT…. perhaps the BEST PART is that I have now used this as my FACE WASH for over a year and it is fantastic.

So here it is:

Find foam pumper bottles. Since I use this soap for all my hand soap, face soap, bath and shower, I order the bottles from SpecialtyBottle.com. I use the bigger ones at sink, tub and shower, and the smaller one for travel:

Foam Pumper Bottles

I also like this Cuisipro foam pump that I found at Sur La Table, as it has a suction cup on the bottom which keeps the bottle in place:

Then you will need Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Castille Soap in the (natural) scent of your choice. It rates a beautiful 1 on EWG’s SKin Deep Cosmetics Database. They offer many sizes in 8 scents:¬†Rose, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Citrus, Almond, Lavender, Peppermint, and Baby Mild (unscented). I like the lemon, rose and unscented.

You can get these Whole Foods and at most health food storesTrader Joe’s usually offers at least one scent. Or order online at a bazillion sites.

Fill the bottle only about one-seventh to one-eighth¬†with the Bronner’s liquid soap, then fill the rest of the way with water. Swirl a bit and your soap is made! It should feel velvety and lather well. If it feels too watery, add more soap.

As I said, in addition to hand soap, I no longer buy special face or body cleanser. This leaves my skin really clean and never dry. Love, love, love.

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Grab Bag EEeeeeewwww Review:

In answer to the burning question¬†I am sure you have all been asking, “What are the most interesting parasites”?, this list was offered up on Quora.com by some dude named Hung Lee… there’s a joke there somewhere, but I digress…

So…without further ado, here is a list of Hung’s “most interesting parasites” (I’m thinking Hung doesn’t get out much….):

1.¬†Cymothoa exigua¬† or “tongue eating louse”. This little nightmare crustacean gains access to its fishy host be crawling in the gills. It attaches itself to the base of the fish’s tongue, using claws to draw blood for food. Wow. So far, so good, right?

Oh but THEN, then the tongue eventually atrophies from lack of blood, FALLS OFF, and the little parasitic prawn thingy ATTACHES ITSELF IN PLACE OF THE TONGUE, and it stays there as a little living tongue until the fish dies a natural death.

LOOK AT THIS THING!!

It is the only known case of a parasite functionally replacing a host organ, and the fish continues to live on, with a crustacean for a tongue, apparently to little ill effect.

parasitic prawn

2. ¬†Symbion Pandora-¬†A tiny half millimeter long parasite that lives on the lips of the Norwegian Lobster.¬†Probably has the most complicated reproduction cycle on earth, including both sexual and asexual reproduction, multiple larval / feeding stages, male / dwarf males, 3 different types of larvae from the same ‘mother’. No one knows its evolutionary history, or why it reproduces in this way. It’s so weird, that when it was discovered in 2010, it was given a phylum all of its own.

Symbian Pandora

3. Sacculina carcini-¬†Type of barnacle which is a parasitic castrator of crabs.¬†The larval form of the female Sacculina carcini attaches itself to a crab, finds a joint in the carapace and¬†injects itself into the host.¬†The parasite grows inside until it is large enough to force its way out as an external sac below the¬† abdomen where the crabs eggs would normally be incubating. A male Sacculina carcini finds the now visible female,¬†injects himself¬†into her and begins fertilising her eggs. The host is now no more than a living automata, controlled by hormones manipulated by the female Sacculini, and will care for the parasitic eggs as if it were her own…Infestations of male crabs by female Sacculina carcini result in body & behavioural modifications of the host, in order for the host to ‘act female’, which is essential for the dispersal of the fertilised eggs. The guy crabs start behaving like mommy crabs. Amazing.

Sacculina carcini

And here are three submissions from Marc Srour, invertebrate paleontologist:

The Jewel Wasp:¬†It parasitises cockroaches. The female adult delivers a sting at a very precise spot in the cockroach’s brain (with truly surgical precision, it’s always the same spot). This makes the cockroach not quite paralysed – it can still move its legs, but it loses conscious control of them (its all done with a specific chemical cocktail in the sting). The wasp then bites on the roach’s antennae and slowly guides it back to a special nest where the larva is. The cockroach – still alive and breathing, mind you – serves as the food source for the larva. It can’t attack back or run away since its lost control of all its limbs.

Jewel Wasp
Another¬†Parasitoid wasp parasitises¬†Plesiometa¬†spiders. The adult stings it much like it stings the roach, lays the egg on the spider’s back, and the larva slowly feeds on it – again, the spider can’t/doesn’t react. And right before it dies from having been fed on too much, the spider will build a very special web it doesn’t build otherwise, and this web serves as the pupation coccoon of the wasp.

Parasitic Wasp

Cordyceps: This is a fungus that infects insects and spiders. It takes root inside the insect and its hyphae slowly spread inside, feeding on the internal organs. Unimportant organs fo first, slowly going to the important ones. As it progresses further, the host starts acting weirder and weirder (obviously). The last thing to go is the nervous system, but not before it does something spectacular. The host will go to a position that is humid and windy, and stick itself there by any means it can (ants will bite down on a big leaf vein, for example). Then the host dies, and over the next 2-3 weeks, the mushroom bursts out of the head and grows on a stalk and the spores get dispersed. The intersting part is how Cordyceps makes the host go to that specific place advantageous to its own reproduction.

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Grab Bag Good Start:

waterbottles

As of January 1, 2013, the town of Concord, Massachusetts has banned the sale of disposable plastic water bottles.

Bravo.

We all need to be thinking about how to voluntarily replace this habit so that similar legislation will not be such a difficult concept to pass in our own burbs.

So while you’re buying your foam pump bottles at SpecialtyBottle.com, check out these 12 oz. bottles I use as my water bottles:
Sauce Bottle

They have white caps instead of black available (call them). I suggest buying at least a couple of dozen (depending on how many thirsty mouths you have) at a time. At 86¬Ę a pop you won’t be sorry.¬†

Then find the best way to get the purest water to fill them. I have amazing water straight out of the tap where I live most of the time, but I also have terrible water at our second home. I have not installed an under-sink filtration system there, but I’m thinking about it. Right now I take the filtered water from my fridge door and poor it into a filtration jug, so it’s double -filtered. My 2 year old grandson calls this “making water”, and it’s a favorite chore we do together ūüôā

Water

However you “make” your water, the point is we HAVE to stop using so many disposable plastic water bottles, for the good of our environment. It’s that simple.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

AARP happens to have a really good collection of free online games to play. They have instituted a registration process, but once done you don’t have to bother again.¬†

Crosswords, backgammon, sudoku and a lot more are offered 24/7. 

Here is their version of an old favorite, Yahtzee!!

5 Roll

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Gotta smile, cause getting older is better than the alternative ūüė≥

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