August 11, 2011

On Quora: Best iPad Apps, What to do in LA, Toddler foods, Kettlebells & Making Friends

Category: Entertainment,Health,Life,Parenting,Personal development — by Amit Chaudhary @ 10:54 am

What are the best iPad apps?

Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore is an inter-active book for kids, see the making at http://www.morrislessmore.com/?p…

The Disney\Pixar apps Toy Story & Dr. Seuss books are great on iPad.Flipboard is very useful & well design, it is a photo, news & social discovery magazine.

KardCombat is a fantasy card game which is quite addictive, it has a nice multi-user mode through OpenFient.

Slice HD is a puzzle game with good use of multi touch & a nice concept, the blood is so realistic, it is cringe inducing.

Planetary is a way to play & browse your music using Suns, Planets & Moons. The UI is smooth and easy to get hang of.

What fun things are there to do in LA?

Some of the beaten path (Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood Star Walk & Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum) in addition to those already covered.
Architecture: Do the guided or self audio tour of Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry

Beach: If you have visited the Energetic beaches of Venice & Santa Monica, go to Zuma beach for nice sand & water and a bit more quieter setting.Downtown & Food: Stay in downtown, watch a modern dance for free (http://www.grandperformances.org) & eat at some fabulous restaurants including Border’s Grill, Mixt Green (It is a SF original) & Cafe Pinot near the LA library.

Here are some approaches which worked for us. Our little one did not even try ripe mangoes
  • Eat it a bit yourself.

This tickles their curiosity.

  • Leave it out there and wait for hunger.

Some sliced apples in a small bowl get attention when hunger happens

  • Keep the food simple

Peas or boiled baby carrots instead of Broccoli, etc.

 I liked those used by our trainer & sold by American Kettlebell club\World Kettlebell club best. They work well for Swings as well as more complicated ones like Press & Clean or TGU.

They have a good medium grip, same size bell for different weights. They are expensive, specially when shipping is added.Kaizen\Budo kettlebells have better prices & have a good finish. The large grip means I use it primarily for Swings.

The best option for beginners or anyone doing one handed routines like TGU, is the adjustable kettlebell by Jillian Michael, available online & in Target stores. It goes from 5 to 20 lb, while classic bells start at 8kg (18 lb.)

Good or close friendships will need one or more of these, some can be made more likely to happen.
Give it Time: Good friendships take time to develop. Which would mean, one meets in same place for a few years, school or work are a good example.

Shared mission: Good friends would have shared something in life, typically a mission, a project with full effort, a great road trip, a hardship.

Respect:
 Eventually, there needs to be respect for each other,
this trumps politeness, good nature, hobbies and other general social traits, they do smoothen the path.

Chemistry: There are times where things click, it is the human chemistry. Once you notice it happen, help it expand.

Follow through: Which brings us to, follow through by staying in touch
A great follow through person is Warren Buffett
as per the book Snowball, even earlier in his life, after first meeting with someone, he would decide he wants to be a friend & makes place for them in
his life, invites him\her to golf or tennis, to their company, requested his wife
to ask them to club, etc.

Make place for spontaneity in addition to plans: This is staying late once something gets going, showing up on request & more.

Make time for outside activities: Be it Poker, Eating, Yoga, Hike, Pub, Dancing or Squash, make time for outside activities & try to do these with like minded folks. I cannot mostly program, browse the web or meditate & increase

Changes & Time: After this change will be the big one. As we live, aspects ofour lives change, externally, we play new sports, our career gives us different interest, have families with kids, move to different locations.
There is also change internally, we worry more or less about things than we use to, we enhance our selves to do a few things better, we drink & eat something else or not all.
This will distant one from some earlier friends. It is a time to be open to new friends who will one day become close friends, it is also time to open to a different tribe.

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July 22, 2009

The Marshmallow test: Is Self-Control in your Genes or a habit to acquire?

Category: Life,Parenting,Personal development — by Amit Chaudhary @ 5:50 pm

The secret of self-control, on Marshmallow Test by Jonah Lehrer in New Yorker

Summary & Notes:
1.Delaying gratification results in achievement. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds. “If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T. instead of watching television,” Mischel says. “And you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.”

2.To create self-control, move it or yourself away from it.

What, then, determined self-control? Mischel’s conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.”

3. It is both, nature and nurture.

“you might not practice delay as much and you’ll never figure out how to distract yourself. Then you won’t develop the best delay strategies, and those strategies won’t become second nature.”

My (Amit’s) own belief is, genes give some a head start.

marshmallow-test.jpg
4. It can be controlled.

Mischel has found a shortcut. When he and his colleagues taught children a simple set of mental tricks—such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame—he dramatically improved their self-control. The kids who hadn’t been able to wait sixty seconds could now wait fifteen minutes.

5. The real challenge is turning those tricks into habits, and that requires years of diligent practice.

“This is where your parents are important,” Mischel says. “Have they established rituals that force you to delay on a daily basis? Do they encourage you to wait? And do they make waiting worthwhile?” According to Mischel, even the most mundane routines of childhood—such as not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance, or holding out until Christmas morning—are really sly exercises in cognitive training”

My (Amit’s) own favorite, keep a wishlist for them.

• • •

June 30, 2009

Summary of Po Bronson’s article The Power and Peril of Praising Your Kids & Todos for parents, on emphasizing progressive effort

Category: Life,Parenting,Personal development — by Amit Chaudhary @ 8:08 pm

Po Bronson is a favorite writer of mine including his startup and technology work culture articles in Wired incl. Gen Equity which were combined into the book: The Nudist on the Late Shift and the one on people pondering about their lives: What Should I Do With My Life?

i-am-awesome.jpg

He wrote an article which is eye opening. Po Bronson’s The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids in New York Magazine. It is a 5 page article, so I summarized it here.

Short summary:

-85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. But a growing body of research strongly suggests, giving kids the label of “smart” might actually be causing nonperformance.

-Takeaway from the study on praise versus effort. “When we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
-Parents’ pride in their children’s achievements: It’s so strong that “when they praise their kids, it’s not that far from praising themselves.”

-To be effective, researchers have found, praise needs to be specific. Sincerity of praise is also crucial.

-Dweck’s research on overpraised kids strongly suggests that image maintenance becomes their primary concern—they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.

-When students transition into junior high, some who’d done well in elementary school inevitably struggle in the larger and more demanding environment. Those who equated their earlier success with their innate ability surmise they’ve been dumb all along. Their grades never recover because the likely key to their recovery—increasing effort—they view as just further proof of their failure.
-But it turns out that the ability to repeatedly respond to failure by exerting more effort—instead of simply giving up—is a trait well studied in psychology. People with this trait, persistence, rebound well and can sustain their motivation through long periods of delayed gratification. Persistence turns out to be more than a conscious act of will; it’s also an unconscious response (a chemical reaction you develop), governed by a circuit in the brain. It monitors the reward center of the brain, and like a switch, it intervenes when there’s a lack of immediate reward, telling the rest of the brain, “Don’t stop trying. There’s dopa [the brain’s chemical reward for success] on the horizon.-The brain has to learn that frustrating spells can be worked through. “A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

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What to do\Actions (Some from article, some mine at the end):

-Develop the mind-set that the way to bounce back from failure is to work harder.

-Social Praiser: What would it mean, to give up praising our children so often? In the first stage, I fell off the wagon around other parents when they were busy praising their kids. I didn’t want Luke to feel left out.

-Specific-type praise: This was easier said than done.Every night he has math homework and is supposed to read a phonics book aloud. Each takes about five minutes if he concentrates, but he’s easily distracted. So I praised him for concentrating without asking to take a break. If he listened to instructions carefully, I praised him for that. After soccer games, I praised him for looking to pass, rather than just saying, “You played great.” And if he worked hard to get to the ball, I praised the effort he applied. Just as the research promised, this focused praise helped him see strategies he could apply the next day. It was remarkable how noticeably effective this new form of praise was.

-Reasons for parents being the real praise junkies: 

  • Praising him for just a particular skill or task felt like I left other parts of him ignored and unappreciated.

  • We put our children in high-pressure environments, seeking out the best schools we can find, then we use the constant praise to soften the intensity of those environments and hide our expectations behind constant glowing praise. The duplicity became glaring to me.
  • Offering praise has become a sort of panacea for the anxieties of modern parenting. In those few hours together, we want them to hear the things we can’t say during the day—We are here for you, we believe in you.

-Cultivate habits and awareness of effort and it’s rewards. Also, focus on improvements due to effort.

-Ensure they at times are beyond their comfort zone, experience failure and work to success from there. The movie, “Meet the Robinsons” has a good example of handling failure.
-When someone praises your child, instead of saying Thanks! (it was hard work! :) ), deflect it a bit, saying “Thanks for your words”.
-Work together, one parent cannot do it by himself\herself and work for the Child’s growth, not our own emotional needs.
meet-the-robinsons.jpg

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One example study from the many in article:

For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work—a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders—paints the picture most clearly.

Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles.

The test was difficult, designed for kids two years ahead of their grade level. Predictably, everyone failed. But again, the two groups of children, divided at random at the study’s start, responded differently. Those praised for their effort on the first test assumed they simply hadn’t focused hard enough on this test. “They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles,” Dweck recalled. “Many of them remarked, unprovoked, ‘This is my favorite test.’ ” Not so for those praised for their smarts. They assumed their failure was evidence that they weren’t really smart at all. “Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable.”.

Having artificially induced a round of failure, Dweck’s researchers then gave all the fifth-graders a final round of tests that were engineered to be as easy as the first round. Those who had been praised for their effort significantly improved on their first score—by about 30 percent. Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning—by about 20 percent.

Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”

You might also want to read my earlier summary of Secrets of greatness: Practice and Hard work bring success: Articles on becoming Great. The key: Time, Smart Hard work & Visualization

• • •

October 24, 2007

On Long trips 1: Around the World… with kids, 28 countries in one year

Category: Entertainment,Life,Outdoors,Parenting,Silicon Valley — by Amit Chaudhary @ 7:37 pm

Somehow long trips have appealed to me, the chance of seeing new places, meeting people, really have deep, new and different experiences.

Aha, what an idea.

I will blog over the next few days about some from other people’s lives that stood out.

Around the World… with kids, 28 countries in one year

    The Highams, a Silicon Valley based family traveled with their two children, aged 8 and 11 in 2005-2006 around the world. The trip was one year in duration, 10 years in planning, with a minimal budget of U$120,000.

    The Countries they visited: Iceland, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Dubai, U.A.E, Tanzania, Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Belize. The children kept up with their school work during the trip.

    The above link is to the San Jose Mercury News article, the Highams also have an informative website called Armageddon Pills which includes an FAQ, Some stories, Pictures in a gallery or on a map, How to plan your own trip and the book they are writing.

    Here are some pictures from their trip:

    2007-higham-2-italy.jpg

    2007-higham-1-china.jpg

    2007-higham-5-bolivia.jpg

    2007-higham-4-peru.jpg

    2007-higham-3-tanzania.jpg

• • •

March 30, 2007

For parents: Using lavender based products on male children and article on not getting too cautious

Category: Health,Parenting — by Amit Chaudhary @ 10:36 pm

Lavender’s Hormone Havoc
Lavender and other fragrant oils may cause breast growth in boys. Pediatric endocrinologist Clifford Bloch of the University of Colorado at Denver diagnosed three otherwise healthy boys–ages four, seven and 10– with prepubertal gynecomastia, a rare condition that leads to breast growth in prepubescent males. They all had used lavender-scented soap and skin lotions, or shampoos or styling products that contained lavender oil and tea tree oil… From the Scientific American, Apr 2007 issue.

The condition went away when the lavender treatment was stopped. Lavender is quite popular in many products due to it’s superb smell and known effects on stress reduction, this was my first reading on any adverse effect. This was surely surprising to I read\learn.

And here is another article for contrast on not getting too cautious when raising kids: We Protect Kids From Everything But Fear

• • •

July 13, 2006

Suggestions to New Parents

Category: Parenting — by Amit Chaudhary @ 5:40 pm

I read a blog posting by Erin Pavlina: Children vs. Purpose: Do the two mix?

It’s timing was interesting as a few people I know have or are having children and our child became 3 year old recently, giving me enough space to think with somewhat experience and hopefully insight.

My own difficulties were not from if I do someother things, what will it take away from my child, but more of, what should I drop from other areas of my life due to the new things in life.
My letter to new parents, especially for the first two years in forms of suggestions

  • Get help when the new born comes, particularly for the first few months. Ask grandparents to come(if possible) for a few months, one at a time, get a maid to clean up, iron clothes and even cook a little. Grandparents are great also because they have done it all and are mostly wise and cool at handling child issues.
  • Make a conscious decision of what you will drop from your life else things will drop anyways, but without your knowing. Hints: Meeting with friends will happen less, so will Movies or or TV books that you read for leisure. The career and success by hard work (> 40 hours per week) will go on a hold or take away from other areas including sleep and health.
  • Get healthy and stay healthy, especially if you have a sendetary career (like software development.) I would highly recommend Yoga.
  • Finally some guideposts from a parent’s POV: First 3 months: Will be a blur, lot of tiredness and lack of sleep. Stick together and share the burden. Next 6 months: Getting better, but still tough going and requiring stamina but with more free time and energy. Go slow in bringing up old or new activities back. Next 9 months: The best and great fun, the baby responds, smiles and laughes, even walks and some words come out. Sleep times are now much longer (6-8) It is a delightful time. Try to ensure, baby sleeps in her bed\room by this age, 9-18 months. Next 12 months: It is easy from here on, things only reduce including no diapers and so on.

And if I were to reply to the question to Erin, it would be:

Question: Can one live their life with purpose if the purpose seems to be almost entirely for or through their children? And if a person feels like they need to be doing more, how do they do so without being as invested in their children as they could have been? – Laura

Yes one can live their life with purpose, if their purpose is entirely for their children. I know people who do and are happy. It is same as people who can work in a single company and job all their life and be happy. Satisfaction is a personal goal, everyone needs to find their own.

If I were to look at purpose as find one’s calling or even increase in one area of life (Career, Spiritual, Money), early parenthood is a tough time to make new leaps. Things are better off put on a hold for say 2 years.
If a person feels they need to do well and can(say afford daycare) and are happy with things happening in their child’s life, they should make changes to go and explore their purpose. It will take away from other parts of life including parenthood, however after a certain threshold, the impact of this will be less and less. Think of what will benefit the child as well as you, playtime or daycare will take the child away from the parents, but teach them social skills and let them have fun.

This threshold is yours to choose and know, for example, one threshold would be, you are happy making the child and having dinner, playing for an hour and teaching\learning for one hour each day. Another threshold would be, tucking in every night and reading a book. Choose it consciously.
Finally, I would point to the song, Cat’s in the cradle by Ugly Kid Joe among others.

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