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Life Tips from The No-Recipe Life


I don’t have the answers. Perhaps you read that sentence and decided this wasn’t worth reading and clicked away. If so, you were in the wrong place anyway. Or maybe you just said “Ok, and…” because no one really has the answers. I don’t think “the answers” is a thing that really exists. I don’t even have good advice about those significant things you can do to improve your life. I have no idea what that stuff is all about. Most of that type of advice is crap: it either doesn’t work in the long term, or is too vague to implement, or only works for people in some circumstances. No, forget about that.

I have found, though, that certain small things can help you in life if you make the effort. Sometimes, that requires only a few seconds of your time. It couldn’t be easier. (Another lie!)

1. Turn off autoplay on Netflix. When you’re watching a show on Netflix, the next episode plays automatically when one ends. That was nice of them! Except no, it wasn’t. It’s just a trick that keeps you mindlessly using their site longer and can keep you from productive tasks. But there’s hope!

Go into the “Your Account” section, scroll down and find “Playback Settings.” Then you can uncheck the autoplay option. The screen you get at the end of an episode is exactly the same, only it won’t start the next episode until you click play. Continuous watching is still incredibly easy, but that extra step also makes it easier to step away from the screen. You’re welcome.

2. Walk faster. If you already walk fast, you can skip this one–but judging by my experience of constantly being stuck behind slow people whenever I walk down the street, chances are you don’t walk that fast. You’ll most likely only shave seconds, maybe a few minutes if you walk far, off your trip, but add it all up and you’ll have enough time to watch that extra episode of Mad Men that didn’t play automatically.

I was thinking about this just recently. If I walked slower, it probably would NOT be the case that walking is often more efficient than taking the bus or train in some circumstances. This was just after I got stuck behind two people who were barely moving at all. If I broke my foot I’d have been walking faster than they were. Luckily there was enough space to pass them after only a few seconds, but I had to come to a complete stop first, which is even more frustrating when it’s this cold out. So please everyone, just think of the people who are stuck behind you and walk a little faster.

3. Don’t assume anyone’s holding the door for you. When you’re out somewhere, anywhere, and you’re exiting or entering a building/room behind someone, I have news for you: getting through that door is YOUR responsibility, not theirs. Granted, if someone sees you and actively closes the door in your face, that’s certainly rude, but you probably won’t encounter too many of those. Half of them are probably unintentional–they were already closing the door, saw you, and didn’t register it well enough to adjust their actions. It happens. People aren’t perfect. If someone fails to hold the door open for you, no matter how close behind them you are, that is not rude. That’s just someone going about their business, thinking about where they’re going, instead of where they just were. I guarantee we all do it. You can’t assume that person knows you’re trying to get through the door right behind them. They can’t read your mind, and, like I said, they might not be in the habit of keeping tabs on who’s behind them. Maybe that person doesn’t pay hyper-attention to everything strangers they pass are doing.

Now, if you’re walking with someone, and that person doesn’t hold the door open for you, well, that might be a bit rude. But you still shouldn’t expect it, because at the end of the day, if you want to use a door, you might have to open it yourself. End. Of. Story.

4. Have at least one When-in-Doubt book. I’ve just made up this term, but you may very well be familiar with my meaning. This refers to a book that you can read at any time, no matter how many times you’ve read it before. Preferably it will be something small enough to easily carry around with you. Even if you have an ereader, and you can carry around hundreds of books on your one little device, you could still use at least one when-in-doubt book. It can function as a sort of layover when you can’t quite decide which book to read next, or it can be a comfort. I don’t actually have one yet, because I just came up with this tip, but I’ll probably choose something by Virginia Woolf.

I also recommend having When-in-Doubt music. This can be a song, or an album, or an artist–or even a Pandora or Rdio station, I suppose. It’s something you can turn on no and enjoy no matter what mood you’re listening to or what else you’re doing. If you want some music on, it comes to the rescue. I know it can be very hard to choose, but if you think about it I bet you’ll come up with something. Mine is Jeff Buckley. There is never a time I’ve thought “No, I just can’t listen to that right now.” His music works just a well for in-depth listening as it does for background music while I’m editing, and that is not an easy accomplishment.

5. Eat well. Food is so essential. It’s 100% necessary to live, until they invent those futuristic meal-in-a-pill tablets that we’ll eventually all be eating (god I hope not). Beyond that, it’s a social experience, a sensual experience, and a luxury. When I say that you should eat well, I don’t mean eat healthy. I don’t mean don’t eat healthy.

Eat healthy food. Eat delicious food. Eat decadent food. Obviously, know your body and respect its limits regarding allergies, stomach sensitivity, and how full you can handle being. But don’t worry so much. Eat the things you want. Indulge. It’s true that you only get one body, and so you should treat it well, but shouldn’t that include your tastebuds? Not to mention the chemical reaction in your brain when you eat sugars–a far less dangerous high than most of the drugs out there. So I hear.

I feel like I’m going to be misunderstood as telling you to pig out. I’m definitely not saying that. Knowing how to balance the stuff your body NEEDS with the stuff it WANTS is key to my definition of eating well, so if you’re going to take any of my advice about food, take this one thing.

Monday Madness


Look to the right. Did your eyes leave the computer screen? You looked too far. I meant just to the right of the post, where there’s a countdown to my vacation. Yes, I have one week of work left before I’m off! I leave on Sunday and return Thursday. I will be at work on Friday, but I’ll be out for almost a whole week.

Which really means that I’m crazily trying to get as much done at work and home as possible before I go, so that I’m not hit with huge piles of stuff to do when I get back from vacation. No one wants that.

They’re supposed to have a sort of cruise-ship version of an internet cafe, so I might be able to do my usual Monday Madness post and maybe update with some pictures along the way, but I won’t guarantee that. So, if you don’t get any madness next Monday, you’ll know why!

I’m going to have to choose my vacation reading soon. …so many books, so little time.

. . .

Now an update from my last Monday Madness–I put my first video on youtube, under the account norecipewriter. It is available for viewing and you can watch it here, if you want to see me introduce myself and my channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko0zG3z01pw

Filming was difficult in the sense that I don’t have a real camera, or a good place to set up my phone, and my phone’s camcorder mode automatically stops at 10 minutes. Which I guess is a good thing, as I’ve clearly gone on too long if I’m still going when it shuts off. Then, of course, the picture quality kind of sucks because my phone camera is not very good.

I was pretty nervous when I sat down to do it. I had written down a list of things I wanted to talk about, but I kept stumbling over my words and I completely lost my momentum when I talked over the 10 minutes my phone gives me and had to start a new video. I did end up with some fabulous outtakes, though, which you might see at some point when I have gotten a little  better at editing. My do-over went much better, as I’d gotten most of the nerves out, and I managed to talk for only about 7 minutes. I just snipped the ends a bit, figuring I would edit more next time, if necessary.

Editing was another problem (of course it was). Ok, just to be clear, I was already aware that editing is difficult. I played around with making a video or two when I was in college, with clips from tv shows of course (because I’m a geek). What I really did not count on was that my computer was unable to open the files I recorded with the usual windows programs I use. I decided to go online to find an editing program I could download. The first one waited until I was at the saving point to tell me that with the free version of the program, they would put a watermark on the video. I tried it anyway, and it turned out to be situated right across my eyes. I tried a second one, which seems to be a little better, and at least didn’t leave a watermark. That is the one that ended up being the final version.

I like that youtube has some editing options right on the site, so you can tweak the video after uploading. That’s a cool feature that I do not remember from my days of making geeky mvs.

I will be playing around with my current equipment and software to try to make cooler videos. I would love to find a reliable editing software that I can get for free or at least that is inexpensive, and I would LOVE some recommendations, as this stuff is all new to me and I don’t know how to tell which programs will be really good. Ideally, I would like to get a real camera (not a super-nice one, just a regular digital camera that actually works is all I’d be expecting) and a nicer computer, but both of those are out of my reach for now.

My aims for now are: keeping my videos under 10 minutes, posting at least 1 video a week, and learning how to edit to make them a little more polished. And maybe coming up with an intro,  but I don’t think I’ll worry too much about that. If I could animate I would have a really cool one, but I can’t animate.

So that’s my experience as I started vlogging. It was very stressful when I thought I wouldn’t be able to edit the videos I had made, and would have to re-record it, but it turned out ok. As I’ve seen some other vloggers mention, you shouldn’t expect your first videos to be great. I’m just going to try my best and hope some people out there find me interesting, or endearing, or fun to make fun of, or something.

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