Thursday, June 28, 2007

broccoli chips - don't laugh, they're great!

I recently tried some fresh broccoli slaw, made from stringed stems, and sold in bags in the produce section of the grocery store.
VJ & I ate a lot of broccoli when we were on the South Beach a couple of years ago. We each lost quite a bit of weight, then gained some back.
I discovered broccoli chips then, and figured I would try them again now that I'm trying to get back down to my college weight of 165#. I'm currently using a modified version of the South Beach diet, (a little less strict at the beginning and with more fruit).
You can make chips when you buy a bunch of fresh broccoli, rather than tossing out the stems. Try slicing them as thin as possible. I eat the chips raw. A dip in some light ranch salad dressing may make them more palatable if plain is just a little too rustic for you.
I'm here to serve,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My healthy Mexican black bean salad recipe

I previously posted this on the Younger Next Year community blog but am adding it here for easy linking. I made up a big batch this morning. It's high in Protein & fiber, low in fat, easy to make, keeps 5 or 6 days in the fridge and makes a great main dish, salad topper, pocket filler, side course or a quick snack.

2 - 2 lb cans Black Beans
1 - 1 lb can Chick Peas
1 - 1 lb can small red beans
1 - 1 lb can dark red kidney beans
1 large onion
1 tomato
1 large red bell pepper
4 jalapeno peppers
3 tablespoons (heaping) chili powder
Dash of crushed red pepper or other hot stuff. Sometimes I use “Hot Shot”
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

Drain all but ½ cup of liquid from the back beans which is poured over the beans in the bowl as a base for the dressing. Rinse the beans – & combine in a large bowl. Dice the onion, tomato & peppers mix with the beans. Add chili powder, sprinkle crushed red pepper (to taste) go easy unless you like hot stuff. Drizzle balsamic vinegar & oil over the beans & mix well. Adjust hot peppers & chili powder to your taste. Sometimes I throw in chopped up black olives or sprinkle with cilantro for a little flavor twist.

Serve chilled – keeps well in closed containers in the fridge.

Approximate nutrition information: Serving size ½ cup: 90 calories with only 5 calories from fat 7 grams protein & 6 grams of fiber About 460 mg sodium – although rinsing the beans may reduce this a bit. A good source of iron

For more on the benefits of beans see: Dr. Perricone's 10 Superfoods In a large study of almost 10,000 men and women, those who ate beans four or more times a week cut their risk of coronary heart disease by about 20 percent, compared with those who ate beans less than once a week. It appears that this health benefit was independent of other health habits, since adjustments to account for other important cardiovascular disease risk factors produced minimal change in the risk estimates.

Other studies show that within two to three weeks, diets high in either canned or dry beans (3 to 4 ounces per day) reduce blood cholesterol levels by 10 percent or more: an effect that can result in a 20 percent decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease. Beans and lentils have the same potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants—flavonoids and flavonals—found in tea, fruits, grapes, red wine and cocoa beans. In particular, the reddish flavonal pigments in bean and lentil seed coats exert antioxidant activity 50 times greater than vitamin E, protect against oxidative damage to cell membrane lipids, promote healthy collagen and cartilage, and restore the antioxidant powers of vitamins C and E after they’ve battled free radicals.
There is a downside - beans are the "musical fruit" - don't eat too many when you will be sitting for an extended time in a confined space with other people...

Live Long & Prosper,

Friday, June 22, 2007

S.M.A.R.T. Goals (improved)

SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, and Timed.

I'm working on loosing some weight and I found several nice articles on S.M.A.R.T. Goals, but after thinking about them and working on them for a few days I think I improved on the S.M.A.R.T. acronym by replacing Attainable with Ambitious. Attainability overlaps heavily with Realistic. In order to have a significant impact, its crucial that our goals are Ambitious. We can't water our goals down to the point where success is always guaranteed. We will achieve more by taking a bit of risk and stretching to achieve our full potential.

Specific - A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal; answer these questions:
What: What specifically do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons or benefits of accomplishing the goal to aid motivation.
How: What are my strategies and tactics to accomplish the goal
Who: Are others involved? Do I need help? Who can I get to help?
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Where: Identify a location if it’s important

Measurable - Establish concrete criteria or milestones for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? How many projects have you seen where the status reports said everything was on time, with no problems, until the deadline hit?

Ambitious – If your goal is set so easily as to be a sure thing, will you achieve all that is possible? While we want to set realistic goals that can be achieved, there is not much reward if success is guaranteed. With risk comes reward. The art is in balancing risk and reward. Identify what is achievable, then set a stretch goal that may require just a bit more effort, creativity or persistence. If you don’t reach the stretch goal, the outcome is not necessarily a failure. If you set your sights so low that there is no stretch, will you be satisfied with the outcome? Ambitious goals may be easier to reach because easy goals don’t provide much motivation.

Realistic - To be realistic, you must be both willing and able to work toward it. Do you have the right skills, preparation, tools and resources to reach the goal? If not how can you get them? If you understand the steps and resources needed to accomplish the goal and have the necessary skills it is much more likely to be achieved. If you’ve accomplished something similar in the past then your goal is probably realistic.

Timed - A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to the goal there's no sense of urgency and your ability to measure progress is greatly diminished.

I'm here to serve

Four ways to Curb Appetite

From Time Magazine June 11 2007 with a few of my own interjections...

1. Eat Fiber: Unrefined foods are high in fiber and stimulate appetite-suppressing hormones making you feel full.

2. Brush Your Teeth: The clean mouth and flavor change help you resist eating more, and good dental hygiene is good for your overall health.

3. Be Consistent: Eating breakfast and regularly scheduled meals keeps hormone levels steady and quashes hunger pangs.

4. Eat Slowly: It takes a while for the brain to realize that the stomach is full. slowing down gives the brain time to catch up with your stomach.
I'm here to serve,

See more about health, exercise & nutrition on the Younger Next Year Interactive Community. I started a blog there to support my weight loss goal. 165 lb. by August 1.

You can read much more on the Science of Appetite at the Time Magazine website. I found the article interesting, but from my perspective, the above tidbits are the most useful.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Humor and Leadership

A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done" Dwight D. Eisenhower*

Studies suggest that humor useful in facilitating communication in difficult situations, relieving stress, and in clarifying mutual understanding of difficult topics in work groups. Humor can be used to convey information, break down behavioral barriers, highlight key points, and identify where tension exists.

Humor facilitates communication in difficult situations, such as when a supervisor needs to provide negative or sanctioning feedback and when broaching taboo topics.

Humor can be used by managers to communicate corrective actions without offending or threatening. Humor can also be used as a non-threatening way for subordinates to push back up the chain of command without overstepping customary lines of authority. Humor allows you to discuss taboo topics, including expression of certain emotions, such as aggression, fear, and sadness. Humor allows you to maintain lines of communication in spite of conflict. Humor's ability to facilitate communication is likely one of its most powerful and potentially useful aspects.

Humor makes it possible to communicate in stressful situations because it simultaneously conveys both the message and information about how to interpret the message. Through smiling, an exaggerated tone of voice, etc. humor tells us that the normal rules of behavior are temporarily suspended. Humor lets both the speaker and listener off the hook should conflict arise on the subject. For example, if you first establish, by smiles and voice tone, that you are joking around, you may be able to communicate ideas that would be considered insulting under other circumstances without jeopardizing the relationship. Humor provides the speaker the opportunity to deny that he meant anything by his comment, and it gives the listener the right to act as if nothing has been conveyed.

Humor usually puts people in a good mood, and people in a good mood tend to be more accepting and cooperative, reducing conflict and enabling deeper communication. Humor draws attention. Advertising executives consider humor an effective way to gain attention. Attention emphasizes the message and emphasizes the importance of related segments of the interaction.

Three important questions should be considered When using humor in difficult situations: Do the nonverbal signals clearly convey that the comment is not to be taken seriously? Will the humor leave listeners in a good mood? Is the humor calling attention to something valuable (e.g., the encouraging desired behavior, rather than emphasizing undesirable behavior)?
Humor can reduce stress or tension. Joking provides an energizing distraction for team members when the activity seems overly taxing.

Humor is an important emotion management tool to relieve tension and stress in interpersonal relationships. Many employers consider stress reduction to be the main benefit of humor in the workplace.

Humor allows group members to come to common understanding of our physical and social environment. It identifies situations as safer and less serious than they initially seem. People with a good sense of humor tend to suffer fewer negative outcomes when exposed to stress. Humor can also induce a positive mood, which alleviates stress-induced resistance, and it can draw attention away from the source of stress.

When using humor to reduce stress, remember that your objective may be to change the listener's appraisal of a situation as well as their emotional reaction to it. Is the content of the humor aimed at defining or redefining the situation as safe? Will the humor generate a positive rather than a negative mood? And will the humor draw attention away from the source of stress rather than toward it?

Humor can alert you to issues that others find stressful or problematic. Because humor gives both the speaker and listener the chance to deny that anything important was conveyed, leaders and listeners, should be aware of cases where humor has allowed a potentially contentious matter into a conversation. Your ability to "take a joke" opens an important back channel of communication through which your peers and subordinates may try to pass valuable feedback.

Because humor is often used to alleviate stress, its presence can serve as an important signal that the topic makes the speaker uncomfortable, or to identify issues related to interpersonal conflict. The presence of stress-related humor and laughter reflected the higher levels of stress and conflict in those interactions might be viewed as a warning flag of latent conflict.

Example: disarming humor:
How are you doing?
I have good days and.... better days!

I'm here to serve,


* I picked up this quote from an excellent address given to the students and parents of the Barrington High School [BHS] Class of 2007 by Dan Monaco, a teacher, at the BHS Friendship Service leading up to graduation.

Friday, June 8, 2007

New Community Features at

Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge, co-authors of Younger Next Year, and my favorite personal health, fitness, and nutrition gurus created an interactive community to share ideas and inspire fitness on the Younger Next Year website:

Community Features include:
HEALTH JOURNAL (Public / Private)You can now make your Journals PRIVATE or PUBLIC

PERSONAL BLOGS Post your own articles or "blogs" about living younger next year.

FRIENDS LIST Create a friends list to monitor their Blog and Journal and send messages.

FORUM Communicate with others on various health related topics.

The books have been a huge success, I expect the community will be too as the word gets out. The community is free to use, and will likely help you live a better healthier life.
This is a must visit web site!

Software Licensing Messiness

Here is a link to the original document (from that Ed Bott wrote about on the ZDNet blog about the messiness of Windows Licensing.

Mislicensing occurs when a customer uses their Volume License Agreement to install the initial Windows License on a new PC. Volume License Agreements cover the Windows UPGRADE only, therefore these systems are not properly licensed—they are mislicensed. You must first acquire a qualifying underlying operating system license, such as a full version of the Windows Desktop, either preinstalled from your hardware vendor(OEM/system builder) or through Full Packaged Product.
The Microsoft document is not dated – so there is no way to know when it was published or what specific Windows licenses are covered, nor is there a way to know on what data the following statement is based:

we (presumably Microsoft) have found that nearly 44% of Volume License customers believe that Volume License rights include the full OS and 40% of Volume License customers report they have acquired naked or unlicensed PCs, putting themselves at risk of non-compliance with their Volume License Agreement.
I tried calling the phone number in the document in the middle of the business day. The phone rang and rang and I never even had an opportunity to leave a message with an automated attendant.

If you have further questions, please contact 1-866-606-3749 (8-5 pm CST).
My conclusion is that there is a lot of litter in the literature…

However; I find value in the 5 issues that Ed identified in the Microsoft License. These are pretty fundamental to many Software licenses. I’ve added some of my own comments to Ed’s below:

1. The license agreement is not understandable on its face. New license agreements are commonly infested with jargon and gobbledygook terminology, which is why most people don’t read them. It’s definitely not in the interest of the lawyers to provide a one-page summary written in language that anyone can understand. If vendors provided a summary, it wouldn’t be binding and you would have to understand the full document to interpret its meaning anyway.

2. Multiple license types cause confusion. Different license types are offered to address business requirements for different channels or sales models. They channels often overlap and transparency may be contrary to the vendor or channel business objective. The trouble is, most vendors provide don’t provide an easy way to tell which type of license you own. Why can’t vendors provide a simple tool that generates a license report showing your version, product ID, and whether the license can be transferred to another PC?

3. Multiple versions of media and product keys cause unneeded headaches. This problem is especially bad with Windows XP, where you need to find exactly the right type of Windows media to reinstall Windows. If you have a Dell system and a Dell product key, for example, you can’t use a retail copy of Windows to reinstall. This means you need to keep track of the installation media for the life of the system. Oh did media come with that?

4. Record-keeping requirements are burdensome. If you have a large shop, you need to keep a paper trail for every PC and be prepared to prove that each one is properly licensed.

5. There’s no way to deactivate a license. Even though you can legally transfer a retail Windows license from one PC to another, there is no way to de-activate the license. Wouldn’t it make more sense if you could deactivate a system as easily as you can activate it? Doing so could tell the activation servers to remove the record for the current system and would allow activation on a new PC.

I'm here to serve,

Thursday, June 7, 2007

How to set the right price

Peter Longini, Managing Editor for Inside Product Strategy discussed pricing strategies with Mike Naumuk of medSage Technologies in his latest Product Strategy Network newsletter.

Theory: Target the mix of offering to maximize customer value while at the same time meeting your own cost and revenue objectives.

In practice, more factors need consideration:

  • Competitive pricing - not just direct competitors, but also alternative solutions - maybe the competition for a software offering is not software at all, but a service.

  • Positioning the technology and business adoption lifecyle - Do you not charge for certain services that ultimately drive customer adoption.

  • What is the customer willing to pay? The price that sticks is based on what customers are willing to pay.

  • Revenue trails - Are there any opportunity for supplemental revenue from associated products or services?

The basic foundation of SaaS pricing for monthly or annual subscriptions typically uses a tiered subscription based on a metric such as: number of transactions, number of instances, activity thresholds or other value metric. The fee generally includes: use of the application, including periodic upgrades basic customer support and hosting services. The fee generally increases by a small amount each year to cover ongoing maintenance costs.

Pricing models for professional services are:

  • Fixed price for well defined bundled services

  • Menu based pricing where the buyer selects from a predefined list of services

  • Time and materials - where the cost is based on the effort required and associated costs
Mike Naumuk warns that the impact of future software releases on existing service capabilities is the most frequently overlooked cost driver. Customers ask for all sorts of value added features that tend to make applications more expensive to support. Factors to consider include pre-release testing, documentation, training materials, and configuration options.

I'm here to serve,

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

On choosing a college... how to decide

The decision deadline for most colleges is past, and we had quite an experience with Emily, our third child, who is graduating high school this weekend and plans to begin studying pharmacy, (a six year program) in the fall. She was accepted at two well known private schools, including her initial top choice. (Here are a few relevant financial facts for her initial top choice: $43,000/year times six years less $5,000/year scholarship and $3,000 financial aid package = $210,000 before other living expenses) She was also accepted at our state university which has a highly ranked pharmacy program where she received a full tuition merit scholarship where our net cost for 6 years will be about $84,000. That’s still a LOT of money, but less than half of the private school.

I talked to many people asking the question, how to explain to an 18 year old that these are not just numbers written on piece of paper? How can I help my daughter understand this choice will have a huge impact on her long (and our) term finances? In the end, this is how we addressed the issue.

1) We told her she could go wherever she wanted, but if she chose a school that is beyond our means, she would have to take out loans to cover what we are unable to afford, and she would be responsible for paying back the loans.

2) We helped her understand the interest payments on student loans multiply the amount owed. The school’s financial aid offices provided information on typical payment schedules. We also provided her information on the amount of borrowing vs. future expected income from the College Board Workbook for families Meeting College Costs. (The book is discounted if purchased it when completing the CSS Profile).

3) We made it clear that if she took out huge loans, then decided later on to switch majors, say from pharmacy to teaching, resulting in a much lower expected annual income after graduation, she would still be responsible for the loans.

4) We helped her to confirm for herself that there was nothing at the higher cost private schools that she could not do at the less expensive state school.

5) For the field of pharmacy, it doesn’t seem like where you go to school has a huge impact on future career potential. For liberal arts, that may be less true.

6) If she chose the private school, at least part of the money she earned while working summers would have to go to tuition and board expenses, so she would have a lot less spending money while in school, whereas at the more affordable state school, we can cover her tuition and board, and she can use her earnings for her living expenses.

7) Originally, I wasn’t going to include this last point, but in the interest of full disclosure, I thought that I should, because I think that it had some influence on her decision. We have an extra car in the family for our kids to share, and with her two older brothers away for the most of the year at college. Emily had the car pretty much to herself for her senior year at high school. We dropped a few hints that if she chose the state university, she would be able to take the car with her to school, giving her a lot of mobility and freedom. This would have been out of the question at the private school because it’s in the city and none of us would have been able to afford to run it anyway. OK you can call it a bribe if you want. In the end, considering all these factors, we were thrilled when she chose the state school.

I hope that things work out as well for your family.