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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Music Group of the Day : SONS OF SERENDIP

Caught this band on tv, here’s hoping they get picked up for a record deal as I like the music they produce, and would like to get some CDs.

SR-4

From their website:

“The Sons of Serendip is a musical group of four friends, who through a series of serendipitous events, came together in graduate school at Boston University. Micah Christian, a teacher from Randolph, MA, is the lead vocalist of the group; Cordaro Rodriguez, an attorney from Charlotte, NC, is the pianist and guitarist; Kendall Ramseur, a performer, cello instructor and grocery clerk from Charlotte, NC, is the cellist and vocalist; and Mason Morton, who is a teacher from Atlanta, GA, is the harpist for the quartet. They have each been playing their instruments since childhood, but recently, they came together to begin what they hope will be a long beautiful journey of creating music that touches people’s hearts. On America’s Got Talent, they hope that their music will resonate deeply with listeners and that, in some way, it will make their lives a little better – even if just for a moment.

All images copyright Shef Reynolds. All rights reserved. ”

See more on their website here!