Archive for the ‘Better Living’ Category

Pandora and Squeezebox!

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

OK, so this is a blatant endorsement of a pair of technologies that I recently discovered that has absolutely changed the way I listen to music. The best news is that you can have one of them for free if you only listen to music on your computer.

Pandora is the rather ingenious software technology that uses the Music Genome Project to deliver songs that you are likely to enjoy in an internet radio station you define. The Music Genome Project has defined about 400 “genes” that can describe a song, and then tags songs (about a bazillion songs so far!) with the relevant genes. You seed a station with either an artist or a song, or a combination thereof. As you listen to the station, you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down, or add or delete seeds. The station learns your tastes, and grows.

I have one station (you can define 100, plus share stations with others) called “Sultry Women” that was seeded with Diana Krall and Sophie Milman, and has been refined with a dozen or so thumbs up and down. Some of its genes are light drumming, acoustic piano accompaniment, breathy vocals, brazilian rhythms, a mid-tempo dance style and lyric-centric composition. It’s brought me to Billie Holiday (of course), Elis Regina and Sarah Deleo. Try the station – I’ve shared it.

You can define, play and share stations on your computer for free, or for $3/month if you want them without ads (but the ads are far from intrusive). Visit Pandora and learn more…

Then consider getting a Squeezebox. It’s an Internet appliance that sits on your wireless network and plays music through your home audio system. What does it play?

  • Any song on your computer, including those managed by iTunes (but not with DRM)
  • Any playlist on your computer
  • Your Pandora stations (if you’re a subscriber at that $3/month)
  • Your Rhapsody stations (if you’re a subscriber)
  • Any radio station that broadcasts over the Internet
  • RSS news feeds (there is a scrolling display)
  • A variety of amazing Internet audio resources

and so on… You can build favorite lists, etc., etc. Learn more at It comes with a very intuitive interface and remote, and goes for $250 with no further costs. It does not require your computer to be on (except to play the songs on your computer). Visit Squeezebox to learn more.

I’m listening to great music now, discovering many new artists, and having a ball. Give Pandora a try, and then get ready for Squeezebox!


Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Originally posted: 2006-10-29 22:09:13

Come to the edge.
— We might fall.
Come to the edge.
— It’s too high!
Come to the edge!

So they came
and he pushed them
and they flew.

by Christopher Logue.

Written in 1968 for the 50th anniversary of the death of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and often mis-attributed to the latter.

Jim’s Quick Tofu Lunch

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Originally posted: 2006-06-21 07:58:09

  • 2 servings = 6 points (3 each)
  • Core: YES
  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 10 min

inspired by Jia Xu!

  • 1 brick soft Tofu
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 oz fat-free Salsa
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 t olive oil

In a large pot, bring enough water to boil to cover tofu. Pour off liquid from tofu and cut into cubes (32/brick). Boil cubes for 5 minutes, then drain.

Heat wok; add oil, garlic & ginger and stir for 30 sec; then add tofu and stir for 2 min; add salsa and stir for 2 min.

Variations: try Lime & Garlic salsa, Chipotle salsa; serve over spinach (0 pts) or add red peppers to stir-fry (0 pts).


Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Originally posted: 2006-06-21 07:50:28

For those of you who don’t see me often, I’ve had a tremendous success with WeightWatchers(tm): I lost 40 pounds in three months, and have been keeping it off without difficulty for the past three.

Having lost the weight, I really can’t tell you how much better I feel. And the health consequences have been significant: I’m off my blood pressure medication, my cholesterol is in the basement, my periodontal issues are vastly improved, my gout has disappeared – it sounds like I was a wreck, doesn’t it? I have to admit, I was. And I really was in pretty successful denial about it.

Let me be clear: I’m not on a diet. I’m living a new, healthy lifestyle. And I expect to live longer and more happily as a result.

The benefit for you all is that I’ve discovered some great new meals, which I’ll share here, along with their WeightWatchers’ counts. And for those of you who might be interested, I do the “core” plan, not the “flex” plan, which basically lets me eat (in moderation, but without counting points for) all the fresh, unprocessed fruit, vegetables, meat and protein I like, plus a few other goodies. I can eat any other food as well, of course, but in much more careful moderation.

Questions? Drop me a line!

How to Opt Out of Credit Offers

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Originally posted: 2007-07-10 00:59:31

Many thanks to Eileen Ambrose of the Baltimore Sun for this excellent resource: Here is a site that allows you to opt out of the “prescreened” credit card offers you likely are deluged with in the mail!

Just go and visit and fill out the form. You can either be removed for five years, or permanently. And yes, it’s a legitimate site.