Absolute Faves || Standing Desks

Standing Desks have been in the news for a number of years and I’m an advocate of them. Yes, I too have read the articles (for the record I don’t believe sitting all day is as bad as smoking but the research clearly show’s it is pretty bad!), but I’ve also logged a lot of 14-16 hour days at a computer screen working and if you haven’t had to spend 40, 50…hours a week in a chair at a desk, trust me it takes its toll on you. Seriously, you get eye strain, your neck hurts, your back hurts, your posture suffers, it’s cumulative and can be painful.

I switched to a standing desk while working about 4 years ago and though I thankfully haven’t had to spend as much time in front of a computer over the last year I can tell you, I will never use a seated desk for long periods of time again if I can help it. I am more productive standing, more engaged, and better focused on my work when I stand. My posture’s better, my neck doesn’t hurt anymore, and I just get more done. Beyond that, you burn more calories and it’s just better for your health.

Having said that I’m not against sitting at the desk altogether, and that’s why today’s standing desks are even better than in the past. Many of them will raise up and down so if you’re like me you can sit and stand while you work.

I tend to stand up at my desk when I’m typing a lot and multi-tasking. If I’m doing a lot of typing, watching a webinar, or just need a break from standing I’ll sit, even occasionally put my feet up.

A desk is pretty much a desk. A big flat surface, but there’s two I’ve used and can recommend.

The first is from Focal Upright. My advice is only to get one these if you can expense the thing because it’s expensive. It uses a hand crank to raise and lower it. This below was my workstation basically back in the hedge fund days. Is it overkill? YES. But I was spending 16 hours a day there basically.

The second I’ve used is the Uplift standing desk.  With it, on most models, you just press a button and it adjusts the height for you.  A lot of the standing desks will come with or without the desktop because once you start to pay several hundred dollars for the frame, it’s assumed you’ll want to customize wood used for the surface to match the rest of the room.

Worth getting one if you are stuck behind a desk for more hours than you’d like. Also, studies have shown that standing rather than sitting for 6 hours per day burns about 54 calories per day.  If you eat the same, that’s about 5 1/2 pounds you possibly lose.  Not bad!

 

Absolute Faves || Waboda

My family loves these Waboda Bouncing balls. Their motto is, “Keep Life Fun” and these balls turn any place into a playground.  The Moonballs bounce crazy high but are still soft enough that if they bounce into something it’s usually ok, and the water balls are crazy fun as they bounce on water.

Absolute Fave

 

Absolute Faves || Extra Long Cables

Simple lifehack here. Most phone’s come with a default 3 to 4-foot cable (the default apple cable is 1 m or about 3.5 feet) but I like to have at least one cable that is extra long. This goes for my apple devices and even my laptop USB-c charging.  The reason is obvious, you want your phone or laptop or whatever the device is to charge but you still want to be comfortable while using it.  Sometimes if you just have the default cable this is all by impossible.

My personal favorite for the iPhone is the Anker PowerLine 6 feet cable but I have a friend that prefers the 10-foot version of it.  They also make micro-USB versions of the cables as well.  I’ve mentioned on here before that my experience with Anker batteries has been good and that’s true with there cable’s as well.  (especially the double braided nylon)

Side Note: Anker’s recent foray into earbuds has been met with great reviews as well.  A friend of mine got some Zolo Liberty Wireless last month and raves about them.

Anyway, today’s Absolute Fave is Extra Long Cables.  More luxury than necessity but a good luxury to have.  🙂

Absolute Faves || Sugru Moldable Glue

Sugru Moldable Glue is Genius and It works.  I break a lot of stuff, and this has paid for itself over and over.  

Absolute Fave

 

 

“The world’s first moldable glue that sets strong by turning into silicone rubber”

Absolute Faves || Sleep Masks (Not just for night time but for Naps too!)

Though they won’t appeal to everybody, I have found sleep masks hugely helpful in falling asleep faster and also staying asleep. My preferred use though is for occasional 20-30 minute naps where I couldn’t block out the light with curtains or a closed door if I tried.

If you have a problem falling asleep or are a light sleeper and occasionally wake up, sleep masks are definitely worth a shot.  You can usually tell within about two weeks if they work or not.  The first 3-4 days, they take a little getting used to or at least did for me.

I’ve tried a bunch of these and I settled on the Sleep Mask by Bedtime Bliss. It’s got about 10K reviews on Amazon and for < 15 bucks I found it paid for itself rather quickly.

The other one I’ve tried is the one that Tim Ferris and some other popular bloggers have recommended.  It’s about 10 dollars more:  Sleep Master Sleep Mask. This one is better made IMO, but a little heavier.  I think it’s all going to come down to personal preference.

As long as I’m typing I’ll weigh in on earplugs as well.  I don’t use earplugs for sleep.  I prefer to listen to audiobooks or podcasts to put me to sleep but I do occasionally use earplugs at cafe’s, on plane’s, and while trying to get work done during the day if it’s super noisy around me.

Like many others, I’ve found Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs to be the most comfortable that I’ve used and also have the best seal. The trade-off is pretty well known. There white and get a little dirty over prolonged use and they are a little sticky compared to the more traditional silicone ones.  Beyond that there all about the same to me.  You kind of get what you pay for here. (The little yellow ones work but after an hour they will start to hurt my ears.)

 

Absolute Faves || Audible

This has paid for itself so many times over.  I’ve subscribed to the 2 books a month plan for 13 years now.  We’ll before Amazon bought them.  The added some new free channels as well lately if you’re a subscriber that includes original series, comedy, news, and more (Ted talks, meditation, authors, etc.)

Absolute Fave

Absolute Faves || Chillbo Baggins Inflatable Loungers


Chillbo Baggins. My family first saw these over in Bali last year.  Locals were selling them at the beach and they seemed like a big hit, but we went for lounge chairs and beach towels.  A few weeks later, we saw locals again selling them in Thailand and I rented a few for a few bucks for the afternoon.

Family loved them!  Extremely, easy to fill up, easy to deflate, no tools necessary.  It takes up almost no space and was better than the lounge chair or the beach towels. I don’t own any yet myself but will by years end.  Great to take to music festivals, camping, picnics, the beach, use the backyard, or just to inflate for the kids at home.

Absolute Fave.

Absolute Faves || The backpacks we won’t travel without. Osprey and Deuter.

(This post is mainly for travel but my two backpack recommendations, Osprey and Deuter apply for hiking/camping as well)

If I’m stateside I usually use a suitcase like most people and I haven’t really found a huge difference between the major brands. I have found that I like the four-wheeled one’s a little better than the two-wheeled one’s but basically, they are interchangeable for me. I currently own a higher end Briggs Riley for three-day business trips and larger but cheaper Northface if I’m headed somewhere for a week to golf or snowboard. If either was replaced with a Samsonite tomorrow wouldn’t impact me at all.

Backpacks are an entirely different story. When my family goes overseas we use backpacks exclusively. And not just the backpacks that you’re likely to find next to the suitcases at your basic big box retailer or luggage store.

**We have learned through trial and error that actual camping/hiking  (what they call “technical”) backpacks are by-far superior to most of the stuff that is marketed to travelers where they are basically just throwing some straps on a rucksack.)

(You just about have to go with a backpack over a suitcase as soon as you travel abroad, or know that the trip involves possible terrain because you just don’t know what you’re likely to encounter.  Better to have BackPacks.)

Of course, it’s easier to roll than throw a bunch of weight on your back but more often than you would think you won’t be able to roll it.  The backpacks allow us to navigate stairs, public transport, rural area’s etc easily but you want to have the right one.

Trust me. I have had the bad ones!!  I have also had midpriced ones.   Done with that.  Save money elsewhere.  My family’s had the stitching come out, zippers break, straps come off, etc.  Have had to just duct tape them up before and carry on to the next stop.

I have also now traveled with many people that have had bad (basic) bags.  I’m talking about bags that don’t have suspension built in, can’t handle getting wet, and don’t have access to at least a few compartments. DON’T DO IT.  Spend the extra hundred dollars or more and just get a bag you’ll use for the next decade (probably the next two the higher end ones are made so well these days).

It makes a HUGE Difference the first time you get off a train or out of a car and have to walk more than a hundred yards.  Will save your back.

Beyond that, I realize that in theory, you are just stuffing stuff into them but unlike a suitcase that zips all the way open if you don’t have a pack you can access from multiple areas besides just the top you are going to hate life in a hurry.  You want pockets that allow you to quickly get to things as well to secure the pack if you have to.

There are plenty of places to save money when you travel.  This is not one of them. We’re literally talking about the thing that holds all your things.

Having said all that, I’ve used most brands and conversed with enough travelers and hikers to recommend two.  Deuter and Osprey.  My person bag is an Osprey Xenith 105 that has been all over the world and still looks like new.  I have had 70 lbs worth of stuff in it, and it felt as light as the 45-pound rucksacks I had to haul around in the army.

My kids have small Deuter packs, that are a little more basic but still very rugged.  Deuter has been making bags 1898, Osprey’s been at it about 30 years.  Both companies manufacture their bags in Vietnam usually these days.  They are the most well made, comfortable, I am aware of.

 

Absolute Faves || Absolute Faves Cryptocurrency Edition.

Crypto Crypto Crypto!  Maybe (hopefully) its died down by the time your reading this.  Regardless, I thought I’d take this blog on a little diversion from its normal format of just recommending an absolute fave and riff a little on the media’s absolute digital fave lately because some of us probably aren’t sure what the hell they are even talking about with this whole blockchain revolution thing.

(I’m not sure how this post will age over time but the blockchain is definitely here to stay folks, regardless of which cryptocurrencies win out or flame out over time.  (Bitcoin and Ethereum have the largest market caps thus far, Winter 2018)

If your reading this and an expert in this stuff already, this post probably isn’t for you, but if you reading it and still not exactly sure what all the hype and hoopla are about, I have read, listened too, and absorbed a fair amount about the subject.  I’m no expert either but am knowledgeable and I have a few absolute fave resources and recommendations for you down below that could help you figure it out.

*Note: I’m writing this in early 2018.  There are a half dozen buzzworthy books on the subject forthcoming this year. I’ll likely read several of those when they’re released and maybe I”ll update this post then, but as of right now, here are my absolute fave books and podcasts if you want to get up to speed on the Blockchain and CryptoAssets today.

___________________

If you don’t know much about the blockchain or crypto assets at all, don’t start with a book, start with many of the video’s you can find on youtube, one of the best short overviews being, “Introduction to Bitcoin” an entry level talk about bitcoin by Andreas Antonpoulous.  Ton’s of his talks/lectures are online and super informative FWIW.

 

My next recommendation is a three-part podcast series called Hash Power. I’ve had friends start there and they have come away with a nearly universal, “AHHHH!  Now I get it” response.

Udemy almost always has a free course or two on Bitcoin basics.  At the moment, this one is free and actually pretty good.  “Bitcoin or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Crypto”. 

There are now multiple great podcasts just about the blockchain and crypto assets but one of the best currently is called Unchained.

Bookwise, I’ve just finished Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond.  This is probably the book I’d recommend the most at the moment.  The Internet of Money (also a volume II) is basically a collection of Antonopoulous talks.  It’s great but repetitive, and you can find a lot of the actual talks online. Digital Gold is great if your interested in not just how things work but are interested in the history of Bitcoin.

Blockchain Revolution is the best selling book in the category at Amazon and it’s good for an overview but doesn’t have a lot of details.  Run’s through a fair amount of what-if scenarios that get you thinking about the profound impact the blockchain is likely to have.

Lastly, I’ll recommend, Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts.  This book is a reality check on everything in the crypto space, so you don’t just buy some cryptocurrencies, and possibly lose all your money.  I said Possibly, Not Probably.  Do your own due diligence people!