31st Week of 2016 : THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

These are a few of my favorite things.
–Julie Andrews, THE SOUND OF MUSIC

As we get older, and see more revolutions of our world around our sun, hopefully we get wiser, and have from our experiences some wisdom to impart to those coming after us. Or wisdom that we wish someone had imparted to us.

Here is some of the wisdom I have gained, in terms of things you can actually purchase. Some our mundane and simplistic and frivolous, some in their simplicity were life changing and life improving.

I leave it for you to decide which is which.

Here then in the 31st Week, and Two Thousand and Sixteenth Year of a vaunted Lord, are a few of my favorite things:

Let’s start off with music….

serendip

SONS OF SERENDIP is the self titled first album by a 4 part band, that was one of the few reasons I actually sat through a season of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT (Season 9, for those of you playing at home). Their sound is nothing short of awe inspiring.

The CD goes in and out of print, I have multiple copies, and it has become one of my go to gifts to give friends and family and as stocking stuffers.

Sons of Serendip

lspirit

Speaking of music, this year my better half and I spent Valentine’s Day in New York. We were primarily there because I had gotten tickets to hear Grammy winning Gregory Porter play at the legendary and venerable TOWN HALL (built by Suffragites seeking the vote). His Grammy Winning album LIQUID SPIRIT is one of my favorite albums of all time, and I’m pleased to say in-person, backed by his fantastic band, and the energy of a fun crowd, he is even better. Fantastic performance and a fun experience.

Get the album here…

Liquid Spirit

Now leaving the pleasures of hearing for a second, let’s discuss taste…

zerowater10

THE ZERO WATER 10 CUP PITCHER – I have found to be, after much searching, the ideal affordable water purification system to implement. Its design eliminates the ‘flow-around’ concern of traditional faucet mounted systems such as PUR or BRITA, in addition providing an easy built in test of the filters effectiveness that the consumer can easily periodically try. Also the size of this particular 10 cup pitcher makes it ideal for placement in the refrigerator, as opposed to the more space consuming 23 cup variety. However Amazon reviewer JLJ (his review is one of the first ones that will pop-up when you use my links below) offers excellent advice for using both pitchers in concert to extend the life of the filters by up to 5 times. A pretty cool idea I plan to try.

Chief complaints with this pitcher seem to be by people who leave it on their counter rather than refrigerating it. Room temperature water seems silly, so mine is always refrigerated. And every 2 months it is washed out with a water vinegar solution. I’ve had no issues.

Now this one, is not rated to remove fluoride, which is something I would like a filter to remove. But aside from a much more expensive distiller I haven’t yet found a pitcher variety that is proven to remove fluoride. Though I’m still on the hunt, and when I find one, I’ll use it as the prefilter stage, before going into the ZeroWater filter. In fact Invigorated Life has a pitcher that is rated to remove fluoride and is currently on-sale at Amazon (link below) so I plan to order that and try JLJ’s pre-filter idea using that and my Zero-Filter pitcher.

But for right now I’m quite happy with the quality of water I’ve been getting out of Zero-Water, as opposed to my forays with Pur, Brita, American Distillers, and Aquasana.

It’s affordable and makes it easy for the consumer to test.

ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher

ZeroWater ZD-018 23-Cup Water Dispenser and Filtration System

Invigorated Living Alkaline Water Pitcher Ionizer, 2 Long-Life Filters Included, 118 Ounces, 3.5 litres, Alkaline Filtered Water Purifier Machine, High pH Natural Filtration System, Removes Toxins, Chlorine, Enhances Immunity & Optimizes Health (Blue)

I don’t have cable. Have not had cable bill for over a decade. I was a cord cutter before that term was even coined. Before streaming I was content with over the air TV and DVDs.

Now with streaming I’ve reduced my DVD forays a bit, as well as consuming shows via over the air TV (though my digital antennae remains an always ready and appreciated backup).

Roku, my Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, and my Digital Antennae… allow me to have TV… on my schedule, my way, while still combined being a fraction of a cable bill, while offering to my mind much more diverse and enjoyable content.

roku3

Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) with Voice Search (2015 model)

As far as Roku, I would recommend avoiding the Roku Stick as that uses WiFi Direct, to communicate with your remote. At least using Roku 3 you can disable WiFi Direct and use a simple IR remote. WiFi Direct creates a piggybacking, potentially insecure network, on top of your existing wi-fi network, which is a totally unnecessary use of bandwidth. I would also avoid using any of the remotes that come with a mic built in. It’s just a privacy nightmare waiting to happen.

Here’s a suitable, simple IR replacement remote:

Gvirtue Replacement Lost Remote Control 1 Year Warranty Compatible with Roku Models Roku 1 (Lt, Hd); Roku 2 (Xd, Xs); Roku 3 (Do NOT Support Roku Streaming Stick, Hdmi Stick and Game)

And leaving the joys of viewing for a second to get back to taste…

Since eliminating sugar from my diet, to include fruit juices (yes that means no orange or cranberry or apple juice) and reducing my daily intake of carbs to under a 100 grams (cutting out most breads, rice, pastas, processed and sugary foods), I feel so much better.

Which I understand is an over-used refrain, but it happens to in my case be true.

And weight gain, or more specifically fat gain, which in a really simple fashion is unused carbohydrates/sugar metabolizing into fat, that process is hampered, as your body is weaned of the excesses that go to fat. In a couple months of a low carb diet, I have begun losing weight even without the benefit of an exercise routine. Once I get back into the gym routine I fully expect the changes to be even more impressive.

So yeah I wish I knew decades ago, what I know now, that excess sugar and carbs, are not your friend.

In addition to water, one of my main drinks these days is unsweetened tea. A concept that only a few short months ago I considered wholly unpalatable. But while most sugar substitutes (malitol, sorbitol, isomalt, even xylitol) are problematic in their own right, there are a couple substitutes whose benefits outweigh their potential drawbacks. Stevia, a plan based sweetener that is one of those that is firing on all cylinders and really changing the game for those who want to avoid sugars corroding effects while still getting sweetness with their drinks.

Since using it in conjunction with unsweetened tea 1/I’m spending a ton less on flavored drinks and 2/ sugary drinks are one of the main ways you overdo it on carbs, so it greatly helps me stay under my 100 carb a day limit.

So a win/win.

Try it for yourself here:

SweetDrops Liquid Stevia 4oz

And I want to wrap up this installment with a few books that I was very happy to have, or add new copies of, in my collection in 2016:

Long before most people had heard the name Zdzislaw Beksinski, I was singing his praises. I still am. If you own only one artbook, make it this one.

fantasticartbeksinski

The Fantastic Art of Beksinski

Another artist that relatively no one has heard of is Phil Kutno. I discovered his stunning pencil work in 2015, and purchased four of his prints, and there hasn’t been a day in 2016 where I haven’t spent time admiring and soaking up those prints. Unfortunately he does not have an art book or any prints available via Amazon. (I’ve been trying to talk him into doing like a Director’s Commentary on one of his prints for the blog… still trying to make it happen :))

The Flood -2011

kutno2-350x350

In the interim you can get prints direct from him here:

http://www.philkutnostudios.com/

Another artist whose work had an astonishing and visceral effect on me was Graham Foster. In 2014 while in Bermuda I had the chance to see the mural he did for the Commissioner’s House (which is the house overlooking the beautiful port of Bermuda, a wonderful architectural structure, it is history in Masonry and beam and floor, the remnants of a colonial age, now dimmed) up close and in person. It is spread over multiple floors and is the history of Bermuda told in verdant hues.

hbermudacvr

hbermudaint3

hbermudaint

Even while walking up and down the steps to view this mammoth under taking, I was thinking…. ‘this needs to be in a book’. There was no way to consume what took him years to paint, in a quick tour of that historic house. Thankfully the artist collaborated with a writer, and made this massive mural, into a massive and informative book. I think it is one of the most essential art and history books of its kind.

And for the longest time upon returning to the states the book was not available anywhere. So nowadays whenever I come across a copy I buy it, as I like to give them out as presents when available, as well as having multiples in my own collection.

You can grab it for yourself while supplies last… here:

Hall of History Bermuda’s Story in Art

There are of course more of my favorite things to present, but that’s enough for this installment. Thanks for looking, and I hope I’ve helped to introduce you to your next…. favorite thing! 🙂

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WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.


Book Description
Publication Date: January 11, 2011
An insider reveals what can—and does—go wrong when companies shift production to China

In this entertaining behind-the-scenes account, Paul Midler tells us all that is wrong with our effort to shift manufacturing to China. Now updated and expanded, Poorly Made in China reveals industry secrets, including the dangerous practice of quality fade—the deliberate and secret habit of Chinese manufacturers to widen profit margins through the reduction of quality inputs. U.S. importers don’t stand a chance, Midler explains, against savvy Chinese suppliers who feel they have little to lose by placing consumer safety at risk for the sake of greater profit. This is a lively and impassioned personal account, a collection of true stories, told by an American who has worked in the country for close to two decades. Poorly Made in China touches on a number of issues that affect us all.

Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game


Book Description
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
An exposé on how the rise of China will affect the American way of life
The End of Cheap China is a fun, riveting, must-read book not only for people doing business in China but for anyone interested in understanding the forces that are changing the world.
Many Americans know China for manufacturing cheap products, thanks largely to the country’s vast supply of low-cost workers. But China is changing, and the glut of cheap labor that has made everyday low prices possible is drying up as Chinese seek not to make iPhones, but to buy them. Shaun Rein, Founder of the China Market Research Group, puts China’s continuing transformation from producer to large-scale consumer – a process that is farther along than most economists think – under the microscope, examining eight megatrends that are catalyzing change in China and posing threats to Americans’ consumption-driven way of life.

Rein takes an engaging and informative approach to examining the extraordinary changes taking place across all levels of Chinese society, talking to everyone from Chinese billionaires and senior government officials to poor migrant workers and even prostitutes and drawing on personal stories and experiences from living in China since the 1990s as well as hard economic data. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of China’s transformation, from fast-improving Chinese companies to confident, optimistic Chinese women to the role of China’s government, and at the end breaks down key lessons for readers to take away.

The End of Cheap China shows:

How rising labor and real estate costs are forcing manufacturers of cheap Chinese products to close, relocate, or move up the value stream
How a restructuring economy moving away from exports to domestic consumption, and rising incomes will create opportunities for foreign brands to sell products in China rather than just producing there
How Chinese consumption will build pressure on the global commodities markets, causing inflation and friction with other nations
How China’s economic transformation spells the end of cheap consumption for Americans

China’s days as a low cost production center are numbered. The End of Cheap China exposes the end of America’s consumerist way of life and gives clear advice on how companies can succeed in the new world order.

The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that Will Disrupt the World


Book Description
Publication Date: April 9, 2012

International Bestseller
One of Foreign Policy’s “21 Books to Read in 2012”
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Business Book

After a decade of rapid growth, the world’s most celebrated emerging markets are poised to slow down. Which countries will rise to challenge them?

To identify the economic stars of the future we should abandon the habit of extrapolating from the recent past and lumping wildly diverse countries together. We need to remember that sustained economic success is a rare phenomenon.

As an era of easy money and easy growth comes to a close, China in particular will cool down. Other major players including Brazil, Russia, and India face their own daunting challenges and inflated expectations. The new “breakout nations” will probably spring from the margins, even from the shadows. Ruchir Sharma, one of the world’s largest investors in emerging markets for Morgan Stanley, here identifies which are most likely to leap ahead and why.

After two decades spent traveling the globe tracking the progress of developing countries, Sharma has produced a book full of surprises: why the overpriced cocktails in Rio are a sign of revival in Detroit; how the threat of the “population bomb” came to be seen as a competitive advantage; how an industrial revolution in Asia is redefining what manufacturing can do for a modern economy; and how the coming shakeout in the big emerging markets could shift the spotlight back to the West, especially American technology and German manufacturing.

What emerges is a clear picture of the shifting balance of global economic power and how it plays out for emerging nations and for the West. In a captivating exploration studded with vignettes, Sharma reveals his rules on how to spot economic success stories. Breakout Nations is a rollicking education for anyone looking to understand where the future will happen.
12 photographs
Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles


Book Description
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
G-Zero — \JEE-ZEER-oh\ —n
A world order in which no single country or durable alliance of countries can meet the challenges of global leadership. What happens when the G20 doesn’t work and the G7 is history.

If the worst threatened—a rogue nuclear state with a horrible surprise, a global health crisis, the collapse of financial institutions from New York to Shang­hai and Mumbai—where would the world look for leadership? The United States, with its paralyzed politics and battered balance sheet? A European Union reeling from self-inflicted wounds? China’s “people’s democracy”? Perhaps Brazil, Turkey, or India, the geopolitical Rookies of the Year? Or some grand coalition of survivors, the last nations stand­ing after half a decade of recession-induced turmoil?

How about none of the above?

For the first time in seven decades, there is no single power or alliance of powers ready to take on the challenges of global leadership. A generation ago, the United States, Europe, and Japan were the world’s powerhouses, the free-market democracies that propelled the global economy forward. Today, they struggle just to find their footing.

Acclaimed geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer argues that the world is facing a leadership vacuum. The diverse political and economic values of the G20 have produced global gridlock. Now that so many challenges transcend borders—from the stability of the global economy and climate change to cyber-attacks, terrorism, and the security of food and water—the need for international cooperation has never been greater. A lack of global leadership will provoke uncertainty, volatility, competition, and, in some cases, open conflict. Bremmer explains the risk that the world will become a series of gated commu­nities as power is regionalized instead of globalized. In the generation to come, negotiations on economic and trade issues are likely to be just as fraught as recent debates over nuclear nonproliferation and climate change.

Disaster, thankfully, is never assured, and Brem­mer details where the levers of power can still be found and how to exercise them for the common good. That’s important, because the one certainty of weakened nations and enfeebled institutions is that someone will try to take advantage of them.

Every Nation for Itself offers essential insights for anyone attempting to navigate the new global play­ing field.
Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World


Book Description
Publication Date: March 23, 2012

The United States is bankrupt, flat broke. Thanks to accounting that would make Enron blush, America’s insolvency goes far beyond what our leaders are disclosing. The United States is a fiscal basket case, in worse shape than the notoriously bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, and others. How did this happen? In The Clash of Generations, experts Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns document our six-decade, off-balance-sheet, unsustainable financing scheme. They explain how we have balanced our longer lives on the backs of our (relatively few) children. At the same time, we’ve been on a consumption spree, saving and investing less than nothing. And that’s not to mention the evisceration of the middle class and a financial system that has proven it can’t be trusted. Kotlikoff and Burns outline grassroots strategies for saving ourselves–and especially our children–from what could be a truly catastrophic financial collapse. Kotlikoff and Burns sounded the alarm in their widely acclaimed The Coming Generational Storm, but politicians didn’t listen. Now the need for action is even more urgent. It’s up to us to demand radical reform of our tax system, our healthcare system, and our Social Security system, and to insist on better paths to investment return than those provided by Wall Street (mis)managers. Kotlikoff and Burns’s “Purple Plans” (so called because they will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats) have been endorsed by a who’s who of economists and offer a new way forward; and their revolutionary investment strategy for individuals replaces the idea of financial capital with “life decision capital.” Of course, we won’t be doing all this just for ourselves. We need to fix America’s fiscal mess before our kids inherit it.
The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy


Book Description
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Why the gold standard is due for a comeback
A reserve currency can only function as such if there is a general consensus that it provides a stable store of value. Without this trust, money, no matter what form it takes, will be abandoned–either suddenly in a crisis, or gradually over time–in favor of something else. The Golden Revolution looks at how the world is now moving rapidly toward some form of global metallic standard, in which money, at least in official, international transactions, is linked directly to gold.
The practical reality of the transition to the coming global gold standard is going to be substantially different from the global fiat monetary and financial regime of today. It is not just money that is going to change. The nature and business of banking will also be affected, as will finance in general.

Incisive and thoughtful, The Golden Revolution is a treatise on the broad effects of the current and future monetary structure
Looks at why the world is headed inexorably back towards a metallic money standard
Explores what the transition period might look like, including some historical examples of both orderly and disorderly transitions
Examines how the world of banking, finance, and investment, including asset valuation and portfolio management techniques, will work under a future gold standard and which industries, countries and markets are likely to benefit and which are likely to suffer

Full of advice on how investors can profit and protect themselves during this critical time of change, the book knows that those who are prepared will prosper, while those who aren’t stand to lose.
The Golden Revolution: How to Prepare for the Coming Global Gold Standard


Book Description
Publication Date: August 28, 2008 | Series: Rich Dad’s Advisors
“Throughout the ages, many things have been used as currency: livestock, grains, spices, shells, beads, and now paper. But only two things have ever been money: gold and silver. When paper money becomes too abundant, and thus loses its value, man always turns back to precious metals. During these times there is always an enormous wealth transfer, and it is within your power to transfer that wealth away from you or toward you.” –Michael Maloney, precious metals investment expert and historian; founder and principal, Gold & Silver, Inc.

The Advanced Guide to Investing Gold and Silver tells listeners:

The essential history of economic cycles that make gold and silver the ultimate monetary standard.
How the U.S. government is driving inflation by diluting our money supply and weakening our purchasing power
Why precious metals are one of the most profitable, easiest, and safest investments you can make
Where, when, and how to invest your money and realize maximum returns, no matter what the economy’s state
Essential advice on avoiding the middleman and taking control of your financial destiny by making your investments directly.
Rich Dad’s Advisors: Guide to Investing In Gold and Silver: Everything You Need to Know to Profit from Precious Metals Now


Book Description
Publication Date: December 13, 2011 | ISBN-10: 0982301871 | ISBN-13: 978-0982301876
Want to lose weight without counting calories, starving yourself, giving up your favorite foods, or eating bland packaged foods? Would you like to look and feel younger and healthier than you have in years without diets and exercise? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, this book is for you! JJ Smith’s revolutionary system teaches proven methods for permanent weight loss that anyone can follow, no matter her size, income level, or educational level. And the end result is a healthy, sexy, slim body.

JJ’s breakthrough weight-loss solution can help you shed pounds fast by detoxifying the body, balancing your hormones, and speeding up your metabolism. You’ll learn which foods help you stay slim and which foods cause you to get fat. If you have been on a roller-coaster ride of weight loss, you will finally be able to get off, lose weight, and stay slim for life!

You will learn how to….

Detoxify the body for fast weight loss
Drop pounds and inches fast, without grueling workouts or starvation
Lose up to 15 pounds in the first three weeks
Shed unwanted fat by eating foods you love, including carbs
Eat so you feel energetic and alive every day
Get physically active without exercising
Get rid of stubborn belly fat
Trigger your 6 fat-burning hormones to lose weight effortlessly
Eat foods that give you glowing, radiant skin

This is your last stop on the way to a new fit and healthy you! Look and feel younger than you have in years. Create your best body–NOW!
Lose Weight Without Dieting or Working Out: Discover Secrets to a Slimmer, Sexier and Healthier You

If I do say so myself, I think this is a very interesting WEDNESDAYS WORDS. It is a very finance heavy installment, all the books with one exception revolving around our current and impending financial crisis, our changing world order… and what we can do to protect ourselves.

And wraps up unexpectedly, for me as well as everyone else, with a health/diet book. I stumbled across the final title by accident, I admit it… it was the boobs (I’m so evil :), but give me a break.. the author, the cover model I believe, JJ Smith is GORGEOUS!), but once I was able to look beyond the boobs (Oh come on! Like you weren’t just looking!), I found it an incredibly intriguing sounding book.

So enjoy!

The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

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