Saturday, February 14, 2015

Minimalism

I just read the article "To Be or Not to Be a Minimalist" by Joel Larsgaard.

He notes that the concept of minimalism has picked up steam lately and has become trendy. The Minimalists blog defines minimalism as a "tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom."

Here's an elevator pitch for minimalism: "Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution."

"There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist life. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life. Getting started is as simple as asking yourself one question: How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?"

Minimalism is simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much.

Moderate minimalism seems healthy to me. The longer I live, the more I enjoy having less “stuff” and putting more of my energy towards the things that ultimately matter, like my family, my community, my church, my God, and my relationships. Although our culture has fallen headfirst over the cliff of consumerism, I believe that experiences are more important than things.

You may not be able to become a minimalism overnight. If you are in financial stress because of all the stuff you've bought, it may take time to dig yourself out of the hole. Debt has worse mental health consequences than a low income. If people in financial difficulties adopted a more minimalistic approach to life, they may find it incredibly freeing. Sit down and make some hard decisions. What can you really do without? Doing without the mental anguish of debt and over-consumption is something that can be incredibly calming in the long run.

Figure out the things that are essential for you and then “cut ruthlessly on things that don’t matter so that you can spend lavishly on the things you love most.” Make sure that your money is being used wisely in ways that affect your life in a positive manner.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why I'm Leaving Comcast

This is why I'm leaving Comcast:
  • I recently made a change in my service because the customer service person said it would "only change my bill a few dollars--definitely not more than $10."
  • I got my bill, and it was $257, up from $180.
  • I tried to chat online with Comcast to determine why (thinking that would be faster than calling), and I was put into a queue with 180 customers ahead of me. 20 minutes later, I had only 138 customers ahead of me. I gave up and called.
  • After two 30-minute phone calls, they still couldn't give me a satisfactory reason why my bill went up $80.
I'm switching providers, which should save me about $100 a month--$1,200 a year.

And the biggest joy will be in not having to deal with Comcast service reps on the phone!

Listen to this man's experience in trying to cancel his Comcast service (includes audio recording of the rep keeping the man on the phone for an extended period of time as he repeatedly asked why wanted to disconnect).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Limit on TV Size at Super Bowl Parties

Have you heard that if you plan to have a Super Bowl party, the NFL has rules that you can't use a TV larger than 55 inches or you can be sued?

Not quite true.

In most cases, you must have written permission from the NFL to show the Super Bowl on any screen greater than 55 inches or when the audio is played by more than 6 speakers. But government regulations give a special break for Super Bowl viewing in private residences.

The US Copyright Code Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 110, "Limitations on exclusive rights: exemption of certain performances and displays," allows in-home viewing as long as you comply with the following:

  1. You may not charge your guests (although you can ask them to bring food and drink or kick in a few bucks for snacks).
  2. The TV must be inside your home. If you invite the neighbors over and use a projector to watch the game on the side of your house, it would be considered a public viewing and you would need to get advanced written permission from the NFL. (Mass out-of-home viewing of the Super Bowl is only legal at “sports bars and other businesses that televise sports as part of their everyday operations.”)

Just be glad that the government lets you watch the Super Bowl at all...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Peace on Earth

The Greek text of the New Testament, as translated by most modern scholars, uses the words epi gēs eirēnē en anthrōpois eudokias (ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας), literally "on earth peace to men of good will."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Fighting Wintertime Blues

For some, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, shorter days and less sunlight mean wintertime blues, or worse, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD can take its toll on the body, both physically and mentally and this month’s edition of Think Healthy, Prevent, Heal reminds us that indoor workers are especially susceptible. Read on for the causes of SAD as well as some tips and tricks to beat the winter blues.
Causes
·        Your biological clock is disrupted: The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter months may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. This disrupts your sleep and can cause chronic fatigue.
·        Reduced serotonin levels: Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin -- a brain chemical that affects mood. Reduced serotonin levels have been known to trigger depression. 
·        Melatonin levels: The hormone melatonin plays a major role in our biological makeup. Our bodies are designed to manufacture melatonin at night and stop making it when the sun comes out. The change in season disrupts the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. Melatonin is produced when it is dark to help you sleep, so the less sunlight—the more melatonin.
·        Vitamin D “sunlight vitamin” deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression and fatigue. And it’s from the sun that we naturally get vitamin D. So naturally, when there is a deficiency, it can affect mood, especially in higher latitude areas (north of equator) where there is less sunlight during winter months.
Treatment
·       Light box therapy: These manufactured light boxes simulate natural outdoor light and have been proven effective as a treatment for SAD.
Vitamins: Taking 2,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D daily has also been proven effective at treating SAD. Those who have a deficiency may need a prescription strength dose. Vitamin B complex supplements also assist with fatigue and other symptoms.
·       Natural sunshine: When the sun is shining, try to go outside even if for only 15-20 minutes. The natural vitamin D will do your body good.    
·       Fish oil: Fish oil contains omega- 3 fatty acids that are proven to decrease SAD. Increasing fish in your diet or taking cod liver oil can go a long way toward combating the winter blues.
·       Exercise: The most effective weapon against SAD is aerobic exercise. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming. It’s a great way to get started, and you can work up from there. However, any activity that raises your heart rate helps. So whether you’re doing daily chores near a sunny window or more strenuous exercise outside or weight training, it will do your body good.
Although SAD is very real for some people, your body will take notice of the steps you take to keep it healthy and happy during the darkest days of the year.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy 12/13/14

Right now, it's 3:16 pm and 17 seconds on December 13, 2014. That means it's 12/13/14 15:16:17.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Emperor Desk

Here's a Christmas gift idea for the executive who has everything. The Emperor Desk is an insanely amazing desk. This model is $6,000:

Or you can get the deluxe model for $21,500:

Here is a video that demonstrates the workstation:

Monday, December 1, 2014

101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online in the Mormon Times

My book 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online was in the Mormon Times (a section of the Deseret News) over the weekend.

Learn how to #HastenTheWork at HastenTheWorkOnline.com.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Last Call for the Book Learning Through Life's Trials


The book Learning Through Life's Trials by Larry Richman is now out of print.

There are still a few copies at Deseret Book, so if you want a printed copy, get them while they last.

It will continue to be available as an ebook.

See more information at LearningThroughTrials.com.

Update: Additional inventory of the printed book is now available.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Progressive Income Tax Explained

This video explains the concept of a "Progressive Income Tax." It is a tale of three similar brothers with three different incomes, but one shared expense. It helps explain the tax system under which we live in the United States.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online

Hasten-Work-book-coverNeed some good ideas on how to ‪#‎HastenTheWork using the Internet and social media? I've compiled some easy, practical ideas into a book titled 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online. It is an easy-to-read, 80-page book that has 62 color illustrations. The book has 4 parts:
  1. Introduction. It defines "hastening the work" and explains why is it important. It describes how God has inspired men to invent technologies to assist in the hastening of the work in the latter days. Finally, it provides quotes from our Church leaders about using the Internet and social media to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel.
  2. Internet and social media basics. This section gives a brief overview of the Internet and provides a quick tutorial on some of the major social media channels (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Hashtags, and blogs).
  3. Tips on hastening the work online. A few matters to consider about how to interact faithfully and kindly with people online.
  4. 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online. This is the major part of the book, listing 101 easy, practical things you can do. Each idea is explained simply in a few short paragraphs.
Here's some encouragement to hasten the work online: Elder David A. Bednar at BYU Campus Education Week, August 2014:
Brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood….I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood. ("To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood")
Church's Handbook 2:
Members are encouraged to use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ. (Handbook 2, chapter 21.1.22)
Learn more at HastenTheWorkOnline.com, including a list of places you can get the book in printed and e-book formats. I've also worked out quantity discounts for wards, stakes, and anyone who wants to get multiple copies.

Read sample pages from the book.

For continuing ideas on hastening the work, follow the Hasten the Work Online Facebook page.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good E-mail Etiquette

When writing an email:

  • State the subject clearly and concisely in the subject line. This will help your reader understand the topic, focus on the subject, and prioritize his reading order. 
  • Use direct language and summarize. Most of the time emails are not meant to be fine letters or pieces of poetry, they are just tools to exchange information.
  • Use bullet points or bolded/underlined itemized lists or paragraph titles. This is especially useful if there are different items in your email and if answers/action is expected on them. 
  • The recipient in the To: line is the one who should act/respond. Others in the Cc: line are just informed and are not necessarily expected to reply. In case they do reply, they should ask themselves: “Is the content of my reply going to be of interest and useful to all of the original recipients?” If not, he/she should reply only to the original Sender who will then decide if the new information needs to be shared with everyone. This will prevent the need to delete all the subsequent replies from many recipients that we are not really interested in. 
  • When emailing the same message to groups of people, use the Bcc: line for the addresses. This will prevent being included in multiple replies and it will also prevent your email address from ending up in spam lists that will flood your inbox.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Utah Names

Here's a list of the top baby names in Utah through the years:http://www.knrs.com/photos/main/top-utah-baby-names-through-the-398959/#/0/22950726
Here's a list of unusual baby names: http://verydifferentnames.com/
And below is a humorous video about unique Utah names:

Very Different Names

Want an unusual name for your next child? Check out VeryDifferentNames.com.


Here’s another idea: use the name of a type font. Open your word processor and find names like Arial, Cambria, Calibri, Palatino, Goudy, Gulim, Gadugi, Garamond, Gisha, dotum, Corbel, Bodoni, Iskoola, Latha, Kartika, Lucida, Marlett, Nimala, Perpetua, Verdana, or Vrinda.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

USA Has Pervasive Internet Censorship, Filtering, Surveillance

In doing research for a book I'm writing, I found this interesting map showing Internet censorship and surveillance by country.

How does it feel to be ranked with countries like Russia, China, and North Korea in terms of Internet censorship, filtering, and surveillance?

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skechers GoRun - Best Shoes Ever



Seriously. The. Best. Shoes. I've. Ever. Owned.

My feet tend to ache and tire easily. But not with these. They are so light, it feels like you're walking barefoot, but you get the support you need.

I just bought 4 pairs of these Skechers GoRun shoes at the Skechers outlet store for less than $25 a pair. They make my feet feel like heaven. Support and comfort. Breathable.

These  are the best shoes I’ve ever owned in my life. Seriously worth any price.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't Ruin Your Vacation

Summer is here and the living is easy. Or it should be. Many of you will travel this season for fun and relaxation. The last thing you need to take home from your vacation is the nightmare of losing your money, credit/debit/ATM cards, and other forms of identification because any or all of those were lost or stolen.

Here are some tips for holding on to your things:

1. Take only what is necessary in your wallet or purse. Remove extra cash, credit cards, checkbooks, and identification (especially your Social Security card) beyond what you need for your trip. That will minimize your losses if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.

2. Use a credit card and leave your debit card at home. If your debit card disappears, its unauthorized use could result in your checking account being emptied very quickly.

3. Keep your wallet or purse and its contents in a place on your person where you can easily make sure it is with you at all times. That usually means somewhere on the front of your body—not in a back pocket which can easily be picked, especially if you are distracted.

4. Don’t leave extra cash and valuables in your hotel room. Store them in the hotel safe.

5. Don’t leave valuables in a rental car. Keep them in the hotel safe.

6. Make photocopies of your credit/debit cards, financial documents, and other related information that you plan to take with you. If your cards or information are lost or stolen, you can refer to these copies when contacting your credit card company and financial institution.

7. Keep an eye on your surroundings. If something looks or feels suspicious, go with that feeling and protect yourself accordingly.

8. When you return from your vacation, check your accounts online to confirm your transactions are legitimate and were made by you—not someone else.

By taking some simple precautions, you can reduce your chance of being victimized and can enjoy your trip.

Information courtesy of Deseret First Credit Union.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Make a Life by What You Give

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

Watch the video "60 Seconds That ange How You Think."