Health and Wellness

“RowFree” is Helping Me Row Away My Evenings

I have used a Concept 2 rower for physical exercise for longer than I can remember. It is such a great workout and the C2 is built like a tank. If you can swing it, I highly recommend picking one up.

Like all rowers except for the Hydrow the workout can be a bit boring. You are going back and forth for 45 minutes to an hour with an occasional break for stretching or interval weight training. To combat the boredom I use a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that I have paired with my phone so I can listen to music or books on tape. I also have them paired with my Apple TV so if I feel inclined I can pull the rower into the downstairs media room/office and watch something on the TV while rowing.

The thing is, moving the rower is kind of a pain, and I never do it. Because of this, I started looking for a stand of some kind to hold my iPad and position it close enough to see the screen without hitting it as I rowed. Over a 6 month search I couldn’t find anything that I liked or that I thought would work. Then about a week ago I found RowFree, and I’m in love with this.

The RowFree Mount is a quickly installed bracket that can be used with Concept2 rowers, BikeERG, and SkiERG to hold electronic devices like tablets, smartphones, and laptops.  The RowFree Mount is highly adjustable and can be used to quickly position your device exactly where you need it. 

Constructed from aluminum alloy, the bracket is light and durable. The bracket simply slips over the PM5 on my Concept 2 and then adjusts to hold my device directly in my line of sight for the entire workout routine. I love this thing. It is simple, functional design at its finest. It’s not over-thought or overly complicated. It has a simple function and it works. It doesn’t block the readout on my PM5 and it makes rowing a whole lot more enjoyable.

RowFree is a small business located in Bend, Oregon.  Their mission is to provide the best way to interact with tablets, smartphones, and laptops while rowing. I think they nailed it.

The Digital Face of Healthcare.

It really is the 21st century. Take a look at how health care is transforming itself through technology, and how far it has come in just the last decade. The infographic below from MeMD highlights eight new innovative technologies that are transforming digital healthcare. In an attempt to reduce rising healthcare costs and improve patient care, digital health is emerging as a key driver in the transformation of healthcare. Organizations and payers are quickly integrating digital health tools for healthcare professionals and consumers. Healthcare insurance giant, Aetna recently launched their digital health and wellness platform, CarePass that features a growing catalog of more than 20 market-leading consumer apps, including iTriage, BodyMedia®, Fitbug®, UP by JawboneTM, LoseIt!, and Withings. It’ll be interesting to see where we are by 2023.


Bottles, We Don’t Need No Ugly Water Bottles. Introducing Soma.

The best design is where form and function compliment each other in a way that is so seamless that the end user is doesn’t even notice it. Where a beautiful object has a very specific purpose, and form and function work so well together it blends unobtrusively into your life. Soma is a perfect example of that.

Constructed of Glass using a 100% compostable water filter Soma  is a beautiful object, one that is worthy of display. The filter blends into it’s container and becomes part of the complete design without giving away it’s true purpose.  the shape of the bottle is sexy and clean and wants to be held. And while the shape and look of Soma is important, the functional side of it is in many ways the most important part of all.


The filter is designed by David Beeman – One of the top water filtration experts in the world.  Beeman brings over 30 years of experience in creating water filtration formulas for global brands like Starbucks, Peet’s, and others. The filter is made from all-natural Malaysian coconut shells, vegan silk, and food-based PLA plastic. The video explains it all with a solid Kickstarter pitch that is worth watching.

“We went on a hunt for materials that were compostable, healthy, and durable—not an easy task. Fortunately, we discovered three exceptional options. For the carbon granules that do most of the filtration, we identified all-natural Malaysian coconut shells. For the external casing we tracked down a food-based PLA composite that was surprisingly durable, even though it’s compostable. And, when it came to the final layer of filtration—which is typically done with a plastic screen, we came across a vegan silk from India. These materials were exactly what we were looking for. The Soma water filter is completely unique. There is nothing else like it in the world.” David Beeman

One more little point. How many plastic water bottles do you this could help remove from landfills, oceans, lakes, streams, rivers, and creeks? Just one more thing to think about.

Thanks Frank, You Got Me Thinking.

For the second week in a row, Kansas City is melting in triple digit heat. We have been on average about 5 to 10 degrees above normal each month since last August. A mild winter transitioned right through spring into an early summer, with no sign of break any time soon.

This afternoon I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Frank Morris, News Director at KCUR that linked to “This is What Global Warming Looks Like” on the weather channel. This article got me to thinking about global climate change, and I started digging around for well designed infographics about it. I was actually rather surprised at the limited number of really well designed ones I found after doing a Google search. There are plenty of infographics, just not all are related to climate change and global warming, and many of them offer little real information.Below are a few that I found.

The first two deal with shrinking arctic sea ice and how it is increasing global temperatures by failing to reflect more light back into space. The others deal with your carbon footprint, sea level change, and how global warming/climate change works. What I had a hard time finding, was anything that talked about the increased burden in terms of health, food production, strain on the power grid, possible economic, political, and social unrest.

Perhaps I need to refine my search terms a little more.

Kraft and Triscuit + Urban farming = Positive Change.

Everyone is hopping on the green, and sustainable farming trend, even food giant Kraft. And while my feelings about Kraft are just slightly better than my feelings about Monsanto, I have to say good for them. What Kraft is doing reminds me of the Pepsi Refresh project in the sense that they are actually trying to provide some good on the neighborhood level, and if it means people actually eat better in this country I’m all for it.

Kraft and Triscuit in collaboration with non-profit organization Urban Farming have launched a new campaign to encourage the growth of the home farming movement. To kick-start the efforts of urbanite farmers looking to plant their own gardens, 4 million boxes of Triscuits will include seed packets and instructions on getting started with planting and nurturing your future crops. The campaign is not revolutionary but, the sponsored “Home Farming” website does contain some fun social components that allow urban farmers to share photos, stories and tips and the partnership is working to build 50 community-based home farms across the country. The link between the physical product and the social space of the website is handled fairly well, although I’d be interested to see what kind of results they get. (how many people register from information on the box, how many people actually plant a garden, how many people actively participate with the website, etc.) Overall Kraft has done a solid job with site production, integrating rich media content alongside the social components. In addition, Kraft has been very smart about allowing the user to share with every other social network powerhouses like Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google, etc.

When you look at the concerns over the economic, environmental and health impacts of how are food is grown, and made available, to the public, it’s nice to see a brand like Kraft (no matter how you feel about giant food processing conglomerates) push to make the conversation about food production more public. It’s hard to  tell if these small scale models of urban farming will really change the current state of food production in North America.  The real importance might simply be in experimenting with what works and raising social awareness about the food we all eat.

You have to admit that at the end of the day, it’s certainly more satisfying to be eating something grown in your backyard, on your porch, or down the block in the community urban garden.

10 Reasons to Shop Local First in 2010

I found this graphic over at Local First, a site dedicated to the buy local philosophy for Western Michigan. The rules shown here apply to all communities though, and that is why I have decided on this Monday morning to re-post the article on my blog. I really believe in the shop local buy local concept. Over the weekend I had a discussion with a couple of friends about how the Country Club Plaza, one of America’s first true shopping centers, had gone from an area populated with locally owned unique shops, to an outdoor mall of chains, franchises, and generic national brands. These ten points show why going local is always better, and like I just said this is applicable in any community.

Top 10 Reasons To Shop Local First
1. Significantly More Money Re-circulates In Greater Grand Rapids.
When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the Greater Grand Rapids tax base.
2. Non Profits Receive Greater Support.
Local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners.
3. Unique Businesses Create Character & Prosperity
The unique character of Grand Rapids is what brought us here and keeps us here. Our tourism businesses also benefit.
4. Environmental Impact Is Reduced.
Local businesses make more local purchases requiring less transportation and usually set up shop in town centers rather than on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Most New Jobs Are Provided By Local Businesses.
Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally.
6. Customer Service Is Better.
Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service.
7. Local Business Owners Invest In Community.
Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
8. Public Benefits Far Outweigh Public Costs.
Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores.
9. Competition And Diversity Leads To More Consumer Choices.
A marketplace of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
10. Investment In Greater Grand Rapids Is Encouraged.
A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.