Category Archives: Tidbits

Thought roundup: Podcasts, drawing, cats, and towels

Here are some bits and pieces that probably won’t end up in their own blog posts, but which I thought might be useful to share.

Making better use of time by listening to podcasts: I tried using BeyondPod to download and play podcasts during commutes and chores. Bonus: Turns out it has Tasker support. I’ve set up Tasker to automatically play podcasts when I plug in my earphones. By default, BeyondPod pauses when I take my earphones out. Handy! I’m not sure whether I’ll stick with the free version, buy the $7 app, or use a different podcast player yet, but it’s a neat idea.

Practising drawing during the commute: I can’t really listen to podcasts while I write or read – verbal interference – but I can practise drawing. I’ve started drawing in a small notebook whenever I have a chance to sit down during my commute. Nothing amazing, just deliberate practice: straight lines, boxes, circles, faces. It’s really easy to draw lots and lots of faces. Draw plenty of circles, add two dots in almost any location, and then let your mind fill in the rest. I like drawing so many faces close together with the randomness of the occasional subway jolt. With all those variations, I get to see which kinds of faces I like.

Cats can be very cuddly: You know how cats are supposed to be independent and aloof? Luke is a complete sucker for attention. Leia likes putting her arms around my neck and being cuddled. Even Neko heads for our laps (well, W-‘s lap these days, not that I’m jealous or anything) whenever we’re on the couch.

Tweaking routines – hair towel: Turns out that a hair towel / turban is much better than using a regular towel. It keeps my hair out of the way, dries my hair faster, results in less laundry, and helps me avoid forgetting wet towels. My mom was onto something when she gave it to me.

From the feeds: Selling benefits, not features; caramel apples; graphic novels for kids

ccattrib_sharealike_2009_llstalteri

Elizabeth Sandberg’s story about a savvy pie pumpkin seller reminds me of the advice to sell benefits, not features.

She wasn’t actually selling pumpkins. She was selling the only remaining ingredient I needed for an easy, award winning recipe — two pie pumpkins. She was selling me what I came to the farmers market for — not individual produce items, but a delicious meal.

Speaking of food, Laura Grace Weldon shares an intriguing inside-out caramel apple recipe on GeekMom. I like the occasional caramel apple, but the store-bought ones are enormous, and we’re slowly phasing out sweets and desserts. This might still sneak into one of our experimental kitchen days, though.

Another GeekMom find: Amy Craft recommends graphic novels geared towards kids. J- likes graphic novels, and has been working her way through the Toronto Public Library’s manga collection.

Enjoy!

Photo of pumpkins © 2010 llstalteri, Creative Commons Attribution License

From the feeds: Friendship, planning ahead, and crossroads

ccattrib_sharealike_trees_2006_lincolnian

One of the great things about spending time with my family is seeing them with old friends, the kind of friendships developed over decades and despite distance.

Mel Chua shares this poem by James Hayford:

Time to plant trees is when you’re young So you will have them to walk among – So aging, you can walk in shade That you and time together made. – James Hayford, "Time To Plant Trees"

Greg Wilson writes about friendship and running partners in life:

In the end, the search for that feeling is the common thread through
almost everything I’ve done. … We are none of us long in this life,
and I think we all want to believe that when we have to run our last
lap, we won’t have to run it alone. I think we all want friends to
keep pace with, day after day, while we’re alive, so that we can be
sure that someone will be out there, still running, when we’re not.

I want to enjoy and be inspired by great friendships through the decades. It’s easy to be insular, but if no man can really be an island (or at least be healthy doing so), I might at least be a peninsula. =)

Speaking of planning ahead, Trent (The Simple Dollar) has great advice on what to do at life’s crossroads. Living a frugal life and keeping expenses down means that we can take more risks, yay.

Photo © 2006 lincolnian, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License

From the feeds: Development, food, connecting with people, e-books, finance

Drupal / Rails development: John (from john & cailin) posted good interview tips for hiring Drupal developers. A comment in the blog post led to this funny learning curve graph, which reminds me of the Emacs learning curve. There are similar hiring tips for Rails developers.

I like the work I’m doing at IBM (mostly nonprofit projects funded by IBM grants, yay changing the world!), but it’s interesting to see lots of demand for Drupal and Rails skills. I want to get wizardly at Rails and/or Drupal, and I think this will be fun.

Winter vegetables: Thanks to the community-supported agriculture program, we have three butternut squashes, one pepper squash, lots of turnips, and lots of kale. We’ve just gotten through turning all those beets into borscht. I’m learning about all these winter vegetables. Fortunately, Cheap Vegetable Gardener has tips on what to do when you’re swimming in kale, beets, squash, mustard, or chives.

Connecting with people: A post from Linked Intelligence on social networks and relationships led me to the Mackay 66 Customer Profile – a 66-question template that you can use to gradually flesh out your knowledge of a person. I like questionnaires. I think this will help me get better at talking to people – I can pick one or two questions to focus on, then gradually fill in the blanks. Maybe I should build a CRM into Quantified Awesome

Publishing an e-book: Allison Abel shares tips on publishing your own e-book. I’m collecting data and ideas for a possible mini-book on quantifying life and changing behavior, so I’ll want to come back to this post and other tips on this topic.

Spending money well: Jason Chen points out that you may want to spend your money where you spend your time. Fortunately, I track both time and money, so I can tell if my priorities line up. =) (Good laptop? Yes, worth it!)