Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Tagged listicles

Before you exercise: 7 side effects of fitness

U.S. Army

U.S. Army

Beyond the obvious weight loss and cardiovascular benefits of regular fitness, here are a few bonus consequences of working on your body:

  1. Your skin improves. If vanity is your top goal for getting in shape, I’ve got good news: Regular exercise, particularly when coupled with a healthy diet, does wonders to your hue. If you’re white and pasty like me, your skin starts glowing the longer you work out. It looks healthy, full of color, slightly tan. The reason: “Exercise enhances blood flow to skin,” says Dr. David Katz. Plus, sweating works as a natural cleaning agent, unclogging pores and removing oil and dirt for fewer zits. My skin has never looked healthier. What a pleasant surprise.  Continue reading…

Top 25: My favorite songs

music_note2I was asked to compile a list of my top 25 songs for a recent family reunion. Here it is for all to see.

As for my methodology, I didn’t submit a single political or consensus vote (i.e. notice no Beatles songs or critically acclaimed “Smells like Teen Spirit”). I only picked songs that are personal favorites; great songs that have special meaning to me, even if some of them are admittedly inferior to others not included on this list. And since my remembering self is biased, the list skews to recent favorites.

Enjoy.  Continue reading…

How Children Succeed: 5 things to know

urlBuild character, not intelligence. That’s the gist of what parents, educators, and society should do to help children succeed, argues Paul Tough in his new book.

Many of Tough’s “findings” are obvious, mind you. More scientific validation of common sense than childrearing enlightenment, at least for balanced parents.

Nevertheless, Tough succeeds in synthesizing some important focal points for raising upstanding kids. Here they are, with my added commentary:

  1. Let children fail. It’s tempting to want to force a child to learn from yours and other’s mistakes. Life doesn’t work that way. You should certainly own up to your mistakes while showing them others’ and hope the child listens. But you must respect a child’s right to fail. It’s the only way they’ll feel the full experience of life. Let them own their failures as much as society lets them own (if not coddles) their victories. And let them know that failure is not who they are, it’s just something they do en route to winning.  Continue reading…

3 reasons this is still the best toothbrush I’ve ever used

reach-total-care-plus-whitening-toothbrush

The Reach Total Care + Whitening. Seriously, this thing is my version of the Ora-Dent for the following reasons:

  1. Unlike most plastic bristles, these babies don’t just slide across your rocks, they actually have grip and texture, which help remove build-up. After using this brush, your teeth feel as though the’ve just been polished by a dental hygienist. I know because I lick my teeth after every brush now.
  2. The angle of the brush gives you maximum leverage, making it easier than any brush I’ve used before to access those hard-to-reach places.
  3. Most brush handles narrow towards the end. Not the Reach Total Care + Whitening. This handle widens at the end, providing the best grip possible. I own my teeth now!

That said, I don’t fully buy the whitening bit. If Reach is saying the brush is capable of removing more external gunk than other brushes thanks to the above, then fine. But if they’re claiming it whitens like my bleech trays, I’ll call their bluff. After all, they’re whitening claim is asterisked by “lab tests,” aka “clinically proven,” aka “this doesn’t really do what we claim, but we’d like to think it does.”

Secondly, at $3.50 a pop, the brush is 3X the price of average brushes. Regardless, I’ll never buy another toothbrush. It’s that good.

(For what it’s worth, here is the toothpaste I use. Also awesome.)

Originally published March 2011

Top 5 songs from Phoenix’s upcoming album, Bankrupt!

phoenix-bankrupt

I heard an advance preview of Phoenix’s upcoming album, Bankrupt. It does not disappoint. Overall, it rivals the must-own quality of their last three albums, and runs circles around their forgettable debut album.

While Bankrupt doesn’t charter new territory, it’s undeniably fun. It will make you want to dance and sing. It’s like eating a perfectly ripe peach in August after waiting a really long time to indulge in the familiar sweetness.

For all the people with good taste who plan on adding this album to their library, here are five essential tracks I suspect you’ll be humming most: Continue reading…

Anxiously engaged: 5 hobbies I like

blake

My wife looked at me with bright amber eyes the other day and laughed in my face. “Is no hobby off limits for you?” she mused.

We were cleaning our attic and going through an old box of mine. It was a veritable time capsule of previous hobbies I once held dear. The one that made Lindsey laugh most were my magic tricks.

“How much did you spend on these?” she asked. “A few hundred,” I responded. “Let me guess, you only played with them for a few weeks,” she countered.

Probably.

You see, I lose interest in hobbies as quickly as I discover them. I do have lifelong passions—music and sports chief among them. But most of my hobbies are fleeting. I get what I need and then move on to new hobbies. The old ones remain as slice of my former self; a talking point with anyone who has shared my enthusiasm for x, y, or z.

But it’s not out of boredom that I lose interest in hobbies. It’s out of a desire to experience as many things as I can. Someday I’ll list a comprehensive set of passions that I chased in this life. But for now, here are personal hobbies I’m particularly keen on at the moment: Continue reading…

10 things that scare me: 2013 edition

worrySix years ago, I wrote about 10 things that scare me. Since then, I’ve overcome many of those fears and have adopted new ones, so I think it’s time I updated my list. Here it is: 10 things that intimidate or otherwise worry me at this point in my life:

  1. Writing a book. Thanks to blogging and an insatiable curiosity, I’m a self-made writer. Since 2005, I’ve written tens of thousands of posts. I’ve also written hundreds of 800-6000 word feature stories, and thousands of pages of special reports, columns, product reviews, opinion pieces and analysis. And yet, writing a 10 chapter book seems so daunting to me. Go figure. It’s probably because the required focus conflicts with my ADA more than a writing project that typically lasts no more than a half day to a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it’s my biggest professional fear. Continue reading…

13 things I learned in France

2012-paris-montage

With the help of two babysitting grandmas, a good job, and lots of decisiveness, Lindsey and I vacationed in Paris this year for her birthday. It was our first time to Yurp. (And I thought Boston was old!)

Travel bragging aside, I learned several things on the trip, including a few reoccurring generalizations. They are as follows: Continue reading…

How to eat well: 12 simple rules for healthy, happy eating

junkfood

Healthy food prolongs life. Junk food taketh away.

Here are 12 simple rules for healthy, happy eating, taken from Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything, my own experience with food, and the good old Word of Wisdom (as validated by nearly 200 years of good health and a recent UCLA study).

  1. Always read the label. You are in charge of educating yourself on what you digest. When in doubt, pick food with the fewest included ingredients and artificial-sounding names (like xanthum gum)
  2. Avoid emotional eating. No food rewards, bribes for kids, or eating out of boredom or depression. Hard to do. Brushing your teeth can help. So can striking up a conversation with someone to take your mind off food.
  3. Avoid short-order or otherwise “fast” food. With exception to simple meals like bread and cheese, food that is fast (snacks, microwavable, drive-though etc) is usually filled with unnatural preservatives and additives that dilute the nutritional value of the food you consume. Continue reading…

Top 10 best classical piano sonatas ever (with audio)

pianofingers

Piano is hands down the greatest instrument ever made. Even better than drums. And as far as genres go, classical is, without a doubt, the most timeless music ever.

What happens when you combine the two in their most essential forms? You get this: The best classical piano sonatas ever written.

Before I move on, please note: I use the term “sonata” a bit loosely — my list includes some pieces with no additional movements. But I am using the term “classical” strictly — anything from the common practice period of 1600-1910, spanning baroque, classical, and romantic periods.

So put on your powdered wig. Dress in a frilly shirt. And don’t applaud during the pauses, please. It’s the top 10 best classical piano sonatas of all-time. Continue reading…

20 business cliches that make you sound stupid

facepalmI went to lunch today with an old business school buddy. We always have a good time making fun of brainless ideas while trying to make a honest buck. Today, we ridiculed some of the following business cliches, which are beyond stale and should never be used; otherwise you’ll sound like everyone else and influence few:
Continue reading…

Top 5 new bands of the last decade (with video)

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After much mental torment, I’ve decided to name the best new bands of the last decade. For one to qualify, they must have met the following criteria: 1) be awesome; and 2) formed in the year 2000 or beyond (which excludes Spoon, Muse, and The Strokes for example).

With the power vested in me, I hereby announce the winners. Continue reading…

Top 5 best Beatles songs sung by George Harrison

George Harrison, Beatles, Let it Be cover

To commemorate the Beatles’ remastered catalog (which I will not be buying, especially since its CD only), I thought it an appropriate time to cash in on the uptick in Beatlesmania interest, some 40 years after the band broke up. So without further adieu, I give you: The top five greatest Beatles tracks sung by George Harrison. He may have only canaried 30 songs of hundreds, but when he did—man were they good.

Continue reading…

Top 5 best Powerade flavors

powerade

For the first time in my life, I’ve become a sports drink junkie. I still guzzle water. But I like how the lightly flavored drink displaces the “workout” taste better than water. So I drink fluorescent colored super juice after heavy training.

Since Powerade (not Gatorade) was on sale last month, I stocked up on all eight flavors. And being the gentlemen that I am, I decided to review them for you. So the next time you reach for a 32 oz. bottle, remember the top 5 most refreshing Powerade flavors, expertly named by yours truly: Continue reading…

I believe I can fly: Top 5 Nike Air Jordans

jumpman_logo__w_white_background

I’ve always admired Michael Jordan’s athleticism, style, and grace in the air. He was the greatest basketball player ever. And even though I only owned a single pair of his pricey Air Jordans (version IV, thanks Mom!), I’ve always like the form factor of his shoes, especially the earlier models. So stick your tongue out, poke your air pocket, and check out the top 5 Air Jordans all time: Continue reading…