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A “Twisted” new post

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted a blog. Having twins under two years old has a way of doing that to a guy. While alls well on that front, it’s time to write again.

And what do I write about when it’s time to write? Well, writing. Specifically, my mom’s writing. My mother’s first novel, a psychological suspense entitled Twisted, has been published and is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kindle, among others.

Needless to say, I’m a super-proud son.

If you’ve spent any time in the writing world, or know anyone who has, you know how incredibly difficult the process is to get your work officially published. My mom has been at it for years with weekly writing groups, conferences, manuscripts and discussions with editors. For a publisher to take a chance on a “new” writer is third-party validation that your work is worth doing. It also — and perhaps most importantly — means the publisher thinks they can make money off your work.

So it’s a great accomplishment. And now it’s time to do your part to help. Download a Kindle version, or buy the paperback for yourself. Read and post a review. And if all goes well, look for the next book someday soon by Marjorie E. Brody!

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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Family, Thoughts

 

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A snowboarding primer for skiers

I’ve been skiing for about 20 years so I consider myself a pretty decent skier. I usually eat blue slopes for breakfast and occasionally shred some black diamonds with moguls. So when our 10-year-old son begged us to take him snowboarding this year, I figured it would be an easy transition.

Boy, was I wrong!

The first thing you need to know is that snowboarding and skiing are two totally different things. The muscles are different. The technique is different. About the only similarity is that you’re sliding down a snow-covered mountain. Where skiing is about coordination and rhythm, snowboarding is all balance and footwork. Snowboarding is to skiing what rugby is to touch football.

And here’s the proof, a quick video of our first snowboarding trip…

So if you’re an experienced skier interested in making the leap to a board, let me break it down for you…

Equipment
Boots: Ski boots are extremely rigid, hard plastic shoes that transfer every subtle movement to the ski. Snowboard boots are more flexible shoes that lace up like heavy duty mountain hiking boots. Ski boots are storm troopers to snowboard boots’ Michelin man. Advantage: Snowboarding.

Bindings: Skis are designed to have your boots snap into place, and release when you twist or fall. Snowboards require your feet to be strapped in without releasing upon wipeouts. It’s a somewhat awkward movement to have your lead foot strapped in while your back foot is loose. This is necessary when getting on and off the lifts and for moving along flat landings. In addition, on skis, you exit the chair lift and immediately start down the hill. Snowboarding requires you to literally sit on the snow to strap your other foot to the board after the lift. Every time. Advantage: Skiing.

Boards/Skis: Obviously skiing uses two skis and two poles, which makes carrying and walking in those boots really challenging. Skis are also heavier than snowboards. Carrying a snowboard is easily done by holding the flat side next to your body and grabbing the board right under the top binding. Advantage: Snowboarding.

Technique
Downhill: The act of skiing involves basically aiming your feet in parallel, and turning in in a big ‘S’ pattern. As you get more advanced you can point straight down and grab your edges into the snow to slow down. It’s closer to standing and leaning, while you traverse the mountain. Because both feet are on a single board in snowboarding, the same method doesn’t translate. Instead, balance is the whole thing. You either lift your toes to dig your heels into the snow, or lift your heels to slow and turn, depending on which way you’re facing. But dig too deeply either way and you’re going down hard. Advantage: Skiing.

Lifts: As I mentioned, snowboarding is tougher to get on chair lifts, because you have to unstrap your back foot and slide into place. At the top, you still have only one foot in, so you have to get off the lift and get yourself out of the way before finding a place to sit and strap the other foot. In skiing it can sometimes be difficult to move yourself into position for the lift, but not having to adjust or unstrap every time, makes it more efficient. Advantage: Skiing.

Overall
Most skiers I talked to said they had a rough time trying to snowboard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. Both sports are fun and have their pros and cons. Overall, it just depends what you want to do and what you enjoy. Just know that ability in one doesn’t automatically translate to the other. Advantage: You decide!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Family, Thoughts, Travel

 

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6 ways to stay positive in any situation

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I saw this blog post the other day and thought it had a nice sentiment on how to stay positive even when things are down. If you don’t want to click over, here’s what it said…

The power of remaining positive, whatever the situation, can never be underestimated. We are all here for a limited period of time, is it worth it to spend any of that time in a dismal mood? Being negative?

The true test of an individual to remain positive is when challenges become difficult. Remaining positive keeps one’s mind in the right state of balance and often opens resolutions to the problems at hand. Negativity is contagious; not only does it affect the individual, but it spreads to anyone they interact with. When only the negative perspective is in focus, the resolution process is impeded.

Eliminating negativity, or rather, being positive is a mindset that can be found at any moment, and turned into a habit. Here are some tips that can help you in shifting your mindset:

1. Shift Your Thoughts – Be conscious of your thoughts. Especially, when life just isn’t going your way. The moment you see that you are diving into frustration, agony, sorrow and low self-esteem – shift your thoughts, by thinking about something completely unrelated. This breaks the pattern of self-pity, mind-created stories, and negative downward spiral. What makes us different from other mammals is our ability to control our thoughts and think for ourselves.

2. Find the Lesson – There is a lesson to be learned from every situation. No matter how unfortunate the situation may appear, recognize the beautiful lessons waiting to be discovered. Sometimes lessons are expensive, but every problem is a learning opportunity in disguise. You may have made a mistake, but now you can accept it and continue, knowing that you will make a different decision in the future. Understand this and be appreciative for the experience.

3. Attitude of Gratitude – You cannot be both angry and grateful at the same time. Start counting the blessings and miracles in your life, start looking for them and you shall find more. What’s there not to be grateful? You are alive and breathing! Realize how lucky you are and all the abundance in your life.

4. Positive Affirmations & Visualization – Practice seeing yourself in a positive and confident light. Do this whenever you have a few minutes (examples; Waiting for a friend, sitting on the bus, riding an elevator.) Self-affirmations (list of positive statements about yourself and your self image) are another simple and powerful tool to train your subconscious to see yourself in a positive light. This is important, as many of us can be so hard on ourselves though social conditioning. I am guilty of being extra tough on myself, but have learned over time to recognize my gifts rather than finding false and self-imposed inadequacies.

5. Inventory of Memories – Keep an inventory of memories that can immediately make you smile. Occasions where you felt happy, appreciative and cheerful. When you were at peace with the world.

Whenever you are in a negative frame of mind, consciously and deliberately pick up any leaf out of this inventory and dwell on it. Reminiscing those happy moments gives a balanced perspective to your situation. You realize that what appears negative today will change tomorrow. Nothing stays the same.

6. Criticizing Detox Diet – Change your approach and attitude. See if you can stop criticizing others and situations. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Whether you are positive or negative, the situation does not change. So, we mind as well be positive.

As with any habit, the habit of remaining positive in all situations takes practice and a commitment to yourself to take control. But start small, start paying attention to your emotions, start by wanting to change. I am working on this constantly, and I am here with you, working towards better understanding of my emotions and becoming a better person. Keep going at it, and you will gradually become a positive energy source for the others around you! Wouldn’t that be empowering?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Family, Random, Thoughts, Work

 

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Read my lips: No new boxes

Despite over-filling the massive city-issued recycling can every week, and sending just as much to the land fill, we have a lot of stuff. Stuff in the living room. Stuff in the bedrooms. And especially stuff in the garage. I’m not bragging. Actually, it’s obscene. It’s embarrassing. I’m pretty sure we could feed and clothe a few third world countries with the stuff that we have sitting around.

And I’m not sure where stuff comes from. Does it multiply like a bad virus? Come out of the woodwork? Or simply a bi-product of our lifelong hoarding habit?

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It's not quite this bad. But almost.

Wherever it comes from, I’m laying down the law for the new year with a new rule in the Brody household…

NO NEW BOXES!

What does that mean? Well, I’m thinking inside the box. By enforcing a zero-sum box game.

In other words, for every box that comes into this house, the same box has to go out of the house within a week — filled with stuff — and donated to charity.

I’m not talking about mac-and-cheese containers. I mean anything that is bigger than a bread “box.”

So that’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes. Got any better ideas?

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Family, Thoughts

 

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Why Words with Friends should restore your faith in humanity

Over 20 million people are addicted.

The maker of some of the most popular video games on the planet, Zynga, has just made a fortune.  Yesterday, the company — which makes Words with Friends, Farmville, and other games played mostly on Facebook and mobile phones — priced its initial public offering at $10 a share, raising about $1 billion for the company. 

Not a bad day’s work.

But what makes this a big deal, literally, is more than the staggering amount of dough.  When you reflect on just how fragile an economy we have in the U.S.– a system plagued over the last few years by mortgage-backed investment scandals, Bernie Madoff, auto industry bailouts, TARP, and so much more — you realize how many things can go wrong.  It’s more than enough to discourage you.

When so many things can be corrupted, politicized, and made to fail, it’s nice to remind ourselves that the basics of our free market economy still work — despite a global economic downturn.  Zynga created (and acquired, in some cases) products that have such a huge demand, people were willing to part with $1 billion to grab a piece.  Their products are so good they’re addictive: 20 million people have installed Words, and 31 million play Farmville daily.  I’ve seen folks unable to remove themselves from picking crops for hours.  And recently, Alec Baldwin was so engrossed in his Words game, he couldn’t put down his phone during takeoff — an act which got him kicked off the plane in the process.

So my message is simply: have hope.  Even if the economy is rough in your neck of the woods, and corruption and fraud are seemingly everywhere, you can still succeed through basic supply and demand fundamentals.  Make a widget that everybody wants, and you can still profit richly.

That’s the American Dream after all, isn’t it?

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Random, Thoughts, Work

 

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Five baby items I wish existed

As a father of four-month old twins, I’m thankful every day for modern technology that helps us raise these miniature humans. Video monitors, portable bassinets, heck, even disposable diapers…I can’t imagine how they do it in third-world countries or even America, say, 100 years ago.

Still, could it be easier? Yes. There are things that should exist but don’t. All parents who’ve survived the baby stage can relate to the sheer madness of a fussy baby who won’t stop crying. But with multiples, it’s literally Whac-a-mole. Oftentimes, as soon as you get one fed and settled, the other one’s head pops up — screaming at a decibel level exceeding a jet engine, for someone, apparently in China, to come rescue her.

So, with that in mind, I give you my top five baby care items that need to be invented…

Mother's 3rd Arm

This is NOT what I'm talking about.

1) The third arm. Granted, there actually is something with this name already out there. As a matter of fact, we have one. But it’s more like a flexible bottle holder than something you can control. What I really need is something connected to you that would cradle a baby around your body, freeing up your two real arms. Things like slings and Baby Bjorns come close, but don’t position the baby in a way that makes feeding or caring for him possible.

2) The Starbucks bottle washer. Sure you can wash bottles by hand, but when you’re dealing with two times the normal volume of formula preparation, feedings, and cleanings, the job gets overwhelming…quick. What I envision here is a device that connects to the kitchen sink with a Christmas-tree shaped rotating brush that dispenses soap and water and spins like the Tasmanian Devil when the bottle is held over the device. In a few seconds, voila…a clean bottle that’s ready to be sterilized and reused. The closest thing I’ve seen to this concept is the pitcher washer at Starbucks that the baristas use to clean out their containers. (Like how I got a coffee reference in another blog? 😉

Baby Bidet

Even the dog knows this doesn't look right.

3) A baby bidet. Do I really need to explain why? Yes, the Diaper Genie has made diaper changes slightly more tolerable, but again – twice the feedings equals twice the poop. Enough said. And, of course, any proper baby bidet wouldn’t be complete without the corresponding diaper-changing robot.

4) A Baby-to-English translator. Nothing breaks your heart more than when you know your baby is in distress but you can’t figure out the cause. That’s why the military uses recordings of babies crying as a quasi-torture technique. There’s something hard-wired in our DNA that forces us to act when we hear that sound. But what if we actually could know exactly what was going on in that little head when they can’t express it? Hey, Apple, there should be an app for that.

5) A female-shaped harness thingy. OK, I admit this one is a little crazy, but it’s not about some weird cross-dressing fetish. One of our twins, I won’t say which one, seems fully comforted only when mommy is holding her. Actually, mommy is preferred, but apparently any woman will do. If I try to soothe her or hold her for more than a few minutes, she fusses for someone else. Am I doing something wrong? No. My physique apparently just won’t do. To test this, I rolled up a baby blanket and placed it in, er, a strategic place and attempted to hold her again while she was fussy. Low and behold, she calmed down and fell asleep. I’m sure it’s just a phase that she’ll grow out of eventually, but for those nights when mommy is working or unavailable, it sure would be nice to have another option to stop the midnight madness. Until then, rolled up blankies will have to do.

Don’t get me wrong. Nothing can replace the joy of parenting and raising children. I mean, just look at these faces! But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make things easier, right? What baby products do you wish existed?

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Family, Thoughts

 

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Yo, mama: we’re proud of you!

I know an extremely talented author who lately has been picking up a lot of steam — as well as accolades. In fact, I happen to be her son.

20111214-101703.jpgMy mom, Marjorie, who retired as a psychotherapist several years ago to pursue her dream of becoming an author, now writes full-time. She’s constantly jotting down ideas, developing plot lines, meeting with other local authors, and sending manuscripts to publishers.

Recently, the publisher of the Short Story America Anthology, which contains two of Marjorie’s short stories, nominated her for the 2012 Pushcart Prize. According to mom, the Pushcart is the “Oscars” of the writing world. We’ll find out the winners soon, but it’s a huge honor just to be nominated. Congratulations, mom!

“The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976 – is the most honored literary project in America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of our annual collections.” – pushcartprize.com

If you want to learn more about this fantastic up-and-coming author and see a captivating performance of one of her works, watch the following video.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Family, Thoughts

 

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