NYTimes: (Only) Two Rules for a Good Diet

NYTimes: (Only) Two Rules for a Good Diet
http://nyti.ms/1raZxpC

My wife is a health coach and our family generally eats healthily, taking a moderation approach to most things. But I notice that what we now consider everyday and not at all in the camp of ‘health-nut’, such as eating rice cereal with an egg for breakfast or juicing, is still not an everyday thing for most people. And this includes plenty of affluent, healthy looking people that I am considering in this, i.e., the ones that you would think are educated and aware.

While I did not grow up in a health conscious household per se, my mother did cook basically all of our meals and that means that we ate in a manner that it much more healthy than those who don’t cook. The point Bittman makes in the article about cooking, though he does not include it as one of the 2 rules, is critical. I know that cooking seems scary to people, foreign, with questions on where to even begin. But like with anything, begin at the beginning with what you know and try to expand out from there. Because how can you otherwise even know what you are eating? Relying upon labels for ready made food does not work that well. And yes, there are great restaurant options these days (meaning actually healthful places, most restaurants are not healthy for you at all), but not always available (especially in non major metro areas) and it can be really expensive.

When you do cook, there are still plenty of questions about ingredients and you could drive yourself a bit crazy if you get overly focused on it. You can check out sites like http://www.foodbabe.com and she has really great advice on things to stay away from, both the ingredients to look out for and popular brands of products that you should avoid. But you can also take the Bittman approach and just stop eating processed foods. That is actually a huge category of things (not really “food” at all), but basically if there are ingredients that you don’t recognize as food, then the product is not food. It can be hard, especially if you don’t cook, to do this. No more bags of Doritos or anything like them, but there are choices for snacks….see here: http://foodbabe.com/2012/09/28/do-your-favorite-snack-brands-contain-gmos/

In our house, we still have foods that are on the “avoid” list, but not many and we cut them out when we learn about them (I just read that Thomas’ English Muffins are no good, bummer). There are more choices than ever, especially if you have a Whole Foods nearby. And maybe someone will figure out the opportunity to bring artisanal foods safely and quickly to your doorstep (though the carbon footprint thing could be a problem). Even if you don’t have a Whole Foods, or can’t afford the organic section, start slowly in any way that you can. It is easy, and will save you money, to stop drinking any and all cola (Coke, Pepsi, Diet Coke, etc) and drink water instead. No more McDonald’s. Boil an egg in the morning and have it with a piece of toast that is natural, not processed bread. Eat carrots with hummus as an easy and inexpensive snack. There are lots of little things and once you start and your body feels better, you will look for more ways to continue to change your eating habits. And this is especially important for your children, don’t hook them on processed foods and sugar….I know that they beg for them, of course they do, but they will stop craving it when it is not given and then will forget it almost all together, as will you.

 

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OTT Finally Happening….what will it mean to what we pay for TV?

There has been lots of talk about over-the-top (OTT) programming coming to all of those wanting to cut the cord or never having ever attached the cord. This is a good article by David Carr of NYTimes talking about recent moves by CBS and HBO.

http://nyti.ms/1FnLvKU

The tricky part has always been, and will continue to be for most content providers, how to separate from the bundle while maintaining income. Those programmers with great brands, both the umbrella brand and content brands, can make this leap and get people to pay them for the programming. The vast array of smaller cable networks will have a harder time doing so. Those smaller audiences may not decide to make the separate buying decision to purchase the network or bundle of programming….the decision process is nuanced when not just buying a bundle.

And as we move towards a separation of distribution from content, we may find that the promise or hope of paying less for our TV watching habit does not really come to fruition. Of course, it will depend on what you watch and want to pay for, but for those who watch a decent amount of TV from different content owners it seems that the bill will tally to something that could match what is bought today in the bundle. CBS is charging $6 for day after broadcast shows and back catalog shows, but this will not get you sports and you have to be in a market where CBS owns the local affiliate TV station (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CBS_Television_Stations).

So what if you watch CBS and NBC (picking two of four major networks), HBO, Showtime, some bundle from Time Warner (TNT, etc), and bundle from Scripps (Food Network), ESPN and then get three sports such as MLB, NFL, NBA. What would this cost as compared to your current bundle? Has to get to say $80 per month equivalent, assuming that the broadcast networks, Time Warner and Scripps are $6 each; HBO and Showtime are $8 each; sports are $10 each (league ones are not every month, but $120/season seems about right on average, so just making this monthly for the calculation). And then you pay for your high speed internet on top of that, which the cheapest stand-alone service from Comcast is 25 Mbps down speed and costs $40/month (and you can pay more for faster speeds). So $120 per month….that is more than the average American spends on a bundle today. So, this will be the dilemma. And I still think that unbundling is good for consumers as more competition and choice will lead to people finding deals and paying for just what they want. But I don’t think that it will really lower your monthly bill if you are watching programming from multiple sources….we’ll see, I will keep my fingers crossed.

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NYTimes: How Exercise May Protect Against Depression

NYTimes: How Exercise May Protect Against Depression
http://nyti.ms/1nIxEcR

If science is what you need to get motivated for exercise (and I definitely need something), then this might help.

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Don’t Blame Uber | stratechery by Ben Thompson

http://stratechery.com/2014/dont-blame-uber/

Interesting conclusion, not what I was expecting as I read the article….that employer based healthcare is the problem. And I agree. And not because I am so sure about the government paying for everyone’s healthcare, though clearly many developed nations do. More because it should be personal, portable, facilitate price competition that only consumers picking up the tab can push and get everyone on a system so that risks are spread as widely as possible. What we have now doesn’t work, and I don’t mean ‘ObamaCare’ as that could actually be a step in the right direction. I mean that a system whereby businesses (small business especially) have a 10% plus annual increase in health care costs for same or lesser coverage is just crazy. Where is the incremental benefit? I don’t think that it exists, and I don’t buy the story that advances in medicine are the cause of increasing costs (maybe with tech costs should be coming down?). I think that it is a bloated system, too many procedures or tests done without regard to cost, and too many people not taking care of their health which could actually change if they are motivated by the dollar to be healthy (since motivations like living a long and healthy life don’t seem to be compelling enough). Too big a change people say, or they are quick to point out all of the barriers, the things that would have to be figured out for it to work perfectly in a new system, the engendered interests, etc. But I wonder if we make it seem harder than it is. Maybe go with a pretty good plan, switch over and let it get figured out by natural forces (with some safety nets built in for the transition)?

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Lone Surivor, and the loss of a friend

I finally saw the movie Lone Survivor just recently, not sure what took me so long to see it. It tells the story of Operation Red Wings (not Redwing, as many write it, it is named for the hockey team), and SEAL mission to take out a Taliban strongman in June 2005. I watched it after reading the book about the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden, No Easy Day, and in the back of that book the author lists the names of SEALs that have died in Afghanistan. One of them was very familiar to me, yet I did not know that he had been killed.

I remember reading an article years ago about the mission Red Wings and the tragedy of the special forces and other men who dies trying to rescue the 4-man SEAL team that was trapped on a ridge in Afghanistan. But one critical fact somehow escaped my notice. The commander of the mission was a guy named Erik Kristensen, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy and a SEAL. Erik led the group in the Chinook helicopter to rescue the team and died with that group when an RPG was fired into the back of the copter as it looked to set down. It was Erik’s name that finally caught my attention in the back of the book.

Erik and I served on the USS Chandler together. I was a LT(jg) and then LT and served as a Navigator from spring/summer 1997 through summer 1998, and then I left active duty. Erik was an Ensign at the time and had been at the Chandler prior to my arrival, it was his first tour after graduating from the Academy. We became friends right away. The wardroom on the Chandler was not big and there were only a handful of junior officers, so it was hard not to know everyone well. But I would have been friends with Erik regardless. I read back from a journal that I regularly wrote in during my time on the Chandler, especially during a deployment off the coast of Central America that we were on for about 4-5 months, and there are several mentions of Erik as I retold some story for the funny memory or for the impact that it had on me at the time.

I was not super good friends with Erik, and he was a really solid guy and I know that he had super good friends. And this article link here is a nice one written from a guy who certainly knew Erik better than me. http://nyti.ms/1DIfeN0. But I knew Erik.

It is pretty easy to not stay in touch with guys once you leave a station. I got out of the Navy, moved back to Boston for a time and then went to grad school. Erik left the Chandler for San Diego and a Navy SEAL boat team. I knew that he wanted to be a SEAL and that he was taking orders to SWCC, which was something that I had considered doing too as it was a way to connect to the SEAL community that I had many friends in. And I had heard that Erik went back to teach at the Academy and then finally got his spot in BUD/S. But we did not connect in person. I wish we had.

I was really saddened by hearing about Erik’s death. In some ways, I should not have been. He was effectively not a part of my life. A memory that did not even come easily. But part of my sadness was my own mourning for this, my mourning for a loss of innocence and connection to younger life. And, as I read my journal and remembered times spent with Erik, a mourning for the loss of my friend.

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Simplify Strategy

Short video from HBR that is helpful in explaining how to make strategy something that can be Understood –> Remembered –> Acted Upon

  1. What are key drivers of value creation
  2. What are the critical few challenges to overcome to create value
  3. What are our must-win battles

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NYTimes: Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border

NYTimes: Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border
http://nyti.ms/1qX0d6p

This is just so heart wrenching. Children growing up in an environment in which they are taught to basically kill or be killed. We worry about bullies at school, about getting to bed at the right time, about development of our children, about all sorts of things to care for and help our children. Imagine being a parent in this Honduran city….we are all the same, they want to do all those same things for their children, but these parents feel forced to put their children on buses and ship them to the U.S. border.

I hope that they find peace somehow, all of them, but especially the children.

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