Take a second to think about what your name actually means to you.  What does it mean to people who know you? What does it mean to the world?

Just the other day, a colleague pointed out to me that, “if you Google Patrick Halligan, the top results are about a kid who committed suicide.” I replied immediately, “yes I know” and the familiar image of Ryan Patrick Halligan came to memory.

Here is what you see: post_suicide_namesearchPic

Ryan Patrick Halligan committed suicide in 2003, electing to hang himself as the result of severe bullying while his father was out of town.  His suicide brought a lot of needed media attention to issues like cyberbullying and the reality that the internet can be a dangerous place, especially for our youth.  The impact was rather profound. His Father, John Halligan, an IBM employee, was even able to inspire IBM to launch an initiative known as iSafe to educate youth regarding internet safety. Following the tragedy, his parents appeared on several news programs telling their son’s devastating story.

 

All of this information was heavily indexed in association with the keywords “Patrick Halligan.” And now, if you simply search “Patrick Halligan” you will be introduced to Ryan’s Story.

I thought a lot about the conversation, more than I had in past instances, and decided to dig a little deeper into the life of this kid who I share part of a name with, and who would be the same age as me if he were alive today. –I also wonder if we are of any direct relation–

The thought that I cannot shake has to do with the impact of our lives and how the internet acts as almost a gauge of our impact on society.  The more attention you get, the more content that will be produced and therefore indexed by search engines like Google and Bing.  I asked myself, what would it mean or will it mean if and or when a search for Patrick Halligan returns content about me, as the first result on an engine like Google as opposed to Ryan?  Will that mean that what I have done, good or bad, had a larger impact on the internet than Ryan Patrick Halligan’s devistating story? Certainly, right? How important is the internet in determining how important we and our lives are to the world? It could be the single most important thing.

What would it mean if someone searched for information about Ryan Patrick Halligan and content about Patrick Halligan, me, came up first? How would Ryan’s family feel if that happened to them?

Just something I have been thinking about……….

 

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They say that if you are not grateful for what you have today, you surely will  not be grateful for what you get tomorrow. I began to think about that more and more and jumped on the gratitude journal band wagon.

I thought it might be a good idea to put my gratitude journal entry for today up on the blog. A little exercise in putting myself “out there” more than normal.

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June 21, 2016-


I am grateful that yesterday, I had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with some of the amazing people in my life.  I am grateful that I am in a position where I can take the time to fully enjoy such a day. I am also grateful that I feel particularly energized today as I have begun the start of my own personal new year.  I am beyond grateful that I have lived 26 amazing years. –one of the sad realities of life that no one really talks about is that we will lose friends and family along the journey at any given moment and often without warning– People we love will die and it will not make sense.  I think about everyone that I know who has passed away, almost daily, and constantly remind myself to be grateful for another day. I was especially grateful on my birthday…..

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Side Note: As there are no guarantees in terms of tomorrow, I find myself being more grateful of experiences in the present moment. While I can not sustainably “live each day as if it were my last” I intentionally do try to enjoy various aspects of my day that I would often take for granted.  One of them is to eat a wonderful meal each and everyday.  A daily, “Last meal” if you will.  Another is to truly try and learn something new.  If you check out, its probably nice to say that on your last day, you ate a great meal and were a little bit smarter than you were the day before.

Thanks for reading :)

 

 

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Religion. It is a topic of discussion that I have intentionally stayed away from with this blog as I was not entirely sure as to how to address it.  I feel the need to express my views on it and here it is with sincere honesty . I ask that you refrain from judgement of myself or my intentions if the opinions in this post offend you. That is not the purpose. I also invite discussion and respectful criticisms,  Additionally, as always, I thank you for reading!

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I was raised in a rather traditional Roman Catholic Church environment (depending on which state we were living in, we typically found a “traditional” church) and my parents made the conscious effort to expose me to religion, but allowed me the space to make my own decisions regarding my faith. –I am grateful to them for their approach– From Baptism (of which I was consistently reminded of the significance of the foundational Sacrament) through First Communion and making my Confirmation, I can say that I was at my most “religious” self at some point around my Confirmation. My “faith” in God and embracement of Catholicism was at its strongest point.

In absolute honesty, I must say that since that point, even having gone to a Jesuit University (prior to that point as well), I have grown significantly more secular year by year.  Its not that I do not believe in God or a “God” of some sort, but I can say that I have lost faith in the concept of “church” in all the various forms of which I have been exposed to. After much thought and self-reflection, I have finally concluded that it is a matter of sustainability and the negative effect it has on the global effort to bring the human race together. Bold statement I know!

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My reasoning: Religion in general, conflicts heavily with how I digest the reality of the problems of the world. At the core, having blind faith that a benevolent God maintains a plan that I should have absolute faith in goes against every single fiber of my logical self and only directs my attention to the dangers of the profession of blind faith in anything.  This is exacerbated when you consider that organized religions do not have the capacity to endure proposed truths being challenged. When this happens, Religious Orders either evolve doctrine which delegitimize the very nature of a religious organization’s purpose (isn’t the info coming from “God” who is all knowing and is the supreme being? That is the sell right?). As an example, most traditional churches reject homosexuality, therefore alienating homosexuals from the “Church” as well as our often religious society. But, as more people challenge this “truth” Religion suffers a blow to its doctrine and becomes even more delegitimized. Additionally when toxic “truths” go unchallenged they are simply another means of driving people apart and sustaining divide. How can we logically expect vulnerable humans who are taught to have absolute faith in their God, to get along, if their respective Gods have conflicting views?  You cannot.  Its unsustainable as it cannot endure.  In fact, its downright dangerous.  Additionally, in my life and my religion, even the most “religious” people whom I know, do not adhere to the teachings of their church making them walking contradictions who use religion and a particular faith to rationalize their lives.  In my experiences, the stronger someone’s faith, the more they rationalize life as some “it was meant to be” reality (or delusion -not trying to sound condescending-).  This same thought process can also be very dangerous because people often sacrifice accountability for their actions and or become disengaged with the reality of how they impact those and the world around them.  This is most likely because there is indeed much we can cannot explain, and a “God”, no matter how complex within, gives us a generally simple explanation for the culprit behind the “unexplainable”; the ultimate unknown, which lies at the core of religion and the knowledge of, we desire the most.

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So, with that said, I am not denouncing or criticizing a belief in “God” as much as I am addressing my views towards organized religion and religion in general. Its simply not sustainable and is very much at the core of many of the World’s conflicts and problems. As long as religion exists, people will do anything and everything in the name of it and no single person can truly prove that they are right or wrong in anyone’s actions.  Conviction in something that cannot be proven and is often, solely based on the interpretation of another human, which is not logical nor sustainable as long as we maintain vast differences in those convictions.

In closing, in my effort to be more understanding of the people of the world, and in a quest to be a more sustainable me, I am officially abandoning any and all of my traditional religious views.  I will maintain my own unique, spiritual, “higher being” concept that will never be used to rationalize my behavior and actions, but to be a constant reminder that we live in a great world where unfortunately bad things do happen. With that said, I will not refrain from entering within the walls of organized religions and I will even maintain deep respect for the Catholic Tradition that is very much a part of who I am. I will just do so knowing the limits and potential for harm to those who are not aware. That is all.

 

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–This has been in the works for way too long!– I want you to rethink the concept of sharing, through an interview with sharing evangelist, Neal Gorenflo. Neal is a Corporate America dropout who has established himself as an expert in sharing.  The shortlist for Neal’s credentials includes: His expertise has been featured on NBC Nightly News, Fast Company and the Today Show.  He has spoken at tech conferences such as South By SouthWest, and he has consulted for Stanford University, Loews Home Improvement and many different startups. Last, but certainly not least, he is the co-editor of Share or Die: Voices of The Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis as well as Policies for Shareable Cities, both of which I fully recommend that everyone check out!  Mr. Gorenflo is a true pioneer for the sharing of information that can make our lives easier and allow us to be happier people in a happier society.  As a vehicle for his mission, Neal Co-founded Shareable.net, an amazing resource that encapsulates how sharing can change the world for the better.   I have had the wonderful opportunity to speak with and collaborate with him over the past 2 years.  I also had the chance to sit down with him at a little cafe in Palo Alto last summer to really get an understanding of his mission and why he has dedicated his life to getting us to share more. Recently, Neal kindly agreed to participate in this short interview and I am very grateful for the opportunity to publish it.  Enjoy!

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Living room with fireplace and decorated Christmas tree

Living room with fireplace and decorated Christmas tree.

As the sun sets on Christmas 2015, I thought this would be a good time to assess the success of this year’s efforts to find the magic of Christmas.  After all, is this what this is all about?

Each year, the end of the Thanksgiving Day celebration marks the beginning of the race to Christmas.  We shop for hours on end, both online and in local stores.  We send out cards to friends and family.  We gather together for parties and celebrations at our homes, places of work and worship, etc.  We plan holiday trips to visit family in our hometowns or elaborate vacations to the far ends of the world.  With all of this effort, we must be searching for something.

The Season of Subliminal Messages

Throughout the holiday season, our senses are attacked from all angles by subliminal messages on the “meaning of Christmas” and “the reason for the season”.  Every charity known to mankind lets us know that it is time to open our hearts and wallets to help the poor, the wounded, the abandoned, etc.  You cannot and must not pass the Salvation Army bell ringer without giving.  Even the Girl Scouts are posted outside the local grocery stores to sell cookies.  Turn on the television and you get bombarded with an onslaught of commercials, which depict families gathered together lovingly enjoying the latest electronic devices or toys.

All of these things tug at the heartstrings and pursestrings, but do they really help us find or recreate that ever-elusive magic of Christmas.

From my perspective, the answer is a resounding NO!  The magic of Christmas is not based in commercialism as we are led to believe.  It is something that cannot be bought with money.

The True Magic of Christmas

Perhaps the best thing and the worst thing about social media is that it provides a great platform for anyone and everyone to speak his or her mind at any given time.  Often spontaneous musings or offline comments reveal more about one’s true feelings than do carefully pondered statements or prepared responses.  Herein lies the key to solving the magic of Christmas.

If we look closely at the Facebook statuses and tweets of friends and acquaintances, we see a pattern at this time of year.

  1.  Nostalgia.  Childhood memories of planning and celebrating Christmas at a time when life was slower, calmer and simpler.
  2. Friends and Family.  This is the time of year that we really miss our departed loved ones.  We send up prayers for them and we relish in our fondest memories of them.
  3. A greater feeling of Charity.  During this time of year, we are more likely to have a spirit of giving to those who are less fortunate.
  4. Greater Sense of Humanity.  During the holiday season, most people really and truly want peace on earth, more than at any other time of year.
Car carrying a Christmas tree in a miniature evergreen forest

Car carrying a Christmas tree in a miniature evergreen forest

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the magic of Christmas really is not ever-elusive.  It is right there all the time, just waiting for each of us to embrace it, not only on December 25th, but everyday.  Imagine if we began each day drawing our strength from our foundations.  The lessons learned from our loved ones, those here and departed, are the greatest gifts ever and go a long way to guide us each day.  Taking time out to reflect on our experiences, plans and even limitations will save us time, money and help us avoid many of the mistakes we make in life.  A mindfulness of the environment and respect for each other will foster a happier and wholesome life.  I think this truly is the magic of Christmas!

 

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Recent scientific and sociological studies note the importance of gratitude as a key ingredient in healthy and happy living.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word, gratia, meaning grace and thankfulness.  Current medical and scientific research consistently associates gratitude with greater happiness, which also facilities better physical and mental health.  According to a note from Harvard Medical School, “[g]ratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships.” [1]

In the United States, one need not search far to find information on gratitude as the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are rooted in gratitude.  Unfortunately, many of us embrace this doctrine during the holiday season and then revert to old habits of constant states of dissatisfaction, inconsideration, greed, etc., once the holiday season ends.  To that end, our society has created a world that is a ball of confusion, a perpetual state of unhappiness fueled by toxic interpersonal relationships, ill health and a compromised climate.  As we all search for a solution for the many bad things going on in the world today, maybe if we focus on the true meaning of gratitude, and thankfulness, we can break the cycle that we currently are in, running uncontrollably in circles like hamsters on a wheel, never really making any progress.

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Scientific Benefits of Gratitude

Generally, we are hard wired and require proof that any course of action is authentic.  As such, current scientific studies specifically note positive benefits of showing gratitude (although we really should not need a reason to be grateful as it should be assumed to be the right thing to do).

  1.  People who are grateful generally are more hopeful and healthier.
  2. People who express gratitude generally have better quality and duration of sleep than those who do not show thanks.
  3. People who are thankful have increased self esteem than those who do not show thanks.
  4. People who show gratitude also have greater empathy towards others and are more likely than those who do not show gratitude to be pro-social.
  5. People who show gratitude and who list in journals the things for which they are grateful have greater resilience to problems that may arise.

Gratitude Is Heart Healthy

Another very important reason to show gratitude is that it is particularly good for the heart. [2]  The correlation between the effects of depression, stress and anxiety and the increased risk of heart disease have been well documented, just as the positive effect of a good mental status as beneficial to heart health has been touted.  It is no secret that grateful people are healthier than ungrateful individuals, with fewer cases of inflammation in the body and buildup of damaging plaque.  To that end, being grateful has a big payout.

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Teach The Children Well

The lesson of gratitude is great for children and serves to build stronger families and independent thinkers.  In this age of preoccupation with physical things, and the ensuing deleterious impact on the environment in terms of trash and financial woes from overspending, gratitude for the sufficiency of what one has helps to raise children to be confident responsible adults.

Practice Mindfulness

The practice of showing gratitude hones the skill of mindfulness, which requires each of us to plan our lives very carefully rather than functioning on automatic.  When we plan our activities, our budgets our schedules, etc., we save time and make better choices.  We become aware of the potential pitfalls in life and avoid them to the extent possible.

Everyday Is A Day Of Thanksgiving

As we gather with family and friends to express gratitude for our lives, our happiness and health, it is important that we commit to make everyday a day of gratitude, giving thanks for our world, our love ones and our creator.  This then becomes the starting point for a movement to create a healthier happier world for us all.  To do so is to live green, be green.

Happy Thanksgiving Greeting, Fall Leaves Background and text Happy Thanksgiving

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[1]  http://www.newsweek.com/5-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude-398582#big-shots/undefined/0
[2]  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/456656055/gratitude-is-good-for-the-soul-and-it-helps-the-heart-too

Happy Sunday! Welcome to another addition of Sunday Rants and Resources. Keeping this one short and sweet. Today’s short post features 3 awesome tools that will totally change the way you do life!

1) SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe is simply awesome!  Its a no contract, easy instillation (do-it-yourself) home security system that starts at less than $250.00.  This setup is great for millennialand budget sensitive people living in areas where safety may be a concern! SimpliSafe is going places!

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2) The Air Umbrella

This bad boy has been on KickStarter for a while now but it comes as no surprise that they have raised over $100,000. I cannot wait to get mine!

3) A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine
If you are jumping on the stoicism bandwagon (you should), this is a great place to start.  It provides necessary background before jumping straight into hardcore Seneca teachings.  Learn to focus on the now and focus attention to the matters in your life that you can control.

 

 

 

 

As always, thanks for reading!!

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Here are 5 gems that I found over the last few weeks. Leave any reviews in the comments!

1: Want to Be Smarter?

Check out 17 Small Things To Do Every Day To Be Much Smarter over at LifeHack

2: The Olio Smartwatch

This watch was apparently designed by engineers and designers from both Nasa and Pixar

3: The Catoctin Creek Distillery

If you have never heard of these guys, and you love booze, check them out! A solar power distillery located just outside of DC!

 

4: Check Out Peter’s Laws by Peter Diamandis

5: Fun Sustainability Lesson

Play “The Fish Game” and get a quick lesson on sustainability!

Its Sunday!  Trying a new thing where I post any ideas/thoughts and or resources acquired over the last week.  I usually do this in a word doc for myself but this way I can share it as well as have a chronological set of resources to look back on.

Physical Diet: 

I have been putting the low-carb high protein diet to the test!   In doing so, I modified/adapted various takes on a keto/paleo, low-carb diets that fit my palate and lifestyle.  I had a more extensive than usual physical done the week before and received the results at the beginning of last week.  Key notes: I lost 16 true pounds in the last 25 days.  I had blood work done but the results are more of a base as opposed to a reflection of the change in eating as I just started.  I will be getting blood work every few months to monitor and will update the results.

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Lets make kombucha the easy way! 

The purpose of this post is to show you how to make kombucha from growing your own SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or “mother”  (you must have a healthy SCOBY to make kombucha) to bottling and drinking your first batch.

Background: Of late, I have been rather manic with regards to probiotics and building healthy gut flora. Your gut is responsible for nutrient absorption and a poor gut environment can mean malnutrition along with other health concerns.  Some call your gut your “second brain” and its extremely important to make sure that it is as healthy  as possible.  In doing so, as part of my daily routine, I take a probiotic (pill form) as well as eat the typical “active culture” dense foods such as yogurt and kefir.  My quest to have the healthiest food digesting, nutrient absorbing, microbiota phenomenon of a gut has also involved a ton of other probiotic foods.  These typically consist of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and drinks like…..KOMBUCHA (fermented tea) which help to create an “ideal” community of bacteria in the gut.  Kombucha or “buch” as the connoisseurs  refer to it, is in my mind, the easiest and most convenient way to get a probiotic boost throughout the day.  I would typically purchase the GT’S brand of kombucha, from Whole Foods, which comes in several flavors.  They include original, gingerberry, mango, citrus, and some weird green flavor. Since I am also on a low–carb, slow–carb diet, I stick with the original or ginger flavor as they are both low in carbohydrates. With my daily purchase, I began to notice a little problem. Kombucha is EXPENSIVE! Like $4.00 a bottle and I was drinking almost 3 a day!  So what do we do? Make it ourselves!

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What is Kombucha? Basically, it is fermented tea. If you try searching online, there are a ton of various ideas, concepts, complicated procedures and confusing ways to make this fantastic drink.  Here is the quick and easy way to do it at home.

 

Materials:

  1. 1 liter mason jar (sterilized with boiling water)
  2. 5 bags of black tea (caffeinated)
  3. 1 cup of raw sugar
  4. 1 bottle of GT’S original Kombucha (usually carried at Whole Foods)
  5. Paper towels/coffee filter
  6. Rubber band

The first thing is to grow A SCOBY! (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)

Step 1: Bring 4.5 cups of water to a boil and put in tea bags

Step 2: Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved.

Step 3: Let steep  for 20 minutes

Step 4: Let cool to room temperature.  This is very important as you do not want the tea to be to0 hot when you add the GT’S.  It will kill the live cultures and destroy your chances of growing a SCOBY.

Step 5: Once tea is at room temperature (usually 2-3 hours) poor in the entire contents of the Gts original kombucha

Step 5:  Secure a doubled up paper towel or a coffee filter around around the jar and place jar in a secure, warm place, out of direct sunlight.

FullSizeRenderStep 6: Let your Scoby grow!  This can take anywhere from two weeks to a month depending on the temperature of the room.  It is strongly advised to check the growth every few days to ensure healthy growth.  Watch out for any mold or strong odors/ indications of contamination or rotting.  The contents should have a vinegar smell and the presence of a gelatinous mass growing on top (or slightly suspended in the liquid). Your SCOBY will be ready once it is about a 1/4 of an inch thick.

 

Making Actual Kombucha:

Once your SCOBY is ready, making the actual Kombucha is pretty much the same process.  Make your liter of tea again the same way described above.  Once it has cooled to room temperature, poor in a cup of the Kombucha batch that you used to grow the SCOBY and then carefully transfer the SCOBY over. It is best to use a fresh rubber/latex glove as you do not want any contamination or outside bacteria to hurt your culture. Finally place the jar in a warm location away from any direct sunlight for 7-10 days. After about the 5th day, it is good to taste your Kombucha using the straw method so that you can achieve the desired flavor you are looking for.  The longer it ferments, the more tart it will become. You will also notice a new SCOBY growing on top. Make sure you transfer this over to your new batch to keep the process going.

 

Bottle

Once your batch is at the desired flavor, it time to bottle. I like to bottle my finished kombucha in glass airlock bottles.  I think they look cool and they are perfect for this drink as they keep air out. You need to make a new batch of kombucha and transfer over your SCOBY.  Then, you simply funnel the contents into the new bottle leaving about a quarter of an inch of air at the top.  At this step, you can also infuse with ginger or any desired fruit.  After you have done this, let your freshly bottled kombucha set at room temperature for 2-3 more additional days to get some carbonation.  Then refrigerate and drink!!!

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot us an email at pmdproducts@gmail.com

 

If you are new to Kombucha, I definitely recommend GT’S for to try before you begin making your own!