I was thinking of buying eyeglasses online and turning to one of my fave sites Lifehacker, was not at all suprised to find the following article posted there. http://lifehacker.com/5157425/save-bundles-of-cash-by-buying-eyeglasses-online
introGarage Climbing Wall
In this instructable I show how I designed and built a climbing wall in my garage for relatively cheap. To view this project and some other pretty cool ones I haven’t had time to transcribe over to instructables visit my site mechanicallyinclined.net
Of course every garage varies so my design probably couldn’t be copied exactly but hopefully showing how I did will show all the basic concepts behind building a wall and give you a good idea on how to go about this large undertaking should you choose to do so. The total cost of the project was under $400 (that includes holds so if you made your own holds it would be ~220$) and is well worth the investment. An added bonus is the wall has a door that can be opened so it doubles as extra storage space. (or if you dont need storage space but have kids (or you’re a kid yourself) you could use the inside as a pretty awesome fort). It really is up to your imagination. But without further adieu we will delve into the finer details of climbing wall design & construction.
May 20, 2008
Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain
By SARA REISTAD-LONG
When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.
Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.
The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, “Progress in Brain Research.”
Some brains do deteriorate with age. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, strikes 13 percent of Americans 65 and older. But for most aging adults, the authors say, much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful.
“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”
For example, in studies where subjects are asked to read passages that are interrupted with unexpected words or phrases, adults 60 and older work much more slowly than college students. Although the students plow through the texts at a consistent speed regardless of what the out-of-place words mean, older people slow down even more when the words are related to the topic at hand. That indicates that they are not just stumbling over the extra information, but are taking it in and processing it.
When both groups were later asked questions for which the out-of-place words might be answers, the older adults responded much better than the students.
“For the young people, it’s as if the distraction never happened,” said an author of the review, Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. “But for older adults, because they’ve retained all this extra data, they’re now suddenly the better problem solvers. They can transfer the information they’ve soaked up from one situation to another.”
Such tendencies can yield big advantages in the real world, where it is not always clear what information is important, or will become important. A seemingly irrelevant point or suggestion in a memo can take on new meaning if the original plan changes. Or extra details that stole your attention, like others’ yawning and fidgeting, may help you assess the speaker’s real impact.
“A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers,” Dr. Hasher said. “We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser.”
In a 2003 study at Harvard, Dr. Carson and other researchers tested students’ ability to tune out irrelevant information when exposed to a barrage of stimuli. The more creative the students were thought to be, determined by a questionnaire on past achievements, the more trouble they had ignoring the unwanted data. A reduced ability to filter and set priorities, the scientists concluded, could contribute to original thinking.
This phenomenon, Dr. Carson said, is often linked to a decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. Studies have found that people who suffered an injury or disease that lowered activity in that region became more interested in creative pursuits.
Jacqui Smith, a professor of psychology and research professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the current research, said there was a word for what results when the mind is able to assimilate data and put it in its proper place — wisdom.
“These findings are all very consistent with the context we’re building for what wisdom is,” she said. “If older people are taking in more information from a situation, and they’re then able to combine it with their comparatively greater store of general knowledge, they’re going to have a nice advantage.”
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I’m not a Zen monk, nor will I ever become one. However, I find
great inspiration in the way they try to live their lives: the
simplicity of their lives, the concentration and mindfulness of every
activity, the calm and peace they find in their days.
You probably don’t want to become a Zen monk either, but you can
live your life in a more Zen-like manner by following a few simple
Why live more like a Zen monk? Because who among us can’t use a
little more concentration, tranquility, and mindfulness in our lives?
Because Zen monks for hundreds of years have devoted their lives to
being present in everything they do, to being dedicated and to serving
others. Because it serves as an example for our lives, and whether we
ever really reach that ideal is not the point.
One of my favorite Zen monks, Thich Nhat Hanh, simplified the rules in just a few words: “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” It doesn’t get any better than that.
However, for those who would like a little more detail, I thought
I’d share some of the things I’ve discovered to work very well in my
experiments with Zen-like living. I am no Zen master … I am not even a
Zen Buddhist. However, I’ve found that there are certain principles
that can be applied to any life, no matter what your religious beliefs
or what your standard of living.
“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” – Shunryu Suzuki
- Do one thing at a time. This rule (and some of the
others that follow) will be familiar to long-time Zen Habits readers.
It’s part of my philosophy, and it’s also a part of the life of a Zen
monk: single-task, don’t multi-task. When you’re pouring water, just
pour water. When you’re eating, just eat. When you’re bathing, just
bathe. Don’t try to knock off a few tasks while eating or bathing. Zen
proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
- Do it slowly and deliberately. You can do one task
at a time, but also rush that task. Instead, take your time, and move
slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random. It takes
practice, but it helps you focus on the task.
- Do it completely. Put your mind completely on the
task. Don’t move on to the next task until you’re finished. If, for
some reason, you have no choice but to move on to something else, try
to at least put away the unfinished task and clean up after yourself.
If you prepare a sandwich, don’t start eating it until you’ve put away
the stuff you used to prepare it, wiped down the counter, and washed
the dishes used for preparation. Then you’re done with that task, and
can focus more completely on the next task.
- Do less. A Zen monk doesn’t lead a lazy life: he
wakes early and has a day filled with work. However, he doesn’t have an
unending task list either — there are certain things he’s going to do
today, an no more. If you do less, you can do those things more slowly,
more completely and with more concentration. If you fill your day with
tasks, you will be rushing from one thing to the next without stopping
to think about what you do.
- Put space between things. Related to the “Do less”
rule, but it’s a way of managing your schedule so that you always have
time to complete each task. Don’t schedule things close together —
instead, leave room between things on your schedule. That gives you a
more relaxed schedule, and leaves space in case one task takes longer
than you planned.
- Develop rituals. Zen monks have rituals for many
things they do, from eating to cleaning to meditation. Ritual gives
something a sense of importance — if it’s important enough to have a
ritual, it’s important enough to be given your entire attention, and to
be done slowly and correctly. You don’t have to learn the Zen monk
rituals — you can create your own, for the preparation of food, for
eating, for cleaning, for what you do before you start your work, for
what you do when you wake up and before you go to bed, for what you do
just before exercise. Anything you want, really.
- Designate time for certain things. There are
certain times in the day of a Zen monk designated for certain
activities. A time for for bathing, a time for work, a time for
cleaning, a time for eating. This ensures that those things get done
regularly. You can designate time for your own activities, whether that
be work or cleaning or exercise or quiet contemplation. If it’s
important enough to do regularly, consider designating a time for it.
- Devote time to sitting. In the life of a Zen monk,
sitting meditation (zazen) is one of the most important parts of his
day. Each day, there is time designated just for sitting. This
meditation is really practice for learning to be present. You can
devote time for sitting meditation, or do what I do: I use running as a
way to practice being in the moment. You could use any activity in the
same way, as long as you do it regularly and practice being present.
- Smile and serve others. Zen monks spend part of
their day in service to others, whether that be other monks in the
monastery or people on the outside world. It teaches them humility, and
ensures that their lives are not just selfish, but devoted to others.
If you’re a parent, it’s likely you already spend at least some time in
service to others in your household, and non-parents may already do
this too. Similarly, smiling and being kind to others can be a great
way to improve the lives of those around you. Also consider
volunteering for charity work.
- Make cleaning and cooking become meditation. Aside
from the zazen mentioned above, cooking and cleaning are to of the most
exalted parts of a Zen monk’s day. They are both great ways to practice
mindfulness, and can be great rituals performed each day. If cooking
and cleaning seem like boring chores to you, try doing them as a form
of meditation. Put your entire mind into those tasks, concentrate, and
do them slowly and completely. It could change your entire day (as well
as leave you with a cleaner house).
- Think about what is necessary. There is little in
a Zen monk’s life that isn’t necessary. He doesn’t have a closet full
of shoes, or the latest in trendy clothes. He doesn’t have a
refrigerator and cabinets full of junk food. He doesn’t have the latest
gadgets, cars, televisions, or iPod. He has basic clothing, basic
shelter, basic utensils, basic tools, and the most basic food (they eat
simple, vegetarian meals consisting usually of rice, miso soup,
vegetables, and pickled vegetables). Now, I’m not saying you should
live exactly like a Zen monk — I certainly don’t. But it does serve as
a reminder that there is much in our lives that aren’t necessary, and
it can be useful to give some thought about what we really need, and
whether it is important to have all the stuff we have that’s not
- Live simply. The corollary of Rule 11 is that if
something isn’t necessary, you can probably live without it. And so to
live simply is to rid your life of as many of the unnecessary and
unessential things as you can, to make room for the essential. Now,
what is essential will be different to each person. For me, my family,
my writing, my running and my reading are essential. To others, yoga
and spending time with close friends might be essential. For others it
will be nursing and volunteering and going to church and collecting
comic books. There is no law saying what should be essential for you —
but you should consider what is most important to your life, and make
room for that by eliminating the other less essential things in your
“Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” – Wu Li
Here is a short (~1m) sampler I put together for a few different
sites, the first time I’ve actually had a time restriction on an edit.
The footage at the beginning is all old video memories, and the footage
after that is a mix of FloShizzle, the K-Swiss commercial, the Tokyo doc, and the Mervyns commercials. This is also my first edit using Final Cut Pro on my new MacBook Pro, and it kicks ass
You can view and download the high quality version (480p) through torrent –here– or by using the button on the right.
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7 Essential Tips to Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. – Eleanor Roosevelt
As I reflected on this past year,
I realized that 2007 has been perhaps my best year ever. It’s funny,
because that’s what I thought about 2006, but my years seem to be
getting better and better.
And so I reflected on what made these past two years so great, and
how I could leverage these successes for even further improvement. I’d
like to share some things I’ve learned about the past two (very great)
years, and how you might be able to use them to make this next year
your greatest year yet.
1. One goal. This will sound crazy to many of you
who have so many goals you’d like to accomplish. And trust me, I know
how that feels. I started out 2007 with a whole bunch of goals, but I
only accomplished about half of them. I didn’t realize how things would
change for me during the year, and anyway, 9 goals is too many.
I’ve said this before, but it’s so important I’m going to repeat it:
you’re at your most powerful if you focus on one thing at a time. If
you have 10 goals, you’ll spread your focus thinly. But if you have one
goal, you’ll be able to focus you energy and attention completely on
that one goal. And that’s one of the secrets of success.
You might have 10 goals to achieve for your lifetime. If so, choose
just one to accomplish this year. And focus completely on that this
year. You might have shorter-term sub-goals to achieve in a month or
two, but those should lead to your One Goal for 2008.
Put your goal on your wall, on you computer desktop. Make it your
mantra. Keep it your focus for 2008, and you’ll not only achieve it,
but you’ll feel great for doing so.
2. Create a new habit. In 2006, when my goal was to
run a marathon, I built up the daily habit of running. That habit led
to my goal. When my goal became to grow my blog in 2007, I developed
the daily habit of blogging. Goals are achieved by habits. What habit
can you develop this month to help achieve your One Goal for this year?
Once you’ve identified that goal, you’ll need to commit yourself,
hold yourself accountable to a group of people, and focus completely on
that habit for a month. I recommend the Zen Habits January Challenge. It’s the perfect way to create a habit and lead to the achievement of your One Goal.
I also plan to write more about creating habits in the next week or two, so stay tuned.
The journey of thousand miles starts with a single step. – Chinese Proverb
3. Take action now. It’s all good and well to set
goals or resolutions, but the best plans are worthless if you don’t act
on them. Action is everything. Take action today to make your
goal come true. Tomorrow, take another action. In fact, take one action
toward your One Goal every day, first thing in the day, and make it the
most important thing you do every day. If you do that, there’s almost
no way that you won’t achieve that goal.
The actions can be small things: making a list, making a call, doing
some research (”find five possible venues for the conference”). But
4. Simplify. As you might have figured out by now,
I’m all about simplicity. So this will sound redundant. But if you take
the time to simplify your life, in some way, this month, your year will
be much better. When we have too much going on in our lives, it
overwhelms us. It spreads us thin. It makes us ineffective. Simplifying
things helps keep us sane, and makes us more powerful. Take some time
to identify the 4-5 things that are most important in your life, then simplify your commitments (and goals and to-do list) so that they fall in line with those 4-5 priorities. More.
5. Focus on happiness. It sounds corny, but if you
make your happiness become your focus, you’ll be happier. It’s really
that simple (or at least, it has been for me). What makes you happy?
That should be the focus of your life. This year, make happiness be
your priority. Then do the things necessary to make it a reality. Some tips.
6. Schedule time for you, and your loved ones. If
these two things are in your top 4-5 important things (see above), you
might consider revising the list. At least one thing on your short list
of 4-5 things should be something you love to do. At least one other
should be spending time in some way with people you love to spend time
with. For me, that’s my wife and kids, and running and reading and
writing. Actually, that sentence describes my entire short list: spend
time with family, read, write, and run. Everything else is superfluous.
Spending time with loved ones, connecting with them, is in my opinion absolutely essential to happiness. Make it a priority.
7. Learn to focus. This goes back to what was said
above about One Goal and simplifying, but it’s important not only on
those macro levels, but on a day-to-day basis as well. It’s easy to get
caught up in things that come our way, in the daily crises that derail
our plans, in distractions and email and phone calls and Twitter. Very
easy. If you allow yourself to lose focus, you’ll have a very difficult
time accomplishing your goals.
To make this your best year ever, learn to focus. Make it one of
your monthly habits. Start by identifying your One Goal and your 4-5
priorities. Then, every day, focus yourself on those things. Each
morning (or the night before), make a list of the 3 Most Important Things
(MITs) that you want to accomplish today. Then start on the first one,
first thing, instead of getting distracted by email or any of the other
things that take away your attention. Shut everything off except what
you need for that task. Clear your desk and turn off the phone and any
notifications on your computer. Then focus on that one thing, trying
your utmost to complete the task.
When you’re done, take a break and reward yourself. Then focus on
the next task. Working like this, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. – Oscar Wilde
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Aging: Walking Faster and Outpacing Death – New York Times
Aging: Walking Faster and Outpacing Death
By ERIC NAGOURNEY
Published: November 20, 2007
Researchers who followed the health of nearly 500 older people for almost a decade found that those who walked more quickly were less likely to die over the course of the study.
Improvement in Usual Gait Speed Predicts Better Survival in Older Adults (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society)
The findings, the researchers said, suggest that gait speed may be a good predictor of long-term survival, even in people who otherwise appear basically healthy. The study was presented at a conference of the Gerontological Society of America.
In a related study, appearing in the November issue of The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers also found that people whose walking speed improved reduced their risk of death.
“We don’t know why,” said one of the authors, Dr. Stephanie A. Studenski of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Did some of these people exercise? Did some of these people have health conditions that were treated and improved?”
The study presented at the conference reported that nine years after their gait speed was measured, 77 percent of those people described as slow had died, 50 percent of those considered medium and 27 percent of those considered fast.