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The Great Outdoors

I know, not as clever as some of my headlines. Today was a day to unwind, and take advantage of perhaps the last perfect Fall day of the season. Mid-60's, sunny, leaves at peak color.

Woke up to a typical Sunday. Hearty Breakfast. No shaving on the weekend, thank you.

Meet the Press makes breakfast a bit less appetizing.

Leaves are changing...and falling.

It's a beautiful day. Don't let it get away.
Thanks for the advice Mr Hewson.

Destination: Meriden, CT - just a few miles away. Hubbard Park, designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmstead, has miles of trails, part of the extensive Metacomet Trail over some beautiful terrain.

As with most of my outings, I set off intending to relax, explore, get some much needed exercise and perhaps get some memorable images, both in my mind's eye and in my trusty camera.

From the top you can see the Long Island Sound to the South and Mt. Tom in Massachusetts to the North.

On all accounts, mission accomplished. If you're ever in central CT check out our miles of trails, greenways and parks.

Before I sink my life savings into a Canon 5D Mark II, I thought I'd do a dry run on the cheap. Still a nice memory of a nice day out.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Fresh air is a beautiful thing. I'm gonna sleep like a baby...

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 25, 2009 at 8:56:40 pm hiking, exercise, nature, relaxation

Managing Stress

Stress is a natural part of life. Even happy events like a wedding cause a lot of stress. As discussed at length in this blog, air travel and travel in general causes plenty of stress. Planning a video shoot and dealing with clients of different levels of detail-orientedness are more ways to lose one's hair. Luckily, I haven't got much hair left to lose. This means I need to find other ways to decompress. Here are some ways:

1. After an especially stressful phone call with an angry mob, get up, walk outside and walk around. Even in the dead of winter I have bundled up in my ski jacket, hat, scarf and gloves just to get some air. If it is warm, go for a longer walk. In the Spring and Summer I try to walk half a mile every day during my lunch break, or whenever I need a break.

2. Get a massage. We have the advantage of having a great massage and acupuncture studio right next door, so at least every couple of months a deep tissue massage really gets me relaxed. Sitting in a poor position at the computer for days on end is not good for the neck, the back, the eyes or the hands.

3. Keep healthy snacks at work. You are what you eat - it is an overused expression, but true. If you keep your desk drawer stocked with candy bars and soda cans, you will feel even worse after your 5 minute sugar high. I need to work on this area of my own life, however i recently switched from high carb granola bars to flavored rice cakes. They take some getting used to, but are filling but low in calories. This Summer I plan to keep some fresh fruit at work as well.

4. Drink. I'm not talking about what you do after work - I mean hydration during the day. A narrator once told me that every time he takes a sip from a bottle of water he tries to drink at least 1/4 of the bottle. That's a lot of bottles of water, but we have a well and the water is pretty good. Do you need 8 8oz glasses per day? Who cares about specific quantities. Drink so you don't feel thirsty. I can tell you at the end of a well hydrated day I am a lot more relaxed when I get home. Alternately, when I get home and snap at my wife, she instantly knows I haven't had enough to drink that day. Know thyself, because your spouse surely does.

Keep a nice selection of teas at hand also. I especially like green tea, but flavored teas can be a nice breath of fresh air too. If you can find tea in a silk bag you know it's going to be good.

5. Exercise. For a while I was going to the gym before work. It took discipline to wake up early, make lunch, make a protein shake for after the workout, grab clothes and a clean towel and get out of the house by 6:30am. I did it for a couple of months last year. This year I think I'll do my workouts at home to save some coin, but still need to get disciplined. A good workout before work, for me anyway, does wonders for my energy and concentration. Last Summer I kept my bike in the car but did not use it enough. Lots of resolutions this year. I'm not getting any younger!

In hotels where I am staying for more than one night, I try to take a swimsuit and a t-shirt. Last October in San Fran I actually went for a swim after a long travel day - it really helps. In airports, you can pay for a bad airport massage, but the best thing to do is just walk around. After sitting in steerage for hours, why sit down in the boarding area if you have some time to kill. Walking around a big terminal like DFW or BWI with a camera bag over your shoulder is a pretty good workout. Again, stay hydrated. Don't rely upon the free cup of ice they give you on a plane. Buy the biggest bottle of water you can find, once through security of course, and drink it. And get the free cup of ice.

6. Stay healthy. This is always a challenge. Stress makes you more likely to get sick. Airplanes, hotels and gyms are full of germs. Despite your best intentions, you will eventually get sick. As I write this I am recovering from a nasty virus, no doubt picked up somewhere between FLL and BDL.

Not much to do except let it run its course and eat lots of chicken soup. Here's my recipe:

1 Pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (I like Costco) - you're sick, this is much easier than cooking a chicken.
Let the bird cool in the fridge a bit, then tear off all the meat.
Take the bones (not the body, just the wings, legs, thighs) and sear them in an empty pot.
After a few minutes, scrape the bottom of the pan and add enough water to cover the bones. Let this simmer for an hour. Skim off any flotsam that comes to the surface.

Meanwhile, in a larger soup pot, add finely diced celery, onion and carrots. I use a lot of all three. Over medium heat, sautee with some butter or butter substitute and some olive oil. Cover and let it go until soft. Then I add some sliced mushrooms and all the chicken meat, give it a good stir, then add a little water, and stir it again.

By now the broth should be ready. Place a fine strainer over the large pot of veg and meat, and pour the broth through the strainer so you just get the broth. You can either pull any remaining meat off the bones or throw them away - they have done their job.

Now you can add some salt and pepper, parsley and thyme if you like, and simmer for half an hour. Then dig in.

My wife likes dumplings - they are dead easy.
1 cup flour sifted. 2tsp double acting baking powder. Enough dry parsley so when you mix it all together you can see the parsley.
Make a well in the bowl of dry ingredients, crack an egg and beat it gently with a fork. Now fold in the dry stuff and then add just enough milk so the mixture is combined but as dry as you can keep it. You're not making bread here.
Get your soup up to a simmer then with wet fingers, drop dollops of dumpling mix into the soup. About the size of the OK sign you make with your fingers. Once all the dumplings are in, cover the pot and simmer for 11 minutes and 11 seconds. It's the steam the cooks them, not the boiling liquid (it should not be boiling anyway).
When the time is up, dinner is ready. Enjoy, and shake that cold.

Thanks for reading. I'm gonna get me a bowl of that soup.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 5, 2009 at 3:02:00 pm stress, exercise, travel, health

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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