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‘Setting Of The Month’: Bandicam’s Xvid Implementation (with Screenshots and Quality Analysis)

As the First Post of a new type of article here at The Game Tips And More Blog
[started due to popular demand!], I would like to explain a bit about my ‘Setting Of The Month’:
What is meant by “Of The Month” (at least at this blog), is less ‘lunar syzygy’ and more ‘what is currently being served’, in concept. Every once in a while I will post what Recording Settings or Rendering Settings I am currently using. I want to begin doing these posts in response to two things:

  • It was requested by you readers! Over the first half of the year, I run a Poll here at the Blog (it is located on the top right panel area) and currently, the single most popular Requested Topic For Future Posts is “Tips and Tricks of Video Capturing and Editing”. Therefore, as part of answering that call ‘by popular demand’, by my respected readers, I want to share as a ‘Tip’ what settings I have been using of late to capture – not to tell you ‘what to use’, but to simply give everyone a suggestion – perhaps even a place to start from, when recording or editing their gameplay adventures.
  • I see ‘settings’ asked about a lot, everywhere. Whether it is in game forums, technical forums, video editing and recording application forums, or even in my Inbox once in a while, people are constantly asking what settings to use, or “what settings do you use” – and that’s great! I’m glad to see helpful replies of others (and sometimes short explanations on how someone is using a specific setting and why). As anyone who has asked me directly knows, I enjoy helping others with suggestions on settings and usually try to explain why I am using one setting over another.
And so, here is the first edition of a new addition to this blog, without further adieu:

 

This Month’s Featured Setting

Bandicam’s Xvid Codec

For the past little while, I have been messing with the Xvid codec – not the ‘official’ one from XviD.org that you have to download – the one that is built-in to Bandicam, easily available via pull-down menu in the Format area, where you choose which codec you want to record with. As of the most recent version of Bandicam [at the time of this post], Xvid is now the Default Codec that is pre-selected, when you install/startup Bandicam. Where in previous versions, a ‘Bandisoft-optimized’ MPEG-1 codec was the Default, now a ‘Bandisoft-optimized’ version of Xvid is thrust into the limelight – and I wanted to test this puppy out and see what tricks it can do!

If you’ve were computing through the 1990’s, you may have heard about the Xvid codec. A competitor to the DivX codec around the turn of the millennium, I am actually going to skip over the history of the Xvid codec [other than this one paragraph]. Parts of such history may actually be a ‘dark affair’ (depending on who you talk to), worthy of it’s own short documentary, as the DivX vs XviD history has some aspects in common to the history of other products and companies that were popular over time [with Saturday Night Television Specials such as “Apple vs Microsoft”, “Xerox vs Apple” and more..]. As with many companies and products in popular use today, they all have “Origin Stories” that you won’t find on The Internet and never will… And Now, Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Program

The Xvid codec is a version of MPEG-4 (it is MPEG-4 Part 2 or “H.263/ASP”), so it is directly related to it’s younger-but-bigger brother, AVC (which is MPEG-4 Part 10 or “H.264/AVC”). As such, Xvid [ASP] does not have many of the functions that are found in H.264 [AVC], such as Deblocking, where the codec will try to ‘hide’ some compression artifacts that occur due to over-compression; but Xvid is still a great codec to record with, it’s main strength being speed. Because it doesn’t have many of the processing functions of it’s more recent and bulkier MPEG-4 versions, it can ‘figure out a frame and save it to a file’ very quickly – which is essentially what is happening, technically, when game recording.

Recording with Bandicam’s Default settings for their implementation of Xvid [designated herein as “Xvid(b)”**, to show that it is the “Bandicam-Optimized Version of Xvid”] will give you a Quality Setting of 80%. The capturing framerate, by Default, is set at 30 fps (Frames-Per-Second). The audio format, in this Default setting, is compressed “MPEG-1 Layer 2” format (MP2) for the Audio. Here is a screenshot showing what all of Bandicam’s Default settings, for their implementation of Xvid, looks like in one image:

The ‘Setting Of The Month’: Bandicam’s Version of Xvid, included with Bandicam (Default Settings)
Click to see Full Size

Below, are a sampling of a handful of games and the framerate performance hits that were seen while recording with these Default Xvid(b) settings (i.e. the differences between ‘playing the game and not recording’ versus ‘playing the game and recording at the same time’):
table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }

Recorded Game Title                     Resolution      Performance Hit (Δ)
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 2 fps
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 4 fps
FurMark (Full Run) 1366×768 ~ 2 fps
FurMark (Full Run) 2560×1440 ~ 0 fps
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 6 fps
Unigine Valley Benchmark 2560×1440
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 4 fps
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 9 fps
Skyrim (Introduction) 1366×768 ~ 0-8 fps
Skyrim (Introduction) 2560×1440
Minecraft 1366×768 ~ 0 fps
Minecraft 2560×1440 ~ 0 fps

table code created by Danny Sanchez (journalistopia.com)

As you can see in the table above, the difference in framerate between ‘Playing’ and ‘Playing While Recording’ is very minimal [the performance ‘drain’ being accentuated in higher resolutions for most games]. Although only a handful of games were tested, I did try testing both spectra of resolutions possibly in use by the average gamer today, by recording with an ‘enthusiast’ resolution (2K/1440p) as well as a commonly-run laptop/notebook resolution (1366×768) which could also be run by older or less-capable systems. Bandicam’s optimized Xvid performs very well in the tests, with almost as low of a performance change as the ‘super-light-performance-hitting’ MJPEG codec.

Like MJPEG however, Xvid’s weakness is the lack of tools to compensate for compression. Again, I mention here the MPEG-4/AVC ability to somewhat ‘hide’ compression artifacts, with code for utilities such as “Deblocking” built into the codec, where the edges of areas that the codec is making its calculations in are ‘softened’, so that the ‘blocky’ effect of high compression (called Macroblocking) is less visible. In Xvid, there is no such utility, so if too high a compression level is attempted [too low a bitrate is stipulated], then these ‘block’ artifacts can easily be seen, especially in ‘flatter’ areas of a frame (portions of the screen with less color and/or changes happening), as seen in the below frames, extractions from the actual recorded video frames themselves:

[In the examples below, when the compression artifacts aren’t as obvious, I will show the entire screenshot in compressed JPG format, then underneath I ‘zoom in’ to show the compression artifacts from the codec as magnified extractions from the original video frames, in BMP (BitMaP) format. I use sampled areas for that, as full 1440p Screenshots in an uncompressed format would be over 10MB each]

Xvid(b)** at 90% Quality [altered from Default 80% Quality Setting], Battlefield 3.
Click to see Full Size
The result when recording at 90% Quality (up from the Default of 80%) was very satisfactory, with only ‘nit-pickable’ parts to show the codec’s weaknesses, like the Upper Left area of this scene above (with the dark interior areas). Some artifacting can also be seen in the Middle Top area (slightly obvious even in this compressed JPG), where the plain sky areas take the brunt of the compression of this frame taken from the original game recording video produced by Bandicam.

Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default of 80% Quality, Battlefield 3.
Click to see Full Size
The above image is taken from a game recording of Battlefield 3 that had some pistol action going on, with an explosion caught in the background. The quality of Bandicam’s Default setting isn’t too bad and high action scenes can actually look quite acceptable. For example, in this frame above, with the explosion occurring on an upper walkway, only the Right Edge of the explosion (with the debris) has obvious Macroblocking – and the sidewalk [and foliage] macroblocks had to be ‘looked for’ here – and are less noticeable in the moving video. The ‘flatter area’ (with less colour variations) in this scene, is the poster advertisement, which the codec punishes with compression, leaving colour banding and macroblocks evident. The rest of scene is more complicated material and demands the codec to utilize more bitrate, ending up looking not too bad at all, when VBR is used (Variable BitRate, “changing data rate”) mode).

[I personally found that in dark (as in nighttime) scenes, at 80% Quality there was distracting colour quantization (colour quality loss) and macroblocks (little square compression artifacts); but for most material, the 80% Quality setting seems ok to use for Xvid(b)**, most of the time]

Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default setting for Xvid of 80% Quality, the Batman: Arkham City Benchmark.
Click to see Full Size
The above image is an extracted frame from a recording of the Batman: Arkham City Benchmark. A very difficult scene for any codec (unless you tell it to ‘keep all quality, use 100%’ and then don’t mind the larger file size that will be created) it is hard for a codec to decide what to compress and what not to, as particles fly all over the place and light and dark areas shift around as the Benchmark runs through this area with changing levels/regions of Luma [lightness, brightness]. Bandicam’s Xvid did a good job trying to keep the text sharp at 1440p – but at 80% Quality, macroblocks are everywhere (those present in the screenshot above are not from the JPG compression, they were present in the game recording itself). At 80% Quality, anything with subtle gradient colour changes are absolutely tortured by the codec, seen especially in the change from light to dark in the Center Top light fixture area and the Left Lower curtain region. Bright areas however, such as the light fixtures themselves and almost all of the particles flying around, are judged by the codec to be ‘important to human eyes’ and detail is kept high for those objects.

Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default setting of 80% Quality, Minecraft.
Click to see Full Size
The above frame is taken from a recording of the Minecraft Demo starting shoreline, originally captured at 1440p (the image is resized down to 1280×720). I was interested in how Xvid would handle Minecraft, a difficult game to capture and compress, as hard edges and lines are everywhere. Bandicam’s version of Xvid did surprisingly well, as the video recording itself is a joy to watch, with compression artifacts barely noticeable (recording at higher resolutions helps with that, but uses more disk space for the game recordings). Magnification of the original video frame is just below (next image):

These two sampled regions are magnified to 200% (doubled in size). They were extracted from the game recording frame above, which itself came from the original game recording produced by Bandicam and the built-in Xvid codec.
Click to see Full Size
While not as obvious in the moving video, the above frame extractions (both Left and Right sides) show Gibbs Effects [‘ringing’ or ‘mosquito noise’] around the hard edges of Minecraft’s graphics. The colour gradient changes, blending slowly into the background/sky colour in the Right Half of the above image also cause Ringing and Macroblocks to occur. Distant water gets treated with extreme prejudice by the codec, as the jumble of lines and animation from the textures are ‘sluffed together’ [my technical term] and Macroblocks are obvious. Again, these artifacts are more obvious in the stills from the game recording – the video itself, when watched, was more appealing to the eye and these compression artifacts aren’t as noticed as the frames fly by and the cow looks at you in a wondering manner.

Regardless of some of Xvid’s compression shortcomings illustrated above, with the speed that it performs at, along with the ability to turn up the Quality setting in Bandicam, these artifacts shown will not occur as often in higher quality settings – and then Xvid can be a nice codec to run with, especially if a system cannot handle a codec that does higher processing on the frames [taking more time to do calculations on them and saving them to a file, creating ‘lag’]. Older systems or laptops that do not have the hardware to utilize GPU-accelerated game recording (with codecs such as NVIDIA’s CUDA and NVENC, AMD’s App Acceleration and Intel’s Quick Sync) can utilize Xvid as a less-taxing codec to record with [as another option on the Utility Belt of Game Recording Codecs to choose from]. Indeed, it is almost as speed efficient as the ever-compatible MJPEG codec, for capturing, editing and compression.

The default setting, when installing Bandicam, creates a GOP of 150 [GOP stands for Group Of Pictures or the number of frames between Information/Key Frames in a video]. This is fine for normal viewing (and it leaves a lot of headroom for compressing ‘only the differences’ between the frames, resulting in smaller filesizes), but a large GOP can create problems with editing, as many NLE’s (Non-Linear Editors, such as Sony’s Vegas/MovieStudio line, Adobe’s Premiere products, Lightworks and more) do not work well with so many frames in-between the Keyframes – however, editors such as Corel’s VideoStudio, CyberLink’s PowerDirector and Microsoft’s own Movie Maker do not exhibit this issue [I tested these three applications by hand, myself, just to make sure and they imported fine and were handled without the “glitchy-ness” or “trails” that were exhibited in (for example) Vegas].

Although originally captured for an article on the Xvid codec here (which can potentially also experience the issue mentioned in the above paragraph) this image shows an example of what the “trails” or “glitchy-ness” will look like, as it was captured from a video with a Large GOP (large keyframe interval) output produced by Vegas. (Click to see Full Size)

When editing a video with a large GOP, the video editing application must ‘seek’ to the next Keyframe whenever it has to process a request and calculate/build all of the frames from there (which slows things down and delays processing and editing). Also, depending on the application, with some programs video can only be ‘cut’ on keyframes (unless an application is coded to create keyframes where needed). All of these steps and problems created by ‘Long-GOP’ video can be avoided [when using the above-mentioned video editing programs] by simply adjusting the Keyframe Interval in the Xvid settings to “1”.

One caveat to keep in mind, with setting a Keyframe Interval of “1”: although it will now make for speedy/easier/morecompatible editing with many video editing applications, the codec will not have as much ‘headroom’ to work with, when compressing your game recording material. 
What this means is, that instead of only keeping track of the changes between frames (say, a person running by down the side of the screen), where the codec will literally only save those ‘differences’ in the file; it now has to save every single portion of the viewable screen in every single frame, complete and independent in ‘stand-alone’ frames (the KeyFrames), and while the video will be much faster in seeking and have increased editing compatibility, the codec requires much more bitrate now, to save ‘everything’ in every single frame.
The result: your video file size will end up larger than before. However, you can now edit the video in Vegas, Premiere, Lightworks and more… the choice of how to go about this aspect then, is up to you [whether to use a GOP of 1 for easier editing, or not]. If you do not use these specific video editing programs (perhaps instead, you are using PowerDirector or VideoStudio Pro or Movie Maker, which to not have as much trouble with ‘Long-GOP’ material, not needing the GOP to be one frame) or you are not having problems with whatever editor you are currently using, there is no need to make this change to the Xvid recording settings in Bandicam [this is why there is no green indicator arrow in my ‘Suggested Settings’ illustration coming up in a little while, for this option]
Staying on the topic of Bitrate [from the above paragraph] for a moment, “..what kind of file sizes are we looking at..?”, you might ask. Well, here is a sampling of some of the Bitrates that were seen when recording with Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default Settings for the codec:
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Recorded Game Title                    Resolution     BitRate (Mbps, GBph) 
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 34 Mbps, 0.97GB/hour
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 83 Mbps, 2.4GB/hour
FurMark (Full Run) 1366×768 ~ 44 Mbps, 1.2GB/hour
FurMark (Full Run) 2560×1440 ~ 45 Mbps, 1.2GB/hour
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 37 Mbps, 1.06GB/hour
Unigine Valley Benchmark 2560×1440
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 20 Mbps, 0.57GB/hour
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 54 Mbps, 1.5GB/hour
table code created by Danny Sanchez (journalistopia.com)
Just to compare some file sizes of other codecs: the Low Quality setting for the Dxtory codec (with Compression) recorded a run of the Unigine Valley Benchmark (at 1080p) at about 326Mbps (9.3GB/hour), while FRAPS produced a recording of about 291Mbps (8.3GB/hour), with Lagarith (in Default/RGB Mode) creating a recording of the same material that ran at about 235Mbps (6.7GB/hour). Of course, bitrates fluctuate, depending on the complexity of the material (more movement/action/etc, which requires more bitrate to properly represent the material.. but a longer explanation of that is outside the scope of this post [believe it or not…I’m trying to keep them ‘short’! hah]).
The other setting that can be changed in the Bandicam interface for their version of the Xvid codec, is the Quality. Here is an example of the differences in quality output at the various Quality settings for Bandicam’s Xvid:
Comparison between varying Quality settings, for Bandicam’s version of Xvid (from Left to Right; Quality at 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% Quality). The JPG compression used for this composite [the four videos side-by-side] did not overly affect the Macroblocking occurring – the ‘blockyness’ seen in these frames is almost untouched, even though the videos from the original Unigine Valley Benchmark recordings were converted into this JPEG image – this is very close to how it looked in the video (although slightly more noticeable as still images). Click to see Full Size
As you can see, the perceived quality for Xvid goes down quickly, with Macroblocks becoming more obvious as the quality setting goes down. However, acceptable Quality can be maintained if the quality setting is kept high [in my opinion, stay at 90% or higher if you can]. Remember though, that with the higher quality settings, more space will be required by the codec, to save all of that data. Also, if using a Keyframe Interval of “1” (creating a GOP size of one frame, each frame in the video then being a Keyframe), the codec will also not have as much room to compress the images/video and your output size will increase. As stated above though, the benefit of using a Keyframe Interval of “1” is, then your game recordings will be easily importable/editable in NLEs like Premiere, Vegas, Lightworks, etc – if you are are having troubles with those specific applications [if you are not, there is no need to limit the GOP to one frame, which is why there is no green arrow indicator in the below illustration]. Below, are my Suggested Settings then, for this codec in Bandicam, in one image:
The ‘Setting Of The Month’: Bandicam’s Version of Xvid, included with Bandicam (Suggested Settings):
Quality is at 90%, PCM (“Uncompressed”) Audio is selected [mainly for editing compatibility], a higher compression (“Smaller file Size” option) is chosen (and a Keyframe interval of “1” is suggested for compatibility with editing applications such as Vegas, Premiere, Lightworks, etc. if required [only change if needed as it increases file size, no green arrow indicator is shown on the Keyframe Interval])
Click to see Full Size

Overall, I think ‘Bandisoft’s version of Xvid’ in Bandicam does a decent job with Quality – and is downright excellent where Performance is concerned. On my system (and hopefully yours), Bandicam’s Xvid had very little drain on the performance of the game while recording with it, creating very little ‘lag’ while recording (it had a low ‘performance hit’). As long as the quality setting is kept high (90-100%), the recorded output Quality can be quite acceptable, with only a little Macroblocking (block shapes being visible) and Posterization [colour quantization, which is a reduction in the amount of colours, resulting in ‘colour banding’ or ‘bands’ seen] in the darker and ‘flatter’ areas of a frame in a game recording (Macroblocking may occur in areas such as skies, less-colourful regions, etc). Try out some recordings with Bandicam’s version of Xvid for yourself and see if you prefer using it for recording your gaming adventures.
Please note dear reader, that I am not saying “this codec is the best one to record with” or “use this one only”. I am merely showing that it is possible, or how to tweak it for quality or file size, as to your own personal tastes. There are many codecs out there to choose from when game recording and although some are more apt for certain types of games than others, overall it is your own choice to do with as you wish – use what you prefer. 



See you in the games!


Personal Short Version/Opinion:


While the Bandisoft-optimized version of Xvid included in Bandicam works pretty well and is fast, I find myself not using it very often, other than this past month or so, for testing. After recording for a while with Xvid’s ‘successor’, h.264/AVC, the extra features of Deblocking and other tools in AVC have ‘spoiled’ me. Going back to the slightly more ‘blocky’ output of Xvid – even though it creates very little lag when recording – is slightly distracting to my eyes. When I see an Xvid game capture of mine now, my eyes are instantly drawn to the darker/flatter areas of the scene and those little tiny block shapes…and I sigh at the slowly-aging Xvid codec, remembering its’ heyday’ of compressing my TV shows recorded on my ATi TV Wonder PCI card. The late 1990’s and the 2000’s were ‘Xvid’s Time’ to me, when I used it for almost everything – and while it performs well in game recording today (even Xvid.org’s ‘Official’ version, with the right settings), I am now just too used to the benefits of more modern codecs, like h.264/AVC, which can even use the videocard/hardware, for GPU-accelerated recording.

I realize there are a lot of people gaming on laptops out there, and not everyone has a dedicated/separate videocard inside their system to record with, but the more I use my GPU to record with, the more I am impressed with the performance when recording most games [note that some games ‘don’t like’ GPU-accelerated recording (are not fully coded for compatibility with it) and these games have large hits to performance with it]. At the moment of this writing, I have two NVIDIA videocards running in my system (performing together in SLI mode) and I am enjoying using the GPU-accelerated CUDA offering in Bandicam to record with. Like AMD’s AppAcceleration and INTEL’s QuickSync, CUDA utilizes H.264/AVC through the hardware to record, having high performance [for most games] and producing nice output, utilizing some of the newer aspects of MPEG-4 (such as Deblocking) when recording, to hide compression artifacts [the little ‘glitches’ from compressing the video]. The speed, and presence of light ‘compression correction’ from this hardware implementation of MPEG4 has spoiled me now, and I am finding it hard to go back to the slightly more obvious artifacting in ‘older’ codecs, such as MPEG-1 or Xvid (which is ‘older’ MPEG-4), especially when those codecs are used at lower quality settings, to try and save hard drive space. (Turning up the Quality settings for these codecs helps a lot, if your system can handle it)

As CPU architecture evolves and modern CPUs have ‘mini-GPUs’ built into them, the differentiation of capability between ‘gaming rigs’ and ‘gaming laptops’ blurs [as far as game recording goes], as GPU-accelerated game recording is possible now by less and less expensive hardware (AMD APUs) and processors (INTEL’s QuickSync), even within laptops [as opposed to full desktop systems]. This means that “gaming laptops” now have much more capability when it comes to game recording, today. If your laptop is capable of using GPU-accelerated recording, give it a try. If it is not, systems that do not use the GPU to compress their video can still perform well recording games, as is shown with the above article, by using Xvid. “If you can’t choose the H.264 encoder in Bandicam, choose ‘Xvid'” ~ Quote from the Bandicam.com website.

Do some testing of your own dear reader – and have fun experimenting, finding a codec that you will eventually prefer to record with – and See You In The Games…
Last Remarks (in addition/continuation to the Prologue of this article): 
Another thing to keep in mind is, that my settings (both for Recording and Editing/Rendering) change slightly over time… I may have been able to purchase a new disk drive recently for instance, so then I will allow my recordings to take up more space [for a while anyway]. I may be trying out a Demo/Trial of a new version of a Video Editing Application, so I have been experimenting with some different Rendering settings. Perhaps a videocard driver or codec was updated, so now I will experiment a bit with the recording application settings, seeing if I can squeeze a little more Quality out of my recordings, while keeping the Performance high. All of these reasons and a few more, are why my settings constantly change over time. Don’t worry, I’ll try to remember to come here and share them with you, anytime I find a “Good Combination” that works well for either High Quality or Fast Performance, the ‘Holy Grail’ of course being a Perfect balance of both. 
As I have begun more dedicated testing over the past few years, I have found that specific games themselves ‘prefer’ certain recording and rendering settings over others. What I mean by “prefer” is: as new game rendering engines are written, hardware architectures change, and programmers utilize ‘something over another’ in general during a game’s development, this affects what settings a game ‘works better with’, whether it is a specific game recording program, hardware/GPU, or specific recording and rendering settings; hence my usage of the word “prefer”. 
This is why, for example, some games will perform better on an AMD/ATi-based videocard in Benchmarks and Reviews than an NVIDIA-based GPU – and then other games will have better results on an NVIDIA-based videocard over an AMD/ATi-based GPU – those games were simply being developed [the programmers wrote the code] on a system with that certain GPU installed in it at the time. This also means there is a chance of specific optimizations in programming that slightly favour one brand of GPU over another [and they may even have been ‘compensated for their efforts’ by that respective company, but *shhh* these things aren’t spoken of outside Mordor]. 
In regards to the above and game recording, I have found that some games will have better performance with different game recording applications as well. For example, one game may have less of a performance hit while recording with Dxtory and then another game will have better performance recording with Bandicam [as an example] – it all depends on the code and how it is written and being rendered. That’s why I ‘change it up’ so often, altering my recording settings (and rendering settings) as each game I play exposes its nuances. That’s what I mean if I ever say a game ‘seems to prefer’ recording with one game recording program over another. 
Keep this all of the above in mind then and also remember dear reader, that I am never telling you “you should use this”, I am always suggesting only a possibility in my posts, and it is always up to you to try it out and decide if you want to use a recommendation of mine or not.
 [I encourage everyone to always take the good ideas from others and leave the bad, making up a composite of their own liking and preferences and what they want to utilize – whether it is with game recording and editing, or Life In General – but, that last part is for another blog…] 

 **[designated as “Xvid(b)”, to show that it is the “Bandicam-Optimized Version of Xvid”]

the 2018 La Jolla Concours Best of Show award was presented to the Mullin Automotive Museum for their 1939 Bugatti Type 57SC Aravis Cabriolet.

The Mullin Museum is a must see, they have an incredible collection of Bugatti. Probably the 2nd best collection you will ever be able to see, and probably the only Bugatti collection in the USA available to the public.

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2012/01/mullin-museum-what-it-looked-like-from.html  for a quick look

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/search/label/Mullin%20Museum  for all the galleries from when I was there in 2012

and for a more thorough gallery of this car http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2011/12/beautiful-bugattis-from-mullin-museum.html  and that’s why I didn’t take another set of photos… there isn’t much reason to look at two sets of the same car.

RELAXING BATHROOM MODERN DECORATION

Relaxation can be achieved in a variety of ways. If the shape of the tub that makes the difference, decorative items or inspire the idea that you can see, these bathrooms all have something in common with relaxation. Some interiors are rich in green arrangements, which add freshness and energy of the place. He also tried to find some bathroom designs that have a special color.

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

We realized that the wood has a great influence on modern decoration, the first picture, for example, because it adds authenticity and personality. The windows are also of great importance because they have a great influence on the aesthetics and atmosphere of a room. Diagonal windows give a dramatic touch and are welcome if there is a nearby slope. Most of the bathrooms in the following images are modern, but also you will find some classic elements that blend well with contemporary arrangements.

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM LUXURY DESIGN

RELAXING BATHROOM LUXURY DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM GREEN DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM GREEN DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM STYLE

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM STYLE

And More: Deals and Sales – 2014 Summer Super Sales

Just to let more people know, in case some didn’t already, there are a lot of great Summer Sales going on right now at various game distribution/retailer websites [think of them as ‘Winter Wonder Sales’ if you are in the Southern Hemisphere]. Here are a couple samples:

Good Old Games, now called GOG.com, have both ongoing sales and Time Limited Deals, with games such as The Hitman Series, Simcity2000, the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series, the Might & Magic series, the Wing Commander series, Quest For Glory and King’s Quest series, the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, and much more
(Click to see Full Size)

Steam is having it’s Summer Sale, that also has some ongoing deals with some Time Limited Sales, with games such as The Witcher series, Euro Truck Simulator series, the Left 4 Dead series, the Total War series of games, Red Alert 3, Civilization 5, and much more
(Click to see Full Size)
Some of these are Time Limited Deals, meaning that they are only ‘on’ for a few hours, or change after a few hours – so check back there once in a while and see if any games you have been waiting for are on sale – most of these are 80% or 90% off!
[For the most part, they seem to ‘stay’ on sale/remain on sale, but at a slightly higher sale price than within the ‘time limit’ (but are still available at less than regular price)]
I hope you find something you like and See You In The Games!

ROUTINE FOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT

Plenty of rest and exercise, a good diet of fattening foods and no worries—those are the essentials

PUTTING on weight is very much more difficult than taking it off. Even thosefew extra pounds which can make all the difference to the appearance, comfort and, no doubt, general health, can be quite a problem.

Before embarking on a diet, it is always advisable to seek the advice of your own doctor. This is particularly important if there has been a sudden or prolonged loss of weight for no good reason and without affecting normal appetite. Where loss of weight is the result of an illness or operation, it is usually quite quickly and easily regained after recovery. The routine to be described will help in such cases, subject to the approval of your own doctor.

We are concerned here chiefly with that large army of men and women who are anxious to put on weight but who are the thin type by nature. Such people are born worriers, with excitable and energetic natures and over-active bowels, whose food does not remain in the intestines long enough to be properly absorbed.

Diet Start

Essential in the fattening process are:

  • Keep calm and stop worrying. That is obviously a counsel of perfection to those who easily get worked up, but it can be achieved by cultivating outside interests that take your mind away from the source of anxiety (it may be professional, domestic, financial, or all three).
  • Take plenty of rest. A minimum of between 8 and 9 hours in bed at night, plus between 10 and 30 minutes after every meal.
  • Avoid rushing about, but take regular exercise. On no account jump up immediately after a meal; take life at a leisurely pace. Strenuous games are good if you really enjoy them, because they create appetite; so does any form of outdoor exercise, however mild.
  • Eat well and regularly, and concentrate on the fattening foods (list follows). But be careful not to stuff between meals or you will defeat the whole object and be unable to eat your main meals, which are far more important. You must also avoid over-eating, with the inevitable danger of indigestion and biliousness. Aim at three good meals a day, plus any extras (such as sweets, etc.) which you really fancy and a hot, preferably milk, drink last thing at night. The housewife should take as many meals out as she conveniently can because she will not have the worry of preparing them.
  • Cut down your smoking. It diminishes the appetitite, so, if you must smoke at all, only after meals, please.

Sugar, sweets, jam, marmalade, fruits in syrup, treacle, honey, Golden Syrup.

Cakes, scones, pastry, cereals, bread, biscuits, puddings.

Thickened soups and gravies, sauces made from flour, butter and/or milk.

Fried foods, cream, salad dressings, butter, dripping.

Pork, duck, goose. All fat meat and bacon. Tinned fish in oil.

Sweet wines, beer, stout, spirits, sweet aerated waters.

Dried fruits. Bananas, grapes, plums. Potatoes, peas, dried beans, parsnips, beetroot.

Cod-liver oil, Virol, olive oil.

Salt with food.

Foods with very little fattening value

Meat extracts. Marmite. Clear soups. Gelatine. Egg-white.

Green vegetables and salads. Vinegar. Tea. Coffee.

SPECIMEN DIET FOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT

Minimum: 1 pint of milk per day

On waking: Cup of tea, preferably with milk and sugar.

Breakfast: Cereal or porridge with milk and sugar or honey or syrup.

Bacon, egg, fish, etc.

Toast, butter and marmalade.

Coffee or tea.

11 a.m.: Coffee, cocoa or milk and a biscuit, or try this cocktail: One teaspoonful Spanish olive oil sandwiched between layers of orange juice in a wineglass. You can increase the quantity of olive oil gradually.

Lunch: Thick soup, if liked (if this makes it impossible to eat main course, substitute tomato or orange juice as an appetiser instead).

Meat, fish, game, poultry, etc.—both fat and lean. Serve with gravy, roast or fried potatoes and a green vegetable or salad with plenty of oily or cream dressing.

Pudding and / or cheese, butter and biscuits.. Coffee.

Tea: Tea with cake or bread and butter or banana sandwich.

Dinner: Thick soup (see Lunch).

Fish, meat or poultry, with gravy, at least one vegetable from list of Fattening Foods; one green vegetable or salad with cream or oil dressing.

Steamed or boiled pudding or milk pudding or ice cream.

Cheese with bread or biscuits and butter.

Coffee.

NOTE: Cocktails, wines. etc., may be taken as desired and obtainable. Stout or beer is good.

Bedtime: A hot drink, preferably containing milk.

5 Tips to Make Your Paperless Classroom Work

I’m now more than 3/4 of the way through my year of 1:1 iPad work with fourth graders, and while I hoped to have a paperless classroom, the reality has been a bit different. We’re definitely using less paper than we would without iPads, but I can’t pretend that we’re paper-free. As I reflect on this school year, here are five things I would do differently next year to make the paperless transition go even better.

1. Begin the year with a typing boot camp.
The biggest obstacle to the paperless classroom at the beginning of fourth grade is simply that the kids (for the most part) don’t know how to type. Tasks that should have been quick ended up taking 3-4 times the length that I’d anticipated just because the kids were hunting for keys on the keyboard. I think if I’d spent the first term of the year working on typing skills, it would have made a big difference. And on a related note, I’d encourage students to get bluetooth keyboards to use with their iPads (assuming the school won’t invest in those, too).

2. Transition gradually.
When my students start fourth grade, they come from a school that does not have 1:1 iPads. As a result, the technology integration is a big adjustment–for both students and parents. Going fully paperless can be a huge culture shock for the students, and the transition can produce some anxiety. Even with tech-savvy students, there can be a huge learning curve with different apps, and it can quickly get frustrating for some kids–especially the ones who were very comfortable with school as they previously knew it. Start small with a few key apps (e.g., Edmodo, Evernote) and build from there.

3. Try to give options.
Some students are far more comfortable with the iPads than others, and sometimes their lack of comfort can impact their work. With writing, for example, I’ve learned to give students the option of drafting on paper, even though there are lots of mind-mapping and word processing apps they could use for drafting. Usually once they have that first draft on paper, they’re more comfortable typing it in to make revisions and edits. For some of my students, that flexibility makes a huge difference in the amount of writing they can endure. For other students, the iPads boost productivity. Either way, we know that choice is important to students, and this is another important way to differentiate in a 1:1 classroom.

4. Don’t force it.
There are still some contexts where it makes more sense to use paper. Math tests are one example for me. I don’t tend to give students multiple choice tests in math, and I want them to have plenty of space to show their work. Yes, they could do the work on GoodReader with a stylus and turn it in on Edmodo, but that’s not necessarily more efficient for me to grade–especially on a multipage test. Similarly, we’re still using paper and a notebook for our word study work. We use differentiated spelling lists with Words Their Way, and I want students to go through the practice of sorting and recording their words each week. Paper makes sense for that.

5. Stay flexible, and have a backup plan.
At the beginning of the year, we were using our iPads for almost everything (we still are). But then I got sick, and I had to write sub plans. I never know who I’m going to have as a sub, but there are two things that are certain: 1) the sub will never be as comfortable managing a class full of iPads as I am, and 2) students will be more apt to misbehave when they have a sub. As a result, I don’t usually include the iPads in my sub plans unless I know that there will be someone there to enforce my expectations (e.g., someone I co-teach with or my student teacher). If students expect to use the iPads for everything, it can really throw a wrench into the system to take those away, even for a day. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible with using them throughout the year so that students aren’t dependent on them. Sure, they might have a preference, but they need to be able to function without them. That’s also true for times when the power goes out, the internet goes down, or a software glitch makes the iPad temporarily unavailable.

Any tips to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

This post contains affiliate links, but I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CRF, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Journal & Topics Newspapers

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Journal & Topics Newspapers in an article titled, “New 24-Hour Fitness Facility Opens In Buffalo Grove.” The article begins with information about the new club and then gives some details about the grand opening. The article ends with information on WORKOUTANYTIME’s plans for expansion in Illinois and some background on Jeff.  Click here to read more or begin below.

New 24-Hour Fitness Facility Opens In Buffalo Grove

A new 24-hour fitness facility recently opened in Buffalo Grove.

Workout Anytime opened at 700 Buffalo Grove Rd. The facility is open 24 hours a day to members with staff on site from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Members receive a special key card to unlock doors when staff is not present.

(Read More)

Workout Anytime in Citizen Tribune

Workout Anytime in Citizen Tribune

WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in the Citizen Tribune. The article explains the newest WORKOUT ANYTIME location coming to Morristown, Tennessee this October. It gives background on Steve James and Scott Elliot and how they came about the WORKOUT ANYTIME brand. The article also goes into further detail on the services at the gym and the owners planned community outreach.
You can view the full article here. 

My Trip to Dhaka Bangladesh

I arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh on the 24th of March for my next assignment on Financial Management Systems. The organization contracting me has some issues with its financial management system and has received recommendation from the auditors to fix these issues. Further they want to conform to the South Asian Federation of Accountants Standards. So my task is simple. Document the existing practices at the organization and get agreement on the current practices and then recommend changes and improvements to the system.

Well even though it is simple there can be quite a few things that can pose a challenge to this type of assignment. I already encountered one on the first day of my assignment (25th); which is, in a group of around 20 finance staff it was quite difficult to plot the current financial practices using flow chart symbols as non of them knew the current system in its entirety. It is still work in progress and I hope to have it pinned down during the next working day which is Saturday (Bangladesh uses the Islamic calendar); where the staff have agreed to come to work.

The last time I was in Bangladesh was way back in January of 2008; so it was good to come back to Bangladesh and to see how things are. I must say that the only thing that looked to have changed is in fact the increase in motor traffic. It takes for ever to commute on Dhaka roads. I am staying at the Ambrosia guest house in Dhanmondi where I stayed during my earlier visits to Dhaka. It felt good to be here where the staff recognize and remember you after a long absence; it really does feel like home when you are greeted by familiar faces.

Looking forward to the next few days of the assignment; it is scheduled to end in early April and then I have another assignment lined up in the Philippines.

My recommendation: The 3-step dietary programme Do what I did, look the results

The dietary plans that follow offer simple, nutritious and delicious recipes on a staged regime that should take you from overweight to optimum weight and enhanced well-being.

The reason many people depend on junk and convenience foods is because they lead such busy lives. Most of the recipes in these plans are quick to prepare, and should be within the capabilities of even the most reluctant cook. There are exceptions: preparing the Chicken Soup will take a couple of hours, but it makes a lot and you can freeze separate portions, ensuring that you can have a nutritious low-carb meal even when the clock is ticking away.

So blitz your cupboards and discard any foodstuffs that don’t fit the bill. The journey to a healthy, lean body begins here.

The Plans

The 3-step programme includes 3 eating plans. The Fast-Track Plan will help you lose weight quickly and give you that all-important boost on a 50 per cent protein/20 per cent carbohydrate/30 per cent fat regime that will initiate benign dietary ketosis. It should last for 7-21 days, after which you are ready to move on to the next stage. Your weight loss should be around 2-5.5kg (4-121b) if you are a woman and 4-7.25kg (8-161b) if you are a man, depending on how long you remain on this plan.

Diet Start

During the Keep on Tracking Plan you increase your levels of low-tomedium GI carbohydrates and move into a 35 per cent protein/35 per cent carbohydrate/30 per cent fat regime. You still monitor ketosis and watch how introducing higher levels of carbohydrates affects your weight loss, which should now even out to 0.25-1 kg (1/2-21b) per week.

The No Backtracking Plan is your eating regime for life. You can gradually introduce fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses from the higher GI ranges, in moderation. It is important to keep an eye on how your body reacts to these and to establish your perfect weight-management level.

If you are a vegetarian, there is plenty of advice on how to adapt the plans and recipes to suit your dietary requirements. Granted, your choice isn’t as varied as that of a non-vegetarian, but don’t use this as an excuse not to give it a go. If you follow the basic guidelines and make simple changes to the recipes where necessary, you should lose weight and eradicate insulin resistance successfully.

FOOD TO THROW OUT

  • White flour and sugar
  • Honey
  • Biscuits
  • Crisps
  • Sweets
  • Sugary drinks
  • White rice, bread, pasta
  • Processed foods high in carbohydrates
  • Ready-made sauces
  • Gravy mixes

Customize the plans to suit your lifestyle and dietary preferences

The suggested menu plans are not set in stone – they are templates to encourage you to eat the right sort and amount of food.

If you wish to change a recipe – because you don’t like lamb and would rather have chicken, say – it really doesn’t matter. Just try to use foods of a similar dietary value. When swapping vegetables and fruit, go for ones in the same GI category; try to exchange meat for meat, or fish for fish, in the same amounts. If you change a recipe from meat to fish, you may need to use slightly more fish to give you the same level of protein. For example, 125g (4oz) of poultry or lean meat should be replaced with 175g (6oz) of fish.

Simplify the recipes

If you are short of time, or like your food a bit plainer, simplify the recipe. If you don’t fancy Baked Tuna with Tomato and Herbs, adapt the ingredients, ensuring that you still have sufficient protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats – have a tuna salad with tomatoes and dark green leaves.

On a budget

If money is short and you find some of the suggested ingredients a little expensive, use some budgetary ingenuity to bring down the cost. Fresh salmon can be replaced with coley or whiting, or even tinned salmon.

Use the suggested meals as inspiration. In order to manage your weight in the future, you will have to experiment and be prepared to adapt.

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

Raise your hand if you’re a fan of traditional interior design schemes. Because today we are proud to present a wonderful house of fascinating details are located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Seen on Skeppsholmen, the project has a nice open living room, which covers the dining room, as well as the terrace and garden. On the second floor above the living room is furnished with a bedroom in the attic, and storage facilities well. Basement can accommodate storage / boiler room and laundry area with washing machine. The entire house is a charming and traditional, because of the presence of many moving parts in wood and other interesting colored decorations. We invite you to explore all and be inspired!

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BEDROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BEDROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS KITCHEN CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS KITCHEN CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BATHROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BATHROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM

EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM

If you are looking for the best images of the sample of European-style bathroom designs, and applications of a modern sauna and gym. Here are sample images of European inspired bathroom design ideas for the home. European influence in a bathroom attached to the right furniture, cabinets bath faucets, vanities, and tile e. As well as their luxurious and spacious sauna Finish Head (European company based in Germany) in a corner, the rest of the spacious bathroom, as the essay should be dedicated to wellness and keep beautiful. Room with a bright red Finnish sauna focuses on physical fitness, also welcomed the formation of large area white cushions and fitness equipment attached to the wall. It makes sense that this is quite large, walk-in glass shower. If you have more time, is set beside a white bath has a sauna, in front of two large floor to ceiling windows.

The second room is here in a Finnish sauna takes gentler approach – offering a job to escape from their mental well-being of the outside world. solarium luxury, you can pull out in front of a soothing fire. Wide bubble bath, shower and steam bath in a wooden soaking dip to give you a variety of bathing options. You can easily live in the house of a modern European hits with a private bathroom attached.

EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM
EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM
EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM
EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM

And More: Share and Tell – Imitating The GTAV Title Logo Style [Commentary]

I recently created a logo for The Blog, done in the style of the GTAV game logo (Grand Theft Auto Five Title Logo, seen Left). I had a lot of fun figuring out how to imitate the look of it and wanted to share a bit of how I did it, in case others want to give it a try too, or just to enjoy the ‘Behind The Scenes’ story of things… Originally I was creating this to be used on Headers for posts here at The Blog (since I was playing GTAV lately), but I also put it on a Wallpaper posted at The Blog’s Flickr page – but then decided that from now on, I will not put ‘my logo’ on Wallpapers that I want to share with everyone, I will just use whatever game logo the game is at the time, reserving ‘my logos’ mainly for use here [I was feeling bad for ‘forcing them onto others’ if I were to put them on Wallpaper for sharing with everyone…]

Just below this paragraph then, is The Blog logo, re-done in the style of the game logo from the game GTAV (Grand Theft Auto Five)… Created entirely in Corel’s Paint Shop Pro, I first had to find a font for the lettering. I found a few of them (Pricedown is one, GTArussian is another, the name of the last one escapes me at the moment). I typed out each word separately, so that I could place them really close together (like the GTAV logo has for its’ words), overlapping some of the ‘tails’ of the text (which was fine, for me). The “B” behind the ribbon was something else… Baskerville, that’s it.

My version of The Blog logo, done in the style of the GTAV game title logo
(Click to see Full Size)

The ribbon was its’ own element, blanked out (white with no text), placed on top of the “B”, which itself was made in layers of outlines and a Gradient, using the original game title logo (“GTAV”) as the source for the green shades (clicking with ‘the dropper’ on the far sides of the green area in the “V” in the GTAV logo). The spiral design was found online by an anonymous maker [let me know if it is you, I’ll give you Credit!], which I had to colourize and then placed in a way that was similar to the GTAV logo, on a layer below the text “B” vectors, so that it ‘shows through’ within the “B” area.

The text on the ribbon was made with a font that escapes me at the moment, but the colouring for it was hard to figure out, as it looks like it is directional (as though a light were casting highlights from one direction). I figured out to use the Bevel effect in the Layer Styles of Paint Shop Pro, to emulate a light source coming from the bottom-left, for the text ‘The Blog’. It turned out great for imitating the lighting on the text ‘Five’ in the GTAV game title logo ribbon! The hardest part was getting it to ‘curve’. I don’t know how to create a line and make the Text follow the line yet, so I simply used the Mesh Warp function, to ‘move it around’ manually and get it to seem at least a bit like it is curved.

A few layers of black and grey for ‘outlining’ the text and entire composition (made by ‘expanding’ the selected text and then Filling with Black or Grey, moving the white text in front of it each time) and it was complete…

I’ll mainly be using it in Headers and Screenshots in posts almost exclusively here, at The Blog. I just thought that some might like to hear a bit of ‘Behind The Scenes’ or ‘Commentary’ about it – hey, there are a lot of people that (like me) watch Commentaries! Haha

I hope you enjoyed my little Share and Tell – and if you play GTA Online – See You In The Game!

Original GTAV game logo design by Rockstar, Take-Two Interactive

[Personal Note/Declaration: I am not associated with, nor do I receive anything in any manner or form, for mentioning Corel or Paint Shop Pro. I am merely an enthusiastic user of the program (I have played with it off and on since it was owned by JASC). For fairness and completivity, I shall mention another great graphic editing program, The Gimp (now just called GIMP?) – which is Open Source and entirely Free – all of the steps above can also be performed with this free program]

Personal Log: Might not be able to post for a bit longer still… [Editorial/Personal]


Personal Log, Stardate 20160901 [I have no idea how that works heh]

Just a quick Personal Note to say that I apologize to my dear readers for not posting anything for a while, and that I may not be able to post for a while longer yet… I have been experiencing a worsening of my ongoing symptoms… I may be okay in about week or so and finish up some Project irons I have in the fire; but I don’t know, it may take longer than that to get back up to the point where I can play and finish testing some recording programs I was working on, and post about it all…

< Potentially Sad Talking About Sicknesses Follows, In Case Of Feels, Stop Reading, Play Game >
I’ve never really mentioned what I have or what I go through before, since starting this Blog five years ago.. I didn’t really want to trouble people or put those thoughts/feelings on them, but I have had a few people ask me personally what it was – and I was looking something up recently about my condition (it’s a condition I (and Doctors as well) are constantly having to learn about) and I read quite a bit about other similar stories, where other suffers were in much worse condition than me… They were literally bed-ridden… And while I was also like that for the first couple of years, I have improved slowly over time to the point where I can sit up, and sometimes even play games, and on good days work on an article and do things around the house… 
My condition is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, which is an infection of the brain and spinal column, which gives components of Chronic Fatigue (getting tired easily with a slow recovery rate (as in days) if I go to the store, etc) and Fibromyalgia (inflammation and pain in all areas of the body, like when you get a ‘flu’ and are sore all over? it’s that, all the time…heck, many of your Aunts or Mothers may have Fibromyalgia, so you may have heard about it..). It is not a well-known disorder, despite millions of Americans having it.

Every year I learn something new about it or studies that found out something new about it; but nothing is ever concrete on ‘how to get rid of it’, unfortunately. The only good part about that is, is that all Doctors have concluded that it is “something that goes away on it’s own, but noone knows when”… Some people have it for a year or so and some have it the remainder of their lives. I am in my 10th year now, but as I have said in the past, I try to always see the positive in things and I have been slowly improving overall, slowly over the years…

I don’t want to make anyone feel sad, I am sorry if this information does… I merely wanted to inform my readers that I may not be able to post things I have been working on for a while longer… Some of the things I was working on are: GPU-Accelerated Game Recorder Comparisons (Playclaw, Bandicam, Mirillis Action, D3Dgear, and more), First Impressions of some games that I started work on already (The Elder Scrolls Legends Closed Beta, Dropzone Closed Beta, A Return To The Elder Scrolls Online (I was in the Beta for it) and others), bringing back the “Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From” (there have been no winners so far and I have some Giftable Games a-waiting on Steam and GamersGate) and even more projects that I don’t want to mention yet – to keep them a ‘surprise’, heh).

I enjoy writing my articles and posts here, helping others with the information I have figured out, found or collected, doing testing, giving tips of games and even Video Editing and showing effects of settings in both, including also creating the Headers and graphics utilized here (they are all done by me)…
I plan to continue doing this for a long time to come… I just realized there has not been much the past little while and wanted to let you all know there may not be some yet for just a little bit longer (‘recovering’ from a Cold or “doing too much” takes about a week or more each time I do something or get a cold, to get back to where I was, with this illness, everything takes far longer..).
Thank you for your patience, my wonderful readers, and I hope that I can contribute helpful information again for you, in the near future.

Sincerely,

~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

July Currently

How did it get to be July already?!?!

I’m still recovering from 3 days of EdTech awesomeness at the ISTE conference and linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy 4th Grade for this month’s currently.

Listening – My two-year-old has recently become obsessed with Sofia the First on Disney Jr. It’s a cute show, but not my favorite of the toddler choices…not that I’ve become a connoisseur of toddler TV or anything…

Loving – I started a garden last summer, but it became somewhat overgrown when Georgia had its monsoon season last summer, and it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. This year, we’re in a new house, and while I don’t have the yard space (or HOA permission) for a full garden, I have space on my deck for a container garden. I’m growing bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, herbs, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and carrots, and they’re really coming along! My daughter and I check on them every afternoon, so it has become a fun summer project.

Thinking – This was my first year to attend ISTE, and I learned SO much. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and inspiring, and I just need a little time to process it all. I’ll start blogging tomorrow about some of the coolest stuff I learned.

Wanting – I’m moving into a new classroom this year, so I had to box up all of my stuff at the end of the school year. I’m hoping (*fingers crossed*) that it all got moved to the new room (in a different building on our campus) so I can begin unpacking soon.

Needing – I’m a little panicked that it’s July already. I have a lot of projects that are in various stages of completion, and while I know better than to think I’ll get them all done, I’d like to check a few more items off my list before I go back to school in a few weeks.

4th Plans – I’m looking forward to a three day weekend with my husband and daughter. We don’t have any big plans, but we may take Sydney to see her first fireworks extravaganza.

On a final note, as I prepare to move into my new classroom, I’m starting to think about decorating. The wall colors are very different in my new room, so my old stuff might not work. Here’s a quick pic of the new room from my Instagram account:

I’d love to hear your color schemes/decorating ideas if you have any! The move-in and shopping spree will start next week!

Have a great weekend!

BEAUTIFUL HOME FAMILY DESIGN “VILLA DE CHARME”

Katrine Martensen-Larsen comes this stunning house designed for a family of seven children. We hope that this message will come in handy for those of you looking for new ideas for the nursery too. “Villa de Charme” is located in, Frederiksber Denmark and has been specially designed for a family of seven children. The designer said that this house is “evidence that many children and a hectic lifestyle does not mean you have to compromise on style.” The interior features original decorating ideas and news. The wallpapers are particularly interesting. White is used mainly to define the house and gives it an intimate feeling clean and fresh. bits of color are added here and there, crying the whole design. We really appreciate how serious, sober rooms alternate with play.

BEAUTIFUL HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL LIVING ROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL LIVING ROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL KITCHEN HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL KITCHEN HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BATHROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BATHROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BEDROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BEDROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

Paperless Mission #10: Distributing Student Assignments

This is the tenth installment in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. You can check out the other entries in the series here. Also be sure to link up with my Paperless Challenge Linky!

 

Mission #10: Distribute Student Assignments through Shared Folders

Once my students had their iPads, I needed to figure out a way to get their work out to them. At first I tried using Edmodo, but that proved to be a bit glitchy for assignments where I wanted students to work with the materials in a different app like GoodReader. I needed to figure out an easy to manage workaround. Welcome back, Dropbox!
To do this, I created a new folder on Dropbox called “Student Assignments.” I then right-clicked on the folder to pull up the option to “share link.”
This pulls up a new window that shows the internal content of the folder in the background. Here, you could enter in a bunch of email addresses, but I prefer to click on “Get link.” This copies a link to your clipboard for you to paste somewhere else.
Once I had the link to the folder, I put it in a highly visible spot on my class website. My students use my class website constantly, so getting to the link was easy for them once they knew where to find it. 
Once the folder was shared, I started to create the internal contents of the folder. I created 6 folders inside — one for each day of the week and an archive folder. 
I numbered the days of the week to control the order of the files. Dropbox will alphabetize the folders otherwise.
As I gather resources or assignments that I want students to access, I save them as pdf files and I just put them in the folder to match the day that I expect them to do the assignment. At the end of the week, I move everything into the Archive folder, and I start over creating the assignments for next week. 
This system has worked incredibly well for me! Here’s why:
  • Items in Dropbox sync immediately, so if we’re in the middle of working on something and I realize that I’ve forgotten to give students something that would be helpful, I can just drag it into the folder. I don’t have to sprint down to the copier. 
  • It’s the ultimate organizer for absent students. If a kid misses class on Tuesday, they (and their parents) know to go to the Tuesday folder to see what assignments are there. There’s no more worrying about lost papers or assignments.
  • The archive folder provides a great back-up for lost work. If a parent can’t find a reading or a study guide to help before a test, there’s an easy place to go to see all of the work.
  • It only requires a one-time set-up. Since I’m sharing the external folder and not the individual folders or assignments, I can change out what’s inside the folder without having to get a new link to share. 
  • It doesn’t require any log-ins or sign-ups from my students. They don’t have email yet, and they don’t have Dropbox accounts of their own, but that doesn’t matter. Accessing shared files on Dropbox doesn’t require a log-in of any sort. 

I’ve been incredibly happy with this system. Everything that I would have copied in the past has been easily distributed through my shared folder in Dropbox. 

What are some other ways you could use shared folders in Dropbox? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Tips For Rustic Dining Room Setting

The Rustic look is a perfect balance of masculinity and femininity. You take the simple and unsophisticated woodsy elements of country living and add a feminine touch by complimenting and giving each piece a voice.

Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room

Keep your walls and furniture light in weight and color, unfinished and whimsical in nature. Think bare essentials, and the more imperfections the better!

With dark wood or contemporary dining furniture you can transform the style with a nice weathered look by sanding it lightly or painting it a creamy pastel color first and then sanding it.

Add textural interest with a soft faux finished wall, an antique area rug, or by stenciling a simple pattern on the doors of your hutch and/or buffet.

If your resources are limited you can use whatever furniture you do have and accessorize with rustic objects. Throw a handmade crocheted or lace tablecloth over a buffet for an authentic touch or hang dried flowers in artistic way on the wall.

It’s OK to mix old with new objects like taking a colored glass bowl and filling it with acorns or pine cones. You can also fill a ceramic vase with wildflowers and set it on the dining table for a rustic tone. Just remember, thoughtful simplicity is key…

Monitoring weight loss

There are two schools of thought on how to monitor weight loss:

  • Daily weighing
  • The once-weekly weigh-in.

This is an individual issue. If you are the sort of person who needs a daily date with your weighing scales, then by all means do so. Keep a record of your progress using a chart like the one opposite. You may see weight-shifting patterns emerging and be able to isolate foods that have a negative effect on your weight. If you prefer the surprise-at-the-end-of-the-week, that is fine too. You should still keep a record and watch out for any plateaux where weight loss dries up, which may mean that you need to lower your carbohydrate levels or increase your physical activity.

Whichever your preferred monitoring method, keep a tight-fitting pair of trousers or other item of clothing and try them on regularly to establish how your shape is changing. Your weight may stabilize for a while, and if you are exercising regularly and increasing your muscle-to-fat ratio you may even may weigh slightly more for a bit, but you will be fitter and – in the end – leaner.

Diet Start

TOP ANTI-SNACKING TIPS

  • Try not to snack while watching television, playing video games or using the computer. Eat meals and snacks in the kitchen or dining room, so that you are more aware of what- and how much — you are eating.
  • When you feel a snack attack coming on, run a bath, go for a walk, ring a friend… Do anything that will keep you away from the refrigerator.
  • Don’t go shopping when you are hungry — it is then that you may reach out for that chocolate bar.
  • If you are going to snack, make sure it is a protein snack.

Dietary demons – and how to beat them

  1. Not so well-meaning friends and family members: one of the mostdifficult things to deal with is the friend or relative who tries to sway you off-course. Don’t be bullied into breaking your resolve. Decline politely andexplain that you are relying on them for support. If you are visiting them,take a whey-protein smoothie with you.
  2. Boredom: you shouldn’t get bored following the plans,because there are so many different things to eat and ways to prepare your food. Even if you aren’t a natural cook, experimenting in the kitchen willkeep you motivated.
  3. Alcohol: you are allowed a couple of glasses of wine when you start the
  4. Keep on Tracking Plan, but don’t be tempted to have more. There is nothing like a little extra alcohol to persuade you that you’ll start againtomorrow. Avoid the ‘drunken munchies’.
  5. Snack attacks: the three dietary plans allow for a couple of high-proteinsnacks each day between meals, but you could easily undermine all your efforts by hitting the biscuit jar in a moment of weakness. Clear out anything vaguely tempting from your refrigerator and cupboards, and be very carefulat times when you normally seek comfort food.

Curb your cravings by curbing your carbs

When you start eating more healthily and reducing the amount of potentially addictive carbohydrate-laden foods, you should find that your cravings begin to diminish as your blood-sugar and insulin levels even out. This will usually take about 48 hours when you start the Fast-Track Plan. If you do get a ‘snack attack’, try making yourself a whey- protein smoothie; or keep a plate of cold chicken in the refrigerator for weak moments. You can’t necessarily kill a craving, but you can wrestle it into submission.

The Sims 2 “Ultimate Collection” (Absolutely Everything) – Completely Free from EA

When I first read about this from EA, that is, the possibility of getting absolutely every single expansion and “Stuff” add-ons completely free, I thought there must be some mistake… A little bit of reading at the EA website and I inferred from the phrasing that it was initially going to be offered as a free upgrade to current owners of The Sims 2 (Digital/Download or Disc-based versions); but I did a little more reading about it today and it seems that EA may be ‘planning on putting it “in everyone’s game list” eventually’… [in my opinion] most likely to arouse just-a-little-more interest in The Sims franchise for the upcoming “The Sims 4” release (now available for pre-order, slated to be released in September 2014).

Therefore, now feeling fully-okay-mostly safe from the dark shadows of ‘releasing something that wasn’t meant to be distributed’, I share with you the Product Code that will allow you to be the proud owner of “The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection”, which includes all of the below:

  • The Sims 2
  • The Sims 2: University Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Nightlife Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Open for Business Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Pets Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Seasons Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Bon Voyage Expansion
  • The Sims 2: FreeTime Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Apartment Life Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Family Fun Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Glamour Life Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Happy Holiday Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Celebration! Stuff
  • The Sims 2: H&M Fashion Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Teen Style Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff
  • The Sims 2: IKEA Home Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Mansion & Garden Stuff

Wow, thanks EA!

Note: this package release may be time-limited and EA has stated that they will no longer be updating The Sims 2 or it’s expansions, although they can still be contacted if you are having technical problems running the game

Here are the steps to redeem the free Activation/Product Code:

  1. If you don’t already have it installed on your system, download and install the Origin game client from EA [it is similar to Steam and other game management interfaces] from http://origin.com/download
  2. Create an Origin account if you don’t already have one at https://connect.origin.com/create and log into the Origin client
  3. In the pull-down menus at the top of the Origin interface, click on “Origin” and then “Redeem Product Code…”
  4. In the white box [field] under Product Code, enter this:
    I-LOVE-THE-SIMS
    [hyphens may not be needed]
  5. You should then see a message that the activation was successful and you are the newest owner of  [oops, I forgot what year I’m in, I mean a temporally licensed user of]  The Sims 2, along with all possible Expansion Packs and Add-Ons
  6. Select the game in your My Games list in the Origin Client and install it by clicking the Download button that pops up [and if you’re like me, click OK to the Insufficient Disk Space message]
  7. That’s it! 

Enjoy playing The Sims 2 once again, experiencing all that this version could possibly offer.

Have fun with it and See You In The Games!

Workout Anytime Featured in Franchise Times

Workout Anytime was recently featured in the Franchise Timesin an article titled, “Nest Eggs: Done right, a rollover of retirement funds can be smart option”.

The article is a trend piece on franchisees using their 401(k) to purchase their business. John Heifner, Workout Anytime franchisee, gives great insight into how he went about purchasing his Workout Anytime with the use of his 401(k). He went on to say “Starting our third year, I can start thinking about funding a retirement again instead of keeping my money more fluid for cash flow.”

Click HERE for the full article or begin reading below:

Nest Eggs

Done right, a rollover of retirement funds can be smart option

By: Jeffrey McKinney
More franchisees are using their 401(k) retirement funds to finance the purchase of a franchise. Who should consider the move? Experts explain the do’s and don’ts, including warnings about strict IRS rules.

Jeremy Turner’s decision to pretty much tap out his retirement funds to buy a Lawn Doctor franchise was very clear: He calls it the best option he had after banks would not lend him the money.
Turner withdrew $70,000 from his 401(k) plan and another $30,000 he and his wife had in savings to start the lawn care business in St. Louis in 2010. Turner says he discovered companies charge around $5,000 to help complete the financing process. “I would not suggest that someone try to do this on their own because of tax and other risks involved,” he says.

The Amazing Power of Focus

I frequently like to put on music while I work, and I sometimes do that in my classroom, too. I’ve rotated through many Pandora playlists, and I use Spotify a fair amount. I like the music on those sites, but they’re more for entertainment than work.

I’ve finally found a resource that really seems to help me and my students get into the zone and focus.

Let me introduce you to my favorite new website, [email protected]

This website allows you to listen to instrumental music from a variety of genres that has been specially selected to get you into a state of “flow.” The music is sequenced in an order that draws on neuroscience and research about the impacts of music on productivity. They have a huge section documenting the science behind the playlists. 
I tried this site while reading some really dense texts for a PhD class, and I really felt like it helped me stay focused and productive. I cruised through the articles in record time! I also had it playing while I worked on writing this morning, and I do feel like it’s impacting my personal productivity. It seems to be helping my students as well. 
They have two membership levels — a free version and a paid version. The free version gives you 60 minutes of each playlist before stopping. You can listen to the playlists multiple times, but it will always be the same playlists. The paid version allows you to set a timer, customize playlists, listen to unlimited music, and track productivity for $4.99 billed monthly or $45 billed annually. I’m currently using the free version, but I suspect it won’t be long before I upgrade. It’s having a big impact on my productivity. 
If you like to have music on in the background while you or your students work, I’d definitely recommend giving [email protected] a try. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it in the comments!

I like www.focusatwill.com so much that I’ve become an affiliate with the site. This means that if you click the links above and subscribe, I’ll receive a very small commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CRF, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WYFF Greenville

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WYFF Greenville

Jennifer Young and Laura Stokes of WORKOUT ANYTIME Easley were recently featured on two segments on WYFF Greenville. The segments focus on easy holiday workout tips, and Jennifer and Laura do a fantastic job talking about the different services and facilities offered at WORKOUT ANYTIME
View the segments here and here. 

My trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore, July 2010

This was my first trip on a budget airline (Air Asia); it definitely changed my opinion of budget airlines. This trip is more a business development and prospecting trip rather than an assignment. On the surface KL does look developed. However I have my doubts regarding the psyche of the Malaysians. I took in the usual site such as the Petronas Tower etc. The weather, the fauna and flora resembles Colombo; I did not enjoy the high humidity and the afternoon thundershowers.

Singapore was as usual (I have stopped counting the number of times I have been there) very orderly and hit the usual shopping and fun places. In my opinion the Singaporeans have not only developed in terms of the look and feel of the place but also in terms of the psyche of the people. I truly believe that they do think like westerners and the Japanese.

Let me give a classic example. As mentioned earlier I went to Malaysia and Singapore during the monsoon season and I made an observation. In KL when it rains; like in Sri Lanka the people stopped what ever they were doing and took shelter from the rain. Those who even had umbrellas took shelter as it appear they did not want to get there footwear wet.

However, in Singapore it was very different. I happened to be out one day early morning (going for a walk) when it started to rain. I was walking pasta a primary school and this is what I saw. A teacher was leading a group of very small children (6-7 years) who were clad in rain gear and they walked in a line and came out of the premises and they walked to the MTR station and got in to the train. Undoubtedly they were going on some sort of educational trip. What does this mean: In my opinion the Singaporeans are teaching their children to face obstacles and overcome / work around / find solutions to them. This is the essence of the psyche of an industrialized nation as opposed to an agrarian nation which generally accepts the affects of the elements as “gods will” or “karma”.

So even the very small children are trained to deal with a simple thing as the rain and have an attitude of using the right equipment to allow them to go about their daily business. So in adult life they do go and conquer the world economically.

I can certainly say that in Sri Lanka the vast majority of people have this agrarian psyche. Based on my observations it seems that quite a number of people in Malaysia still do too. So the challenge for those of us who have the privilege of influencing people is to; in some way contribute towards instilling the right attitude rather than anything else. I can say from my experience as a consultant and a trainer I derive more satisfaction in seeing this than my clients make huge profits. I say this because these individuals with the right attitude have the potential to influence / be a role model for the masses in these underdeveloped countries.

Gain weight especially fat: Here’s what make you do

1. Food reactions cause fluid to surround invading food particles. When food macromolecules are identified as foreign invaders, your body launches the inflammatory response, which includes flooding an area that’s under attack. Your body will hold onto this water as long as reactive food substances remain in your tissues. This water dilutes these substances and reduces their effects, but at the same time the cells and tissues swell with water. This often accounts for swelling under the eyes and chin, in the hands, feet, ankles, and midsection.

2. Food reactions release hormones that cause fluid retention. To offset the effects of the allergic inflammatory response, the body produces hormones, such as adrenaline. But these hormones cause water retention. The adrenal hormones cortisol and aldosterone increase sodium uptake, and sodium attracts water to cells and tissues.

This action also triggers other hormonal changes, apparently through effects of the pituitary gland, which orchestrates your body’s ‘hormonal symphony.’ These other hormonal changes may include excessive secretion of anti-diuretic hormone, which causes fluid retention. Anti-diuretic hormone is also often secreted in response to stress, and is commonly released by women as part of premenstrual syndrome. The female hormone estrogen, which can be affected by food reactions, also increases water retention. Furthermore, growth hormone, which helps boost the metabolism, can be depressed by food reactions.

Diet Start

Besides these hormones, which circulate throughout the body, food reactions also have strong effects on certain gut hormones (including cholecystokinin and somatostatin), which can cause water retention and swelling directly in the gut tissues. Sometimes, when people experience immediate abdominal swelling after eating, it is due to the influence of gut hormones.

Because women tend to have more problematic hormonal profiles than men, the hormonal elements of false fat tend to be worse for them. For example, when some menopausal women are given extra hormones, their bloating and swelling increase.

When people stop eating their false fat foods, however, these hormonal problems usually stabilize quickly.

3. Food reactions make intestinal membranes swell. There is often pronounced swelling of intestinal membranes, in response to irritation by allergens and in response to hormonal imbalances. This can account for the ‘pregnant’ look that often characterizes false fat. The result of this type of swelling is a feeling of heaviness and congestion in the abdomen, particularly in the small intestine.

4. Food reactions disrupt cell chemistry, causing fluid storage. Food reactions cause a condition called cellular acidosis, which harms cell chemistry and results in fluid retention. Here’s how it works. The inflammatory response, caused by food reactions, causes calcium and sodium to enter cells, and this attracts water. It not only causes swelling, but also depresses the function of the cells’ energy centres, or mitochondria. When the mitochondria are disturbed, it saps your energy.

This action also causes even more release of the stress hormones cortisol and aldosterone, which try to correct the chemical imbalance. But this in turn just causes more fluid retention.

Furthermore, as the food reactions subside, the cells release all of these acidic chemicals into the tissues. This can cause a new round of inflammation and the release of even more protective fluids. Over a long period of time, this tissue acidity can contribute to the onset of degenerative diseases, including arthritis.

5. Food reactions cause capillaries to leak fluids. As you may recall, many food reactions release chemicals, such as histamine, that make blood vessels expand and contract, in the process leaking fluids into tissues. This leakage of fluids causes further inflammatory reactions, with accompanying swelling. Sometimes this swelling can impinge upon nerves and cause aches and pains. It can also cause hives, due to the swelling of capillaries near the surface of the skin.

Often, when this fluid leaks out of capillaries, it carries protein with it. This protein in turn attracts sodium, which causes even more fluid retention. The combination of sodium and fluid outside the cells can ‘smother’ cells by making it harder for oxygen to reach them. This contributes to further cell malfunction, and even to the death of cells.

When cells die, even more water is drawn to the area to flush away the dead cells.

6. Food reactions cause gas production. Food reactions allow the proliferation of abnormal bacteria and yeasts, and these factors lead to fermentation of food. Fermentation, primarily of carbohydrates, forms wind or gas, including methane.

Secondarily, it creates by-products of alcohol metabolism, such as the chemical acetaldehyde, and alcohol itself. Both of these substances can impair mood and cognitive function when absorbed by the body.

Food reactions also tend to slow the natural squeezing of food through the digestive tract by the bowel-muscle process of peristalsis. When food transit through the bowel is slowed, more gas and fermentation products are produced. Also, this `constipation effect’ causes more irritation of the bowel lining. This can create even more gas and can also contribute further to leaky gut syndrome, allowing reactive macromolecules to slip through the intestinal wall.

Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine also causes fermentation and gas. This causes pressure and discomfort in the small intestine, because the small intestine is relatively narrow and doesn’t have much room for expansion. Another major contributor to gas buildup in the small intestine is lack of the digestive substance hydrochloric acid, which is abnormally low in approximately 70 per cent of all people over 60. Hydrochloric acid, or stomach acid, also tends to be chronically low in people who are under stress, in people who eat lots of processed foods, and in people with food reactions.

Gas formation is also increased by use of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, which irritate gut mucosa. It can also be exacerbated by antacids.

In addition, poor digestion also causes increased excretion of the amino acid taurine, which lowers cellular magnesium and slows peristalsis, resulting in more intestinal gas.

Lastly, women’s menstrual cycles upset hormonal balances, and this also impairs peristalsis.

All of these factors are insidious. They feed off one another and contribute to bloating and swelling. The result of this entire range of forces is a swollen, distended belly and puffy, spongy flesh all over your body. Until now, you may have thought that this was fat. Now you know it’s not. It’s false fat — and you can get rid of it in a week or less if you make the necessary effort.

I’m sure you can do it! Every day that you make the effort, you’re going to feel a little better. You’ll look better, too.

Quick Tip: Fallout 4 – “Get Rid Of Someone You Don’t Like” in Your Settlement (Without Killing Them or Using Cheats) [Suggestion, Text-Only Mode]

Just wanted to share something that came up, in answering a Question someone asked in the Official Steam Forum for Fallout 4 – in case anyone has a Settler in one of their bases that they really, really don’t like…

A person asked in the Forum, how to ‘get rid of’ Jezebel‘, whom for those who do not know, is a Robo-Brain type automatron, from the Automatron Official DLC. Without getting into any Spoilers, I’ll just say “she has an attitude”…

However, because she is a Resident of your Settlement, you cannot easily get rid of her, as attempting to just kill her will set all of the other Settlers gunning for your head in retaliation/defense.

Also, although she can be Assigned to the Task of, say running a Shop at the far end of Town and ‘stay there’, she is not of much use in that respect – because Robots cannot run Shops/Stores [sadly].

I thought of using her to start a Supply Line (so her Task/Job will take her out of town almost all of the time and you’ll rarely ever have to see her) – and saw that another helpful Fallout 4 player thought of the same thing – and already posted it as a Reply in the Discussion…

Still, I could add (as a Tip perhaps); that you can ‘send her away’ even more so by first Moving her to a Settlement that you rarely go to (using the MOVE menu bar command, at the bottom of the Workshop Mode interface).

You could Move her to Oberon Station perhaps, or The Slog [those are where I normally send ‘people I don’t like’ lol] – anywhere that you normally don’t ‘check up on’ as much as you do your other Settlements…

Then, after that, Assign her to become a Provisioner and start up a Supply Line (using the SUPPLY LINE menu bar command, in Workshop Mode) between the starting place of where you sent her (“far away”) and another place you rarely go to – that way, you will REALLY never have to see her again!

[Actually, you may still run into her, as you run into your Provisioners if you journey into the paths between the Settlements you have Supply Lines set up for – but still, if you pick two remote places that you don’t really visit often as her Supply Line nodes (start and end points), then you’ll really rarely ever bump into her]

Either way, I hope these ideas help any of you ‘get rid of someone’ you don’t like, from a Settlement (and you don’t want to kill them or use cheats/commands to do it). Have fun in Fallout 4!

Deals and Sales: Saints Row 2 and Syberia II, TotallyFree™ [Notification]

Update: As of Sunday, April 23rd, Saints Row 2 is no longer available for Free, but Syberia II still is

I haven’t been feeling too great lately (hence my not posting for a while) – but I wanted to make sure and come and get a quick notification out, for those that don’t know and are interested – that I saw two games being given away TotallyFree™ right now:

Saints Row 2, the open-world, GTA-style Action game is at GoodOldGames (now just GOG, they also offer newer titles these days), found at GOG.com

and

Syberia II, the third-person, mouse-driven Adventure game is being given away at Origin’s “On the House”, found at Origin.com

Both are completely free, so go get them now! GOGOGO

[Note: I do not get any compensation in any form for mentioning these games or companies here (there are no ‘referrals’ or ‘trackbacks’ in the links above); I am just a gamer who likes to share things I figure out and find on my own here, with you, other gamers… Have fun!]

How to Cope with Too Many Snow Days

Ice and Snow, Go Away!

This has been the worst winter since I moved to Atlanta eight years ago. We have six-week terms, and during these last six weeks, we lost two days to extremely cold temperatures (by Southern standards), three additional days because of the “snowpocalypse” that buried Atlanta, and now I’m home again due to Winter Storm “Pax” that will likely shut us down the rest of the week. That’s nearly one-third of our term lost!

Adding to my dilemma, our calendar builds in week-long breaks at the end of each six week term. So we won’t be back in school next week either. It’s a serious wrinkle in my plans.

I talked to my fourth graders about this yesterday, and we worked out a plan so they could continue to work from home during these inclement weather days. It’s a really rainy, dreary day anyway (we’re at the “wintry mix” stage of the storm), so it’s not like they’d be outside sledding today. I also suspect that many parents are welcoming the activities at this stage of the winter!

Here are my suggestions for telecommuting with your class during winter weather.

Building a Virtual Classroom

1. Choose a mix of activities that can be shared with parents. I knew early last night that we’d be off today, so I found some activities that aligned with what we’re studying right now. While many of the activities require computer access, I purposefully included some that do not. For example, we’re building weather instruments out of household items, writing stories, continuing our reading, etc. But we’re also using some online resources.

2. Take advantage of online instructional videos. Two of my favorite free resources are LearnZillion and Khan Academy. I selected videos that align with the math and ELA content we’re working on now.

3. Stay accessible through your Learning Management System. We use Edmodo in our class, and it’s a great tool for turning in assignments and having class discussions. I’m checking in throughout the day to answer students’ questions and participate in the discussion questions I set up there earlier.

4. Take advantage of the resources students have at home. I teach in a 1:1 iPad classroom, so we’re constantly on iPads. There are lots of flash-based games that we can’t run on our iPads, however. I’m fortunate that all of my students have computers at home, so I’m incorporating more of those activities for students to complete. I’m also choosing some really fun and engaging simulation games that we just don’t ever get to in class. Two examples:

Law Craft – For the record, all of the games at iCivics.org are worth checking out. In this particular one, students work to craft a law and take it through the legislative process. They have to build support by making concessions, work out the details through committees, and ultimately get the president to sign it. It teaches a lot about how a bill becomes a law.

Edheads Weather – This aligns with the weather forecasting aspect of our weather unit. Students will work through different weather maps to report the weather and predict future weather events. It’s another great interactive game. I highly recommend the activities at the Edheads website. The only downside is that there are lots of ads, and sometimes pop-ups.

5. Be flexible – I can’t really help students troubleshoot tech issues on their home computers, and I can’t make them do the activities at home. I’m not making any of the activities mandatory, but they’re still available. I’m hoping that with the good mix of opportunities, parents and students will take advantage of the resources I’m offering. But I won’t punish a student who doesn’t. If even a few kids do the activities, it’s better than writing off the weather days as a complete loss.

Preparation is Key
It would be impossible to implement this plan with fourth graders if a lot of our technology norms and routines hadn’t already been established. My students are familiar with my class website, Edmodo, and my expectations. Integrating technology in the classroom makes the transition to our virtual classroom seamless.

How do you handle inclement weather days with your class? Do you have any plans resources to keep students engaged while they’re away from the classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

On an unrelated note, I have been MIA from the blogging world since October. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started working on a PhD in addition to teaching full-time and managing my toddler, so I’ve been insanely busy! I have an amazing student teacher this semester, however, so I’m starting to delegate more. I’m hopeful that will free up a little more time and energy so I can get back to blogging and reading all the stuff I’ve missed. Perhaps these weather days will also assist with that!

July Currently & Goals & a Meet Up!

Oh, July! You seemed so far away a month ago. How could you possibly be almost here already?! Can’t we add another month in between June and July? I really, REALLY want to hold on to June as long as possible. I’m really not ready to return to work in a few weeks…

Currently July

I’m linking up with Farley at Oh Boy! 4th Grade for the July Currently.

Listening: My little girl is almost 2, and she LOVES books. She also loves Pete the Cat. I took her to my favorite children’s book store, Little Shop of Stories, to get the new Pete the Cat book the day it came out. Given that she knows and loves the song “Wheels on the Bus,” it’s a great book for her to “read” on her own.

Loving: Planbook.com. I signed up for the one-month trial to tinker around with it, and it’s fantastic. I’ll definitely be using it next year.

Thinking: that I’m much more prepared to teach the Common Core this year — especially with math. I’m excited about implementing all of the things that I worked on this summer to get ready for math, and I’m optimistic about my year ahead.

Wanting: a longer summer break. There are so many things that I still want to do before going back to school, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get them all done.

Needing: a maid. I can’t keep up with my husband, toddler, and two dogs. Once I go back to work, it may be time to hire someone to come in each week.

Tips, Tricks & Hints: One thing that helps me with time management is to try to group all of my like-projects together and work on them at once. For example, I have one day a week at school that I do all of my copying (or at least I did before going paperless!). I also spend one day working on plans for each subject (e.g., a day for math planning, a day for science, etc.) and a day for working on blog posts, etc for the week. This helps me use my time more efficiently and stay relatively organized.

July Goals

I’m also linking up with Jess at I {Heart} Recess for the first time for the monthly goals post.

Personal: I want to start exercising at least 3 times a week (baby steps). I return to work in a couple weeks (!), and I know with all that I’ll be juggling this year between work and my doctorate that I will need to do better with exercise for balance and stress management.

Family: I want to squeeze in a couple more “date days” before going back to school. My daughter is in school year round, so on “date days,” my husband leaves his office before lunch, and then we go out to lunch and catch a movie before picking her up. It saves us babysitting costs, and it’s a fun way to spend our afternoon.

Health: A few years ago when I lost a lot of weight, the biggest change I made was that I consistently drank 64 oz of water every day. Now that I’ve gained back the weight (and then some), I need to start drinking at least that much water every day.

School: I report to our staff retreat on July 17th, and then pre-planning officially starts on July 25th. I need to figure out how I’m going to decorate my room before then and map out some plans for the first few weeks before then.

Blog/TpT: I’m hoping to wrap up my Paperless Challenge series in the next few weeks, and I have several new TpT products in the works. This summer has just gone by too quickly for me to finish it all!

Outside the Box: I want to find some easy and tasty breakfast and lunch recipes that I can use throughout the year. I do a fairly good job cooking healthy dinners, but I am not consistent the rest of the day. I often forget to eat breakfast, and then I don’t make the best choices for lunch either. The more I plan ahead, the better prepared I’ll be. And this justifies spending more time on Pinterest. Win-win!

Southeastern Bloggers Meet Up!

Have you heard about the Southeastern-area blogger meet up? It’s about time that those of us in Georgia and the surrounding areas get together, and I’m super thankful that Stacia, Amanda, and Jivey from Collaboration Cuties and Ideas by Jivey have  organized something for us. If you are close to Atlanta, I hope you’ll join us for the meet up on July 20th. It promises to be lots of fun.

Click on any of the images below to connect with Jivey’s blog where you can RSVP.

I hope to meet lots of other fabulous teacher bloggers there! Click the button below to RSVP.

Fallout 4: High Resolution Texture Pack (Free DLC) Is Now Available [Notification]

For those that haven’t heard yet, as mentioned last week at their site here, Bethesda has released a High Resolution Texture Pack, that is now available for free, downloadable via Steam.

The graphic ‘upgrade’ includes ‘native 1440p’ textures [which means the textures themselves are 2560×1440 pixels in size – but remember, textures usually aren’t displayed at Full Size, they are squished into say, the sides of a gun, or a sign or other things in the world – even if they cover a large wall in the game, they will usually not display ‘at full native size’ – and even if they do, they can be repeated (“tiled”) to fill in the space of objects needed, in the game world – basically, 1440p textures should make the game look great]. It also includes Enhanced Draw Distancing and God-Ray tweaks [those glow-y, streaks of light, showing up especially when a source of light is behind something, such as the sun behind trees or buildings].

Now, up until this release, I personally was playing with SweetFX a lot in FO4, having fun increasing Sharpness and Shading, dealing with the Aliasing, taking Screenshots and ‘Realistic Photos’ and ‘Close-Ups’ (with Depth-Of-Field, etc) of some of the Characters in the game. These can be found here, at a slowly-growing Flickr page I started for The Blog. A couple examples of these, taken with ‘SweetFX in ReShade’ are just below – I look forward to what the entire game could possibly look like with the new High Resolution textures!

Fallout 4 – Mrs. Nordhagen, Settler I – SweetFX in ReShade
(GTAMblog7Photo SweetFX Preset, made available Soon™)
Click to see Full Size
Fallout 4 – Mrs. Nordhagen, Settler I – SweetFX in ReShade
(GTAMblog7Photo SweetFX Preset, made available Soon™)
Click to see Full Size

ReShade by Crosire (reshade.me)
SweetFX by CeeJay.dk (ceejay.dk)
Game Material by Bethesda Game Studios (bgs.bethsoft.com)
Captured by Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

Since I don’t actually have room for it on any of the drives I have Games on at the moment [which seems to always happen when something cool comes out, of course], I will be moving some things around and uninstalling other games I am not playing at the moment, to make room for this big fella…

It is an optional/separate “DLC” download, weighing in at a hefty 58GB installation through Steam. Once I get it going, I will be working on a QualityTest for it, comparing the graphic look between the two versions and what they really look like in-game – as well as the Performance Hit the Texture Pack creates – look for that coming post Soon™ if you are waiting to see what they look like or if it is ‘worth the download’; but if you can’t wait and want to get started seeing it yourself, go get it via Steam for free now, here.

This free download, by the way, is – in Bethesda’s own words, “…a love letter to our amazing PC fans that have supported us – not just with Fallout 4, but across multiple decades and games…”. 
Right back at ya’, Beth! 
“Thank You” ~ Sincerely, The Game Tips And More Blog

Header and Footer Images captured by Bethesda, from their example screenshots of the High Resolution Texture Pack

Happy New Year from The Game Tips And More Blog! [NewYears’ Greetings 2017]

“Happy New Year 2017 Greetings”
by The Game Tips And More Blog
(Just Cause 3 capture, Highest Settings and FXAA, with Text and Effects added)

I personally wish you all much better things in 2017!

[To help celebrate the end of a crazy 2016 (for almost everybody, it seems) and the beginning of a hopefully-better 2017, this was simply a fireworks celebration captured in Just Cause 3 (Highest Settings, FXAA). I then added a ‘crowd’ overlay that had a bit of ‘glitter’ effects in it (used with License from CyberLink’s PowerDirector 12) and put some Just Cause 3 – styled text  on top of it all (using a free font called “Dirty Old Town” which looked somewhat like the JC3 font and another one whose name escapes me at the moment). Lastly, I put a “Text FX” Overlay effect to show the year, an effect that was also in PowerDirector 12. As always, it was seemingly simple to think of, but took longer than expected to complete the composition (almost a day late for NewYear’s, heh). 
HAPPY NEW YEAR ! ]

Game Material by Avalanche Game Studios (avalanchestudios.com) and Square Enix (square-enix.com)
Captured and Edited by Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

The Vital Acid—Alkaline Balance

Another important aspect of any diet for super health and beauty is one that most nutritional systems completely overlook. It is the question of using foods to help maintain the delicate acid—alkaline balance in your body. For we can reach truly positive health—health beyond the simple absence of disease—and remain permanently healthy only when the foods we eat supply us with a surplus of alkaline-reacting foods. These include green and root vegetables, avocados, fruits (including citrus fruits which, though acid, have an alkalinizing effect on the body), seeds such as sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin, and yogurt.

Your body contains mineral salts. Some of them are alkaline and some are acid. In a healthy body the ratio between alkaline and acid is four to one—that is, 80 percent alkaline to 20 percent acid. To maintain this natural balance, you need only to eat foods which, when digested, produce alkaline salts in approximately these proportions. If, instead, you eat a diet that is highly acid-forming, as the typical Western fare is, then your body is forced to work very hard indeed to regulate the internal acid—alkaline balance and keep your blood slightly alkaline. Without this natural slight alkalinity, your body is unable to repair tissues and heal itself. Overacidity can lead to acidosis, chronic indigestion, irritability, nervousness, excess appetite, rheumatic and arthritic conditions, as well as skin problems and cellulite. Stress, too, is an acid condition. The acid- forming foods, which should make up 20 percent of any diet but no more, include meat, eggs, hard cheese, bread, cereals, sugar and honey, some nuts, and some fats. Coffee, ordinary tea (not green tea or herb teas), and alcohol are also acid-forming.

Diet Start

To give you some idea of what it feels like when your body is too acid, think back to the last typical “good” breakfast you ate—processed cereal with sugar, perhaps an egg, bacon, white toast and jelly, and coffee. Do you remember the immediate feeling of stimulation followed in an hour or two by an unpleasant sense of jangly nerves or tiredness, so that by eleven you had to reach for another cup of coffee to keep yourself going? That is an acid state. In fact, this breakfast is made up of almost all acid-forming foods—the bacon, the white toast and the coffee, the packaged cereal, sugar and so forth. A far better breakfast would be a bowl of Birchermuesli (not the kind of muesli you find in supermarkets, which may be labeled “natural” but is chock-full of sugar) made from natural yogurt, a tablespoonful of rolled oats, a couple of teaspoonfuls of honey and a little cinnamon. On such a breakfast where the fresh fruit and yogurt, which are the alkaline-forming foods, balance the small quantities of acid-forming foods—the grains and the honey—to maintain the ideal ratio of 80 percent alkaline to 20 percent acid, you will find you can work well throughout the morning without suffering “acid rebound.” Your body will also be protected against the unnecessary stress of having to work hard to rebalance the blood.

Forget the Salt

Recent studies indicate that the daily sodium requirement for a human being is probably not more than 200 milligrams a day, perhaps slightly higher in someone who performs great physical exertion or in nursing mothers. This small quantity is available naturally in foods alone—vegetables, meats and fish, fruits, and grains for instance—without our ever having to add salt to our foods. Where we do add it, not only when cooking but also at the table, the average sodium intake is thought to be more than twenty-five times that amount. Thanks to the research of Professor Lot Page at Harvard, salt—the ubiquitous substance which the ancient Greeks considered divine—has now been shown beyond all reasonable doubt to be at the root of hypertension, one of our most common twentieth-century illnesses.

The Benefits of Jump Training

Watch a group of kids and you will likely see bobbing heads – kids love to jump and there are good reasons for them to jump.   A key aspect of human movement is learning to store energy and then reclaim it as part of a movement cycle. For example up to 40% of the energy required for movement during walking and running is created by storing energy in the leg muscles as the foot lands and then using it during the push-off phase.  The technical name for this cycle is the “Stretch-Shortening Cycle” or SSC.  The SSC takes advantage of the fact that muscles can act as springs:  they store energy as they are lengthened then rebounding in the opposite direction as they get shorter.

Efficient movement takes advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle and muscles are designed to store and release energy in a rhythmic pattern of loading and unloading just like loading and unloading a spring.  In addition, power for all athletic movements is generated by taking advantage of the SSC.     A key aspect of getting the most from this cycle is rhythm and timing which are learned through repetition.
  
There are three distinct phases to jump training:

The Loading Phase – such as landing phase of walking and running where the muscles lengthen under tension to absorb the landing.
The Amortization Phase – where the muscle transitions between loading phase and the Unloading phase.
The Unloading Phase – where the muscles shortens and transfers the stored energy externally like a spring recoiling such as the push-off phase of walking and running.

Jumps can be little – like jumping rope or big – like box jumps.  Start with little jumps.  A great place to start is jumping rhythmically in place with both feet with short fast jumps.   You want to land on the ball of the foot and flex your knees when you land and let your heels just kiss the floor then jump up again and repeat.  Start with really tiny jumps and try to let the elasticity of your calf and quad muscles do the work – done properly it should feel relatively easy.   It will take several weeks to condition the muscles of the foot and calf to be able to do longer sets so take your time.  In addition there are many benefits to performing this training without shoes so the muscles of your foot get conditioned and you have a better feel of the ground.

It is also important to insure your knees track over your toes and do not collapse inward so do short sets (30 seconds or less) of low, fast jumps on both feet and learn to feel the rhythm of the cycle of landing and push off.

Once you master this you can add more height to your jumps after you are warmed up.   Stop each set if you start feeling tired or feel unstable, and recover completely between sets.  Do NOT do jump sets to failure. Eventually you can progress into full squat jumps.   However remember the key to capturing the benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle is a quick rebound after landing.  So if you go too low in the loading phase the pause between landing and rebounding will be too long and you lose the benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle.

Over time you can even progress to single leg jumps or box jumps where you jump down off a height to the ground/floor then land and rebound up.  Take these progressions SLOWLY – it is important to build the elastic strength of the muscles in your foot, lower leg, and thighs over time and stopping BEFORE you are exhausted will prevent injury.  This is why kids naturally like to do short sets of jumps repeatedly – it feels good when done properly!

There are many benefits to jump training including:

Toning the lower body – jumping recruits all of the major muscles of the lower body while at the same time being the ideal stimulus to build bone strength.

Jumping burns lots of calories – once you can build up to being able to do 1 – 4 minutes of continuous jumping like jumping rope you can really rack up the calories!

Jumping pumps up the cardiovascular system – as above once you can jump safely and in good form for 1 – 3 minute sets you will not believe how high your heart rate gets!

Jumping also demands great balance and stimulates fast-twitch muscle fibers.   Fast-twitch muscle is the type of muscle we lose quickest as we get older.   Fast-twitch fibers are not just important for athletes – they are important for preventing falls because the ability to produce force quickly is important to be able to react quickly when your balance is unexpectedly challenged like stepping off a curb you do not see!

Jumping is the best way to build the strength of bones – bones need impact and force to stay strong. The key is starting with small jumps and gradually building the height of jumps and time spent jumping.

There are many ways to build jumping into a workout such as doing some skipping drills which can even be done on a treadmill safely once you get the hang of it.


It is also worth working with a trainer to help you develop proper jumping mechanics and the stability you need to land properly which are pre-requisites for safe and effective jump training.

Atlanta Blogger Meet Up

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting some fantastic teacher-bloggers as part of the Atlanta Blogger Meet-Up.

If you ever get a chance to meet up with other teacher-bloggers, I’d highly recommend doing it! It was wonderful to meet so many sweet and enthusiastic teachers who share similar interests, and now I can finally match names and faces with the blogs that I read all the time.

We met at the Swan Coach House in Atlanta for brunch, and it was wonderful. Amanda from Collaboration Cuties made us each a placemat with everyone’s name on it.

And Stacia (the other half of Collaboration Cuties) made us name tags.

Jivey from Ideas by Jivey made us a little goodie jar filled with treats of both the sugary and teachery kinds.
And Elizabeth (Fun in Room 4B) and Brandee (Creating Lifelong Learners) made us this adorable to do list that is dry erase. 
There were 9 of us in all, and I’m so glad that I went. I’m typically a really shy person, but it felt like I was getting together with old friends! I’m so grateful to be a part of the teacher blogger community, and I love learning from other teachers. This group in particular has so much to offer, and if you don’t already follow each of these bloggers, you’re definitely missing out.
From left to right:
Amanda – Teacher at the Wheel
Jivey – Ideas by Jivey
Brandee – Creating Lifelong Learners
Denay – The Gemini Teacher
Liz – Polka Dot Firsties
Stacia & Amanda – Collaboration Cuties
Me!
Elizabeth – Fun in Room 4B
If you missed out on the meet up, no worries — I have confidence that this will become an annual tradition. And for those of you who are interested in classroom technology, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is holding its annual conference in Atlanta next summer on June 28 – July 1. Wouldn’t it be great to have a teacher blogger meet up around that? 
After lunch, most of us ventured to Ikea where I once again spent too much money on my classroom despite not needing anything in particular. I’d show you all of my finds, but I’m going to wait until my complete classroom reveal. Given that I start preplanning THIS THURSDAY and have students on August 1, that really won’t be too long to wait!

Have a great week!

HOME DESIGN FULL OF COLOR AND INSPIRING

It was probably what the designers had in mind when you fill this place with colorful decoration items such as floor cushions, rugs and rustic small packages. Because the white background, these elements stand out and create a pleasant visual contrast. The living room, dining room and kitchen are connected not only physically, but also intelligent design. We love the way the house seems to be decorated according to a fun pattern, which consists of color and youth.

Home Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Living Room Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Living Room Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Kitchen Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Kitchen Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Bedroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Bedroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Bathroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

Home Bathroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

My Trip to Thailand

When traveling east from Sri Lanka I generally travel through Thailand and transit in Bangkok. However I rarely get an opportunity to meet the people on the road as I am in a rush of checking in and out of hotels and flights. In April I was in Bangkok for a training assignment and had the opportunity to interact with people in Bangkok. I enjoyed the interaction with shop keepers and street vendors. However, I saw a significant difference in the pulse of the ordinary people. There was a more tense feeling with quite a high degree of uncertainty given the political situation in Thailand. Even though the current Prime Minister has promised to hold elections the majority of the Thais feel that the Army has started a war along the Cambodian boarder to postpone or effectively suspend the constitution again.

The fight between the “old traditional Thai power base” and the “modern Thai power base” led by Thaksim. Some of the expatriates I met seem to think that Thailand is getting into a situation or a case of “Thailand having an Army that owns the country”; something similar to Pakistan. The Army seems to have a great say in the lives of the Thai people and the politicians.

Thailand still remains a polite and friendly place to visit, however it seems to have shot itself in the foot regarding the tremendous progress it had made in the economic and democratic frontiers. As I come from a country that has seen decades of civil war I hope that sanity will prevail and the Thai people can sort out their differences and get ahead.

Essential fats

If you have been doggedly avoiding fat in an attempt to lose weight — this approach is WRONG. You need fats in your diet. Your brain consists mostly of fat, and your intelligence, heartbeat and muscular movements all depend on it. The only way in which your body can send electrical messages through living tissue is via your nerve cells and their connectors, which again are made of fat.

The fact is that some fats (known as lipids) are essential. They act as the second energy reserve behind glycogen, providing most of their energy at around 70 per cent of maximum heart rate. Endurance athletes utilize fat as an energy source more than other sports people and this is why they tend to be lean.

Fats are not just for energy, though. Their many other functions include insulating important organs, carrying fat-soluble vitamins and regulating hormone levels. If you’re a female athlete and you experience a loss of your periods, this may be due to extremely low body fat, for this plays a vital role in the activation of the female hormone oestrogen.

Fats also contribute to health in many other ways — provided they are of the right kind. In an attempt to warn people about the risk of consuming toomuch fat, certain groups have created the impression that all fats are bad, but this simply is not true.

Diet Start

Are you eating the wrong fats?

Many people in the Western world are getting 45 per cent of their calorific intake from fats, but these are junk fats that the body cannot use, so these people are just as fat-deficient as those on extremely low-fat regimes.

THERE ARE TWO MAIN TYPES OF NATURAL FATS:

1. Saturated fats come primarily from animal sources such as meat and dairy products, and from coconut and palm-kernel oil; they are solid at room temperature. They provide the body with a stored form of energy in fat cells.

2. Unsaturated fats are found in vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds, and in fish and game; they are liquid at room temperature. They contain two fatty acids that are essential to life and, more importantly, that the body cannot produce itself. These are linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3) From these two ‘essential fatty acids‘ your body can make all the other fatty acids it needs.

Is it just a case of cutting out saturated fat?

Saturated fat gets a bad press, and a diet too heavy in it has been closely linked to cardiovascular disease. However, there is another fat with an equal capacity to harm: hydrogenated fat.

Hydrogenated fat is solid or semi-solid at room temperature (the best example being margarine). It is created when a liquid oil (such as corn oil) has hydrogen added to it, changing its chemical structure. This in turn can interfere with the metabolism of some essential fatty acids. Research has shown that the trans fats in hydrogenated fats can increase LDL (poor) cholesterol,decrease HDL (good) cholesterol and thus raise the risk of coronary heart disease. Hydrogenated fat is found in almost all processed foods, plus frozen convenience foods and deep-fried fast food. This is another good reason to say goodbye to junk food and hello to fresh produce.

If you usually ingest high amounts of processed fats and use commercially altered oils for cooking, then you are certainly not getting the balance of fats that your body needs.

Why don’t food manufacturers use healthier oils?

Even though the food industry uses vegetable oils that contain a reasonable amount of omega-6 fatty acids, they avoid omega-3s because these are more susceptible to oxidization — in other words, they go rancid quickly and don’t have a long shelf life.

Ironic, isn’t it? Food manufacturers quite happily promote food under the guise of lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease, but they are ignoring one of the fats essential to health. So unless you are eating high amounts of fish, fish oils, leafy vegetables, nuts, unrefined olive oil, tofu or flaxseed oil, your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is probably screwed up, and this in turn will be screwing up your health.

The current Western diet is much higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. Remember those healthy Palaeolithic people we were discussing earlier? They were eating equal amounts of both.

How is this relevant to body weight?

If you are eating a diet with a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, this will affect your body in beneficial fat-burning ways:

  • Your metabolic rate will be increased, as will the metabolism of fats, so more stored fat will be burned for energy
  • Your cells’ sensitivity to insulin will be increased, so that it regulates blood- sugar levels more effectively
  • The ratio of insulin to glucagons will improve, which will unlock the fat- storage banks and again allow fat to be burned as energy
  • Natural appetite suppressants will kick in.

So if you want to improve your chances of losing weight, you need to up your intake of omega-3 and other healthy fats.

Essential fats Q&A

Q. How often should I eat oily fish per week if I want to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids?

A. You should aim to eat oily fish a minimum of 2-3 times per week, or ensure you use flaxseed oil regularly on salads to raise your levels. Try to eat fish from as safe a source as possible as many coldwater fish are contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides.

Q. How can I avoid hydrogenated fat?

A. Cut out processed food and only use cold-pressed un-refined oils such as olive oil, or coconut oil for cooking. Don’t eat fast food that has been deep-fried and avoid butter type spreads. If you did this, then you should be able to avoid consuming dangerous trans fatty acids.

WORKOUT ANYTIME on FOX 56 Lexington

WORKOUT ANYTIME on FOX 56 Lexington

Head Trainer Carl Flotka of WORKOUT ANYTIME Lexington was recently featured on FOX 56 Lexington. In the segment Carl talks about how to portion control during the holiday season and highlights a few exercises that viewers can do to stay active.
View the full segment here.

My Next Assignments…………

Never have I experienced a hectic period leading up to an assignment like the past few days. I returned from my assignment in Vietnam on the 3rd of February. I was supposed to leave for Indonesia on the 8th for another assignment. However the client was not able to process my visa on time and the assignment was cancelled / postponed. During this period I had to finish 6 Organizational Capacity Assessment Reports. So I was running around trying to process my visa as well as trying to complete the reports before I left for Indonesia.

Once it was clear that I was unable to go to Indonesia I was requested by 3 more clients to submit proposals. One assignment was in Bangladesh and it went very fast; I have already set the travel dates, booked the tickets, got my visa and everything is a go. The other in India went very quick even though I had to finish contracting, setting the travel dates, booking the ticket, and getting my visa to be able to start the assignment in India on the 21st.

The other is indeed a nightmare! I have been discussing with this client since October of 2009. Well believe it; some times a contract can take even longer. I have already done 5 versions of the proposal; and the last. This kind of procrastination by a client signifies all or some of the following:

  • The client is not clear about what they want
  • They are haggling about rates and costs
  • The client is unsure about you and the organization you represent
  • Does not know / have the resources / decision making power to use the results of the assignment

I must say that this client does not know me and the organization. That is why I went through the process of doing 5 versions of the proposal. However now I know it is to do with the rates and costs. This has a critical issue that most consultants do not see; which is the client is likely to not be satisfied with your work no matter how well you do your assignment. This also has the possibility to creating a problem when collecting final payment for the assignment.

My advice (which is what I am doing right now) is to stop doing anymore changes to the proposal and wait for the client to come back to you with a contract with any changes that they feel are important. This way you push the client towards closing (sales cycle) and stop you from spending time (which is money) on an order which may not be profitable.

Do you have Food Cravings? Food Cravings Test

  • Do you frequently eat until your stomach is uncomfortably full?
  • When you get hungry, does it make you feel tense, weak, or irritable?
  • When you get hungry, do you sometimes focus on one or two specific foods?
  • Do you snack often, usually eating the same snacks?
  • Have you ever had other addictive habits, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol or overconsuming caffeine?
  • Diet Start
  • Are you often hungry after a meal and stay that way until you’ve eaten one of your favourite foods?
  • Do you usually need dessert after dinner to feel satisfied?
  • Do you tend to eat a relatively narrow range of foods?
  • When you eat your favourite foods, do you often intend to eat only a moderate amount, but end up eating a larger amount?
  • Do you sometimes feel as if you lack control over what you eat?
  • If you snack on foods other than your favourite foods, do you tend to feel unsatisfied?
  • Do you binge on food more than once per week?
  • Even if you know a food doesn’t agree with you, do you eat it anyway?
  • When you eat your favourite foods, do you frequently drift into an almost trancelike state of relaxation?
  • When you eat one of your favourite foods, does it generally improve your mood?

If you answered yes to six or more questions, you are probably overweight. If you’re not, you must have a tremendous degree of willpower or an exceptional metabolism.

When this happens, you will stop eating as much as you now eat, and your metabolism will heal. You will then begin to lose adipose tissue gradually, painlessly — and permanently.

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Daily News

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Daily News

Dale Chaffin of WORKOUT ANYTIME Bowling Green was recently featured in the Daily News. Dale was interviewed for the story and a photographer was assigned to take his photo for a story about the WORKOUT ANYTIME location in Bowling Green where he is the GM and how he has lost 80 pounds since 2012 with help of personal trainer Chris Talley. The story focused on how working at a gym has helped Dale with his fitness goals. 
View the full article here. 

How To Use The Mouse To The Best Of Your Ability (a.k.a. How To Be A Better ‘First Person Shooter’) [Text-Only]


[Text-Only – This Post is Text-Only Mode, for now. I may return to this posting and add Screenshots or Images at a later time.]

I was browsing around in the Steam Forums [forii?], where I like to try and answer Technical Questions and give Suggestions about Gameplay and Tips – and I recently answered a query someone had about using the Mouse in Fallout 4 (arguably a ‘Shooter’ game for the most part) and how it seemed difficult for them to aim in the game (it is possible to utilize an Automated Aiming capability called V.A.T.S., in Fallout 4 – but the game can also be played ‘in real time’ without it, playing as a First Person Shooter would be played, similar to games like Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Battlefield, and more).

So, I answered with a somewhat-lengthy reply, trying to be helpful and informative, letting them know where to do things like change the Settings of the Mouse and the Sensitivity; really trying to show them that there needs to be a ‘personalization’ of the Mouse Settings, if they wanted to utilize the Mouse, as a gaming tool, to the best of their ability (to “let your ability shine through the Mouse” as it were).

I thought it might be nice to share my answer here too, then – to share with others that may be wondering things like:

“Why am I having so much trouble aiming/killing in <game name>?”

“Why does it seem so hard to kill people <in a Multiplayer game>?”

“How can I improve my gameplay in Multiplayer/Player-Versus-Player?”

…and similar questions.

Thus, here was my reply in the Forum… Perhaps it can be of some use to you:

—–

If I may pop in, as a ‘First Person Shooter’ since Wolfenstein 3D (1992), and having won some Local Tournaments in the past (UT99 and Quake III Arena); you really need to find your own personal ‘mouse sensitivity’…

(I used to do 180’s while running to ‘check my six’ or headshot the player behind me – which they didn’t like of course, heh)

Note that this must be adjusted for every new mouse and potentially every new game. This is the only way to truly have a movement and reaction time/rate in the game that you personally feel comfortable with.


There are a few places you must adjust it:

– in Windows (Settings>Devices>Mouse [for Windows 10])
– in Mouse Software (that disc that comes with the Mouse that everyone ignores, or the manufacturer’s Drivers and associated ‘Software Configurator’ of some type for the mouse from their website), where you can also Keybind different keys or combinations to your Mouse, if it can do so, and set DPI gradations/steps.
– in the Game (Options or Settings)


Again, I cannot helpfully stress this enough; try to do this for each and every game you play – it is amazing in how it can personalize your comfortable movement/scan/hit rate.
It is really possible to ‘hit anything’ in a game, if you make your own personalized changes to all of the above.


Some people like to move their mouse a lot, slowing down the movement into smaller gradations for sniping and tight movements.
Some people like to move their mouse very little, using mostly their fingers and hardly turning their wrist (these types usually switch DPI settings as-they-move, for sniping and tighter movements).

Both are arguable for usage and both can utilize the DPI settings/changes possible on modern mice.
You must find your own movement type and movement rate, set by those three locations previously stated.

Once you set the mouse how you like it – whether you switch DPI settings on-the-fly (to make your character scan slower or faster, switching between scoped and non-scoped, for example) or whether you keep one DPI setting and alter how fast you move the mouse – you will find that you can aim/scan/hit a lot better (and also not get tired as fast).

Tip: Don’t forget to turn off any Mouse Acceleration (The kind that moves your mouse pointer farther on the screen if you move the same amount of space on your desk, only faster)… This only adds to the difficulty in scanning/aiming and makes it harder to build up muscle memory for your mouse (such as, “I move my mouse this far, and my view onscreen moves this far”).

The only recourse, other than doing the above and taking all of the above steps, is V.A.T.S….(at least, to be totally comfortable and ‘reach your full potential’ with the Mouse (wow this is starting to sound like an Infomercial, sorry about that haha))

But, try to have fun exploring it – find “You” in your mouse movements – and have fun learning how “You” play!

—–
Note, Dear Reader, that I am not trying to ‘be pompous’ or ‘brag’ here, with this posting… I merely stated my ‘qualifications’ at the beginning, to show that I learned a lot over time and that I had personally found some effective ways to improve playing, with the Mouse (especially in the past). 
I do not wish to sound like to ‘know everything’ as well – and indeed can learn more – I just wanted to share what I did learn over time and hope that this might help others out, too. If you are an experienced FPS player (‘First Person Shooter gamer’), then you no doubt already know most of these concepts (or have figured them out on your own). 
I should state that I am also nowhere near as good as I once was [being 40 now, alas, age occurs to all..]. Where I once could out-shoot almost anyone, regularly doing 180s-to-instant-headshots (as stated previously), I now regularly get my butt handed to me in games like Overwatch, CS:GO and the Battlefield series of games [although I can still get Top Spot on The Board at times! heh]. 
Still, I wanted to try to help others… and I hope that this posting helps anyone improve their mousing (and killing/winning), if that is what they desire to do. 
I always like helping others and teaching others what I can… “The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” ~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

SYITG

Workout Anytime Daily 10 Prehab Routine

Everyone knows that prevention is better than dealing with an injury, and part of injury prevention is spending time working on what are commonly referred to as “corrective exercises” or “Prehab”.   10 minutes a day spent doing 10 basic exercises can prevent many injuries, improve results from exercise, and dramatically improve movement.
Ideally do these exercises barefoot or in socks – your feet will be working very hard during these exercises and shoes reduce ground feel.  If possible do them in front of a mirror to see your form!
Hip Hinge – Hip Hinging is one of basic primal movement patterns, and it is also the movement pattern most frequently done incorrectly.   The best way to groove this movement pattern is practice it using a wooden handle or PVC Pipe held vertically against your back touching the back of your head, the top of your shoulders, and your tail bone.  By keeping contact with all three points as you hinge it teaches you to maintain a flat back which is essential for preventing low back injuries and developing proper movement mechanics that allow you to effectively load and unload the glutes and hamstrings.
It is also a phenomenal dynamic warm-up for the hamstrings!   Here is a video showing how to do it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG67O49Hsso    Do 50 reps per day and you will see and feel positive changes in your posture, movement, strength and mobility!
Downhill Skier Exercise– This exercise contains elements of the squat and hip hinge.  Start by placing the hands palm down on the top of the thighs.  Keep the back straight slide the hands down until the palms are resting on the knees with the hips back like you are a second basemen.   You should begin to feel a stretch in the hamstrings.     Continue to hinge from the hip forward and slide down until your elbow are resting on the inside of the knees with back straight and hips back like you are a downhill skier.  This will require your knees to track forward over and maybe even slightly beyond your toes (this will generate a stretch in the calf muscles and specifically the single joint soleus muscle).    Keep your heels down the whole time – do not let them lift up off the floor!
Keeping the back totally straight extend the knees as far as possible – you should feel a strong stretch in the hamstrings.  Your hips will rise but keep your elbows on the knees and do not move the upper body!  Then drop the hips, flex the knees and let them move forward over toes as you drop back down to the downhill skier posture.
Start slow but as you get the hang of it you can move faster – as long as you maintain proper form.     Do 30 – 50 reps every day.   You will start to notice that your squat and your hip hinge movements all get easier along with improved mobility in the ankle knee and hip!   Click here for a great video of how to do this exercise properly:  https://youtu.be/nXKWtlr3rBQ
Goblet Squat – Squats are another primal movement pattern and goblet squats help emphasize the best form.   They should be done daily with a relatively light weight for a good 20 – 50 repetitions.    Keep the dumbbell, kettlebell or Sandbag held against the chest the entire time. If you have difficulty getting thighs parallel to the floor spread your feet farther apart, and also rotate out at the hips so that your feet are pointing outwards.   This can make a huge difference.   By doing this and holding a light weight against your chest you may find you can squat to a decent depth while maintaining an upright torso.  It should look like this:  http://cfitness.me.formecdn.com/2016/12/goblet-squat.jpg  
Alternatively you can hold a kettlebell/Dumbbell with both hands letting it go straight down between the legs as you squat down like this:  http://workoutlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/watermarked/Pile_Sumo_Dumbbell_Squat1.png
Single Leg RDL – Romanian Deadlift – is one of the most important corrective exercises you can do to help self-identify and correct muscle imbalances that are the most common cause of movement dysfunction and injury.
The best way to do this exercise is barefoot in front of a mirror where you can see your whole body throughout the entire sequence of the exercise.  Ideally you should be on a firm and level surface as well.
Start by facing the mirror standing on one foot with the other leg flexed so your thigh is parallel with the floor and knee flexed to 90 degrees with hands on your hips.  Look in the mirror and make sure your hips are perfectly level and if not fix that!   
Next, without moving the upper body extend the flexed leg down and hinge forward at the hip of the standing leg.   As your swing leg passes the other leg you should try to straighten it, and ideally you hinge forward at the upper body while keeping your swing leg and upper body in a straight line the whole time.
As you hinge try NOT to let your swing leg hip drop and keep your stance foot pointing directly forward with no angle.  The stance leg should flex slightly but the knee should NOT move forward – rather you should “sit” back into the hinge at the hip. Pause when you reach at or near parallel with the floor with your upper body and swing leg then smoothly return to standing and flex the swing leg.    Slower is harder AND better and do NOT use any load/weight.
10 repetitions on each side each day!   Do all 10 on each side one time per day and you will see some amazing changes in your strength, balance and athleticism! 
Here is a great single leg RDL tutorial:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc21IwnIcwk
Hip Thrusts – The hip thrust simultaneously develops the glutes while enhancing mobility in the hip flexors (both key because this counteracts the negative effects of sitting all the time!).  These can be done on the floor or with shoulders on a bench, bed or sofa to make it a bit harder.   You can do hip thrusts with two legs or one leg at a time to create additional load.   Here is a good shot of the exercise:  http://cdn-www.womenshealthsa.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/hip-thrust-hold.jpg
Important NOT to arch lower back at all and concentrate on squeezing glutes at top and NOT using low back.    Even without any load this exercise can produce great benefits – 20 – 50 reps each day!
Plank – The plank is a simple functional core exercise that produces great benefits.  It can be done on toes and hands (upper push-up position), Toes and Elbows, Hands and Knees, etc to adjust the difficulty.    Do a version of the plank that challenges for one minute per day while maintaining good form.   Here is a great article on some of the many variations:  http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20813896,00.html/view-all
Side Plank – The Side Plank is also key to building core strength, but in the front plane (side to side stability and strength).   30 seconds to a minute on each side each day.   Like the plank there are many variations and one of the best when you are ready is a side plank with leg lift: https://rutheburke.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/side_bridge_abd.jpg
Static Lunge – Lunges are another primal movement pattern, and there are many different variety of lunges.  A static lunge is done with feet in a split stance like this:    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgrefurl=http://thefitnesslink.uk/exercises/static-lunge/&tbnid=J1sOV9EYH0PmVM:&docid=lgeVWz3ThLe7OM&h=1417&w=1890   
The exercise is fantastic for simultaneously developing strength and mobility in the foot, ankle, knee and hip.  Best done barefoot on a firm surface.  Keep your front heel down the entire time and rear foot is up on ball of the foot with rear knee, hip, back and head kept in alignment the entire time.    Do 10 reps at a time on each side per day – no weight is necessary. 
 
Side to Side Skater– This exercise develops hip mobility including providing an excellent dynamic stretch/warm-up for the adductor (inner thigh muscles).  Feet should be wide apart with feet facing forward – not angled out. Keep feet flat on the floor and flex forward at the hip keeping back straight (only flex forward as far as you can while maintaining a flat back and keeping both feet on the floor with entire foot kept down in contact with the ground).   Push the hips directly to the side and pause as you feel a stretch in the trailing leg’s adductors.  
Ideally your head and torso stay perpendicular to lower body and centered during the entire exercise just like a speed skater.  Then push your hips back in the other direction to the other to the other side.    NOTE:   Do NOT go up and down – your hips should go back and forth in a straight-line parallel with the floor.   Do 20 – 30 reps each day.
Ankle Circles – This exercise improves ankle mobility and is great before just about any activity.    Stand on one foot.    These can be done seated, standing or lying down – best done standing to simultaneously work on balance and stability.  The action is simple:  holding foot and leg in the air draw a circle with your toes for 10 circles in one direction and 10 circles in the other direction like this:  http://web.eccrsd.us/christy/public/athletic_training/ankle_sprain_rehab_beginner_files/Picture%201.jpg   
You will notice that one direction is much harder than the other and you will feel much less coordinated and same thing with one leg vs the other leg.  Do more repetitions in the direction that is challenging and more on the leg that is more challenging.  Ideally do the exercise while you stand on one foot while you pull your other leg up with knee bent so that your thigh is parallel with the floor.    This is more challenging than it looks but will provide big benefits in terms of balance and stability.

Done daily and before workouts these 10 exercises will provide big benefits including improved posture, stability, strength and mobility.   You will also notice that you improve at many other exercises and movements.

The Incredible Benefits of Grounding – Walking Barefoot on the Ground!

Anyone with small children knows they want to try to ditch their shoes every chance they get – but if you think about how you feel when you are barefoot you will probably realize that you  also feel better when you can walk around barefoot.  Researchers have begun to unravel why being barefoot directly on the ground can in fact be very good for your health!
Your immune system functions well when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.
Research has shown that electrons from the ground have measurable antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation. For hundreds of thousands of years on the planet humans have been in direct contact with the ground without anything that would block the flow of electrons into our bodies.
However in modern time’s pavement, wood, rubber, plastics and many other forms of non-conductive material are between our feet and ground blocking the natural flow of electrons.
The surface of our planet has a negative electrical potential. So when we are in direct contact with it electrons flow to your bod through a process called “grounding”.   Grounding causes positive physiological effects that promote optimum health.
Specific researched benefits include improvements in blood viscosity, heart rate variability, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep, autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, and reduced effects of stress.
When you connect directly to the ground without any non-conducting material between you and the electron field of the planet there is an improvement in the balance of two sides of your autonomic nervous system:  the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
How Shoes May be Impacting Your Health
Materials like metals are excellent conductors of electricity (aka electrons!). The human body is also conductive because it contains a large number of charged ions (called electrolytes) dissolved in water.
Other non-conductive materials, such as plastic and rubber, have very few free or mobile electrons. Traditionally shoes were made of leather, which is a good electrical conductor. However almost all modern shoes contain rubber and plastic which block the flow of electrons from the earth to your body.
The Health Benefits of Grounding
Your immune system body has evolved a method of destroying bacteria and viruses by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are delivered by immune cells. However, these ROS can also cause extensive damage to healthy tissues. ROS are usually positively charged molecules that need to be neutralized immediately to prevent damage to the body after destroying bacteria or viruses.   This is one of the key functions of anti-oxidants which are most important in immune cells to protect them from the ROS they generate!
Anti-oxidants essentially provide a supply of negative charges. Food based antioxidants (such as Vitamins C and E) and anti-oxidants your body produces are critical but a regular supply of electrons grounding can supply them as well.
Evolution facilitated the process of grounding by providing conductive systems within your body that deliver electrons from your feet to all parts of your body. This system has been integral to human physiology for thousands of years. Negative electrons are always available, thanks to the Earth, to prevent the inflammatory process from damaging healthy tissues.
All of this was interrupted when we started to wear shoes with rubber and plastic soles, and no longer slept in direct contact with the ground. Several experiments have proven that a person who is grounded is less stressed and more relaxed.
So have some fun, kick your shoes off and get back to nature!
How to get the benefits of Grounding
Grounding is simple in warmer climates – simply spend time barefoot in direct contact with the earth.   Even better do this on a beach walking along the edge of the water because the flow of negatively charged electrons will be highest here because sea water is an ideal conductor of electrons!    Any amount of time will help but the more you can do it the better!  Even better spend some time laying on the beach or ground with your body in direct contact with the ground without any artificial fabrics, rubber or plastic between your skin and the ground.
For those of us who do not live in warm climates staying grounded during colder months is a bit more challenging but doable! There are actually grounding mats available that plug in to the grounding wire port of a normal 3-prong outlet or a grounding rod (US and Canada only). The earth’s natural electrons flow right up through the ground wire and onto the mat, even if you’re in a high rise. Most mats come with an outlet tester you plug in to the outlet so if your outlet is configured properly.

Teenager’s Room Rockstar Design For Real RockStar

Design of this room is reserved for your child who likes to play music and have a dream to be a rockstar. where in this room like rockstar there are some tools to play music, like a music studio in the bedroom. with a very attractive color design coupled with music playing equipment such as guitar, drums and other. expected to design the rooms in such a way to make your child feel more comfortable at home and hone his ability in terms of playing music

Teenager’s Room Rockstar or Musician Themed

Teenager’s Room Rockstar or Musician Themed

Teenager’s Room Rockstar Design For Real RockStar

Teenager’s Room Rockstar Design For Real RockStar

Teenager’s Room Rockstar or Musician Design

Teenager’s Room Rockstar or Musician Design

speed camera major malfunction? Or lazy police not reviewing photos? New Orleans police failed to review tickets generated by the automated cameras, and one guy has 10 tickets over 7 years for his parked truck

Actually, make that 11. After the first story ran last week, Schultz received another ticket on Saturday night. A security camera shows this one was actually triggered by a New Orleans Police Department vehicle speeding down the road, but as usual, Schultz was the unlucky recipient of the fine.

http://www.thedrive.com/news/20011/new-orleans-speed-camera-keeps-issuing-speeding-tickets-to-parked-cars

End result? More proof cops don’t give a shit about their jobs, and neither does the mayor or city of New Orleans. 2 cops certified that the two tickets initiated by speeding police vehicles (as seen in the video) went to Shultz. That’s just bull shit. Cops are speeding in a residential neighborhood, and other cops that are supposed to look at the damn photos, are not, they are rubber stamping them all. 

Eat more and more, do you know chemicals in foods blow you appetite?

In a very real sense, everybody has direct reactions to foods. Direct reactions are reactions caused directly to cells by chemicals in foods. Among the most obvious direct reactions are those caused by alcohol. If you drink alcohol, you are almost certain to experience sedative effects, due to the direct effect of alcohol on your brain cells.

Often, people with Asian heritage react quite negatively to alcohol, and the common belief is that they’re allergic to it. Technically, though, they don’t have an allergy; they have a sensitivity — because this is a direct reaction, which doesn’t involve the immune system. I believe that it’s clearer and more sensible to say simply that Asians often have a food reaction to alcohol, since food reactions include both allergies and sensitivities.

Diet Start

Direct reactions, however, can eventually involve the immune system, because sooner or later the immune system is called in to repair the mess that direct food reactions cause. Therefore, the symptoms of direct reactions can feel much like allergies. Because of this, direct food reactions are sometimes called false food allergies.

Alcohol has obvious direct actions, but most direct food reactions are more subtle. Often, direct reactions occur when chemicals in foods bind with the cells that produce histamine; these cells are called mast cells. When this happens, it can cause the release of histamine. The food chemicals that are most likely to do this are lectins, which are most often found in wheat, peanuts, and beans. Another cause can be certain partial proteins, or peptides, that are found in tomatoes, strawberries, shellfish, pork, chocolate, and eggs.

Other foods that often seem to cause direct food reactions are mustard, pineapple, papaya, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds. Ironically, one patient of mine had terrible digestive symptoms, including severe heartburn, and took large amounts of digestive enzymes to help the problem. However, his enzymes were full of papaya, which he later found he was reactive to. When he stopped taking the digestive aids, his digestion improved immeasurably. Moral of the story: don’t trust common knowledge about what’s healthy — trust your own experiences. Everyone is different.

Other foods that sometimes cause direct reactions are those that contain high levels of natural histamines. Histamines are formed in foods that are allowed to age and ferment. Therefore, histamines are often found in aged cheese, sausage, and salami.

Other foods that can cause direct reactions are those that contain the partial proteins tyramine, phenylethylamine, and octopamine. These chemicals, like histamines, can cause blood vessels to expand and contract, which causes tissue swelling. In the head, blood vessel constriction and expansion can cause migraine headaches. That’s why people who get migraines often shun the foods that are high in these partial proteins, such as wine, aged cheese, citrus fruit and yeast.

Another common foodstuff that often causes direct reactions is the artificial sweetener aspartame. Aspartame is mostly composed of the partial protein, or amino acid, called phenylalanine. In some people, it acts directly on brain cells, causing symptoms such as agitation and depression. In other people, it causes blood vessels to contract and expand, triggering migraines. In most people, though, it causes no reaction at all.

Many people also react to MSG, or monosodium glutamate, with headaches, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, and confusion. Others react to various additives, including nitrates, sulphites, and artificial food colours.

Another name for direct food reactions is pharmacologic reactions. That’s a good description, because it implies an important point: foods, like drugs, are chemicals. Not all drugs are good for you — and not all foods are, either.

Now let’s look at the last type of food reaction: immune complex reactions. This type of reaction is not well known. But it should be. It can be a killer.

Foods, like drugs, are chemicals. Not all drugs are good for you, and not all foods are, either.

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Entrepreneur

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Entrepreneur

WORKOUT ANYTIME Franchisee Chris Gately was recently featured in an article on Entrepreneur. The article titled, “Franchise Players: This Man Signed His Franchise Agreement While Serving in Baghdad” was in celebration of Memorial Day, Entrepreneur was profiling Veterans in Franchising. In this Q&A, Chris gives his insight to running a WORKOUT ANYTIME franchise.

You can view the full article here. 

Wauconda WORKOUT ANYTIME Opening Doors Soon

Wauconda WORKOUT ANYTIME Opening Doors Soon

The new Wauconda WORKOUT ANYTIME, owned by Jeff Cercy will be opening their doors by the end of the week. The club, located on Liberty Street in the Jewell Osco shopping center, will be celebrating their grand opening on March 22nd. The equipment is all in place and the final touches on flooring and painting has all been completed.

The public is welcome to come out and see the new club. Those interested in joining can call 847-526-4088 or register on the club’s website: http://workoutanytime.com/locations/wauconda.

How to Organize your Summer Reading

Summer is the perfect time for me to make some progress on the massive stack of books that I accumulate throughout the year. You know that stack — and if you’re like me, that stack may have spawned offspring and multiplied into several stacks around the house. And given the number of summer book studies I keep reading about, I know the stack will continue to grow. Like last week, when I saw that Misty was going to read Number Talks, and I had to get the book.

Or this morning, when I read that Beth at Thinking of Teaching and Brenda at Primary Inspired are hosting a summer book study of Building Mathematical Comprehension: Using Literacy Strategies to Make Meaning by Laney Simmons. I want to read that, too!

With all that I’m currently reading, want to read, and have finished reading, I needed a way to keep track of all these awesome books. Then I remembered GoodReads (this is very distinct from the GoodReader app that I’ve blogged about before).

GoodReads is a social media site focused on reading. I first started using it in 2010 after I finished reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller (if you haven’t read this book, it is a must-read).

She referenced the site in the book, and I used it through my computer for quite a while. Eventually, as I got busier, I started using it less. I recently got an email update about a friend who was using it, however, and it reminded me that I should revisit the site. My how GoodReads has improved since I used it last! First, GoodReads has mobile apps now to help you keep your reading interests up-to-date.

Now, I’m not such a bibliophile that I need to give status updates of what I’m reading non-stop. But these mobile apps have a fabulous feature that I love: a scanner. (Here’s the view of the app from my iPad. The iPhone version is very similar.)

The scanner allows you to scan the barcode on books and then add it to a virtual shelf. Your GoodReads account has 3 default shelves: read, currently reading, and to-read. Shelves are like tags, and you can create your own shelves based on topics or any other organization you’d like. Books can also be housed on multiple shelves at once.

I love using the scan feature to quickly organize the books that I’m reading or plan to read. Given the iPhone app, it’s also a dangerous helpful feature when I go to bookstores and see books that I’d like to read someday. I just scan them in, and it pulls all sorts of data for me about reviews of the book, average rating of the book, page count, etc. For eBooks I’ve purchased that don’t have a scannable barcode, I can also search by title or author.

In addition to using this to manage my summer reading, I expect to use this app more in my classroom library to inventory my collection, identify books that I’ve read or want to read, write recommendations for my students, and so on.

If you decide to give GoodReads a try, feel free to connect with me there. I’d love to connect with other teachers to see what others are reading.

What are some books that you’re planning to read this summer? Any other ideas for ways to use this app? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section, and I hope to connect with you on GoodReads!

Happy summer reading!

Spotted in a hoarders driverway

the front yard was covered in a variety of junk.

Just run across this while out walking about. I think behind it’s a Corvette, and in front of it was a 1990 is Firebird GTA 

Fads Pose Dangers, Don’t Listen to Dietary Fads

However, we need to be careful on this question of diet. Many different ideas are prevalent today. Don’t believe all you hear. There may be some elements of truth in a few of these dietary fads, but usually there is some foolish notion hidden underneath that is neither in harmony with science nor with common sense. Don’t be misled.

Regardless of the many fantastic claims that you may hear, there is no one perfect food. There is none that will meet all the needs of the body any more than there is one perfect material that will serve every purpose in building a house. The best diets are those in which there is plenty of variety. Then if any particular element is lacking in one food, it may be amply provided in another. This is one excellent way of avoiding deficiencies in your diet.

Variety is most important. But it is not the complete answer. We must also use discretion in the choice of foods. Some things that may look tasty are not always healthful and nutritious. Foods that are highly refined are less likely to contain the vital elements to meet the needs of the body. Modern food processing may have its good points. But sometimes the vitamins and minerals are lost in the refining process. It is better to use fresh foods whenever they are available. But be sure that they are really fresh.

Diet Start

Some people tend to think that malnutrition is a problem among the less-favored classes of the world. While this is true, it is surprising how often those with higher incomes also suffer from a different type of malnutrition. They eat plenty of food, but mostly of the wrong type. This so-called “hidden hunger” is very common in large cities, where more artificial living conditions prevail. Modern methods of marketing are providing a wider range of foods. But far too many people still prefer to live on devitalized foods that are woefully inadequate. It is these devitalized foods that lead to hidden hunger.

Such diets fail to provide the body with the right building materials that will keep it functioning properly. Foods that contain a high concentration of sugar and other carbohydrates may provide energy, but other important elements are usually lacking. Soon the organs begin to lose their normal powers of operation. The vital processes of the body are slowed down, and a toxic condition develops. The delicate balance of nature is upset, and the whole body suffers.

It is amazing the amount of food that one person may consume in his lifetime. Someone has estimated that we eat up to 1,400 times our own weight in a lifetime of seventy years! Think of how much money we spend in buying all this food! Surely such an expenditure as this is worthy of our closest study. Are we buying health, or weakness and disease? A balanced diet is the very best type of insurance against those degenerative diseases so common today.

It is true that diet alone is not the answer to all of our health problems. Other things must also be considered. But a well-balanced diet will always help to restore those body tissues that have been laid waste by serious disease. And what fun we can have while we are getting well again! So much depends on the attitude of the mind.

Mental Attitudes Important

Centuries ago the wise man gave us a great scientific truth when he said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” This is absolutely true. It is the optimistic person who usually makes a good recovery. Because he is happy in himself and confident in the future, his health naturally begins to improve. His whole body responds to the sheer joy of living.

But the wise man did not stop there. He also added these significant words: “A broken spirit drieth the bones.” This observation is just as true as the other. A pessimistic attitude soon affects the whole body. It slows down the circulation of the blood. It interferes with good digestion. It takes all the joy out of living. In the end, it may so completely change the individual that he becomes old and worn out long before his time.

Our mental attitudes are very important, particularly as they affect this question of diet. Many of us are shortening our lives without fully realizing what we are doing. Some of us eat too much, often for no other reason than to soothe our injured feelings. Or perhaps we do not take time to eat sensible meals. We grab something and run. We are in too much of a hurry. Then we wonder why we are weak and sick. We do not seem to realize that our diet has much to do with our endurance and also with our ability to resist disease. All the vitamin pills in the world will not make up for the lack of a sensible way of living.

Millions of people are spending fortunes trying to win back their lost figures and restore their flagging energies. All they needed was to apply a little common sense in the first place. No one can hope to have an attractive appearance, a healthy skin, and a clear mind unless he is willing to use discretion in choosing his meals. Even good foods, if taken to excess, may destroy the vitality of the body. Anything that is overdone may cause trouble, even too many vitamins.

A balanced diet is the very foundation of good living. To keep the body functioning smoothly and efficiently, it must be supplied with a constant stream of essential nutrients. This must be clear to all. Yet, it is a shocking fact that many farmers and dairymen are more interested in how they feed their cattle than in how they feed their children! Of course, it pays to see that cattle are well fed. But isn’t it time we begin to think about ourselves and our children as well?

Today, thanks to modern medical discoveries, we have less to fear from serious infections. But degenerative diseases are becoming more frequent on every hand. How can these be avoided in your own particular case? This is something you should feel free to discuss with your own family doctor. He is the best one to advise you on such matters. But there is no question that a good, sensible diet will always help. And when we follow such a program, we will feel stronger and more energetic, our mealtimes will be happier, and we can look forward to enjoying better health for years.

And More: Deals and Sales – Black Friday Weekend 2013 Deals Are On Now


I don’t usually talk about current sales/promotions on this site [or haven’t so far], but after seeing all of the sales on out there, I had to make a quick post just to say that there are some great deals on now! 

Even if you don’t live in the United States (for instance, I’m in Canada [eh]) you can still take advantage of them, as most electronics and entertainment companies are on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend bandwagon, with tons of purchases available online – and it’s all “nuthin’ but good” for gamers… Steam, Origin, Gamefly and other digital gaming distribution platforms are all chock full of great sales, as is Amazon, TigerDirect, MemoryExpress and other local and online hardware stores, allowing you to finally get that Upgrade you’ve been wanting, should you decide to jump on a deal out there.

Some examples of games on sale are below; but whether you buy a few games this weekend or save your money and just play with the new influx of players in your own favourite online game – I hope you enjoy your weekend and have some fun:

An example of the Black Friday Weekend Sales for 2013 on Steam

A small example of the Black Friday Weekend Sales for 2013 on Origin

An example of the Black Friday Weekend Sales for 2013 on Gamefly

See You In The Games!

High-quality protein continue…

Soya’s starring role

Soya is another star player on the protein front, and although it doesn’t have as high a BV as whey protein, meat, fish or eggs, it has a multitude of health benefits which more than justify its inclusion in a low-carb diet; and it is a great vegetarian option.

Soya contains all-important isoflavones, which can reduce insulin levels, decrease arteriosclerosis (thickening of the arterial walls) and lower levels of LDL (Low-Density Lipoproteins, or poor cholesterol). It has also been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis (softening of the bones), increase bone mass and enhance the body’s ability to retain calcium.

Diet Start

Soya is also of particular benefit to women, as the isoflavones it contains mimic the action of the female sex hormone oestrogen. It is believed that a diet high in soya can reduce the density of breast tissue, therefore lowering the risk of developing breast cancer.

Make it organic

The quality of the meat and fish we consume has dropped dramatically during the last century. Gone are the days when we were eating meat that came from animals allowed to graze freely on nutritious grass, and fish caught inunpolluted rivers and seas. Today, most farm animals are fed on grains that are high in carbohydrates and omega-6 fatty acids, then pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. And fish are being farmed in restrictive conditions, rendering them more fatty than their wild counterparts.

The only real answer is to buy the best that you can afford – the organic option being the healthiest and most nutritious. Organic is better because the quality of the food is better. It isn’t loaded with drugs and hormones, isallowed to graze naturally, and quite often comes from wild sources, so that the level of omega-3’s is higher, levels of saturated fats lower.

Protein Q&A

Q. Where does whey come from?

A, Whey comes from milk. During the process of turning milk into cheese, the whey protein is separated from the curds.

Q. Why use whey?

A. It contains the perfect combination of amino acids, in just the right concentrations for optimal performance in the body. Both hormonal and cellular responses seem to be greatly enhanced by whey supplementation. If you are trying to increase muscle mass, whey protein is invaluable in building and retaining muscle tissue.

Q. How do I know how much protein I need?

A. Easy-just follow these simple calculations. If you are sedentary you need 0.8g protein per kilogram of bodyweight (0.36g per pound of bodyweight). If you are active, you need 1.4g protein per kilogram of bodyweight (0.64g per pound of bodyweight). So a woman weighing 63kg (1401b) who exercises needs 88.2g of protein per day. A woman weighing 63kg (140Ib) who isn’t active would be fine on 50.4g of protein per day.

Q. Can I have all my protein in one meal?

A. No, it is best to spread it out over the day, so divide it between your three meals and two snacks. You can do this by having eggs at breakfast, a portion of nuts for your morning snack, some fish at lunchtime, a whey protein shake as an afternoon snack, and finally by including a piece of lean meat in your evening meal.

My Trip to Batticaloa cont….

My trip to Batticaloa was one year in the making. In March and April of 2010 I was requested to do an Organization Capacity Assessment of a project which ran across 4 districts and to come up with scenarios for independent / sustainable operation. The Scenario that was selected was to restructure the project in to a single operating office in Batticaloa and to have a satellite operation in Trincomalee. It took nearly one year for the project to be restructured and to get a not for profit limited company registered. This is a rare occasion when the funders of the project seeing that the need is still there and that the services delivered through the project are still relevant wanting to develop a sustainable organization to continue to serve the public / target group. My experience in the past has been that most funders / donors say that they want sustainability but don’t put enough money and effort. “Hats off” to the funders of this project; they seem to have got it right.

This trip was to develop a 3 year Strategic Plan for the newly formed not for profit limited company. On my way to Batticaloa I took the routr through Habarana as the A 5 and the A 26 was under repair. On the way I encountered a wild elephant on the main road at around 2 PM. (See my earlier post for a photo of the Elephant) It is rare to see the elephants on the road during the day. However during the night I have come across them more frequently.

The assignment went as planned and now I have to develop the documentation (Strategic Plan and the Process Document). On my way back I took the A 5 and the A26. The authorities are developing these roads really well. These roads will be fantastic to drive on once completed. It is a scenic route.

The view from the A 26 Road

First Impressions – Google Play App: “Screen Recorder” by Kimcy929 [App Mini-Review]

This article has been initially posted as Text-Only at this time, to speed up publishing, focusing on a certain issue. I will return to this posting and add more data on Quality and Performance, Screenshots and then eventually Share it on Twitter/Google+/etc… Soon™

[This past Christmas, my father gave me a neat little tablet to play on – Thanks, Dad! I have been enjoying the heck out of it, learning what it does (cough how to use a tablet cough), what applications it can run (I can write a Blog Post laying down!) and of course, what games I can play on it, heh. I hope to give some Tutorials/Walkthroughs and Reviews on Games and Apps from it sometime… Oh wait, here’s one now! haha]

The Google Store page for the app, with the ‘Play’ button removed [I felt it was a bit distracting, making people think there might be a ‘video to play’ here at The Blog], replaced with The Blog’s ‘G’ brevity logo version.
The Google Play logo in the upper-left will be used to denote images that come ‘directly’ from the Google Play website/page for the app for these types of App Reviews/Posts (Unedited other than logos or helpful arrows/etc added).

Google Play App – Screen Recorder by Kimcy929

Straight to it: while this app did in fact ‘record the screen’, it could not record the game sounds themselves (‘internal’ gameplay audio), it only recorded microphone sounds (‘external’ audio outside the device). While this is useful for some, especially Vloggers, I was personally looking for a screen recorder for my tablet that recorded gameplay and the audio from the game, for Tutorials, Walkthroughs, etc.**

Also, an issue arose where ANY video I viewed after installing this app (even videos I had on my device BEFORE installing it) only came up as a black screen, with the message:

“…Video Is Playing On External Display…”





Now, I had not enabled any such option, nor did I connect any External Displays…

I did some research online and found many people running into this issue with various apps and devices (tablets, phones, etc). Looking at the App configuration in the Settings of my tablet for Screen Recorder, I found this app giving itself the ability to ‘draw over other apps’ (which it can do to create on-screen writing, or arrows, which it advertises that it can do on the Google Play Store page for the app).

This is fine and these features are no doubt useful; however, I could no longer view any videos with the built-in Video Player (“complete action using > Video”) – I literally could no longer view any videos I had on my device, at all. [Even with third-party Media Players, such as VLC Media Player, simply viewing any videos was now ‘broken’…]

Video playing of the Video portion of Videos on the Video Player that
plays Videos was like, really broken now

Even after disabling this option that it gave itself without prior warning (found in Settings > Apps > ScreenRecorder > DrawOverOtherApps), all videos still came up with just a black screen and that message – that is, just Disabling the Setting did not ‘undo’ the inability to no longer watch videos in the Video Player. Disabling this setting, then Uninstalling this app, then Restarting the Tablet, fixed the issue [in my case, the only way it was fixed].

While this app does record the screen, allows for microphone use, doesn’t seem to affect gameplay performance very much, and seems to have a decent selection of Resolutions and Bitrates (eg. 1280×720, 8000kbps), also having some additional helpful things like drawing arrows on the screen, etc; it does not record ‘built-in’ gameplay audio – which I personally was looking for** – and it gave itself a power which interfered with normal tablet video viewing afterward… Not only that, but it only recorded a few videos before no longer working, with a message just repeatedly showing up stating, “Unfortunately, Screen Recorder has stopped”.

No changing of Settings (of my tablet or the app itself) was able to remedy this or get past it [the message coming up and no video being recorded]. Reinstalling the app made it work again, but after a few recordings, only that message repeating on the screen was the result, once again. Therefore, considering all of the above [but including the fact that the app must have worked for other people, that is, those not running into this ‘Screen Recorder has stopped’ message problem], this app earned Three Stars at Google Play from me, as of the time of this writing.

Being ‘completely free’ (No Fee and No Ads), and having a nice selection of ‘standards’ like Resolution and Bitrate choices, and having ‘extras’ like being able to draw on the screen; perhaps with some improvements to bugfixing, enhancements to how it handles itself (asking/warning what would happen before utilizing the “Draw Over Other Apps” ability would be helpful to users that might run into a problem with it) and adding the ability to record internal gameplay audio**, Screen Recorder could potentially be a very capable and ‘feature-rich’ screen recording application.

3/5 Stars
★★★☆☆


This app (and a shortened version of the above Review by The Blog (to fit on Google Play’s Review area)) can be found on Google Play, at:

Screen Recorder by Kimcy929
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kimcy929.screenrecorder

[Note: I am not affiliated with Screen Recorder or Kimcy929 in any way, and I have not and will not be compensated by them for writing about them here. I am merely a user of their application and like to help others with helpful information, when I can. The information in this post was obtained on an LG G Pad IV, and therefore might vary slightly from your own experience (Settings, Menus, Performance, Problems, etc) – but I hope that it was still found useful in some way.]

** More on this later… I have recently found out that Google has taken away the ability [temporarily?] to record game output AND game audio at the same time (“internal audio”) in the latest Android versions – save for a small number of possibilities on LG and Samsung devices. But, I’ll cover this at a later time, when I find out more solid details…

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN IDEAS GERRR……

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

Here are some tips on how to keep your energy bill is lower and save valuable resources of the Earth at the same time.

* Heating your swimming pool: Depending on where you live and heat that is during the spring months and summer, you may not need to heat your pool as often as you think. The houses are in hot desert climates and do not need to heat the pool at night or when he decided to entertain. By heating the water, taking into account alternative methods of heating used to heat water. Energy from solar panels on your home is an excellent way to harness the sun’s energy to heat your pool.

* Cleaning the Pool: Many use automated equipment, which operate in the pool when the pool is empty. While helping to keep the pool clean when you’re in, but also the use of electricity 24 hours a day. Try to reduce the frequency to an automatic cleaning to be used. Also choose to use less chlorine, and to consider alternatives such as cleaners, detergents, ozone. Keep the cover over the pool when not in use also helps keep the debris in the air cleaner, leaves and twigs.

* Keep all plastic and vinyl toys away from the game: Even if I do not believe that the maintenance of the environment around the pool with pool toys the child is also important. Many pool toys are made of vinyl or PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride. These types of toys, release toxins and chemicals hazardous off-gas. Try to select the pool toys that are made from natural organic materials and the safety of your children, and help keep the pool a greener place to play in.

* Use other sources of water in your pool: In your geographic area, using other methods to collect water in your home into account. Options could include rainwater that can be used to fill your pool, and the plumbing in your home for showers, baths, basin and toilet. This measure can help you reduce your water bill and conserve water on Earth. For many municipalities, geographic, you can earn additional benefits by LEED, or the benefits of saving tax on income tax time. Greywater reuse for your home is a viable option for many homeowners.

Owning a pool should be an enjoyable experience, after all, you deserve to relax and entertain in the warmer months of the year. Despite owning a pool should not be at the expense of its portfolio, the precious resources of the Earth or the health of your family. Follow these tips to green the pool and enjoy all the benefits of reading and resting in the sun.

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

The 2017 Extra Life 24-Hour Gaming Marathon, In Support of The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals [Post Updated All Weekend]

Wow, it’s that time again – time to try to play some games for a cause – in my case, I play as much as I can through the weekend for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (as I was born and raised in the province of Alberta, Canada).

This year actually ‘sprung up’ on me, as I haven’t been feeling well these past few weeks… I have had a bit of a fever [38C/100F+]  the entire time and have been extra sore and slow (I say ‘extra’ as I myself have a condition, called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – which is basically an infection of the brain and spine that causes Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue symptoms (pain and tiredness, respectively) – a condition I have had for 12 years now [wow it’s been that long]). So, playing for this charity every year is special to me and something I have tried to do every since I heard of Extra Life back in 2015.

Image Link to The Extra Life main website, where you can see all of the other wonderful people participating in this event, many of them streaming their marathon Live on Twitch and other streaming sites! (Link opens in a new window)

Due to my own illness then, I cannot play 24 hours straight through, but I count my gaming hours Playing For The Kids™ over the entire weekend of the event (in this years’ case, Saturday November 4th and Sunday November 5th), hopefully tallying 24 hours in total.. (in the case that I am not ‘up to it’ for that long, I allow myself to count my wife’s gaming time, as she generously tries to play beside me and add hours, for a “Total Household Hours” amount). [I always hope that in the spirit of the event and the intention, that my dear readers and those at Extra Life find this acceptable]

As has occurred in past years, I do not have the ability/energy to set up and maintain a constant Stream of some sort yet (through Twitch, YouTube and other streaming services); but what I do is I share some details and Screenshots (and Videos if I can) of what I am able to play, here at The Blog, in an ongoing and updated post – one that I will be adding to as the weekend progresses (including Sunday Night), right here!

So, follow along with me as I Play For The Kids™ all weekend, updating this very post as I go – and if you wish to take part, you can Pledge/Donate directly to the Extra Life charity via the Logo/Image just below or through this link for 2017: https://www.extra-life.org/participant/247989 – and whether you pledge anything or not, feel free to just return to this posting for gameplay time Updates, Screenshots, some Video Clips from the weekend – and more!

See You In The Game!

Update, Saturday 12:30PM MST: Beginning The Marathon, with the initial post above and gathering snacks and drinks to start Playing For The Kids™!

Update, Saturday 7:30 PM MST: As usual with this event, I always try to play some good’ol Minecraft Hardcore Mode (you only get one life!), to see how far I can get during the marathon.

Usually, I don’t get too far and starting out this year was no exception. I spawned in a new Hardcore world – in a wintery biome which I found out later was “Cold Taiga” – which meant, although there were plenty of Trees for Wood to use, there were no seeds to find and plant right away for food, there were no large hills in sight (for easy access to Stone and Coal to cook any foods I might come across) except in the far distance – and as night fell, I died right away to a band of two skeletons and a zombie that came out from behind one of the many, many trees…. Wow what a harsh start!

I began another Hardcore world, hoping to spawn in a relatively easier biome – and I did… I quickly collected Seeds from the Grass around me and began a Garden to grow Wheat RIGHT AWAY, heh. I had to cull some of the many Pigs I found around me in order to eat, planning on replenishing their numbers later on. I then carved out a little Mud Hut in the hillside nearby and settled in for the night…

Updates on that World as I play more – but for now I have to stop and take another break. More to come!

Total Gameplay Time: ~2.0 hrs

Update, Sunday 10:30 AM MST: I played last night right up until I fell asleep, starting a “Just One Life™” character in Fallout 4 (where I stop playing and delete that character upon dying just once), and was popping into various games for short periods of time, like Marvel Heroes (which has Daily Login Rewards, with small ‘gifts’ every few days you enter the game – and a Free Hero available at the no doubt-difficult-to-get-to, Day 300) [Even if I do not have the energy to play for a while, I try to pop in to register a login, heh – to see how far I can go].

I also popped into The Elder Scrolls: Legends, a Virtual Collectible Card Game based on The Elder Scrolls series [a good game for slow-paced-yet-still-kinda-flashy-and-enjoyable gameplay that you can play against the CPU/AI only, if you desire to]. I also ran a few Benchmarks and did a few quick driving tests in Grand Theft Auto V, trying out some settings I saw in YouTube videos online (to see if I get the same framerate with the same hardware) – but I felt a bit weird at the concept of playing GTA games for this Event [shouldn’t I be playing games kids would play, or at least Family-Friendly games? lol], so I didn’t stay in Los Santos very long.
Today, I plan on playing as much as I can, continuing my Minecraft: Hardcore Mode world, and my Fallout 4 “Just One Life™” character, along with some Elder Scrolls Online gameplay, hoping to get up to 24 hours in Total. I’ll also post more Screenshots next Update. Here I go!
Total Gameplay Time: ~ 5.0 hrs


Update, Monday 9:30 AM MST: Well I played as much as I could… 
In Minecraft, I continued my Hardcore Mode world (actually Marathon 2017 World 2.0, as I died without even leaving the first Biome in the first one (above)), making a nice Garden along the shore of a River nearby…
When night fell upon the world, since I was out on a ‘walkabout’, looking around the Biome, I quickly dug into the nearest hill, making myself a small mudhut house to Craft and Cook in… I should have maybe stayed in it all night, but I thought I would get started on collecting more Food, by killing a few Spiders and using their silk to make String, crafting a Fishing Pole.. And what happened? Two Skeletons came out from behind a tree and as I ran back toward my little ‘second mud hut’, they cornered me and filled me full of arrows, as I weakly flailed my Rock Sword back and forth… I hope my ‘Deeds Will Be Remembered’ [hehe Diablo2]
To make myself feel better, I popped in an out of a few games for the next few hours… I tried out Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which seemed like an open-world racing game, with good graphics.
Playing that game reminded me of a ‘test’ I wanted to do (I love running Benchmarks and Tests, heh) with Grand Theft Auto Five (GTAV), where I saw a video of someone running it on High Settings, to test out the differences between how it performed on two different CPUs (Processors, referring to the ‘main engines’ of a computer). So I started up GTAV and ran the Benchmark (to see if I got similar results) and drove around the city a bit.
While the game looked good, I felt a little weird playing such a ‘mature’ game during a Marathon for children’s charities [lol shouldn’t I be playing ‘family friendly games’? or does it matter?], so I just took a few Screenshots (of course), and then left it for now, for something else.

The Beta for Paladins, a MOBA-slash-FPS game by the makers of Tribes:Ascend and Smite, was going on, so I popped into that game, going through the Training and playing for a while afterward.


Total Gameplay Time: ~ 10.0 hrs

Alas, just like before, I couldn’t quite make the 24 Hours on my own… My own illness [where I am sore a lot and get tired easily] keeps me from playing for very long at one time. However, as I stated earlier, what I like to do, is include the game playing time that My Better Half does alongside me, as part of a “Household Total”… If I include her generous contribution, the new total becomes:

Total Household Time: ~23.0 hrs


Haha – even with her inclusion, I did not ‘quite’ make the 24 Hours in total… But, as stated above, I hope that in the spirit of the Marathon and its’ intention – and mine – I hope that what did accrue would be acceptable… In fact; I do not think that ‘total game time’ is the main goal of this Marathon… This time is perhaps to literally ‘take time’, to think about those that are much more unfortunate than us, and in the case of this Charity, much younger than most of us… During this Day or Weekend, whichever it is, I think, we remember those out there, those that are in need. In this spirit/state-of-mind; I thank you Dear Reader, for following along in this small adventure. Whether you donated at all or not, I hope that you played a little bit of some game, took a little bit of time, to think about those that are in much more pain and need than most of us are. And I thank you for following me on this small journey. Take care, my unmet friend – and perhaps See You In The Game.

Reverse Lunge with Diagonal Lift

Lunges are a fantastic functional lower body exercise, and the benefits can be enhanced by adding an upper body component to the basic lunge movement pattern. One of the most productive total body lunge variations is the reverse lunge with a diagonal lift.
The exercise improves hip mobility in the front of the rear leg, while also increasing strength and stability in the front leg and increasing core strength and mobility. Specifically, it improves hip flexor mobility while training the body to move smoothly in the spiral line. It also encourages proper tri-planar movement.
Start standing with feet shoulder width apart in upright posture. Hold a medicine ball, dumbbell, or kettlebell (or even a body bar) positioned at the right hip pocket region. Step back with the right leg to perform a reverse lunge. At the same time move both arms diagonally up and back over the left shoulder until a comfortable stretch is felt in the anterior (front) of the right hip. Do NOT allow the back to arch. Pause in this position for one or two seconds.
Do 10 – 15 repetitions on one side then repeat on the other side. It is important that you keep both feet facing forward and keep your trunk upright throughout the movement.
Regressions:
Perform the movement without a medicine ball, dumbbell, or bar
Start in the split stance lunge position instead of having to step back
Progressions:
Increase weight you are holding.
Perform the movement in an alternating side manner vs one side at a time.
Video Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDyGhcm-aVs

Fabulous Fiber!

Everyone has heard that they need to eat fiber, but few people really know what it is and why it is so important.     Fiber is a form of carbohydrate along with sugars and starches.      Unlike sugars and starch fiber cannot be used for energy because it cannot be broken down into sugar.     Starch and sugars both end us as blood sugar aka glucose.
Starches are simply multiple units of sugar hooked together, and we have enzymes that break them apart so we can use the sugar for fuel.   Fiber is also multiple units of sugar hooked together, but humans lack the enzymes necessary to break it down into sugars so it is not absorbed.    This is very important when thinking about carbohydrate containing foods because they are NOT all the same.
For example, a glass of fruit juice is essentially a glass of sugar water with some beneficial plant chemicals and in many cases a nice dose of vitamin C.    It can dramatically boost blood sugar, and if you consume too much it can definitely drive weight gain.     While a large serving of brocolli is mostly fiber with little sugar and starch and is also chock full of beneficial plant chemicals, but with almost no effect on blood sugar!
There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.    Ideally you want to eat both.   There is also a third type of fiber called “Digestive Resistant Starch” (see https://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2017/10/digestion-resistant-starch-all-starch.html)
Soluble fiber, found in foods such as cucumbers, blueberries, and beans, has a gel-like consistency and slows down your digestion.     This helps with satiety (feeling satisfied).    It also slows the break down and absorption of cholesterol and other nutrients like starches and sugar which can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.    Some foods with soluble fiber also help feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Insoluble fiberis found in foods like green, leafy veggies, green beans, and celery.    It does not dissolve to a gel and stays intact as it moves through your colon.   By adding bulk, it helps food move more quickly through your digestive tract reducing transit time.  Insoluble Fiber is sometimes referred to as “roughage”, and it along with soluble fiber can help with constipation.
Benefits of High Fiber Intake
Fiber intake is very important for keeping blood sugar levels under control, and studies have shown that people who take in at least 26 grams of fiber per day had a much lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
There is also an inverse relationship between fiber intake and heart attack, with research showing that people eating a high fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.    High fiber diets may also help lower blood pressure.
Another interesting research finding about fiber is that for every 7 grams of fiber you consume each day your stroke risk is decreased 7 percent.      To put this into perspective this equates to about 2 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Fiber, and psyllium in particular, can help move yeasts and fungus out of your digestive system which may help prevent them from triggering acne and rashes.
Fiber can also provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome in many people.
Fiber intake may also help reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones probably through its action in controlling blood sugar.
Sources of Fiber
Contrary to popular opinion grains are probably not your best source of fiber.    Unfortunately, non-organic grains are chock full of glyphosate which is pesticide banned in most other countries outside the US because they have no allegiance to Monsanto who produces it.    
A high grain diet promotes insulin and leptin resistance thereby increasing your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer. 
Better choices of fiber includes Organic Whole Husk Psyllium.     If you use this supplement it is critical to get organic psyllium as non-organic psyllium is heavily sprayed with chemicals.     Other great sources include chia seeds, berries, root vegetables such as sweet potato, peas and beans, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and celery.
How much fiber?
Experts recommend that woman eat a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day and men consume 38 grams per day.     However higher intakes may be more beneficial.     
It is important to SLOWLY increase your fiber intake and keep your water intake high to prevent potential issues caused by eating fiber without sufficient fluid.
Low-Fiber Diet
There are circumstances where high fiber intake is contraindicated and timing for fiber intake relative to drugs and supplements is important.   People with chronic digestive issues may need to remove fiber for some period of time because fiber feeds the bacteria in your gut.    Although as a general rule this is highly beneficial there are circumstances where high fiber intake can feed the wrong microorganisms such as pathogenic bacteria.

Fiber can also bind certain medications and minerals dramatically reducing their absorption so many drugs and mineral supplements should not be taken at the same time as fiber.

Deals And Sales – ‘Things Goin’ On This Weekend’ (Weekend of August 11th, 2017) [Notification]

Just a quick Notification of some things going on… Once in a while, I try to post about Sales going on somewhere – especially the ‘big’ ones, like Summer’s End or Christmas Sales. This weekend, there are a few ‘Free Weekends’ and Sales going on (that I saw so far) and thought I wanted to share them, just in case there were others interested in these games, heh. Here’s what I saw is Goin’ On This Weekend:


Guild Wars 2 Expansion (Path Of Fire) is Free To Try all weekend:

https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/get-ready-for-the-guild-wars-2-path-of-fire-preview-weekend/

GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) is having a couple of Sales on games which include series like Master Of Orion, Warhammer 40K, Painkiller, Delta Force, Red Faction and at the same time having a sale on Strategy Games like Codename Panzers, Men of War, Hybrid Wars, Total Annihilation, Empire Earth, and more:

https://www.gog.com/promo/20170807_weekly_sale
and
https://www.gog.com/promo/20170811_special_promo_strategy_sale

Some other games, which are Free To Try all weekend via Steam, are:

For Honor, the medieval swordplay/battle game is Free To Try all weekend and selling for half-price
(for those that remember Die By The Sword, it looks like it may be similar to that, but in an ‘arena’ setting [sorry, but I haven’t been able to try it yet]):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/304390/FOR_HONOR/

Saints Row IV, from the crazy “each game is increasingly like GTA-on-drugs” open-world/action
series, is Free To Try all weekend and selling at a reduced price
[I haven’t tried it yet, but I am still playing the wacky Saints Row III once in a while and still getting a kick out of it]:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/206420/Saints_Row_IV/

Sorry I didn’t get to finishing this sooner, but the weekend isn’t over yet! Get out there and try these games out or grab something you want on sale – and maybe See You In The Game!

Edit:

I completely forgot one more I was going to post in here! 

GamersGate also has some games on Sale right now, including Borderlands (for five bucks!), the Mafia series, Bioshock series, Xcom series, and more:

https://www.gamersgate.com/offers

[Note: I am not affiliated with these game sites, nor do I receive any compensation for mentioning them here (the Links do not have any ‘affiliate tags’ or similar additions to them) – I am merely an enthusiastic gamer and like to share deals and other goings-on with other gamers like me. Enjoy!]

Innovative Office Furniture Sets Were Designed by Vitra

These new and innovative office furniture sets were designed by Vitra and are basically practical approaches to the concept of “Citizen Office”.

Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

This term was invented by the company in 1991 and taken to another level with the furniture collections below. Jo Kaiser (manager for the North American branch) gave a statement which summarizes the idea of the project: “we believe you should use an office like you would a city”. In other terms- more comfort while making the most of the available space. Here is further information from the company: “A Citizen Office encourages the occupants to work using a range of postures and to move within the office as much as possible. Working while standing or assuming various casual postures provides variety and relaxation while maintaining employee health. The Citizen’s Office takes us a step further than traditional ergonomics – physical activity is integrated with office etiquette in a natural manner. “

Reminder: Diablo II – 2014 Ladder Reset is May 27th

That’s right, this is just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the Diablo 2 Ladder Reset for 2014!
So get ready – stock up on energy drink and tell your friends you won’t see them much for the next while – and get on that Ladder! Have fun playing, my wonderful readers – and enjoy being on the Top Of The Heap
(at least until the botters get going)
See You In The Games!

My Trip to Batticaloa

This assignment required me to travel to Batticaloa which is in the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. The drive to Batticaloa is long (About 320 KM) but the killer is that it takes nearly 8 hours to get there. I left at 6.15 AM from Colombo and arrived at 2.15 PM in Batticaloa; stopping only for Breakfast and a cup of tea.

The assignment was 10 day evaluation of the management capacity of an organization who was delivering services to the people of the eastern province. The unique aspect of this assignment was that the client wanted to evaluate very specific aspects of its organization management structure, financial management, HR management, monitoring and communication systems. Therefore I had to customize the tools we used to a very high degree to ensure that the tools we used were compatible with the specific need. It also meant that this level of customization was a green field (Not done before so don’t know the pitfalls) this was further complicated by the fact that the execution of the assignment had to have a tri-linguistic person to facilitate the field work as well as translate at the synthesis workshop.

The assignment went in a smooth manner and it was well received by the employees of the organization. Generally management capacity evaluations can get tricky as some managers take it as a personal weakness and get very defensive.

I was surprised at the weather in Batticaloa and the amount of water on the ground. The roads that went through the lagoon were nearly inundated. Some of the shorter routs to Batticaloa were flooded so I had to travel via Polonnaruwa. In terms of the post war development in the east; I must say that all the reports regarding infrastructure development are correct and perhaps under reported. Road, bridge and utility projects are still going on and the whole of the eastern province looks like one giant construction site.

The fishing industry is booming in Batticaloa and the seafood prices are less than half of what it is in Colombo. So the team had seafood at every opportunity. The tourism industry has a demand but the number of rooms available seemed to be inadequate for the demand. There is a dire need for quality hotel rooms in Batticaloa. The availability of jobs would be the main social issue in the coming months as the construction industry starts to finish the construction projects.

I have to travel to Wadduwa (from Batticaloa) to attend the 6th South Asian Regional Workshop on Resource Mobilization which starts today; so will be on the road for the rest of the day.

Getting Started with a Flipped Classroom

Last week, I shared a bit about why I flipped my classroom, and I got some great questions! Today I want to share a bit more about my process and the logistics for flipping. There are lots of ways to do it, and I’m sure there are many other great ideas out there, but this is what has worked for me so far.

1. Plan your lessons 

a) Does it make sense to flip?
You don’t want to flip for the sake of flipping. I always ask myself, “Would this lesson make sense as a flipped lesson?” There are times when some introductory lessons require lots of hands-on scaffolding, and my answer might be “no.” But other times, when the lesson is mostly information and practice, the flipped model absolutely makes sense.

b) What content must be covered?
I go through my math lesson plan, and determine the content that has to be covered in the video. I’m really selective about this because I want my video to be less than 10 minutes long. It’s still a mini-lesson, after all, and if I go any longer than that, my students will tune out. Plus, even though the video may be 10 minutes, the viewing time could be much longer than that if students are pausing the video to write things down or take notes. I try to keep in mind the idea that less is more.

c) Am I the best person to deliver the content?
Usually my answer is “yes,” but not always. I’ve tried to share videos from Khan Academy or LearnZillion in the flipped model, and the kids just didn’t respond as well to those. They’re more likely to tune in when the video is made by their teacher because they have a personal connection. There were a few times when I’ve used someone else’s videos because the production was significantly better in some regard (e.g., it included songs or humor that I couldn’t pull off). But usually, I make the videos myself.

2. Choose your tools

Once I know the content of my lesson, I decide what method I’ll use to produce the video. I choose from a few different options.

a) Screencasts
Sometimes I have a presentation already created in a flipchart for my ActivBoard, and I can just film my voice interacting with my computer screen on that. My favorite tool for screencasting is Screencast-o-matic. It’s very user-friendly and it uses a yellow circle to highlight your mouse so students know where to focus their attention. The free version works well, but for $15/year, you can get lots more editing and uploading options. If you’re interested in screencasting, I would recommend trying out the free version for a while to see if it’s something you’d like.

b) Whiteboard apps
Usually I use whiteboard apps such as Explain Everything or Educreations to make my flipped lessons. I always create the slides in advance so that I don’t waste precious recording time writing out problems or building models that could simply be explained. Then once all of the slides are in place, I’ll record the audio over them. This approach also allows me to work in pieces, too, because I never know when I’m going to get interrupted.

c) Paper slide shows
I’ve blogged about paper slide shows before here. Sometimes the lessons are a bit more hands-on (e.g., using a protractor), and I want to show students some examples. In those instances, I use my DEWEY Document Camera Stand ($120, www.copernicused.com) that turns my iPad into a document camera, and I work and film underneath it. I mostly use this approach with Geometry and Measurement standards, but when I need to do a lot of physical manipulations, the paper slide show works well.

3. Choose your platform

Once I’ve made the video, I need to upload it to a platform for students to view. YouTube is blocked for students at my school, so I use Vimeo instead. I ended up buying a Vimeo Plus subscription last year ($59.95/year or $9.95/month). That gave me much more space for uploads each week (5 GB vs. 500 MB with the free version), and it sped up my upload times, so it was worth it to me when I was crunched to get the videos uploaded after school. I created a channel for some of my videos, and now I’m going back to re-make some or better tag/organize the videos for each unit.

4. Share your content

Once the videos are uploaded on Vimeo, I needed a way to share the links to the videos. When I started, I was posting the links after school each day, but I eventually cut out that step. Now I make one Google Document each term with all of the dates and lesson topics, and then I just copy and paste the links into that document as they’re done. That helps my students because they find the video links in one spot, and I can post the links as they’re available. Here’s an example of what that document looked like one term.

Bonus Tips

1. Make your videos in batches. 
I found it much easier to make all of my videos for the week at once. I could usually tackle this in a couple of hours each week, and it was much less stressful than trying to film every day. I was able to find my rhythm with the process when I batch-produced videos, so that’s how I try to work now. 
2. Start small.
Even if you only make one video each week, you’re still starting to build a library of flipped lessons for future use. I didn’t make as many videos as I’d wanted to last year, but I’m grateful for the ones I already have done because that’s less work I’ll have to do this year.
3. Divide and conquer.
See if someone else on your grade level team would be interested in flipping with you, and then divide up the lessons. Even if you’re not the one teaching the lesson in every video, the students will appreciate it being someone they know. 
4. Get some cheap .mp3 players for student check-out.
Most of my students had Internet access at home to watch the videos, but a couple didn’t. I wrote a grant to buy 10 inexpensive .mp3 players that students could check out to watch the videos. They didn’t require an Internet connection because I saved the videos straight to the hard drives, and since they were cheap .mp3 players (<$20 each), they didn’t have any bells and whistles to make them targets for theft. It was a workable solution for those students who lacked technology access at home. 
Next week, I’ll share more about what my math block looks like under the flipped model. Until then, I’d love to hear from you. What are some tools you use for video production in your class? What challenges do you foresee with a flipped model? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

a passenger train in India had a most unusual issue, 22 carriages carrying 1000 people, got disconnected from the engine, and the emergency brakes didn’t work to stop it, it rolled backward 7 miles

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india-43697965/engineless-runaway-train-in-india-gives-passengers-a-scare

Paperless Mission #12: Collecting Student Work

This is the twelfth installment in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. You can check out the other entries in the series here. Also be sure to link up with my Paperless Challenge Linky!

Mission #12: Collecting Student Work

Recently, I shared how I distribute student assignments through Dropbox. Today I’m going to share how students turn in those assignments. To do that, I primarily use Edmodo.

Once you’ve created an assignment in Edmodo, students will be able to see it as they log-in.

If it’s just a text-based assignment, they can type the text in the comment section and submit it.

Often, however, my assignments tend to require them to include an attachment of some sort. These can fall into a couple different categories.

Photos & Movies

The Edmodo app allows you to load photos directly from your camera roll as an attachment. Just select “Attach: File.”

Documents produced in other apps (e.g., Pages, Keynote, etc.)

This process has a couple extra steps, but it’s still easy to accomplish. First, students will need to load the item into their backpack. This is normally accomplished through the “Share and Print” option in the original app. For example, in Pages, you have the option to “Open in Another App.”

This will result in the file being added to the student’s Edmodo “backpack.” Once it’s there, students can attach it to an assignment by choosing “Attach: Backpack.”

Once the items are selected, students get to rate the assignment using the emoticons and click “Turn In Assignment.”

From my perspective, it’s a dream. I don’t have to worry about receiving “No Name” papers, and I can quickly grade and comment on student work that’s turned in.

Apprentice Guides

One of my back to school projects is to make step-by-step tutorials to help students (and teachers) with some of these iPad tasks. The first one is on Turning In Assignments from Pages to Edmodo and you can download a copy of it here.

I apologize that the image quality isn’t perfect — it lost something when I uploaded it to Google Drive for sharing, but it’s still very functional. (I’ll share higher-quality imaged versions later when I get more completed.)

What programs do you use to collect student work electronically in your classroom? I’d love to hear in the comments section.

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Cincinnati Enquirer Community Press

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Cincinnati Enquirer Community Press in an article titled, “Mercy Health’s new hospital could be economic boon to township.” The article focuses on the opening of the Mercy Health – West Hospital in Green Township and how that is creating an opportunity for businesses in the community including the new Cincinnati WORKOUT ANYTIME. The article begins with details about the new hospital, then goes into the economic development going on in the area. The article then details some of the businesses opening in the area, including Tony Petrocelli’s Cincinnati WORKOUT ANYTIME. The article includes this information provided by No Limit Agency: “Cincinnati resident Tony Petrocelli is opening the first Workout Anytime in Ohio near the hospital, in a space that was previously a WesBanco and had been vacant for six years.” The article ends with info on other businesses and plans for development in the area.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

Mercy Health’s new hospital could be economic boon to township
By: Kurt Backschneider

GREEN TWP. — While township leaders are excited about the state-of-the-art medical services Mercy Health is bringing to the West Side, they’re also looking forward to economic development opportunities the new hospital will help attract.

Mercy Health – West Hospital, a 250-bed, full-service hospital off of North Bend Road near Interstate 74, will open for business Sunday, Nov. 10. 

Roughly five years in the making, the $240 million hospital will feature the latest advancements in patient care and comfort, new technologies, private patient rooms and expanded medical services for West Siders.

(Read More)

My Trip to Vietnam

I am on my way to Vietnam for an organization capacity assessment of a multilateral organizations’ branch office as well as their partners. I had few tense moments in getting my visa on time but everything worked out. This will be my third trip to Vietnam; my first trip was back in 2005, my second trip was in 2007.

The first trip was to train the senior management of the largest ministry in Vietnam on Sector Wide Strategic Planning. I recall that my liaison officer was very hospitable and took me around Hanoi every night. I had to sample the snails, frog, cat and dog in a variety of restaurants, washed down with copious amounts of snake wine. It was one of the most memorable assignments for me and I made a lot of friends there.

My second assignment in Vietnam was to train and conduct an organization capacity assessment along with the senior management of a ministry in PDR Lao. As a perk to the staff the training was moved from Vientiane, Lao to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Doing a Strategic Plan / Organization Assessment in a communist country is quite different. There is no Institutional landscape for you to influence or lobby. There is the communist party line and laws and statues based on them; everyone has to live within these boundaries. Influencing and lobbying can be considered political subversion and it is not practiced by organizations. Even when dealing with the private sector you and your competitors have to live and operate within these bounds. It can be argued that this is indeed a very controlled level playing field.

I am looking forward to doing this assignment.

My Trip to New Delhi & Hyderabad Cont…….

Today I finished the 2nd organizational capacity assessment of research organizations. I must say that I was impressed with this organization in terms of its outputs. I was equally impressed as to how they have been able to manage the organization with limited resources.

On the way to the organization today I was able to take a photograph of the 3 wheeler which was kitted out as a tipper and used for garbage collection. Here it is.

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS GET COMFORT

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

Living room is the most popular rentals for guests and where families come together to end their days of rest after a long week at work or enjoying a TV program together. In most cases, this room is on the floor of a house and is very active. It is therefore essential that this area is decorated in a pleasant environment to ensure the comfort of visitors. When planning a room design, the main and most important factor to decide is the purpose of the room. One thing to remember when designing your living space is that you should feel comfortable in the room and the style, since they will likely spend most of their time in the room. Finally, here are some design ideas that show really got in touch with the style you want.

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

In One Sentence™ – Heroes Of The Storm – Hero Overviews [Very Short Reviews Of Each, Currently Text-Only]

[In light of the recent ‘Heroes Of The Storm 2.0’ release – even though this was a ‘work in progress’ since I started playing ‘Heroes’ again a bit ago and it is not fully compiled yet – I wanted to get this hopefully-slightly-helpful information up right away for everyone… So here it is – being added to as I complete it but without any Screenshots yet – I am collecting some together and plan to place them in-line within …Soon™]


Update: Last Added – Arthas on 2017.05.04



In One Sentence™


A Heroes Of The Storm

Hero Thingy Overview  


By: The Game Tips And More Blog


Presented in Alphabetical Order, in a Document-sorta-but-not-really format



[Initially, was invited to the Heroes Of The Storm Beta; but was not able to play much at the time and so I didn’t write about it much back then. I did work on a few articles, such as this one, adding to it the bit that I did play. Only recently (before I knew about “Heroes Of The Storm 2.0”) I got back into this fun game, tallying up my own opinions and favourites, of each and every hero in the game. Seeing “Version 2.0” come along, I felt that, even though I have not fully compiled every singly hero yet, I wanted to share what I did have done, so that everyone – and especially newcomers to the game – could get a quick idea of each Hero and how they played in the game, helping them make a choice as to which one to try. I will be returning to this post and adding more Heroes as I play them… I hope you enjoy these little snippets of info for each one – and See You In The Game!]




Rating Key (if applicable to Hero, when used):

* = Heroes I ‘Liked’ (fit my personal playstyle(s), or is unique in some way)

** = Heroes that are A Personal Favourite (I myself would play often or ‘mainly’ would use (may not match your individual preferences dear reader, this is just a Personal Rating of mine))






Auriel = Finding myself playing more offensively than defensively with this Hero, I enjoyed her AOE and healing capabilities.
Alarak = With skills focusing on mainly attacking Heroes, in the right hands this high-damage-potential Assassin could be quite deadly.

Artanis * = Another Hero with skills focused on killing other Heroes, Artanis comes with high damage output potential – and although I was left feeling oddly ‘limited’ playing him, Artanis was fun to play overall.

Arthas = A mobile tank – big, tough, but a little slow [in my opinion] – with some light healing (and the possibility to heal yourself) and some nice offensive moves as well, Arthas can become quite competent in The Nexus.

Azmodan ** = This large and lumbering behemoth is capable of dealing out huge damage as a “Ranged Specialist” – just be careful as you have fun creating your own armies on the way to dish it out on the enemies’ base, as you are also a ‘heavy target’, so to speak. A Personal Favourite.

Dehaka * = With deceptively simple gameplay [or is that ‘deceptively difficult’?], high damage output potential – and with the ability to ‘tunnel to any bushes on the map’ instead of a mount [with a cooldown], this Hero has some nice unique gameplay to fiddle around with in The Nexus.

Diablo = Huge and tough – as he should be – with some care taken and strategy used, this “Melee Warrior” will be a force to be reckoned with.

E.T.C. * = With strong yet simpler gameplay, ETC and his unique ‘rocker’ attitude is a fun handful of Tauren to Melee with.

Gazlowe ** = With the ability to plop down temporary turrets and shoot what eventually becomes HUGE DETH LAZORZ – not to mention being able to recover Scrap Parts for mana – Gazlowe The Goblin Engineer, though more complicated than many Heroes, was a joy to play and kill with. A Personal Favourite.

Jaina * = With straightforward damage and easy gameplay, Jaina The Mage is fun to use and fun to take out other Heroes with …if mages only had Unlimited Mana [in any game]…

Johanna = Johanna The Paladin is a little more difficult than most melee Heroes – she is far more offensive than defensive as I first thought she might be – with many life-saving capabilities, in the right hands she could be quite a formidable Hero to run with.

Leoric * = With the unique ability to ‘remain undead’ and re-spawn wherever you desire after a time, along with simple melee gameplay, this Hero was neat to play – in the right hands perhaps this one could do a lot of damage in The Nexus.

Lunara = With mainly indirect damage (DOT or Damage Over Time), this Hero was difficult to gauge; with the ability to always move faster than most Heroes (not needing a Mount) and her ranged attacks, perhaps in the right hands she could be quite effective.

Malfurion** = A multi-faceted Support Hero with both healing and offensive capabilities, if you like to play Support in other games (such as an Engineer, or Medic/Cleric), this ambidextrous Hero should be fun for you to play in The Nexus. A Personal Favourite.

Probius * = If I had to sum up Probius I would say words like ‘difficulter’ (because I say that’s a real word now) …and ‘cool’ …and ‘overpowered’ …and ‘work’ …and ‘cute’ …and ‘fun’ …and…other words like that with ellipsis between them.

Raynor = With simpler gameplay and the ability to buff any allies around you – along with the possibility of some light self-healing – Rayor the “Ranged Assassin” is a helpful addition to play in The Nexus.

Rexxar ** = If you’ve ever wanted to handle two Heroes at once, now you can with this ‘hunter-pet’ combination which promises good damage output and a lot of fun – if at a slight cost of easier gameplay. A Personal Favourite.

Samuro ** = If you like to be stealthy, confusing opponents and striking from the shadows, this is a fun Hero to do all that and more with. A Personal Favourite.

Sgt. Hammer ** = This spunky Ranged Hero in a Siege Tank has huge long-range capability – if she can be handled with caring hands. A Personal Favourite.

Sylvanas * = Capable of not only high damage but also ‘converting’ mercenary units to your side, this “Ranged Specialist” also has sleek gameplay and a powerful (translation: annoying to other people) Mind Control ability.

Thrall ** = Fast melee and a bit of spellcasting – along with being easier to play – makes this Hero a fun brute to run with. A Personal Favourite.

Tychus = With good offensive capability, this Hero is easy to learn and practice with.

Valla ** = With fast and smooth gameplay that is fun and easy to get used to – especially if you have played The Demon Hunter in Diablo III as many of the Demon Hunter ‘basic moves’ come into play in The Arena. A Personal Favourite.

Zul’jin ** = Focusing on Ranged damage and even doing more damage as his health lowers, this Assassin felt like it could take out both Heroes and swaths of mercenaries with ease, thanks to his light self-healing – just don’t get caught surrounded while trying to do the highest damage possible! A Personal Favourite.





Repeat  of top comment: [In light of the recent ‘Heroes Of The Storm 2.0’ release – even though this was a ‘work in progress’ since I started playing ‘Heroes’ again a bit ago and it is not fully compiled yet – I wanted to get this hopefully-slightly-helpful information up right away for everyone… So here it is – being added to as I complete it but without any Screenshots yet – I am collecting some together and plan to place them in-line within …Soon™]

How to Overcome a Negative Habit



Habits are powerful.  Unfortunately, they often are created outside our consciousness and without our permission. However, we can consciously change habits. Habits shape our lives far more than we realize— they are so strong, in fact, that they can cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.
At the same time, positive habits can change our lives for the better. So how are habits created and what can we do to influence them in ourselves and our clients?
Three Parts of a Habit
The Cue: a situational trigger that is based on a reward you are seeking.
The Routine:  a physical or emotional action you take to obtain the reward.
The Reward:  the satisfaction you get by following the habit.

The Steps to Changing a Habit
Identify the Routine:  You must identify how you go from a particular cue to the routine of the habit and the reward it gives you.
Understand Cravings and Rewards

The first part of a habit is the cue, but before the cue there is some type of craving.  Cravings drive habits.   Understanding cravings is key to figuring out habits.  In a habit, there is a specific reward that satisfies a particular craving.    In other words, figure out what you are getting from the habit because you ARE getting something from it!
Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings. But we’re often not conscious of the cravings that drive our behaviors. For example, when developing the air freshening product Febreze marketers discovered that people craved a fresh scent at the end of a cleaning ritual.  They found a craving that people were not aware of.     This craving is so strong that without added scent most people do not get satisfaction from an air freshener that just removes odors from the air – they have to smell the scent!   It is exactly the same phenomenon with breath freshners which can be made to eliminate odor WITHOUT any taste/scent, but no one buys them!
Most cravings are like this: obvious in hindsight, but difficult to discern when they are in control of your behavior. It is critical to discover the cravings that drive habits to be able to change or create habits!   To figure out which cravings are driving particular habits, it’s useful to experiment with different rewards. For example, say your reward is having a cookie after studying every night.  The next time you study deliberately substitute something else for the cookie such as going for a short walk or having a cup of tea instead. 
The next time eat an apple and another time change call a friend for call, etc. What you choose to do instead of eating a cookie is not important.  The key is to test different hypotheses to determine the exact craving that is driving your routine.   Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you’re hungry? (In which case the apple should work just as well.) Or is it because you want the burst of energy the cookie provides? (And so coffee may work just as well.) Or is it where you eat the cookie and who you are with?  Do you go to a specific place to get and eat your cookie?  If so maybe the real craving may have to do with a desire to socialize.  
As you test four or five different rewards, use this technique to identify patterns.  After each activity, note the first three things that come to mind after your reward behavior. This can be emotions, random thoughts, reflections on how you’re feeling, or just the first three words that pop into your head. Then, set an alarm on your watch or computer for fifteen minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself: Do you still feel the urge for that cookie? The reason why it’s important to write down three things— even if they are meaningless words— is twofold. First, it forces a momentary awareness of what you are thinking or feeling.
By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving, which is essential in changing a habit.
Determine the Specific Cue for the Habit

This is the trigger that initiates the craving for the reward.   So it is very important to learn the cues for habits.   Common cues including being in a particular place, being with a particular person, a particular time of time of day, a specific emotional state, etc.    Asking yourself these five questions can be very helpful for identifying cues:
Where are you when the urge for a reward hits you?
What time is it?
What is your emotional state?
Who else is present?
What did you do right before you had the urge?
Have a Plan!
Once you understand the habit you want to change you need to create a plan to change the habit!   The easiest way to do that is have a specific plan of action whenever you experience the cue or cues.    For example, if you smoke when you have coffee know this and plan to do something else deliberately whenever you have a cup of coffee.   The plan is key or you will slip right back into the old routine.
Another example is having a few beers every night when you get home.  Through the first three steps you discover that having the beer helps you relax after a stressful day.    You also learned that going for a 20-minute walk or doing Tai Chi gives you that same reward of feeling relaxed.   So now you plan to either go for a walk or do Tai Chi ever day as soon as you get home (or even better before you get home!).

What is the Best Way to Warm-Up?

There is a lot of controversy and conflicting opinions on what you should do for a warm-up for exercise.   One of the reasons is that warm-ups should vary based on the activity you are preparing for and your level of fitness.
As the name implies one of the key goals in warm-up is to literally raise the body temperature and gradually ramp up the cardiovascular system to be prepared for harder efforts.     The length of warm-up should be based on the intensity of the activity.     Low intensity activities like moderate pace walking really require no specific warm-up as you can simply ease into the activity itself as a warm-up.     For activities like competitive athletic events that involve high intensity effort the warm-up should be longer.
In the same way, you have to consider your fitness level because a warm-up for a highly fit individual may be relatively high intensity exercise for a deconditioned person.
For all warm-ups, a 1 – 5-minute period of escalating cardiovascular exercise that raises heart rate and body temperature is advisable.    For high intensity athletic events this should be extended until the athlete breaks a sweat without being fatigued.   
This literal warm-up can be done on a cardiovascular exercise machine or via dynamic bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, etc.    
Once you raise body temperature you can include some dynamic stretching with an emphasis on movements that address key joints and muscles involved in the actual activity you are warming up for.   For example, for tennis warming up the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles is important while for cycling this is less relevant.
 A Proven Warm-up Protocol
Warm-ups for sports participation have been researched and there is one in particular protocol that is proven to reduce injuries by improving muscle strength, balance, and coordination.    This protocol is called the FIFA 11+ Program and involves doing 15 exercises.    For a complete how to guide click here:  https://www.slideshare.net/PedMenCoach/fifa-11-warmup-to-prevent-injuries 

Although this protocol was developed for soccer it can easily be modified to fit just about any competitive sport!

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

I plan to encourage my students to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s the month where tell your inner-editor to hush so you can just let the ideas flow on to the page. It’s about getting something done without worrying how perfect it is, because you can always go back and revise in December.

Last year, as October drew to a close, I introduced NaNoWriMo to my class. I explained the premise, and gave them the option of taking on the challenge. We talked about word count goals and commitment to writing outside of the classroom. Then the fun started. Student after student signed up, each cheering each other on as they dedicated themselves to writing a book. In the end, I think all but two students decided to participate. We had weekly lunch meetings where students could eat and share their writing with friends, and although not all students met their goals, they definitely started to find their voices as authors.

The Young Writers Program for NaNoWriMo has some great teaching materials to get your students psyched for NaNoWriMo and to teach them about narrative writing in general. You can check out their website at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/. In addition, there’s still time to order a NaNoWriMo classroom kit which comes with a student goal setting poster, NaNoWriMo stickers to track progress toward a goal, and buttons for those students who participate or finish. The classroom kit is free (and awesome), but they request a $10 donation for the materials — a small price to pay to get your students excited about writing.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I’ll be hosting a month-long link-up that will start on November 1 and run the duration of NaNoWriMo. Whether your class officially participates in NaNoWriMo or not, I hope you’ll join me in sharing the great writing work that’s happening in your class. Grab the button, spread the word, and meet me back here on November 1st for a writing extravaganza!

In the meantime, check out the Educators’ section of the Young Writers Project. I’m sure you’ll find plenty to get you (and your students) excited for a month full of creative writing!

Who’s in?

And More: Deals and Sales – Guild Wars 2 is $24.99 Right Now

Woohoo! I have no idea when it started and no idea when it will end, but I just saw this with my own two eyes… if you are looking for one last reason to get GW2, it is now on sale for just under $25 American Dollars. That’s about £15 British Pounds if you are from the UK, руб890 Rubles if you are from Russia, 1500 Rupees if you are from India and what works out to be about $10,000,000 Canadian Dollars:

I just might get my own copy finally and be able to stop begging others to play theirs (you know who you are)… Go to http://buy.guildwars2.com/ to get it while it’s On Sale and See You In the Game!

The Secret Knowledge of Fourth Graders

As I was reminded in reading all of the June Currently’s, not everyone is on summer vacation yet. So for those of you who are not yet enjoying time off, I wanted to share a fun creative writing activity that works well for the end of the year.

One of my favorite books to share with students is The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups by David Wisniewski.

In this highly-entertaining book, Wisniewski takes several “rules” that children often hear — like “eat your vegetables” — and explains the real reason that rule exists. For example, we don’t eat our vegetables because they make us healthy. The real reason we eat them is to stop them from rising up and taking over the world! Or, we don’t brush our hair to help us look neat, we do it to stop the hair from growing back into our heads and crowding out our brains. The book is filled with hilarious examples and colorful illustrations that my students loved.

I read excerpts from this book over the course of a couple days, and several of my students looked at it in their free-time. We then set out to write our own examples for a class book entitled “The Secret Knowledge of Fourth Graders.”

Here are some of the “rules” students wrote about:

  • Why you need to read “Just Right Books”
  • Why we use number 2 pencils on tests
  • Why you can only check out 2 books from the library at a time
  • Why we take AR tests
  • Why it’s important not to be tardy
  • Why we return library books on time
  • Why we have homework
  • Why we use pencils instead of pens
  • Why we don’t bend the pages of a book
  • Why we stack chairs at the end of the day
  • Why we take standardized tests

The creativity in the “real” reasons why we do these things was fantastic. Here’s an example from one of my students:

We wrote our final drafts on our iPads in Pages using the Visual Report template. That helped tremendously with the formatting.

I’m planning to share several of these examples with my students next year, and I will definitely do this activity again. My students enjoyed it so much that several of them were talking about making other “spin-off” books such as The Secret Knowledge of Minecraft Players or The Secret Knowledge of Readers. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to see how those turned out as well.

If you’ve never read The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, I highly recommend it. It’s great for sparking creative writing ideas, and it can provide a fun writing activity in the late stages of the year.

What are some other school rules you can envision your students writing about? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS STYLE

NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS

NYC Interior Design Firms Thomas Britt knows how to create a glamorous interior better than anyone, so when he promised to give “a sort of sense Adrian” an austere industrial building, he knew exactly what to do. Like Adrian, the legendary costume designer, knew glamorous is a quality difficult to achieve. To achieve this, Britt sought inspiration from its customers: a couple, both in the international financial world, and their adorable son.

“My goal was to create a smart home NYC Interior Design Firms of the 21st century of a young international couple,” says Britt transform their building generic six-story ceiling in Tribeca in a family home. His plan, executed with Valentino associated Samsonadze was to create the illusion of architecture, where there was none, and stresses the unconventional combinations of colors, luxurious fabrics, mother of pearl and lacquered antiques and modern art (paired collect works of Indian and Pakistani artists, but also pieces of Americans, including Louise Nevelson and Sol LeWitt).

Britt set a young voice in the lobby, the space on two floors, with steel stairs steep. “We needed to warm up to Hall and to make it more attractive,” says Britt, who has cleverly divided into individual zones (soft, floor to ceiling curtains dramatically tied back) in order to reduce its appearance. It has saturated the wall in red paint, then hang it on three “triumphantly scaled” diamond-glass mirrors your own design.

You can also add a touch of light to the room. That no one can find a Louis XVI console painted lobby of a fossil old, put a couple of lamps ‘iceberg’ 1940 FRENCH plaster on it.

A small back room in the rear portion of the first floor is equally joyous. Cozy the pupal stage, the room is dominated by a Diva like gold bed in an alcove and partially hidden by thick curtains turquoise. red pillows on the bed making it pop blue and gold. Small tables inlaid with mother of pearl to add an exotic touch. An Indian dhurries with blue, gold and red pulls together.

As in many houses in the city, the main parts of the population are on the second floor. Britt treatment living room double height, is a huge expense. The palette is crisp set by the booty white curtains, 22 feet high huge red border. A high-level white towers of Murano glass chandelier in a white sofa, chairs and red carpet red and white barrel. “When you’re in this room, do not know what country you are,” said Britt NYC Interior Design Firms. “You can be anywhere. The decor is influenced by all the places I’ve been”.

NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS
NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS
NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WFMY News 2

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WFMY News 2

The WFMY News team had WORKOUT ANYTIME Franchisee Jeff Cook on the show to talk about how to do explosive exercises in just a few minutes each day. Mary Anne Mills from WORKOUT ANYTIME was also on the show from WORKOUT ANYTIME and they went through 4 different exercises that can be done at home to burn calories fast. In the next segment Mary Anne and Jeff went through exercises that show moms how they can work out while being pregnant. Mary Anne goes through exercises that build up endurance for labor and how to keep off weight while some moms “eat for two”. They went through the different cardio machines that keep the baby safe and go through a donkey kick exercise. Lastly, the station mentions where the WORKOUT ANYTIME is located in Greensboro and how to get more information on personal training sessions.


You can view the full segment here. 

And More: Deals and Sales – Free from EA, Battlefield Hardline’s Betrayal Expansion/DLC, Until July 12th [Notification]

Just a quick Notification, for those interested in Battlefield Hardline, that an Expansion for it is currently being offered Totally Free from EA via their “On The House” promotion:

Screenshot of the Information Panel in the Origin Client for the Battlefield DLC/Expansion, Betrayal
(Click to see Full Size)

Free right now, EA is offering the Expansion for Battlefield: Hardline called Betrayal, which features 4 new maps (Thin Ice, Chinatown, Cemetery and Alcatraz), 2 New Vehicles, New Weapons (Personalize up to 5 Weapons with the Gun Bench and Test Weapons in the Gun Range!), New Assignments, New Camos, New Paints, and more [Inquisition Swooooord!lol]. While it does require the Base Game Battlefield: Hardline, even if you don’t own Hardline itself, you can Add it to your Origin Games Library and then Download it when you get Hardline in the future. If you are a Subscriber to Origin Access, you already have this available, for ‘free’ (it is part of the Vault Games available to you).

The Expansion/DLC itself was originally released in March of 2016 and although it may not help with there only being a handful of servers in North America on PC with a high number of players on them (there are a lot more if you are part of the EU), it is still worth going and grabbing [in my opinion, especially if people end up coming back or playing more in the future. I have already seen an influx of new players, thanks in part to EA’s recent Up-to-75% Off Sale and DLC Giveaways].

I have also been working on a “One Sentence Review” of all the Weapons in Battlefield: Hardline that I want to post here at The Blog in the future; but for now, if you are interested at all in Hardline, grab this while you can – and See You In the Game!

[Personal Note: I am not affiliated with, nor receive any benefits of any kind from EA/Origin (check the Links, there are no ‘Affiliate Tags’ or anything on them); I am merely an enthusiastic gamer who tries to pass on information to other gamers, when I can. Enjoy, dear reader.]

3 Favorite & Underappreciated Apps

I recently stumbled on an adorable blog called “Thirsty Firsties,” and Kelly, the author, is hosting a linky party about iPad apps.

The rules are to share three apps – one free for classroom use, one paid for classroom use and one favorite app for personal use. She’s also giving away an iTunes gift card as part of the linky, so be sure to check out her blog and join in the fun!

I’ve already shared many of the apps that I love and use in the classroom. See, for example, my list of favorite paid apps and my list of favorite free apps. So today, I’m branching out to share some of the apps that I’ve used and enjoyed this year that I haven’t really talked about before.

Favorite Free App – Spelling City

Vocabulary Spelling City is a great app for teaching students vocabulary or spelling words. It has a variety of engaging games, and it can be used by students at all levels. The app itself is free and has a lot of functionality on its own. If you are a premium subscriber to Spelling City, however, it’s a great complement to the activities you assign your students each week. I had my students doing activities on this app almost daily, and our differentiated weekly spelling tests were done entirely through this app (with the teacher premium subscription).

Favorite Paid App – Marble Math

Marble Math is a fun and challenging math game that addresses a broad range of math computation skills. I’ll confess that I’ve even found myself playing it far longer than a typical “teacher test-drive” would require. The object is to navigate a marble through a maze by solving a variety of problems. It includes fractions, decimals, equations, and negative numbers, so this is probably best for grades 4 and higher. Of all of the apps on our iPads this year, this was the one that students seemed to gravitate toward most in their free time.

Favorite Personal App – Feedly

In the debate between Feedly and BlogLovin, I’m coming down on the side of Feedly for one major reason — I LOVE the iPad app. It’s really easy to flip through and navigate, it rotates, and it doesn’t seem to crash as much as BlogLovin did. In fact, I’ve never had a single problem with it. I don’t tend to comment on blogs as much from my iPad, so I can’t speak to that aspect of comparing the two. Usually if I’m browsing blogs on my iPad, I’ll mark the blogs that I want to comment on and comment through my computer later on. So for the sheer visual appeal of the app for reading blogs, I’m a big fan. This has become one of my favorite go-to apps on my iPad.

Now it’s your turn. What are your three favorite apps? I’d love to hear about them, and be sure to link up with Kelly over at Thirsty Firsties if you get a chance. She’s running the contest for the iTunes gift card through Monday.

And don’t forget to link up with my Teacher Toolbox Trio celebration as well! I can’t wait to discover more awesome classroom resources from TpT!

Interested in opening your own WORKOUT ANYTIME?

Think big. Keep it simple. Do it with integrity.”

Those are the guiding words of John Quattrocchi, co-founder of WORKOUT ANYTIME. Together with Steve Strickland, John and Steve have drawn from their 40 years of industry knowledge to create a proven, ready-to-run business opportunity for your success.

Proven Formula – The WORKOUT ANYTIME system operates with low-overhead and delivers high customer satisfaction. Our clubs fit into a range of retail spaces, can be run by a tiny staff, and offer the best workout per square foot in the industry. Unprofitable amenities like the pool, spa, courts, aerobics classes, and childcare have been eliminated in favor of a $15 no-commitment price that keeps members onboard month after month after month.

“People join a club to lose weight, build strength and feel better,” explains CEO Steve Strickland. “But eventually, they fall off because of two things: high price and inconvenience. We built a system that offers an unbeatable workout, an inexpensive recurring payment, and 24-7 neighborhood convenience.”

Matrix Equipment – Top equipment is a crucial component of the WORKOUT ANYTIME formula. Steve Strickland’s career experience in both the equipment and club sides of the industry has guided the equipment selection and floor plan. The WORKOUT ANYTIME fitness layout ensures that members never have to wait for the much-desired Matrix treadmills (10+) and cardio gear.

Easy to Get Started – Franchisees usually join WORKOUT ANYTIME with little or no experience in the fitness industry. Some even keep their existing jobs. Yet, our turnkey systems, vendor agreements, equipment sourcing and leasing support make it easy to get started and easy to succeed. Here’s how our ready-to-run approach guides you every step of the way:

Site Selection and Lease Negotiation

– We maintain a network of experienced real estate brokers nationwide who specialize in tenant representation
– Site selection/lease negotiation service offered at no-cost to franchise owner
– In most cases WORKOUT ANYTIME Franchisees receive a generous tenant improve allowance (cash), and up to 6-months free rent per deal
– WORKOUT ANYTIME’s site criteria includes demographics, access, parking, visibility, tenant mix, competition, and the economics of your club

Find out more here. 

April Nitzsche on WBIR Knoxville

April Nitzsche was recently on WBIR as part of their Workout Wednesday. In the segment April demonstrated some exercises you can do at home and in the gym with kettle bells for a good workout. She also mentioned the new Maryville opening location as well as the Bearden location.

You can also view the video here.

TestRun, Video Edition: Recording Gameplay – Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (Video Samples with Brief Tutorial Video)

This is a more informal TestRun, where I was merely testing out the perceived quality of some recording codecs while attempting to get gameplay recording of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 going. As most of you know, recording this game is not just a point-and-shoot affair. Heck, most game recording applications won’t even detect the way it is buffering and utilizing video memory, resulting in a black screen, flashing or very laggy output. After trying years ago and abandoning it temporarily, I was recently searching websites with information on trying it again. With no luck finding a starting point of information, I decided to figure it out on my own – and of course share my findings should anything turn out fruitful…

First, simply trying to record RCT2 with FRAPS and then Bandicam, turned up nothing as a result. Either it would not detect the screen (it is not using 2D/3D rendering/buffering on the videocard in a standard manner) or it would capture blackness (when trying Bandicam’s ‘Record The Screen’, for instance). Since these are two well-made recording products, I assumed other products would result in the same …result. I also seem to remember trying applications like Camtasia, back in the day..

So next, I tried good’ol ‘Virtualbox’. A staple Virtual Machine emulator (think of a little computer-running-inside-a-computer), I installed an old version of WindowsXP that I had into the GuestVM. Installing my DRM-free purchase of RCT2 from Good Old Games, I tried recording the screen. No luck, since it wasn’t using Direct3D in a way that I could record (after I finally got Direct3D working in it). I tried playing it in a Windowed VM and recording that. It wouldn’t even run for some reason. It kept trying to ‘take over’ the VM and resizing it. I tried setting my Host Computer desktop resolution to 1280×720 and getting the game to detect that and run it at that resolution, ‘Full Screen’ and ‘Seamless’. Nope. For one thing, the game kept detecting and making available only the most basic of 4:3 aspect resolutions (CRT monitor type sizes), no matter what driver/settings I used for the virtual machine (I of course wanted the more modern widescreen 16:9 ratio, as YouTube uses).

Third, I tried VMware’s ‘VMware Player’. A free virtual machine app, where the business version (VMware Workstation) is the go-to prog for business virtualization. Installing my XP and then RCT2 into the VM, I got it going in 720p rez and prepared Bandicam to record a “Rectangle On A Screen”. It worked wonderfully. So, with the odd stutter (very few and far between), I can now record RCT2 gameplay and wanted to share my findings of the ability with everyone.

I was also messing around with different recording codecs, to see what they looked like at different settings with this game at 720p. I quickly threw together this little video showing some settings and results (Sample Video). A summary of what I have set up to record Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 gameplay is just below a short analysis of the video/recordings. Again. this isn’t a ‘full/technical’ TestRun, it is just me sharing some tests I did and showing that one can indeed record RCT2. Further down, there is a video that goes over the steps in summary, then in slightly more detail, showing the steps taken on the screen, a short ‘tutorial’ I suppose. For those who haven’t figured it out or got it working yet, perhaps this information will help you out, too. Enjoy!

RCT2 testing (codecs/settings) with Bandicam (Samples)

Recorded with: Bandicam, various quality settings, various codecs @ 1280×720 (720p HD)

Recorded game: Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (RCT2)

Some recording data (per codec) for this test:

MJPEG @ q80 = 45,000kbps data rate (~330MB per minute of gameplay recording)

MPEG-1 @ q80 = 11,000kbps data rate (~80MB per minute of gameplay recording)

MJPEG @ q60 = 34,000kbps data rate (~250MB per minute of gameplay recording)

MPEG-1 @ q60 = 3,000kbps data rate (~22MB per minute of gameplay recording)

*XviD and x264 are omitted as results for this test as editing/recompression resulted in corrupted video output (they will be included in a future TestRun with many codecs)

Brief analysis of sample video:

  • All of the MPEG-1 settings are quite watchable, unless of course the temporal gibbs effects bothers you (the little ‘ghosty/glimmer’ effects that follow around the peeps). Perhaps if I didn’t mention it, you might not have noticed? As with all recording/editing, if it ‘looks fine to you’, then you can run with it if you want. Some people “need” the best quality possible, some can watch any quality and enjoy it. If the MPEG-1 setting at 80% Quality seemed fine to you, go ahead and use that (it is about 1/4 the size of the MJPEG recordings and I have found that editing MPEG-1 is bit slower but quite possible to do in editing applications such as Sony’s Vegas line of products).
  • The MJPEG at a Quality of 50 percent is watchable but messy looking, as expected since a JPG (MJPEG is a series of JPG frames) at only 50% quality would have tons of compression artifacts. 60% is just as bad, with ‘rough blocks’ everywhere (macroblock artifacting). MJPEG at Quality80 isn’t bad and very watchable, but it is much larger in bitrate usage/file size than say, MPEG-1 at the same quality setting (it is about four times larger in file size). It is the easiest codec to edit, however.
  • XviD, an MPEG-4 codec, can potientially looks a lot ‘cleaner’ as it can handle smaller macroblocks/divisions of the screen (inherent in the improvements in MPEG-4 over MPEG-1) – but the output seems to have strong corruption (it leaves ‘trails’ on the screen) when attempting to edit/recompress it into a final product (as seen in the video).
  • x264, a more recent ‘Advanced Video Codec’ version of MPEG-4, it records in wonderful quality and low file sizes – but all of that is hidden behind, again, corruption (‘trails’ left behind on the screen*) and slow editing.
    (The editing can be helped somewhat by specifying a smaller GroupOfPictures (frames inbetween keyframes/information frames, to help seeking through the video.)
    Keep in mind that for the MPEG-4 codecs, the corruption surfaces only when editing/recompressing the source video. The ‘original’ gameplay recording in MPEG-4 is quite clean and watchable, completely fine if you are just going to ‘record-and-upload’ to a video sharing site or personal website.
    *More on this issue and x264 recording in a future article
  • A full Codec Comparison TestRun is coming, where I test out a bunch of different codecs and see how they fare for general game recording, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, AVC/h264 (MPEG-4 Part-10), MJPEG, XviD, RGB24 and more…

    Some related articles:
    Game recording comparison with various codecs and settings (Minecraft)
    http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/10/testrun-video-edition-fraps-vs-dxtory.html
    The ghosting/blurring effect when rendering in Sony Vegas products
    http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/10/and-more-how-to-stop-ghosting-or.html

There are a couple other ways to do it I think, but here is how I recorded Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 gameplay with Bandicam:

  • Install Windows into a VM Guest (for example, a VMware virtual machine within the VMware Player application)
  • Install RCT2 into that Virtual Machine, running the VM in a window (for example, 1280×720)
  • Set up Bandicam to record a ‘Rectangle On A Screen’ and set the Rectangle to be the same size as the Virtual Machine running in a window (in this case, 1280×720) and line them up. 

That’s it!

Tutorial Video on how to record Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 with Bandicam

I had seen many people on many forums asking for years how to record RCT2 gamplay. I have seen a few videos online now and so some have it working, but if you haven’t been able to get it going or would like to try to make your own Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 videos, here’s how. Good luck with it and have fun!
See you in the games!

High-quality protein

Our bodies are composed mainly of protein, which (after water) is the most abundant substance in the body. It is the major constituent of our muscles, tissues, skin, hormones, enzymes, antibodies and blood. Even after childhood protein plays a vital role in maintaining and rebuilding our bodies as they cope with the wear and tear of daily life.

Proteins are broken down by the process of digestion into units called amino acids, and the body requires 22 amino acids to form human protein. All but nine can be produced in the body. These nine are known as ‘essential amino acids‘ and have to be provided in the diet. Foods that contain all nine are termed ‘complete proteins’, and they include meat, fish, dairy and soya protein. Fruit, vegetables, grains and pulses are ‘incomplete proteins’ and have to be carefully combined to provide sufficient amino acids in the diet.

Diet Start

Protein is fundamental to rebalancing blood-sugar levels, because it encourages production of the hormone glucagon, which helps the body to release stored glycogen for energy and encourages the burning of fat. Glucagon also helps to balance excess insulin production.

What is Biological Value?

In order to be efficient, protein foods have to be of a high quality and have what is termed a high Biological Value (BV) — this indicates how much of theprotein is retained by the body. Eggs used to be classed as having the highest BY, but micro-filtered whey, whey-peptide blends and lactalbumin (whey- protein concentrate) are even higher. Micro-filtered whey protein used to be a useless by-product of cheese manufacturing. Now it is processed at very lowtemperatures and turned into a protein source with a very high BV that contains all essential and non-essential amino acids.

The only whey to go

To maintain a healthy immune system, blood, skin and muscles, you need to consume protein with a high By. Whey protein (which is derived from milk, see Q&A opposite) is an excellent supplement that has long been used by bodybuilders and athletes alike. It has many uses in a dietary regime:

¨ It encourages the formation of lean muscle mass

¨ It increases glutathione levels, which has great antioxidant and immune- boosting properties

¨ It helps to build healthy new collagen

¨ It provides an invaluable source of protein for vegetarians who are attempting to balance their diets

¨ It is a quick and easy way of having a high-protein meal or snack

¨ It can be incorporated into recipes as a replacement for carbohydrate ingredients.

There are a multitude of whey products on the market — some better than others. Many come in sweet flavours, which are great when making shakes and smoothies, but you need to source natural, unflavoured products if you want to incorporate whey-protein powder into savoury dishes such as soups. These are widely available through health-food stores and on the Web. Just make sure you don’t confuse them with slimmer’s meal-replacement powders, which are usually laden with carbohydrates.

The average serving of whey protein is a 25g (1 oz) scoop, but check on the label to see how much of that scoop comprises protein: the lower the protein content, the higher the carbohydrate content. And beware of `blends’: these are likely to be bulked up with milk and soya derivatives. To get the best out of your whey products, go for the highest protein concentration possible.

Raptr – Closing Down This September 30th, The Blog Here Says ‘Goodbye Old Friend’ To The Once-Useful Program


Just a notification that the ‘Graphic-Configurator, Game-Installer, Gameplay-Recorder and
Social Media client that tried to tie it all together’ – Raptr – will be no more, as of September 30th, 2017

A few days ago, I received an email stating that Raptr was ending the program/client which at one time was tied-in with AMD’s Graphic Drivers as “AMD Gaming Evolved”. Now that both NVIDIA and AMD have their own ‘game configuration utilities’ and ‘game recording capabilities’ (via Crimson for AMD and GeForce Experience for NVIDIA), “there is no need for such a separate utility”, as Raptr’s ‘Farewell Letter’ basically states:

“We are sad to announce that we will be closing Raptr on September 30th, 2017. We want to start by thanking you for your support over the past 10 years.

The world is different today than when we first launched Raptr. Many companies offer game optimization tools. Having an independent platform to do this is no longer necessary.

On September 30, we will start the process of shutting off access to your Raptr account and disabling features. If you’d like to export your tracked game play history, you can do so immediately using the instructions below:

  • Go to Raptr.com
  • Sign in to your Raptr account
  • Click to get your gameplay data

If you have any other questions, please send us feedback.

We are proud of the service we built and the community who helped grow Raptr.  Thank you, once again, for your support.

Dennis “Thresh” Fong
Co-founder and CEO”


Mr. Fong Qin, known worldwide as “‘Thresh’ Fong” for his 1990’s Quake and Doom tournament career, was also the co-founder of Xfire (which itself was acquired by Viacom in 2006). While the Raptr/Gaming Evolved client was useful, it seemed to have challenges from close to the start [or at least, noticeable in hindsight, from when I first started using it].

The Press Release – the notification that Raptr was closing down – as it looked on the Raptr website, September 2017
(Click to see Full Size)

At one time, Raptr offered Rewards for playing (and letting it track your Hours or Record your Gameplay); ‘Reward Points’ that you could collect, every time you Optimized a Game (let the utility auto-configure your in-game options/settings for you), or viewed/contributed to a game Forum (similar to Steam’s Game Forums [forii?]). You could also earn Raptr Reward Points just by playing a game and having it running (it gave a running total of your Hours Played).

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Client, as it looked in 2014, showing the Reward Points collected at one time
(from the Gaming Evolved/Raptr Press Kit, Click to see Full Size)

Prizes to spend your Points on were Draws for, or outright purchases of, Full Games and game tie-in material, such as Character Costumes or Vehicles (Mounts). Just before it was taken away, I even saw some Computer Hardware in there (some dated GPUs mind you, but still, it was neat to see some computer parts you could earn ‘with time played’ only). I never did win a Draw for a Retail Game, but I heard from a couple of people who did. There were many, many upset users, who had been saving for years (literally), at the loss of the points system. Some noted at the time that perhaps it was an early bell, tolling for the end of Raptr, even then…

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Client, as it looked in 2015, showing Plays.Tv in its ‘built-in’ Beta phase and Graphic Drivers being kept up-to-date [I owned an AMD/ATi GPU at the time], the client still showing Reward Points being tabulated, and the Twitch Broadcast implementation
(Click to see Full Size)

There was a Forum interface built-in to the Raptr client (directly-accessible within it) that was similar to Steam’s Game Forums [too similar?], where people could discuss games, talk about upcoming releases, and share Screenshots; but there wasn’t too much going on in them [that I could see, personally]. There were some helpful and contributive posts, but they were always few in number:

Example of Raptr/Gaming Evolved Game Forums, showing Guild Wars 2, circa 2016
(Click to see Full Size)

As ‘the end’ neared, the Forums became overrun slowly by Spammers and non-English posts talking about other websites (not that there’s anything wrong with speaking other languages, I know a bit of a handful of languages myself, but it was an English forum and much of these posts were clearly Spam of one sort or another). People started asking why things weren’t getting ‘cleaned up’, near the end.

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Official Raptr Forum, shown in the client, displaying the number of users of the forum
(Click to see Full Size)

While many felt it was ‘just like Steam’ or ‘not needed’ even back then, it still boasted over 100 Million registered users at one point (as evidenced by the number of users within the main Raptr discussion group, above) – and it was even ‘targeted by hackers’ in 2015 – infiltrated in an attempt to gain access to the many users’ data and potentially personal information. A notice went out in January of that year, notifying users to change their password, as a result of the recent security breach:

Raptr Forum Notification, urging users to change their Passwords, after a recent security breach, circa January 2015
(Click to see Full Size)

Personally, I feel sorry that I couldn’t spend more time with Raptr/GamingEvolved, as I only discovered it a couple of years ago.. Over the entire time, my own illness prevented me from posting more, sharing Screenshots more, and talking more about Releases and Reviews [as it does here in this blog!]. I feel like it could have been ‘the next Steam with bonus game configuration’ perhaps – but alas, it simply had too many challenges going against it… People started asking for Chat interface (a la Skype) and Voice Chat, but the Voice part never came. People wanted a GVR (Game Video Recorder) and while that arrived, in the form of Plays.tv – first in the app itself and as a stand-alone utility – perhaps it was too late to save Raptr, as both NVIDIA then AMD, came out with their own ‘built-in’ gameplay recording capabilities about the same time. For example, in 2013, NVIDIA’s Shadowplay became part of their Settings Optimization client, GeForce Experience, which allowed high-performance gameplay recording. Eventually, AMD’s ReLive, part of their Crimson GPU Driver update, also allowed high-quality gameplay recording as well. Both of these essentially negated the game recording aspect of Raptr (Plays.tv, which continues onward today as its’ own stand-alone recorder):

Information Panel about Plays.TV, the gameplay recording utility that was once included with Raptr/Gaming Evolved
(Click to see Full Size)

Although many didn’t use Raptr, or even like it, there were those that used the client to at least keep track of their Hours Played, used it a light social-media app, or just enjoyed the semi-automated Graphic Configuration within. As a former user – that wished he used it more – I myself say a sad ‘Goodbye’ to Raptr. So long, old friend, I wish I got to know you better…

My trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, November & December 2010 & January 2011

January 2011

Back again at the Hotel De castle; it looks like I have spent more time here in the past 3 months than at home.

The original brief was to develop a Sustainability Plan for the organization. However, most managers confuse it with Resource Mobilization / Fund Raising Plans. Typically a Sustainability Plan involves a risk analysis of the organization comprising of Board, Executive Leadership, Resource Audits (Man, Money, Material & Technology / knowledge), HR, ICT, Finance and other support services systems audits plus a host of other environmental issues.

I cleared up this confusion and came to develop a Resource Mobilization Plan (Only Money); however, the team has not completed the budgets. So have to delay the process by a few days. Meanwhile I witnessed riots in Dhaka due to stock market crash yesterday. Stock price manipulation rings were very active in DSE over the past year and sent the stock prices way up beyond the wildest PE ratios possible for some companies. Just like what’s happening at the CSE in Sri Lanka. Most stocks trade much higher than PE ratio. Is this a prelude to what we can expect in the streets of Colombo I wonder?

Finally managed to develop the RM Plan for the organization; this is the end of the assignment for me and look forward to going back to Colombo.

December 2010

It’s good to be back in Dhaka and at the Hotel De Castle. Guess what its Harthal season again! I was in Bangladesh in 2006 and in 2008 for the then famous Harthal “Save Democracy” which was a success in overthrowing the elected government and appointing a caretaker government. However, during Harthal the general public and the visitors to Bangladesh suffers by having severe restrictions in free movement. I will spend 2 weeks in Dhaka for this assignment with the intention of developing the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies of the organization.

It was hard work but managed to develop the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies for the organization. During this process there was a one day Harthal, but it seems to have been a flop! What’s going on here, have the people finally realized not to go on Hartal for silly things? Well, we will just have to wait and see.

As part of the assignment I had to help the management team present the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies to the board and get their comments and final approval. However there is an issue. The issue is that; the roles and responsibilities of governance and the executive branches of the organization are not clearly delineated to ensure efficient operations. In short there is a power struggle between the two. I have to manage this delicate process; otherwise all hell may break loose during the meeting and true to form, the consultant will be the fall guy.

You can read my article titled “Governance – Do we need to build capacity?” published in http://capacitydevelopment.ning.com/

The meeting with the board went off without any major hiccups and got the necessary approvals and consent for the next stage of the assignment.

November 2010

The assignment I undertook was to develop a new Vision, Mission, Values, Strategies and a corresponding Resource Mobilization plan and support services (Finance HR & IT) plans for Acid Survivors Foundation ASF http://www.acidsurvivors.org/ of Bangladesh. I will be staying at the Hotel De castle in Banani, Dhaka.

I must say that I was quite shocked at the number of people being attacked in Bangladesh and the physical and psychological damage it does to people. The major cause of attacks was economic (Dowry & Land). Given the poverty levels in Bangladesh I must say that I am not surprised. Having enough resources to go around for 160 + Million people is not a joke.

The irony is that at the United Nations (Put UN Web Site) review of the Millennium Development Goals (Put MDG review results Web Site) it was concluded that mot poor countries (including Bangladesh) were failing miserably in trying to reach the MGD’s. In my Humble opinion this is because most poor countries are not dealing with the white elephant in the room i.e. population growth. This is obviously considered a sensitive subject given the reluctance of politicians to take on the religious establishments head on be it Islam or the many denominations of Christianity. On the contrary this should be the main subject of discussion by far thinking politicians the world over.

For instance if Bangladesh were to implement strict policies to have ZERO growth in population for the next 10 years it would develop at a faster rate As even the slightest growth in the nations wealth will be held by a content population. This is common sense.

Most people misunderstand when we talk about zero population growth. They think that you are suggesting that people stop having children. In fact it does not mean that at all. It just means that your birth rate has to be equated to your death rate.

In the case of developing countries; the way that externally funded development sector project are implemented creates further frustrations within a given population and at times directly create political and social unrest. Most development sector professional (from the north countries as well as the south countries) don’t even understand this themselves. Consider the following. Most western donors advocate rights based projects. This means that all citizens will demand equal levels of services from the state irrespective of economic, social, political, ethnic or religious status. This in a developing country means that “now” 10,000 people line up for services as opposed to 1,000 people. The issue is that the rights based development project itself does not have any or enough funding to cater for the newly generated demand. The funds are only available to create and sustain the demand by the citizenry. So now the poor government has to serve a larger number of people with the same or slightly increased budget. This only means that in order to cater for the quantity the quality of services will be compromised. This is OK with the rich citizens as they can afford to pay for services by the private sector or bribe the state employees or use influence to get a better service from the state service provider.

One can argue and say that this is a deliberate attempt by some of the donors to create instability within developing countries. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I wouldn’t put it past some of them. The point is that we who hail from the developing countries must act a lot smarter than we currently do if we want to develop.

As for me the assignment will run in to the New Year and I will have to go to Bangladesh a few more times to finish the assignment.

Globesity continue…

WHY WERE PALAEOLITHIC PEOPLE SO HEALTHY?

  • They had an active lifestyle
  • Their protein intake was far higher in polyunsaturated fats, because their animals were smaller and wild
  • Their consumption of fibre was far higher than ours, at around 100g (31/2oz) per day
  • The plants and berries they were eating were providing them with around 300 times more immune- boosting and antioxidant phytonutrients (plant nutrients) and vitamin C than the average diet offers today.

Warning signs from the present day

Diet Start

  • 300,000 American deaths per year are due to obesity-related non- communicable diseases. This accounts for 12 per cent of the entire US healthcare expenditure, costing the country $100 billion (270 billion) per year. The cost of a cheeseburger may be coming down, but its cost to the nation’s health most certainly is not.

In 2002 the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta estimated that 17 million Americans, including 151,000 under the age of 20, now have diabetes. Type 2 (or adult-onset) diabetes is a disorder resulting from the body’s inability to make enough insulin (a hormone that regulates glucose metabolism in the body) – and it can be life-threatening. The risks of heart disease and stroke increase two- to fourfold and the death rate doubles in diabetics. The disease is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

  • In 2002 the National Audit Office in the UK revealed the following facts:

58 per cent of adults in the UK are technically overweight, and 20 per cent are clinically obese.

In 1998 around 30,000 people in England alone died prematurely as a direct consequence of being overweight.

In the same year obesity was responsible for 1.8 million lost working days, costing the National Health Service and the economy of the country an estimated 22.5 billion ($3.6 billion).

The number of people who are obese in England has tripled over the last 20 years, and if this trend continues, one in four people will be obese by the year 2010.

  • North American Inuits, whose native diet traditionally consists of whale meat, berries and moss, had no history of heart disease, diabetes or dental decay – until they introduced white flour and sugar into their diets.

Number Talks Chapter 1 – Thumbs Up for the Silent Thumb

I’m linking up with my friend Misty over at Think, Wonder, & Teach for her summer book study of Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K-5

Given that I’m wrapping up a K-5 Math Endorsement this month, this is a timely book for me. I love to teach math far more than I ever anticipated that I would when I entered this profession, and I really enjoy getting students to share and discuss their mathematical thinking. I’ve noticed, however, that many students lack strong mental math and computation strategies, relying instead on memorization to get them by. By the time they get to 4th grade, that’s not really a viable strategy anymore. They’re starting to work with much larger numbers, and they subsequently have more parts and steps to keep straight in their heads. If they don’t have great mental math strategies going, then it’s likely to become a mess pretty quickly. They can always solve problems on paper, but unless they have the good number sense that goes with doing mental math, they’ll never be able to gauge the reasonableness of their answers. In those regards, this book seems like a great idea.

Chapter 1 really just introduces the concept of a number talk, and Misty does a great job summarizing it, so I won’t go into that here. One of my favorite teaching ideas from the book so far, however, was the idea of the “Silent Thumb.” When students are given a mental math problem, they need some “think time.” But every class has 2-3 students who are super math-letes who have the answer before the rest of the class has even processed what problem they’re being asked to solve, and those kids with their proud “I know! I’ve got it!” hand-waving typically end up dominating the conversation. The “silent thumb” solves that problem. All students hold their hand in a fist over their chest as they solve the problem. When they’ve got an answer, they move their hand from a fist to a “thumbs up.” They then think of another strategy to solve it while the other students are thinking, and for each additional strategy they come up with, they extend a finger. Awesome, right? I love how this gives all students some think time without creating pressure for some kids to hurry up because the fist is held close to the body — not waved in the air for everyone else to see. It also validates those super math-letes for their mathematical thinking by allowing them to communicate to the teacher that they have multiple strategies for solving the problem. And if they don’t have multiple strategies, then they have something to think about while the others are working.

I’m definitely interested in learning more about Number Talks, and I’m excited to delve into this book a bit more. I’ll be posting more about this book in the weeks to come as I link up with Misty’s book study.

If you don’t currently have a copy of Number Talks, you can still read the first chapter online. The book is a little bit pricier than most professional development books, but it comes with a DVD full of examples and it has a lot of resources packed in the text. If you’re looking to increase students’ mental math abilities, then this could be a great resource to use.

Be sure to check out Misty’s Number Talks chapter 1 linky party where you can add some ideas of your own or read what other teacher bloggers are saying about the book. I promise you’ll find some great ideas there!

And click here to see my review of Chapter 2!

Have you ever done Number Talks in your classroom? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section!

Thanks for reading,

And More: A Simple Explanation Why ‘Loot Boxes’ May Be Considered “Gambling”, In Games Like Star Wars Battlefront II, Et Al… [Editorial]

((Portions of this article
may or may not have
information obtained
from this unidentified
Imperial Officer))

Recently, in the game Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (EA, Dice), there was the introduction of “Loot Boxes”. These are purchasable ‘crates’ that can contain multiple items. These items are generated randomly (RNG, Random Number Generation) and are obtainable by using “RealLife™” Money [my superscript as pun] – and therein lies the problem being discussed.

In an attempt to explain it simply on a Steam Forum Thread a few days ago, I posted the comment below. I replicate it here, to share with others, so that this whole ‘issue’ may be understood more fully:

“If I may pop in, to explain the reason why “loot boxes could be considered gambling”; it is due to a few factors:

– There is an RNG factor in the potential items from the Loot Boxes (the items are random, and some items are worth more than others)

– The inclusion of the possibility of utilizing RealLife™ Currency to obtain them.
[Because of this element, more than anything, it could possibly be construed as “gambling”…]

– Because the items (1) can be exchanged in the game for other items that ‘cost RealLife™ Money (2), they are ‘gambling on the possibility’ that they will ‘save money’ if there are better/higher items in the Box purchased (i.e. they will ‘save money’ if the RNG produces higher/better items in the Box; they will not have to buy much more)

Together, all three points mean the game essentially has “gambling” within it…
I assume the reason why some parents are getting upset about it, is that there is a possibility of a Minor using their RealLife™ Money to obtain the Loot Boxes (in any game).

The solution is simple however; remove the possibility of utilizing RealLife™ money to obtain the Chests/Boxes/etc OR the possibility of getting ‘better items’ that will ‘deconstruct into elements that can accrue to get better items’ (“saving money” if the better items appear via RNG) and there is no longer the possibility of it being “gambling”, as it were.”


The above points, along with the fact that the ‘items’ can actually affect a players’ performance (i.e. a person with more items or better items can actually live longer or do more damage than someone without the items), is the sum of the whole problem that is upsetting many gamers, the entire issue becoming aflame in the recent release (Nov.17th) of “Star Wars: Battlefront II”.

Other games (eg. “Team Fortress 2”), handle this concern for the most part by making sure that the items contained in their ‘loot crates’ are only ‘cosmetic items’ (hats, skins, costumes, etc) that do not affect player performance against other human players. It remains to be seen whether the “RNG Factor” involved in such ‘Crates of Loot’ in these other games, like TF2, are going to still become a ‘gambling’ issue, or not.

Hopefully this helps you dear reader, in understanding the issue at hand and why some people are getting ‘up in arms’ about it at this time. 

~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

Cellulite Breakdown and Essential Detoxification part 2

Beware the Heavy Metals

Whether or not you go for music of the same name, heavy metals in your body are something you want to get rid of. These elements, the concentration of which has increased dramatically in our air, foods and water since the Industrial Revolution, can seriously interfere with your body’s metabolic functioning and thus challenge its wellbeing. Mercury tends to suppress the levels of white blood cells involved in the immune response. Cadmium displaces the essential element zinc needed for a great many of your body’s enzyme systems and renders them inefficient and even inactive (including those that build new collagen and elastin for skin and connective tissues). In the West we now have a concentration of lead in our bodies some 500 to 1,000 times that of our pre-technological ancestors. High levels of this heavy metal age us prematurely, interfere with our mental processes, suppress immunity and contribute to depression. Aluminium, another heavy metal, detrimentally affects the central nervous system. It has recently been associated with the development of pre-senile dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet Start

The presence of all of these elements in excessive quantities (and their concentrations in the human body appear to be increasing with each passing decade) generally interferes with the metabolic processes on which good body ecology and therefore the absence of cellulite depends. It is important to do everything you can to eliminate them from your body. (The alginates, forms of fibre found in seaweeds, also chelate heavy metals and adding sea plants to your diet on an ongoing basis is a good idea, after your applefast is finished.) You also need to be aware of ways you can protect yourself from allowing heavy metals to build up in the first place. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Steer clear of tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes
  • Don’t buy fruit or vegetables from shops in the street where they have been exposed to leaded exhaust fumes
  • Don’t cook in aluminium pans
  • Eat plenty of fibre and nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits.

More Than An Apple A Day

Now let’s get down to the programme. An applefast can be done by any healthy person provided of course your doctor agrees. It was taught to me twenty years ago by Dr Gordon Latto, a British medical doctor who uses nothing but food and breathing and a few herbs to heal even the most complex and chronic conditions. He is almost 80 and one of the most remarkably healthy and vital men I have ever met. The applefast lasts for two or three days (never more, except under doctor’s supervision). You eat only raw apples — as many varieties as you want — for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as in between. Eat all you want, but chew well and always crunch up the seeds too. They contain valuable nutrients that help the process.

During the applefast you need to give up all tea and coffee although you may have as much mineral water or herb tea made with mineral water as you please, sweetened with a little honey if you prefer. The best herb tea of all for The Breakdown is solidago or golden rod which you can get from a good herbalist. Like nettle, it has natural diuretic properties to help shift some of the stored water in your tissues but, unlike nettle, it actually tastes pleasant.

Don’t be surprised if you suffer the odd headache during this dynamic two or three days clear out. (Especially if you have been a dyed-in-the-wool coffee or tea drinker.) This is a sign that the whole process is happening rapidly. If you do, then take a 20-minute epsom salts bath and lie down in a darkened room to rest for 15 minutes afterwards. (More about this in a moment.)

External work on your body is important too to trigger the detoxification process. Start now to incorporate skin brushing into your daily routine. After the applefast is over continue doing it but begin to use other techniques as well to enhance lymphatic drainage, to help break up hardened connective tissue, and to keep the detoxification process going while you are rebuilding new, strong connective tissue and ground substance.

My trip to Vietnam Cont….

I finished the organization capacity assessment of the 5 local civil society organizations (NGOs) in Vietnam. They are all working or trying to work in a “rights” based approach. The main services of these local NGOs are focused towards marginalized groups, ethnic groups etc. However this is not what the Government wants; they prefer them to work on a needs based approach.

They have therefore come up with a way to allow such organizations to work on a slightly different rights based approach. However this is a structured method which can be monitored by the Government. This is how it is set up:

All international non governmental organizations (INGOs) have to be registered with the ministry of foreign affairs under “VUFO” – Vietnam Union of Friendship Organization. VUFO is the organization which deals with the administration of INGO policy and compliance as it were. Under VUFO they have what is known as the NGO Resource Center which deals with some operational issues as well as help set up working groups under thematic areas. (E.G: HIV AIDS, Gender, LGBT etc.)

All/most (there can be exceptions) rights based local non governmental organizations are registered under “VUSTA” – Vietnam Union of Science & Technology. VUSTA is the organization which deals with the administration of local NGO policy, compliance and deals with the operational issues as well as help set up working groups for thematic areas.

Both types of working groups in theory are independent; however they can have representatives from ministries, other government agencies, communist party advocacy committee etc. in addition to like minded NGOs and INGOs.

Through these working groups research based policy alternatives (advocacy and lobby for rights based services & opportunities) are submitted to each relevant ministries. This is then passed on to the cabinet of ministers. Based on the agenda of the National Assembly cabinet may submit these policy alternatives to the assembly who may or may not approve, amend or adopt these policies. It sound quite easy but in practice this is a long process.

Many organizations do not have long term resources to sustain this type of process. However based on authority levels at different levels/branches of the government some organizations are able to get the corporation of the government to deliver right based services themselves or through quasi government agencies.

The “local NGO” in general is a relatively new phenomenon in Vietnam. They tend to be small and with low capacity. They have the potential to play a key role in delivering services to special interest groups and ethnic minorities in Vietnam. There are some clear examples where the government has allowed the use of this method effectively in isolated cases.

There is a significant difference to how international & local NGOs operate in Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia, China, Mongolia & Myanmar. They have learned to operate within the service gaps of these socialistic countries and they are beginning to get noticed for the excellent work done, by their governments and civil society in general. However, they too face some of the most common issues such as resource mobilization, retention of staff, planning, budgeting, monitoring etc. faced by NGOs the world over.

Now about Hanoi; it is indeed a busy city and one that is growing rapidly I really like visiting Hanoi and the friendliness of the people of Vietnam. I visited most of my favorite cafes and bars which I patronized on my previous travels to Hanoi. Everywhere you look you see construction sites (Except central Hanoi) these buildings are mixed developments like what you saw in Dubai several years ago. They are still to go in for developments such as Dubai Marina, Dubai International Financial District; I counted over 40 cranes on the drive from the airport to my hotel. They do not seem to be affected as much as the others in terms of the global financial crisis.

Walking through the streets of Hanoi I noticed something unique to Vietnam (I think). Most of the Hanoi streets are dotted with Café’s and restaurants. With the vast majority of the Vietnamese using motorbikes for travel, each one of the establishments have something resembling a valet parking for those patrons arriving at the establishment in their motorbikes. The parking attendants use a white chalk to mark on the seat of the motorbike the number of bikes parked in the day / rider / owner / and parking sequence. When patrons leave the parking attendants starts moving the motorbikes closer to the entrance (perhaps for tips) and it is done on a continues basis. I was fascinated by this as my experience in other parts of the world is that they put up a huge sign saying that parking is at your own risk; and they are only interested in what you spend at the establishment and keen to get you out as soon as they can so that another patron can be served. Hope this continues in the future as well.

I will be flying home tomorrow and will prepare for 3 more assignments which have simultaneous time lines. Organization Capacity Assessment of research & policy advice organization in South Asia, Organization Capacity Assessment of 5 local NGOs in Indonesia. Organization Capacity Assessment of 4 branch offices in the east of Sri Lanka.

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS STYLE FROM SHH

SHH is a London-based company, founded in 1992. Interior design is not their only strong point that the company also makes architectural projects. But now we want to show you how a room can be transformed into an elegant and modern in their vision.

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

We collected up to 15 different interiors that stand out and can become a real source of inspiration. We deal in the living room, bedroom or the hallway of boredom and failed surprising elements are added to create comfortable spaces. White is airy and gives a sense of calm, while the funky food the best and rebels. Color and light is present in some unusual arrangements with excellent results.

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS STYLE FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS STYLE FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS DESIGN FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS DESIGN FROM SHH

And More: Corel’s VideoStudio – Crashing When Using ‘Open With’ To Import Clips Into VideoStudio [Fix/Workaround]

Just last Month, I picked up version 20 of Corel’s recently-updated video editing suite “VideoStudio” (nomenclature “X10”) and am having a lot of fun learning what it can do and how to do it all (coming from mainly editing videos with Sony’s Vegas ‘Movie Studio’ line of products [now taken over by MAGIX]). However, I quickly ran into a little issue with importing clips using the “Open With” option in Windows and wanted to share what I found…

Normally, in Windows you can ‘right-click’ a video file and mouse-over the menu option “Open With..”, which brings up a sub-menu of known applications, to ‘send’ the file to (‘opening the file with the chosen application’). Doing this, whichever application you select will startup and the file will be sent to it to work with.

However, doing this with a video clip and VideoStudio x10 I found, every time the program would open up, it would immediately ‘crash’ (close/stop/etc). Hmm… time for some Troubleshooting! I double-checked that the file in question was not corrupted excessively by playing it, testing it in a couple of video/media players, and even tried a few other clips that were ‘known good’ (that VS worked with before). Each time, using “Open With…”, the Splash Screen for VSx10 would show up and then just as the program itself looked like it was opening, the entire thing would crash and show this message:

Example of the “Corel VideoStudio has stopped working” Error Window Pop-Up
when trying to import a clip into VideoStudio X10 utilizing the “Open With” shortcut in Windows

I then went to the Corel ‘Official’ Fora [Forii?] and did some searching to see if anyone ran into this same issue. Unfortunately, all I could find were people experiencing ‘general crashes’, that is, crashing and non-starts without it being specifically associated with utilizing “Open With..”.

I then decided to try these same ‘testing files’ on some other video editing programs I have installed, such as Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio (now owned by MAGIX, the same company that makes the Movie Edit Pro product line, which I have no experience with yet, at this time). Using the “Open With..” command, Movie Studio was able to open and import all of the video clips without issue – so then, what’s up Corel? /tilthead

I thought of trying VideoStudio ‘on it’s own’, not importing or ‘sending’ anything to it – just opening the program and seeing if it works… Everything opened fine! I was just playing with the program the other day in fact, learning some of the features it offers [I’ll have to write a short ‘Review’ or at least a ‘First Impressions’ sometime of it]. So why was it being ‘fussy’ (to use the highly technical term)? I tried opening and closing the program a few times thinking about it, when I noticed that when I opened VideoStudio X10, I was being greeted by a nice-and-helpful “Welcome” StartUp Page…

The “Welcome” Section of VideoStudio
(Click to see Full Size)

Indeed, ‘The “Welcome” Startup Page’ offers a lot of helpful information on opening VideoStudio. There are Tutorial videos on some of the New Features for that version and even Basic Tutorials and Help File links. But wait – no editing interface! No Timeline, no Media Library to add clips – that’s it! That’s the problem! I went into the Settings to see if there was a Preferences option where I could set the Section to open VideoStudio to be – not the “Welcome” section, but the “Edit” section – the tab/area where all of the editing/mixing and importing takes place. There it was: Default Startup Page – and it was set to “Welcome Book”…

The Corel VideoStudio X10 Preferences Window
showing the Default Startup Area/Section which is shown when the program starts
(Click to see Full Size)

A simple pull-down menu change to “Edit” and that was it! Now, VideoStudio is opening to the “Edit” section/area every time. So, I tested it out: right-clicking on my video clip and mousing-over “Open With..” and then clicking on “Corel VideoStudio” – it worked! VS opened up and in a few seconds more, my little video clip was right there on the Timeline, waiting patiently to be edited. Woohoo!

Example of Corel VideoStudio x10 Starting Up In The EDIT Section
(Click to see Full Size)

Here is a video version of the steps above, made showing the error when trying to use “Open With..”, what happens and how to change it, as well as the final ‘working’ result of changing the option (after I finally figured out what it was):


[VIDEO NOT YET COMPLETE, IT WILL APPEAR HERE ONCE FINALIZED AND UPLOADED TO YOUTUBE]

Hopefully this will help any of you dear readers, who use VideoStudio and were running into this error/crash/issue when opening clips with VS (trying to use “Open With..”).. Enjoy and Have Fun editing your gameplay clips once again!

~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog


[I’m calling this a Workaround, since this is more of that than a true ‘Fix’… It does not solve the base issue of VS not being able to import a clip using “Open With” without taking taking these steps (whether this is more Microsoft’s fault or Corel’s fault is beyond the scope of this post …and being more experienced in computer hardware than computer software (programming, etc), I would not have completely isolated the very base cause of the issue anyway – or at least, could not offer a 100% explanation of what is occurring)]


Note: I am not affiliated in any way with Corel and I have not, and I will not, be compensated for mentioning VideoStudio or any other of the products herein, in any way.  I have used other video editing products than these in the past, and will do so in the future, including free editing applications, such as VirtualDub, AviDemux, DVDVideoSoft products and more… I am merely an enthusiastic gamer-and-sometime-editor and wanted to share information that I discover about these products to help other gamers record-and-edit and have fun doing it, if I can do so.

My Trip to Manila, Philippines

The assignment in the Philippines is to review a Strategic Plan which has been developed with the assistance of another consultant. On first glance of the plan it was not constructed in a logical way. The SWOT analysis was not used to look at strategic options. The whole plan is just a list of SWOT elements and clubbing of current activities in to 12 areas of work and finally selecting 6 areas which they call strategies and allocating opportunities and threats that are relevant to these selected 6 areas. They have not used the strengths and weaknesses.

The previous consultant does not seem to have a grasp of the logic in strategic planning; the need to start with the external factors that influence the organization and then move inside the organization.

The staff of the organization also seems to be very new to planning let alone strategic planning and have an aversion towards prioritizing and selection. As usual they seem to want to do everything. So all in all the previous plan does not have a logical flow as well as the choices the organization has made in order to mobilize resources and achieve the mission.

My task of reviewing the strategic plan was made a lot more difficult as there were representatives from a funding organization who along with the staff thought they knew everything and in reality they “did not know what they did not know”. I some times wonder why they hired an expert if they think they know everything.

They are more interested in retrofitting “logic” in to the current plan! Go figure! In effect they want to create a strategic plan breaking all the rules. I had a tough time to pull them into the right path. It seems that the organization/staff are not willing to change their current operating mode of adhocracy to a more strategic, structured logical way. So I explained that until the willingness to change is there the strategic plan will continue to be just a piece of paper.

Now I have to do the documentation. Hope to finish it as soon as possible. Looking forward to returning to Colombo; Manila is too noisy for me and for some strange reason I do not seem to like Manila. Well I have finally found a city that I do not like.

The Best Text for Teaching How to Write and Revise Leads

My fourth graders hate revision. They’re often offended by the mere suggestion that they hadn’t nailed the perfect lead to their stories in their first draft.

I’m used to this. I see it every year in writer’s workshop, especially at the beginning of the year when we’re writing in a genre for the first time.

And every time I see this, I become more determined to break them of this thinking.

Today, we were working on the Common Core State Standard W.4.3a – Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

My favorite story to use for this is standard — especially with fourth graders — is The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck.

This book, set in a small Indiana town with a one-room schoolhouse, has the best opening line of a children’s book ever.

If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it. 

Richard Peck keeps it going from there, building an incredible introduction. You can read the entire first chapter here.

Today, I started our writing lesson by reading this chapter to them. I have the Kindle edition of the book, so when I read it, I can project it on our ActivBoard so the students can follow along as I read. They laughed throughout the intro and were immediately hooked, begging me to choose this as our next chapter book read-aloud. Score one for the objective of “hooking your readers!”

I then asked them how many of them thought that introduction was the one that was in the first draft of his book.

One or two hands went up.

Richard Peck shared in an article called “In the Beginning” (Horn Book Magazine, September 2006, pp. 505-508) that it normally takes him 24 drafts of his lead before he’s happy with it. TWENTY-FOUR!

And here I’m asking my students to take a second pass at their writing.

I shared that little nugget with my students before we reread the first chapter. As we read if for a second time, we focused on the characteristics of his writing that made it such a great lead.

Here’s what my students noticed, compiled into an anchor chart:

Once we finished the chart, I had them go back to a piece of writing they’ve been working on and try to write a different introduction. Some students tried changing the point of view, others jumped into the action or started with dialogue. Whatever the strategy, all of them managed to produce a new version of their introduction, and all were at least a little better than what they’d started with.

We’ll get this revising thing down eventually…

What are some of your favorite books to use to teach students how to hook their readers? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Popcorn Cart, Warren, Ohio, circa early 1910s

https://www.facebook.com/neatoldphotos.m.lucas2/photos/a.400823796751664.1073741829.400758923424818/908779272622778/?type=3

Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle Part 1

Have you tried to lose weight and failed? If so, you are not alone. 95% of the people who try to lose weight fail to reach their goal, and even less are actually able to maintain their weight loss once they achieve their goal. Obesity and the associated disease diabetes are increasing exponentially in the America despite the many published health warnings about the health risks associated with being overweight.
Why are people unable to lose weight? People are hopelessly confused about the factors controlling bodyweight regulation. This is not surprising when you understand that every single program, book, and guideline developed by various diet “experts”, including our own government, lacks crucial information, contains misinformation, or contains myths. The list of experts and programs seems endless: Dr. Atkins, Dr. Andrew Weil, The Pritikin Diet, Sugar Busters, Protein Power, Dr. Dean Ornish, the Paleo Diet, the Ketogenic Diet, and all the rest. To make matters worse much of the “information” from different experts seems to be completely contradictory.
Take this short True/False quiz to see how much you really understand about controlling your weight and bodyfat levels.
Eating a low fat diet is the key to losing weight
Eating a low carbohydrate diet is the key to losing weight
Most obese people have a slow metabolism
Obesity is a genetic disorder
Some people have a slow metabolism and some people have a fast metabolism
Exercise is not really effective for weight loss
You can eat all you want and lose weight if you do not eat carbohydrates
Low carbohydrate diets are unhealthy
If you eat foods in the right combinations you will lose weight
The key to weight loss is eating healthy not counting calories
Americans are eating more fat than ever before
Americans are eating less fat than ever before

Sound familiar? It should. All these statements have been made by various “experts”. Unfortunately, all but the last one is FALSE. If you want to control bodyweight you have to understand ALL the factors that govern bodyweight regulation and how they apply specifically to you. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article to learn more!

Free Weekend – Overwatch and Fallout 4 [Notification]

Just a quick notification for those that didn’t know, that this weekend is a Free Weekend for two great games: Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment and Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks.
To commemorate this amazing alignment of the planets that these two behemoths occupy, I created this ‘Mash-Up’ Image Header as a Reminder, which I will release as a Full-Sized Wallpaper, for fans of these two franchises, once it is complete… Soon™

A big fan of both companies’ products, I was so excited about it – but I haven’t had a chance to play yet! So, I’m trying to help out all of you fellow gamers and notify you that these games are Free and Playable all weekend – including being sold at lowered prices – but it’s almost over! Get out there and jump in – and have fun! GOGOGO

See You In The Game!

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

Matryoshka House was designed by architect David Jameson, is located in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Obeyng unwritten rules concept Matryoshka, the house consists of a series of volumes is one inside the other. According to ‘description’, architects, in essence, a meditation room with suspended center acts as the physical and spiritual for the project. The internal energy market of the meditation room locked in an open, bright. Alternating tread stairs rise participant commits deliberatley eve of the meditation room. The meditation room is surrounded by a wooden container that surrounds the living area of ​​the house. Traditional decorations in turn should have soothed by stucco walls act as a protective layer and ground floor of the house. In-between space of nested volumes strategic cup sun to protect lines of light inside.

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY DINING ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY BATHROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY BATHROOM

PIONEER STUDIOS OFFICE MICROSOFT BY SKB ARCHITECTS

The New Pioneer Studios Office which was designed by SkB Architects starting from the idea that need a space to socialize at night as well as it functioned during the day.

Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

INCREDIBLE HOME DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

This 94 square meter apartment has a privileged location on the corner of the building. Looking for an apartment in well appointed with three bedrooms, one next to the park, with open views to the outside and green space overlooking the street, while the kitchen opens onto the courtyard and peaceful atmosphere. In the middle is a spacious hall and in relation to this, a new bathroom. The general plan with large windows on three sides and bright colors fill the room with light. It is difficult to decide which of these rooms, we love the most.

INCREDIBLE LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN DINING ROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN DINING ROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN KITCHEN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN KITCHEN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN BEDROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN BEDROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN SKETCH WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN SKETCH WITH NATURAL LIGHT

My Travel Tips

I started traveling as a consultant form April of 2002. I have now completed ten years of travel. For my assignments I travel both economy and business class and use a variety of airlines. To commemorate my ten years of traveling I have compiled some travel tips. They are aimed at reducing the stress of modern travel to enable you to have a pleasant journey with the minimal amount of discomfort and hassle.



These are my top travel tips based on my travel experience since 2002 and the post 9/11 world. (E6K9HKXKPPNE)


Clothes and shoes


1. Do not wear a belt – this will help you to pass through security without having to go through the hassle of taking it off and putting it on. It also helps in blood circulation.


2. Do not wear any items of clothing which contain metal buttons, clips, labels etc.


3. Do not wear clothing with a lot of pockets – you can forget a coin or a key and will set off the metal detectors


4. Do not wear tight clothes this will cut your blood circulation and make the journey uncomfortable.


5. Don’t wear baggy clothes; wear comfortable cloths that are close to your body – lets face it you will be profiled no matter what they say; so wearing baggy clothes sets off alarm bells with the security personnel. They are more likely to pad down a person wearing baggy clothes as opposed to someone wearing well fitting clothes.


6. Try to wear slippers or sandals, if you feel clod wear a pair of socks with the slippers or sandals. If you need to wear shoes wear thin sole shoes (without any metal fittings) with no shoelaces. This will either negate the need to take off your shoes or make it easy to take off and put on shoes


7. Try to dress in the thinnest possible layers of clothes instead of wearing / carrying bulky heave jackets / coats so that you can remove or add depending on your level of comfort. Thin clothes weigh less take less space in your hand luggage / carry on luggage.


Money and Travel Documents


1. Do not carry any coins. If you must carry coins in a small transparent plastic bag and put the coins in a pocket of your carry on luggage.


2. Always carry more than one currency: example if you travel via to London to USA carry British Sterling Pounds as well as Dollars.


3. Try to pre pay for as many expenses as possible before departure. This helps to minimize the amount of money you need to carry, as well as be able to bargain to the maximum and not be made to decide on the spot about your travel options. Use the internet and always cross check and read reviews of restaurants, taxi service and other services you are likely to pay for in cash so that you don’t get taken for a ride.


4. Carry globally accepted credit cards as a payment option and for emergencies.


5. Always take travel insurance; you never know when you might fall sick or get injured.


6. Always carry your passport, visa, travel insurance, hotel reservations, travel vouchers, invitation letters, letters of sponsorship etc in one safety pouch / folder. This way you don’t have to look for them in multiple places. Keep them safe and close to you.


7. Never ever give the bag containing these documents to anyone (except your family or personal assistant / colleague).


8. If you are using a VIP service to breeze through emigration and customs make sure that you have line of sight of the person at all times. Confidence tricksters pretending to be service providers will walk off with your belongings.


Baggage


1. First check the weather of your destination (12 hours before departure – weather forecasting gets better when nearer to the dates concerned.)


2. Finalize your clothes 12 hours before you travel, based on above.


3. Choose clothes that can be mixed and worn: Take white shirts / blouses which can be worn with any pants / skirts and jackets. Take a few different ties / scarf and accessories so that you look different but use the least number of clothes. I am a firm believer in the use of hotel laundry services. I prefer to get the items laundered at the hotel and avoid carrying your entire wardrobe with you when you travel. Make sure that you as well as the hotel has a clear understanding of the difference between dry cleaning and washing of clothing items.


4. Try to use the minimum number of bags as possible.


5. Golden rule is that: if you do not need an item during the journey / flight, then it goes in with the check in luggage. One of the benefits of the post 9/11 world is that the airline industries ability to track and link you baggage to you has improved tremendously. So you do not have to carry any back up clothes in your hand luggage just in case your luggage gets lost.


6. If you do not have any check in luggage then you need to ask the question do I really need to carry the item or can I buy it at my destination and use it. Remember most consumables (Soap, Shampoo, Mouth wash etc) are similarly priced everywhere and most hotel now provide them in the room). It’s worth trying a new brand of an item to reduce the weight and hassle of taking them in 50 ML clear bottles etc.


7. Have a good idea of your baggage allowance. Especially if you fly economy class; it may change from airline to airline. The rule of thumb is that if it is difficult for you to carry your check in baggage (Standard international size) it is probably over weight. An average person can easily handle 20Kg. Use this principle when standing in check in queues. Avoid standing in queues with people who have difficulty in handling their luggage. They will take longer to check in as they will have to pay for excess luggage or repack them.


Loyalty Cards


1. Try to get as many loyalty cards as you can. Before you embark on your journey have the relevant loyalty cards sorted out and keep them with your travel documents and put the rest in you carry on luggage. You never know when they may become handy.


2. In my opinion the top benefits of loyalty cards are:


a. Priority check in – the shorter the queue you need to stand in the less stressful it is to you.


b. Excess baggage allowance – you never know when you might need it, especially if you travel with your wife / partner who will shop while you are attending to business.


c. VIP services for priority emigration and customs clearance.


d. Access to a lounge with free broadband internet connection


I recommend you go for loyalty cards that provide at least one of these benefits and not bother with ones that just offer air miles for ticket discounts and free food.


Hotels


1. Where ever possible I recommend you insist on staying in an establishment with at least a 3 star classification. This should provide good enough comfort & facilities for a business traveler. However I have come across many hotels which are classified as 3 stars but are more like cattle sheds. If clients and budgets permit always stay at the highest class hotel in your destination.


2. The main facilities you should be looking for when selecting a hotel are:


a. Airport pick up and drop


b. Free broadband internet access


c. Complementary pressing of one set of clothes per day (shirt / blouse, trouser / skirt & Jacket) + shoe shine.


d. Free copy of the local English newspaper – This is a helpful tool to get a feel of the local environment, best places to dine and entertainment information and of course to get an insight in to what’s happening around you.


3. Always stay as close as possible to your customers / clients. This will reduce local travel time and getting stuck in local traffic, which you may not know about or will not be able to find out before arriving at your destination. Best is to stay within walking distance. By this you can avoid the need to haggle with taxi drivers every morning and evening if meter taxis are not available.


4. I recommend you stay on B & B basis; this gives you a lot of flexibility to move around the city and meet the locals during meal times. This will also help you get a feel of the general business environment, mood of the people as well as get exposed to the local culture.


Flights


1. Always use major airlines where possible. The trend now is to go for budget airlines. I too subscribe to this philosophy but with a few considerations. They are:


a. Safety – As with all one needs to be comfortable with the safety systems of the airline. Some budget airlines operate state of the art new aircraft, while others operate others which do not have a good safety record. So each of us need to make this choice for ourselves.


b. Reliability – Other than Europe and North America budget airlines are not regulated in a way they are liable for delays and cancellations. Unless you have a very good insurance policy you may run the risk of having to incur the cost of delayed and cancelled flights, additional hotel and transfer costs. Budget airlines will cancel / delay / amalgamate passenger manifests for flights if they do not have the desired number of passengers for a flight to minimize losses.


Major airlines will operate scheduled flights, and if for any reason they do cancel a flight they will look after the passengers better and try to route you to your destination with the minimum hassle.


2. Try not to use domestic airlines. As much as possible try to get to and from your destination via an international flight. Changing to domestic airlines may be cheaper but you need to consider the following:


a. How much time do you loose and is it worth. Most domestic flights operate at much lower altitudes and will fly at a lower speed. International flights will fly higher and faster and can provide you with considerable time savings.


b. You may have to go through immigration in one airport and through customs in another airport. This may actually take a longer time.


c. You will increase you total transit time (Time spent not flying) and for a business person time is money.


d. You may need to move your luggage over long distances between domestic and international terminals.


e. You may need to pay again for excess baggage


f. Domestic airlines too will cancel / delay / amalgamate passenger manifests for flights if they do not have the desired number of passengers for a flight to minimize losses.


g. Most domestic airlines operate very old aircraft which may have a bad safety record.


Jet Lag


1. Living in the destination time zone – From the time you start your journey try to do things such as taking meals and sleeping according to the destination time zone. This will give your body extra time to adjust to life in the new time zone. Most airlines try to do this using the cabin lights to mimic the time of day. Unfortunately only the modern aircraft have this feature.


2. Drinking fluids. – You must be well hydrated 24 hour before the flight, So refrain from:


a. Heavy exercises that make you loose water through excessive sweating


b. Drinking too much alcohol the day before you travel.


3. Reduce the build up of static electricity on your body and clothes. Once at your choice of accommodation at your destination find a wooden or cement / tile floor. Take off your shoes and socks and walk on the surface for a few minutes. The best solution is walking on grass however this may not be possible at your destination. However this may be an option for you on your return to your home.

Quick Tip: Can’t Record Your Game At All? (64-bit/32-bit Fix)

Just a quick tip for when it seems like you cannot record your game ‘at all’:
64-bit computing is still relatively new for home users, which means that not all 64-bit hardware and applications communicate without problems. Many game recording apps simply can’t record games that operate in 64-bit modes. Just look for a 32-bit version of your game/gameclient and then your game recording program (no matter which one you use, be it Dxtory, Bandicam, MSI Afterburner..) should be able to record the screen. [For games that use Java (eg. Minecraft), download the 32-bit Java at their website]

See you in the games!

Game Recording with MPEG-4: using H.264/AVC in Programs such as Dxtory, Bandicam and MSI’s Afterburner (Text-Only, Long Version)


This article is a Text-Only version, showing how to use a few programs (one of them completely free) to utilize this efficient codec in game recording, using steps and settings that I personally found optimized performance and showing which ones slowed things down when recording. 
For a video example of how to set the x264/AVC codec recordings to be editable in
Sony’s Vegas or Adobe’s Premiere video editing applications, see my post about it here:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2013/06/and-more-how-to-record-with.html

The MPEG-4 video codec has been around for over a decade now. I remember recording TV shows to watch later on, on a system with an ATI All-In-Wonder videocard (back when videocards had only 8MB of VRAM!) and the joy of the changes I was seeing, going from compressing the shows in MPEG-2 format to MPEG-4 using either Quicktime or DivX (or it’s open-source competitor, XviD). Smaller file sizes and still decent quality? Awesome. Those were MPEG-4 Part 2 or ASP (Advanced Simple Profile) iterations of MPEG-4. Today, we are up to MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) and great times are to be had by all who record their video game adventures, as modern hardware and capturing apps allow not only for h.264/AVC to be used for video compression and archiving – it can also be used for small filesize ‘live’ game recordings and great retainment of detail, if desired.

Dxtory, Bandicam and MSI Afterburner all provide the ability to utilize the various codecs installed on your system to record with (others do as well, I am merely choosing these more popular game recording apps as examples). To record with MPEG-4/h.264/AVC, it is simply a matter of installing that codec on your computer [if it isn’t already], then choosing it inside of whichever game recording app you prefer. The codec’s interface (GUI, Graphical User Interface) will allow you to change whatever settings you wish – but these settings will be quite different from what you may be used to, if you have done any h.264/AVC video compression in the past. Why?

Because we are going to be balancing the settings – not just for retaining quality at a small file size (as you would like to when archiving a movie to keep on your computer) – but now also for recording speed. For instance, if we try to set things for high compression and attempt to keep detail at the same time (as we would for archiving a movie), it simply takes too long to process and compress the changes between frames ‘on-the-fly’ and save them into a file, when attempting to record game output. This would result in the game ‘lagging’ and dropping frames to try and keep up, as it falls behind dealing with analyzing and compressing and then writing the data, resulting in a video with ‘choppy’ playback as well. So, when recording our gameplay ‘live’, we must now consider the various settings and their affect on how fast we can put through the processing of frames and writing it to a file at the same time.

I will be addressing most of the settings in the h.264/AVC codec, but not all of them. I will be concerned mainly with the ones that will slow down processing, so that things do not take too long and fall behind and cause ‘lag’, both in the game and the resulting video file itself. This differs from compressing for archiving our own movies, because instead of being only concerned with Quality (setting everything on ‘high’ and letting it take as long as it needs), we must now balance Speed of the compression as well, being now more concerned with each of these settings and how they can possibly slow things down when recording the ‘live’ game rendering. As is the nature of live recording, we want it to easily and quickly process the frames and save them to a file. I will explain how to do all of this.

Recording with H.264/AVC

“x.264” is a free/open-source utilization of the h.264/AVC codec (the XiWave GNU GPL MPEG-4 Codec). It is normally a command-line driven executable [when you run it, you type things in, to get it to do things], so what we want for game recording with these programs, is a version with an ‘interface’ so that we can just tell our apps what to do with the mouse and buttons/sliders and it translates it into commands for the codec. All we would have to do is choose a few settings and checkboxes (what most people are used to – a nice, easy, graphical user interface).


Doing a search for ‘x264+windows’, there are a few places you can get the installer/setup program for x264 and Windows, here are the main ones:

This is the “Official” Open-Source Video For Windows version of the x264 codec (Red Logo) at the time of this writing:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/x264vfw/

This official codec is what is covered in the “Easymode” sections of this article


This is an “Unofficial” x264 Video For Windows Codec (Black Logo), at the time of this post, that allows for far more settings to be edited via checkboxes and pulldown menubars, but is more difficult to use (these two links are both the same thing):
http://www.digital-digest.com/software/x264_VFW_Codec.html
http://komisar.gin.by/index.html

This unofficial codec is what is covered in the “Hardmode” sections of this article


Basically, you can see that what we want is a “Video For Windows” version, which (thanks to all those great people that have worked on it over time!) has a nice, easy-to-use interface for picking the settings you want to use, without typing in a long line of commands every time. After installing the codec/interface into Windows, it’s just a matter of opening whatever game recording program you prefer and selecting it to use it.

Here’s how to select it for usage in these three game recording programs:

Recording with x264 and Bandicam

  • Once the codec is installed, run Bandicam and go to the Video tab and click on the Settings button
  • In here, under the Video category, next to Codec, click on the pull-down menu bar (with a little triangle at the end) and choose External Codec, which allows you to use other codecs installed in your system
  • Then, click on the three ellipsis (““) button and it will let you “Select external video codec”
  • Select the “x264vfw” H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec from the list and click on the Configure button
  • This is the x264vfw configuration interface and in here are all the settings we will talk about next…

Recording with x264 and Dxtory

  • Once everything is installed (Dxtory requires dotNET 4.0, a download link is on their main Download page), run Dxtory and click on the Movie settings button (which shows a little handy-cam with it’s lcd screen hanging out the side)
  • Under the Video Codec category, next to the word Codec, click the pull-down menu bar (with a little triangle at the end) and choose “x264vfw” H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Codec from the list and click on the little pen icon/button to the right, which opens the Configuration dialog box of the codec
  • This is the x264vfw configuration interface and in here are all the settings we will talk about next…

Recording with x264 and MSI Afterburner

  • Once the codec is installed, run MSI Afterburner and click on the Settings button at the bottom 
  • In here, go to the Video Capture tab and under the Video Capture Properties category, click on the pull-down menu bar (with a little triangle at the end) and choose “VFW compression”, which allows you to use the other codecs installed in your system
  • Then, click on the three ellipsis (““) button and under Compressor, click on the pull-down menu bar (with the little black triangle at the end) and choose “x264vfw” H.264/AVC codec from the list and then click on the Configure button to the right
  • This is the x264vfw configuration interface and in here are all the settings we will talk about next…
» Note:  To record with x264/h264/AVC and have it easily-importable and recognized properly in NLE’s (Non-Linear video Editing applications, such as Sony’s Vegas and Adobe’s Premiere lines of products [for example]) without having glitches or corruption or other problems, one setting for MPEG-4 codecs must be changed from the Default Setting right from the start. I created a video example of how to change this setting in Bandicam, Dxtory and MSI’s Afterburner and the post with that video can be found here at this blog:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2013/06/and-more-how-to-record-with.html
To understand some of the concepts and settings utilized by this codec (and helpful information to know for game recording and video compression in general), a quick word on Bitrate:

[This section is highlighted in green headings for navigation, to assist you whether you are re-reading this article or you feel you know a lot about bitrate in video editing and wish to skip it]

Bitrate (in Layman’s Terms)  /start

When talking about game recording, bitrate is an expression of the amount of data we are using to create the recorded file [literally, how many bits of information we are using]. It is usually expressed as how much information per second we are telling the codec to use, to represent the frames that are getting pushed through, and save them to our output video file.
The main thing to remember is that More Bitrate = Bigger Filesize

For example, if we record using a 1MB per second (1MB/s) setting, then after 2 minutes of recording (120s), our recorded file size will be 120MB. At that bitrate, if we recorded for one hour straight (3600 seconds), our recorded file size will be 3600MB (3.6GB).
If we record using a larger amount, let’s say 2MB per second (2MB/s), then after 2 minutes of recording (120s), our recorded file size will be 240MB. At that bitrate, if we recorded for one hour straight (3600 seconds), our recorded file size will be 7200MB (7.2GB).
It’s that simple. The more bitrate we use, the bigger the recorded file will be. 

For those used to video compression and editing, or even general users of multimedia, you may be more familiar with data rates in the realm of:

MP3 (MPEG-3 audio) song bitrates such as: 128kbps, 192kbps, 320kbps
PSP (PlayStation Portable) video bitrates such as: 768kbps, 1500kbps
DVD (MPEG-2) bitrates such as: 8000kbps, 9800kbps
Blu-Ray/HD bitrates such as: 16000kbps, 25000kbps, 50000kbps

All of these are usually expressed as Megabits/Kilobits/bits over time (in seconds), hence the “ps” at the end.
eg. 16 Mbps = 16,000 kbps = 16,000,000 bps (bits per second)

~bits (lower-case ‘b’) and Bytes (upper-case ‘B’) are different~

There are 8 bits (lower-case ‘b’) in 1 Byte (upper-case ‘B’)
8 bits in 1 Byte
8000 bits = 8 kilobits (‘kilo’, which is 1000 Bytes) = 1 KiloByte
8000 kilobits = 8 megabits (‘mega’, which is 1000 KiloBytes) = 1 MegaByte 

For example, if you were rendering out a movie to upload to YouTube and you chose an output bitrate of “8000 kbps” in your editing/compression application, that is 8 Mbps (bits, lower-case ‘b’), which means 8 Megabits per second. Converting that into Bytes (upper-case ‘B’), means that video will be running at 1 MBps, which is 1 MegaByte per second (upper-case ‘b’). 

At that bitrate (1MB/s), it is the same bitrate as our example above [just under where it says “More Bitrate = Bigger Filesize”] and it will take up roughly 60MB of space on your hard drive every minute of recording. Thus is the interaction between Bitrate and File Size and how to convert between the two. The higher the bitrate setting used, the bigger the output file size will be (the recording). 

There is one other formula to remember: More Bitrate = Better Quality. This formula applies to almost everything digital: video (DVD/BluRay), audio (MP3/MP4), pictures (PNG/JPG), any multimedia that is digital. If you allow/use more bitrate, the picture/music/video is represented better [or to be more precise, closer to the original input] because there are literally more bits used to create the picture/sound/etc.

Quick example – think of a square that is divided up into 9 sections. Now pretend it is trying to ‘represent’ a painting, any painting you can think of. With only 9 blocks of data available (each one can only be a certain color), then it would look like nothing but some colored blocks and barely look like the painting at all. Now, imagine a square divided up into 80 sections. Pretend it is trying to represent the same painting. Even though it will be ‘blocky’ still, if each section can be only one color, it will still look ‘more like the original’ than the 9-sectioned block, right? 

That’s the interaction of bitrate and quality.

Which means, for digital compression, it is essentially a ‘balancing act’ between Quality and File Size, with Bitrate being the tool to measure with. Do you want a high-quality output? Then turn up the bitrate and you’ll end up with a large file size. Do you want a small file size? Then lower the bitrate and you’ll get lower quality as well. That’s the essence of bitrate, in a nutshell.

Bitrate (in Layman’s Terms)  /end



The x264 Interface and Configuration in “Easymode”
(The Official interface with red x264 logo)

With the official version of the interface for using the x264 codec (“x264vfw”), there is only one screen, with pulldown bars to adjust most settings.
The Basic Section

To start with, under the Basic category, there is a Preset setting. This is a very handy setting, which makes many of the more obscure/hidden choices within this codec (there are dozens, behind the scenes) easy to configure. By clicking on the question mark near the bottom right corner (“?”), you can see the intimate details of the different Profiles and Presets that can be selected in these pull-down menu bars within this first “Basic” section of the interface.

For game recording, we are more concerned with speed. We don’t want the codec to break out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinize each frame coming through in strict detail, because that would cause it to slow down, which will cause it to ‘lag’ behind, not only in the game, but in the recorded file itself as well (“choppy-ness”). 
So, the first thing to do, when using this codec for ‘live’ game recording, is to change the Preset setting from it’s original default of Medium to “Ultrafast“. This is the fastest option for this setting.
The other options, such as Superfast, can also be used, but be aware that the more you go down the selections available, the more options are being ‘turned on’ behind-the-scenes with this codec, and while some of them do help apparent quality of the video, they are geared more towards a slow, steady, long-term compression session (like when you might archive a video/movie) with high-quality settings and slow, scrutinizing analysis of the frames. While not a bad thing, for game recording, we don’t want that. We want it to save what we are seeing on the screen fast, to a file. We want speed. Feel free to take a look and learn about the various options the other Presets turn on [many of them are covered in this article further down], but for optimal speed, Ultrafast is the setting to use.
The next pull-down set of options to choose from is Tuning. These are also a set of pre-selected options that, depending on which one you choose here, will enable or disable certain functions in the codec. These choices are helpful is easily fine-tuning the codec to compress a movie/video/clip of each certain type, as it enables options in the background that will help with efficient, detail-oriented compression of that certain type of material. 
For game recording, again we are more concerned with speed. These options, while helpful in a slow, ‘leave-it-overnight’ compression session of clips or movies of ours we want to save; for live game recording we want to leave it at it’s default setting of “None“, so that the codec keeps it’s magnifying glass put away and doesn’t spend any extra time analyzing the frames coming through.
There are two checkboxes below these first two pull-down menus and they are titled “Fast Decode” and “Zero Latency“:
Fast Decode turns off a few options [behind the scenes] that help by reducing the processing ‘load’ of the video stream, such as CABAC and Deblocking [these are explained in more detail further within this article]. These are options that help keep some quality (especially at lower bitrates), but as the name proclaims [“Fast”], for optimal speed of recording we want this option “Checked“, to enable it (which will turn off these extra options for now).
Zero Latency also turns off a few options behind the scenes, ones that increase compression time, such as B-frames [explained later in this post] and how far to ‘look ahead’ at frames coming in, for analysis. Since we want speed for recording our game footage and less analysis [remember, more analysis slows things down], we want this option “Checked” to turn off the extra options that are ‘behind-the-scenes’ with this setting.

The rest of the settings in this Basic section of the interface need not be adjusted for game recording, but a good Wikipedia page, talking about the various Profiles and Levels and their capabilities can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC

The Rate Control Section

All of the below paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

The main thing in here (and really the only thing to adjust for game recording in this tab) is the longest bar right in the middle, the main datarate control and compression decision to make, is all in that one bar. I cannot even make a suggestion on what to use [ok, I can actually], since it will partially depend on what type of game you are recording, your hardware, what kind of compression you are looking for and many other factors. I will attempt to simplify it however and give a suggestion at the end. (More importantly for game recording, there is one choice that is slightly faster than all the others).

To begin, since we are going to be using x264 for game recording, we cannot use the Leeloo Dallas Multipass Options. Multiple passes (usually 2 or 3) when compressing/archiving video can greatly increase quality, but that means 2-3 times the analysis, double-checking and then further compression by the codec. Literally processing every frame twice (for 2-passes for example). That’s great when we want to keep a movie in a small, ‘as-good/high-as-we-can-get’ quality, forever. When recording games however, we want [one guess] speed. We can only accept “Single pass” as our option, because we just want the codec to see what frames are coming in, take a quick glance, and compress them into our output video file. One pass.
Starting with ABR (Average BitRate), the “bitrate-based” setting, this setting allows you to punch in the average bitrate you want to record at and it attempts to stick with it (it will go lower, but try to never go higher than what you set here). This setting basically tells the codec, “Keep within this bitrate, I don’t care if the quality goes down”, because as the bitrate ceiling is reached, it will quickly degrade in quality, as more/high movement occurs on the screen/frame. It is good for keeping within a certain file size, if that is your desire, but it also causes a bit of ‘lag’ and is not seemingly optimized for ‘live’ capturing.
CQP (Constant Quantizer Parameter) is a setting where you are basically telling the codec, “Keep this level of Quality”, and it will do it’s best to keep that level of quality for all frames/scenes. However, it will spend more time (and bitrate) on fast-motion/high-action scenes. This is good if you want to keep a movie visible clearly when a lot of things are going on, but it will also result in the higher usage of bitrate, which means larger file sizes. This may sound like a good thing for game recording (and for quality, it is), but the time spent analyzing the faster-motion scenes means that it is actually slowing down (in terms of the codec breaking out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinizing the frames that are passing by), which results in ‘lag’, both in the game and in the recorded video file itself (“choppiness” on playback).
Lossless should attempt to lose no quality, processing only very little and passing all of that nice detail directly to the recorded video output. While sounding good in theory, in practice the utilization of ‘lossless’ in x264 must be geared towards slow, analyzed video compression and not ‘as fast as we can get to avoid lag’ “live” game recording, because the result of this setting [at this time] is actually a lossy, compressed (it does not seem to go far beyond 100,000kbps), low bitrate (compared to ‘true loss-less compression’ which is much higher) capture. It does look decent, but it is also very demanding on the system and causes a large framerate drop for the level of detail that should be coming out of it [and doesn’t]. This codec does not seem to be optimized for lossless recording at this time and I do not suggest using the Lossless setting here.
CRF (Constant Rate Factor) is sort of a combination of ABR and CQP. At any given rate factor, a certain bitrate is maintained, and when the motion on the screen goes very high and the bitrate gets too high to represent what is occurring in the frame (or hits the ‘ceiling’ bitrate that it is restricted to, which can be set), then the quality begins to suffer, as the codec ramps quality down and compresses the fast-moving (“not as easy for the human eye to see”) material, until things settle down on the screen and there is slower motion (such as a person walking). Then the quality ramps back up (the bitrate staying with the specified parameters) to keep the apparent quality high to the human eye. This is how CRF is supposed to work, and it seems to do a good job of that. 
Game recording with CRF isn’t as cut-and-dry as slow, long-term video compression/archiving with CRF, where it has time to figure out how to compress the fast/blurry scenes and make the slower/clearer scenes look better and change the bitrate/quantization respectively. Quantization can be thought of as ‘apparent spoilage’ of the material, where a certain amount isn’t even noticeable to most humans, and in some fast-moving-high-action scenes, it is even preferable to some eyes. Low bitrate and/or high quantization would both result in loss of detail and ‘blurring’ or ‘smoothing’ of video most of the time and can result in compression artifacts such as Macroblocks and Gibbs Effects (“mosquito noise”), as the codec tries to decide ‘what to keep’ and ‘what to lose’ (lossy compression). With CRF, it usually will try to keep a slow-moving scene (someone walking, people talking) detailed, without much quantizing (‘spoilage’), so that it looks good. It will take high-motion (fast action, fast changing) scenes and quantize them more (smoothing, blurring, ‘spoiling’) since the human eye won’t notice it as much on fast-motion, already-slightly-blurred changes on the screen.
To summarize the differences between the types of data rate controls (the choices in this pulldown bar):
CQP is like stating, “Keep this quality, I don’t care how big the bitrate/file gets” and ABR is like stating, “Keep this bitrate/filesize, I don’t care how crappy you have to make the video look to stay within that”, CRF is more like stating, “Try to keep this bitrate, but change it a little as you need (within a certain amount) and make the video look slightly crappy if you need to as well, but don’t let either one get too out of wack”. As CRF seemed to also be the one with the least amount of effect of the system in the form of ‘lag’ [only slightly less than the other ones in testing], being so highly configurable (compared to the other choices, where you can state a bitrate to stay within and it adjusts itself), I suggest using CRF for your x264/AVC game capturing.

Some Data / Bitrates seen with CRF

Since it looks like we are going to be sticking with CRF as our main datarate control factor [it performs slightly better than the other choices in tests], here’s an example of some bitrates that can result from using it (in kilobits per second):

Recorded game: Hitman: Absolution Benchmark [grainy, panning, high and low motion areas]
Recorded codec: H.264/AVC (MPEG-4 Part 10) using the x264vfw interface
Recorded settings [some]: No Deblocking, No Max Bitrate, No CABAC, adjusting only CRF

CRF 51  ~1200 kbps (lowest possible quality setting for CRF)
CRF 42  ~1600 kbps
CRF 32  ~6000 kbps
CRF 29  ~8500 kbps
CRF 26  ~14000 kbps
CRF 23  ~22000 kbps (codec default setting for CRF)
CRF 22  ~23000 kbps
CRF 21  ~32000 kbps
CRF 18  ~45000 kbps
CRF 15  ~64000 kbps
CRF 13  ~79000 kbps
CRF 10  ~101,000 kbps
CRF 5    ~119,000 kbps
CRF 1    ~119,000 kbps (highest possible quality setting for CRF)

As you can see, the higher the CRF, the lower the bitrate, so the lower the recorded file size will be (but also the lower the apparent quality). If you desire a higher-quality recording, then a lower CRF is what you want (even with a very low CRF, the bitrate is nowhere near as high as say, a FRAPS or YV12 recording (which can both easily be over 500,000 kbps), but that is the nature of the codec as it tries to slightly compress everything that passes through it.

It can also be seen, that is it is not a strict/hard-and-fast rule of evenly-spaced steps, when it comes to the CRF setting and Bitrate. It cannot be easily calculated that “two steps up in CRF equals this much more bitrate”. That is partially the nature of the compression and partially what occurs using CRF as a datarate control. When there is more motion on the screen and as it changes, the datarate will change as well, to try to keep within certain bitrate/quality boundaries and still accurately represent what is occurring on the screen/in the frames. With almost any form of compression/codec, only if the recording was using a completely fixed bitrate, or recording a static picture/view, would it be easy to calculate the adjustments required for a certain bitrate change. It is built into the codecs to adjust themselves as needed.

What CRF setting to use

So, what CRF setting to use? The general rule is: the lower the CRF number, the more bitrate/quality you are allowing it to use, but the bigger the recorded file size will be.

The choice is somewhat objective, as CRF18 may look good to me to record a first-person-shooter game with (the default is CRF23), but you may not like how it looks and want to use CRF10 to keep more details that you want to see.
Someone may not like the compression artifacts they can see when recording Minecraft using CRF18 and want to turn it up to CRF15 so that it is crisper, with less ‘mosquito noise’ around the edges or corruption that they can see; but you may think it looks good enough at the default of CRF23 and leave it there like someone else may do. You see?
Those are two very different types of video/games mind you, one is dark and grainy and the other is smooth, with hard edges, like animation; but you get the point. It can vary, not only person to person, but also game to game. A few short tests is all it will take however, and you quickly will find a CRF setting that you are happy to record with. You’ll find your own balance between, what will essentially be, these considerations:

The higher the bitrate (lower CRF number) the higher the quality and file size will be
The lower the bitrate (higher CRF number) the lower the quality and file size will be

You will eventually decide, with just a couple tests, what is ‘good enough’ quality for your eyes/uploading, and what CRF to use on that game (remember the ‘balancing act’ of bitrate vs quality mentioned at the beginning?). You will also find that the quality recorded isn’t even kept, after compressing the final/edited video to upload at a video sharing site somewhere.

All of the above paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

That’s about it for the nice-and-easy one-panel official graphical interface for the x264vfw H.264/AVC codec. Just a few small changes and a decision of what quality/bitrate you would like to use and it is all ready  for you to record with whatever game recording program you prefer. Have fun with it!

What follows below, is the unofficial, more detailed, three-tabbed version of the x264vfw H.264/AVC codec interface. If this version is not installed on your system, or you do not care to use the more complicated version (you definitely don’t have to), then please skip down to the section called 
“Slash-whew-sweating-emoticon”. No version is better than the other, by the way, they both utilize the same codec, one just gives you more options to set [and I happened to install it by accident when learning about recording with the x264 codec in the beginning], that’s all.

The x264 Interface and Configuration in “Hardmode”
(The Unofficial interface with black x264 logo)

There are three main tabs in this version of the x264 Video For Windows interface: 
Main
Analysis and Encoding
Rate Control and Other
Each Tab has many different settings. We will talk about most of them – but not all of them – we are mainly concerned with the ones that will affect game capturing. I am going to be going through the Tabs in reverse order. This will help to explain the concepts in a more logical order [believe it or not].

Rate Control & Other Tab

In the ‘Rate Control and Other’ Tab, our main attention need only be on the VBV bitrate/buffer settings in the first Rate Control area. The other settings can be tweaked, but this need be the only one to change – when concerned only with game capturing – as it can dictate the final output filesize of our recording. 
Why all that math and talk about bitrate above? Because of the very first setting we are going to cover, part of the Rate Control section:

The very first setting in this third tab of the x264vfw interface is something called “VBV max bitrate” and it is expressed in “kbit/s”. Yay, we just learned about that! It means that the value typed in here will be accepted as “kilobits per second”.

What does the “VBV” mean? It stands for “Video Buffering Verifier” and this setting will let us state the overall maximum bitrate we want to restrict the video recording to be, so that it does not go over it. 
Why would we want to do that? Remember that the amount of bitrate (per second) that we are using to record with affects the output video file size. If it is a large amount, the file size will be bigger. If we wanted to restrict the recorded output file size and keep it smaller, we could put an amount in here and it will do it’s best to keep within that amount, allowing us to control how much bitrate it uses to record with (and thus control how big the game recording output will be).
So, to use our example just above, if we wanted to restrict the bitrate of the game recording output to be only 1MB/s (1 MegaBytes per second), what do we do? 
That’s right, we convert it to lower-case (small-‘b’) bits, first:
We want 1 MegaByte per second of a bitrate
1 MegaByte is 1000 KiloBytes
since 1 Byte = 8 bits
then 1000 KiloBytes = 8000 kilobits
so to restrict the maximum bitrate allowed for our capture to 1MB/s (taking up 60MB of drive space per minute of recording) we would put “8000” in the ‘VBV max bitrate’ box.
This box then, gives some control over how much diskspace you want to devote to the game recording file output. If you do not want to restrict the bitrate, do not put anything in these first two boxes on this third tab. 
If you do want to set a restriction here on the bitrate, set a “buffer size” as well (the box just below the first one). This ‘buffer size’ gives a sliding-window-view of how much the codec will keep track of what is going through and ‘watch’ to make sure that it stays below the amount in the box above (the ‘max bitrate’ box). It is used more for compressing for portable devices (which have less RAM and are not able to buffer/keep track of a large amount at a time and therefore must have a restricted amount set here).  
For our purposes – game recording – remember that we must be more concerned with speed (to reduce lag), so in this box, we cannot put a very large amount. Why? Because the larger the buffer, the more that the codec will try to ‘store up’ in RAM, in order to ‘watch it’ (process it) and keep track of how big the bitrate gets, in order to keep our restriction of the ‘max bitrate’ box on it. So, a smaller amount such as “2000” up to maybe “4000” in this ‘buffer size’ box is a good amount. The overall buffer size also allows room for the video to ‘go over slightly and come back down to within’ the amount we set, but the larger the amount is, the more data will be held behind for processing that will be done on the game recording and the slower everything will get – and we don’t want that – we want as close to ‘Lag Free’ recording as we can get. A “0” then, would be the optimal amount to put in here, when speed is a concern; but then we would not be able to set a maximum bitrate… more on this later in the article…
That’s all we will adjust on the Rate Control & Other tab.
Analysis & Encoding Tab
Here’s where we will do the most adjusting, as these settings in here are the ones with the most impact on speed and game recording.
In the Analysis section, the first few adjustments are checkboxes concerning Partitions. Partitions are exactly what they sound like: it is how much the codec will divide up the screen, into sections, so that it can analyze each section and look at what is changing, decide how to compress it, how much to compress it, and so on. For game recording, remember we are more concerned with speed, than messing with how the codec is going to scrutinize the screen, so we are going to uncheck everything in the Partitions sections. Really. We are also going to uncheck the Adaptive DCT setting (which will deselect/lock out/grey out some of the checkboxes for us).
For game recording, we are going to leave a checkmark in the “Fast P-skip” setting.

Frame Types (in Layman’s Terms)  /start

There are three main types of frames in video encoding:
I-type frames
P-type frames
B-type frames

I-frames are ‘Intra-coded Frames’, sometimes called Information Frames, because they hold the most information in a ‘group of frames’ (which is what makes up a video) and therefore I-frames take up the most space (as far as the amount of space it will take up on your hard drive). They also look the best as well, as they usually use a higher bitrate (which is why they take up the more space). They are utilized by the codec to indicate a large change in what is going on in the video/on the screen, like a sort of ‘reset’. They can usually be identified by the screen being ‘cleared up’ of blocks/glitches from video compression, as the compressed video is played back. 

For instance, if you are running down a dark hallway and turn a corner and there is an explosion, in order to more accurately represent that large change in color and motion in the game recording, the codec will most likely decide to insert at least one I-frame and use a larger amount of data to keep more detail as it tries to represent all of the huge changes going on, on the screen and in the frames.

I-frames also serve some other purposes: the ‘intra-coded’ means that they are not dependent on other frames around it in the video  [which is a collection of frames], as they hold all the information needed to represent the frame all within itself [remember ‘inter-murals’ in school involved other schools and ‘intra-murals’ was contained all within your own school, this is the same thing]. 

They also are usually used as Keyframes. Since I-frames contain all the data need to represent the entire frame, on it’s own, video applications can use it as a ‘starting point’ or ‘reference point’ (“keying off of it”) and allow for more compatible cutting/editing on them and use them to start ‘seeking’ from, when editing a video. The two main things to remember about I-frames/Keyframes [the same thing] is that (1) I-frames can stand alone all by themselves, as they have all the information needed to display an image/frame, and (2) I-frames allow video editing programs [like Sony’s VegasVideo/MovieStudio/Pro and Adobe’s Premiere/Pro] to ‘reset’ and show you where you are starting to edit from – if there are a large number of frames between these I-frames (“keyframes”), it will take longer for the program to read between all of them and then show/allow you to start editing from where you have selected in the video editing program (it will take longer overall to edit by hand as the program starts and stops and you have to wait while editing).  

MJPEG game recordings are made up entirely of I-frames, as every frame in the captured video is it’s own JPEG compressed picture and it is the most editing-friendly and compatible codec to capture with, no matter what game capturing program you use. In fact, most video editors can read MJPEG without installing any other codecs on your system 

P-frames are called ‘Predicted Frames’. They hold far less information in a group of frames (video) and take up far less space. They actually only hold the differences from the Previous I-frame, that is, they only keep track of the changes on the screen/what has changed on the screen since the last I-frame, which is why they are far smaller than I-frames. 

For instance, if you are playing a character in a game and you are just standing at the mailbox reading an in-game message, there isn’t much changing on the screen at all. Perhaps on the side of the mail window, there is only someone running by and that is all that is happening on the screen, nothing else is moving at all. P-frames will only keep track of the movement that person running by and not keep track of the mail message or anything else going on in the frame (things that aren’t moving) and it will save only those changes to the game recorded file as P-frames. Hence, they can indeed take up a much smaller amount of space in a game recording, since they are only recording the things that are changing on the screen.

B-frames are ‘Bi-directional Frames’ (called ‘Bi-Predictive Frames’). They hold even less information than P-frames, as they are only keeping track of the differences between any frame before or after itself (even using P-frames that are around it and not needing an entire I-frame to start from). This means they are only only keeping track of very small changes (only one frame ahead or behind) and can therefore be extremely small and take up very little space in a video file. B-frames are one of the reasons why we can archive/compress movies in such small file sizes – only the differences of what is going on, on the screen/in the frames, is being kept track of. Both P and B frames help to save a ton of space when it comes to video compression.

Frame Types (in Layman’s Terms)  /end

Why all that talk about the different types of frames in a group of frames (video)? Because now we can easily understand the next few settings in the configuration window. 
Fast P-skip is a setting that allows the codec to look at P-frames and decide if there are enough changes to analyze it further, or ‘skip’ over them and just process them as they are. This is decided on by the codec when it looks at some other settings on this tab (such as the “ME” settings) but for the most part, it helps speed – our main concern with game recording – more than it helps things to ‘look good’, so we will leave a checkmark in it, as we briefly stated above.
Max frame refs and Mixed refs are talking about Reference Frames and how many to use in a group of pictures/frames. When encoding, a codec can use frames in front (P-frames) or in front and behind (B-frames) of the current frame it is working with, to keep tracks of what has changed between frames. When encoding for movies, we want as many as possible (or as many as the codec decides to put in) in order have things keep a lot of detail wherever it is needed, especially for scene changes; but for game recording, we want things to run faster (so that the game capture does not lag the game or cause lag within the recorded file (“choppy-ness” in playback), so we actually want the codec to use as little number of Reference Frames as possible.
Remember, every time the codec has to ‘think’ or analyze the frames more, it will slow down to break out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinize, so what we want for this setting is the lowest (one) Reference Frame (put a “1” in the Max frame refs box) so it doesn’t have to do much more work than just looking quickly one frame ahead or behind, when when figuring out what has changed. 
Mixed reference frames allow the codec to compress frames based on changes in frames that are also being referenced by other frames [if you can follow that]. Again, the codec is going to have to slow down and take a look, and for game recording, we want things to stay lean and mean (fast), so uncheck this bad boy (if you make the Max frame refs a “1”, it will be disabled anyway, since it does not have enough frames to deal with to look around at them anyway).
The next few settings down that all say “ME” refer to Motion Estimation. This is the process of keeping track of where things are moving on the screen and how to deal with compressing the changes it is keeping track of. For game recording, we want the codec to analyze as little as possible (so it doesn’t lag behind what is going on, on the screen) so we must choose the lowest settings for all of the “ME” options. 
That means “Diamond” analysis as the ME algorithm (pulldown menu choice), an ME range of the smallest we can choose from (“4”) and the lowest amount of Subpixel ME refinement we can have (“0” or no subpixel refinement). Remember, we want the codec to just save what is happening on the screen and analyze as little as possible, so it doesn’t fall behind.
With the choices above, Chroma ME and the Psycho-visual Rate Distortion Optimization strength will be locked out/not applicable, which is good for game capturing, as it scrutinizes the frames that are coming from the game even less.
The next couple settings, in the middle column of the tab, that say GOP in them, are talking about the size of the Group Of Pictures we want in our capture. If you can recall the things we have already said about how a codec decides to compress frames, it looks to frames ahead and behind at times, looking at the differences between them, and then decides how to compress the frames based on what it finds (and the settings we set). For movie compression, we want a large number, so that the codec mainly keeps track of the differences only between frames, as much as it can, and a large GOP size allows it a lot of ‘room to move’ and look around. For game capturing, we don’t want it to be quite as big, as the more frames on it’s plate it has to deal with, the more it will slow down and take time to decide what to do with them. 

There is also a chance that some video editing applications will not like the large (or any) Groups Of Pictures and may see the video stream as corrupted or give wierd artifacts/effects when it plays it back. This is one reason why using MJPEG as a game recording codec is suggested often, as it’s built-in GOP is “1”, as evey frame is it’s own self-contained ‘group’ and no editing app has to mess with it or over-analyze it. It is the most compatible, but you can use any codec you wish, but you may have to change the codec’s Keyframes or GOP to “1” for compatibility [more on this in future articles!]


Hence, we will set a nice low number [I personally used “50” around the time of this post]. Be aware that if the number is a multiple of the framerate you are recording in, Videophiles may notice the screen ‘shifting’ or having other odd effects ‘in time with’ the framerate (eg. if recording at 60fps and the GOP size is 60, some people notice the screen ‘correcting’ or ‘shifting’ or ‘flickering’ every second, as it ends the group or frames and starts a new one every second).
You can use “1”, which will make the codec act like MJPEG in a way, but then the codec will not have any room to analyze/compare/compress anything, and the resulting file will require much more bitrate to keep detail (to accurately represent what is going on in each frame)… more on that later in this article…
Weighted P-frames and Max consecutive B-frames is yet more analysis for the codec to do (especially B-frames, which remember, is a frame that ‘looks both ways’ for changes to frames in front and behind it, therefore can slow down recording a lot). For game capturing, we gots’ta keep setting things for speed and not letting the codec analyze too much. Change the Weighted P-frames to “None” (via a pull down bar) and the B-frames to “0” if they aren’t already. This is effectively telling the codec “you ain’t got time fo’ B-framez” so the rest of the settings that say “B-frames” should be locked/greyed out after that.
[In tests, enabling B-frames would actually crash the x264vfw app]
Under the Encoding section, the last column of this tab, the first section has to do with Deblocking
Deblocking is a way to try and ‘hide’ areas where the codec has cut out detail or ‘let go of data’ (lossy) in attempts to conform to the other settings in the codec and/or compress the frames highly. I’m sure almost everyone has seen Compression Artifacts like macroblocks or Gibbs Effects (mosquito noise) in high/over-compressed video and video streams. It’s not very pretty and turning on the Deblocking filter is one way of masking these artifacts, so that the video overall looks nicer to the human eye. 
The problem with Deblocking is that the codec will smooth things out, when trying to hide artifacts (especially ones that occur with lower bitrates/quality). It can be forced to keep detail with negative values (useful for movies/games with film grain), but overall it still takes more compression time to use, as the codec stops and analyzes the frames, looking for what to Deblock. So, for game recording for the most part, for optimum speed, Deblocking should be disabled, that is, “No Checkmark” in the box for In-loop deblocking filter (which will disable the two Deblocking settings below it).

[In my own trials/experiments, I found that a low amount of deblocking (as in “1”) for these two recording settings is acceptable and helps to hide some otherwise icky-looking compression effects that occur at lower bitrates (bitrate control is covered more in the next section), but for optimum speed (it is not needed at higher bitrates anyway) and especially for older/less powerful systems, turning deblocking off will always speed things up.]
CABAC is extra analysis that can really make a difference in compressing video. Some mobile players cannot even use it though, as it requires more processing power. The optimal setting for this, as it is extra analysis/processing being done – for game recording – would be “Off” (unchecked).

 [I have successfully done many recordings with CABAC on, as it seems to have only a slight effect on recording ‘lag’ on my system; but for optimum speed/less lag when recording (and at a slight loss for keeping some quality), it should be disabled.. for speed. ]

The only other thing to adjust in this tab, when game recording, is the Trellis setting. Trellis is a way of analyzing and attempting to keep certain detail when compressing, especially at lower bitrates, but as many times already mentioned, we want speed for game recording, so set the Trellis analysis to “Off” (via a pulldown bar). 

Main Tab

All of the below paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

The main thing in here (and really the only thing to adjust for game recording in this tab) is the longest bar right in the middle, the main datarate control and compression decision make, is all in that one bar. I cannot even make a suggestion on what to use [ok, I can actually], since it will partially depend on what type of game you are recording, your hardware, what kind of compression you are looking for and many other factors. I will attempt to simplify it however and give a suggestion at the end. (More importantly for game recording, there is one choice that is slightly faster than all the others).

To begin, since we are going to be using x264 for game recording, we cannot use the Leeloo Dallas Multipass Options. Multiple passes (usually 2 or 3) when compressing/archiving video can greatly increase quality, but that means twice the analysis, double-checking and then further compression by the codec. Literally processing every frame twice (for 2-passes). That’s great when we want to keep a movie in a small, ‘as-good/high-as-we-can-get’ quality, forever. When recording games however, we want [one guess] speed [I just realized this whole article can be it’s own drinking game]. We can only accept “Single pass” as our option, because we just want the codec to see what frames are coming in, take a quick glance, and compress them into our output video file. One pass.
Starting with ABR (Average BitRate), the “bitrate-based” setting, this setting allows you to punch in the average bitrate you want to record at and it attempts to stick with it (it will go lower, but try to never go higher than what you set here). This setting basically tells the codec, “Keep within this bitrate, I don’t care if the quality goes down”, because as the bitrate ceiling is reached, it will quickly degrade in quality, as more/high movement occurs on the screen/frame. It is good for keeping within a certain file size, if that is your desire, but it also causes a bit of ‘lag’ and is not seemingly optimized for ‘live’ capturing.
CQP (Constant Quantizer Parameter) is a setting where you are basically telling the codec, “Keep this level of Quality”, and it will do it’s best to keep that level of quality for all frames/scenes. However, it will spend more time (and bitrate) on fast-motion/high-action scenes. This is good if you want to keep a movie visible clearly when a lot of things are going on [I hate watching a low-quality video stream online and it goes absolutely-stupid blurry at high-motion scenes just because there are many things happening on the screen], but it will also result in the higher usage of bitrate, which means larger file sizes. This may sound like a good thing for game recording (and for quality, it is), but the time spend analyzing the faster-motion scenes means that it is actually slowing down (in terms of the codec breaking out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinizing the frames that are passing by), which results in ‘lag’, both in the game and in the recorded video file itself (“choppiness” on playback).
Lossless should attempt to lose no quality, processing only very little and passing all of that nice detail directly to the recorded video output. While sounding good in theory, in practice the utilization of ‘lossless’ in x264 must be geared towards slow, analyzed video compression and not ‘as fast as we can get to avoid lag’ “live” game recording. The result is actually a lossy, compressed (it does not seem to go far beyond 100,000kbps), low bitrate (compared to ‘true loss-less compression’) capture. It does look decent, but it is also very demanding on the system and causes a large framerate drop for the level of detail that should be coming out of it (and doesn’t). This codec does not seem to be optimized for lossless recording at this time and I do not suggest using the Lossless setting here.
CRF (Constant Rate Factor) is sort of a combination of ABR and CQP. At any given rate factor, a certain bitrate is maintained, and when the motion on the screen goes very high and the bitrate gets too high to represent what is occurring in the frame (or hits the ‘ceiling’ bitrate that it is restricted to, which can be set), then the quality begins to suffer, as the codec ramps it down and compresses the fast-moving (“not as easy for the human eye to see”) material, until things settle down on the screen and there is slower motion (such as a person walking). Then the quality ramps back up (the bitrate staying with the specified parameters) to keep the apparent quality high to the human eye. This is how CRF is supposed to work, and it seems to do a good job of that. 
Game recording with CRF isn’t as cut-and-dry as slow, long-term video compression with CRF, where it has time to figure out how to compress the fast/blurry scenes and make the slower/clearer scenes look better and change the bitrate/quantization respectively. Quantization can be thought of as ‘apparent spoilage’ of the material, where a certain amount isn’t even noticeable to most humans, and in some fast-moving-high-action scenes, it is even preferable to some eyes. Low bitrate and/or high quantization would both result in loss of detail and ‘blurring’ or ‘smoothing’ of video most of the time and can result in compression artifacts such as Macroblocks and Gibbs Effects (“mosquito noise”), as the codec tries to decide ‘what to keep’ and ‘what to lose’ (lossy compression). With CRF, it usually will try to keep a slow-moving scene (someone walking, people talking) detailed, without much quantizing (‘spoilage’), so that it looks good. It will take high-motion (fast action, fast changing) scenes and quantize them more (smoothing, blurring, ‘spoiling’) since the human eye won’t notice it as much on fast-motion, already-slightly-blurred changes on the screen.
To summarize the differences between the types of data rate controls (the choices in this pulldown bar):
CQP is like stating, “Keep this quality, I don’t care how big the bitrate/file gets” and ABR is like stating, “Keep this bitrate/filesize, I don’t care how crappy you have to make the video look to stay within that”, CRF is more like stating, “Try to keep this bitrate, but change it a little as you need (within a certain amount) and make the video look slightly crappy if you need to as well, but don’t let either one get too out of wack”. As CRF seemed to also be the one with the least amount of effect of the system in the form of ‘lag’ [only slightly less than the other ones in testing], being so highly configurable (compared to the other choices, where you can state a bitrate to stay within and it adjusts itself), I suggest using CRF for your x264/AVC game capturing.

Some Data / Bitrates seen with CRF

Since it looks like we are going to be sticking with CRF as our main datarate control factor [it performs slightly better than the other choices in tests], here’s an example of some bitrates that can result from using it (in kilobits per second):

Recorded game: Hitman: Absolution Benchmark [grainy, panning, high and low motion areas]
Recorded codec: H.264/AVC (MPEG-4 Part 10) using the x264vfw interface
Recorded settings [some]: No Deblocking, No Max Bitrate, No CABAC, adjusting only CRF

CRF 51  ~1200 kbps (lowest possible quality setting for CRF)
CRF 42  ~1600 kbps
CRF 32  ~6000 kbps
CRF 29  ~8500 kbps
CRF 26  ~14000 kbps
CRF 23  ~22000 kbps (codec default setting for CRF)
CRF 22  ~23000 kbps
CRF 21  ~32000 kbps
CRF 18  ~45000 kbps
CRF 15  ~64000 kbps
CRF 13  ~79000 kbps
CRF 10  ~101,000 kbps
CRF 5    ~119,000 kbps
CRF 1    ~119,000 kbps (highest possible quality setting for CRF)

As you can see, the higher the CRF, the lower the bitrate, so the lower the recorded file size will be (but also the lower the apparent quality). If you desire a higher-quality recording, then a lower CRF is what you want (even with a very low CRF, the bitrate is nowhere near as high as say, a FRAPS or YV12 recording (which can both easily be over 500,000 kbps), but that is the nature of the codec as it tries to slightly compress everything that passes through it.

It can also be seen, that is it is not a strict/hard-and-fast rule of evenly-spaced steps, when it comes to the CRF setting and Bitrate. It cannot be easily calculated that “two steps up in CRF equals this much more bitrate”. That is partially the nature of the compression and partially what occurs using CRF as a datarate control. When there is more motion on the screen and as it changes, the datarate will change as well, to try to keep within certain bitrate/quality boundaries and still accurately represent what is occurring on the screen/in the frames. With almost any form of compression/codec, only if the recording was using a completely fixed bitrate, or recording a static picture/view, would it be easy to calculate the adjustments required for a certain bitrate change. It is built into the codecs to adjust themselves as needed.

What CRF setting to use

So, what CRF setting to use? The general rule is: the lower the CRF number, the more bitrate/quality you are allowing it to use, but the bigger the recorded file size will be.

The choice is somewhat objective, as CRF18 may look good to me to record a first-person-shooter game with (the default is CRF23), but you may not like how it looks and want to use CRF10 to keep more details that you want to see.
Someone may not like the compression artifacts they can see when recording Minecraft using CRF18 and want to turn it up to CRF15 so that it is crisper, with less ‘mosquito noise’ around the edges or corruption that they can see; but you may think it looks good enough at the default of CRF23 and leave it there like someone else may do. You see?
Those are two very different types of video/games mind you, one is dark and grainy and the other is smooth, with hard edges, like animation; but you get the point. It can vary, not only person to person, but also game to game. A few short tests is all it will take however, and you quickly will find a CRF setting that you are happy to record with. You’ll find your own balance between, what will essentially be, these considerations:

The higher the bitrate (lower CRF number) the higher the quality and file size will be
The lower the bitrate (higher CRF number) the lower the quality and file size will be

You will eventually decide, with just a couple tests, what is ‘good enough’ quality for your eyes/uploading, and what CRF to use on that game (remember the ‘balancing act’ of bitrate vs quality mentioned at the beginning?). You will also find that the quality recorded isn’t even kept, after compressing the final/edited video to upload at a video sharing site somewhere.

All of the above paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

Slash-whew-sweating-emoticon

That was a lot to take in at once – but you made it through – and now you are set to record using H.264/AVC, whether you prefer Dxtory, Bandicam or use the completely free-to-use Afterburner from MSI. You are also now knowledgeable in both the Official and an Unofficial version of the x264 Video For Windows graphical way of setting up the codec, to change the settings.

Other than the Rate Control setting above (CRF) which you can adjust and set how you want it, the rest of the settings I have personally tested and found which ones allow for the faster recording performance and which ones negatively affect the speed of recording, utilizing the x264vfw interface (which these programs use to record in H.264/AVC). Turning off/down the ones I have stated throughout the article should give you the fastest/closest to ‘lag-free’ recording you can get with this codec, while still taking advantage of it’s compression capability. [My own Personal Notes/Opinions/Settings are below]

Please note that if your system is older or not as capable (perhaps you have a notebook/laptop which has less capability than a full desktop system with it’s own dedicated videocard and soundcard), you may have to do things like lower the recording resolution (or the resolution you are playing at in the game), increase the CRF number (so that it uses slightly less system resources to process the recording and will then use less bitrate and less disk space).

There are many things that can be done to help with speed, make for smoother recording, less lag, etc.
Here is a link to an article I wrote earlier on this blog, with general Tips to help with game recording:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/05/tips-for-game-recording-currently-text.html
No matter what game you play or what program you are using to record, these Tips will help you overall, with trying to record your games.

Lastly, please note dear reader, that I am not saying “This codec is the best one to record with” or “use this one only”. I am merely showing that it is possible or how to tweak it for quality or file size, as to your own personal tastes. There are many codecs out there to choose from when game recording and although some are more apt for certain types of games than others, overall it is your own choice to do with as you will. 

As always, do some of your own testing, see what works the best for you on your system and get things looking exactly how you want them to look – and have fun with it!


Personal Short Version/Opinion
and 
Settings I use:

H.264/AVC (MPEG-4 Part 10), is not normally a recommended codec to record with, for most people. It does not have the capability of super-high-almost-what-you-see-is-what-you-get quality that other codecs like FRAPS1, YV12, Lagarith or RGB Raw would give you. 
Heck, the highest bitrate possible (using the CRF setting, the fastest of the Rate Control settings in my tests) is only about 100,000kbps. That’s still about 2-4x the bitrate of the average BluRay movie mind you, and it seems fine to me, to look at the recorded videos of it.

Even if I had Terabytes of hard drive space to record to, I would still like to record in as small a filesize as I can, attempting at the same time to keep ‘good enough’ quality. Gone for me, are the days of filling my drives with FRAPS recordings (which have very high quality though) when today, with the more powerful CPUs and GPUs, I can record in a high MJPEG setting (for compatibility with editing apps) or a high MPEG-1 setting (which saves a lot on diskspace as well and has decent compatibility with video editors) – and now I can save even more space and record with MPEG-4 AVC, if desired. 
For instance, on my older system, a dual-core cpu with an NVIDIA GTS250, recording with x264/AVC brings my framerate down by about ten frames per second and sometimes more. On my newer system, a six-core cpu with an AMD HD 6870, recording with x264/AVC, with the same settings, brings my framerate down by only a couple of frames per second with my settings. Wonderful stuff.

I did many, many tests to find out what specific settings made differences (especially with the Unofficial version of the interface) and for the most part, it turned out as intuitive as it seemed at the outset: any setting that increased analysis and processing of the frames slowed things down. 
I had to test it all of course, and I found many settings that didn’t make a ‘huge’ impact on performance, and with more powerful hardware these are able to be used and enjoyed, helping to compress the frames even further, keeping decent detail and resulting in a very small recorded file size. As you can adjust/optimize settings far more in the Unofficial interface (at least a bit easier/graphically), I tend to use that one more than the Official version; but in essence, both are the same thing. Here’s some of my findings [my settings are in these square brackets]:

For the Official (“Simple”, red x264 logo) interface:

I found that, on a more modern desktop system, the Preset can be turned ‘down’ a bit (the amount of analysis going up a bit), to Superfast or even sometimes Veryfast, since many of the hard-cpu-hitting options like Trellis and larger Motion Estimations don’t kick in at these settings. Anything lower/slower than that makes it lag behind too much as it processes frames.
[I usually use Superfast]

While Zero Latency is pretty much required for live game recording, Fast Decode is not entirely needed, especially if you have a faster rig to power the game and record at the same time on. My computer isn’t even top of the line but it can handle NOT using Fast Decode (which disables CABAC, and a couple other things). CABAC can have quite a bit of an effect on quality, and since it doesn’t seem to have a huge performance hit, I use it. Fast Decode also disables Deblocking and that leads into my next setting…
[I always use Zero Latency]
[Even though it helps with speed, most of the time I don’t use Fast Decode]

The only other thing I change in the interface is deciding on the main Rate Control type and Rate Factor. In my own tests, CRF seemed to have the least amount of effect on framerate out of them all, and I fluctuate on what CRF I use, depending on the game I’m recording and what the recording is for. If I’m recording a high-quality test, of course it will be a low CRF, but it need not be a 1 to look good. I am quite satisfied with a CRF of 15-18 for decent-quality captures. The bitrate of a 1080p capture at that CRF ran about 45,000kbps, which is a high-quality BluRay movie’s bitrate. For just average gameplay for fun, I usually run a CRF of 21 up to 23. The quality is ‘good enough’ then, especially with a low Deblocking setting helping out (the Preset of Superfast leaves Deblocking “On” at the default 0:0 setting). I don’t recommend going below CRF23, with deblocking or not, as it just becomes too ‘garble-y’, to use a more technical term… Web broswer/low-motion games or hard-edged/animated games that look like Minecraft also need a higher bitrate (lower CRF), so that the hard edges aren’t messed up and the smooth/flat areas aren’t too compressed and get ‘blocky’.
[I use a CRF in the range of 18 for higher-quality capturing, going up to 23 if disk space is low, and don’t suggest higher than 23, so that quality doesn’t suffer too much] 

Nothing else need be adjusted in the Official x264/red logo interface, but I sometimes add “–keyint 50” or “–keyint 20” into the area (no quotation marks) ‘for advanced users’ at the bottom. This is a command that will force a keyframe/I-frame after that many frames have gone by. This helps to keep the seeking time low when editing and allows for closer cuts when not recompressing the clip when editing. If you having a problem with editing MPEG-4/AVC files, try using a –keyint setting of “1”, so that every frame is an editable/seekable keyframe. A higher GOP is better for file size but can take longer to seek when editing and Vegas or Premiere might have ‘trails’ or ‘corruption’ so might need a GOP setting of 1, see here for more info). You may want to increase the bitrate to keep quality then though, as the codec can’t really compress/do much of it’s ‘magic’ then, without room to work between frames. As stated above, the optimal codec for editing is MJPEG, but many do not like the quality (try turning it up to 100%).
Leaving it blank and not using any “–keyint” command will allow the codec to use many more frames (250 is the default I believe) for compression and the resulting recorded file size will be very small.

For the Unofficial (“Complicated”, black x264 logo) interface:

The first tab is just the Rate Control setting. CRF seemed to have the least effect on framerate.
I also sometimes add the –keyint setting to the command box at the bottom, just like I talked about a couple paragraphs up.
[I use a CRF in the range of 18 or less for higher-quality capturing, going up to 21 or if disk space is low, up to 23 at the most and don’t suggest higher than 23, so that quality doesn’t suffer too much]

For the second tab, there is a lot to change, but I mainly talked about why up in the article, so I’ll just state what I like to use here, after this paragraph on Deblocking:

Deblocking can be forced to ‘leave things in’/keep details, by using a negative value, especially when dealing with effects such as film grain and minute details and noise; but for the most part deblocking will ‘smooth things out’, especially trying to hide where a lot of detail has been lost, where compression artifacts like Macroblocks and Gibbs Effects (mosquito noise) around edges would show up. I don’t recommend putting deblocking up too high though, as it can really make things downright blurry. With deblocking completely off, all of the detail is kept, but many things can look like they have a ‘wood grain’ pattern on them. With a high bitrate/low CRF, there is no need for deblocking at all anyway, as there would be a lot less compression/artifacting. When recording a high-quality test or something like that, I leave it off. When just recording random gameplay or myself doing something, I turn it on at a low setting, to help with keeping things looking slightly more ‘clean’.
[I use Deblocking at 1:0 (CUDA default) up to 3:0, when I use it, but any more and things start to look ‘too smoothed out’ to me]

For this second tab then:
[No Partitions (all unchecked, Fast P-skip checked, 1 Max reference frame, ME algorithm on Diamond, ME range of 4, Subpixel ME refinement of 0 or 1 (any higher causes more lag), GOP size of 20 or 50 (this is the –keyint setting from above, higher is better for file size but can take longer to seek when editing and Vegas or Premiere might have ‘trails’ or ‘corruption’ so might need a GOP setting of 1, see here for more info), No Weighted P-frames, Max consecutive B-frames to 0 (none), In-loop deblocking filter unchecked (off) or checked (on) with a 1:1 deblock, CABAC on (it’s slower for less-capable systems), DCT decimation checked (on), Trellis set to Off]

In the third and last tab of the Unofficial (black x264 logo) interface, I sometimes set a VBV max bitrate of about 40000 (kbps) just to keep the filesize down, especially when I’m going to edit and recompress for uploading somewhere (which usually gets rendered out for upload at that bitrate or lower anyway), it looks ‘good enough’ for me (this also requires a buffer of some sort, to allow it to check the bitrate as it goes up and down, so I put in 4000 or 10000 if I set a VBV max bitrate)
[No maxbitrate usually, unless you want to save some harddrive space (eg. 50000k)]

That’s all I change for both of those interfaces, from their defaults, as of the time of this post. 
Keep in mind that as games are updated and Re-Optimized, drivers are Updated, and new hardware is released/purchased, I may change these settings (and I advise you to try some tests too, if you wish, when things change). Also, I am not a stickler for the utmost quality and don’t mind things getting compressed a bit, so you might want tighter/higher settings. 
Mainly, I hope that this info helps some of you to either record with less lag (many people report that with more optimized MPEG-4/AVC settings they have less apparent lag) or just learned some terms and concepts that may help when editing and compressing your own videos/shows/etc and overall just help you record better/smoother. I actually enjoyed testing all of these things out and learning about it and I hope it helps anyone that is recording their gameplay adventures.


See you in the games!

What Kind of Protein is Best?

There is a lot of confusion about “superior” and “inferior” proteins—so called “complete” and “incomplete” foods. At the beginning of the century, researchers doing animal experiments discovered that rats could live and grow on a single food such as eggs. Eggs, like meat, fish, and cheese, were therefore dubbed “complete” proteins. Vegetable foods such as rice, legumes, seeds, nuts, corn, and wheat were called “incomplete” since on their own they were unable to maintain life and growth. What all this meant is that the so-called “complete” proteins contain all the eight acids which humans cannot make for themselves in adequate amounts. But what they didn’t take into account is that vegetable food—say, corn— together with another—say, red beans—also contains the eight essential amino acids and, provided you eat one vegetable together with another, you are getting the full complement of the eight essential amino acids in good balance. Better still, you are getting them without the fat that accompanies protein from animal foods. The idea that we need animal foods in order to be healthy is simply untrue. Populations numbering in the millions in different parts of the world have lived and developed enviable health and strength for thousands of years on a purely vegetable diet.

Diet Start

The best—and often the cheapest—sources of protein are the unrefined, unprocessed vegetable foods—complex carbohydrates complete with their natural fiber content, vitamins, and minerals—whole grains such as rice, wheat, oats, barley, legumes including lentils and beans; mixed seeds or mixed nuts; fruits, and vegetables from salad greens to carrots and potatoes. Eaten together in salads and casseroles, bread and soups, they provide low calorie menus without the danger of high fat from the intake of animal foods. The Lifestyle Diet provides 15 percent of your daily calories in the form of protein. It allows you to eat four ounces of meat, fish, or poultry (preferably fish) three times a week. On the days when you choose not to eat these foods you can have instead four ounces of mixed nuts or two eggs. It completely eliminates all cheese except those such as cottage cheese and curd cheeses made from low-fat milk.

If you prefer, you can take all your protein from vegetarian foods. The question of a vitamin B12 deficiency on a vegetarian diet is always brought up as evidence of the need to eat meat, although long ago biochemist Schweigert of the American Meat Institute researched the question and discovered that the need for B12 rises and falls with the amount of protein eaten. B12 is available in dairy products and eggs included in the Lifestyle Diet. In this kind of protein-economical diet it is correspondingly low. Schweigert also discovered that the whole wheat grain is a usable source of B12 provided it is not processed into white flour. If it had not been, then the millions of people in different countries who have lived almost exclusively on a vegan diet (vegetarian with no milk, dairy products, or eggs) would have suffered B12 deficiencies.

DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

For furniture, I love the few pieces I have and does not change, but as a blogger we discover daily news, it’s hard not to crack …

Above the living-dining room where Jo Yana chose to paint the main wall in pink – small nod to her favorite designer Karim Rashid … You’ll also notice the suspension ATOMIUM in Kundalini the most beautiful effect!

This room also houses the home theater installation conducted by Dynamic Home Cinema. In front of these gorgeous wooden drops are pregnant Y21.2 Audio Linear …

At the entrance, a picture of Miles Aldridge sets the tone of the apartment, and FIDELIO Philips broadcasts Playlist place … On the side of the dining room, chairs LOUIS GHOST EROS and greet guests.

The main hall lit by the luminaire BLOB M Karim Rashid …

The cuisine is inspired by Parisian apartment signed Périchon we mention above, because the walls and ceiling were painted in gray have to emphasize the white lacquered furniture. Yellow light under the bar and a nice bin Brabantia bring the strand of color …

We love the headboard PARROT signed by photographer Solve Sundsbo …

The workspace of blogger … A reading area with ottoman LEBLON DELIENNE-QUAD and library. An office signed K-DESIGN, and the now famous chair VERTEX signed Karim Rashid.

DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

Food Repair Guide: Baking Part 3

Marzipan

It pays to make your own marzipan as the real thing tastes so much better than bought. Since it is only a question of beating together ground almonds, sugar and egg white to moisten, there is nothing to go wrong.

Biscuits

Biscuits are simple to make and homemade biscuits always impress guests.

They have four dangers: being too soft so that they spread into shapeless plops; being too short or having too great a proportion of fat which makes them hopelessly crumbly; being overhandled, like pastry, which makes them tough; and getting overcooked, which they will do at the drop of a hat.

Diet Start

Texture

Since most biscuit mixtures contain butter, they will always become softer when they go in the oven, so, if your mixture is very runny when cold, it will run away altogether once it gets hot. Unless the mixture is being cooked in a restraining tin try to ensure a reasonably firm texture. Apart from anything else, if it is too runny the biscuit will tend to be tough.

Crumbling

If you want to use a very short mixture, mould the dough by hand rather than trying to roll it out, as you will not succeed. Cut the biscuits into fat rather than thin shapes so they have more chance of holding together.

Toughness

Do not handle the biscuits more than necessary to get the ingredients well mixed.

Overcooking

Once the biscuits have gone in the oven, watch them like a hawk. Take one out and cool it to test, as a biscuit, especially a dark coloured one such as chocolate or ginger, will often be cooked long before it looks cooked.

Failures

Biscuits that have fallen apart, spread or generally failed to live up to expectations, can always be broken up and used as decorations, or crumbled and used as biscuit bases (held together with butter or egg white) for dishes such as cheesecakes.

Planetside 2 – Video Tutorial: How To Attack and Defend a Facility – Bio Lab (Subtitled) [Short Version]

In this brief Tutorial focused on New Players to Planetside 2, I present concepts to attacking and defending a large facility with multiple objectives, such as:

  • capture points
  • shields
  • generators
  • spawn rooms
  • terminals
and more…
In the video below, I am playing on the New Conglomerate FACTION. I CAPITALIZE full words that are either important structures and names to remember, or are important concepts to learn for battle.
During this battle at a large base, I show briefly how to use your HUD (Head Up Display) to locate OBJECTIVES, what some icons on the screen represent, where major structures are and important areas and aspects of the base.

Although my FACTION successfully takes over a Bio Lab, many of the concepts presented in the tutorial will carry over to battles at other large facilities, such as Amplifier Stations and Technological Plants.
[A separate tutorial for an Amp Station can be seen here:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/12/planetside-2-video-tutorial-how-to.html]

With subtitles over sections of a Bio Lab battle, playing as the NC (New Conglomerate), I go over some concepts a few times to make sure they set in for New Recruits, but for the most part, I stick to the main objectives of the base and how to quickly locate them, as well as the various ways to get inside..
Enjoy and See You In the Game!

Trip to Hyderabad cont…..

The assignments are over and I am on my way home. The drive from Chilakaluripet to Vijayawada was uneventful; so was the flight back to Hyderabad. I had arranged to be picked up and was met at the airport; the drive back from the Hyderabad airport to my guest house was not usual as the vehicle I traveled did not have air conditioning. So my senses were overloaded by the melting pot that is India; the sights, the sounds and the smells greeted me along the way to my guest house. The only disconcerting factor was the pollution levels. The smoke from the vehicles combined with the dust that they kicked up hung as an orangish grey cloud over the city. There were times that I found it difficult to breathe so had to cover my mouth and nose.

On reaching my guest house I packed all my bags and turned in for the night as I had to get up at 3.30 AM to start my last leg of the journey. Before turning in I had spoken to the driver who was supposed to drive me to the air port in the morning. As a matter of caution I obtained his mobile number for contingencies. He faithfully promised to be there at 4.20 AM to drive me to the airport. The plan was that I had to be at the airport one hour before (Domestic flight from Hyderabad to Chennai) and it took one hour to drive to the airport.)the scheduled time of 6.20 AM

The next morning I was ready by 4.20 and SMSed the driver; then came 4.30 still no driver. I got a bit concerned since we had not planned for any delays. So I went to the security post of the compound and hailed the security. As usual the security guard was huddled up in a corner of the security hut fast asleep. I woke him up and found that he did not speak a word of English. So using sign language and my broken Hindi/Urdu managed to convey the situation to him; finally he got on his bike (Literally) and went and woke the driver who slept in the other corner of this large compound.

I left for the airport around 4.50 AM and made it on time for the flight. The rest of the journey went as scheduled and without incident. I am back at home; and finishing all my reporting before the next assignment.

Speedrun – Hitman: Blood Money – A Vintage Year (Silent Assassin, Pro Difficulty, Suit Only, Targets Only, “No Coins”)

Messing around trying another Speedrun, this time booting up some good’ol Hitman: Blood Money, “A Vintage Year” level.

Hitman is a wonderfully crafted, enjoyable game. In my opinion, every single installment in this series has been. People have enjoyed the ‘puzzle-play’ aspects of it, people have enjoyed the gunplay, the stealth. Players have also enjoyed trying to run as-fast-as-they-can through levels that were probably not designed with this intention. Now, Hitman: Blood Money may not win any awards for “realism” in some areas of gameplay, but I personally have something against the concept that an Assassin, wearing a nice suit, most likely a millionaire, is carrying around twenty dollars in pocket change. Heck, I am sometimes annoyed at the jingle in my own pocket of a couple of quarters when I come across them. Thus, my personal aim with this level: to do a Suit-Only, Targets-Only, Silent Assassin, ‘No Coins’ Speedrun (on Professional Difficulty). I am probably not the fastest at this sort of thing, I have only done a couple of intentional Speedruns in the past; but it was still fun to make and I figured it was ‘decently fast’, so I wanted to share. Enjoy!

Recorded game:  Hitman-Blood Money, First/Third Person Shooter/Stealth/Action
Recorded with:  Bandicam (Registered Version) @ 1080p
Recording codec:  MPEG-1 @ 80% Quality (Default Setting), 30fps

This was actually not as hard as I thought it would be – after finding out that Delgado.Sr is snipe-able up out on his balcony. It was his Son that gave me trouble (as it seems to do with everyone, after a few forum finds on the subject). I started just pushing him down the stairs and also setting up the Barrels to fall on him; but eventually I settled on just a good-old-fashioned-assassin-stand-by: the single bullet to the head. This felt ‘right’, after sniping dear-ol’Dad, anyway. Instead of pushing the Guards at the bottom into the water, I just walked non-chalantly by them, as they didn’t seem to care anyway.
[On the actual Playthrough, I seem to get some guards’ attention, but I assumed this was for going into the areas I wasn’t supposed to, not for being witnessed killing anyone]

I also wanted to do things like ‘leave nothing behind’, such as ‘just dropping weapons’ (like the Sniper Rifle) to save time. This sort of stems from the multitude-of-coins thing… Don’t get me wrong by the way, I appreciate the time so many have taken to figure out their own ways to complete Hitman levels by using distractions. I just for some reason [OCD?lol] find it hard to extend my fantasy thinking within the game ‘that far’ – to where a so-called Silent-Assassin-slash-Hitman is always carrying around and actually utilizes enough laundry money to make the homeless cry on every mission. [I didn’t actually mean to rant here, hah] I just think if an assassin wanted to throw anything around to distract guards, it could more realistically at least be a found weapon of some sort, as opposed to a ton of coinage everywhere (pebbles could even make more sense).

At any rate, whether you use coins (a mechanic that is indeed offered directly within the game) or you don’t, there you have it; not the fastest run [or the most ‘Silent’ lol], but hopefully an enjoyable little watch, nonetheless.

See you in the games!

Quick Tip: Medieval II Total War – ‘Fatal Graphics Error’ [Possible Fix]

I first bought this great game as a DVD Retail Box and then later on purchased it through Direct2Drive [when Direct2Drive was around, then that service became GameFly (2015 Edit: and now it’s D2D again)]. I also have it on Steam as a backup digital download source – it’s too hard to resist those really cheap Steam Sales! Recently, I was Re-Installing M2TW, to begin conquering the world once again… However, I was surprised to see nothing but an error message (on Windows7):

The “Fatal Graphics Error” message, when starting MTW2

I personally found this error humorous, as it complained about Graphic Settings – and I couldn’t even start/get into the game to change or even set them in the first place! So, I started Troubleshooting….

Apparently, a lot of people, on many forums, have been getting and asking about this error – and still are – so here is a great chance to share this Quick Tip on a simple ‘fix’ for it I eventually found, simply by playing with the Shortcut Properties:

Right-Clicking on the Shortcut for the game and editing the Compatibility Tab to match these settings,
is how I fixed the Fatal Graphics Error problem when I played M2TW recently. Try it out!
Click image to see Full Size

After making these changes to the Shortcut that runs the game (adding two quick checkmarks in the checkboxes shown above), after launching it should show a black screen [detecting settings?] momentarily and then load up the game properly (you may have to click on the icon in the Taskbar [Windows] to bring it up a second time) but that’s it!
Hopefully that works for you all, as it did for me.

See You In The Games!

Battlefield Hardline: A Double XP Boost is Currently Active! [Notification]

Just a quick post to notify those interested in Hardline that a Double XP Boost is Currently On! GOGOGO http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bfh/

See You In The Game!

1948 Packard woody station wagon and matching teardrop trailer

https://silodrome.com/packard-eight-station-sedan-teardrop-camper/

My trip to Delhi and Hyderabad cont…………….

Today I finished the 3rd Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA). The first organization was The National Council of Applied Economic Research of India (www.ncaer.org). The second organization was the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (www.dalitstudies.org.in). The third organization is the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (www.nipfp.org.in).

I must say that I have never met a group of such eminent people working passionately as I witnessed in the past 6 days. Most of the people I met for the OCA’s are individually academics of international standing. What struck me most was the passion and the objectivity of their work as well as the humility they show when compared to the major results they have achieved. I wish all not for profit organizations had such an ethos when it comes to measuring there results.

I have to record the results of the interviews conducted over the last few days as soon as I can as I will be traveling to Hyderabad on the 1st. for the 4th OCA. Tomorrow is the only non working day in this assignment but I guess I will be doing the documentation. Hope I get a chance to finish early so that I can go out for the evening.

The 1st of March is a holiday in India (festival of colours) and hope I don’t get splashed with coloured powder on the way to the airport.

Math Resources for Teachers

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks! I went on a mini-vacation to a wedding in Nashville, and then I attended a 3-day workshop on The Role of Mathematics in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. I think this is the summer of math learning for me! I love attending workshops because I almost always leave with new ideas and new resources to explore. Even if you don’t work at an IB school, there were lots of useful resources worth exploring.

(Apologies in advance — this will be a long post!)

Book Resources

A Mathematical Passage: Strategies for Promoting Inquiry in Grades 4-6

This book was featured because of it’s Mathematician’s Bill of Rights on p. 139. The Bill of Rights lists the “rights” that all mathematicians have — things like “solve problems in ways that make sense to me” and “capitalize on mistakes as sites of learning.” I’m definitely interested in reading more from this book. I’ve read other things by David J. Whitin before, and they’ve been great.

Math Matters: Understanding the Math You Teach Grades K-8

I had a chance to browse this book during the workshop, and it looks like a good one for understanding how to approach math conceptually. May not be the most exciting read in the world (would you look at that front cover?!), but it looks like a very useful book if you’re going for an inquiry oriented math classroom.

Good Questions for Math Teaching



This book is great for creating open-ended questions that will really get students thinking about the math involved in problem solving rather than just looking for a specific answer. It uses questioning techniques to develop more sophisticated mathematical thinking, and it has a wealth of information.

Number Talks

I was a little surprised how many teachers at the workshop were already familiar with this book and using it given that I’m usually up on all the latest and greatest math books, but nevertheless, this book had rave reviews. Of all the books that I’m reading this summer, this is the one that I suspect will have the biggest impact on my teaching this August. I’ve really enjoyed reading it, and I have so many ideas about how I will put it into practice this year. If you haven’t gotten it already, I couldn’t recommend it more!

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction



I know I’ve talked about this book before, but we spent a lot of time talking about open questions and parallel tasks at the workshop, so I had to share this book again. I used this book non-stop at the end of the school year, and I loved how it was so perfectly aligned to Common Core in math. It couldn’t be more teacher-friendly.

Online Resources

Visible Thinking Routines

I’ve been introduced to the Visible Thinking Routines from Harvard’s Project Zero before, but it was good to be reminded about them. These are some great activities to prompt student discussions and thinking. One example of this is “OTQ – Observe, Think, Question.” For this activity, students see a picture and spend a few minutes describing what they see/observe. Anything they observe has to be rooted in the picture and not based on inferences. Step 2 is “Think” – what does this make you think about? This is where students can share their inferences and cite evidence in the picture to support why they think that. Finally, students “question” and share what they wonder about based on the picture. I like that these routines slow down student thinking.
Math Class Needs a Makeover

We watched this video in the workshop, and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend that you take the 10 minutes to watch Dan Meyer’s TED Talk. In it, he talks about the problems with current approaches to math instruction — largely fueled by larger textbooks and math programs — and how to turn those materials into the types of problems that will challenge your students to become patient problem solvers. I was really inspired by this video, and I hope that you will be, too.

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back to blogging more regularly next week!



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

ROOM SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS DESIGN

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

The Last weekend we were invited to spend a night in the bedroom of SEVEN LEVITATION Hotel Paris … A change of scenery, enchanting, and very pleasant … We’ve tested since the beginning of dozens of hotels – from very luxurious to the simple – but SEVEN Hotel remains one of our fondest memories in terms of wellbeing! We literally left “floating”in this room LEVITATION, amid clouds … Here, the amenities of modern life are available starting with a Nespresso coffee machine with tea and coffee and an iPod docking station to listen to your favorite music in this extraordinary place. You will also find a flat screen TV with 4 channels olfactory delight your senses!

The room of the hotel LEVITATION SEVEN is also a premium bedding, large shower – where you can shower couple – air conditioning, a desk … So comfortable!

Above a photo of the room SUSPENDED BATH offering a superb tub suspended, and below a small photo of the ABSOLUTE LEVITATION!

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

Reading in the Wild – Chapter 1

I absolutely loved Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, so I was very excited to see that she released a new book – Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits AND that Catherine over at The Brown Bag Teacher has organized a summer book study of it.

Chapter 1 – Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

Already, this book has lots of ideas that I can integrate into my classroom. In fact, I suspect that I will re-read each chapter just to make sure I’m recording all of the ideas so I remember them in August. (And I may go back and re-read The Book Whisperer, too!) But one thing that I really want to emphasize this year is building a community of readers. I like the idea of students sharing the books they’re reading and making recommendations to each other. Personally, I use GoodReads to track that information for myself (I’ve blogged about that before here). I’ve also had my students blog about their reading (see here). But what I’d really like is something more like GoodReads – a social networking site – but appropriate for fourth graders. 
I recently stumbled across the site Reading Rewards through a Twitter Chat, and this might be the answer I’m looking for. 

This site allows you to set up your class into a reading community where they can create libraries of the books they’ve read, write book reviews, get and make recommendations, and make a wishlist of books they want to read. There is also a reading log component and a reward system that allows you and parents to create rewards based on achieving individualized reading goals. I haven’t had a chance to try this out with students yet, but based on my exploration of the site, it looks very promising.

Do you have any experience with the Reading Rewards website? Have you come across any other sites you’d recommend for building a community of readers? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Why Teachers Love Technology

An infographic about “Why Teachers Love Technology” was recently shared with me, and on the heels of yesterday’s post, I felt like now is a good time to share the infographic with you.

What do we Know Infographic
Graphic from OnlineUniversities.com

Do you love technology? I’d love to hear why in the comments section!

Teenager’s Room Artist Theme

Teenager’s Room Artist Theme

Teenager’s Room Artist Theme

Food Repair Guide: Baking Part 2

Swiss roll

If you are making a Swiss roll, then line the tin with greaseproof paper, but do ensure that you grease the paper well before pouring in the mixture. Try also to ensure that the oven shelf is level or all the mixture will run to one side. If it does, all is not lost, although it will be rather difficult to roll. When you turn the Swiss roll out, do so onto a tea cloth or piece of greaseproof paper that has been coated well with icing sugar. If not well sugared, the Swiss roll will stick to the cloth or paper and you will have a terrible time rolling it. If you have not greased the paper properly, you will also have a terrible time peeling it off, but patience will usually win the day. Do not worry if the roll is not entirely perfect. As long as you can keep about one third of it intact, that will do for theoutside and no one will see the inside. Dredge it thoroughly with sugar or icing sugar. Or, if it has really fallen apart, pre-slice it before serving so that no one can see.

Failed sponge cake

If, despite your best endeavours, your sponge cake, be it light or rich, is dry, crumbly, flat, lumpy or generally unappealing, do not throw it out. If you are desperate for a complete cake or dessert, cut the sponge into very thin layers, sprinkle each with a little liqueur if for a dessert, and layer very generously with filling so that the cake gets smothered. Then top or ice equally generously and no one will ever know. If you do not need the cake too urgently, keep it to make trifles, tipsy cakes or anything that needs a sponge base. Buried deep enough and soaked comprehensively enough, even the most revolting cake will become quite palatable. Alternatively, crumble it and use it as a topping. When toasted, the crumbs can be used as decoration for almost anything in need of disguise.

Diet Start

This does not apply only to plain sponges. Orange or lemon sponges would be a delicious base for any cream dessert, chocolate, coffee or even gingerbread can be used as a base for ‘a trifle with a difference’. Indeed, coffee and chocolate cake could be sliced into fingers, thoroughly dried out in the oven and sandwiched together with some butter icing as biscuits. Any of the above could be used as the base for a baked pudding, but remember that the cake will be sweeter than bread or rice so reduce the amount of sugar.

Failed fruit cakes

Failed fruit cakes are just as adaptable.

Rich fruit cakes often get old and dry out. Do not abandon them to the birds. Cut deep slits in the top of the cake and feed with a mixture of brandy and sherry, or, if you do not want to be too alcoholic, a fruit wine or good fruit cordial. The amount you give the cake will depend on how dry it is, but you can always cut it in half and test the middle.

The same principle can be applied to lighter fruit cakes although one needs to be more temperate. A large quantity of fruit will soak up the liquid and make the whole mixture moist but sponge will merely become soggy, so the greater the proportion of sponge to fruit the less liquid it should be given. It is usually better to ice the cake after it has been — to conceal the tell tale signs.

If a rich fruit cake really is dry beyond redemption, break it up in a bowl, add some suet and a goodly measure of liquor, leave it to soak for 24 hours, then squash it well into a bowl and steam it as a Christmas pudding. It will be a little crumbly and somewhat lighter than the standard, but many people prefer it that way!

Icings

The disaster-prone cook should steer clear of all but glace, butter and royalicing — fondants and their kind are for those with time and expertise to spare.

Glace icing

Glace icing is quick and simple but messy. It is not easy to get the proportion of icing sugar to liquid right to achieve `spreadability’ without `runability’.

Always put whatever you are going to ice on a rack so that the extra can run off without getting stuck in a thick frill round the bottom of the cake. Arm yourself with a pot of boiling water and several metal spatulas or flat knives to smooth out the lumps. Inevitably, the wretched stuff will never quite cover the top of the cake in the first run, and when you add the next bit, the first will have dried and the whole thing will go lumpy. Only practice is going to perfect your technique, but smoothing with a spatula dipped in boiling water does help.

Always be ready to decorate or disguise the top with something other than icing — even if only gold and silver balls. Grated chocolate is a good alternative.

Marbling

Marbling the top, if it is reasonable, will distract the eye from any minor blemishes and is easy and impressive in itself. Run a little melted chocolate, or different coloured icing, in parallel lines across the top of the cake. Then, before it is dried, take a knife point and pull it across the cake top in straight lines at right angles to the first lines, thus pulling the lines into a feathered shape. Try it a couple of times on greaseproof paper before you launch into the cake.

If all fails and you make a complete mess of the icing, wait till it is dry, then scrape the whole lot off and start again.

Butter icing

Butter icing is the world’s easiest, but it is very rich. Many people prefer to use shortening as the fat base, which keeps it much lighter. The only hazard with butter icing is to get enough flavour into it. Like brandy butter (which is, of course, only a butter icing) nothing is nastier than a butter icing that tastes like sweetened butter. Therefore, taste after you have followed the recipe. If you have used a particularly strongly flavoured butter, you will need more chocolate, lemon or whatever you are using. Never try to spread it straight out of the fridge.

Royal icing

Royal icing is also simple, using egg white rather than water or syrup to moisten the icing sugar. Add a little lemon juice to counteract the sweetness and do not forget a drop or two of glycerine to prevent it hardening totally. If you do have a cake with unglycerined icing, you would be better advised to saw your way through it with a bread knife rather than to try and cut it, when it will shatter and ricochet all over the drawing room and Great Aunt Ethel. Royal icing can always be broken off and replaced with a new batch. Use a small amount of icing to experiment with the colour.

Training Biceps and Triceps with Fat Circular Bands

If you want to take your guns to the next level consider adding in band training.    Those flat circular bands you see in the MX4 Area of the club are serious training tools!    These bands provide the advantage of increasing resistance throughout the range of motion to challenge your muscles in a different, yet complimentary way to free weights or machines.

There are a number of ways to trains biceps with bands from the most simple which is just standing on the band with feet spread and holding the upper loop of the band on both or one and handing and curling up and down.      You can also stand  with one or two feet in the center of a band and grap the two looped ends and curl the end/ends up to pump up those biceps.       Another option is to attach band handles to the band to allow you to use even more resistance.     Standing on one foot in the enter of the band will give less resistance than standing with two feet spread apart.

You can also attach a band to an immovable object like a post or even a door using a door holder (see www.resistancebandtraining.com to purchase one of these.  Another option to create more length is to attach a band low and behind you and then loop another band through this band and attach handles to the band on both ends.      With your back to the anchor grasp the handles and step forward to create some level of tension in the band keep your fee in a split stance and head-up.   Do a bicep curl  with the handles and as you fatigue take small steps back to do drop sets.   This exercise emphasizes the stretched position of the bicep comapred with the single band bicep curl described above.

You can also get an incredible tricep workout using bands using the set-up described above with handles attached to the bands.    In this case turn your back to the anchor grasping the handles with elbows held high by the sides of your heads.   Brace the core while in a split stance and keep the elbows high and motionless then extend your elbows – wow does that create a pump and burn!

To see exactly how to set-up and perform these incredible bicep and tricep exercises using flat circular bands and handles check out this video from resistancebandtraining.com:  https://youtu.be/mF-FbNSPF2Q

MODERN LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

Hülsta German Furniture Maker showed some really incredible ideas of life that may be adopted by the style-conscious people who want to give their house a futuristic look and ergonomic. The perfect blend of stylish design with bright pink and black give the whole to create a very refreshing, but a look of the space age. The leather was added to an authentic touch and royal with a minimalist effect adding to the “cool factor”. You can either go all black look metallic or deliberately throwing red and white, while maintaining the class and elegance.

LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

MODERN LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

MODERN LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

LIVING ROOM STYLE LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

LIVING ROOM STYLE LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

LIVING ROOM LAYOUTs DESIGN FROM HÜLSTA

LIVING ROOM LAYOUTs DESIGN FROM HÜLSTA

WTH ? How do both front tires blow up simultaneously?

for the original version, click though on the video below, which will only play on youtube itself

After a review, the team discovered a suspension arm defect led to the entire right front upright collapse, which snapped the wheel tethers and created the dramatic effect

EXOTIC CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR VERY JUOOOOZZZZZZ

Have you ever seen life, both in the apartment before? Usually, when it comes to so many colors, we have to overcome the enormous risk of visual confusion room. However, in this situation, it seems that everything is in place and atmosphere that inspired this apartment is the energy and extreme informality. Especially designed for young working couples, this house is a fusion of passions and interests. As their styles are very different and they wanted some of their own furniture to integrate into their new home, things were very difficult for designers.

EXOTIC LIVING ROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC LIVING ROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC DINING ROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC DINING ROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC KITCHEN CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC KITCHEN CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC BATHROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC BATHROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC BEDROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

EXOTIC BEDROOM CONCEPT HOME FULL COLOR

Hello, 2015!

Another year is in the books, and as always, I’m excited to be seeing the start of a new year. Last year will be remembered for its big highs and deep lows, but I know that everything happens for a reason, and I feel like I’m in a good place to start 2015.

And one place I plan to start is being a better blogger! So here’s my Currently post for January 2015.

Listening – It’s my daughter’s bedtime here, and my husband has bedtime duty tonight. It’s a rare moment when the TV is off, the dogs are asleep, and all is quiet in the house. I’m savoring it.

Loving – I think that New Year’s Day may be my favorite day of the year because it is a fresh start where it feels like anything is possible. I often feel this way at the beginning of the school year, too, but I think I prefer this time of year because there’s more predictability with everything. I already know my students very well; we’ve built our routines and expectations, and the only things that need to be changed are the things I *want* to change. It’s an empowering holiday.

Thinking – A major reason why I haven’t been blogging much lately is because of my Ph.D. program. It feels weird to be writing something that doesn’t have a lengthy bibliography attached to it! I continue to be excited about my dissertation topic, though, and I’ve been thinking about it more and more. I plan to write about the role of social media in teacher professional learning. The short version is that I’m going to study how reading and writing about classroom practices through blogging affects teachers’ feelings of effectiveness in the classroom (self-efficacy beliefs). I think connecting with other teachers through blogging and other social media has been one of the best moves I’ve ever made as a teacher, and I’m curious to find out if others feel the same way and what consequences it might have. One of my classes this semester is actually requiring me to blog about my research, so I’ll be setting that up in the next week. It will be a separate blog as I doubt my classmates in other programs will really want to read about Eberopolis, but I’ll share a link here if you’re interested in following or learning more.

Wanting – I had 18 blog posts in 2014. Pathetic. I have a notebook full of ideas, so now I need to get them out here. My goal is to blog at least once a week, and as I’ve been getting other things in my life better organized, I think that’s realistic.

Needing – I set some big goals for this vacation as far as getting myself organized for the new year, and so far, I’ve done a great job. For example, I already have 2 months of healthy meals planned for my family (written on sticky notes so I can shuffle them around when stuff inevitably comes up).

And I’ve been cleaning closets and creating a new workspace to boost my productivity in the new year. I even made my annual pilgrimage to The Container Store today! I just need to wrap up my remaining projects tomorrow so I can enjoy my weekend before returning to school on Monday. (I’m @eberopolis on Instagram if you want to see more about those projects…). 
Finally, my three areas:
YES to my health. I lost nearly 20 pounds between Labor Day and Christmas, and while my trip to see my family for the holidays reversed that trend a little, I’d like to continue to focus on my health in 2015. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers, and losing weight has been easy when I’ve taken the time to plan what I’m going to eat and track what I eat throughout the day. I’m ready to get back on track.
Maybe to becoming a morning person. I already get to work by 7:15 each morning, but I would hardly call myself a morning person. I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod over break, and it has me thinking about whether I should try to get up earlier to add things like meditation and exercise to my morning routines. I’m thinking I’ll try it for a month and see how it goes. (The book was good, btw. An easy read to be sure). 
I wish…I love my job–I really do–but I’m starting to feel like it’s time for me to tackle a new challenge. I want to be able to work with other teachers to help them troubleshoot issues in their classrooms, improve their teaching, and use technology more effectively. I purposefully chose to go into an Educational Leadership PhD program for that reason; ultimately I want to teach in higher ed and/or become an administrator. I’m not ready to do all of that yet, but I wish that I could find an instructional coaching position or something similar that would let me work more directly with teachers while I keep working on my program. It might be time to start that hunt this year. 
Okay, I promise I will be back soon…I have a couple of other posts in draft mode almost ready to share about some of the new things I’ve been doing in my classroom this year. Hopefully you’ll FLIP when you read them! 😉
Happy new year!

DESIGN ROOM HOTEL LE ROYAL MONCEAU

DESIGN ROOM HOTEL LE ROYAL MONCEAU

DESIGN ROOM HOTEL LE ROYAL MONCEAU

Parisian palace since 1928, the hotel Le Royal Monceau offers a revival directed masterfully by Philippe Starck Different! Parisian palace Since 1928, The Hotel Royal Monceau Dining Room Offers revival has masterfully directed by Philippe Starck Different! It is the feeling that one can have by browsing the different areas of the vast Royal Monceau A desire a little crazy and infinitely poetic break with custom, to avoid chokepoints, to welcome the shift, and while cherishing the precision and perfection, displaying a fondness for the panache and daring, fantasy and excess It Is The Feeling That One Can Have by browsing The Different Areas Of The Will to VAST Royal Monceau sample christmas tree decoration and Slightly Crazy With infinitely poetic break custom, to Avoid chokepoints, to Welcome the shift, and while cherishing The precision and perfection, displaying a fondness pour la panache and daring, fantasy and excess.

37 Avenue Hoche, 08. 37 Avenue Hoche, 08. Champs Elysees, 75008 Paris Champs Elysees, 75008 Paris

The Incredible Pistol Squat

The pistol squat requires mobility and strength from the entire lower body and core, and once you work up to being able to complete them you can get a great lower body workout anywhere with no equipment. 
Most people will not be able to perform the pistol squat properly without working through several progressions that help develop the specific mobility, strength and stability required to get through the exercise for repetitions.
Pistol Squat Progressions
There are two basic ways to progress to a full pistol squat. Either use a progressively lower bench or step, or use something to hold onto while doing a full pistol to help pull yourself up and progressively use it less and less until it is no longer required.
For the step progression, you can use actually stairs or use a chair to start.    Stand facing away from the chair or staircase and put all your weight on one leg keeping the other leg straight with the hip flexed slightly so the non-standing foot is held off the ground in front of you.     Flex the hips and reach back with your butt towards the staircase or chair and lower yourself down under control keep your arms straight and in front of you parallel to the floor to counterbalance your hips moving backwards.    Let the standing knee and ankle flex along with your hip as you reach your butt backwards and go down.    However, you MUST keep the heel of the standing leg down and this requires a lot of flexibility of the soleus tendon (soleus is the single joint calf muscle).    
Try to lightly touch your butt down to a stair or the chair then drive the standing foot down, squeeze the glute extending your hip, knee and ankle to the starting position.  Perform sets of 5 – 10 reps each leg.    Overtime find progressively lower steps, benches or individual stairs so that you are progressively squatting lower and lower until you can perform a full squat on one leg all the way down to the ground and back up again keeping your non-standing leg straight and parallel to the floor while the hip is flexed.
The second option to progress to full pistol squats is to hold onto something that you can pull on while doing a full pistol squat thereby assisting the stance leg.    You can hold onto a suspension trainer, a cable machine handle, door frame, chair or table, or resistance training band or rope anchored above you.    A great way to do this is to anchor a suspension trainer or resistance band above you to a secure point then grasp the two handles and pull on them as required to do a full pistol squat.    Over time progressively use less and less assistance from the upper body, switch to just one hand, then lessen grip and assistance until you can perform full pistol squats.

Videos:  https://youtu.be/It3yvU0fomI or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPksQCbeVZw

Cut your Protein why no Sugar?

The case against sugar is a complex one. Besides the fact that refined sugar is a totally unnatural substance that has been stripped of its nutritional value—fiber, vitamins, and minerals—apart from the calories it provides, sugar in concentrated form is very hard on the pancreas. The pancreas, which is responsible for the production of insulin and therefore the regulation of blood sugar and energy levels in the body, has adapted through evolution to deal with a steady flow of glucose in small quantities such as those that result from the intake of complex carbohydrates.

One of the biggest beauty cons of all is the idea that if you eat lots of protein your muscles, skin, hair, and nails will grow strong and you will stay young. Like the old-fashioned high protein diet for building up athletic strength, it doesn’t work. The human need for protein has been grossly exaggerated. At the turn of the century, respected opinion held that we need between 120 and 169 grams of protein per day. Then Chittenden showed in human experiments that far better performance and health were possible on fifty grams, a much lower amount. Another scientist named Hindhede set the figure at thirty grams. Then Oomen in Amsterdam and Hipsley in Canberra discovered a population in Australia which develop not only full health, but exceptional muscular structure and performance on a diet of merely 15 to 20 grams of protein per day.

Diet Start

Later in the United States, the American Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board agreed on a daily requirement of 70 grams for adults. One member of the board, named Sherman, described how this figure was arrived at. The evidence the committee examined indicated that a much lower amount was needed, somewhere around 35 grams, but there was agreement that if so low a figure had been set there would have been a public outcry, so a corresponding “margin of safety” was decided on and the 70-gram figure was published. But because the scientific basis for the figure was nonexistent, the word “recommendation” was chosen instead of “requirement.” Current recommendations for protein intake hover about the 50-gram mark, although there is strong evidence now that we probably need even less.

Your body needs amino acids, the constituents of protein, for its metabolic processes, for growth and the repair and maintenance of body tissue. Proteins are made up of twenty-two different amino acids; all but eight of them your body can manufacture itself. These eight, which have to be taken in through your foods, are referred to as “essential” amino acids.

A large portion of a protein molecule is made up of nitrogen, and one of the important things about taking protein is that it helps keep a good nitrogen balance in the body, so there is as much nitrogen coming into the body as there is leaving it. This balance helps maintain body health and muscle strength, so that you don’t go into what is known as a negative nitrogen balance, when you lose muscle tissue from your body. To keep your nitrogen right, 10 to 15 percent of your total calorie intake should be from protein.

But when a greater percentage than this of your calorie intake comes from protein foods, then your body goes into a negative mineral balance and you start gradually losing precious minerals and trace elements such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and chromium from your system. These nutrients, so easily lost from the body, are vital not only to physical health but also to emotional stability and well-being (more about minerals later). Wachmann and Bernstein of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University investigated the high protein diet and came to the conclusion that the protein-rich (especially the meat-heavy) diet plays a strong role in the genesis of osteoporosis, a softening of the bones, particularly in women after menopause, caused by the loss of minerals. This is probably because of the high protein diet’s tendency to leach valuable minerals (in this case calcium) from the system. And purely from the point of view of physical beauty, many of these lost minerals, such as sulfur, selenium, zinc. magnesium, and calcium, can make the difference between prematurely aging skin caused by a rapid collagen and elastin breakdown, nails that split, or hair in poor condition, and radiant looks glowing with strength and health.

Finally, the breakdown and metabolism of proteins in the body lead to the formation of a number of complex by-products such as urea, nitrogen, and ammonia, which can be toxic. These wastes need to be eliminated. This isn’t always easy, and it puts great strain on the liver and kidneys. This is why, on the well-known high protein reducing diets, you are advised to drink large amounts of water in order to water down these poisons and help excrete them.

Foam Rolling aka Self Myo-Fascial Release

Using a tubular foam roller to literally roll over tight areas of muscles and tendons is known as “Myo-Fascial Release”.    While it seems counter-intuitive applying steady pressure to muscles and tendons with an emphasis on trigger points (areas of tightness and soreness) has been proven to be a highly effective method for improving mobility.    
Since you are in complete control of the amount of pressure applied and how long it is applied you can customize the experience based on your level of sensitivity.   Key areas to focus on include the hamstrings, calves, gluteal muscles, latissimus dorsi muscle, and even low back and hip flexors if done with caution.
You can use a tubular foam roller, and they are made in varying levels of firmness from soft to very firm.   In addition, there are variations that include a textured surface of varying levels from small to large finger like projections.  You can also use balls such as a lacrosse ball, baseball, or tennis ball in a similar fashion.     NOTE:  the smaller and firmer the object the more pressure it will tend to apply so proceed cautiously.
The technique is to position the foam roller on the floor (on a firm but not hard surface is best).  Then position the muscle/s you are targeting on top of the foam roller.     For example, for the calf sit on the floor with your target leg extended so that it is on top of the foam roller with the lowest portion of the calf on top of the roller.    
Use your hands to lift your butt slightly off the floor to allow you to apply pressure down onto the foam roller.    Then literally roll forward slowly over the foam roller paying attention to any trigger points where you notice sensitivity or tightness.   
When you find a sensitive area slowly roll back and forth on the spot until you feel it release.   With a little experimentation you will learn how much pressure and speed work best for your physiology. 
Self Myo-Fascial Release/Foam Rolling is a great way to start a workout and does a great job of safely improving mobility before a workout and is also great to do between workouts.
Contraindications to Foam Rolling
Pregnancy – during pregnancy ligaments become lax and pressure anywhere on or near the abdomen is to be avoided at all costs so best to skip foam rolling when pregnant.
Osteoporosis – soft bones and additional pressure are not a good combination so best to avoid foam rolling without a physician’s permission if you have moderate to severe osteoporosis.
Intervertebral Disc Issues – anyone with disc problems in their spine should be cautious with foam rolling because pressure in the wrong areas can create problems so again get guidance from a medical professional if you have an disc issues in your spine.
Inability to support bodyweight on arms or legs – foam rolling cannot be done safely if a person lacks the strength to support their bodyweight on their arms and/or legs.
For a pictorial guide of various foam rolling exercises to target specific body parts click here:   https://www.pinterest.com/explore/foam-rolling/  

It’s Not Just You™ – The Elder Scrolls: Legends A.I. Seems Pretty Hard To Beat Now [Noticed]

Just a little notification that, if you are playing TES:Legends recently and find it’s quite a bit harder to beat the computer opponent (AI/NPC)… It’s Not Just You™

I was in the Beta for The Elder Scrolls: Legends; but never got around to finishing my “First Impressions” article on it [as is how it usually goes for me and posting, heh]. Legends has been out of Beta for a few months now, and if I could summarize the game in one paragraph, I would say that Legends is a Virtual Collectible Card style game, that is ‘both Single-Player and Multiplayer’ (you can play against other human opponents, in matches and “Arena” rounds – but you don’t have to, you can entirely play against the computer AI both in single matches and in ‘Arena playoffs’, if you desire). It is actually more of a “Card Collecting” game than a “Trading Card” game – as I have not seen a way to trade with human players yet – but that is similar to other ‘virtual card games’ of this genre, like Hearthstone and Gwent (“World Of Warcraft” Lore and “Witcher” Lore -based virtual card games, respectively). The game cannot be played Offline and you don’t actually get any ‘Real Life’ Cards of any form; but that again, is the same for the other virtual card games mentioned.

After playing a little bit when it was first Released, I didn’t play Legends for a few months, only recently picking it up again to play a bit – and boy was I in for a surprise!

The computer AI as it is now, offensive and ticked off
(Cropped Screenshot of art by Bethesda Game Studios)

Perusing the Updates for the game (which there seems to be one of every few weeks, a nice thing to see for a game!) – there was an Expansion for the game released at the end of June 2017 (Heroes of Skyrim) – but nothing that says, “We felt the AI was a little too easy to beat, so we beefed it up a bunch and it also will pull cards out of it’s butt hat, getting exactly what it needs at times, to win!” – so I’m not sure when this AI change occurred… [I didn’t play for a good few months or more, so sometime around mid-2017, I reckon].

Judging by the recent changes to the Computer Opponent A.I., get used to seeing this screen more often…

Legends is a fun game still, with it’s flashy effects and nice sounds, not to mention the wonderful Elder Scrolls-style ‘realistic’ art on everything; I personally don’t mind if I am going to be losing to the Computer a lot more; but it would have been nice to see a more obvious notification of it somewhere – or a way to perhaps adjust it (via a Slider or Dial or anything..).

I do think the AI was ‘just a little too easy’ at first, making simple moves and not many combos, losing a lot more than it won against me – but now it seems pretty darn hard – almost too hard, pulling multi-combos everywhere and buffing cards a lot more and getting ‘the perfect card’ or ‘just what it needs’ at times, to pull off a win (as though, instead of the AI having a prepared set of cards, cards seem now ‘generated as the game goes’, to “keep it competitive”). I can still win once in a while against the AI in Solo Play and Solo Arenas – and I understand that Bethesda might want to make things ‘a bit difficult’ to encourage selling Card Packs; but… Dearest Beth: It’s “Just A Little Too Much” Now… [in my opinion]

The ‘new’ Computer Opponent A.I. at work, busy buffing its’ cards to no end

I won’t stop playing, of course – and I won’t stop getting Card Packs once in a while (for all three of the Collectible Card Games mentioned above, when I can) – but I just wanted to mention this, for others too; that if you noticed the Computer seemed ‘tweaked’ lately and is now pretty darn hard to beat as an Opponent in Legends – It’s Not Just You™…

If I play some Versus matches, which I do from time to time – See You In The Game!

Addendum
Changes Seen:
– Increased Combination plays (Buffs, Debuffs, then Attacking)
– Increased Healing cards (Health added to Opponent)
– Highly Increased ‘instant-kill’ or ‘unsummon’ type “Destroy A Creature” cards (Piercing Javelin, Lighting Strike, Execute, Cast Out, etc)
etc.

reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit Workout

One of the best tools we have at our disposal at Workout Anytime is the reACT Trainer.  Staff who know how to use the product properly and teach others to use it can make a great impression on any member or guest and help to differentiate their club from competitors.

Although the reACT Trainer is a lower body and core trainer it is easy to create full body circuits using the reACT Trainer along with the key upper body movements including:

Horizontal Press (chest press of some type)

Horizontal Pull (Row of some type)

Overhead Press

Vertical Pull – (some type of vertical pulling movement)

Here is a sample reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit:

How to Optimize the Benefits of Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D is constantly in the news lately and for good reason.    Optimal levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a host of benefits including prevention and treatment of many key diseases ranging from Osteoporosis to improved heart health with reduction in heart attack risk to prevention of many different types of cancer.
The ideal way to get optimal levels of Vitamin D is to let your body create it through Safe Sun Exposure (see previous blog on this subject here:  http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-facts-on-safe-sun-exposure-and.html  However this is easier said then done, and too much sun is clearly a strong risk factor for skin cancer!      Enter Vitamin D supplementation.
The amount and form of Vitamin D supplementation has changed substantially based on lots of emerging research.    The form that should be taken is Vitamin D-3 NOT D-2 form and all experts agree on this!     However when it comes to dosage things get much trickier.      The confusion comes because Vitamin D is really a powerful compound and functions as a hormone in the body.    As such it has profound impact on virtually every system in the body.    In addition you can overdose on Vitamin D supplements so more is NOT always better!
Ideally you should order a blood test and test your levels.    The test you want is called a 25(OH)D blood test and is offered by all major labs.   You can either ask your doctor to order this test for you OR you can order an in-home test.   You just prick your finger and put a drop of bloo on the enclosed paper and send back in to the labs.    You can also your own blood test online and go to a lab to have blood drawn in the same way your doctor orders the test.   For more information on testing go here:  https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/testkit/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwh_bLBRDeARIsAH4ZYEPhv0MVkO5_S7USZZ8bwVlt5A3vPWGbBFFIbJiB8Wtva0x-IDH7UmQaAlGkEALw_wcB#
Ideal versus Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D

There is a big difference between what is considered “acceptable” or okay and ideal blood levels.   Here are the classifications of different blood levels of Vitamin D. according to the Vitamin D Council:
0 – 30 ng/ML is very low and considered a deficiency
30 – 39 ng/ML is better but still insufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.
40 – 100 ng/ML is optimal
Above 150 ng/ML is toxic!
The key is to test and if low take a supplement then retest 2 – 3 months after regular vitamin d use because each person is different in how much supplementation they need based on many factors including sun exposure and skin type.     The RDA for Vitamin D for infants is 400iu.    For Children 1 – 13 and adults through age 70 the RDA is 600iu and for those over 70 the RDA is 800iu.
Unfortunately, this is way too low to get many people into the sufficient much less optimal range so testing is really worthwhile.   In many cases people need 4,000 – 10,000 or more iu’s per day for at least a month to get where they need to be for optimal health!
Preventing Vitamin D Toxicity through the Co-Administration of Vitamin K-2

Like many vitamins Vitamin D has a co-factor or other vitamin that helps it perform its function better and in a more balanced fashion, and that other vitamin is Vitamin K-2 (not to be confused with K-1 found in many plants).    In an ideal world, you can get all the Vitamin K-1 you need from eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables, and your body can turn it into K-2.   Unfortunately, this conversion is lacking in many people.
More importantly K-2 is not easily toxic and can be taken with Vitamin D.    K-2 is best taken as a supplement as MK-7 version which has been heavily researched and shown to improve bone health and prevent arterial calcification which can potentially occur with too much Vitamin D.     For a more complete understanding behind how K-2 works with Vitamin D and why it is a great idea to take the MK-7 form of K-2 with Vitamin D check out this article from Dr. Mercola:   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/26/the-delicate-dance-between-vitamins-d-and-k.aspx

Taking 100 – 200 mcg per day of Vitamin K-2 will help optimize the effects of Vitamin D and minimize risks associated with Vitamin D Supplementation.

Quick Tip: Team Fortress 2 – What To Do With Those Naughty and Nice Winter Crates (Winter 2013)

By now, most of you have seen these Random Drops, Crates that are either “Nice” or “Naughty” – but, “How do you open them..”, you may have asked? Well, this post is just a quick note to answer this question I have already started seeing on game forums and Question/Answer websites. Answer: You Can’t Open Them (Yet)…

Soon hopefully, keys should be available for purchase at the Mann Company Store (Steam/Valve/TF2), most likely for $2.49 USD, if keys and dropped crates combinations of the past are anything to go by [I assume they are dropping them now, to allow people to collect some before the keys go on sale – to sell more keys]. So, if you get these [I have already started getting them when playing, hence the screencaps], just wait a little bit longer, until the keys themselves go on sale. Then, if you want to open them, just purchase keys and unlock them! Soon™… (Remember, you will need one key for each crate)

See You In The Games!

CONCEPT INTERIOR DECORATORS NYC

Interior Decorators NYC

Interior Decorators NYC, there are many different benefits to live. Here, culture, food corners, training, and last but not least, the lounge and bar. If you want to spend a night in the city that never sleeps, then to New York City is a great bar, club and lounge, in particular to go. There are several rooms, and also spread throughout the city. live musicians are the best features of these lounges and bars. You can find indie rock band a lot of volume, and other local bands. Part of the show in New York City, a tremendously well. They are tastefully decorated, and the crowd, which is very appealing. These amazing living space in this late night to win the House, hip hop and youre likely to find one that will fit your musical taste.

They offer large crowds and expensive liquor and very elegant. The interior decoration of these rooms are for lights, big boost mood of the series, in fact, people also benefit from seeing the crowd warm with loud music and too much light. Interior Decorators NYC always find some very funny and what’s better than a bar, club lounges and especially where you can make your night of fun. Once your stomach is full with the best drinks in the theaters of New York, then is time to rock and roll music and if so, what better than a living room and also in New York, where fun begins.

In addition, these shows are also very useful during the time of the wedding reception. People are now tired of planning parties in hotels and other places. now part of wedding reception is poured into large halls, where people enjoy the maximum level. New York reception halls are simply incomplete without drinks. Here you can plan a cocktail, and also a bachelor party incurred prior to marriage. You can enjoy unlimited drinks which is great taste and you can also enjoy the loud music here. This part of reception or a cocktail can be fun with friends and other relatives. You know some reception includes dancing and fun, and this is the basic ingredient and that is what makes a great party for everyone. It is therefore the reception of the show is so famous in Interior Decorators NYC.

Interior Decorators NYC
Interior Decorators NYC

Easy or Hard to Digest

The faster your body can digest a carbohydrate, the higher its dieting index value. There are two major types of digestible polysaccharides or complex carbohydrates: amylose and amylopectin. Both contain many glucose units, but the foods with more amylopectin raise the blood glucose levels much more readily than foods containing more amylose. The branches in amylopectin starch have many surface areas, which make it easier for digestive enzymes to break it down faster.

Diet Start

These easy-to-break-down starches include foods such as most breads, white potatoes, white flour, and snack foods such as pretzels, donuts, and cookies. Most of these foods are also processed or refined carbohydrates, but some natural unprocessed carbohydrates have higher amylopectin levels, including parsnips, russet potatoes, and rutabagas.

Starches that contain more amylose include some whole grains and legumes (lentils, dried peas, and beans) and some of the starchy vegetables such as yams and sweet potatoes. These foods are best for your dieting index weight-loss program.

Dietary Fiber

Most dietary fiber is not digestible. In other words, you might consume the fiber, but there’s a good chance most of it will not be digested such that the nutrients enter your bloodstream. Instead, the fiber is excreted in your stool. There are two major types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Mostly it is the insoluble fiber that does not get digested, but both types of fiber slow the rate of carbohydrate breakdown into blood glucose. Because of this, it’s great for you to eat lots of dietary fiber. Ideally, you should consume 25 grams or more every day.

Don’t overdo the fiber. But you’d need to consume a virtually unpalatable amount of fiber supplements, such as psyllium husks, to eat too much fiber—such as 4 or 5 tablespoons a day. With too much fiber, you could actually block the absorption of important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and more. Overeating fiber can, in essence, make you undernourished. (And undernourished doesn’t equate to being thinner.) More than 45 grams of fiber a day is generally too much for most of us.

KITCHEN FURNITURE DESIGN GENAH MAK NYOOOZZZ

The first thing to remember is that the kitchen is a very functional piece, but do not want to look that way. You can purchase kitchen furniture that is warm, welcoming and friendly to both practical and effective. For example, you can choose from a variety of carts microwave carts or beautiful kitchen that fits well with the decor of your kitchen. They also give him the space to display items or the space room that can hold pots and other utensils. A kitchen island is another element that gives additional working space, but with the addition of a few bar stools that can transform a functional kitchen in a comfortable and welcoming.

Kitchen Furniture Design

Kitchen Furniture Design

Kitchen Furniture Design

Kitchen Furniture Design

The Role of B-Vitamins in Preventing Brain Loss

One in five people older than 70 suffers from cognitive impairment which will progress to dementia and death in half of these people within five years.  So it is very important to address all the modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment.   One of these risk factors is elevated homocysteine which is a strong, independent risk factor for Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Heart Disease.  
One of the longest and most comprehensive studies ever done showed that one in six cases of Alzheimer’s Disease can be caused by increased homocysteine levels.
In order to process homocysteine properly the body needs adequate levels of Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6.   A double-blind randomized controlled trial showed that the reduction of homocysteine by B Vitamins can slow the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in people with mild cognitive impairment which is often the first step towards Alzheimer’s Disease.
Another study showed that B-Vitamins can reduce brain loss in areas prone to the Alzheimer’s Disease process. 
Other Benefits of B-Vitamins
B-Vitamins as a group are incredible important to a wide range of cellular and metabolic functions from energy production to production of hormones. Benefits of optimal levels include increased energy, improved mood, reduction of allergy symptoms, help preserve vision, help to maintain bone strength, and help prevent heart disease and stroke.
How do I get B-Vitamins?
Although it is possible to get the RDA of B-Vitamins through diet alone it requires a carefully planned diet and for vegetarians it is very challenging because there is no vitamin B-12 in vegetables. Milk, yogurt and cheese, along with eggs, are the only vegetarian food items that naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12.
In addition many people have conditions which prevent optimal absorption and cellular uptake of certain B-Vitamins such as Folic Acid.   Each of the key B-Vitamins come in several forms with some being much more active and effective than others.   When everything works right the body can convert other forms to the active forms, but there are many things that interfere with this process.
For example Intrinsic factor produced in the stomach is what allows the intestines to absorb this vitamin.  Not everyone produces intrinsic factor so common sources of B-12 are not effective.
Also since B-Vitamins are water-soluble excess amounts are easily and safely excreted so taking a high quality B-Vitamin Supplement or Multiple Vitamin with activated forms of B-Vitamins in adequate amounts is the safest way to cover yourself.    In addition, although each B-Vitamin performs critical functions in isolation they also work together to optimize many functions so taking a complete B-Vitamin Supplement is highly recommended.
What are all the B-Vitamins?

B- Vitamin          Active Form                                                    Inactive Form
B-1                        Benfotiamine                                                Thiamine
B-2                        Riboflavin-5-phophate                                 Flavin Monocleotide
B-3                        Niacinamide                                                 NAD                                        
B-5                        Panthothenic Acid                                         None                   
B-6                        Pyridoxal-5-phospate                                    Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
B-7                        Biotin                                                             None
B-9                        Methyltetrahydrofolate  aka Metafolin         Folic Acid                                         
B-12                      MethylCobalamin                                         Cobalamin
Can you take too much of the B-Vitamins?
For certain ones the answer is yes!  You should not take in more than 800mcg of folic acid supplement.  Too much can mask a condition called pernicious anemia.  Multiple Vitamins and B-Complex Supplements will contain 400 – 800mcg and more from diet is not a problem.
For vitamin B-6 intake above 200mg per day is not recommended.  Again multiple vitamins and B-Complex will generally contain less than this amount and more from food is not an issue.
Regular “Niacin” can cause significant skin flushing and itching, but this is harmless although it can be very uncomfortable.    Extremely high dose niacin can be used to treat high cholesterol levels but the regular form that causes flushing can also cause liver issues at high levels.   This is also true of “time-released” forms.     The best form for use for cholesterol is “Flush Free Niacin” aka Inositol Hexiniacinate as it will not cause these issues.   NAD (Nicotinomide Adenine Nucleotide) is very safe but there is no reason to take more than 10mg per day.
As always do not take any supplement when pregnant without consulting your registered health care professional.

Trip to Hyderabad Cont….

Well there are scheduling issues so will go to get my ticket & visa on thursday. Everything else is back on schedule. Trying to contact some of my friends who are in India so that we may be able to meet over there.

I have been doing this job since 2002 and travelling overseas since then; however this trip will be my first time on a budget airline. Dont know what to expect? When I got my online booking it said Meal – To be purchased. some how flying and buying your food did not sound OK to me. I am sure that what ever my first choice is it will be over by the time the airline staff get to me.

Anyway need to finish up all the stuff for today to be able to watch the opening match between Sri Lanka & South frica (ICC Trophy)

Tempura Mazel

Tempura is a Japanese dish. Tidbits are dipped in a batter of flour, water, and egg yolk, sizzled to golden in hot fat (by all means, use your wok for this if you have one), drained, and artistically arranged and served, usually on a doily-lined flat basket. The consistency of the batter (which must be neither too thick nor too thin) and the temperature of the oil (350° is just right) are of the utmost importance. Tempura cannot wait; it must go directly from wok to table.

Diet Start

  • 5 asparagus, cut into 2 or 3
    long diagonal pieces
  • 1-2 large carrots, sliced 1/4″ thick on diagonal
  • 10 green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into thick sticks
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips, pith and seeds removed
  • 6 shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water
  • 6 large parsley sprigs, stems removed, dried
  • 4 Nori seaweed, cut into quarters (available in Japanese markets)

Clean and cut vegetables; make certain they are dry.

Batter:

  • Ice water
  • 21/4 cups flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 11/2 quarts safflower oil (more if using sauté pan)

Gradually add ice water to flour with a whisk till mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Beat yolks and whisk into mixture.

Heat oil to 350° in wok or large sauté pan. Dip vegetables into batter and fry till golden (1-2 minutes). Do not crowd pan. Drain.

Chilis Mazel

  • 6 fresh green chilis
  • 1 recipe Mazel Cheese Mexican, warmed
  • Ice water
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Safflower oil to deep fry (about 11/2 qts.)
  • 1 recipe of cooked Salsa Mazel

Slit chilis lengthwise, just long enough to stuff with Mazel Cheese Mexican. Clean out seeds, etc. Stuff with Mazel Cheese mixture and set aside.

Gently whisk enough ice water into flour to make it about the consistency of heavy cream. Beat yolk with a fork, then whisk into batter.

Heat oil to 350°. Dip each chili into batter. Cook in oil till golden (1-2 minutes)

Drain on paper towels.

Served cooked salsa over chilis.

YIELD: 2 servings.

The timing on deep frying is difficult to pinpoint. Variables include size of pan, the amount of oil used, temperature of oil, desired color of finished product, etc. Do not crowd pan.

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Jacksonville Daily Record

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Jacksonville Daily Record

WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in the Jacksonville Daily Record. The article talks about the new WORKOUT ANYTIME that opened up Monday, October 6. The article talks about how the Levitt family looks to open 15 WORKOUT ANYTIME locations in the next 5 years in the Jacksonville area. 
View the full article here. 

Georgia Bloggers Blog Hop

It’s time to teach the country about yes ma’am and ya’ll.
Down here in Georgia, we talk with a drawl.
We’re bringing you some freebies as sweet as our tea.
Enter our contest, you might get some things free!


I moved to the Atlanta area eight years ago when my husband decided to go to law school at Emory. It didn’t take long for us to decide that we’d say goodbye to the cold Michigan winters and make Georgia our permanent home. 


We eventually settled in Decatur, a quaint suburb of Atlanta, and we love our little town. Decatur has more festivals than any town I know, and we have a thriving downtown with local shops, concerts, and amazing restaurants. We’re minutes from downtown Atlanta, but we’ve somehow captured a small town feel, and I love it. 

Image of Concerts on the Square in Decatur via visitdecaturga.wordpress.com

This weekend, we’ve paused from our peach picking to give you a taste of Georgia. Twenty-five teachers invite you to take a road trip through our southern state. Hop through our blogs to get freebies.
                                          
This weekend only, I’m giving away my Standards for Mathematical Practice posters from TpT for FREE! You can pick up mine just by clicking here. 



My entire TpT store will also be 20% off this weekend only — June 20-22, so check it out! 

We’d also like to give you a chance to win a bushel basket full of our products. To enter from my page, you just need to follow my blog on Bloglovin’. Already do that? I’d also love for you to follow by email in the link at the top! You can enter once from each person’s blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So what are you waiting for?! Time’s a wastin’. Go get more free stuff and sign up to win!

An InLinkz Link-up

Number Talks Book Study – Chapter 2

The farther I get into the book Number Talks, the more excited I am about implementing them next year. This is such a great resource, and I’m only on Chapter 2!

I’m linking up with Misty at Think, Wonder, & Teach for her fabulous book study. If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to visit her because she’s already offering some great resources to support the book (whereas mine are still works in progress!).

This chapter walks through some of the nuts and bolts of setting up number talks, and it describes how to manage some of the procedures and expectations. One of the sections that really resonated with me in this chapter was about building accountability with the students. So often, there are a few students who are eager to share their mathematical thinking, and there are many others who are willing to sit back and let those students shine. I don’t like pulling sticks with students’ names for something like this, but I also don’t want students to feel like they don’t need to participate. This book offered some great strategies for dealing with that:

1. Once all of the strategies have been shared, number them and have students show with fingers which one they found to be the most efficient strategy. This will get them thinking about the math involved.

2. Keep records of the problems posed and strategies used, and label them with the students’ names. I plan to use my iPad to track this. I’ve talked before about setting up student data notebooks on Evernote, and I think that would be the perfect platform to track student participation. I can photograph students’ work and add anecdotal records about what I observe. It would also be easy to share with parents at parent-teacher conferences.

3. Hold small group number talks throughout the week. As I prepare to transition into more of a math workshop/guided math approach, this seems like a very viable option.

4. Create and post anchor charts of the different strategies that students are using. The book names a variety of strategies, or you could develop names with your students. Having the charts available to reference could scaffold the less confident students.

5. Use exit cards. The authors recommend giving each student a notecard. On one side, students should record their solution, and on the other side, they should record a strategy that another student shared that they liked.

6. Give a weekly computation assessment of 5-10 problems. The selected problems should reinforce the concepts and strategies introduced throughout the week. I can also imagine using an app like Show Me or Explain Everything to assess. These are whiteboard apps that allow students to record audio on top of their drawing. Students could record their solutions and narrate them as if they’re presenting them to the class. This would be another important artifact that could be saved in the student’s Evernote portfolio to share with parents or an RTI committee. If it’s only one problem, most students would be able to complete the task on the app in 5-10 minutes as the video they’d be creating should be less than a minute long.

I think these accountability measures could be effective in getting students to participate more. Of course, the classroom environment will matter, too, and I look forward to setting those factors in place for my Number Talks this fall.

In other news, I’m excited to share that I’ll be participating in Sabra’s book study of Word Nerds at Teaching with a Touch of Twang. Word Nerds explores strategies for teaching vocabulary to students, and it’s another fantastic resource. It’s published by Stenhouse, and you can preview the entire book online or you can purchase the book in Paperbook or Kindle edition.

The book study starts on Thursday and runs throughout the summer. You can see the full schedule by clicking on the image above. I’ll be hosting Chapter 7, and I can’t wait!

Also, have you joined in the Teacher Toolbox Trio Linky Celebration yet?

You still have time to link up and be eligible to win a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate! The linky celebration will close on Friday night, so be sure to join the fun. My wish list has definitely grown as I’ve seen all of the fabulous resources other teachers are sharing and recommending.

HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects

House of Inclusion” as-is called the firm FORM / Koichi Kimura Architects, is a home to extraordinary volumes built a new residence in Shiga, Japan …
“Every piece of this house has been designed so as to bathe in natural light to enhance the simple beauty from within” confides the Japanese architecture firm.We observe different windows and niches of light placed at strategic locations and atypical of this house of 151.71 m2.
A small patio is flirting with the wall on the outside and the living / dining room of the house.

HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
MODEL HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
EXTERIOR HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
DESIGN HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
INTERIOR HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects

Superb materials were used for interior decoration, we welcome in particular the sublime and the bedroom floors polished concrete … WE LOVE IT!
The architects of the firm FORM / Koichi Kimura tell us more about this house. This house, Located in a new residential area, is for a 30-something couple. Surrounded By Other House, The Design Goal Was Set Up to block out the Outside world while Avoiding too much closure, as well as “to Provide Rich and sensuous spaces.
First, a small patio and a path connected to it Were Laid Out Between The living / dining room and exterior. They Are Surrounded by a wall That blocks off the line of sight from outside. Planting and lays out are ugly At The patio, so thats the picturesque images of green and water are Viewed From The rooms.
Enclosed by walls create indirect light That softly filling The Entire room, tea house presents scenes sentimental Here and There. The Living Space And The Life Lived There are enveloped by green and light, Creating an affectionate environment.

It’s Not Just You™: AMD’s Crimson Drivers, Radeon ReLive Not Working At First [Possible Fix]

Just a quick post before I go to bed here, that I wanted to share about the AMD Crimson Drivers that I got notified about just a bit ago, which included AMD’s “ReLive”, their new Game [and Desktop] Recording utility – ‘built-in’ to their 16.12 Drivers… For those who couldn’t get it working right away (I see posts about it already in the Official AMD Forums), I couldn’t either… And although I eventually did, I wanted to let others know, if you are having issues with it: It’s Not Just You™

I was already starting to get tired when I saw a notification of the Driver Update – and I had no idea there was a nifty Game Recording ‘app’ incoming with it [I haven’t been reading much lately, I have another Cold for pete’s sake!]. For AMD GPU owners, waiting patiently to see if AMD was going to come out with their own Game Recording utility – it’s here! The future is now!

Check out AMD’s Video on their ReLive edition of Radeon here: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRSm12lwRe4

[I really wanted to start Testing it all out tonight, running Benchmarks and collecting Data for a TestRun or a Quality Test with it; but my sleepyness is actually building and getting the better of me, so I better go soon – I wanted to share what I did this evening though, to get it working (for me), before I go…]


Without going over the few things I tried first that didn’t work (setting configuration, testing with different games, etc), here’s the steps to take that finally got it running, for me:

  • Download the Latest AMD Drivers via their main Website (http://support.amd.com/)
  • Uninstall the main AMD Drivers via the Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall/Change Program
  • Reboot
  • Install AMD Drivers via the Download from their Website
  • Reboot

That’s it!

After that, even though I have a 200 Series* AMD GPU at the time of this writing**, I was able to get ReLive up and running, even playing a little bit with the configuration and making a couple of short test recordings, before I came here to write this quick ‘tip’ of what might help get it going for others… It’s a larger ‘step’ (messing with Drivers, as opposed to just messing with Configuration/Settings); but I always like to Troubleshoot from the smallest steps first (eg. changing some settings) to larger steps (eg. re-installing software) to huge steps (eg. OS reinstallation, hardware changes). Thankfully, it started working just fine after only a bit of a ‘larger step’ taken.


Although with the most recent versions of Windows you don’t always have to Reboot it when making changes, it helps to get everything ‘in order’ in the background, re-initializing all hardware and Drivers fully – which is why many installers/software still get you to do it through their installation programs.

I plan on putting the Game Recorder through it’s paces, working on a TestRun and a QualityTest, to come in the future here at The Blog – for now though, hopefully ReLive can get up and working for you, too – good luck, and if you are having troubles with it, remember – It’s Not Just You™!

* The AMD page on ReLive at their main website (http://www.amd.com/en-us/innovations/software-technologies/radeon-software/gaming/radeon-relive) shows only 400 Series GPUs as ‘Officially Compatible’. Although it does not state ‘it will not work with earlier Series’, it is unknown 100% at this time if it is possible, hence my mentioning it above

** Disclaimer and Personal Veracity Statement: Although I currently own an AMD GPU, I have owned NVIDIA GPUs in the past and will do so in the future. I have no personal preference between the two, purchasing one or the other as Upgrades depending on my needs at the time and my financial limitations at the time I choose to Upgrade. I have not and will not receive any compensation for mentioning or talking about either companies’ products. I am merely an enthusiastic user (of both).

My Trip to Bangladesh June 2011

The assignment in Bangladesh is to evaluate the performance of a department within an organization. The interesting aspect is that the objective / mission of the department is, Organization Development of its other departments as well as partners of the organization. It’s going to be an interesting assignment. This will be a long assignment where I will be staying for 4 weeks in Bangladesh and travel to the north of the country.
The journey here was uneventful and arrived at my hotel tired but happy to be here. I am staying at the Asia Pacific Blossom Hotel; http://www.blossomhotel.net/ this will be my second stay at this hotel. I stayed at this hotel in 2006 during my first assignment in Bangladesh.
The assignment itself got off to a tuff start as the day of the launch of the assignment was a “Strike Day” in Bangladesh and apparently there are more strike days planned in the coming weeks. I am no stranger to Strikes / Harthal in Bangladesh and was in the thick of them when I was here on assignments in 2006 and 2008. At least this time it’s in support of oil and gas committee on the ConocoPhillips deal. The once planed during the week is for political issues; these tend to get violent and can be dangerous.

My Trip to New Delhi & Hyderabad

I am in New Delhi doing an assignment which requires me to do an organization capacity assessment of 5 research institutions in India to ascertain their capacity to receive research grants.

The journey was interesting as the flight I took had a group of tourists (religious pilgrimage to Buddhist sites in India) of whom a majority were first time flyers. So it was fascinating to see the excitement in their faces as the flight progressed; from the smallest kid to the old folk (Gray haired men and women who were in their late sixties) started to peer through the windows to steal a glimpse of the geographic features below. I instantly recalled my first flight (which I took to the UK) when I was just a teenager.

I had dreams of sleeping in the flight; however the rest of the passengers were too excited to be quiet. They were talking in loud voices and moving about so much that sleeping was not an option.

I arrived in New Delhi and managed to go through the immigration very fast and managed to get my luggage fast as well. However when I went out of the airport my pick up had not arrived; so after waiting for half an hour I took a prepaid taxi to the hotel. As a seasoned traveler to New Delhi, I advice all travelers to Delhi to take a prepaid taxi and always have the hotel name and address handy. Also have the telephone number of the hotel so that the taxi driver can call (they all have mobiles) the hotel and get directions if he does not know the place exactly. So without too much of looking around the driver found the hotel.

My past experiences with research organizations have been limited to engaging them for research in preparation for various assignments. I am looking forward to this assignment as this is the first time I will be doing work for research organizations.

My Trip to Male, Maldives, September 2010

The trip to Maldives was a business development trip. Most people just come to Maldives and stay in a resort and go back. I was lucky to see the Maldives by land, sea and air; as well as spending time in Male. I recommend all to see Maldives in all its glory

View of Water Villas.

View of Maldives by Air (Sea Plane)

Not only did I snorkel but I also went on the “Whale Submarine”

As a sprawling archipelago Maldives (I traveled from Male to the northern most inhabited Island and back to Male) is a breathtaking destination. However, I was shocked to see poverty in the Maldives with a population of just over 300,000. I guess corruption and discrimination is rampant in this tiny nation as well. I must say that Maldives presents a unique problem to any government in having to deliver services to small populations spread across 200 islands (Out of 1192 Islands spread across 90,000 square kilometers)

I believe the only solution is to embrace ICT and use it to reach every person. However, having said that; the ICT literacy among the Maldivian population is also very low. A real chicken or egg situation for the politicians of Maldives to solve. If ever there was a country which can be considered easy to develop it must be the Maldives.

Back to School – Math Edition

It might be time to think about renaming my blog, because I’m really excited about teaching math this year! It all started when I read the book Number Talks over the summer.

I’ve always understood the importance of mental math and computation strategies, but I’d never really understood how to teach it. It felt like something kids either had or they didn’t. This year, however, I decided that we’d start doing number talks from day #1, and I’m already blown away by how my students are developing as mathematical thinkers. They’re able to solve complicated addition problems in their heads — no paper allowed — and they’re articulating their strategies well. I’ve been introducing a new strategy every 2-3 days, and it’s been awesome. We’ll be moving on to subtraction strategies in a few days, and I have high expectations for that to.

To help students with the mental math strategies, I made a set of posters that describe each strategy with an example of how it works. There are 20 posters in all — one for each strategy described in the book.

The complete set is available in my TpT store, and they’ll be on sale for 28% off this weekend as part of the Teachers Pay Teachers back to school sale if you use the code BTS13.

As I’ve been working on order of operations and number sense with my fourth graders, I also introduced the four fours problem. The premise of the problem is this:
Using some arithmetic combination of four 4’s, can you write an equation for each of the numbers from 1-100? Here are the rules:
  • You may use any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division
  • You may combine numbers, e.g., use 2 of the fours to make the number 44
  • You may insert decimal points
  • You may use a four as an exponent
  • You may use square roots
  • You may use factorials, e.g., 4! is equivalent to 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24
  • You may use overbars to make a decimal repeat
  • You may NOT use any digit other than a four
  • You MUST use all four 4’s in each solution

Before I go on, let me give two caveats. 1) I didn’t expect all of my students to be able to handle all of these rules. Square roots, exponents, and factorials are WAY above my fourth graders heads generally, but I did have a handful that could handle it. And there are plenty of solutions to be found that don’t require those operations. 2) This problem freaked out the parents more than it scared the kids, I think. I had a few panicked parents that I had to talk down while we were working on this, but in the end, it was well worth it. My students were so excited about math and problem solving as we worked through this problem. It was homework each night to try to find a few more solutions, and then we’d add to a chart during math class. Look at all that my students accomplished after just two days!

We’ve filled in a bunch more solutions since then, but of course I left my camera at school this weekend…
Finally, in honor of the big back to school sale on TpT, I’ve bundled four of my favorite math resources into a back to school math pack for this weekend only. 
Sold separately, this is $17 worth of products that I’m selling this weekend for $10, but after Monday, the bundle will no longer be available in my store. So if you’ve had any of these on your wish list…

Hope everyone had a great week! I’m still learning how to juggle grad school with teaching, but I’m hopeful that I’ll still be posting at least once a week.

Off to start catching up on blog reading and filling my cart for the TpT sale! Have a great weekend!

Health Concern: FAT? continue…

How much Fat do you Need?

Very little. Just about any food you can think of contains some fat, and when your diet is made up of at least 75 percent vegetables, fruits, and grains with a few nuts and seeds but without added oils, fats, cheese, or butter, as in the Lifestyle Diet, about 15 percent of your calories will be in the form of fat anyway. This is all you need. The body is capable of making its own fatty acids from the foods you eat with the exception of linoleic acid, and the mere three grams you need per day is more than supplied by eating a couple of tablespoons of sunflower seeds or one small dish of oatmeal. Even leafy green vegetables such as kale or spinach contain about 10 percent of their calories in fat. It is hard to be fat-deficient. Studies of people put on very low-fat diets, even when as little as .7 percent of their calories are taken in the form of fat as linoleic acid, have shown no adverse physical or psychological effects.

Diet Start

Even official bodies have recently begun to recognize the need to reduce dietary fats for the sake of preserving health. The U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs recommended in its report “Dietary Goals for the United States” a reduction of fat intake from the present 45 to 30 percent as well as a decrease in sugar consumption to 15 percent of total calories and a corresponding increase in the consumption of complex carbohydrates—the fruits, vegetables, and grains that are the foundation of the Lifestyle Diet. For long-term health and beauty, you should make an even greater reduction so that only about 15 percent of your daily calories are taken in fat.

This is in line with the Pritikin and other low-fat, low-protein diets which have recently caused great interest in both the medical profession and the general public. Pritikin recommends a diet of 80 percent complex carbohydrates, 10 percent protein and 10 percent fat. Although a radical departure from the traditional British, European, and American dietary habits, regimens like the Pritikin diet can not only substantially reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar, but can also lead to an automatic weight loss and leave people feeling and looking years younger. Such a low protein, low fat diet can also literally beautify a woman both physically and psychically.

At first such a change takes a bit of getting used to, but soon it becomes second nature and the increased vitality, slimness, and good looks it brings you in a few weeks help make it an easy way to eat permanently.

When these are broken down slowly throughout the day, they provide the pancreas with a steady flow of glucose at a rate of about two calories a minute. When you eat something sweetened with refined sugar, the glucose poured into the system (say 100 calories or more all at once) suddenly soars. So does the production of pancreatic insulin in reaction to the insult. When this insult occurs repeatedly, as it does in the usual Western diet, with its average of two pounds of sugar per person per week, the blood sugar levels become depressed, then soar, then become depressed over and over again by a pancreas made trigger happy. In many people this leads to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, with its corresponding fatigue and mental and emotional symptoms. It can also result in diabetes and in the development of allergic reactions to foods and to petrochemicals, which have recently been linked with diverse mental disorders as well as many acute and chronic forms of illness.

Repeated eating of sugar and products containing it can also result in deficiencies in the B-complex vitamins and an imbalance in certain important minerals. And just in case you are reassuring yourself that you, after all, only eat raw sugar, you should know that one sugar is just about as bad as another. Raw sugar does contain some of the natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are found in the sugar beets or sugarcane from which the sugar has been taken but raw, brown, and turbinado sugars are all still highly concentrated simple sugars which create the same metabolic problems as white sugar. As such, they are potential disease-makers. The Lifestyle Diet excludes every form of refined sugar—from chocolate to jams to packaged breakfast cereals with their hidden sweetness. It does allow a little honey for sweetening muesli (two tablespoonfuls a day) plus one tablespoonful of blackstrap molasses if you want it for its nutritional value.

It’s Not Just You™ – Paladins (Beta), Having Issues Not Starting or Not Running In 64-bit Mode, Battlegrounds [Notification, Updated As Encountered]

[Currently, this post is mostly in Text-Only Mode, to speed up the ability to publish it… 
I may return to add some Images and/or Screenshots in the future.
This post will be Updated for the next few days, as I encounter new related information.]

If you are trying to play the newest addition to Paladins, Battlegrounds, which is being released in Alpha Testing Stage in their Latest Update – and you are having issues with either (1) the game not launching/starting or (2) the game running in 32-bit mode [which stops you from being able to enter the Battlegrounds, which requires 64-bit mode] – just letting you know, It’s Not Just You™…

For the past little while, I have been trying to get into Paladins and try out this new Game Mode, and take a look at any new changes; but I have been running into multiple issues with the game itself. If related Paladins Forums ‘everywhere’ (Steam, Reddit, Official Forums, etc) are any indication, many, many others are having issues as well.

I wanted to take a moment to make this posting because, even though it seems there are a few people that have ‘gotten it running’, there are many others, like me, that have not. I wanted to share this experience and related information, so that others may know that, well… It’s Not Just Them.

Since I have run into multiple issues and have tries multiple steps so far, I will share them here in Point Form as a list:

Issues Seen/Encountered:

  • Game not starting [Launcher will start, but game itself will not show up]
  • Game not stopping [Game will not Terminate, Steam says it is Running still, but it is not, or has not started]
  • Game not running in 64-bit mode [Game starts in 32-bit Mode and therefore The Battlegrounds can not be tested/run, as it states in-game “64-bit Mode Required”]
  • Cannot Verify Integrity Of Game Files, via Steam [Steam states to ‘exit any game files or tools’ related to the game, but none are running]

Steps Taken/Tried:

  • Put “-Use64 [without quotes] into Optional Game Command Line Parameters (Options/Commands) in Launcher
  • Put “-dx11” [without quotes] into Optional Game Command Line Parameters (Options/Commands) in Launcher
  • Checked “Use 64 bit Client” in Launcher Options [this has never been ‘unchecked’ by me]
  • Verified Cache [‘double-checked’ the game files through Steam, to see if they are what they are supposed to be]
Unfortunately, since I cannot make the game ‘run in 64-bit Mode and enter The Battlegrounds’ in a repeated a reliable manner – I cannot make a section containing a ‘Fix’ at this time… I will continue to observe various Forums and Support Responses, try various Suggested Steps (from the Developers and other helpful Paladin Players (there are a lot of them out there!)), and see if I can make any progress that results in stable and repeatable game launching and gameplay. If I do, I will return here and add it as a ‘Fix’ section. 
For now, despite them not working for me/on my system, there are a few isolated people that have had success with some of the Steps listed. If you are experiencing any of these issues with Paladins at this time, try some or all of them above. Perhaps one of them will work for you, too. 
Good Luck with it – and try to stay positive, remembering – It’s Not Just You™!

12 Days of Fitness with WORKOUT ANYTIME

12 Days of Fitness with WORKOUT ANYTIME

Are you in need of a little inspiration to hit the gym this holiday season? Here’s a great workout routine to give a try this holiday season provided by the experts at WORKOUT ANYTIME. Enjoy! 

Week 1

4 days of exercise

2 days of INTERVAL Walking/Jogging – 20 min of cardio exercise at moderate pace, first 10 min walk or do cardio at a moderate pace. The second 10 min will have five 30 second bursts of high intensity mixed with moderate intensity (on min 10,12,14,16, and 18). This boosts metabolic rate. 
2 days of body weight or weight training for 12 min per day
Complete two rounds of the following each consisting of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest:

Squats
Push-ups 
Walking Lunges
Jumping Jacks
Burpees
Ab half roll backs (seated position, roll half way back, come up and exhale)

Week 2 

4 days of exercise

2 days of INTERVAL Walking/Jogging – 20 min of cardio exercise at moderate pace, first 10 min walk or do cardio at a moderate pace. The second 10 min will have five 30 second bursts of high intensity mixed with their moderate intensity (on min 10,12,14,16, and 18). This boosts metabolic rate. 

2 days of body weight or weight training for 12 min per day
Complete two rounds of the following each consisting of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest:

Pop Squats
Push-ups w/alt knee
Forward Lunges with bicep curl
Plank Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Ab full roll up (lying position, roll all the way up, and exhale)

Week 3

4 days of exercise

2 days of INTERVAL Walking/Jogging – 20 min of cardio exercise at moderate pace, first 10 min walk or do cardio at a moderate pace. The second 10 min will have five 30 second bursts of high intensity mixed with moderate intensity (on min 10,12,14,16, and 18). This boosts metabolic rate. 

2 days of body weight or weight training for 12 min per day
Complete two rounds of the following each consisting of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest:

Squat swing with overhead tricep press
Spider-Man Push-ups 
Reverse Lunge with bicep curl
High Knees
Shoulder push-ups
Navy Seals (Ab exercise)

10 Must-Have Tools for the Busy Teacher

This year was uniquely challenging for me. I had my biggest class ever (28 students) , and I was co-teaching all day with teachers and paras from the special ed department–also a first. Meanwhile, I started working on my PhD, and my toddler constantly kept me busy. My plate has never been so full!

If you’re a teacher who often feels pulled in every direction, then this list is for you. These are my top 10 tools for juggling it all. Hopefully you’ll find some to use as well!

1. Nozbe

Nozbe is the ultimate task list manager. You can organize by projects — school, work, home, etc., create recurring tasks, and so much more. I can access it from any device, add attachments, and email stuff to my to-do list. I started out with the free version, and I quickly upgraded to the paid version. At $96/year, the paid version has a hefty price tag, but this app was SO much better than any other task manager I’d tried, and it’s been worth every penny. If you’re someone who has lots of projects going at once, this app is worth exploring.

2. Evernote

This is my brain online. All of my coursework and notes are in Evernote, and all of my anecdotal records and student work samples are in here as well. I was able to use the free version for many years, and then once my husband and I decided to go digital with all of our financial documents, etc., I upgraded to the premium version. At $35/year, it’s pretty affordable.

3. Dropbox

 I don’t think I could function without Dropbox. I switch between so many devices between work, home, and school each day, but Dropbox allows me to keep track of everything. All of my lesson plans, TpT purchases, readings for class, and more are in my Dropbox account. I’m still living off of the free space, but I’m getting the daily reminders that my Dropbox is nearly full. Might need to upgrade that soon, too. Premium accounts offer 100 GB of storage for $99/year.

4. GoodReader


 I’ve used this app a lot with my students, but I’m finding it to be totally clutch for my grad school stuff, too. I’m doing tons of research for my courses and scoping out dissertation ideas, and GoodReader allows me to annotate all of the PDF’s I’m amassing. I’ve created a folder on Dropbox for all of the articles I’ve gathered, and I can sync that folder to GoodReader so I can read it all on my iPad. I can also send it back to Evernote when I finish. One of my dear friends told me that I’d have laundry baskets full of research cluttering my house while I worked on my PhD, but not so…It’s all electronic!

5. GoogleCalendar

I have a variety of calendars on Google — class schedules, deadlines, school events, etc. Some of these I share with my husband so we can both be aware of each other’s events. Other calendars I share with my students and their parents so they can be aware of upcoming events and tests. I like that all of my calendars are color-coded so I know which calendar I’m looking at, and I can select/de-select different calendars to narrow my focus if I’m looking for something in particular.

6. YouCanBook.Me

This free site allows me to share portions of my calendar with parents so they can schedule parent-teacher conferences. I choose the days they can see, set the times they can schedule, and manage the maximum time blocks they can reserve. They don’t get to see any of the events on my calendar, just whether I’m available or not. If they reserve a time slot, it will automatically add it to my calendar and send me an email. It’s eliminated the back-and-forth process of conference scheduling and allowed me to manage my time better.

7. Planbook.com

Since I was co-teaching this year, I needed to find a way to share my plans easily from week to week. I tested out Planbook in August, and I loved it. I like that you can extend or bump lessons, attach files, and customize the fields that appear. It’s a great resource that’s keeping me much more organized. You can get a free trial of it before paying the $12 for an annual subscription.

8. Typinator

This is a tool that’s new to me, but Typinator is a text expander tool. There are several pieces of text that I find myself typing or copying/pasting over and over. Typinator allows me to create typing shortcuts for all of those. For example, if I want to type my blog address as a hyperlink when I comment on someone’s blog, I can simply type “~bl” and it will place the text there for me. I also use it for standard replies to emails such as when parents email me to say their child will be absent. I can type “~abs” and it will write: “Thanks for letting me know about the absence. I hope your child is feeling better soon! Today’s assignments will be posted on our class website, and let me know if there’s anything else you need.” Four key strokes = all of that. I find typing way faster than using the mouse, so this is a time saver that quickly adds up. It’s only available for Macs, and it’s priced in Euros (converts to around $36 US), but I use it all the time.

9. GoodReads


Distinct from GoodReader, GoodReads is an online community surrounding books. It allows me to keep track of the books I’m reading and which books I want to read next. As I’m starting my dissertation research, I’m constantly finding book titles that I want to check out. Similarly, there are lots of teaching books and children’s books that I want to investigate someday, and GoodReads helps me organize all of that. Best of all, I can use its scanning feature to scan barcodes when I’m browsing in the bookstore.

10. Edmodo

I used Edmodo a lot for collecting student work and grading tests/quizzes this year. It managed all of the submissions and kept the work organized for me so I could be more efficient with tracking these things. It also allowed me to create assignments, give and grade quizzes, communicate with students and parents, and so much more. This is a great free learning management system that was a centerpiece of my classroom this year.

With the exception of Typinator, which is only on my computers, all of these apps are cloud-based or mobile-friendly so I can get to them from any device. When I’m shifting between my iPhone, iPad, laptop, and desktop, that’s critical. I may be busy, but I can get to my projects anytime, anywhere, and I’m not hauling around tons of materials everywhere I go. These tools boost efficiency and minimize life clutter.

What are some tools you’re using this year to help with productivity? I’d love to hear more recommendations in the comments.

This post contained some affiliate links meaning that if you click on the link and purchase the app, a small part of your subscription cost will go to me instead of entirely to the company. I’m only recommending products that I highly use and pay for myself, however, and I hope you’ll find value in these resources as well. 

The Easiest Way to Implement a Classroom Economy

As my life continues to get crazier, I am constantly looking for ways to simplify and improve the things that I do. This year, for example, I decided to merge Class Dojo with my classroom economy, and so far, it’s going very well! Here are some of the tweaks I made to make this merger work.

My Classroom Economy

I’ve been using a classroom economy since I started teaching, and every year, I make a few tweaks. The basic idea is that every student applies for a class job at the beginning of each term (our terms are 6 weeks long). I’ve previously posted about my classroom jobs here. I display the jobs in my classroom so that we’re constantly reminded who is responsible for what. This year, I’ve used a pocket chart for my classroom jobs (sorry for the blurry photo).

I used to give students $100/week as their salary, or about $20 per day. They’d have weekly and monthly expenses, and then they could use any remaining money to purchase items in our class store. The complete program is detailed in my Classroom Economy Megapack on TpT.

I love the system, but I felt like I wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be in tracking student behaviors to give fines or bonuses, and there were many Friday afternoons when I was so involved in whatever we were working on that day, that I just didn’t leave enough time for them to shop. 
Meanwhile, I was dabbling with Class Dojo, and I wanted to figure out a way to tie that in as well. If you’re not already familiar, Class Dojo is an online behavior management system that allows you to give and take away points from students. You can create your own categories for points, and you can access the class info from any device — laptop, computer, iPad, iPhone, etc. I liked that portability because I always have one of those devices in my hands, and I could give or take away points without really interrupting what I was doing. 
The solution came for me this year when Class Dojo allowed for the creation of weighted point values! Before, you could only give or take away a single point at a time. Now you can create points on a scale of 1-5 and weight particular behaviors accordingly. This is done in the set-up for behaviors. 
1. Go to Edit Class on your class screen and select “Edit students and behaviors.”


2. Select “Behaviors” and either click on one of the exiting behaviors, or the plus symbol to customize the behaviors.


3. Change the icon (optional), name or rename the behavior, and then click the box to access a pull down menu of point values to weight that item.

And that’s it! You can weight both the positive and negative behaviors according to your needs. Here are the settings I have now for my classroom economy.

I basically divided the $100 weekly salary by 10, and scaled everything else back the same way. Students now get 2 points daily for their salary (10 points per week) and bonuses for different behaviors. The only other positive behavior that I’ve weighted more currently is helping others because I’m really trying to encourage that in my classroom. I’m also going to add a +4 for a class compliment because I like when they do a good job with other adults in the building.

For negative behaviors, I deduct more points for breaking rules outside of my classroom and for disrespecting people or materials. I also now deduct their taxes and rent through Class Dojo, and when they shop, I deduct their points in here. I price everything in multiples of 2, but then I found that I wanted a -5 shopping once they had enough points for some of the larger ticket items in our class store. I dislike that it shows up in the “Needs Work” tab, but I don’t think it’s a problem overall. The parents know what is happening from the descriptors, and we just talk about it in class from the stance of making or spending money. It’s the easiest way to deduct some points without resetting the points entirely.

Since transitioning to this modified system 7 weeks ago, my classroom economy has become more accurate and effective in a fraction of the instructional time. Class Dojo has replaced the clip chart that I used to use, and it helps with some of the accounting. I’m still using the bulk of the resources from my Classroom Economy Megapack, however.

If you’re interested in trying out Class Dojo with the rest of my Classroom Economy Megapack, I’ll be offering the product on sale at half price through Tuesday. It is one of my best sellers, and if you’re looking to change up your classroom management routines or enhance your existing classroom economy, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I’ve also discounted the rest of my TpT store 20% to celebrate my return to blogging after a busy start to the school year. Those sale prices will go now through Tuesday, so check them out!

Join the Mailing List! 

Did you know that I have a mailing list so that you’ll never have to miss a post? Use the link at the top right of this page (under Never Miss a Post) to subscribe to my mailing list. You’ll get my posts delivered to your inbox, and you’ll also get access to some extra resources that I’ll be offering to my mailing list only. Given that my PhD work has really cut in to my blogging time this past year, the mailing list is the best way to make sure you see my new content. I promise not to spam you or share your contact information ever. 
Have a great week!

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE

After a look at the pictures in this charming crib Scandinavia, we can only guess at the last, this apartment has no space. You’ll probably be surprised to know that in reality, the total area of ​​the house has a room of 44 square meters. Located Vasastan, Stockholm, this bright and comfortable studio seems to have everything: a beautiful modern design, function and a general atmosphere of welcome.

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE

According Alvhem Makleri & Interior, it is an opportunity that exudes peace and tranquility. The living room is a bright and social, with the opening of both kitchen and bedroom. Windows dissolves the border between the inside and provides natural light to govern. We are sure that you have already noticed alcove large enough for a king-size bed. This can be a bit flat, but the design approach used to improve inspires only the “oversized” ideas.

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN CONCEPT

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN CONCEPT

ALL-IN-ONE-BATHROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-BATHROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT SCHEME

HOW TO DECORATE WITH NO MONEY

In the present times, the expenses are rising for everyone and this is the reason why budgets have become tighter. Having less or insufficient money, does not stop people from wanting things or wishing for them. The house is the place, where one spends the maximum amount of time and everyone wants that they house looks nice and attractive. There is a myth that if one wants to decorate or improve the house; they will need to spend a large amount of money.

HOW TO DECORATE WITH NO MONEYThis is not true as it is possible to decorate the house or a room without any money also. One needs to be attentive and use their creativity and in this way they can make the house look nicer.

One of the easiest ways to decorate a room or the house is to use everything that is already available in the house. One can use things which are packed off as of being of no use or one can use the things that are there in the room. Many times, just re arranging the furniture and the things in the house can create a new look altogether. Changing the color scheme of the room is also a good idea. One can use combinations of colors to create a new look. Throwing in new and vibrant colors in a room is also a good idea. New colors break the monotonous look of a room and help one change the way the room looks.

Another way to change the way a room looks is to add a painting or a wall hanging to the walls. This is a great way as it gives a new dimension to the room. A plain wall does not look nice and adding something to it can give a great look as well. One should always work on the larger area of the house and then move to the small ones. The house can be decorated with existing things in the house, and one can easily use these and decorate.For example you can use some oriental rugs from bedroom to put under the coffee table from living room. It is not always necessary to buy new things and decorate. Using the creativity one can create focal points in the house, and use this to create a new look in the house. When the focus of a room changes, it itself gives a new life and a new look to the room and this is one of the best and the most affordable ways to decorate the house without money.

How to Get Rid of Cellulite

Although the vast majority of woman have some cellulite somewhere on their body – nobody likes it!   So what the heck is cellulite anyway?  Cellulite is pockets of fat that have squeezed between bands of tissue, called septae, that are located below your skin.

Women of all races get it, while virtually no men do. That’s because the septae of men are different from women. Men have stronger bands that are cross-hatched allowing them to keep fat in place more effectively. Women have weaker, vertically oriented septae that allows fat to squeeze through easier.

Both thin and heavy women have cellulite. However the higher your level of body fat the more noticeable the dimpling will tend to be.  Unfortunately dieting does necessarily help eliminate cellulite. Losing weight helps sometime, but in some cases weight loss makes cellulite worse.   This occurs when skin becomes saggy after significant weight loss.

There is a definite genetic component to cellulite which does run in families.
Hormones also are part of the equation with cellulite, but science has not figured out exactly how hormones contribute to cellulite.  What is known is that cellulite starts at puberty which is a time that many hormone levels change significantly in females.

Getting Rid of Cellulite

Getting rid of cellulite is easier said than done.  Even treatments like Liposuction are not necessarily effective.    In fact Liposuction often makes cellulite worse by leaving your skin even more puckered looking than it was before.

Dermatologists are quick to point out that there is no magic cure for cellulite, but there are ways to make it look better!   Two of the keys are working out and dropping excess weight sensibly (1lbs per week! – faster weight loss can exacerbate the problem!)

Resistance training is key.   As you increase your muscle size and decrease body fat your skin looks smoother.     If you lose fat while you simultaneously build muscle your cellulite will improve.
It is also important to work on the health of your skin as you age to make it more elastic so that as you lose fat the skin pulls tight rather than sagging.    

Certain topical treatments that increase collagen in the skin, like Retin-A or creams with retinol or vitamin C, cannot hurt and may help.   

Maintaining adequate water intake is also key for skin health and elasticity – 6 – 8 glasses of water per day is key.

If you have faithfully tried everything and your cellulite is driving you crazy and you are prepared to spend some serious dollars – Cellulaze – is an FDA approved therapy.  Cellulaze involves inserting a lazer under the skin and projects heats in three directions and literally liquefies fat as it cuts the septae around fat cells which can reduce the puckering while also encouraging collagen regrowth.

Cellulaze claims a 70 – 80% improvement in cellulite that lasts a full year.  It is most effective for active women with mild to moderate cellulite who are not significantly overweight and who also have good muscle tone.

Unfortunately, Cellulaze is not cheap – costing $5,000 – $7,000 depending on the size of the area being treated.

Managing the Work/Rest Ratio in HIIT Training

High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT training is all the rage and there are many different HIIT training protocols available, but to produce the best results it is important to understand how to manipulate the Work/Rest Ratio.    The Work/Rest Ratio is the ratio of time spent working in the high intensity interval to the time spent in the recovery interval and there is no one ideal Work/Rest Ratio. In fact there are three distinct methods you can use to design interval training programs based on how you manipulate the Work/Rest Ratio.
Fixed Work, Fixed Recovery
This is the most common method and often used for group training because it keeps everyone working together.   In this method the amount of time spent in the work phase is fixed as is the amount of time in the recovery phase.   For example the ever popular “Tabata” Protocol is a fixed work, fixed recovery protocol using 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of recovery done 8 times.    Another example is the Sprint 8 protocol which uses 30 seconds of work and 90 seconds of recovery.  In addition, all MX4 programming uses this method either for a 60/30 work/rest ratio or a 4 to 1 Minute Work to Rest Ratio during Density Workouts.
Needless to say there are endless variations of fixed work, fixed recovery interval protocols and each one feels different and allows for a different level of relative intensity.    The advantage of these type of protocols is that they are very simple to design and very easy to track using a simple timer, and if using heart rate monitoring you can adjust the actual work intensity and recovery intensity based on individual heart rate response.   Also this is a very easy way for a trainer to manage a group as mentioned previously.
Fixed Work, Variable Recovery
In this method the amount of time spent working is fixed, but recovery time varies based on heart rate response.  This method is a more individualized way to do HIIT training where each work interval begins after the heart rate slows to a predetermined point correlated with a specific level of individual recovery.  The advantage of this method is it can be customized to each person based on their goal, age and current fitness level.   An example would be doing a 1 minute work interval with a fit 20 year old and setting the recovery threshold at say 120 beats per minute (a relatively low exercise heart rate for a fit 20 year old).  So he would work as hard as he can for 1 minute then go into recovery and stay in recovery until his heart rate slows to 120 beats per minute.
Variable Work, Variable Recovery
This method varies work time AND recovery time based on preset work heart rates and recovery heart rates.   For example using the same example of a fit 20 year old you might set a goal work heart rate threshold at 180 beats per minute – meaning that you keep him working hard until his heart rate hits this work threshold and then immediately begin recovery.    Then you would keep him at a reduced work rate until he hit a predetermined recovery heart rate threshold such as 120 beats per minute.    This is a highly sophisticated and highly individualized way of exercising with precise management of work and rest customized to the individual.
Have some fun and experiment with each of these to prevent plateaus in your workout progress!

Teacher Toolbox Trio Linky Celebration!

Since the advent of Teachers Pay Teachers, my teaching toolbox has changed quite a bit. There are so many things that I’ve made or bought for my classroom, and there are many others that are on my wishlist. To recognize that, I’m hosting a Teacher Toolbox Trio linky party.

Here are the rules of the trio:
1. Share a product that you’ve made that you couldn’t live without.
2. Share a product that you’ve purchased that you love.
3. Share something from your wish list that you’re hoping to get for next year.

If you’re not a seller on TpT, no worries — just share two products you’ve purchased that you love!

1. Something I’ve Made

The Classroom Economy Megapack was my first major project for TpT, and without question, it was the one that I used all the time last year. It has everything I needed for setting up my classroom jobs, monitoring daily behaviors on a clip chart, running my classroom economy, and giving students free/very low-cost rewards. Unlike my units that were used here and there, this was on display in my classroom all 180 days, and my kids loved it. This is the one thing that I could not live without.

2. Something I Purchased

Erin’s “A Roller Coaster Day” sub plans were amazing! I had to go to an all day district committee meeting on a Friday in May when the kids were already getting a little crazy, but they LOVED this. The sub said it kept them engaged all day, and given that I was already at the stage of the year when all of our required curriculum had been taught, it was perfect. It will be a permanent addition to my sub folder, and she’s also made one for grades 5-6. You can follow Erin’s blog: I’m Lovin Lit. 

3. Something on My Wish List

I’m really planning to focus on math facts and mental math skills early in the school year, and Laura Candler’s Mastering Math Facts has been on my radar screen for a while. I’m hoping to snag a copy before I go back in July. (Yes, July!)  Laura’s blog is Corkboard Connections.

The Linky Celebration

This is more than just a party — it’s a celebration! I’ve been meaning to do something to celebrate hitting 100 followers for a while now, and as I near the 150 mark, it’s definitely time! If you link up through the tool below, you’ll be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate from Teachers Pay Teachers — enough to possibly clear off some items from your own wish list!

clip art from KPM Doodles
I’ll be using a random number generator to select the winner from those who link up. The linky celebration will end next Friday, June 14 at 11:59pm EDT and the winner will be announced on my blog on Saturday.
Can’t wait to discover some new products and see some of your favorites! Be sure to link up below, and please include the Teacher Toolbox Trio icon and/or another link to Eberopolis in your post.

Happy linking!
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Paperless Mission #7: Annotating Rubrics with GoodReader (iPad)

This is the seventh post in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. If you haven’t completed the previous missions, be sure to complete those first.

  • Mission #1: Gather Your Tools
  • Mission #2: Build Evernote Notebooks
  • Mission #3: Email Notes to Evernote
  • Mission #4: Create Checklists in Evernote
  • Mission #5: Organize Your Files in Dropbox
  • Mission #6: Setting Up GoodReader (iPad)
Also be sure to link up at the Go Paperless! Linky.

Mission #7: Annotating Rubrics with GoodReader (iPad)

I try to give my students high-quality feedback whenever possible, especially on their writing assignments. In the past, it would take me days to grade all of their papers and write hand-write comments on their rubrics. So when I passed those papers and rubrics back to students, it would kill me to see students stuff them into the abyss of their backpacks, or worse — toss them into the recycling bin. I wanted them to take it home and share it with their parents, and I wanted them to be able to refer back to that feedback. Eventually I learned to photocopy the rubrics before I passed them back, but that still wasn’t ideal. It created more paper clutter and one more thing for me to work on organizing.
When I say that GoodReader has become one of my all-time favorite apps, I mean it. I now use GoodReader to fill out rubrics and other student feedback. To start, make sure that you have the rubric saved as .pdf in Dropbox. While GoodReader can read any type of document, it will only annotate a .pdf. Then open up the .pdf of the rubric in GoodReader (see previous tutorial).

Choose the highlighter tool to highlight the appropriate categories on the rubric. The first time that you go to annotate a document, it will ask you if you want to save to this file or create an annotated copy. If it’s a document that I’m only planning to use once or student work, I typically select “Save to this file.” When I’m planning to use the document over and over again, though, I’ll create an annotated copy. That’s what I’d choose when using a rubric to grade student work.

Once I’ve made my selection, I’ll be able to annotate all over the document. Once you’re in the highlighter tool, you can drag your finger over the text that you want to highlight. You can change the color of your highlighter, and you can also delete highlights by tapping on the highlighted area.

At the end of the rubric, I like to type specific comments for my students. To do that, choose the typewriter tool. A little window will pop up for you to type your comments, and then it will save them to the document. If it saves it in the wrong spot, simply tap on the text and a new menu of options will appear.

You can drag and drop the text into the correct space and re-size the text area to get it formatted the way you’d like.

 When you’re done annotating the rubric, tap the center of your screen to see the “My Documents” option.

From there, you’ll want to rename your file. To do this, select “Manage Files,” then tap on the annotated copy of your rubric and select “rename.”

Once you’ve renamed your document, you’ll have some options for moving it. First, I send a copy to the student’s notebook in Evernote. To do this, tap “Manage Files” again, select your newly renamed document, and select “Open In.” A new window will pop up asking how you’ll want to save the file. Select “Flatten annotations” because that will preserve your edits and merge it into the document so that you don’t lose your work.

Once you’ve chosen that, another window will open showing which of your installed programs you can open it in. As you can see, I’ve get several options available. You could also upload it directly to Dropbox if you would like to back up your work there rather than in your student notebook. This might be a good option if you have a folder shared with the student for passing back work.

When I’m ready to hand back the rubric to students, I open it in Edmodo and attach it as a direct message to the individual student. This allows the student and his or her parents to see it. They could also download a copy if they’re using a computer. (I’ve had mixed results with document downloads through Edmodo on the iPad.)

This system has been incredibly helpful for me. It’s easy to manage because I don’t have to keep track of paper or make sure that I’ve made enough copies of the grading rubric before I start grading. Just one more step in the quest to curb paper clutter.

What are some other ways you can imagine using GoodReader in the classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section!

Chronic Illnesses and Diet part 3

Visualization and Chronic Disease

To the ten steps of the Body Clock Prescription, I’d suggest adding visualization, another powerful tool for controlling chronic disease. Life consists of moving forward into images. You get to the dry cleaners to pick up your laundry by making a mental picture of the journey and moving forward into that picture. No picture, no laundry. With visualization, you are going to create an inner picture in order to realize your intention, not just in the outside world of the dry cleaner but in the inside world of your immune system.

The first step is to get the knack of meditation so that your mind and body are in a receptive posture for visualization. Let’s assume that you’ve learned to enter a meditative state; riding on the letter M, your mind can enter a new space within your consciousness. From here, you can take one step forward into your imagination and make a picture of what you want to accomplish in your body.

The effectiveness of this approach was initially proven in an experiment conducted with doctors suffering from terminal or advanced cancer. They were shown accurate images of their own cancer cells and of their immune system cells and were asked to create a realistic visualization of the immune system cells attacking the cancer cells. Most of the doctors successfully curbed their cancer — not to the extent of actually curing it, but in most cases there was measurable improvement. Since then, numerous experiments have shown that a less accurate image of the enemy is just as effective.2

Diet Start

About twenty years ago I used to meet one evening every month with a group of other doctors, including Dr. Bernie Siegel, one of the pioneers of visualization. Bernie shared fascinating examples of the kinds of imagery cancer patients chose to promote healing of their illnesses. It seemed important that the image be accurate in its intent; it was disconcerting when patients chose wimpy defensive images that were the imaginary equivalent of trying to beat their cancer with a wet noodle. People who chose aggressive images did better; lions, tigers, sharks, polar bears and knights in shining armor do better work than a little girl gathering up cancer cells into snowballs and throwing them over the fence.

But what’s a good image if you have chronic inflammatory disease? In this case, redness, heat, swelling and pain afflict some part of your body as it reacts to an enemy that the doctor hasn’t been able to discover or that has disappeared from the scene of the crime, leaving your immune system in a perpetual dither. You need a picture that is soothing but not self-defeating by way of quieting your immune reactions to the point of defenselessness. This is where a chemical or an abstract image may be more appropriate. By chemical image, I mean something along the lines of `Let’s put out the fire’. Remember that inflammation is an expression of your body’s fire burning out of control. Whether it is in the skin, the digestive tract, the lungs, the heart, the nose or the eyes or, for that matter, whether or not it is producing palpable heat, some kind of uncontrolled fire is at the bottom of a lot of chronic illness. Parkinson’s disease, for example, has been characterized as a fire in the brain. And the oxidative damage in the chemistry of autistic children constitutes a kind of fiery injury to their RNA and DNA.

If you are going to employ visual imagery to quench the fire, then why not use pictures that are more effective than merely aiming a fire hose or throwing ice water at it? Instead, try mobilizing your body’s powerful natural resources for quenching the inflammation, calling on your body’s clouds to release rainwater on the brush fires of the prairie where the inflammation resides. This could be your intestine if you have colitis, your joints if you have arthritis, your skin if you have dermatitis, your lungs if you have bronchitis and so on. You can even get technical and make your raindrops into vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and other potent antioxidants. Communication between your meditating-visualizing brain and the resources of your body is more dynamic and more specific then you know.

When Bernie Siegel began talking about people’s responsibility for their own health and healing in the face of serious illnesses such as cancer, people accused him of ‘blaming the victim’ by placing an unreasonable burden of guilt on the sick person. But you can’t really take control of your health without believing that your health is to some extent under your control. Even a person who has been a victim of some catastrophic accident must believe that he or she can exercise control over healing, to at least a small but critical degree, through the expression of intention in prayer or visualization or by the exercise of sheer willpower.

For people with chronic illness, the lines of causation are more ambiguous than they are in an accident. However irrational it may be, all of us feel guilt for things that happen, like the ill-timed flareup of cold sores just before an important public appearance. Feeling guilty won’t get you anywhere, but feeling responsible is the key to taking charge. If you feel like you’re the passive victim of the event, you may miss a chance to engage your body’s resources for healing. Only by feeling that you can take responsibility for your own health will you be able to make the changes that are necessary for regaining that health in the face of chronic illness.

cool little trailer with a hinged top

https://www.instagram.com/bikergeardotstore/

Fast DietaryTrack rules

During this first two weeks you need to:

  • Eat about 150g (5oz) of protein per day, which should come from a portion about the size of your palm at each meal, plus two all-protein snacks per day.
  • Eat around 20g of carbohydrates per day. A simple way to work this out is to use a set of measuring cups (a cup holds 250m1/8 fl oz). You should aim to eat approximately 3 cups of low GI vegetables or 2 cups of low GI vegetables and 1/2cup low GI fruit — at least half of which should be eaten raw.
  • Get 30 per cent of your daily calorific intake from fats, which may include: olive oil, walnut oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, homemade mayonnaise, flaxseed oil, small amounts of butter, small amounts of sour cream
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily; you can also drink herbal teas, but avoid alcohol, soft drinks, tea and coffee, because caffeine interferes with ketosis
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, which can stimulate insulin secretion
  • Rev up your protein levels by including at least one whey-protein drink per day
  • Eat enough — otherwise you may start to burn muscle tissue
  • Avoid starchy, carbohydrate-heavy foods such as pasta, bread and potatoes
  • Beware of hidden carbohydrates in sauces and dressings
  • Check the labels of all foodstuffs and avoid all processed foods
  • Not give up!

Diet Start

Dietary Q&A

Q. I have been restricting my carbohydrate intake for days now and I have no energy. I thought this plan was supposed to make me feel better, not worse.

A. Your body is adapting to the metabolic conversion of burning fat for energy instead of glucose. This takes about three days in most people, which is why it is usually best to start the diet over a weekend when you are able to relax more. After three days you should see a rise in your energy levels, but if you continue to feel lethargic or unwell, stop the plan and check with your doctor.

Q. Will I get enough fibre on this plan?

A. Fibre is provided by the inclusion of fibrous vegetables and fruit, and is increased if you eat most of these raw. However, if you experience constipation during the initial stages, try adding psyllium husks or psyllium- husk powder to your whey smoothies, because they comprise 100 per cent soluble fibre. Psyllium husks are pure dietary fibre, composed mostly of cellulose. They swell when they come into contact with water and release

a gelatinous mass (mucilage) which passes through the colon and aids easy elimination.

Q. Why does a lowcarbohydrate diet cause bad breath?

A. When you are on the Fast-Track Plan and restricting your carbohydrates to around 20g (3/40z) per day, you will be burning ketones, which may cause your breath to smell a little unpleasant. Don’t worry, this is easily masked by chewing parsley-oil capsules or by using a natural breath-freshener spray. Make sure that you drink plenty of water because this will help to neutralize the odour.

Men’s Body Click Diet part 2

What I’m giving you here is a chance to climb the ship’s mast with me so that from its top we can see far over the horizon of medicine. The view from the masthead is based not so much on my daily activities as a practicing physician but on my mission to search the seascape of scientific research for courses that can help prevent my patients from developing prostate trouble. What I see from the top of the mast is a body of evidence that is solid enough to support these simple changes in behavior, especially considering that there’s zero risk in consuming flaxseed and soy protein.

The best evidence is based on studies done in a couple of places in the world, where prostate troubles are rare. Solid epidemiological studies that show a lower incidence of prostate cancer in men consuming foods popular among Finns and Chinese — rye bread for Finns and soy for Chinese.2 And he has carried out elaborate chemical analyses and experiments to show which substances in these foods provide the protection.

For years before his research was done, it was assumed that the Finns’ genetic history accounted for their lower incidence of prostate cancer. Most modern Finns come from a small number of people who migrated to that part of the world many years ago, so they are a rather distinct linguistic, racial and genetic group. It turns out, however, that it’s not their genes but their diet that protects them against certain cancers. And the dietary factor that is most significant is a sourdough rye bread that is eaten by people consuming a traditional Finnish diet. This whole-grain, heavy- duty bread is made out of ground whole rye seeds without anything removed. The leavening is provided by lactobacillus (acidophilus) instead of yeast, which is used to leaven almost all bread consumed in other parts of the world. What’s key is that the rye fiber contains lignans that modulate hormone chemistry and reduce the risk of reproductive cancers.

Diet Start

Eastern Europeans have traditionally used flaxseeds as a source of food and medicine. Flaxseed oil, which makes up about one-third of the weight of the seeds, has extremely healthy properties that also provide particular benefits for the prostate gland. But here we’re talking about the fiber in the flaxseed. The best way to use the seeds is to grind them in a coffee mill. You can then consume the fine, fluffy powder as part of a shake or add it to a variety of other foods. Your aim is to eat a heaping tablespoon per day.

Besides rye and flaxseed, there are other foods that contain lignans. Some of the best sources include legumes (especially lentils, kidney, fava and navy beans), seeds (like sunflower seeds), seaweed, cereal brans and whole grains.

There is also a solid body of evidence supporting the role of soy protein in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. For example, research has shown that isoflavones, substances contained in soybeans, modify testosterone metabolism, decreasing the risk for both benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer.3 Incorporating soy protein in your diet doesn’t require you to change what you eat, although it’s fine to eat more tofu, miso and other soy products if you enjoy them. The simplest, quickest way to consume soy protein is by stirring soy protein isolate, a relatively tasteless substance, into some of the food you are already eating.

Foods like soybeans, flaxseed and rye contain information derived from phytonutrients, which keep animals in synchrony with the rhythm of the seasons and which have profound effects on our own reproductive systems.

Prostate Inflammation or Nonspecific Prostatitis

Your prostate gland usually doesn’t speak to you until it’s in some advanced state of trouble. When it does, it has only two voices. One is expressed through pain or difficulty with urination and the other is just plain pain, which is almost invariably felt in the midline of your body. The spectrum of difficulties includes inflammation, enlargement and cancer. While there are more or less pure representations of each one, the lines between them are often blurred. All three, but particularly enlargement and cancer, are addressed by the preventive measures included in the Body Clock Diet.

Let’s start with inflammation, which is the medical term for some combination of redness, pain, swelling and heat that almost always accompanies infection but may also represent your body’s reaction to noninfectious irritants or allergens. The flame of prostate inflammation is experienced as burning with urination. This is as much a result of inflammation of the tube through which the urine passes out of the penis (the urethra) as it is due to inflammation of the prostate, per se, which lies astride this tube, just beneath the bladder. Germs that infect the urethra, such as the gonorrhea germ, may ascend it and get into the prostate gland. There, the alkaline environment and blood supply, which are conducive to bacterial growth, make it much harder to treat the infection with antibiotics than, say, a sore throat, a boil or an uncomplicated pneumonia. Because the germs that infect the prostate are difficult to extract from apatient for a culture it has become a common practice for doctors to treat symptoms of prostate inflammation with antibiotics without knowing what germ, if any, might be there.

The diagnosis in this situation is ‘nonspecific’ prostatitis, which is a well- accepted medical term. But when you stop to think about it, it’s peculiar. According to medical principles, when there is an infection, the perpetrator is almost always a particular germ. The prostate, like all internal tissues, is not likely to be infected by more than one germ at a time. The implication is that if there’s an infection, it’s quite specific. How then do we come up with the diagnosis ‘nonspecific’ prostatitis? It’s a result of several factors; efforts to recover a germ are to no avail, the prostate acts as if there’s an inflammation — with swelling, pain, difficulty urinating and sometimes cloudy or pussy urine — and antibiotics are at least temporarily soothing. But after antibiotic treatment, this problem recurs more often than other infections.

My trip to New Delhi & Hyderabad Cont……..

I finished the 5th and final OCA for this assignment. The organization assessed is rather a small one but with a track record of substantial outputs. The 3rd organization Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, the 4th organization Yugantra (www.yugantra.org.in) and the 5th organization Institute of Social Studies Trust (www.isst-india.org) had fewer economists as researchers than the 1st and 2nd organizations assessed. This resulted in their research being more focused on the softer aspects of development such as gender, education and inclusion. This meant that they had more interactions with civil society organizations. In a country that is looking to grow at 8% on an annual basis it is good to have this perspective brought in to the policy making process.

I finished the OCA by 4 PM and made my way to he airport to take the flight back to Colombo. To my surprise the flight was on time and we were able to board and are ready for take off on time. I dreamt of sleeping in the plane and getting home at a decent hour and taking a shower and going to sleep so that I can start a new day in Colombo without the effects of travel. This however was not to be. As the air stewardess counted the passengers there was one passenger missing. This meant that the airport staff had to look for this idiot all over the airport. As they could not find him then they decided to offload him; so this meant that they had to offload his baggage as well. As the Delhi airport did not have a bar coding system that meant that all the baggage had to be manually processed to identify the missing passengers’ baggage. This took one and a half hours.

Apparently the passenger was a phantom as he has been checked in (as part of a group) transferring to this flight with his luggage but he was physically not there. I hope they throw the book at the counter staff that did this horrendous mistake. And fix the system to ensure that transfer baggage is not loaded on to the aircraft until the passenger physically checks in. I really thought that this type of kinks in the system would have been sorted out long time ago; apparently not.

So what promised to be a nice ride back to Colombo turned out to be the longest flight between New Delhi and Colombo. The silver lining is of course that we arrived safely!

Have to finish all my reports for the India assignment and apply for my Philippines visa next week as I have to leave for Bangladesh on the 24th of March.

My trip to Wadduwa

I just returned home after a 3 day South Asian Regional Workshop on Resource Mobilization. It was a good workshop as it took RM strategies to the next level and looked at operationalizing them. As Strategic Planning / Organization Development consultants we often highlight the strategy for resource mobilization; be it venture capital, angel fund or gearing in the private sector to institutional fund raising and linking with CSR in the development sector.

What was most interesting was the cases we went through, and going through a logical process which led to ones resource mobilization strategy. The workshop was facilitated by a retired general from the Indian army and he was a good facilitator who kept the attention of a group of 50 people for 3 days. It is important that we as consultants keep up with new trends as well as take time out to reflect on our ability to continually add value to our clients by increasing our body of knowledge.

We also learned of new ideas and trends in the field of resource mobilization and were very useful given the current global economic situation. Looking forward to taking the learning’s to my clients in the near future.

I also got a very small project in the financial services industry while I was at the workshop. It is from an old client who has the habit of not giving me too much lead time for projects: there goes my week end. So I am going straight to facilitating a strategy workshop in the financial industry over the weekend.

Kaempferia Galanga Plant Benefits For Health

KAEMPFERIA GALANGA PLANT BENEFITS FOR HEALTH

Kaempferia GalangaPlant Benefits For Health – Coughing often makes your activities disrupted, but it also would make other people around us will also feel comfortable around us. There are several types of cough, which most often is a dry cough and cough with phlegm. Coughing up phlegm is sometimes more torturous than dry cough, throat full of mucus because who wants removed.
Now this many drug manufacturers are already providing various types of cough medicines, ranging from syrup to tablet. Besides the chemical drugs, you can also wear traditional homemade cough medicine with natural ingredients that are easily found on the kitchen, which is Kaempferia Galanga and salt.
Kaempferia Galanga Plant Benefits For Health - 1
Prescription cough simple and traditional ingredients that have long proven to thin the mucus, making breathing until you feel more relieved and able to relieve cough with phlegm. At the moment we are taking this medicine traditional productive cough, a sense of warmth will make the body as well as the respiratory tract would be more relieved.
·      Powder, How to make it quite easy. Take Kaempferia Galanga, wash clean, and peeled and grated Kaempferia Galanga and squeeze and take the water, add a little water, put a little salt and stir well, Drink the potion after breakfast and before bedtime.
Kaempferia Galanga Plant Benefits For Health - 2
·      Ginger can also warm the body and treat cough with phlegm. You are experiencing a productive cough is highly recommended to drink warm ginger juice in at least once a day. How to make even very easily by slicing ginger and Kaempferia Galanga, then boiled and taken water juice. Water juice that will be taken.
·      Orange juice, have been many people who have felt that Lime is already mixed with soy sauce efficacious to treat cough with phlegm. If you do not like soy sauce, can mix with Honey Lime. Drink Lemon juice with soy sauce and honey as much as 2 to 3 times a day
Easy is not it? good luck and hopefully this traditional herb cough you get well soon. Hopefully article about Kaempferia Galanga Plant Benefits For Health we share this day can be beneficial to readers. Thank You.

Trip to Hyderabad cont…….

Wow what an assignment! I must say that I have experienced similar assignments in the past in other sectors. However for this sector (development sector) it was a first. As a consultant you have to be on guard all the time when doing an Organization Capacity Assessment (Very similar to a “Due Diligence” in the private sector); if the client wants to mislead you, it can be done quite easily. In my case I was confronted with just that.

Things that should look out for are:

  1. Uniformity in questioners
  2. Having sets of files pre prepared for you (always ask for random files)
  3. When interviewing staff they have uniform answers or say very similar things (always ask to speak to random sample of staff and triangulate your findings; include speaking to other stakeholders as they will be a be useful source of information)
  4. Taking a long time to locate files and other documents when you request for them
  5. Key staff suddenly taking ill and not being available for interviews
  6. Acting “stupid” or not seem to understand what you are requesting for or saying

These things must be handled very diplomatically otherwise you will not be able to complete the assignment. Do not have a “knee jerk” reaction, observe very well and collect enough specific examples so that you have a basis for doubting what is presented to you. At the same time you must see if this deception is systematic or simply put up for this occasion.

If it is systemic you now have a real problem; you will not be able to decipher what is “genuine” and what is “false.” My recommendation is at this point you should seek clarifications from the person who hired you as well as speaking to the decision makers of your client. A temporary halt to the assessment will be in order to do this discretely. Suggest you take prudent steps based on your clients feedback.

However if you feel it is a put up for this particular assessment then your task is easier and it should be handled with the management of the organization that you are assessing. (Don’t forget you still need to advice your client regarding this unexpected turn of events) As this would be difficult situation for some consultants to handle; I suggest a cautious but a very direct approach. This will reduce the space for excuses by the staff. Since it will come as a surprise to them the staff of the organization you are assessing will also not be able to gang up on you to defend themselves. Make sure that you do not engage in a long dragged out discussion, be short and to the point. If handled properly it should bring about normalcy to the process.

If however you do not feel comfortable to take a direct approach you must then document both versions of the process i.e.

  1. The results that are shown by the staff of the organization
  2. Your observations and reservation of those results

This however will not be very useful in the end; as it will not provide the right results to take decisions the assessment was supposed to deliver in the first place. In some rare cases you may need to repeat the assessment to get the right results.

In my case it was the latter and I did confront the staff and the management regarding it. There was an attempt to defend the position but it was not successful; things returned to an acceptable level of normalcy and I was able to complete the assignment.

The 1 Minute Workout

The number one challenge people to give to not working out is time.   So the question fitness professionals should be focused on is what is the LEAST amount of time for working out and still producing the benefits and results that people want and need.
The great news is that there is a lot of well done research on this subject, and there is a proven workout protocol that produces results with as little as one minute of total work time in a workout and a total workout duration of under 10 minutes including warm-up and cool-down.
The definitive work on this subject was written by Martin Gibala and is appropriately called “The One Minute Workout”.     In this excellent book he reviews all the related research and results on High Intensity Interval Training including an excellent review on the psychology of exercise as it relates to how people feel before, during and after different types of exercise protocols.     Long story short people really like certain HIIT protocols – even high deconditioned people and high-risk heart disease patients.
He and his team of researchers proved the effectiveness of the 1-minute workout to produce results and also found the specific physiological mechanisms responsible for the benefits of this protocol.
1 Minute Workout Protocol

Warm-up for 3 minutes at an easy pace on any piece of cardiovascular exercise equipment, walking, 
running, jogging or cycling depending on your preference and fitness level.
Do a 20 second sprint at your best possible pace (this is all relative to your fitness level)
Do active recovery at a light pace for 2 minutes
Perform another 20 second sprint at your best possible pace.
Do active recovery at a light pace for 2 minutes
Perform a third and final 20 second sprint at your best possible pace.
Cool-down for 2 minutes.
Total workout time – 10 minutes!
Frequency

Best results are obtained by repeating this workout 3 times per week BUT even once a week will provide benefits and help maintain a decent level of physical conditioning – the key is intensity NOT duration or frequency.

Recommended Reading:    The One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala:  https://www.amazon.com/One-Minute-Workout-Science-Smarter-Shorter-ebook/dp/B01IOHQ7RA/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517152066&sr=1-1&keywords=the+one+minute+workout+by+gibalaAvailable in hardcover, paperback or kindle.

Men’s Body Click Diet part 1

In the summer the men had to cope with constant daylight, so they were missing the normal cues to go to bed. ‘When it’s daylight, even though it’s midnight or one o’clock in the morning, you don’t think of it as being the time to go to sleep,’ says Dave. ‘Your mind just says, hey, there’s work to be done. I may be tired but I’m not recognizing the need for sleep because it’s daylight.’

Already lacking the strong time-giving effects of light, the men could not set their body clocks by what they were eating, either. ‘We had four meals a day. Two of them occurred at noon and midnight, the other two at six in the morning and six in the evening,’ continues Dave. ‘One of the difficulties in telling what time it was, was that the 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. meals were powdered scrambled eggs and the other two meals were stew. So if you woke up at six o’clock and went into the galley for a meal and you had powdered scrambled eggs, you didn’t know whether you were having breakfast or dinner.’

Despite losing the signals that are normally provided by the cycle of light and dark, the timing of activity, intake of food, reasonable work shifts or even simple obedience to the clock, most of the men managed toget through without becoming acutely sick or injured. But some of them developed a condition they called Big Eye, in which they became stuck in a sleepless state. Almost everyone had duties that required exhausting physical labor, but even so, the men with Big Eye failed to sleep for days.

Diet Start

The men with Big Eye demonstrated that the body’s flexibility is a double-edged sword. The loss of essential time givers easily disrupted their circadian rhythms, probably setting them up for health problems if they continued down that path. On the other hand, proper application of some fairly simple rules for circadian health could have rescued them. And the same rules can rescue you from a potentially perilous state of disorganization.

The Body Clock Prescription reinforces strong circadian rhythms; produces better sleep, enhanced moods, alertness and energy; and reduces the risk for reproductive cancers for everyone. In addition to these overall improvements in health and well-being, there are specific aspects of the diet that have a favorable impact on prostate health, a subject that provokes anxiety for many men.

Prostate Ailments: The ‘Male Problem

There is certainly cause for concern. Prostate ailments are an almost universal threat to men in Europe and North America. Among men in the United States, prostate cancer is the most common cancer; it is also the second leading cause of cancer death.’ In addition, countless men suffer from other prostate problems. This phenomenon represents a kind of `male problem‘ corresponding roughly to what used to be called ‘female problems’, a much less specific collection of gynecological woes that were lumped under this heading in the mid-1900s. The notion of female problems embraced excessive menstruation, infertility, irregular periods,cramps, vaginal discharge and other kinds of medical mischief that women endure.

The male problem is more localized in the prostate gland, the part of the male reproductive system that secretes fluids that help transport sperm. Nevertheless, it is a fairly complicated picture, which includes inflammations of the prostate, a common condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostate cancer.

What’s more, prostate problems may lead you to needing a cystoscopy, where a narrow flashlight is inserted into the hole from which you pee until it arrives in your bladder. On the way, it passes through your prostate gland. Cystoscopy is a procedure that causes ‘big eyes’ in the bravest of men.

Besides cystoscopy, the other method often used to examine men with prostate complaints is digital rectal examination, in which the examiner can feel the profile of your prostate gland. (Digital refers to the doctor’s finger, not his computer.) Both give much less information than you would expect to get from such relatively invasive procedures. Opening your mouth and saying Ah’ discloses much more about your teeth, gums, tongue and throat than any rectal exam reveals about your prostate, unless you have a huge lump. Ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans are necessary to get a good picture of what’s happening to this gland, whose actual location on the floor of your pelvis seems mysterious to anyone who has not studied anatomy.

Diet and Prostate Health

If you look around you, especially as you get older and start hearing stories from men who have prostate trouble, you may wonder if there’s something simple you can do to avoid it. I’m not talking about early detection, which is mentioned frequently these days. (Of course, most men’s idea of early detection is that early next year or the year after would be just fine.) Nor am I saying that a good history, physical exam, measurements of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a common blood test used to screen for prostate cancer and other indicators of your underlying health, prostate or otherwise, are not a good idea.

But you’re misplacing your priorities if you go through those procedures without making some modest changes in your diet now to prevent troubles in the future. Most men who have a reasonably healthy personal and family medical history and who don’t abuse themselves with excesses of drugs, tobacco and alcohol, other risky activities or excessive inactivity can probably remain free of obvious symptoms even if they don’t implement all the points of the Body Clock Prescription. Some of these pointsare aimed at people who are trying to get out of serious medical trouble or who have risk factors that call on them to follow the diet very strictly.

Naturally, the more closely you follow the Body Clock Prescriptionthe better, but if you do nothing else, I urge you to consume soy protein and flaxseed powder daily to prevent prostate problems. By making these simple dietary changes and keeping your mind open to the possibility that fungal infection, intestinal overgrowth or allergy might have a hand in any prostate inflammation that is not otherwise easily diagnosed by a physician, you can go a long way toward avoiding the possibility of getting prostate cancer, as well as the other problems that frequently lead men to undergo cystoscopy.

The trip to Hyderabad India

I am starting my next assignment on the 3rd of October 2009 in Hyderabad India. This will be my 4th trip to India in the last 2 years. Going to india is a funny thing for me as I cant wait to get there. Once I am there I get the feeling that I need to get back home (Sri Lanka) soon.

I have applied for my visa nd waiting to collect it. will do it tomorrow.

Who needs to curb the carbs?

It goes without saying that everyone should consider cutting out refined sugar and flour products, plus high levels of processed foods that are full of junk fats, as they are nutritionally redundant in the human body. You should also consider giving up caffeine and moderating your alcohol intake, particularly if you suffer from any of the symptoms of unstable blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Many people are not even aware of the symptoms of eating too many refined and dense carbohydrates. They have become used to living in what I call ‘the discomfort zone’. They have forgotten what it is like to wake up full of energy, think it’s normal to feel bloated after meals and rely too heavily on stimulants such as coffee to get themselves through the day.

Diet Start

This sorry state of affairs becomes their normal state of being — it is no wonder that the symptoms of degenerative disease creep up on many people un-noticed. They are so used to living below their physical potential that they don’t recognise the signs until it is sometimes too late.

If you are more genetically disposed to gain weight readily when exposed to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle then restricting the amount and type of carbohydrate foods that you eat may be the right choice for you. Such a diet regime may also suit you if you have developed insulin resistance as the result of a diet based on high levels of refined and complex carbohydrates that outweigh your energy requirements, plus too much saturated fat, with little fibre and water. Unless, that is, you are one of those people who leads an active lifestyle or has a high metabolic rate, and already eats a diet with relatively high levels of healthy complex carbohydrates (brown rice, potatoes, wholegrains and certain vegetables, fruit and pulses) without accompanying weight and health problems. If so, why are you reading this? Sounds like you are already doing what is right for your body.

MINIMALIST RA HOUSE DESIGN BY BAQUERATTA

The Minimalist RA House was designed a Tokyo company called Baqueratta.They have a good past in minimalist small residences.The entire house was furnished with modern and minimalist furniture.I love this house and I hope to have someone in future, but I especially like the bathroom.

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

My trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh

It was quite an intense process to pin down the existing system. It existed in bits and pieces in various places of the organization managed by different people in the structure. It was quite unique to find an organization with a finance management system spanning from resource mobilization (Income generation, contracting and applying for donor funding) to implementing through 3rd parties (implementation through contractors as well as other civil society organizations) but not to have it documented any ware. It was a tough job to get agreement on the current practices as well, as each individual seems to have tweaked it to suite his/her requirement. Finally we documented the entire system as the minimum agreed common current practices.

This is typical of an organization which has grown organically and reached a point that does not allow it to grow any further without structure and form in its organization structure and systems. As a result of this the assignment has ballooned into a much bigger assignment as the organization needs basic guidance regarding system development and management. I was also able to analyze the system and suggest some key improvements (fundamental stuff really) to instill the use and management of the system. The client has now requested that I support them in the preparation for implementation which needs a lot of pre planning and documentation in the form of developing policies, manuals, forms, job descriptions, task calculation etc. It also means that we have to design the administrative and functional structure so that the organization can manage a decentralized finance function spanning the entire spectrum of financial management.

I left Dhaka on Friday and headed back to Colombo. The flight from Dhaka to Bangkok on TG was fine and operated on time. I had a 5 hour stay in Bangkok before I took the flight to Colombo. I must say that I don’t find the new airport at Bangkok as passenger friendly as the earlier one. The new one however is big and posh but it has lost some of its coziness in my opinion. As usual the Colombo flight was delayed for over a half an hour and once in Colombo had to endure the long queues at the emigration counter.

I am back in Colombo and back at work to finish another assignment (OCA) I took concurrently and had a junior consultant do some parts of it. I have to send its draft report by the end of business 6th April. My next assignment is going to be in the Philippines and looking forward to it as it will be my first assignment in the Philippines.

My Trip to Baticaloa

On my way to Baticaloa, This was taken on the Polonnaruwa Habarana Road today (12/06/2011) @ 2.00 PM. Wow what a Jumbo!

How to Deal with Yourr Seasonal Allergies

S
Seasonal allergies to pollen and mold seem to getting more and more prevalent each year with progressively more severe symptoms in sufferers.    Treating allergies with nutrition and nutrition supplements can have big advantages over using medications.   
Allergy medication most commonly comes in the form of Antihistamines, and there are some big problems with long-term use of these medications.     It is now known that prolonged use of antihistamines decreases levels of acetylcholine which is a key neurotransmitter involved in memory and other important functions.   In fact, antihistamine use increases the risk of senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
What are Allergies Anyway?
Allergies are abnormal immune reactions to specific agents (proteins) known as antigens/allergens, which include many substances such as foods, drugs, pollens, dust mites, animal danders, feathers, along with many others. 
Allergies may also develop when an otherwise innocent substance has significant contact with an already inflamed surface (known as sensitization).  For example, when sick with a respiratory illness, respiratory surfaces are already inflamed and substances present at this time may be “remembered” as being foreign.  This can also occur with chemical substances known as “haptons” which are combinations of self and non-self which can lead the immune system to attack the self. 
Since there are multiple pro-inflammatory substances involved with allergies it is rare to obtain adequate control with single products/medications.  The most potent chemical mediators in allergies and asthma are leukotrienes.  Some leukotrines are one thousand times more potent than histamine as stimulators of bronchial constriction and allergy. 
Interestingly, many medications that reduce one inflammatory pathway actually boost leukotrienes.    For example, Aspirin and other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Ibuprofen) result in the production of excessive levels of leukotrines in sensitive individuals although they decrease prostaglandins associated with inflammation and thereby relive pain.  So long term they can create a much more severe problem.
Asthma is linked to allergies and can be a severe and life threatening condition.   Do NOT try to self-treat Asthma – see a physician!
Strategies for Allergies
Try to avoid allergens by using air filters, regularly cleaning all surfaces and vacuuming and keeping your air-conditioning system on while regularly changing filters to filter out as many allergens as possible.   Remember your car cabin filter as well, and take showers and wash clothes after being outside for long periods of time.
Change your diet to reduce inflammation.    Dramatically reduce your intake of refined carbohydrate – sugar and starch which drive insulin which drives inflammation.  At the same time increase your intake of low glycemic, organic fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, etc.   These plant foods contain polyphenols which are potent anti-oxidants and help to reduce inflammation and allergies without side effects.
Increase your intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids from cold water fish such as Alaskan Wild Salmon and/or take an Omega 3 Supplement such as Krill Oil.    Omega 3 fatty acids will always reduce inflammation if taken in sufficient dosages so this should be a primary strategy for allergy sufferers because they produce many side benefits.   The only exception is people taking any type of medication to thin blood and reduce clotting like Coumadin.   In this case the combination can be dangerous!
Nutritional Supplements for Allergies
There are several highly effective nutrition supplements for allergies including some key herbs.
Local Raw Honey – it MUST be local and must be raw because it will contain small amounts of local pollen and works by getting the body used to pollen much like an allergy shot.     A Tablespoon a day is as much as you need.   Many people swear by this simple and safe remedy!
Stinging Nettle Extract – this herb has a long history of effective use for allergies and freeze dried preparations seem to work the best and are best taken BEFORE allergy season even begins to put a damper on symptoms before they start – this is true of all nutritional approaches to allergy by the way!
Euphrasia Officianalis – aka “Eyebright” is an herb which name says it all – it is highly effective for eye allergy symptoms.
Quercetin – is a flavonoid contained in high amounts in apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and sprouts, and raw red onions.   To treat allergies taking supplemental quercetin is the way to go, and a good quercetin supplement is a product called “AllQlear” by Integrative Therapeutics and can be purchased on Amazon.     It also contains “ovomucoids” from quail eggs that act as tryptase inhibitor and prevent release of histamine.    Another excellent Quercetin Supplement is “Qforce” – http://www.qforce.com/ Quercetin is proven to decrease yur chance of contracting a viral illness like the cold or flu by 9 times!
Boswellia Extract – Boswellia aka Frankincense (yes the herb mentioned in the bible!) can be highly effective for allergies and other forms of inflammation including arthritis because it blocks the formation of leukotrienes!    To get the benefits you must take 5-loxin which is a specific extract.   Note that in some individuals 5-loxin can cause or excacerbate heart burn so it is not for everyone, but when it works it can be highly effective!
Butterbur Extract – this plant extract can be highly effective for inhibiting leukotrienes and allergy symptoms or side effects.   You need to take a standardized extract with standardized levels of Petasin and Isopetasin) and free of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids aka PA.  High quality brands include Life Extension, Swanson, and Enzymatic Therapy to name a few.   This product can also help many migraine sufferers and is a well-researched, proven treatment.
NAC – N-Acetyl Cysteine – helps thin mucus naturally and boost levels of the body’s most important antioxidant Glutathione – every allergy sufferer should be taking 600 – 1,200mg per day!
You will also find combination of these ingredients in particular products, and it is worth experimenting a bit because if you find the right product or combination of natural products you can find relief without sedation and without the side effects associated with antihistamines and more potent drugs like steroid nasal sprays or oral steroids.

Fallout 4 – V.A.N.S… What Does It Do? Why Would Anyone Want To Take/Use It? [Explanation with Example]

I saw someone ask this in the Official Steam Forum, wondering why someone would even pick the VANS Perk (the Skill to use it) while levelling. I wanted to come back here and post, as a Quick Tip perhaps, a short explanation on what V.A.N.S. actually does (and how it can be helpful to players).

Briefly summarized, V.A.N.S. is a Perk of Intelligence (requiring only 1 INT to Unlock) that lets the V.A.T.S. interface ‘show you the way’ to your marked objective/quest/mission location. An example I recorded of how it looks, is below:

Recorded aboard The Prydwen, this is a short example of how VANS looks in Fallout 4.
(Reduced size, framerate and quality, to fit Upload requirements at Steam)
Click to see slightly larger Full Size
On Steam, at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=966498722

To use V.A.N.S., simply hold the Hotkey for opening VATS for a short time (eg. on PC, instead of hitting ‘Q’ quickly once, to enter V.A.T.S., hold it down) – let go of the ‘Q’ key, after about two full seconds or so – even if the Pip-Boy has not fully opened yet. Then hit ‘TAB’ to close the Pip-Boy right away, once the ‘green trail’ is seen.
You do not need to move or turn at all, until after closing the Pip-Boy fully (for example, I do not use the mouse at all to use V.A.N.S., on PC, I just open the Pip-Boy with ‘Q’ and close the Pip-Boy with ‘TAB’).
[Perhaps this will help those having issues with opening/closing/viewing the ‘trail’…]

If you’ve played Skyrim, it is similar to the Clairvoyance Spell in that game, as it will then illuminate a ‘trail’ that looks like a tube of smoke along the ground, that you can follow (but in Fallout 4 it is ‘Pip-Boy Green’, as opposed to ‘SKYrim Blue’).

While this doesn’t seem needed as Fallout 4 has both Map Marks (on the Map in the Pip-Boy and at the bottom of the Screen in a Compass) and Floating Markers (that can be seen on Doors, above NPCs, etc). V.A.N.S. is helpful in a slightly different way. It shows you the ‘Main Path to take’ to get to your Marked Objective/Quest/Mission (as in, “go to this Street and use this Road”).

For example, if you are jumping around in the back hills or lost in the skyscrapers of Downtown, it will guide you out of where you are with the ‘green steam trail’ and show you how to get back to the main roads, then it will illuminate which way to go from there, too.

The Map Markers that are normally available only show the ‘overall’ or ‘general’ Heading, like a Compass (N, E, W, S) and not ‘how to go around this thing in front of you’ or ‘how to get back to the main road first’. Those last concepts are where the usefulness in V.A.N.S. shines; in how it can guide you from exactly where you are, first around whatever is in front of you (to the nearest main path), then how to go on from there to your next objective.

Try it out on your next Character perhaps – and have fun in Fallout 4!

Trip to Hyderabad Cont

The day of leisurely travel to Hyderabad turned in to an interesting experience for me. Here’s how it went.

There were of course no issues in getting to the Airport or getting checked in. At the checking counter I asked the Jet Airways staff if there were any restrictions of taking a bottle of liquor to India. At which point I was told “NO SIR”. When I checked in however they were unable to check my baggage through to Hyderabad since I was changing from International to Domestic (Still Jet Airways) I was told that I need to put my bag through customs at Chennai.

Things went smoothly from there; got through Immigration, went and bought 500ML bottle of Black Label, went through security, boarded and arrived in Chennai on time. Jet airways must be congratulated for on time flights between Colombo and Chennai. Their service too was quite good.

Things turned in to a big process when I got to Chennai. First I had to go through Immigration, it was smooth, then through Customs, also no issue, then physically had to come out of the International Terminal and go in to the Domestic Terminal. I was told that Jet Airways staff would be there to guide the transfer passengers, however there were no staff and there were no sings to direct. I asked for instructions and got to the Jet Airways counter without any trouble. Yes I did change some money as well. At which point I was told that I need to put my luggage through the security scanner again so had to Drag my bag to the end of the terminal and re-put the bag through the security scanner (X-Ray) then had to come back and join the line to check the bag in for a second time. Luckily there weren’t many passengers in line. While I was doing this I was also carrying the Duty Free Bag with the bottle of liquor inside it and in plain sight of the Jet Airways staff.

So I checked in the bag and went to the Taj Restaurant to quench my thirst; well things really went wrong there, apparently for some Gandhi commemoration the bar was closed. I thought I was back in Sri Lanka where for any frivolous thing they close all the bars. Never mind survived on a cool fresh lime soda.

When it was time for me to go through the security to board the domestic flight I had to put all my hand luggage again through the security… nothing new I guess. Then came the surprise they said “Sir you cant take wine in the plane, you have to put it into the main luggage” I promptly pointed out to the security guy that I am connecting from a International flight and that I did bring the bottle on board as hand luggage and I was told that it was allowed by the airline staff the time of boarding. “No sir it is not allowed in domestic flights” came the answer right back at me. Knowing not to argue with them went back to the counter. Then the fun started….. apparently the process was that they had to get my checked in luggage out of the cargo container put the bottle back in to the check in luggage then re scan the luggage through the X-Ray machine and so on. No drink can be worth all that trouble. They also agreed with me that the bottle might break in the luggage and I will have to wear a whiskey perfume during my stay in India.

So I was on the verge of throwing the bottle down the drain when one of the assistants who help with the luggage suggested to the girl at the counter to check the bottle in as a separate piece of luggage. That was funny; I had a grin in my face because it sounded ridiculous. But guess what, he got a small box put the bottle in, taped it up, put fragile stickers on it, and got the girl to weigh it. Guess what, the scale returned a value of zero kilograms. I thought now they are going to make a fuss again, but to my surprise no they checked in a weight of 2 KG the minimum weight of a check in luggage (Good to know I thought) and gave me a baggage tag. So I thought this is all going to be a waste as the bottle is surly going to break. So deciding to ignore a package with a streak of whiskey behind it at the Hyderabad Airport baggage belt went through the security and got in to the boarding area.

Then came the next surprise, the flight was delayed for two and a half hours. Man now I know why they don’t allow liquor in the domestic flights as they are apparently always delayed and they don’t want disgruntled customers having a few to get over their frustrations of having to wait for an eternity. Well that is the consensus of the few guys I got chatting to.

Finally the plan did arrive and I made it to Hyderabad. Went to collect the luggage and to my surprise the small box did make it intact. When I saw that it brought a grin to my face so get to the hotel and yes had a drink and went to sleep. So now from tomorrow morning I will be busy with the assignment. Looking forward to it.

INTERIOR DESIGN IN BANKE HOTEL

BANKE HOTEL

BANKE HOTEL ROOM DESIGNBANKE HOTEL ROOM DESIGN

BANKE HOTEL DESIGNBANKE HOTEL DESIGN

The Banke Hotel is recently installed in the Opera district in Paris-a first for the prestigious hotel chain Derby Hotels Collection. As its name hints at the Banke Hotel is the story of a metamorphosis. That of the body of a conventional bank Haussmann in a luxurious hotel of 94 rooms – which harmoniously blend the baroque style and design

fantastic paintjob on this speedboat

http://darkdraggon.tumblr.com/page/3

Long Bean Benefits For Health

LONG BEANS BENEFITS FOR HEALTH

Long Beans Benefits For Health Long Beans are vegetables that very often we encounter in everyday dishes. Whether it’s for home cooking and restaurant cooking. There are also cook it in a way sauteed, but some are making to raw vegetables.
But despite the long beans so popular for the food, I’m sure not everyone knows about the nutritional value as well as the nutrients found in these vegetables. In fact, long beans have vitamins and minerals also are quite high which is also beneficial to health.
Long Bean Benefits For Health
So, to increase your knowledge about health, here we present an overview of the nutritional content of beans as well as health benefits.
Nutrient Long Bean
Long beans contain a variety of essential nutrients for your body, including:
As a Source of Protein
With a protein content that is at least 8.3 grams per 100 grams chickpea stew, the bean vegetable vegetables long become a source of vegetable protein in our body needs protein for every day.
Vitamin B Complex
In every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 146 mcg of folate (37% requirement), 0.2 mg of thiamin (14% requirement); 0.1 mg vitamin B6 (5% requirement); and 0.1 mg of riboflavin (4% needs); 0.4 mg of pantothenic acid (4% requirement); serta0,6 mg niacin (3% requirement). Various vitamin B complex contained in the long bean is an essential nutrient for our bodies.
In general, vitamin B complex plays an important role in energy production and nerve function in our body, so vitamin B deficiency is usually characterized by fatigue and lack of energy.
Contain High Fiber
Long beans are vegetables that are rich in fiber. In every 100 grams of beans boiled, no fiber content up to 4 grams and meet 15% of our daily fiber needs. Fibers on long beans are available in the form of pectin, which is a soluble fiber, to very good in helping keep blood sugar at normal levels, as well as for normal fat metabolism.
Mineral content of Long Bean
Long Beans are also rich in various minerals, among others :
Containing Calcium
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 42 mg of calcium (4% requirement). Calcium is an essential mineral for the formation of bones and teeth healthy and strong as well, also for nerve and muscle function optimally.
Containing Iron
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 2.6 mg of iron (15% requirement). Iron is an essential component for the formation of enzymes for a variety of chemical reactions in the body, and forming the main component of red blood cells and cells
muscle.
Contains Magnesium
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 98 mg of magnesium (25% requirement), where the mineral content is very important for healthy bones and teeth, muscle and nerve function, as well as the activity of enzymes in the body.
Long Bean Benefits For Health
Containing Manganese
In Every 100 grams of boiled string beans also contain 0.5 mg of manganese (24% requirement). Manganese is essential for enzyme activity, and also for the metabolism of carbohydrates and joint health.
Containing Phosphorus
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 181 mg of phosphorus (18% requirement), which is also important in energy production and the formation of bones and teeth.
Containing Copper
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 0.2 mg of copper (11%). Copper is important for skin health, it also increases the body’s resistance to stress and disease.
Containing Potassium
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 315 mg of potassium (9% requirement), which is important for nerve function and also our muscles.
Containing Zinc
In Every 100 grams of boiled string beans also contain 1.1 mg of zinc and zinc (7% requirement). Zinc is a component of enzymes involved in the formation of red blood cells and bone.
Containing Selenium
In Every 100 grams of boiled string beans also contain 2.8 mcg selenium (4% requirement), where selenium is an essential mineral in the synthesis of the enzyme, which also acts as an antioxidant against free radicals in our bodies.

Well, that’s what some of the vitamins and minerals contained in the beans. For you who like to consume either in the form of beans and vegetables stir fry, continue the positive trend.

It’s Not Just You ™ – Heroes Of The Storm ‘Screen Shake’ = ‘Motion Sickness’ (Dizzy, Nausea, Headache) [Notification]

Just a quick post to let others know that – if you are experiencing this phenomenon – getting dizzy or even nauseous while playing Heroes Of The Storm lately: It’s Not Just You™… I even whipped up an Example of the effect, for those that aren’t quite noticing it:

Example of ‘the screen shake effect’ I made, in GIF format
(Click to see slightly larger Full Size)

I first came across this in the Official Heroes Of The Storm Forums at Battle.Net. It was originally posted by “Phoenix” a couple of weeks ago, here. Although I have seen it personally in-game (noticed it), I have not suffered the nauseating effects that many may/do suffer with this Special Effect the game offers – even though I have experienced ‘game motion sickness’ from other games. [I did notice when testing and creating the above Example, that it made me slightly queasy however..]. Mainly, I have ‘been lucky’ with not experiencing it because I do not normally play the Heroes that have/produce this effect (the ‘screen shake’ effect). Here is a list of all the Heroes and Spells that can produce this effect, thanks to a helpful post by “Hatsoz” on the Official Forums:


Spells with Screen Shake
Zagara – Nydus Network (R)
Genji – Swift Strike (E)
Sgt. Hammer – Concussive Blast (W), Blunt Force Gun (R), Napalm Strike (R)
Gazlowe – Deth Lazor (W)
Lucio – Soundwave (Q), Sound Barrier (R)
Valeera – Blade Flurry (W)
Zul’jin – Twin Cleave (W), Guillotine (R)
Ragnaros – Sulfuras Smash (R)
Alarak – Lightning Surge (E)
Cho – Upheaval (R)
Karazhim – Radiant Dash (Q) (Only with Volley of Blows Talent Lv. 16), Seven-Sided Strike (R)
Anub’arak – Burrow Charge (E) (Upon resurface)
Li Li – Water Dragon (R)
Diablo – Shadow Charge (Q), Fire Stomp (W), Overpower (E)
E.T.C. – Face Melt (W), Stage Dive (R) (Landing only)
Falstad – Hinterland Blast (R)
Kerrigan – Impaling Blades (W)
Muradin – Thunder Clap (W), Dwarf Toss (E), Haymaker (R)
Sonya – Ancient Spear (Q) (On Hit), Leap (R)
Stitches – Slam (W)
Tyrael – El’druin’s Might (Q) (On sword landing), Angelic Flash (Q) (Teleport to sword), Judgment (R)
Uther – Hammer of Justic (E), Divine Storm (R)





Heroes with No Screen Shake
Valla
Tyrande
Lunara
Kael’thas
Zeratul
Cassia
Probius
Varian
Samuro
Zarya
Auriel
Gul’dan
Medivh
Chromie
Tracer
Dehaka
Xul
Li-Ming
Greymane
Gall
Artanis
Lt. Morales
Rexxar
Leoric
The Butcher
Johanna
Sylvanas
The Lost Vikings
Thrall
Jaina
Azmodan
Chen
Rehgar
Murky
Brightwing
Tychus
Abathur
Arthas
Illidan
Malfurion
Nazeebo
Nova
Raynor
Tassadar

I experimented with every single Graphic Setting available in the game (eventually running it on the Lowest Possible Settings) and could not find a Setting that disabled this effect…. I first tried Physics, then other effects-affecting settings, such as Shader level, and more, until everything was at the lowest possible Settings and still the effect appears in-game.

I even looked through the game directories (folders) for some sort of editable configuration file, but the only ones present were ‘protected’ by Blizzard, by being compressed or encrypted in their own proprietary encapsulation of some sort (which renders the files not easily readable or editable by normal means – this is understandable, as they do not want their game easily ‘hacked’ or negatively affected by end users).

So, for now – unfortunately – there is no solution for this, for sufferers of this effect. The only recourse, until Blizzard puts in an option to Disable Screen Shake, is to avoid the Heroes that produce this visual effect.



Just letting Sufferers know: It’s Not Just You™!
[I will try to remember to return to this Post and Update it once Blizzard adds this option – or a workaround is found]

Carbohydrates, good or bad for dieting

Another distinction that some nutritional counselors make is between refined and unrefined carbohydrates. In dieting index weight loss, we prefer to classify carbohydrates as low-, medium-, or high-dieting. However, because you’re bound to hear carbohydrates defined as refined and unrefined, this section discusses how the terminology relates to the dieting index.

Refined carbohydrates are more highly processed than unrefined carbohydrates. Processing includes such activities as cooking, milling, and separating the whole food into parts. Examples of refined carbohydrates are white bread, white rice, most packaged breakfast cereals, donuts, cakes, cookies, bagels, fruit and vegetable juices, fruit drinks, soda, and candy. The list goes on. Refined carbs are usually high-dieting, but some can be low, as in vegetable juice and some fruit juices.

Diet Start

Unrefined carbohydrates are those kept in their natural state. In general, the unrefined carbohydrates tend to contain more fiber. Examples of unrefined carbohydrates are whole vegetables and fruit, whole grains, dried peas and beans, and nuts and seeds. Some foods are processed more than others. For example, fruit juice is not processed as much as fruit drinks. Usually unrefined carbs are low-dieting, but not always, so be sure to check the dieting index listings before you eat them.

Pastas

Even though regular pasta is a highly refined, processed carbohydrate, its dieting value can be low, medium, or high, depending on how you cook it. If you cook spaghetti for only 5 to 6 minutes, its low-dieting. Other types of pasta may need slightly more or less cooking time. If you open a can of prepared spaghetti in sauce, those noodles will have a higher dieting index because they’re mushy.

Cook pasta just until it softens and you’ll be eating a healthier meal. The longer pasta is cooked the more available the starch in the pasta is for quick digestion—exactly what you don’t want.

The Good and the Bad

Carbohydrates aren’t good or bad; the difference is in how you eat them and how much of them you eat. This is one of the reasons why dieting index weight loss works so well. You don’t need to give up your favorite treat food, whether it’s white bread, bagels, or candy bars. But you do need to eat them in such a way that you don’t cause a quick rise in your blood sugar levels, and you do need to watch portion sizes.

The dieting index gives you a way of managing your blood sugar and insulin levels, thus assuring that you aren’t storing fat and also that you continue to lose weight.

One way to do this is to manage your dieting load by meal and by day. You’ll be balancing the low-dieting foods with some high and some medium, and overall, you can keep your insulin levels low.

Now’s the time to give up the notion of bad and good carbs and of fattening and nonfattening carbs. Instead, accept all carbs as okay, based on how you eat them.

Battlefield Play4Free – PlayTesting The AEK-971 Assault Rifle (One Full Round – Myanmar – Raw Gameplay [Unedited] Video)

Battlefield Play4Free and The Daily Draw

Just a quick primer for those that don’t know; Battlefield Play4Free is a Free-To-Play title, which means it doesn’t cost anything to join in, but you can purchase weapons, armor, clothing and other items for Real Money. In this game, you do so by purchasing “Play4Free Funds” that you can then use in the in-game Store. There is also a nice feature offered where you can win ‘prizes’ (weapons, armor, clothing, etc) from a game called The Daily Draw at the main Battlefield Play4Free website. You can play once every day, choosing a card from a random draw of eight and the card you choose will be an item ‘underneath’.

The items possible to win range from temporary one-day-use-only weapons and clothing, to seven-day-use ones, to permanent items your character (Soldier) can use in the game forever (for example, a scope that can be attached to a gun for that soldier for all time). This is great for those who can’t afford to purchase many in-game items, as it not only offers the possibility of getting some great gear ‘forever’, it also gives a nice preview of a weapon, mod or clothing, so that you can see what it will look like/feel like, if you decide to splurge and purchase it for yourself (supporting the game and developers as well) sometime in the future. The Daily Draw also gives a chance to win ‘Boosts’, where you can earn extra Credits [for instance], as seen in the screenshot below:

The AEK-971 Assault Rifle

I recently won the AEK-971 in The Daily Draw on my Assault class soldier and thought I’d try it out and see how it felt and quickly write a post about it [I call these ‘PlayTests’]. Now, I am not a gun expert or know a lot about the statistics of the guns, so I will mainly be discussing briefly here how the gun ‘feels’ and ‘plays’, especially compared to the default G3A4 Assault Rifle.

The AEK-971 unlocks nice and early at Soldier Level 3, but the main reason for this seems to be that it isn’t supposed to be very different from the Default Assault Class Rifle. As you can see from the comparison above, which is the main Store/Inventory screen information for the weapons, the only real difference is the amount of damage it can do. It has the same accuracy rating as the G3A4, the same range, and the same amount of ammo in the mags. After winning it in The Daily Draw, I played a few rounds with AEK-971 and originally recorded a couple of full matches. Here is one full match, shared unedited for you [a ‘Raw Gameplay’ video], testing out the AEK-971:

I was also testing out the Trial of CyberLink’s PowerDirector 12 for editing.
A Review article about that application – with Tips – Coming Soon™!

Despite not being listed as any more accurate than the G3, I felt more ‘capable’ with the AEK (as though I could ‘put up a fight’ a lot better), probably due to the increased damage. It feels a little more accurate too, even though it isn’t really supposed to be, according to the Store/Inventory info for the gun. So, I figured this is a great time to do some testing! [Yay, tests! lol]

AEK-971 Accuracy Analysis

I did some basic analysis on the recoil pattern of this rifle and it is indeed similar to the default assault rifle, but the AEK is ever-so-slightly more accurate, in my opinion. Here is an example of a test I did, a screenshot of the spread patterns, collecting the bullet markings, below:

Coloured spray paint marking the AEK-971’s Bullet Spread, on average
(Click to see Full Size)
  • The left side is the spread while ‘shooting from the hip’, not using the sights, just standing there holding down the trigger  [the spray painted arrow is red-coloured as in, ‘try not to do this at all if you can, unless in very close quarters combat’]
  • The right side is the spread while ‘zoomed in’, that is, using the sights on the gun (it would use a scope if there was one), still just standing there holding down the trigger  [the spray painted arrow is yellow-coloured as in, ‘try to avoid this’]
  • In the middle is the spread while zoomed in/using the sights, crouching down, still holding down the trigger though – but also now compensating for the recoil of the gun (attempting to contain the spread into a small area) – in this case, slowly pulling DOWN the mouse while firing since the recoil of this gun pulls the barrel UP  [the spray painted box is green-coloured as in, it is recommended to do this (even better if you can tap the trigger instead of holding it down)]

As you can see, even though the rated accuracy for this gun is “Low”, you can get a pretty decent containment of the spread, by kneeling down, using the sights, and compensating for the recoil by moving the mouse accordingly [this little tip helps with all guns].

In most games, you can try to compensate for the recoil of a gun by slowly moving the mouse in the opposing direction to where the barrel travels. For instance, if the recoil pulls the barrel of the gun left, when shooting, moving the mouse to the right then, will cancel out some of the recoil and make for a smaller spread of bullets and easier/faster repositioning for the next shot. Try to remember that each gun will be  different in it’s recoil and which direction you should compensate, when using each weapon though. 
[Note that due to game programmers making bullets ‘miss’ (no matter what), in an attempt to imitate reality (which has imperfections in the gun and bullets, air changes, etc), it will never be possible to fully compensate/correct for the ‘spread’ of bullets in a gun (this goes for most games)]. 



In my tests, the Assault Default G3A4 seemed to pull up and away to the left slightly, when shooting it. Holding down the trigger longer, the gun climbs way up into the sky easily (hence the “Low” Accuracy rating, I assume). For the AEK-971, it does still pull up, but it does not pull to the left in the same way as the G3A4, especially when using the sights. It sort of does a light ‘stepping’ to the left and then to the right, somewhat randomly [whatever the algorithm is in the programming]. This, to me, makes it ever-so-slightly more accurate in the ‘feel’ of the gun, because while it still ‘goes all over the place’ when shooting, it sort of compensates for itself just a bit, and the end result is more of a direct climb up in the recoil, something that felt, to me, easier to compensate for than with the Assault default G3. (I assume this very slight change in the spread/recoil is not enough to win this gun a “Medium” rating in Accuracy, but it is enough to make you have to Level to 3 in order to be able to purchase it..).

Close-To-Medium Range Kill with the AEK-971 in Myanmar. Even with the ‘side-stepping’ that the gun does (and the enemy strafed around as he ran out towards me from behind the rock in the center of the screen) I still got the kill, mostly due to the Very High Damage Rating of the weapon
(Click to see Full Size)

In Conclusion

Overall, the AEK-971 was similar to the default Assault class rifle, the G3A4, when playing. To me, it did feel slightly more accurate, but not by much. If you are having a really hard time hitting people with the G3A4, your accuracy won’t increase very much at all if you purchased this rifle. However, if you are getting used to the default Assault gun, this one packs a lot more punch, and you’ll be getting more kills overall if you upgrade to it. Because I recently won this gun Permanently [during the course of compiling this article, yes it does happen in The Daily Draw! woot] I can’t see the current price for this rifle anymore, to purchase it from the in-game Store; but last time checking, it was only 300 Credits to try it out for one full day. It was also listed as [what I call] ‘Earnable’ because, if you can rack up 45,000 Credits, you won’t have to pay for upgrading to this rifle with any Real Money at all (you can just use the Credits). If you did buy some Play4Free Funds and have 1,250 to spare, you can purchase it at anytime (not having to wait until Soldier Level 3), permanently. So in closing, PlayTesting the AEK-971, I found it slightly better than the Default Assault Class Rifle, even if it only ‘felt’ that way due to the higher damage it does.

Long Range Kill with the AEK-971 in Myanmar. The thin iron sights of the gun (default sights) help a lot with targeting farther away. With the Very High Damage Rating – even though the gun has a Low Accuracy Rating – single-shot/tap shooting can still make it lethal at range, when needed
(Click to see Full Size)

Have fun trying it out for yourself sometime and See You In The Games!

Gameplay Disclaimer: Any gameplay videos or animations uploaded are only one example of one possible path of game play and is not representative of the gameplay experience of the entirety of the game material as it is non-repeatable in exactness (movements, actions, viewpoints, etc) to a high degree of accuracy (especially in regards to online multiplayer play and interactions) and therefore is not a representation of a large portion of the game content (this includes complete Walkthroughs/Playthroughs, Raw Gameplay Footage and Tutorials). All material and content uploaded attempts to respect copyright and is presented for Educational and Entertainment purposes only, utilized under Fair Use and can be construed as Free Advertising. No copyright infringement is intended and cannot be inferred. Any possible representation approaching any infringement, to those seeking infringement action, requires double notification and will be honoured by permanent removal of the infringing material. This information exists for entertainment and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical attention.

Fast-Track principles

This is a diet, or a way of eating, that will:

  • Lower insulin levels and stabilize blood-sugar levels
  • Banish food cravings
  • Eliminate energy peaks and troughs, and mood swings

Enhance concentration

  • Re-educate you into a way of eating that will increase your vitality and improve your overall health
  • Help your body to burn fat and normalize your weight.

It is vital that you understand the principles of this diet and follow it responsibly. If you are fundamentally healthy, but insulin-resistant and experiencing any ofthe accompanying symptoms, this plan will help you redress the balance and find a level of carbohydrate intake with which your system can cope. The Fast-Track Plan offers you a kick-start and is aimed at women with a BMI of over 35 and men with a BMI of over 25.

Diet Start

For the period of this plan you base your diet on an approximate ratio of 50 per cent high-quality protein/20 per cent low GI carbohydrates/30 per cent healthy fats. You begin the first two weeks of the diet by restricting your carbohydrate intake to 20g (3/4oz), your protein to 150g (5oz) Biological Value and healthy fats to a minimum of 40g (1 1/2oz). On a very simplistic level this means:

  • 3 cups low GI vegetables per day.
  • 1 portions of protein three times per day and portion twice per day as a
    snack. (A portion of protein is the equivalent to the size of your palm.)
  • Around a half to a whole teaspoon of allowable fats at every meal.

Within 48 hours your body will start to burn its own fat as fuel, as your body switches into benign dietary ketosis.

Ketosis

Being in ketosis means that your body burns fat because it isn’t taking in sufficient glucose to meet your energy needs. Under everyday conditions the carbohydrates that you eat are converted to glucose, which is the body’s primary source of energy. Whenever your carbohydrate intake is limited to a certain range, for a long enough period of time, your body will draw on its fat stores — turning this into a source of fuel called ketones. When you burn a larger amount of fat than is immediately needed for energy, the excess ketones are discarded in the urine.

Dietary ketosis has received a bad press because it is often confused with ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition most often associated with insulin- deficient, type 1 diabetes.

Benign dietary ketosis, however, is a natural adjustment to the body’s reduced intake of carbohydrates, as the body shifts its primary source of energy from carbohydrates to stored fat. The presence of insulin keeps ketone production in check so that a mild beneficial ketosis is achieved. Blood-sugar levels are stabilized within a normal range and there is no breakdown of healthy muscle tissue, as long as sufficient protein is included in the diet.

Measuring ketosis

On a rapid weight-loss diet you will usually start to burn fat instead of sugar within the first 48 hours. To measure the ketone levels in your urine, buy urinary test strips, called lypolisis strips, from any pharmacy, which will show you if your carbohydrate/insulin balance is at optimum levels for fat burning. You should do this twice a day: before breakfast and before your evening meal. Your levels need to be between trace and small (0.5-1.5 mmol-l).

Caution: if your levels rise to above moderate (4 mmol-l), you are not eating enough and should increase your low GI carbohydrates until the ketones are reduced to between trace and small (0.5-1.5 mmol-l). Always drink plenty of water: at least eight large glasses per day.

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM GOOD

True, the fairy tale castles and princesses to provide a wide range of ideas for rooms, but today, we would like to show you something new: the heart. You have seen the newspaper attracted to each student a sheet of paper or sticker. It is a known fact: girls love hearts. Therefore, these six theme rooms under furniture in cardiac function. The colors are also typical of girls (pink, light green, yellow, red, light blue). Chairs, pillows, blankets, nothing has escaped the powerful heart-shaped plan.Some these interiors are a little crowded for our taste, but again, this is not our goal manufacturers.

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM RED COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM RED COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM YELLOW COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM YELLOW COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM PINK COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM PINK COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM BLUE COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM BLUE COLOR

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM

DECORATING IDEAS FOR GIRLS BEDROOM

Modern Side Table Lamps Design

If you are an artistic creation lover then you must observation for modern side table lamps. It has a funky look which might make you feel as if you are in around future time or in space. Its abstract and artistic design complements the other paintings and art fashionable your home along with elegance and beauty.

If you’ve a woody environment at your home base decorated in Indian style, then western table lamp design is the best choice for you. The western table lamp comes in a cowboy sort of look. Either there is a cowboy along with a horse of just a horse attached on it. This gives a very classy look to the woodsy type of a house.
Country style reminds you of Country music only but you can also find a country style table lamp also. It’s farm animals alike cows, cocks and others designed on it. It is considered to be the most colorful sort of lamp with natural color and scene.

Oriental lamp shows much about Asian culture in its design. The unique Asian roots can be seen in this type of lamp and would best fit if you have a room filled with Asian souvenirs.
Choosing the perfect table lamp for every room should be your concern as their being complementing the living furniture makes out the atmosphere. There are various styled table lamps for your side tables like western table lamp, modern, urban, Asian and nation but to pick the better for every room needs examination and time. Here is a little guideline for you:
Now you have a selection of lamps from which you can choose the best for your place. Take care of the existing decoration of your home when you choose the side table lamps.

Why you will lose false fat

Donna didn’t look fat, at least not in the leggings and long sweater she was wearing as she entered my office. Her legs looked slender and fit, and her sweater hid the rest. But she felt fat.

`I’ve got a guy’s type of weight problem,’ she said as she sat down. She was animated and energetic, but obviously frustrated. ‘Women are supposed to collect fat in their hips and thighs — aren’t they? — but mine sticks right here.’ She patted her stomach. When she was sitting, I could see that it bulged, even under the thick sweater. ‘I hardly ever overeat,’ she said, `but since I’ve hit 40, I get no forgiveness from my body. It’s like my metabolism took early retirement. I take two bites and I can feel the fat cells around my waist start to expand. Literally. I pinch my love handles, and they’re thicker before I even get up from the table.’ She looked at me expectantly, as if I might not believe her. ‘My last doctor,’ she said with a sour look, ‘told me there’s no way that food could make me fat that fast. But I can feel it happening.’ Again, she searched my face for reassurance. She had an upbeat personality, but she was almost ready to give up. She ate carefully, exercised hard, and still carried 20 extra pounds.

Diet Start

`It’s not your imagination,’ I said. ‘That feeling of instant weight gain happens to a lot of people. But it’s not fat you’re gaining. It’s fluid retention and bloating, and you’re probably getting it from food reactions. A lot of the swelling and bloating from food reactions occurs directly in and around the gut.

That’s why you feel it in your midsection right away.’

`If it’s not fat,’ she said, ‘why doesn’t it leave as fast as it comes? I look like this almost all the time.’

`Your biochemistry won’t allow it to go away, because your body is trying to protect you. When you eat reactive foods, your body sees them as foreign substances, almost as poisons, and it goes all out to protect you. It can take two to three days to stop reacting to some foods.’

Tut it’s not like I eat junk. I’m an old-time you-are-what you-eat type. I was eating granola before they even had a name for it.’ She smiled, but I could see she felt cheated. For many years, she’d followed all the rules — but the rules had been wrong.

`People can become reactive to healthy foods,’ I said, ‘even granola, if you eat it all the time. Do you eat a lot of non-fat and artificially sweetened foods?’

`Now that my metabolism has slowed down, I’ve got to.’

`I hate to say it, but some of those “lite” foods may be doing you more harm than good. If you’re reactive to a food, it can be virtually calorie-free and still make you gain weight. Even diet soda can cause bloating and swelling.’ She looked surprised. Most people these days are so accustomed to counting calories and fat grams — the quantity of their food — that they forget about the importance of quality.

`I don’t think you’re eating too many calories,’ I said. ‘And I don’t think your age is the real problem. Your metabolism is slowing down just 5 per cent every decade, and that’s not enough to cause what you’re experiencing. I think you’ve just developed some food reactions over a long period of time. When you resolve them, you’ll lost your weight.’

Tut I was tested for allergies and they didn’t find any.’ `Did they explain that not all food reactions are allergies?’ I asked.

`No.’

I wasn’t surprised. Most doctors don’t really understand food reactions. They usually have an all-or-nothing attitude; they think that you either have a classic food allergy, with hives and wheezing, or you have nothing at all.

I gave Donna a brief rundown on how food reactions work and how they cause bloating and swelling. I explained it out of respect for her. Some doctors think it’s acceptable to tell patients what to do, without telling them why, but I object to that approach. If patients are willing to change their lives by taking my advice, they deserve to know exactly why these changes will help.

As I gave all the details to Donna, she listened attentively and took notes. Over the next few weeks, she eliminated her false fat foods — one of which was oats, a primary ingredient in most granola — and dropped about 15 pounds.

Now I’ll give you the details on how food reactions get started. Then we’ll look at how they cause bloating and swelling.

If you’re going to make changes in your life, you deserve to know exactly what’s going on.

I’m sure some of this information will hit home. Often, when I tell patients about food reactions, they say, ‘That’s me you’re describing.’

Marathon Training Tips

As the saying goes “those who fail to plan – plan to fail.”   This is true in business and it is also true in preparing for rigorous athletic events like running a marathon.     Successful completion of a marathon is all about creating a plan based upon the goal of completing a marathon on a specific date in a specific location.
Determining Starting Point

The length of your plan will depend on your current fitness level relative to running.  So the first step is determining your current fitness level which can be done in several different ways:
If you are currently running you can get an idea of your current fitness level based on how often you run, how far you run, and your average pace when running.
If you are not currently running, then do a 12 minute run test – see here for a how to guide to perform this simple test:  https://www.brianmac.co.uk/gentest.htm
Once you know your starting point you can determine how long it will take you to prepare adequately to complete a marathon. The key is slow and steady progression of average distance per run and total weekly training miles – go too fast and you WILL get hurt!    The body needs time to adapt to the stresses of running.    A good rule of thumb is to increase your weekly mileage (and mileage per run) by no more than 10% per week.
So if you are currently running 15 miles per week you would only increase total mileage to 16.5 miles per week and if your long run was 5 miles you would increase it by half a mile.
In order to successfully complete a marathon, you need to be running somewhere between 30 and 50 miles per week with individual runs of 16 – 23 miles.  The advantage of gradually building up to a 20 – 23-mile run is that you have mental experience with running over 20 which can be very challenging the first time you do it.   That being said, placing too much emphasis on distance can result in over-training if not done carefully.
Training Mix

Assuming you have a base of running 15 or more miles per week on a consistent basis you should begin to mix up your training by including shorter, harder runs with longer slow runs and at least one interval training session per week.      
It is critical that you have a training base of steady mileage prior to increasing training intensity and beginning interval training where you will perform higher intensity intervals of quarter mile to half mile mixed with recovery periods.   
There is an entire science behind interval training and the best athletes train with a heart rate monitor all the time to precisely determine the intensity of their work intervals and how long they recover during rest intervals of slow running/jogging or walking.     This is one of the many reasons that, in an ideal world, you work with a running coach/trainer who has experience designing and working with runners to prepare for marathons and other runs.   A good coach will help plan and adjust your training based on how you progress from week to week which is essential for the best results!

Strength and Mobility Training

Running requires a lot more than just cardiovascular and muscular endurance – it requires specific strength and mobility to avoid injury and allow for optimum running technique.  Integrating a run specific strength and mobility program into your training can be a game changer and the program should include:
            A specific dynamic warm-up and foam rolling for areas of tightness and pain
Dynamic Warm-up:  http://www.active.com/running/articles/before-you-run-the-dynamic-warm-up
Foam Rolling:  http://www.runnersworld.com/foam-roller/how-to-use-a-foam-roller
Cool-down with run specific stretches – http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/5-post-race-standing-stretches-every-runner-should-do/slide/1
Strength Training Exercises for Running
It is essential to have great core and glute strength to properly stabilize the body during the impact of running to prevent injury.
It is also critical to strengthen all the muscles of the lower body including the hamstrings, calves, and intrinsic muscles of the feet.
Sample Strength Training Program for Runners:  http://www.runnersworld.com/strength-training/10-essential-strength-exercises-for-runners/slide/2
Putting it all together

If preparing for a marathon seems like a lot of work and complicated that is because IT IS!    Like running successful business assessing your starting point and setting a realistic goal with a specific plan of action is key.     Also having a coach is HIGHLY recommended to not only help you create a realistic plan and schedule but to monitor your progress and adjust your workouts and plan accordingly.  

It’s Not Just You™ – Battle.Net Issues with Logging In Today [Notification]

Just a quick post to let others know that if you are having logging in to Battle.Net today (August 1st) that lots of people have been having problems as of this morning. Blizzard has addressed this with a quick note via their twitter, seen at:

https://twitter.com/BlizzardCS/status/760100687111938048

Retry or Go Back To Bed? Hmmm….

For those playing Blizzard/Battle.Net games this weekend, hopefully it will be up soon – just letting you know, It’s Not Just You™ !

WORKOUT ANYTIME on CNN Money

WORKOUT ANYTIME on CNN Money in an article titled, “What’s next for Blockbuster’s empty stores.”  The article gives information about the recent announcement that Blockbuster will be closing their remaining locations, and how this benefits franchises looking for real estate in growth markets. WORKOUT ANYTIME is featured at the beginning of the article with info about WORKOUT ANYTIMEopening 20 locations in former Blockbusters and looking to open more. Randy is quoted about why the locations are ideal and how easy it is for them to convert the real estate. Jeff is quoted about the great location and how easy it is to tell members of the community where to find the gym. The article also states that WORKOUT ANYTIME is looking for more Blockbuster stores to convert to WORKOUTANYTIME locations.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

What’s next for Blockbuster’s empty stores
By: Patrick deHahn

Blockbuster’s closing signals the end of an era, but it also means there’s a lot of retail space to fill.

Last week, Blockbuster announced plans to shutter its remaining 300 U.S. locations. It was the final nail in the coffin of a steadily declining brand, which was bought by Dish Network (DISH, Fortune 500) in 2010 after the retailer went bankrupt.

(Read More)

Teachers’ voices matter, and I want to hear from you!

Hi bloggy friends! I know it’s been forever since I’ve updated this blog, and trust me — lots of ideas are percolating in the hopper about my flipped(!) fourth grade classroom and other things I’ve tried this year. I promise those posts are coming! But in the meantime, I need your help!

As some of you may know, I’m working on my PhD in addition to teaching fourth grade full-time. The work-life balance has not been an easy thing, and now, I’m really working hard to finish as much coursework as possible in the short term because baby #2 will be arriving in November! (So while you all are hanging out by the pool having tasty margaritas, I’m crunching numbers for a stats class and reading about how to write ethnographic fieldnotes. Good times, I tell you…)

This summer, I’m starting to work on my dissertation, and I’m testing out my ideas in a pilot study. I’m planning to write my dissertation about the amazing elementary blogging community and the ways that teachers use blogs for professional development and personalized learning. I know that reading other teachers’ blogs has been hugely inspiring for me as a teacher, and I can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t have access to so many great teaching minds across the globe. Shockingly, however, very little has been written about these great online communities and their benefits, and I want to explore that further. Scholars, politicians, and administrators need to know how much teachers learn from each other! Which is why I need your help.

I’m looking for a few teachers who would be willing to be interviewed about how they use blogs to support their work in the classroom. I want to talk to both bloggers and readers, so even if you don’t have a blog of your own, I’d still like to talk to you. This first wave of interviews will take place next week (June 20-26) and they will all be done online via Skype or Google Hangouts. I anticipate that each interview will last 45-60 minutes.

If you are willing to participate, could you please fill out this form so I can contact you directly? In exchange for your time, anyone who participates in an interview will receive up to $20 worth of free products from my TpT store.

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Once you fill out the form, I will be in touch to arrange a time that will work best for the interview. I need to conduct (and transcribe!) at least 3 interviews next week to fulfill the requirements of my current coursework, but don’t let that small number deter you — I will need many more interview participants once I move beyond my pilot study and begin work on my actual dissertation, so I’d love to have a list of possible interviewees already started. And my offer for the free products from my TpT store will still stand.

I hope that you will consider participating! I look forward to talking to you and learning from you.

Georgia Bloggers Meet-up

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to meet up with some other Georgia bloggers yesterday thanks to the organizational efforts of Jayne at Smart Kids. You see, even though I’ve been MIA from the blogging world a lot this year, blogging is always on my mind. Really.

This year has been a whirlwind as I’ve juggled teaching full-time, parenting, and starting my PhD program. Virtually everything I’ve written this year has included a bibliography, and that hasn’t left a lot of energy for my blog. But when I’ve been researching and writing for my academic pursuits, I’ve been learning all about theories of professional learning and how our online encounters fit into that. I must say, there hasn’t been a lot written about teacher professional learning through blogging, and that’s a gap I intend to fill. More people need to know about the amazing teachers supporting each other through social media. They need to know how that process is 10 times better than any other form of professional development and how it empowers teachers to become better at their craft by pursuing their passions and interests.

So when I say that blogging is always on my mind, I really mean it. It’s been at the heart of every paper I’ve written as I work on my PhD. When I got the chance to go meet some fellow bloggers, I couldn’t say no.

The meet up was at Georgia School Supply in Macon, GA–about an hour and a half away from where I live. I was excited to go and meet some fellow bloggy friends because it’s always so good to be able to match names and faces and to remember that there are some real live people with amazing ideas that are working in classrooms, too. I’d never met any of the people there, so it was a real treat.

We talked about our secret lives as bloggers and TpT’ers, shared tips and strategies, made business plans, swapped products, and had an all around great time. I love meeting other bloggers and learning how much we have in common. Everyone I met yesterday was wonderful, and I look forward to keeping in touch with these new friends!

I hope to be blogging more this week as my student teacher takes over EVERYTHING from now through spring break (woot! woot!). In the meantime, be sure to check out the blogs from the amazing people I met yesterday!

Jayne, Kelly, Angie, Stacy, Tara, Valerie

PhotobucketThe Teacher Wife

Funky Fresh Firsties

...And They All Fall Down...

Georgia Grown Kiddo's

Jennifer, Carol, Kathy, Meghan, Kim, Irma, Megan


 
 

Michelin, Jessica, Greg, Erin, Alison

 

How Much Protein Do You Need Each Day?

One of the most controversial and confusing aspects of nutrition is how much protein people should consume each day.    There are several factors to take into account to get a good answer to this question, and there are potential problems with eating too much protein.   There are also definitely problems with not eating enough protein.  It is also important to consider what type of protein is being consumed.
Height, weight, age, sex and activity level all factor into your protein needs.   Obviously the larger you are the more protein you need to take in to support structural proteins throughout the tissues of the body including the muscles, bone, skin and organs.  In the same way the more active you are the more protein you need to consume.  In addition, protein is used to create enzymes, and enzymes are critically important for all cellular function.
Protein is made up of amino acids and there are essential and non-essential amino acids.    Essential amino acids MUST be consumed because they cannot be made by the body.    Complete proteins contain all the amino acids and come from meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.   While vegetarian proteins are not complete it is not hard to combine different plant protein sources to obtain all the protein the body needs to function.
Other factors which influence how much protein is required is overall caloric/energy status.     If you are eating enough calories to maintain bodyweight or gain bodyweight you require less protein as a percentage of overall calorie intake while those people in caloric deficit require a higher percentage of their overall calorie intake to maintain lean tissue mass (losing lean mass like muscle is usually NOT a good idea so this is important).
How much is too much?

In large amounts and for certain populations (such as those with compromised Kidney Function) excess protein can cause problems.    That being said, for the normal healthy individual, the body can easily and safely process and use a lot of protein.    A portion of the protein you eat is frequently converted to glucose (blood sugar) and if your overall calorie intake is too high you will convert excess protein into fat like ALL unused excess calories.
Another potential problem with too much protein is that high protein intake stimulates the release of mTOR which stands for Mammalian Target of Rapamycin.    mTOR is a key regulatory protein that signals for cell growth through the creation of new proteins. Consider protein building similar to a race car. The larger the engine, the greater potential for speed. Similarly, the more mTOR present in any given cell, the greater potential for more protein construction. And just like the gas pedal fuels the engine, mTOR is a signaling protein, and can be various levels of active (like a pedal’s ability to regulate speed). If a number of different processes all signal for ‘Go’, then the cell builds as much protein as it can, as quickly as it can. So just as a souped-up car takes off rapidly, a muscle cell can signal for tremendous muscle growth very quickly, given the right conditions.   n
For this reason, mTOR is a good thing when you are looking for muscle-building!  However, there is a potential dark-side to mTOR.   Cancerous tumors are designed to grow as fast as possible, and they rely on mTOR signaling to build proteins just like healthy cells.   So too much mTOR could theoretically put people at a higher risk of developing rapid and serious cancers.  In fact, a lot of cancer research is based around slowing down and minimizing mTOR activity in tumor cells (the exact opposite goal of muscle research).
 
This doesn’t necessarily mean that eating more protein for muscle building is going to cause cancer. Numerous other proteins and factors come into play, and some may respond differently in muscle cells than in cancerous cells.
Safe and Adequate Protein Intake

The Institute of Medicine’s protein RDAs are calculated using 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means an adult who weighs 68 kilograms needs at least 54 grams of protein each day. The RDA for pregnant and nursing women is 71 grams of protein per day.  Keep in mind the RDA is a MINIMUM and does not mean this is ideal!   This also assumes you are sedentary!   So, if you are exercising and trying to build muscle or older and trying to prevent muscle loss higher protein intake is better.  To determine your minimum daily intake, divide your body weight by 2.2 to determine your weight in Kilograms and then multiply by .8 to get your minimum daily protein intake.  
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that although athletes only need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight to maintain muscle mass, they require 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram to build muscle mass; this is equivalent to about 0.64 to 0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.

How I Decluttered my Inbox

I try out new apps constantly, but it is rare that I find one that I consider a game-changer — one that revolutionizes how I do something and boosts my productivity.

Meet Mailbox.

Mailbox works with iOS mobile devices (iPhones, iPads) and GMail, and it can handle multiple GMail accounts. The idea is that your email box should always have ZERO messages in it, and it helps you achieve that goal by giving you four options for each message in your inbox.

Big-swipe to the left: Add to list

So many of the emails that I receive are ones that I don’t need to respond to immediately, and Mailbox understands that by allowing you to file messages as low-priority action items. It has three main lists:

  • To Read — great for newsletters and other items you’re interested in reading at some point but not necessarily the second that it arrives in your inbox
  • To Watch — my husband and some friends will sometimes send me YouTube videos that I can’t watch at work — not because they’re NSFW, but because YouTube is categorically blocked at my school. These videos also tend to be low-priority items.
  • To Do — emails of things to add to my “to do” list

It also gives you the option of creating additional lists. I made the “To Buy” list, for example, for items like subscription services that are going to expire sometime soon that I need to renew or for wishlist items that I’m thinking about buying someday. 

Short swipe to the left: Defer

Sometimes I receive messages that I want to deal with, but not at the time I’ve received it. When I’m using my iPhone, for example, I rarely respond to email because I prefer typing on my laptop. Some emails are ones that I’ll look at more closely at night or over the weekend when I have more time. Other emails are ones that I want to deal with at a specific future time or date. Consider these examples:

  • a coupon for a clothing store that I might use but is only valid for a certain week in the future
  • a confirmation email for an upcoming trip or conference

The beauty of the Mailbox app is that you can set the exact date and time when you want that message to reappear in your inbox by letting you “Pick Date.”

The message will reappear in your inbox at the date/time you specify so it can get your attention rather than just getting pushed to the depths of your inbox to be forgotten.

Short swipe to the right: Archive the message
I might want to look for it someday, but it’s not something I need to act on.

Long swipe to the right: Trash the message

Mailbox is a free app in the iTunes store, and in the three weeks that I’ve had it, it has replaced the default Mail app on my iPhone and completely changed the way that I manage email. I’ve gone from having literally 1,000s of emails in my inbox to having ZERO. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt like I’ve been on top of my email situation.

The iPad version just came out this week, and I’m using that a lot, too. It has a larger interface, but all of the same features. Here’s a screenshot of it on my iPad:

You can see that I have one message in my inbox — a coupon that I have to use this weekend if I’m going to use it at all. I’ve deferred 14 messages — some that I’ll reply to on Tuesday, others that I want to deal with once I’m completely done with school on Thursday. I’ve got some lists, but I can also check the archive or the trash in case I accidentally swipe something into the wrong place and want to move it back out.

If you click on a message in your inbox, an image of it will appear on the right so you can decide what to do with it. It’s a very easy-to-use and intuitive app, and now that I have it, I can’t imagine giving it up. It’s a huge asset to my productivity, and my only wish is that I could use this with other email platforms — like my school/work emails — that aren’t GMail accounts.

Have you tried Mailbox yet? I’d love to hear about how you manage email productivity in the comments below.

Hope you’re having a great Memorial Day weekend!

The link between carbohydrates and insulin resistance

The hormone insulin plays a major role in the metabolism of carbohydratesand their conversion to energy in the body. When you eat carbohydrates, they are converted into glucose in the bloodstream, which triggers the release of insulin. This virtually escorts the glucose to the body’s cells, where it can be used as energy. If there is too much glucose, the insulin turns it into glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver ready to be converted back toglucose when it is needed.

However, in the high-refined ‘carob’ world in which we live, we often have too much glucose floating around in the bloodstream, and then insulin converts it to fat. And our body cells may become so flooded with insulin that they cease to be responsive to it, so the pancreas keeps producing more and more insulin in an attempt to get energy to your cells. This is known as ‘insulin resistance‘.

Diet Start

Over a period of time, less and less glucose gets used as energy, and more and more gets laid down as fat. Since insulin also sends messages to the brain to tell you that you are hungry, more and more insulin means increasing cravings for carb-laden food.

The only people who are benefiting from refined foods are:

  • The dentists who have to patch up your decaying teeth
  • The pharmaceutical companies who have to sell you drugs to sort out the symptoms of your ailing immune system and your susceptibility to chronic and degenerative disease
  • The food manufacturers, who are only really interested in profit. If you add to this a high intake of caffeine, alcohol, smoking and a lack of exercise, then you will almost certainly be taking a wobbly walk down the road to ill health.

Is it enough just to cut out refined carbohydrates?

Totally banishing all things processed and adopting a healthier diet based on fresh produce is a definite start, but if you have a weight problem linked to insulin resistance, it may not be enough, because if you are still eating a diet that is too high in the wrong sort of carbohydrates — coupled with not eating enough protein or fat to slow down the rate at which these excessive carbs are hitting your blood-sugar levels — you will still have problems. A low-fat/high-carb diet can give you a nasty shock every time you jump on the scales.

The thing to remember is that all carbohydrates have an effect on your blood sugar, and every gram of carbohydrate consumed is equal to one gram of glucose in your bloodstream. So if you are eating more than your body can burn for energy, or can safely store as glycogen in the liver, the rest will be turned to fat.

The key factor in balancing blood-sugar levels and banishing thesymptoms of insulin resistance is controlling your intake of carbohydrates. In order to do this effectively you need to know which ones have the greatest impact on your blood sugar and which do not.

Initially, this will need a little time and effort on your part as you learn about the different sorts of carbohydrates. You may find that the changes you have to make to your diet are quite drastic, but before long — as you start to feel and look better — you will be amazed at how little you miss the wrong kinds of carbohydrates such as processed and sugary foods. Youwon’t feel the need to pile your plate high with potatoes and pasta, because your newly balanced blood sugar levels won’t be crying out for acarbohydrate fix.

The carbohydrate jewels

By upping your intake of low GI fruit and vegetables, you will not only be on your way to becoming leaner, but you will have a profound effect on your health. The amazing phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that you find in brightly coloured raw organic fruit and vegetables are clever little substances that can protect you from ill health in various ways, although many people’s diets are sadly lacking in them.

Phytonutrients can help regulate the immune system, stabilize vitamins in body tissues and protect from serious illnesses, such as such as cancer. They do this by working as antioxidants alongside vitamins A, C, E and D, and the minerals, selenium and zinc. As a team, these powerful compounds have the ability to slow down the damaging oxidative process caused by those ‘enemies of a healthy state’, the free radicals. Antioxidants can also rid the body of these free radicals, which are the natural waste products of metabolism, which, if left unchecked, can lead to degenerative disease, by causing imbalances on a cellular level.

Diet Start

Take note that these free radicals are also found in overheated oils and fried foods, another good reason to kiss junk food good bye.

They aren’t classed as essential nutrients, but without phytonutrients your sense of wellness would be severely compromised.

They work in the body at deep physiological and biochemical levels, and luckily enough are to be found in low-density/low GI fruit and vegetables. Eating these raw wherever possible is the key to maximizing their life- enhancing qualities. Cooking destroys many of the benefits that you will reap if you include a colourful array of energy-boosting raw fruit and vegetables in your daily diet.

Life is a balancing act

So now you have a better understanding of the impact that the wrong carbohydrates can have on your body, and have established that you need to incorporate more of the colourful and low GI fibrous fruit and vegetables in your diet. But man cannot live by carbohydrates alone. You will have to take a close look at the two other macronutrients that work hand-in-hand with carbohydrates to provide energy and nourish the body: protein and fats.

The key to balancing blood-sugar levels, banishing insulin resistance and losing excess weight lies in successfully balancing these three macronutrients.

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) continue…

Adding a Label

MPLS is a method that takes the best of both worlds and creates a concept that allows IP packets to travel through the network as if IP were a connection-oriented protocol (which it isn’t). Using special routers called Label Switching Routers (LSRs) does this. These routers connect a traditional IP network to an MPLS network. A packet enters the MPLS network through an ingress LSR, which attaches a label to the packet, and exits the MPLS switched network through an egress LSR. The ingress LSR is the router that performs the necessary processing to determine the path a packet will need to take through the switched network. This can be done using traditional routing protocols such as OSPF. The path is identified by the label that the ingress router attaches to the packet. As you can see, the ingress router must perform the traditional role that a router fills. It must perform a lookup in the routing table and decide to which network the packet needs to be sent for eventual delivery to the host computer.