Selfie Heaven

Selfie
So this lady found out how to take the best selfies.



She has an extendable stick with an adjustable ball head that attaches to her smartphone, and a separate remote control for snapping the photos.



Here she is with the camera snapping away.



I looked it up on Amazon and this device is only around $6.



For a completely ego-centric society without friends, why not get this doodad and you too can take selfish selfies all day long. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Healthcare Where You Need It

Great new medical examination device from Tyto Care.

Handheld, mobile, cloud-based solution for performing a basic medical examination, anywhere–either remotely guided by an online physician or using the 3D avatar on the device itself for conducting a self-examination.

The device looks like the one in the doctors office that checks your ears, but it also has sensors to listen to your heart and lungs, and for viewing your eyes, throat, and skin, and for taking your temperature.

The results can be read by the end-user or sent to a physician for review and diagnosis.

When your not feeling well or aren’t sure what’s wrong–isn’t great to have the convenience to have your vitals checked from wherever you are and the self-sufficiency to even get and see your own basic medical stats.

In a time where we are under more stress to get adequate medical care due to families made up of dual working parents, jobs that are 24/7, and a declining ratio of medical professionals to patients–the Tyto seems like a breakthrough that can help us get checked and get help, anytime and place.

Now, we just need to get our medical practitioners online and in regular remote communication with their patients–so the traditional office visit and emergency room aren’t the only options for being seen. 😉

We’re Not Deadbeats

We're Not Deadbeats

Good book review in the Wall Street Journal on America’s Fiscal Constitution by Bill White.

The main idea is that we have gone from a nation where fiscal discipline and paying off ones debts was a valued tradition to one now where excess rules and profligate borrowing runs through our veins.

Both personal and national debt were viewed as a means of last resort and not something to be proud of, but rather as something done out of necessity to get through tough times.

On a personal level, we only borrowed what we needed and we payed it back on time or even early. Poverty was just one step away or even akin to servitude.

Similarly, on a national level, public debt was viewed as a safety net to preserve the union (i.e. war), territorial integrity (e.g. Louisiana Purchase), or in a severe recession (i.e. to maintain the government’s ability to spend in the short term).

The best option was seen as “pay as you go,” with the alternative, under limited circumstances, to “pay as soon as you can.”

However, the value placed on self and national discipline and sufficiency was replaced with elements of entitlement, greed, and waste.

The problem is once you have inequity in the system, then people feel the unfairness of it all, and give up caring about the system itself and just want to get what they see as their fair share.

Some politicians cater to these feelings of relative deprivation and are no longer viewed positively for fiscal constraint and ensuring our economic security, but rather “politicians gain favor by spending money without having to raise unpopular taxes.”

In essence, the government can give people more now, and they don’t have to pay for it until future generations–hence the ability to buy citizen’s political consent and even win elections by increasing the treasure chest even temporarily.

No, this is not China raising the fortunes of the middle class to keep the Communist Party in power, but rather this is us in the U.S. of A racking up tens of trillions of dollars in debt to keep people happy now (forget the future generations, let them fend for themselves).

Shake hands, kiss babies, and hand out dollar bills–give me, give me give me!

What has happened to us fighting hard and driving into the future on our own feet–together in strength and not as a debtor nation getting handouts from anyone that will lend us.

Soon, the Fed will be raising interest rates, and with a greater and greater national deficit to pay on, interest payments have the real potential to spiral out of control and leave our economy in shambles.

Like a credit card with interest payments that eclipse the principle borrowed, soon you are in over your head and there is nowhere to go but Chapter 11.

We’re not an inherently debtor nation, and we sure don’t want to be a deadbeat nation–isn’t it better to have what we really have financially and be who we really are and value?

Let’s leave our children and grandchildren economic and national security and not a towering pile of shameless debt, from mom and dad with love.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Take Your Advice And Shove It

Take Your Advice And Shove It

Great piece in the Wall Street Journal today on getting and giving advice.

This was a funny article about how most advice comes not from the wise, but from the idiots trying to push their own agendas, make a buck off you, or bud into your business.

When people try to tell you what to do, “the subtext is ‘You’re an idiot for not already doing it.”

But who wants to do what someone else tells them to do–unless you a robotic, brainless, loser!

Every manager should already know that everyone hates a control freak micromanager–and that they suck the creative lifeblood out of the organization.

The flip side is when you give people the freedom to express their talents and take charge of their work activities, you motivate them to “own it!”

Real meaning from work comes from actually having some responsibility for something where the results matter and not just marching to the tune of a different drummer.

The best leaders guide the organization and their people towards a great vision, but don’t choke off innovation and creativity and sticking their fat fingers in people’s eyes.

The flip side of advice not getting hammered on you, is when you have the opportunity to request it.

People who aren’t narcissistic, control freaks seek out other people’s opinions on how to approach a problem and to evaluate the best solutions.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart and capable people in and of themselves, but rather that they are actually smarter and more capable because they augment their experience and thinking with that of others–vetting a solution until they find one that really rocks!

While decision making by committee can lead to analysis paralysis or a cover your a*s (CYA) culture, the real point to good governance is to look at problems and solutions from diverse perspectives and all angles before jumping head first into what is really a pile of rocks under the surface.

Does vetting always get you the right or best decision?

Of course not, because people hijack the process with the biggest mouth blowing the hottest stream.

But if you can offset the power jocks and jerky personalities out there, then you really have an opportunity to benefit from how others look at things.

While the collective wisdom can be helpful, in the end, all real grown ups show personal independence, self-sufficiency, and a mind of their own, and take responsibility for their decisions and actions.

We can learn from others, but we learn best from our own mistakes…no pain, no gain. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Survival Is More Than An iPhone

Survival

Please see a new article by Andy Blumenthal at Government Technology.

We “need to learn ever new technology skills and simultaneously retain, old tried and true, core survival and self-sufficiency.”

This is a serious topic, and there will come a time when the lights go out and those who blend old and new skills will survive, while unfortunately, others who don’t, will not.

Hope you enjoy the article.

Andy

(Source Photo: here with attribution to U.S. Army Africa)

Loneliness Is A Scream

Loneliness Is A Scream

One of the scariest things for many people is not being with other people.

I don’t mean intentionally not being with others–taking time away from the hustle and bustle for yourself–but rather being left alone.

Think of the horrors of POWs kept in isolation, prisoners put in solitary, or just everyday kids icing out other children in school, adults marginalizing colleagues at work, and family members abandoning spouses and children at home.

Elizabeth Bernstein makes the distinction between being alone (a potential voluntary state) and loneliness (when you feel that you are forced into an isolated state) in the Wall Street Journal today.

It’s an awesome article that explains so much about loneliness:

– We all experience loneliness from “homesickness, bullying, empty-nesting, bereavement, and unrequited love.”

– Loneliness can occur when you are without anybody (“isolation”) or with the wrong somebody (“dissatisfaction”).

– It’s a survivalist function and evolutionary to feel scared when your alone, because when you are “too close to the perimeter of the group, [then you become] at risk of becoming prey.”

– Loneliness is also associated with memories or fears from childhood–when we were young and vulnerable–that someone wasn’t there or going to be there to take care of us.

– Too much loneliness is a “strong predictor of early death”–greater than alcoholism, 15 cigarettes a day, or obesity.

– Loneliness is on the rise, with “some 40% of Americans report being lonely, up from 20% in the 1980’s” and this is correlated with more people living alone, now 27% in 2012 versus 17% in 1970.

– Loneliness can be placated by “reminding yourself you’re not a [helpless] child anymore,” building emotional health and personal self-sufficiency, doing things you enjoy when alone, and reaching out to connect with others.

She jokes at the end of her article that when we aren’t feeling lonely, we are annoyed that people just don’t leave us alone.

This is a very real concern as well, especially with a multitude of family needs (significant others, young children, elderly parents), 24×7 work environments, and the reality of pervasive online communications and even invasive social media.

Not exclusive to introverts, too much people can make us feel put upon, crowded, and even worn out–and hence many people may even run from excessive social activity and crowds.

Yet without a healthy dose of others, people can literally go crazy from the quiet, void, boredom, as well as from the real or perceived feelings that they are in some way unworthy of love or affiliation.

So even though some people can be annoying, users, or try to take advantage of us, no man is an island, and growth, learning and personal serenity is through degrees of love and connection, for each according to their needs. 😉

(Source Photo: here)

Cancel Out Those Tremors

This is a wonderful new product available from Lift Labs.

It is a spoon for people that suffer from hand tremors, like those from Parkinson’s Disease.

With tremors, a person has trouble lifting the spoon to their mouth and doing it without spilling.

With Lifeware, the tremors are said to be reduced in trials by 70%!

The spoon is battery operated and it has sensors for the tremors and performs countermeasures to stabilize itself.

It does this with technology including an accelerometer and microprocessor to actively cancel out the tremor.

In the future, additional attachments are forecasted, including a folk, keyholder, and more.

The special device was made possible through a grant under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research Program.

An awesome advance for Parkinson’s patients to be more self-sufficient and live with dignity despite such a debilitating illness.

Thank you to the engineers at Life Labs (and to the NIH) for bringing this stabilization technology to those who really can benefit from it.

People Needing People

Hug

My wife always tells me she needs a lot of personal space–she likes time and focus to do “her thing.”

No one nagging, yapping, coming around, asking for things…just some quiet time for herself.

I can appreciate that–we all need time to think, be creative, take care of personal things, and pursue our own interests.

At the same time, people need other people.

When we are done doing our things, we need human interaction, attention, conversation, sharing, touch.

I saw a few things this week that really brought this home:

1) The Netflix show “Orange Is The New Black” about a young woman put in jail and how she handles all the challenges of being incarcerated with literally a cast of characters. But in one scene in particular, she is thrown in the SHU (Solitary Housing Unit) and within about a day, she is hearing voices and talking to someone that isn’t there. Alone, she crawls up into a ball–like a baby–craving someone to come, anyone.

2) Visiting the nursing home today, I saw many old people screaming for help. It is a really nice nursing home as far as they go, and the people apparently weren’t screaming because of mistreatment, but rather for attention–a human being to be there interacting with them. Interestingly, even when the old people are sitting together, they are still yelling in a sort of helpless anguish being alone, only calming down when a family, friend, or caretaker comes over to them, touches their hand or hugs them, asks about their wellbeing, and shows genuine human caring. Yes, they have real physical needs they call out for help for too, but I think even many of those calls for help–too many and too often to all be for actual needs–are just for someone to come around and pay them attention and be there with them.

3) I remember years ago, seeing some parents put their child to sleep at night. But the child wanted their parent to sit with them and comfort them while they drifted off to sleep. But this parent strictly followed the Dr. Spock guidance that you just let them cry it out, and boy did this little girl cry and cry and cry. I said to my wife, this is not the right way–it can’t be. And I myself always fought that the children should be held and comforted when they cried, not forced at such a tender young age to be alone and “self-sufficient.”

While people need time and space for themselves, even the biggest introvert among us needs other people.

In solitary, people can literally lose their mind–alone, scared, desperate, but solitary doesn’t have to be a prison, it can be an emotional and mental condition where people are craving even just a hug from someone who gives a damn.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Clover 1)

When The Solution Is Worse Than The Problem

When The Solution Is Worse Than The Problem

Not to be crude, but we had some clogged plumbing over the weekend.

We tried everything to get it working again–plunger, snake, and even some septic tank treatment.

Nothing seemed to work, so at one point, my wife looked up on the Internet what to do, and it said to unwind a hanger and try that.

Well this turned out to be a huge mistake and I must’ve gotten too close to the chemical fumes–my eyes were burning.

I ended up in the ER with my eyes being flushed for close to 2 hours.

Afterwards, being very supportive and sitting with me in the hospital with my eyeballs hooked to suction cups and saline solution, my wife says to me, “This is a case when the solution (i.e. the results of our trying to fix the plumbing ourselves) is worse then the problem (the clog).”

I thought to myself boy was she right, and while it is good to be self-sufficient and try to fix and improve things ourselves, it is also good to know when to leave it to the experts.

How many times do we foolishly try to do something where “we are out of our league,” and actually can end up doing more harm then good.

In this case, I could have seriously damaged my eyes–permanently–and am so grateful to G-d that everything turned out okay.

Knowing our limits and accurately assessing risks can help us to know when to proceed ourselves and when to ask for some expert assistance.

It’s good do things for yourself and to try your best, but also value and know when to leverage other people’s strengths.

With my eyes irritated and burning and being flushed out for what seemed like an eternity, I had some serious time to ponder what can happen when things go wrong.

Years ago, I learned to “Hope (and pray) for the best, but prepare for the worst,” and I want to continue to work and improve on both these. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Building Happiness, One Contribution At A Time

Dirty_hands

There was an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal(20 December 2012) comparing people who the [Powerball] lottery to those on social entitlements.

The author, Arthur Brooks stipulates that money unearned–“untethered from hard work and merit”–does not make people happy.

Brooks states that “Above basic subsistence, happiness comes not from money per se, but from the value creation it is rewarding.”

And this seems to jive with the concept that the greatest producer of happiness aside from social relationships is doing meaningful and productive work (and generally good deeds), not having lots of money and things!

In terms of winning the lottery (big) and not finding happiness, there was another article to this effect in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (13 December 2012), about someone who won the $314 million Powerball jackpot and had at one time been the largest lottery winner in history–but in the end, he found nothing but misery (lost his granddaughter, wife, money, and ended up a substance abuser) and wished he had never seen that “winning” ticket. Instead, he appreciated his previous life when he was known for his “good works,” and not just his money!

According to Brooks, “While earned success facilitates the pursuit of happiness, unearned transfers generally impede it.” And CNN reports that now more than 100 million Americans are on welfare, and that “does not include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare.”

The result as Brooks states is the fear is that we are becoming an ‘entitlement state,” and that it is bankrupting the country and “impoverishing” the lives of millions by creating a state of dependency, rather than self-sufficiency.

So are social entitlements really the same thing?

No. because without doubt, there are times when people need a safety net and it is imperative that we be there to help people who are in need–this is not the same as someone winning the lottery, but rather this is genuinely doing the right thing to help people!

At the same time, everyone, who can, must do their part to contribute to society–this means hard work and a fair day’s pay.

However, With the National Debt about to go thermonuclear, and the fiscal cliff (in whatever form it finally takes) coming ever closer to pocketbook reality, the country is on verge on confronting itself–warts and all.

We all woke up this morning, and the world was still here–despite the Mayans foretelling of the end of the world today. Perhaps, the end was never meant as a hard and fast moment, but rather the beginning of an end, where we must confront our spendthrift ways and historical social inequities.

While we cannot erase decades of mismanagement, what we can do is continue the march to genuinely embrace diversity, invest in education and research, help those who cannot help themselves, work hard and contribute, and build a country that our grandparents dreamed of–one that is paved in opportunity for everyone!

Let us pray that we are successful–for our survival, prosperity, and genuine happiness. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Brother Magneto)