7 fancy bike gears, that you will love (PHOTOS)

fancy

The TreeHugger team has been hanging out in the mall, well actually, the virtual “crowd-curated catalog of amazing goods” called Fancy. There is a lot in there; some things which would never grace the pages of TreeHugger but others that would make a good post, answer a real need, or aren’t too expensive. And, if you buy anything through TreeHugger, a percentage of the purchase helps keep our LED Christmas lights on.

Here is some of the bike stuff that we liked:

This is always useful. For just $24 you get everything you need to pry off a tire and put on a patch. You will still need a pump though. Don’t know how to fix your own bike?

We have shown quite a few ways to mount a bike on your wall, mostly expensive hand made designs that cost a lot of money. This one, at $75, is perhaps not as elegant as the others but it is really affordable.

Nothing brings out the commenters like a $650 wall mount, but we have shown the work of Woodstick before on TreeHugger, noting that “if you live in a small space and have to bring your bike inside, designs like these make a virtue out of necessity. They display your pride and joy artfully; they just look lovely.” And they are not just cranked out:

We love the Bike Snob, quote him all the time. Here is what he thinks of Delia Ephron and about whether it’s OK to kill cyclists and wearing reflective clothing.

Sometimes when I travel with my bike or have a meeting where I need a suit, I wonder why nobody makes a suit bag that works as a backpack. In fact, someone did, and it isn’t even that expensive at $100.

These mini-tools are really useful and not just for bikes. It sounds expensive at $36 but they last forever (or at least until you lose it)

Ok, it is absolutely silly and a hipster cliché waiting to happen. But it is so cute. Just remember, don’t drink and drive.

The BEST time to drink coffee

IS 8 A.M. REALLY THE BEST TIME TO DRINK YOUR MORNING COFFEE?

Although your cortisol levels peak between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., there are a few other times where–on average–blood levels peak again, like between noon and 1 p.m., and between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike.

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of A Dr. Seuss Book

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of  A Dr. Seuss Book Nepal infrared

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of  A Dr. Seuss Book Nepal infrared

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of  A Dr. Seuss Book Nepal infrared

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of  A Dr. Seuss Book Nepal infrared

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of  A Dr. Seuss Book Nepal infrared

Infrared Photographs of Nepal Look Like Something Out Of  A Dr. Seuss Book Nepal infrared

New York-based photographer Sean Lynch was in Nepal in September and captured these surreal, infrared photographs of Nepal. The photos were taken in the Annapurna Himalayan Range but their unique, reddish quality makes them look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cat in the Hat fall out of the sky with a loud “Bump.” You can see the entire set over on his tumblr site dorialusium.

How The Laws Of Physics Allow And Even Encourage Teleportation & Time Travel

Entanglement

The freakish nature of quantum physics is perhaps the most difficult to understand set of dynamics in the Universe.  Although we are just beginning to scratch at the lower slopes of this mysterious realm, physicists are discovering more and more mindblowing theories with each passing week.

The latest of which all but confirms that teleportation and time travel are not only possible — they are actually encouraged by the laws of physics.  Known as “entanglement systems”, this remarkable type of scenario occurs when two quantum systems have more information about each other than they can have classically: they “know” more about each other than they have any right to know.

As NOVA points out: “Entanglement gives rise to what Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance’ (spukhafte Fernwirkung), where an action performed on one quantum system seems to have an instantaneous effect on an entangled system.”  NOVA adds: “The protocol works as follows. Alice wants to teleport an electron to Bob.  Suppose that in addition to the electron that Alice is going to teleport, Alice and Bob share a pair of entangled electrons.  Alice makes a measurement on the electron she wants to teleport, as well as her half of the entangled pair.

She sends the result of the measurement to Bob.  Now, even though Alice’s measurement is completely destructive and, taken on its own, reveals no information about the state of the electron that she wishes to teleport, the result of the measurement contains exactly the information that Bob needs to recreate the original electron from his half of the entangled pair.”

To learn how entanglement systems also encourage the ability to escape from black holes, as well as the ability to time travel, simply head over to NOVA.

BUDDHA HAD IT RIGHT: RELAX THE MIND AND PRODUCTIVITY WILL FOLLOW

EASTERN THOUGHT AND MEDITATION ARE PUSHING EVER-CLOSER TO THE MAINSTREAM. TODAY, MANY ANCIENT TEACHINGS COINCIDE PERFECTLY WITH MODERN RESEARCH ON IMPROVED MENTAL AGILITY.

“The great enigma for psychologists and philosophers is the mind.”

–Bhante Wimala

Several decades ago, the term ‘mindfulness’ used to imply Eastern mysticism related to the spiritual journey of a person, originated by Gautama Buddha. Buddhists believe that being ‘well, happy, and peaceful’ comes from practicing ‘mindful’ living.

Today, from self-help gurus to business leaders, and scientists to politicians, many talk about mindfulness. According to various prominent psychological definitions:

  • Mindfulness has been described as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999)
  • And as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994).

The scientific community now believes that by practicing daily mindfulness we can take advantage of the neuroplasticity of our brains and thereby improve the state of our lives. William James was one of the first psychologists to address the notion of neuroplasticity back in his late 19th century text, The Principles of Psychology. The central idea behind neuroplasticity is that our brain can restructure itself based on our perception and experience.

And management gurus like Bill George say that the best way to become more resilient is to develop oneself into a calm, compassionate and adaptable, mindful leader. Given today’s global uncertainty, there has never been more need for mindful leaders. George continues:

In my experience, mindful people make much better leaders than frenetic, aggressive ones. They understand their reactions to stress and crises, and understand their impact on others. They are far better at inspiring people to take on greater responsibilities and at aligning them around common missions and values.

Along with the billions around the globe, I suffer from the daily grind of life, the challenges of leading others, and coping with a constantly changing world. My affinity with mindful living is not grounded in any kind of scientific research–rather from my roots in Eastern philosophy and constant self-analysis.

Last Saturday, I had a chance to spend a couple of hours with Bhante Wimala at a mindful meditation session. Bhante Wimala has been a Buddhist monk for 36 years, is known throughout the world as a compassionate spiritual teacher, and is the author of Lessons of the Lotus. This very fortunate session with Bhante was my reaffirmation of how to lead our minds.

Based on my session with Bhante, here are some principles that help to lead our minds:

Living in the Moment

I briefly touched upon being in the moment in one of my recent posts. Being truly in the moment allows us to escape from adversity and conserve our inner energy. Living in the moment doesn’t mean we don’t care about the future. It means that when we make a choice to do something, we focus on solely doing it, rather than letting our mind wander into the future (or the past).

It’s been said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (meditation) and sweeping. Cleaning is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep or rake, and they try to do nothing else in that moment. The next time you’re doing housework, try concentrating on the housework–on the dust, on the motion, on the sensation. Cooking and cleaning are often seen as boring chores, but actually they are both great ways to practice mindfulness–something I ritualistically try to do at least once or twice a week. Sounds simple–but it’s actually pretty hard–go ahead and try it.

Letting Go

Fear is a protective emotion which signals danger and helps us to prepare for and cope with it. Fear perhaps is the key fundamental emotion that holds us back, makes us unhappy–fear of failure, fear of losing people, fear of success, fear of the unknown, and fear of moving forward or making a change.

Along with fear, emotional pain is another key factor that often holds us back. Although others can cause pain for us, our pain can also be caused by our own actions, including our inability to achieve a desired aspiration.

The physical reaction to fear and pain is called the “fight or flight” response. Being mindful is the exact opposite of that response. Mindful living comes from ‘letting go’. Letting go is the inner action that stops resisting fear and pain. It allows us to restore our ability to see clearly.

Buddhism asserts that attachment to negative emotions is the primary source of suffering. So then, detachment or “non-attachment” would be our ticket out of fear and pain.

Letting go comes from having a ‘nonjudgmental’ outlook towards life and people. It allows us to forgive others and ourselves equally for mistakes and incompatibility. In more secular and practical terms, we must be willing to let go of fear, pain, anger, and people. It is the ability to let go that drives a constant process of change–it is what makes us flexible and adaptable. This is hardly easy, takes a conscious effort, and is something I know I struggle with everyday.

Slowing Down

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves–slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.

–Thich Nhat Hanh

For a fast paced entrepreneur like me, perhaps the most paradoxical lesson for me has been around the need to slow down to move forward. Slowing down is a deliberate choice that can lead to greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness, which yield’s better results in one’s endeavors.

In the context of mindful living, slowing down does not imply taking a vacation every other month. It is what we must do every day. It means taking the time to do whatever we’re doing. It means single tasking rather than switching between a multitude of tasks and focusing on none of them. ‘Slowing down’ is about deliberate actions to be ‘mindful’. American author, poet, philosopher Henry David Thoreau sumed it up well, when he said:

“I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraved on the bathing tub of King Tching-thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.”

Neuroplasticity: Scientific Research on Mindfulness

Now, on the science of mindfulness, in the following video, Dr. Richard Davidson, speaks about his research on neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change its structure and function in response to experience:

Turkey’s Erdogan offers condolences for 1915 Armenia killings

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, January 14, 2014.

(Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan offered what the government said were unprecedented condolences on Wednesday to the grandchildren of Armenians killed in World War One by Ottoman soldiers.

In a statement issued on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the deeply contested deaths, Erdogan unexpectedly described the events of 1915 as “inhumane”, using more conciliatory language than has often been the case for Turkish leaders.

Turkish government officials said it was the first time a Turkish prime minister had offered such explicit condolences and described the statement as a historic step, but Erdogan’s words were dismissed as “cold-hearted and cynical” by an influential U.S.-based Armenian advocacy group.

The exact nature and scale of what happened during fighting that started in 1915 is highly contentious and continues to sour relations between Turkey and Armenia, a former Soviet republic.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in clashes, but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that this constituted an act of genocide – a term used by many Western historians and foreign parliaments.

People upset over Armenia's warming diplomatic relations with Turkey, protest in front of the Beverly Hilton hotel on 4 October 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.
Many Armenians – including in the diaspora – are upset by Armenia’s warming diplomatic relations with Turkey in recent years

Earlier in April, for example, a U.S. Senate committee resolution branded the massacre of Armenians as genocide.

Erdogan’s statement – unusually released in nine different languages including Armenian – repeated previous calls for dialogue between the two countries, and the setting up of a historical commission to probe events surrounding the killings.

“It is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early 20th century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren,” he said.

“Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences – such as relocation – during the First World War, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes among towards one another.”

ON THE DEFENSIVE

Although striking a conciliatory tone, Erdogan re-iterated a long-held Turkish position that the deaths of millions of people during the violence of the period should be remembered “without discriminating as to religion or ethnicity”.

Turkey is a Muslim state, while Armenia is Christian.

“Using the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible,” he added.

Armenia has up to now declined the offer for a joint historical commission, as it regards the alleged genocide as an established historical fact and believes Turkey would use such a commission to press its own version of events.

Armenia accuses the Ottoman authorities at the time of systematically massacring large numbers of Armenians, then deporting many more, including women, children and the elderly and infirm in terrible conditions on so-called death marches.

A person looks at portraits and a sign reading "1915 is a Genocide. Genocide is a crimes against humanity" during a demonstration on 24 April 2013 in Istanbul

The executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America said that Turkey was increasingly isolated over its version of what happened in 1915.

“Ankara is repackaging its genocide denials,” Aram Hamparian said in response to Erdogan’s remarks. “The fact remains that, as this cold-hearted and cynical ploy so plainly demonstrates, Turkey is, today, escalating its denial of truth and obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide.”

No one from the Armenian government was immediately available to comment. Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan is due to address the nation on Thursday morning during an annual “genocide” day speech.

Last December, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made Turkey’s first high-level visit to Armenia in nearly five years, raising the prospect of a revival in peace efforts between the historical rivals which stalled in 2010.

Turkey cut ties and shut its border with Armenia in 1993 in support of Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan, which was then fighting a losing battle against Armenian separatists in Karabakh. The frontier remains closed.

Goodbye Car Lanes: Madrid Wants To Take Back Streets For Pedestrians

Twenty four of the city’s busiest streets are going to be redesigned for walking, rather than driving. It’s a growing trend in urban centers around the world, but this policy could prove a big test.

Cities used to think the solution to heavy traffic was more roads, whether that came in the form of new freeways or extra lanes. But it’s more and more common now to go in the other direction and take lanes away. In Madrid, according to a new general plan that will likely be approved early next year, 24 of the city’s busiest streets are going to be redesigned for walking instead of cars.

Madrid Pedestrian Zone_14_Oct09-mk

The streets will link up with urban parks in an “environmental network” that gives top priority to pedestrians, followed by public transportation, then bikes, and finally cars. As some of the car lanes go away in the process, two-thirds of that space will go to people on foot.

Pedestrian street

But local pedestrian advocates say that there’s a long way to go. “Madrid is having real progress in mobility policy, a great change, but very slow,” says Pablo Barco, who works at a regional organization called Red de Ciudades que Caminan (“The Network of Walking Cities”). One of the problems isn’t just cars but the fact that sidewalks themselves are actually becoming more dangerous; more people are starting to bike on sidewalks when they want to avoid traffic, and sometimes the sidewalk is even taken up by bike and motorcycle parking.

Madrid Pedestrian Zone_16_Oct09-mk

There’s also the fact that sidewalk cafes are getting a little out of control in the city. “Another recent problem is the indiscriminate proliferation of bar and cafe terraces for smokers on the sidewalk, in a clear and unprecedented process of privatization of public space,” say Mateus Porto and Verónica Martínez, both architects and urban planners who are active members of a local pedestrian advocacy group A PIE. “That results in a loss of character for pedestrian space: a place to walk, but also to stay, play, talk, and interact.”

Madrid Plaza de Mayor_Oct09-mk

While they say the new plan can help, the experts point out that it’s not fully clear that the city will follow through–some of the other goals for traffic in the plan conflict with the idea of taking lanes away. And some current plans for pedestrian streets, under an air quality policy, have been held up because funding isn’t coming. But they also say there’s a lot that the city could do for pedestrians even before the streets get a major overhaul.

Madrid Plaza de Mayor_Oct09-mk

“In neighborhoods, you can do a lot with small interventions,” say Porto and Martínez. “We believe that regardless of what the General Plan says about the future of the city, many things can be done today, if there is political will.”

Tarde de verano en Madrid - Summer evening in Madrid

One example, Barco says, is just getting drivers to slow down. “Some Spanish cities, like Vitoria-Gasteiz, Cordoba, Mostoles or Pontevedra are making excellent progress returning the city to pedestrians even in a time of economic crisis–especially slowing to 30 kilometers an hour,” he explains. “This is the way it should continue in Madrid.”

Madrid Pedestrian Zone_Oct09-mk

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