Category Archives: Health

Ways to Make Your Home Office Smell Better

Let’s face it: our home offices and workshops tend to smell a bit stale at times. A lot of hardcore geeks don’t spend as much time on personal grooming as polite society deems… polite. We have better things to do with our time than to worry about how pleasing our surroundings smell, right? Wrong! Imagine how much happier you would be at work if your surroundings didn’t smell quite so rank!

What happens if you meet someone who could turn out to be your significant other were it not for the odd stench that clings to you from spending so much time in a sanctuary of stink? Even if you’ve succeeded in shedding the telltale wake of foul odors, maybe you’d like to invite this possible romantic interest over. Do you really want your office to smell like an old shoe — or worse? It only takes a few minutes to help freshen things up, beyond opening up the windows, that is. Here are a few quick ways to make your home office (or workshop) smell better…

[$5+ patrons can read the rest of Ways to Make Your Home Office Smell Better here. Not a patron? Consider the benefits here!]

How Do Geeks Get Healthy?

A while back, mutley had discussed his lack of fitness and his poor lifestyle choices as a young geek. I stumbled across his old post today, and thought it was quite relevant even now:

I would consider myself as living somewhat of a ‘geek lifestyle’ in that I’m indoors a lot and on the computer or on the console. It is something I want to change, however. I want to get a bit healthier, so I’m improving my diet by eating healthier and trying to cut my calorie intake.

It isn’t easy to do with this lifestyle. I’ve bought a treadmill and I’m doing a short amount on it each day on an incline to burn some extra calories and to ease my way into exercising.

What I want to know is how you stay healthy and in shape when living a lifestyle that largely revolves around physical inactivity? Are there any tips you can share on how to shed some weight or maintain your weight without having to sacrifice the lifestyle you enjoy, at least to a point?

I get you. Boy, oh, boy do I get where you’re coming from. Most of my time is spent being sedentary, also. In the past, I’ve made the effort to exercise daily. Sadly, I tend to only do this after I’ve packed on a few pounds and want to get rid of them.

What can we do differently? I may not always practice what I preach, but I do know what I should be doing.

Change your snack habits when you’re at the computer/console. Don’t reach for a sugary soda and a bag of chips. Before sitting down at your desk for the day, grab some healthier alternatives. Pick up fruits and veggies, low-fat pretzels, and even trail mix — anything that is healthier and will satisfy your need to munch your way through the day.

Set an alarm to remind you to take frequent breaks. Get up and do something. Go outside and walk/jog around the block. Too cold or wet? Stay in and take a few trips up and down the stairs. Stretch. Take your tablet or phone to a treadmill and walk your way through the day’s geeky news or your favorite vlogs. *cough* *cough*

The key is to balance your sedentary lifestyle with a bit more action and healthier food choices. Don’t do anything drastic — especially without talking to your doctor. You simply need to move that body to burn some calories and keep your body as fit as it can be. Even people who are overweight can be fit and healthy — trust me. Do some research if you don’t believe me. Keep your heart healthy, your blood pressure in check, and don’t overload your body with sugar.

Remember: I’m not a doctor! I’m just a geek who spends too much time behind a screen — just like you!

For some great fitness tips, check out what my brother Ben is up to on YouTube!

Would You Spend Your Life Savings to Stay Young?

Paul Sheriff writes:

If we could stop the aging process or reverse it, at what age would you choose to stay? Also, if your newborn daughter caught up to the same age as you and you only had the means for one of you to stay young (say the pills were $50,000 a year), would you keep her younger or yourself?

I don’t think of myself as an age, so any given number is completely irrelevant. I never long for the days when I was younger, and I don’t ever long for the days when I’m older.

That, and I probably wouldn’t buy pills at $50,000 a year.

I wouldn’t pay for anybody to be younger, either, though I would probably pay for someone to live twice as long if they so wished.

Would You Spend Your Life Savings to Stay Young?

What Would You Do if You Went Blind?

Patron Aaron Linson has a bit of a morbid curiosity. You, too, can become a Patron and receive priority answers to your questions!

What would you do if you suddenly went blind or started to go blind due to cataracts? How would you change what you do for work?

I believe I explained this in an earlier WWYD for patrons, but I do believe I’d double down on my other senses – using every one of them to my advantage.

Imagine me talking about how I experienced the latest piece of “life-altering” technology without the ability to see anything. I’d spend more time talking about how it actually feels in my hands, how it responds to the commands I give it, how I’m able to navigate it.

I’d modify how I approach this industry, but my perspectives would be just as strong (coming from a strong-willed individual such as myself).

What Would You Do If You Went Blind?

How Do You Deal With Computer Vision Syndrome?

Ben Watkins asked:

How do you deal with computer vision syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome is nothing to ignore, for sure. Even staring at a screen for only a couple of hours per day can strain our eyes, and let’s face it: we all stare at our monitors and devices longer than that day in and day out.

The most common symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are:

  • eyestrain
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • dry eyes
  • neck and shoulder pain

Having poor lighting in the room, glare from the computer screen, improper viewing distances, poor seated posture and uncorrected vision problems can all contribute to the development of CVS. The good news is that most of these are quite easily corrected, thus getting rid of your eye issues when looking at your screen.

Lighting: – Make sure you have proper lighting in the room you’re in. Natural light is, of course, best. Failing that, be sure to NEVER ever NEVER stare at your screen in the dark – and have either a ceiling light on or a lamp or two near the desk.

Distance: – According to the American Optometric Association: “Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.”

Posture: – Sit up straight! No, your Mom isn’t in the room with me. Trust me – I spend wayyyyyyy too many hours sitting at my desk each day. Add in the fact that I’m 40 years old now (holy HELL – how did that happen?!) and I can’t begin to stress how important good posture is while at a computer. This helps keep your body in line, reduces strain on your eyes AND helps prevent neck, back and shoulder pain. Many people find using a “back cushion” to help, as well.

Vision Problems: – If you are having any of the above symptoms on a regular basis, I urge you to see an eye doctor. Let the professionals decide whether you “just” have CVS or if there’s an underlying issue on top of it.

Compute smart and safe!

How Do You Cope With Stress?

George Baker asked a very timely question. You can become a Patron like George and receive priority answers to the things you ask me!

How do you deal with stress?

Everyone has different coping mechanism. The last thing you want to do is “more” of what’s stressing you out.

So, identify what’s most stressful… and start peeling back the layers. Don’t do something that doesn’t take your mind to a place it doesn’t normally go.

For me? Putting together LEGO sets. Spending time with my wife and dogs. Sipping a glass of wine while catching up on episodes of my favorite shows. See a pattern here? Work can stress me out at times, so I simply walk away for a while to unwind – and I know most of you do, as well.

What about everyone else? What are your stress-busters?

How Do You Cope With Stress?

Energy Gadget of the Future

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of AeroLife™ for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The future was supposed to bring us instant meals; with the press of a button, we were supposed to have culinary delights spring out of something as small as the average pill in seconds. Instead, we wound up with microwavable meals and a question of whether or not all of that processed foodstuff was good for us (or mostly filler with more preservatives than nutrition). Have we exchanged complexity for simplicity at the cost of something greater?

When I was offered to take a look at the AeroLife system of nutrition delivery, I was intrigued. "Could this be better than our current array of options?" Certainly, it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. I'm very careful about what I choose to ingest on a daily basis, and have been looking for a better way to lower my caloric intake without eliminating what my body might require to function at peak efficiency.

AeroLife

On a recent (very intensive) engagement on location, we were pushing into the wee hours of the morning. A member of the crew offered one of those quick-boost energy drinks for a shot of something that would more than likely do more harm than good. I've done my best to avoid ingesting any kind of high calorie / high sugar / highly-artificial food or beverage since my mid-20s. I'm wasn't about to buck that habit. 

All I want is to draw in what I need; for AeroLife to work, you need not do much more than that. The system offers instant nutritional delivery without hassle. I don't want to chew a sugary gummy just to get my B vitamins, nor do I care to swallow a pill with food I don't need or try to find a glass of liquid to help wash it down.

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Quite honestly, a good dose of B vitamins is all I need for energy; I drink coffee not for the buzz, but for the flavor. However, AeroLife has you covered either way. There are a variety of modules to choose from, each one just as portable as the other. What do you need most at any given moment? Help with energy, sleep, immunity? No problem. Are you traveling, playing sports, or want a quick dose of caffeine without anything else? AeroLife has you covered there, too.

AeroLife Options

It's kinda neat, and you have to try it in a situation that calls for it to really understand why something like AeroLife really works well (and better than the alternatives). I know what it feels like when I take a B vitamin, so I swallowed some of the air-based AeroLife powder before writing this article… and now I'm typing furiously, with words spilling onto the keyboard with nary a pause. It was perfect for work. Last night, I rested well after using AeroLife Sleep – and I can't wait to take this again before a very long, international flight (to rest easier en route and prepare myself for the time zone change). 

So, yeah – context is everything with AeroLife. It's a portable shot of smart nutrition, with the particles scientifically designed to be too big to go into your lungs, and small enough to flow through the air where they land on the tongue and are swallowed. Told you: it's smart. 

Using AeroLife

And you can try it for free if you want to see how it impacts your life. Start your free trial now!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Taking Risks Can End a Life Too Soon

Taking risks and doing crazy things are part and parcel of being a teenager. I pulled my fair share of idiotic stunts at that age, that’s for sure. All teens are going to test the limits and do things they know are risky at some point. I truly wish more of them would stop and ask themselves if the possible outcomes are worth it. I remember all too well, though, that at that age you believe you are invincible. Bad things happen to other people, right? Unfortunately, no one is super-human and bad things sometimes happen. Our community has suffered a great loss this week due to the risks teens sometimes take.

Gavin Roskamp has been an extremely active and vocal part of our community for quite a long time. He was a technology enthusiast and smart as hell. He stayed busy beyond reason with extra-curricular activities, helping people with computer issues online and yet still managed to pull a perfect grade point average in high school. He was a good friend to so many – both online and in “real” life. He always had a shoulder to lean on available, and words of wisdom that would make you believe he was far older than his sixteen years. Vince Bognot sums up the huge impact Gavin had on people he had never met:

“Gavin and I spoke online nearly every day. Even though I never met him, he was like a brother to me.”

I hate that I now have to write about Gav in the past tense. Last Monday, he and a few other teens were out joyriding in a car. They decided to go “Hill-hopping,” a past time that many kids this age apparently enjoy. The hopped a hill at high speed, flipped the car three times and slammed into a tree. Gavin and an 18 year old woman (the driver of the car) were killed instantly.

My heart breaks for Gavin’s friends and family – both online and off. This kid had one hell of a bright future and had such a good heart. Losing him will leave a hole in our hearts that we should not have had to experience. I hope all of you will stop and think twice when you decide to do something reckless. There are so many things you can do to get a “rush” or a “thrill” which are far safer than hurtling your car over hills at high rates of speed, y’all.

Gavin wasn’t invincible, no, but he was definitely a great kid who will now be missed by us all.

How to Cook Like a Single Geek

Many of the single geek guys I know are not very handy in the kitchen. They tend to live on pizza, ramen and things eaten straight out of the can. I know that I’ve been guilty of these same habits for far too long. I’m beginning to learn that cooking isn’t all that difficult – even for those of you whose brain is wrapped around some piece of code.

Have you heard of a slow cooker? Who knew these things could literally save lives? It takes about five minutes to throw something in there and turn it on. You can then go back to your work (or games!) for 6-8 hours. Pull yourself away, dump the food onto a plate and its time for noms! I’m not kidding, guys. This is pure genius.

Are you a fan of cheese? Take a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (yes, you can use the frozen kind) and put them in the crock pot. Dump in two cans of nacho cheese soup and two cans of cream of chicken soup. Mix it all up and let it cook for about six hours on low settings. You don’t need to add any seasonings or other ingredients. This cheesy fabrication will fill you up and keep you happy for hours.

Again for chicken fans – cook some chicken breasts with your favorite salsa. When it’s finished, it will be a snap to shred the meat up and use it on sammiches or on top of a mound of mashed taters. Good gravy this is simple.

Speaking of gravy – did you know that the store usually carries a roast ready to go into the slow cooker? Check the meat section… they’ll have a roast, the seasoning packet AND the veggies in one tidy little package. Dump the roast in the pot, add some water and the seasonings and start cooking. A few hours later, you can toss in the veggies and let them roast another couple of hours. Voila! You have just made one hell of an awesome meal. (This one is an excellent way to impress a *girl*)

What ways do you keep yourselves fed, guys… NOT counting the pizza, top ramen and canned junk?

Five Ways to Quickly Improve Your Appearance

You have an important date coming up within the hour, and you lost track of time. You may even have an important meeting across town that you are rushing to get ready for. The problem is, you feel and look like you’ve been lounging around in your pajamas for two days. You don’t have time to take a shower, iron your shirt, and still manage all the other various things you need to do to look your best. How do you handle this situation? Here are five ways to quickly improve your appearance:

Shower
If there is one thing you absolutely should do, especially if you haven’t done it already that day, it’s shower. No amount of charming good looks or hilarious jokes will make up for being smelly on your date. In addition to getting the smell off, your hair will be clean and easier to style as you rush out the door. If you absolutely don’t have time to wash your hair, you can use a waterless shampoo to remove oils and odor from your hair which will help give the appearance that you’ve taken the time to do so. This can shave a few minutes off your shower, but only do it if you are in an absolute sprint.

Iron Your Clothes
Of course if you’re in a rush, you may not have time to iron your clothes. Unfortunately, a wrinkled shirt or slacks can be one of the more obvious signs of poor planning. While you’re in the shower, have the offending garments running on a fluff or medium heat cycle in the dryer with a moistened sock or washcloth. This will allow you to kill two birds with one stone and have fairly wrinkled free clothes without the hassle of taking time to iron them.

Clip Your Nails
Clipping your fingernails may not seem like a great activity when you’re in a rush. When you’re on a date, or at a job interview, people tend to look at hands as a sign of someone’s general hygeine and cleanliness habits. If your nails are long and uneven, it can give the impression that you only prepped yourself for this event and usually don’t care much for how you look. It only takes a minute or two to give your nails a quick clip and be on your way.

If You Can’t Shave, Trim
You may not have time to shave your entire face. What you can do in a very short amount of time is grab the stray hairs with the razor and turn that slightly fashionable stubble in to something more planned in appearance. If your beard is long and unruly, grab a pair of scissors or clippers with a decent-sized guard and give it a quick once-over. This can make a world of difference towards improving your appearance.

Oil Absorbing Sheets
As you rush out the door, grab an oil absorbing sheet. Yes, you may need to purchase this and have it on-hand just in case you need it. An oil absorbing sheet will instantly remove oil that causes a shiny or sweaty appearance. This tip may sound like it’s targeted for the ladies, but these sheets have nothing to do with makeup and everything to do with improving your appearance in the fastest way possible. Give your forehead, nose, and cheeks a wipe right before you get out of the car to meet the person you’re in such a hurry to meet.

Your Cell Phone is Killing Bees

The article title may make you shrug your shoulders and not much care if a few bees are dying because you are using your cellular device more than ever. However, if you enjoy eating then you might want to pay attention. Swiss researcher Daniel Favre has concluded a study, and has noted that the worldwide bee population decline is directly related to our phone usage.

Remember that whole eating thing? Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately 70% of the crops grown here on Earth – which provide about 90% of the food we consume. That’s one heck of a lot of food, y’all. If bee populations decline enough, we could face very real food shortages. Back in 2008, a study showed that bees will not return to their hives if there is a cell phone placed nearby. This is only one hint that your handset is disrupting the bee’s orientation and lifestyle. According to Favre, the phone signals may confuse the bees so much that they not only become disoriented – they also drop dead. Favre and his team of researchers performed a total of 83 experiments which recorded the reaction of the bees to phones near them.

The phones in question were tested in three different modes: standby, off and call-making. The result is that honeybee noise increased more than ten times when a phone call was made or received. An increase in noise out of the little insects is used as a signal for bees to leave their hives usually. But in this case, it just confuses them. Favre noted that “The induction of honeybee worker piping by the electromagnetic fields of mobile phones might have dramatic consequences in terms of colony losses due to unexpected swarming.”

Your phone isn’t the only thing killing the bees, though. A pesticide made by Bayer and used to pre-treat corn seeds is also thought to be responsible as are several other factors. The UN believes that things such as air pollution, fungal pathogens and climate change are all playing a role in this population decrease.

Therefore, we can easily conclude that it’s quite possible we are killing off our food source simply by living life. We’re not going to throw away all of our phones or stop using pesticides so we need to figure out a new type of pollination solution – and fast.

Derek Miller, Cancer and The End Game

This is a guest post written by my Community Manager Kat. Derek was a friend of mine for about six years, and his loss leaves a large hole in my heart and within the Gnomedex community.

On the morning of May 4th, 2011, I read fourteen words that stopped me in my tracks. Though I had been expecting them for weeks, I still felt this huge surge of denial. My friend of more than four years, Derek Miller, is now gone from this world. He wrote what was to be his final blog post not long before he died, and a family friend published it the morning after he left us. It was several hours before I could bring myself to read beyond those fourteen words.

“Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog.”

It’s not as though I’m new to this whole dying thing. Being forty years old, I have dealt with a lot of death in my lifetime: grandparents, two best friends, various relatives – and my hero… my big brother Jimmy. Though we shared a love of music, blogging and all things geeky, it was the story of my brother’s cancer – and death at the age of 36 – which brought Derek and I closer together as friends. When Derek announced late last fall that he had decided to give up treatment and live out the rest of his life HIS way, the connection began. I sent an email to him, telling him how my brother made the same decision… how strong he was, how he fought hard for so many years. Derek’s reply – he titled it “The End Game” – was one I will treasure forever. He later gave me permission to share this with all of you when the time came. Sadly, the time is now.

We always use the words fight and battle in conjunction with cancer. That’s what it seems like, you know? It’s not something we chose, and it’s so difficult to go through. It takes a horrible toll on the patient and their families – both mental and physical. It’s as though you’re fighting in a war… one you pray to win. In this reply, though, Derek taught me that having cancer isn’t a battle at all.

“I would change one word now, after four years: “fight.” I’ve used that word a lot too, but I’ve recently begun to change my tune. Why must it be a fight, a war or a battle? Those are stressful, soul-draining things, with images of violence and winners and losers.

I think less personally about my cancer than I used to. I fought it hard, I used to tell it to fuck off, I used to imagine the chemo snuffing it out like carpet bombing over Cambodia. More recently I’ve thought, no, cancer has no mind, no evil intent, no demon driving it.

I hate that it will kill me, and what that will do to my family. It’s sad and unfair. But there’s no one and nothing to blame. It’s a pure example of “shit happens.” Like your brother, my time has come to win the battle by not fighting anymore, by pushing back against the desire to treat the end of my life as a war and myself as a soldier. The human mind and heart deserve better than war, whether in Afghanistan or in the brain of a cancer patient.”

During the four years he had cancer, Derek blogged every step of his journey. His honesty and bluntness about what he was going through won the hearts of thousands from all over the world. Even a week later, people are mourning his loss on their social networks and blog pages. His story – and that of his final blog post – has been featured on websites such as CNN. Derek touched so many with his strength, his humor and his love of life.

Derek Miller touched me with his simple acceptance of what was to be. He helped me finally let go of the anger I still harbored towards my brother for giving up his treatments and leaving us… ten years ago. I hadn’t even realized it was still buried inside of me until Derek and I began talking. Of course it hurts to not have my big brother here, but it’s much easier to deal with now. I understand exactly where Jimmy was coming from… why he made the choices he did. I owe that understanding to Derek.

The penmachine was so full of life… passion… intelligence… love of friends and family… humor… wisdom. I have shed more than a few tears since learning of his passing. But I am doing my best not to break the promise I made to him a few months ago. It is a one that I hope each of you will vow to keep, as well.

Derek asked me not to mourn his death, but to use it as an example to others. He hoped that I could take what I learned from our friendship and use it to help people in similar situations. Cancer is evil, of that there is no doubt. It rips apart our lives and the world as we know it. But it doesn’t have to be a “fight.” It’s not a war. It’s an illness that we do our best to overcome. When there is no hope of surviving it, the way we choose to deal with the emotions, decisions and the end of our life is what people will remember.

Derek Miller will forever be remembered for the courage, strength, humor and dignity he carried with him until after he was gone. I only hope my loved ones can say the same about me one day, no matter what takes me from this Earth.

Goodbye, my friend. Thank you – for everything. To Airdrie, Marina and Lauren: please know that you have the love, prayers and thoughts of thousands of people with you. I hope that the strength we share with you will somehow be able to make its way into your hearts, bringing some measure of comfort and peace.

Is Internet Addiction Real?

A few hours ago, Duodave posted an an interesting discussion on our LockerGnome Q&A site. He wonders if online addictions are real or something made up by professionals. I’m here to tell you that Internet addiction is very real. It can cause your health, relationships and work performance to deteriorate if you don’t realize you have a problem and work to overcome it.

An Internet (or Facebook!) addiction becomes evident when you begin to neglect the people and things in life which demand your attention. You spend much less time with your family. Work project may go undone or be turned in late. Sleep deprivation becomes the norm. Activities which used to give you pleasure are dumped in favor of staring at the computer screen longer.

For some people, losing themselves in online forums, blogs and social networks is a way to escape harsh circumstances in life. Does this sound familiar? It’s the same reason that many turn to drugs and alcohol. Life can be difficult to deal with sometimes, eh? Unfortunately, there are those who cannot find a way to cope. Instead, they find ways to mask the pain or anger. Internet addictions are much cheaper than using illegal substances or drinking yourself into a stupor. The worst part is that these people don’t realize that an addiction of this sort is just as destructive.

Just like substance abuse, addiction to the computer can be difficult to overcome. Users don’t want to leave the “safety” of their online identity. They may be reluctant to even admit they have a problem or not know what to do to fix it. These people don’t have to throw their computers out of a window, they simply need to learn how to balance their Internet usage with their physical life.

The first thing they will need to do is to figure out the underlying cause. What is going on around them that drove them to bury themselves in the virtual world? There needs to be a solid support network – don’t criticize or blame them. Offer to help… figure out other outlets for their stress, sadness or anger. Assist them in finding alternative solutions. Give them guidelines to use while cutting back on time spent online – even if they are an adult. They will need some type of structured plan in order to be successful without having to give up their social life on the web completely.

I am by no means a doctor or therapist. I am just some dude who happens to work and play online. However, I am very careful to balance all of that with other activities. I know all too well how easy it is to become caught up in what’s going on behind my computer screen. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve lost track of time when I’ve come across something interesting and then had to pull myself away. The key is balance, my friends. Moderate yourself just as you would with anything that could be harmful to your health and well-being.