I’m A Teacher

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 09:35 PM with 0 comments

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Who would’ve thought a wedding reception in Indianapolis would be where I’d realized something that has helped shape the path I’ve taken with my career?

It was following the wedding of my friends Jen and Bill at their reception where it happened. Bill was making a speech, and though I don’t remember it verbatim (sorry, Bill!) he began talking about teachers, as he is one himself. Then he asked everyone in the room who was a teacher to stand up.

And I stood up.

Not only did I stand up, but nobody snickered or asked me to sit down either. This is when I first realized I am a teacher.

Define Teacher

When I lookup the definition of the word teacher in my favorite book of words, it reads, “a person or thing that teaches something; especially: a person whose job is to teach students about certain subjects.” This is why I have never thought of myself as a teacher, namely as I have never had a title with the word “teacher” in it before. My job titles have had “consultant,” “manager” and “president” and other business titles – but never teacher.

As I look at my career present-day and past, I have always been teaching in some capacity. There is teaching in the formal sense, were I have developed training and offered classes in the US and internationally on Web application and their underlying technology, I have also developed Web portals to host and deliver these materials. Then there’s teaching in a more advisory role, where I am consulting with people on business decisions and how to apply technology to help solve them. In some cases I am coming in with the answer after strategizing on it, other times I am troubleshooting in real-time to come up with a solution.

In the above cases, teaching is pervasive. I’m not simply saying to a client, “do X,” rather I am explaining what “X” is, answering their questions on “X,” informing them about “y” and other letters of the alphabet, and ensuring they have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

Educating vs. Selling

Some of you reading this may be saying, “yea, but aren’t really selling something to people in these cases, not teaching them?” Part of that answer is certainly yes, but when someone or some corporation is shelling out a lot of money, they need to understand the why, not only from a pure dollars-and-cents point-of-view, but with regards to how to best leverage and use it among other aspects. Teaching of course is an important role for sales and account people too, not just for the technology strategist like myself.

This is of course not to say that everybody is a teacher (I don’t recall everybody standing up at that wedding reception). Many don’t like to or want to teach. Each to themselves, but for myself I have always found this as a very rewarding aspect of what I do, past and present. Not to mention making my job easier by working with a well-informed client.

Deconstructing Being a Teacher

There are many more people out there who are teachers than realize it. We always envision a teacher as someone heading a classroom in elementary or high school, and has the word “teacher” in their title. I am not saying I am a replacement for them, rather someone complimenting their contributions to society with my own.

And you can give me an apple anytime!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways So Far From The Book 1 Page At A Time

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 03:08 PM with 3 comments

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A consequence of being in a routine is that our entire body can be consumed by it. Where things like repetitive strain injuries or simply being sore from sitting on our butt for a long time are obvious, what isn’t as apparent is the impact on our brain.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an example – you are buzzing along in what you do all day and someone comes along and asks you a question, and all you can do is stare back dumbfounded. They may have well as used a Sharpie and wrote it on a pool noodle and hit you with it. Call it brain fatigue, but does it show a sign your brain needs some exercising?

When I saw the book 1 Page at a Time – A Daily Creative Companion by Adam J. Kurtz sitting on the shelf at Judy Maxwell Home in Chicago, I couldn’t help but pick it up. (If you don’t know about this store, think Spencer Gifts with an old-world flair and a sharper edge; it’s also owned by actress Joan Cusack, so that adds to its eccentricity) It only took me flipping through the first few pages and I was sold. It is an adult workbook, with a page a day dedicated to a brief creative exercise to do in the book.

Each page presents a unique activity, from making a list to drawing a picture to whatever. Some are quick and easy, some require actual thought. As it’s a page a day, and I started late last year, I am not done yet – thus the “so far” in the title – but I have enjoyed every exercise so far.

Though I have much to go, I feel my takeaways from 1 Page at a Time will endure and be reinforced as I go through it.

Think Different – Borrowing from the infamous Apple tag line, this book does just that. It asks you to do things you most likely don’t normally do on a regular basis as part of your job or even for fun.

Challenge Yourself – As some of the activities have required me to sit back and ponder before putting pen to page, it’s been extremely helpful to have a challenge that is outside of my normal work and life challenges, which tend to be more technical, business and child-focused.

Draw – When was the last time you drew a picture? For the fun of it? This is probably why adult coloring books are all the rage these days. Where many of you reading this may not consider yourself an artist, the drawing I am talking about is not about being an artist. Rather, it is about expressing something with visualization.

On occasion a day or 2 go by when I don’t do a page a day, but then I catch up on them. I tend to do them in page sequential order, but there is no reason you can’t flip around and choose one at random. I never read ahead, as I like to approach these with some spontaneity.

I highly recommend getting a copy of 1 Page at a Time, or get 2 – 1 for yourself and 1 for a friend. If you have it and are using it, I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Ridin’ Writer’s Block Out

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, June 05, 2016 at 08:24 PM with 5 comments

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A few days ago I experienced something I never have before in my life. And looking back now, that was ok.

I had writer's block.

Over the last decade of blogging I have grown to love writing. What started out as cranking out a few paragraphs for my first dozens of posts here at The Hot Iron has grown to a passion for writing out – ok printing, but on paper – what I have sketched out and organized in my head and then type up to post. This is a similar approach I take with writing for my day job, as well as guest posts I have made on other blogs and sites.

As I write this in the first week into June of 2016, I look back and I did not post anything on the blog during the month of May, making for one of the longest recent stretches for me. Where I can say with confidence I did a lot of other things over the past month, both professionally and personally, I did not spend any “me” time to write. With that as a cloud over my head (ok, a thin cloud, but sun-blocking nonetheless) I tried to force the issue and do some writing.

A window of opportunity presented itself, with a meeting being canceled during noontime, and I saw this as my chance to get in some writing. I grabbed my notebook, pen, and headed for one of the few local Starbucks where I have written much of what I have written in the last year. After pouring a little whole milk in my grande dark roast I spotted an open seat at the tall table where I like to sit, put my stuff down, took a sip as I opened my notebook... and just stared at the blank page.

And I stared for what seemed like an eternity. I had a couple of topics to choose from, however nothing seemed to go from my brain to my hand to my pen. I even tried to go back and look at something I had started previously, and simply X'ed it out writing “trash” over it. Trying harder to focus didn't work either, as my mind was more focused on the sounds of the espresso machine and Frappuccino® blender, not to mention the people walking outside of the store. I was besides myself as I had been able to focus while sitting at this very same table where in the past the other 5 stools were occupied by police officers and I was able to tune them out! Realizing I had spent about 40 minutes and was only able to choke out not even 1 page of something I haven't looked back on yet, I closed my notebook, grabbed my coffee and made my way back to the office.

Not My Time

As I sauntered back to the office, frustration segued to reality as it came to me – this was not the time to try to write. Where everything else lined up into place – an hour of time, dark roast available brewed and not as a pour over – the one thing that was not ready was my brain. I had too many things on my mind, everything from the work I had to go back to when I returned to the office as well as everything else going on in my life. Forcing it right then and there wasn't going to change the situation, so I just needed to find another time to do it. Like right now, several days later, where the words are flowing faster than I am able to type them.

In the end I simply need to ride out writers block. And that phrase – ride out – came to me as well as I was walking back to the office, where the only real thing I was concerned with was avoiding panhandlers and other pitch people on the sidewalks. Of course my brain, which was schooled in 80's rock music, quickly dropped a needle on an old REO Speedwagon album, playing “Ridin' The Storm Out” over and over as I wrote this. However unlike the other day, the song served as an inspiration and not an impediment.

Deconstructing a Writer's Block

Over the years I certainly wouldn't say every time I sat down to write was an ideal time. This one time was the worst of them all. No beating myself up over this “lost” 40 minutes is necessary either. Had it not been for it, I wouldn't have written what you are reading now, or thought of that REO Speedwagon song, or gotten myself psyched up to write some more. The creative process can't always be controlled.

If you're not familiar with the song in my head, you can watch the video embedded below, or if you can't see it you can click on this link to view it on YouTube. Interestingly, this video was recorded on my 18th birthday.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Why Chicago Needs Dedicated Festival Grounds

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, April 04, 2016 at 06:40 PM with 2 comments

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The motto of the city of Chicago, Illinois is “urbs in hortu” which is Latin for “city in a garden.” The motto for Chicago is not “festum in urbs” or “festival in a city,” yet festivals large and small draw people to the city – to visit as well as to live – and contribute tremendously to the unique place it is.

It is the large festival concerts that of course draw the largest crowds, including myself. For me personally, there is nothing else like watching live music with tens of thousands of strangers, to say the least! As great and memorable as these festival concerts are – the likes of Lollapalooza, Pitchfork and Riot Fest – they also have an impact long after the last note is played and people leave, namely in the physical damage done to where the concerts are held, which is in public parks across Chicago.

The damage to parks is eventually fixed, and the cost is mostly covered by the concert promoter. However in 2014, the concert and amusement festival Riot Fest, which called the city’s northwest side park Humboldt Park its home for the past several years, was denied a permit to return there after neighbors complained about damage not completely repaired and other issues related to crowds. The 2015 concert was held on the other side of the city in Douglas Park.

I can understand the issue of park damage. Lollapalooza, the annual concert that consumes Chicago’s Grant Park along Lake Michigan, takes most of the park out of commission – including use for locals – for many weeks to repair the damage, which in their case and for Riot Fest is usually due to rain and millions of footsteps wrecking grassy areas which need to be replanted or resodded. It’s not only an inconvenience, but people are denied access to a park they pay for with their tax dollars.

While existing spaces and places make a great setting for concerts, namely in aerial photos of the crowds, a solution that could make everybody happy – from concertgoers to neighbors – would be a permanent festival location for such events.

Dedicated festival grounds

What you say, Mike, build out an open space for multi-stage concerts or other large festival activities and events? Yes, I am, and allow me to make the case for such a venue.

There’s plenty of space in Chicago. If you’ve ever traveled across this fair city, whether by train, car or even over it by airplane, there is all kinds of “vacant” land across the city. I use “vacant” in quotes as clearly someone owns it. But it is there, and not being used.

This is not an original idea. The concept of space for events is nothing new. The Midwest is dotted with fairgrounds, with indoor and outdoor facilities. Growing up in Massachusetts, the Eastern States Exposition grounds hosted not only the Big E, the annual 6-New England state fair, but events large and small throughout the year. Also, about 90 minutes north of Chicago is the Summerfest grounds along lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is designed and used for varying sized events.

Can be designed for its use. By building out a space for such events, it can be designed for multiple stages and the crowds that will stand and watch them and walk around, ideally not on grass but asphalt. Not to mention having some “permanent” fixtures like real bathrooms! Perhaps the event organizers, including Lollapalooza’s Perry Farrell, could have a say in its design too?

Can be designed to scale. Not all concerts and festivals draw the same size crowds, and the venue can be designed and built to accommodate different sized crowds.

Better accommodations for inclement weather. It’s rare than a little rain (or a lot) doesn’t fall on an outdoor festival event. This can be factored into the design of the venue with shelters and indoor facilities.

Better offering of VIP services. In addition to general admission tickets to such events, VIP tickets are more and more commonplace. Designing this into venues can provide a greater experience, at a greater cost, for VIPs, which can contribute more to the cost of the venue itself.

Better transportation planning. Or maybe simply “transportation planning” as such a venue would have planned transportation options – not to mention working in public transportation, paths and parking to accommodate it?

For all of these great reasons, it doesn’t mean that it will just happen. Especially in a city like Chicago, with burgeoning deficits, its politics and everything else making headlines, it could take years for something like this to ever happen. Plus, the city has a long history of hosting great events with little physical traces of them years later, such as 2 World’s Fairs in 1893 and 1933.

But nothing is ever easy, and because of it, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about it. “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” was a quote from Daniel Burnham, the famous Chicago architect and author of the Chicago Plan, a design for the city that was implemented in part, just like there would be some compromise on such a venue.

Could this happen in Chicago? Should it happen? Does the city have more pressing priorities? I welcome your thoughts and opinions on my idea in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Manage Your Day-To-Day

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 08:22 AM with 0 comments

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So, how is your day going?

Whenever asked that question, or just now as you read it, you may have begun it with a sigh or groan, or some insincere sense of enthusiasm. As much as we can plan days and focus on whatever we need to do, there are plenty of factors working against us and disrupting our momentum. These disruptors will never go away, and our only choice is to try to bring elements in to manage or counter them.

When I heard about the book Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind I said to myself, “self, how can I pass on reading this?” The book is a collection of writings and interviews with 20 “creative minds.” Where some I have heard of, like Seth Godin and Tony Schwartz, most of the rest I had not. Yet each of the contributors were very intriguing, yet practical. Manage Your Day-To-Day is a good read that gets you thinking about your own routines and practices and how to get the “most” from them, whatever “most” means to you.

As I read the book, my takeaways from it were not from the specifics of the book, rather from its big picture, and are as follows.

Misery loves company, but only if you want to be miserable together – As I read the dozen pieces from the 20 authors, nobody was saying that they have overcome chaos and their lives are exactly as they want them. Yet they did admit to challenges and offered both general and specific advice on how they are conquering what challenges them.

You deserve a break today – How many times have you been working on something and someone asks you about lunch, and you are thinking, “gee, I just had breakfast!” (Ok, you can put your hands down now.) I have written man times here at The Hot Iron about the creative process – or if you are so inclined, simply thinking – and the need to get away to change the scenery, recharge the brain and come back with a fresh focus.

In my current role, in the employee handbook for my firm it actually mentions taking breaks during the day just for that reason. As a matter of fact, I am writing this very blog post on one of those breaks. And on the way to the Starbucks where I am writing this, I was able to easily think through something for work that my brain kept tripping on. Where I thought I dropped the ball on something, I actually did not, and completely followed through. A nice thought to have in my head as I return to the office.

Where was Scrum? – As I read this book after reading Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum, using Scrum would be a perfect way to help you manage the creativity. As a matter of fact, I recently setup my own scrum board for myself, with tasks such as writing this blog post and fixing the closet doors in my kid's bedroom.

I recommend Manage Your Day-To-Day for anyone who is looking for ideas and encouragement on improvement of their productivity or just to add some calm into their lives. This book is one I bought myself after reading about it somewhere – sorry, I forgot, as I have had the book for a while. As I always pass along books, for this one I placed it on a shelf in the kitchen of my office with other books people have left there as a mini-library. It will be interesting if anyone takes it, and even more so if they took it after reading this blog post!

Have you read Manage Your Day-To-Day? I welcome your thoughts on the book in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book 52 Motivational Quotations For Salespeople By Tom Cruz

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, January 04, 2016 at 10:27 PM with 0 comments

photo of back cover of 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople by Tom Cruz

We all sell. Whether the word “sales” is in our job title or not, we all “sell” in some regards. From persuading a solution at work to convincing someone to date us to everything in between and all around, there is some element of selling in our lives.

Where we can succeed in selling, many times we do not. And when we do not, we can react to it in any number of ways. Whether we like it or not, we have to try to sell again. For some, getting back into the proverbial saddle is easy, and for others or just other times, we may need help. One way to get that help is from words of encouragement.

My good friend Tom Cruz has had the word “sales” on his business cards over his entire career (and when I say good friend, I stood up in his wedding and once flew live lobsters out to his house in LA from Boston, but I digress). When I heard he wrote a book titled 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople, I knew I had to read it. Of course it is always to support a friend, bit I knew it would be a great collection and motivator as well.

Friend bias aside, I enjoyed this short book. Each quote is on a separate page, allowing you to tear them out and hang them up. As with any book, I had a few takeaways from it:

We need to find what works for us – Reading through a book of motivational quotes in itself won’t necessarily make it a better day. Or maybe it will. We have to find what works for us, though trial and error, and it may be a third-party sharing something with you.

Explore beyond words – We often hear names of people and quotes that have been attributed to them. But who are these people? Were they business or religious leaders? Were they ax murderers or musicians? Does the quote define them or just confuse you? As I went thru this book I ended up searching several names I did not know.

Write your story – Where these quotes are just that, individual sets of words from others, combined they are part of my friend Tom Cruz’s life journey, and thus tell part of his story. We all have a story to tell or at least record for curious others – now or in the future – whether our child or a stranger. No matter who, our story may be of interest to someone someday.

Note Tom did not ask me to write this, nor did he give me a copy of it. I will make sure to give him a signed copy of my future book someday! As I pass along book I read to others, I am sending this one to a common friend of both of ours, who also works in sales, and should publish his own book too.

Were you intrigued or inspired to get 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople? Have you thought of publishing your own quotes? I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Most People Spend Most Of Their Time Around Their Job

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 07, 2015 at 10:12 PM with 0 comments

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It came to me a while back, something I guess I always knew subconsciously but only then came to the forefront of my mind – most people spend most of their time around their job. I then decided to put fingers to technology to see if I was right, and here’s my analysis and further thoughts on it.

Jobs and all their trappings

When thinking about how we spend our time, our jobs tend to be at the top of our list. This is of course assuming we don’t sleep most of our lives, but I digress. The job itself is the major time hoarder, assuming the typical 8-hour day. But if your day is anything but typical, it in itself is probably more than 8 hours, give or take a few minutes to a few hours.

As the TV infomercials say, “But wait, there’s more!” There’s the commute to work, both to and from it. You then need to prepare to go to work – wake up, shower (hopefully), eat and of course thinking about work. After work, there is probably some decompression, which involves more thought. If you work for the bare-minimum tech-savvy company, you can probably check your work email on your mobile device, and that adds up quickly, whether it is during the day or off-hours, including weekend. Then there's time devoted to things like doctor's appointments if things aren't so great on the job, but I don't have to go down that path here, do I?

Speaking of those off-hours and weekends, you are also thinking about work in addition to being connected to it. You may also be shopping for work, whether it is clothes, food or other supplies to get you through the day. And let’s face it, you may even take time after (or before) hours and on the weekends to actually do work, taking those time-consuming thoughts into even more time consuming actions.

So what’s your point Mike?

Now that I have set a somewhat somber point, you may be asking why? Why even bring this up?

Where I have thought about this very topic for a while, I wanted to write it out to make it real, tangible, and in my own face, and as a result in yours as well. By doing so, it is a realization that this will play into my upcoming goals for the new year. Where this time allotment towards my job may not be a direct or the primary input to my goals and decisions, but acknowledging it, I am realizing it will have some impact on it. From what I buy to where I live to what I do outside of work to whatever I may not have even thought of, the amount of time that my job currently occupies my time will come into consideration.

This time consumption perhaps consumes you as well – hopefully less, but perhaps even more. And let’s face it, it consumes most everyone. I say most everyone as I realize there are those who may not have to or want to work as much, and have the ability to disconnect from it. It may be because they are wealthy, live a simpler life, have a business or job that does not require as much of their time, work part-time but make enough to make them happy, or something else I couldn’t possibly fathom, but would love to.

Even if your job takes up most of your time, that may be ok, providing you love it, or maybe just a strong like. Or it’s convenient to where you live so your commute time is shorter. Or whatever it is or are, when you look at it written out, I hope you are at a minimum content with it.

The lay of the land

Now that I have painted the picture, do I (or you) want to hang it on the wall, or change it? I am not trying to draw any conclusions here – just simply putting it out as I said earlier, but reserving the right to refer to this in future writings.

I welcome your thoughts on this in the comments to this post… and please leave out any specifics about your job in those comments!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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”Giving

With the holiday season upon us, and the accompanying shopping season long under way, it's time to take a break, be thankful and support the spirit of the season and participate in Giving Tuesday.

On December 1, 2015, you are encouraged to close the tabs in your Web browser showing the latest deals and open up a Web page for a worthy charity, and allow me to suggest Barrel of Monkeys.

For over 17 years, Barrel of Monkeys has been teaching creative writing curriculum in Chicago public schools and in after-school programs. These programs are offered to elementary school kids and help them not only in their writing but to learn a little more about their creative side. The teachers in the program are also professional actors and improvisors, and they take what the kids write – from a single sentence to a short story – and adapt it into sketch comedy. This comedy is first debuted to the kids in their schools, and throughout the year Barrel of Monkeys puts on performances to the public showcasing some of the best of this inspired comedy.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Barrel of Monkeys, one may say I am biased as to how amazing this organization is, its people and the work it does. But don't believe me – see it for yourself; whether its in one of our performances or hear it from the kids and teachers themselves.

For Giving Tuesday 2015, our goal is to raise $3,000 towards our annual appeal. Can you help? Click the giant red button below and you can make a tax deductible donation online in any amount.

”Donate

If you're still not convinced, watch this trailer for our Giving Tuesday campaign – the actors are our artistic and education directors – showing some of the depth of talent and dedication to the organization.

If you have any questions on Barrel of Monkeys, check out our Web site or share them in the comments to this post, and thank you in advance for your support!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Jackery Battery Chargers Big And Small Do The Job

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 04:32 PM with 0 comments

photo of Jackery Mini and Giant +

Once upon a time you could easily remove the battery from a mobile device. This made it easy to keep a charge as you could simply swap out a dead battery for a fresh one. Of course you would have to charge the removed battery, and you could either charge it in the device or in a special battery charger.

Where the above scenario sounds like ancient history, it was less than a decade ago that you could do this. Today most mobile devices have non-removable batteries. Granted “non-removable” is a relative term as you can remove anything, it’s just that the device isn’t designed for it to be easily removed, and in doing so may void its warranty. As a result, spare batteries have been replaced by external battery chargers, and have spawned a whole new industry, especially as having 1 or 2 seems to never be enough power.

Recently I was offered the chance to evaluate external battery chargers made by Jackery. Where I have seen this brand before, namely on Amazon.com, I had never used one. In this eval I was also offered to choose which battery charger I would like to try. As I couldn’t choose between their largest and smallest models, the Giant + and the Mini, I asked if I could try both, and they said I could.

In my review I didn’t plan out anything specific, as I simply wanted to use them as I would any battery charger. I also had my wife use them as well, not specifically saying why I had them. Also note I am not an electrician, and I can’t speak to power ratings or usage, only from a lay person’s point of view. Judging from most people who read The Hot Iron, I am not disappointing anyone with that last statement.

Giant + – Multiple devices, multiple charges

The Giant + is a battery charger you most likely won’t carry in your pocket, this is unless you’re going to a festival concert, which I did this past fall when I took it to Riot Fest. I also have used it to charge multiple device at home, such as my iPhone and iPad. It was also the power source for my modern-day attempt at a boom-box, charging both my iPhone and a Bluetooth speaker which played at our neighborhood block party.

The main features of the Giant + are that you can charge 2 devices at once, and that you can charge devices multiple times. In my charging, I was far from scientific, but many times I had multiple devices charging to 100% at once. There is a 3-bar light indicator which tells you the battery level, and the accompanying charge cable would replenish the battery pretty quickly – at least overnight, which is what I most often did.

Another feature of the Giant + is an LED flashlight. By pressing a side button twice, the flashlight turns on and off. I’ll admit I didn’t really use this in a real-world situation, as I always had enough light, typically from device screens, to plug in to it. But I did try the light in the dark and it is plenty bright. As it’s not a battery you may typically carry around with you, I am not sure if the light often used, but I would love to hear from someone who has.

Mini – Topping off the fuel tank

As I said before, I have several battery chargers, namely as all of my devices have weak batteries and constantly need recharging. Where I have used the Giant + to bring a device back from the dead, sometimes it’s nice just to top off a charge or have a spare battery just in case. The Jackery Mini came in handy for both situations.

The Mini is just that – small, compact and can easily fit in the same pocket as your device… that is, if your device can fit in your pocket itself, but I digress. This battery is one my wife would take with her to charge her phone. It has a push button where up to 4 LEDs illuminate in extremely bright blue to indicate the strength. I have also kept the Mini in my backpack with a spare charging cable if I ever needed a top-off.

Solid and stylish

Both the Jackery Giant + and Mini are solid. They have an aluminum outer shell with a shine to them – the Giant + I had is bright orange (a color I love!) and the Mini was close to what Apple calls “rose gold” but they call it just gold. I of course have dropped both batteries, and they have held up well, though they mostly just fell off my desk.

As for the price, I have seen a variety of ranges, and as I am posting this close to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I am sure there will be deals on it. In all cases, the Giant + is more than the Mini.

For portable power, these backup batteries from Jackery performed well for me. They also offer many other styles, as well as cases. And after having them hands-on, I am glad I couldn’t decide which one to review, as they each have their own uses. If you have used Jackery backup batteries before, or have any questions on these, I would like to hear from you in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Evolutionary Eating By Dr. Theresa Nesbitt

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, November 05, 2015 at 10:59 PM with 0 comments

photo of Snacking sign with a question mark

Over the summer I was seriously considering weight and diet counseling. As, well, let's just say I need to lose a few pounds, and with the increasing demand of little kids – plus the fact I am not getting any younger – it was more than time to take action.

When I talked with a colleague who is also a doctor about this, he asked me if, before I committed time and money to a program, I could commit US $15 on a book. As you cant even get a mediocre mixed drink in some Chicago bars for that, I said, “why not?” It was then that he recommended I read a book written by a friend of his, Dr. Theresa Nesbitt, titled Evolutionary Eating: How We Got Fat and 7 Simple Fixes.

As the book was recommended by someone I trust, I bought it. But I have to admit – by the title alone, which I thought was cliché for a health book, I probably wouldn't have otherwise bought it. But I did, and I am glad I did. And it has worked for me too, but I will save that for the end of this post.

So it is probably needless to say that I had several take-aways from this book, and here's some of the top ones I'd like to share:

We Never Really Learned Everything About Eating – Looking back on growing up, plus raising my own little angels, most of what we teach our kids about eating is more logistical – use utensils, don't put food in your hair, chew with your mouth closed – but we don't have as much focus on when to eat, what to eat and why.

Eat 3 Meals A Day At Routine Times – By eating consistently, or as consistently as possible, your body “knows” when to process food coming in and when to process stored fat, and by doing so you will use that excess stored energy and lose weight. I had an uncle who did this, eating 3 meals a day of the food he grew and raised and he lived to his mid 90's.

Keep It Real By Eating Real Food – Stick to basic and real foods and less or no processed or manufactured foods, or as Dr. Nesbitt calls “food forgeries” as our bodies are built for processing natural foods and not artificial or manufactured ingredients, flavors and additives. The original TV chef, Julia Child, always cooked with real butter, lard and wine and she lived to her 90's as well.

No Snacking – If you eat 3 meals a day only, you are thereby not snacking. Of course this goes beyond everything out there in society, at least modern American society. This for me has been personally tough, especially with earlier said angels who are ever growing and snacking. But by me snacking I too am ever growing, but in a bad way, and by not snacking, that has subsided.

How Vegetable Oil Is Made – Vegetable oil is supposed to be better than other oils, but they don't necessarily squeeze veggies to get the oil, unlike with olive oil. A chemical process is used to get it, and where the book introduces this I have done my own research as well. I'll stick with olive oil, or as I have been doing, I will forego oil altogether and use a variety of natural foods to add flavor.

Any Change Requires Willpower – This is probably the only thing I disagree with the author on. She states that by learning how to eat better, no willpower is involved. For someone like myself who has been eating the same way for almost half a century, willpower isn't only involved, it is direly needed! In the past I have lost weight, but always ate the same, and then it was more involved with a high level of exercise. When I stopped exercising, the weight came right back.

Some of these are of the 7 “simple fixes” that Dr. Nesbitt offers, and if you are intrigued as to what they all are, I recommend getting a copy of this book. As for the book as a whole, it is a very good and easy read – not intense, educational and supportive with a touch of humor, all the while not being too preachy. I recommend Evolutionary Eating not only for someone looking to lose weight, but for anyone looking to eat better or to support someone losing weight.

As for myself, I read the book over summer and it really resonated with me. I have changed my diet quite a bit, eating more salads without dressing, and cutting out most all breads. I still eat pizza and pasta, but I try to eat less of it. It has been far from perfect, and sometimes a struggle, but when I am hungry a coffee or seltzer will do the trick. Since simmer, I have lost about 25 pounds. I have a lot more to lose, but I am pleased with the results so far!

I have shared this book with my immediate family, and have given my copy to a friend. If you read Evolutionary Eating, I welcome your thoughts on it in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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