Should I have another?  

The best way to track your alcohol intake without carrying around a breathalyzer or having someone offer you one.

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By Brad Beckstrom

So one friend says to me “I shouldn’t have a beer, I’m driving.”  Another friend says “Let’s have another round.” And he may have already had 5. Even though I frequently use UBER or Lyft to get around, I still think it’s a good idea to keep track of what you’re drinking. I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of alcohol I consume to lose a few pounds and live a healthier lifestyle.

I found a subtle trick you can use  to limit your drinking and stay well within legal limits. You’ll be able to your enjoy yourself whether it’s with the 1 beer friend, 5 beer friend, or no beer friend. Here’s how it works:

The past couple of years I’ve been using a smartphone app called IntelliDrink. The app uses an algorithm based on information you put in to set up your profile. Your profile includes things like height weight, and gender but also allows you to put in your favorite drinks, including type, size, and alcohol content in advance. So, when you have a beverage, all you need to do is click on the drink button. You can even adjust the time you started, as well as whether you have recently eaten, or are drinking on an empty stomach. Just make sure you’re sober when you complete your profile and put in the drink information. You only need to do this once.

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The most important feature on the app is the blood alcohol content (BAC) graph. What many people don’t realize is that your blood-alcohol level continues to rise after you stop drinking, especially if you’ve had several drinks over a short period of time.  This app does a great job of tracking and  predicting blood alcohol content based on your profile and the types, time, and number of drinks you’ve entered by hitting the drink button. Read more…

7 reasons you should travel like a Viking this year!

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By Brad Beckstrom

Vikings are back. Well, I’m talking about the popular History Channel TV show. Whenever I watch this show I’m amazed at the spectacular scenery. Where is it filmed? Norway? Finland? It’s actually filmed in Ireland and Canada. Regardless, there’s something about the show that just makes me want to explore new lands. So, here are my 7 reasons you should travel like a Viking this year.

New discount Scandinavian Airlines are on a mission to pillage and plunder other airlines business Viking style.

Did you know that the Vikings were the original settlers of Iceland? Now I can fly there direct for $99 on Reykjavík based WOW airlines. This isn’t some firesale you click on and it’s gone. It’s been on their website for months. The cool thing about flying to Iceland is that you’re only about three hours away from Europe. This makes their flights to Europe very competitive. They have a cool calendar view on their website that shows you the cheapest day to fly. If I am willing to fly on a Tuesday, I can get to Copenhagen for $189. The tickets are one way and you’ll be paying some bag fees, so travel light, my Viking friend.  Another airline up for some plundering and pillaging is Norwegian Air.  They have some eye-opening flights out of some Northeast airports, like $69 to Martinique. Yes, that’s the French Caribbean, I might just like to hop on that flight and not look at a map. It’s only $69 from my local airport, I can’t get to Cleveland for that. They also have a one way ticket to London for $194. I also like that their flights don’t have ridiculous layovers or require much travel hacking. I purchased tickets to Paris (in June) for $700 round-trip that have a total travel time similar to major carriers charging about 60% more.  I’ve put together a list of great travel hacking tools for low airfare here and here.

We will ransack your treasury and devalue your currency.

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Over the past year, the US dollar has hit all-time highs, multiple times, against the euro and other currencies. When this happens US travelers can often find amazing deals. The breakfast buffet at my four-star $53 per night hotel in Mexico City set me back a full $4.25 with tip. For lunch I had the best sandwich I’ve ever had, portobello mushroom with avocado and swiss cheese and other secret sauces, along with a cold Mexican microbrew, that set me back $5.50. Read more…

Lessons Learned after 30 days playing The Minimalist Game

By Brad Beckstrom

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My wife Kelly and I just wrapped up our 30th day of the Minimalist Game. The Minimalist game basically requires that you get rid of one thing on the first day of the month. On the second day, two things, three items on the third and so on.  If you have two people playing the game, by the end of it you will of given away 992 things. We called it a 30 day giving challenge as we were trying to focus on giving away items that could be used again like toys, clothing, electronics, kitchen stuff, and dreaded decorations category.

We also thought it would be fun to document the challenge, so I set up a table next to the moving boxes we were filling up and photographed each item before it was either given away, recycled, or trashed. I thought it would be cool to have a record of all the stuff we got rid of. It’s almost like some sort of sociological study of all the junk people keep in drawers. I liked how some of the photos came out, but it got a little trickier as more and more items were given away on day 25, 26, 27 etc.

Photos were also helpful for some of the sentimental items we were both holding onto.  When I was much younger, my grandmother bought me a beautiful toy car in Dublin. I was excited and surprised. When she gave it to me, she said” this is something to remember me by when I’m gone” so I had hung onto it for over 40 years. The problem is when we store stuff away in a box we just forget about it and it’s not doing anyone any good. The trick is separating the memory, which I definitely want to keep, from the physical item, the toy. By photographing it and writing about it, I’ve remembered her. It was time to send this toy on its way so some collector or child can enjoy it.

A few other things we learned:

Read more…

Don’t believe everything you think.

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Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.

By Brad Beckstrom

What if we could just reach into our minds and replace fear with curiosity? The good news is we can. I’m curious about other cultures and religions. I’m curious about starting a business. I’m curious about Wall Street and investing. When you replace fear with curiosity, you’re moving your thoughts from the future, which is unknown, to the now. By acting on your curiosity, you replace that unknown future with something real in the now.

When we learn something new, that’s really worth learning, it becomes part of us. Unfortunately, if you’re relying on news from your favorite media outlet to learn and understand more about what you fear, you may find yourself going in circles. The reason is that “fear” sells. Major media outlets are often full of bad news and celebrity scandal click-bait. If we spend too much time scanning the news and listening to biased talk radio, that fear they love to sell is reinforced and strengthened in our thoughts. When it comes to traditional news and talk radio, you should put yourself on a low information diet and skip the fear.

Here are some ways to replace fear with curiosity. Read more…

Living behind the cutting-edge.

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By Brad Beckstrom

There were 38 different types of cables and chargers in the box. Some of them were probably over 20 years old. Things like monster cables for stereo equipment, firewires from old hard drives, various USB cables and splitters, ethernet cables and about 10 different AC adapters from games, various peripherals, and crap from former cable providers. For the last several years, I’ve been at war with stuff, investing some time to simplify my life. I’ve recently kicked this into high gear. Kelly and I are playing the minimalist game. We will be giving away nearly 1000 things this month alone. I’m constantly amazed at how much crap a family of four can accumulate over the years. Sadly, some of that stuff ends up in a landfill, benefiting no one.

I’ll avoid these mistakes again. The best way to do this is by not replacing the things that we get rid of. I’ll take a hard look cheap products that are built to be discounted then discarded. I’ll skip the next upgrade cycle on my mobile phone and my computer.

Why can’t more things work like our blender or the microwave? We’ve had both since 1996. Over the years we’ve been tempted to replace them with newer versions but we stuck with them, even repairing the blender once. It’s funny, we probably use these two appliances more than any of the things that have become obsolete. So, my theory now is, if it’s not being used regularly we can probably get rid of it and not replace it.

First world problems Read more…