Monday, January 4, 2010

Smile, you´re not on camera

My wife´s sister and her family have a brilliant reminder on their frontdoor (inside).


I think it´s brilliant. Too often we tend to smile only when provoked or see it needed. Think of the hundreds of people you pass by each day that misses that gentle stroke of a caring smile.
Think of what you do when you give a gentle personal smile to an elderly woman looking a bit lonely at the bus stop. She might be in a position were she hardly talks to anyone for a week, except the clerk at the grocery store. Give her that smile, maybe even go to the "extreme" length of adding a "good day young lady" and you will surely have made her next minute or day a bit better.

A smile can be a token of respect. Respect is often sorely missing in the right places these days. We respect the flue and other diseases but not our next kin. Strange if you ask me.

So remember. Because it´s not for the camera, but making others and your own day better. Go out, smile that wonderful gentle smile of yours.

It is that easy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to bike smarter. Small but great ideas.

The danes got it right when claiming ownership to the slow bike movement. The Slow bicycle movement asked their peers for a manifesto, and the results are truly inspirational for enjoying life to the full from the bike seat.

Here are a few quotes from their manifesto:

Please ride the bike you have, in the clothes you like, at the speed you enjoy.
If you see something interesting, stop to look at it.
Take spontaneous detours.
Notice something new about your neighbourhood each day.
Ride calm, composed and courteous.
Refrain from road rage. When faced with road rage from others, please wave and smile.
Name your bicycle.

How can you not agree with this? Your biking will become safer, your life more relaxed and your surroundings will most likely envy you for taking a danish approach to biking.

On another note regarding safety and biking. Here is an invention I found at first look to be smart but in afterthought are not sure if it will do good or not. The idea deserves attention anyhow.
As Lightlane themselves puts it:
"Bike lanes are an effective means of improving safety for motorists and cyclists. However, due to the high cost of installation, bike lanes are not widely available. Instead of forcing cyclists to adapt their behavior to the existing infrastructure, the bike lane should adapt to the cyclist."

So how did this work you say? Ah, let the this instructional film explain the genious contraption.

With or without bikelanes. Use your bike, get rid of some stones, kilos or pounds. Fat as a blunt person would say. But do it with a smile. Biking that is. Not for getting rid of something but for getting a richer more fulfilling life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Slowness. It's good for you.

The mantra of most of my telling these days, both proffesional and private, are revolving around parenthood and how it affects you. I think it is a shame not to learn and be inspired in such a blessed period of my life.
The other day I remembered a talk Carl Honore gave at the TED conference a few years ago about slowness and how storytelling to his own child helped him slow down.
TED, by the way, is a invitation only conference that are caring enough to give us mortals access to the presentations on video via the web. There are a huge archive over at TED with superb speakers.
But right now, set aside 20 minutes and hear why slow can be good for you by Mr. Honore.

Personally, I still have some steps to take before I can say that I have mastered slowness, but you will never get there if you don't start trying. Feel free to join the movement.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Looking at the world with baby perspective

My firstborn, Nikolas, has given me a new perspective on many aspects of life as I know it. One of the more profound teachings I've picked up is his way of looking at his surroundings, a.k.a the world.

For instance his ability not to read text. This might sound strange but imagine what you see in your urban surroundings if text is not guiding you. A storefront becomes something completely different. This lead me to think that we grown ups can perhaps learn from these pure souls. By trying to look at the world with a baby perspective we might see objects and design around us in a whole new way. At least for me it has given me a fresh look at the city I live in. Streets that before were boring have suddenly been given a new life because new meaning is given through some sort of childish purification.

Daniel Pink, the creative writer, claims that our left brain (the analyzer and spreadsheet tank) is given too much power. As you know, pictures says more than a thousand words and symbols are way more teling than a word. Take these for example. I guess you know the meaning behind at least to of them (warning some of them are from the digital era).

From left: Play, Action (on Playstation), Agree/Yes, I am happy (smiley)

Me, and many others, claims the importance to give our inner child life and space to breathe. If we're not capable of observing a childs behaviour and being inspired by it, that inner child can become a very dull adult person.
Questions like What is ugly and What is beautiful becomes meaningless (more or less) because they become interesting instead. The curiosity and pure joy of observing something for the first time is off course difficult to purely replicate, but if we give up trying then our ability to become excited takes a hard blow.

So why don't you give it a try. Go out and look at the world with baby perspective. If you have no clue how to, then observe a baby at first oppurtunity to get inspired.
"In adults, there is an ability to turn the brain up, to pay full attention, as we call it, so as to absorb information with more efficiency. In little kids, the brain is at this state of alertness all the time. Even when a kid is distracted, they are intensely distracted." David Cairns

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to make a gourmet Salmon dinner in 30 minutes

It is easy to make delicious food. It's just a matter of knowing how. Here's a easy way to make a superb dinner with salmon or trout in 30 (40 the first time) minutes. I promise you that this method will make your friends or family go "mmmm ahhh how did you do that". They'll propably use the word succulent about the fish as well.

Shopping cart:
200 - 250 grams filet/loin of trout or salmon (with or without skin) per person
White wine
Potatoes (Amandine or other firm kind)
Parsley root (direct translation from norwegian...)
Parsley leaves for garnish
Olive oil
Sage, salt and pepper
Cream, cauliflower, vegetable stock and shallot onion (if you want to deluxe the dinner)

To make this you are best prepared by having what I call oven forms (see picture). They are a crucial tool for making dinners that practically makes themselves superfast. Steel gets warm faster than porcelain and ceramics, it's as simple as that. The oven should be preheated to 160-170 celcius degrees. This is actually slightly too hot for fish but since we're making veggies in the same oven this is a must.

All the veggies must be sliced in cubes maximum 1,5 cm in size. Put them in one of the steel forms. Pour in a good amount of olive oil and rub it all in with salt and pepper. The veggies needs slightly more than 20 minutes in the oven. Note that layers of vegetables will increase length of oven time so use a large form or add time. So spread in one layer for short prep time.

Then the succulent fish. Again steel oven form. The bottom should have a thin layer of oil and white wine. Too much and your fish will be boiled instead of steamed in the wine. Cut the fish in portion sizes (200-250 gr) and make sure it is boneless for optimal eating experience, but not a must. (I use my wifes tweezer to easily remove the bones.) Gently rub in pepper and sage on the fish. If you like you can squeeze lemon over the fish as well. Remember that salmon is a fat fish so no need for butter. This should be ready in 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick the loins are. In the picture I have both filets of mountain trout and seawater trout. I wanted to taste the difference. Freshwater mountain trout rules by the way!

That's it. When ready prepare on plate and garnish with parsley leaves and add some reduced balsamico vinegar.

For the deluxe version add cauliflower cream. This is the easy version. Cut the shallot onion. Also cut half a cauliflower into 8 pieces. Boil in vegetable stock. When done (appr 10 min) reduce fluid amount to 0,5 dl. Add 0,5 to 1 dl of cream (i use a kind of cream that is lower on fat and meant for usage in prepared food. Then I use my Braun Hand Blender to make a cream (or puree if you like). This works great as sauce and adds even more veggies to the meal.

And I almost forgot. The wine. Do yourself a favour and go for a Riesling from Alcase. A perfect match to the mild taste of the meal. Go ahead. You deserve it.

That's it. Do this a couple of times and you'll be ready to experiment further. Try making a puree of petit pois (baby peas) or using other vegetables. Oh, and remember to say that you've oven steamed the fish to sound a chef.
Bon apetit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being parent - The introduction

For one month my wife and me have had the fantastic experience of becoming parents for the first time. And I guess we're like all other parents in most aspects. Our baby is the worlds most beautiful little revelation and he is fun to watch, even when he is staring empty into thin air.
But nobody told me that this creature had similarities with an army vehicle, namely the tank.
Meet the Nikolas WMC Tank
The Nikolas tank comes equipped with the basic package, but shows no mercy.
His cannon are showing steadily brute force and shoots without no warning when feeling danger. Danger can be daddy removing diaper or having slightly cold hands when trying to clean up the mess "down there". At latest measurment his cannon has shown reach beyond 60 CM. So far, the bathroom tiles are not breaking down from the harsh attacks...
His target precision is getting more accurate for each day that passes, and daddy is now thankful for all his promo t-shirts.
His armour seems to have an alarmsystem that is not adjusted properly yet. When trying to remove outer layer the alarm (read crying for the slow learners) goes off in a loud setting. It really doesn't matter if he has been driving through muddy terrain (read left a poo). The Nikolas WMC Tank likes dirt and mud much more than go through maintanance.
His fuelsystem is off the charts. The consumption of gas cannot be displaced fast enough and if his fuel tank are getting close to zero, the famous alarm goes off.
Actually, the alarmsystem really needs adjusting. It can sometimes go off for no reason in the middle of the night when parked in the garage (crib). It seems that his liking for close combat (read hugs and kisses) makes the garage a dull place...

Apart from the need for tweaking the system setup we are thrilled to have the Nikolas WMC (worlds most charming) tank in the house. If you haven't guessed it by now. The latest addition to the family is a wonderful boy named Nikolas.

I promise regular updates on how this superb creation fare with family and friends.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Creating a picture story with Lego

As I have written about earlier on this blog. Having fun and being creative is only about your inner boundaries. Who said adults cannot play with action figures on holiday? DaVinci? Don't think so. And he was a cool dude.
Well, now the family here at Sagene has gone even further in their playful behaviour. It's Lego time!

Maybe you weren't aware that adults playing with Lego has become a major source of income for the danish toy giant. They are not buying for their kids, no I'm talking about complex but fun advanced Lego building. I am not one of those. I'm nothing but a humble amateur trying to see if I can use Lego as a storytelling tool. (Actually, I'm concidering implementing some of this in my many business presentations and lectures.)
But let's look at this just for the fun of it for the time being. Lego worth half a Chanel bag takes you far. A good digital camera even further (this family use a Canon EOS 400D with Tamron 17-50XR Di II, so that's not for the kids). And to top it of you can use a program like Comic Life from Magiq. This program makes it easy to create comics. In a few minutes you can create something like what you see below. (Click on image to enlarge.)

So what are you waiting for? Go play with your kids and create stories. Remember, they are just an excuse, so if you don't have any small ones available at hand, just say "I play with Lego and I'm proud of it".
It doesn't mind if your beloved ones have high acceptance factor for "different" behaviour either...