How to Date Someone Who’s Out of Your League | Sidnaz Blog

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Hey, did your phone just ding? It sounded like a match. Congrats! But oh, what’s this? The match is someone super hot you swiped right on with the assumption they’d never actually swipe right back?

It’s all fun and games when you’re maniacally swiping late at night, approving every cool-looking person who appears on the screen, but it gets more serious when you remember they’re real people who can—and just might—like you back. It’s a blessing and a curse to go out with someone who is drop-dead gorgeous or has an ultra-cool job. On the one hand, it’s a dream come true…but on the other, it can be a mortifying reminder of your own insecurities. Here’s how to get ready for a date with someone you think is out of your league.

Know how to hype yourself up

The key here is that you need to remember that they swiped right or agreed to go on this date because they saw something worthwhile in you. That alone should have you feeling great, no matter what it is about this other person that is making you so nervous.

“If someone agreed to the date and they’re not ghosting you, they most likely don’t think there’s a ‘league’ issue,” said Hannah May, a 26-year-old Chicagoan who describes herself as a lifestyle blogger and amateur dater.

“Remember that you have a lot to offer,” she said. “You need to focus on yourself and work on yourself before dating, period, or you’re not going to get anything out of it.”

Type out a list of all the cool, wonderful things about you. Ask a few trusted friends to contribute to what we’re sure is an already-lengthy list of your terrific attributes. Read that list. Internalize it. You’re fun! You’re attractive! The out-of-your-leaguer thought so when they agreed to meet up, so ask yourself why you’re experiencing self-doubt.

If the nasty internal monologue is the result of, say, put-downs from an ex, remember that those insults came from a place of hurt or maybe even projection, likely at a rough time as the relationship was disintegrating. Don’t let the negative, warped opinion of someone whose association with you was negative impact the way you see and project yourself going forward. You’re a lot cooler than you think you are, and you deserve to date someone awesome.

Role play from a better perspective

What would you tell a friend in this situation? Imagine that a beloved, lifelong pal came to you and said they were nervous for a date with someone hotter or more established than they are. You’d bug out, right? You’d—gently—tear them to bits for being so hard on themselves.

We all have people who love us, from family members to friends. Think about how hurt your mom or brother would be to hear you negatively comparing yourself to someone else. When you do this, you’re implying your own friends and loved ones have bad taste, you know. And they don’t!

Suggest meeting in neutral ground

If this person is a big-shot in the movie industry, don’t go to a Hollywood hot spot. If they’re a publishing powerhouse, don’t go to the bookstore. If you feel they have a slammin’ body, avoid the beach. Essentially, don’t go somewhere that is going to exacerbate the feelings of inadequacy you’re already experiencing and give them a leg up, even if they don’t realize you’re perceiving them to have the edge on you here. Instead, suggest a date location that is more neutral and doesn’t lend itself as a highlight to whatever you see as the incredible attribute in them that is making you so nervous.

Try to be reasonable

Have you ever seen the cover of a tabloid? If you have—and we know you have—then you know that even the hottest, most accomplished people in the world go through breakups. Ask yourself why that might be. Is it possible that being attractive or talented isn’t the only thing that matters in a relationship?

You already know that looks, awards, accolades, and clout get people far, but in order for anyone to have fulfilling relationships, they have to have substance, too.

Consider this: There is more to the person you’re about to meet up with than their angelic bone structure or high-paying job. Moreover, whatever else there is to them might actually suck. To put it plainly, you might not like them. If they were as perfect as you’re envisioning them to be, would they not already be securely snatched up by some equally-fancy person?

May pointed to advice that her cousin gave her: “Instead of worrying about if they like you, worry about if you like them. This mindset shift also helps with any jitters or anxiety.”

Don’t overcorrect here and go into the date thinking they’re damaged goods or anything, but be reasonable. A hot bod does not a perfect mate make.

Recognize your insecurity without taking it out on the other person

Look, you’re feeling nervous and insecure. That’s fine; it happens to everyone. But don’t take out your feeling of inadequacy on this person, who is probably perfectly nice and normal and likely has no idea you think they occupy some unreachable level of greatness. As we’ve established, they agreed to hang out with you for a reason. They think you’re interesting and attractive. This is almost certainly not a romcom-style joke where they’re going on a pity date with you, but even if it were, that would only be further proof they suck and are not the one for you.

“I’ve wasted so much time in my life overthinking texts and what to say and I feel like those situations never work out,” said May, who advises against worrying so damn much. “If someone’s for you, you won’t have to overthink your interactions or be left feeling confused.”

Don’t go into this defensively or expecting the worst. Give yourself a stern talking-to, go on the date, figure out if you have anything in common, and go from there like you would with anyone else. Whatever hangups you have are totally your own; this person has no idea that you don’t think you’re good-looking or you feel like you’re not advancing in your career. They just want to learn about you, so let them. Allow them and yourself to be surprised.

 



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7 of the Best VR Games That Will Actually Give You a Great | Sidnaz Blog

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Boxing experience Thrill of the Fight is the toughest game I played, it got my heart rate the highest, and even though the graphics were a bit cheesy I ended up totally immersed. Between rounds of one fight, I nearly sat down on the virtual stool in my corner of the ring.

The hands-on experience begins when you start the app and see the menus explaining how the game works. Instead of pointing your controllers at buttons on the menus (most games have you aim them like laser guns), you walk directly up to the menu screens and touch them with your virtual hands, which are already wearing boxing gloves.

You’re in a small gym with a garage-like feel. A coach stands off to the side, watching you but not speaking. There’s a locker room area, a dummy you can practice punches on, and an elevated boxing ring. Choose an opponent to fight, and suddenly you’re in one corner of the ring with a small crowd gathered around. You throw punches, and try not to get punched. If you do take a hit, the world fades a bit, goes black and white, and you (if you are like me) back away from your opponent for a minute while you try to get your bearings.

I won three rounds against my opponent, but it was exhausting. I hit him when I could, and kept moving toward him, trying to keep the pressure on. I found myself constantly pushing into the far corner of my Guardian, which the game helpfully draws as a red rectangle on the virtual ring’s floor. I needed to punch and punch again and not get punched myself. The audience was watching, my coach judging silently. I didn’t want to fuck this up. I didn’t want to get punched. If you want to get your heart rate up, or just be a little bit terrified for a short interval workout, play Thrill of the Fight.

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How to Take a Perfect Selfie | Sidnaz Blog

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Why does it seem like everyone you follow on Instagram knows exactly how to pose and find their light to get the best selfie or photo? Realistically, you know they probably took dozens—or hundreds—of snaps to get the one they posted, but it feels like they all know some cheat codes you don’t.

Well, the cheat codes are right here, babe. This is how you get the perfect shot.

D.I.Y. selfies are the way to go

We’ve all been there. The outfit is fire. The makeup is on point. The venue is achingly cool. Your followers, you reason, simply must know you were there and looking hot to boot. You hand your phone to your friend, expecting them to work a little magic, and after they take a bunch of photos and hand the phone back to you… the shots all suck. You look awful! Now what?

You know yourself and your angles better than anyone, so if you really want a killer pic that’ll rack up the likes, you can always just do it yourself. Phones have had front-facing cameras for a decade now. It’s time to embrace selfies if you haven’t yet, the opinions and secondhand embarrassment of other people in the room be damned.

“Selfies are my favorite!” said Nivine Jay, a Los Angeles woman who has nearly 54,000 followers on the app, many of whom quickly double tap whatever she posts. And “whatever she posts” tends to be selfies.

She went on, “You want to find a well-lit window, stand in front of it, slightly part your lips, and click away. Try to look directly at sunlight if you can. Your eyes will get a little watery, but trust me: the photo will be worth it!”

Practice makes perfect

Here’s a hot tip: You don’t have to post every picture you take. Some of them can just be for practice! Some may be destined for the deleted folder! That’s fine.

“Don’t be afraid to try different poses out and slightly turn your face in different ways to find out which looks best,” said Jay. “You want to feel confident and comfortable.”

Tatiana Katkova, a photographer based in New York, said, “If you feel insecure taking photos, you can just practice doing some poses at home in front of the mirror so you can feel more confident and know your angles.”

Pose, baby! Pose! (But watch the hands.)

Midwest-based photographer Bryan Hempstead tells Lifehacker that body language is the key to a solid shot, “so just try to relax as best as you can.

“As far as the shot goes, try and keep the camera straight and not at a harsh angle. Don’t cut off appendages like ankles or knees. Turn on the grid setting on your camera or phone to practice framing your shot and try not to have anything—like a horizon or tree—intersect heads.”

He also mentioned that “most people don’t know what to do with their hands in the moment.” That’s definitely true, whether you’re selfie-ing or someone is taking your picture.

“Just to keep it basic, you can throw them in your pocket, put a hand on your hip, or cross your arms and grab your waist or grab onto your jacket. Have fun and play around with it,” he said. Remember you can take as many photos as you want; no one has to know how many you rejected in your quest to find The One.

Katkova added, “I’d recommend a pose in motion. Walk away from the person who’s taking a photo, look back at the camera and smile. It’s easy and always looks cute.”

Get a second opinion (or more)

Before you hit “post,” consider hitting “send”—to a few friends you trust to be brutally honest and/or hype you up appropriately.

Jay said she has “an ongoing group chat” with her best friends where they all send their most recent selfies for judgement and support. They “make sure it gets approval by everyone” before they post, and that’s not a bad idea. If you just spent 15 minutes snapping pics of yourself, analyzing those intently, and messing with filters—not to mention standing in bright light that’s probably giving you a few spots in your vision—your perception of the pics can be warped. A fresh set of eyes or two can be really helpful here.

Call for backup

You can’t do everything yourself. Sometimes, it really is helpful to have a friend take your photos, hype you up, direct your poses, and generally make you feel less awkward.

“I work a lot with people [who] aren’t used to being in front of the camera and aren’t super confident,” explained Hempstead. “The best advice I can give is if you don’t feel confident or cool, have the photographer put on some music you like to help create a safe, fun space. Have someone tell jokes or do something funny behind the camera to help alleviate the pressure off of you. Candid laughter beats a forced smile any day.”

He suggested taking your pics in an outfit you like or while listening a song you love for an added confidence boost.

Have fun!

Yes, you’re on a mission to get likes, comments, and the sweet, sweet seratonin rush that comes with strangers’ approval of your face, but take a step back here. Remember, you’re lovely just how you are. Even if your makeup isn’t perfect or you don’t look like your idealized version of yourself, you’re still a cutie who deserves to document that outfit, that face, that day—whatever!

Jay reminds you to have fun with it. “We are all our own harshest critics. Any photo you take is going to turn out beautiful as long as the lighting is good!”

Katkova pointed out that it’s not just important to have fun for your own benefit; enjoying yourself enhances the shot, too. “When you’re taking a photo for Instagram, you should always keep in mind that people like to see the energy and emotions,” she said. “So if you’re having fun and smiling, it always catches people’s attention.”

“Try not to be so hard on yourself,” added Hempstead. “Don’t wait until you have lost weight, fixed your teeth, or put on makeup. Just take photos, create memories, and have a good time. I promise you will enjoy looking back on these in the future.”



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I’m ‘Listen Like You Mean It’ Author Ximena Vengoechea, and | Sidnaz Blog

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Ximena Vengoechea has done a lot of listening. Keeping her ears and mind attuned to the needs of others is something of a calling for her not only in her work as a user researcher at some of the biggest names in the technology industry, but as a person navigating the constant stimuli of modern life. Her book Listen Like You Mean It is a user’s manual to connecting to the world around you through the almighty power of listening—which involves far more than maintaining eye contact and inserting the odd affirmative nod. Listening, it so happens, involves decoding and interpreting what isn’t said, in addition to what actually is.

I recently spoke to Vengoechea about the concept of listening, and how improving one’s listening skills can impact so many aspects of our lives, including the ways we work.

How does one perfect the art of listening, and how does your research in this area inform your approach to work?

Most of us listen “well enough.” We catch the surface-level, literal meaning of what’s been saidenough to remain polite with our neighbors and colleagues and nod and smile at our partnersbut we miss the subtext and emotions beneath the surface.

Effective listening is about creating the space for others to express themselves, in order to better understand them. Putting this into practice requires a strong awareness and understanding of ourselves (and what biases, assumptions, emotions, and experiences we are bringing into a given conversation), as well as a strong understanding of othersand specifically of others’ needs in conversation.

Understanding others’ needs has proven to be very effective in my work. In any given conversation, it’s crucial to understand what needs your conversation partner is bringing in, be it a need for support, advice, validation, or simply an empathetic ear. It’s a kind of detective work that makes collaborating and aligning with others much easier, and also makes meetings (and life!) a lot more interesting. I find myself using this technique often in my approach to work. At the office, if I’m called into a meeting, I want to uncover: What is the need here? What is this person trying to accomplish? What role are they hoping I can play in meeting that need? There’s always a latent need to uncover, and by giving others the space to express themselves and getting curious and asking questions along the way, I can get closer to understanding those needs, and that person. 

You finished your book while raising a newborn in the pandemic and working a full-time job on top of freelance gigs—sounds like a monstrous endeavor. How did you manage your time during this process?

Monstrous is the right word! In general I wouldn’t recommend trying to do All The Things at once, but it happens. Because my time was so scarce, I had to be regimented about it. I kept a massive spreadsheet to track my progress on the book over the course of two years. It helped me to stay organized and also motivated. Especially on days where I’d find myself reworking a chapter and feeling like I’d made little progress, it was a helpful reminder that I had in fact done what I’d set out to do.

The other thing I did was honor my natural productivity cycle as much as possible. Over the years, through observation and self-tracking, I’ve learned that I do my best strategic thinking before lunchtime. That makes mornings a great time for me to do the actual work of writing. As the day goes on, my energy wanes, so I turn to less taxing efforts, like administrative tasks and emails. Evenings are best for “lean back” activities like reading relevant books and expert research, or drawing—my book includes just shy of 100 illustrations, and drawing is for me quite meditative and helps me to wind down.

Knowing all of this made it much easier for me to find the right activity for a given block of time, which helps when you don’t have much time to begin with. The other thing that helped was creatively using existing pockets of time (like commutes, back when we had those, and my toddler’s nap time), as well as having a very supportive spousemy husband definitely picked up the slack at home and kept my toddler and I fed.

When having everyday conversations, what are some ways the average person can dig deeper and use listening skills to build stronger relationships?

Usually, we are so caught up in our own narrativeswinding up to respond to something that’s been said, mentally tuning out because we find a topic boring, jumping ahead in an effort to persuade or correct someonethat we don’t actually hear what the other person is saying. To truly hear someone out, we need to set aside our own assumptions, opinions, and preconceived notions (also, sometimes, our emotions). In other words, we need to bring humility into the conversationto shift our mindset from being an expert with all the answers to being a student open to hearing more.

From there, get curious about your conversation partner. What can you learn about them at this moment? What can they teach you about a given topic, experience, or themselves? Asking others about their experience is one of the best ways to strengthen a relationship, because it demonstrates your interest in another person. Research shows that rather than focusing our efforts on being interesting to others (by telling stories, jokes, or “performing” for them), we should concentrate on being interested in othersthat’s what draws people in. You can do this by asking open-ended questions that begin with “how” and “what”these are more constructive questions than those that begin with “do,” “is,” and “are”, which are more likely to bias others and result in one-word, yes-or-no responses. Ask follow up questions, too, to take the conversation deeper. For example, encourage the conversation by asking, “what else?” or “say more about that,” or “tell me more.”

Of course, remember your goal is to have a conversation, not an interrogation, so make sure you are paying attention to body language and tone of voice to understand if your question-asking is paying off or making someone uncomfortable. This is where the “art” side of listening comes ina script is a fine place to start, but you have to continuously check in, using your own eyes and ears and intuition, to make a conversation sing.

How can someone use listening skills to better inform their own approach to work?

One of the interesting things about improving your listening skills is that you begin to realize how much of your ability to be an effective listener is really about you, not the other person [and] how fascinating or boring they are (in fact, if they’re boring, in some ways that is on you).

We tend to assume that listening is little more than showing up and paying attention to the other person, but it’s also deeply tied to paying attention to ourselves. It’s noticing how we instinctively listen in conversation—what I call our “default listening modes,” a kind of filter we hear the world through, such as problem-solving, mediating, or validating—and whether or not that given listening mode is really what’s called for.

It’s identifying your personal “hot spots, the topics that uniquely set you off and emotionally activate you in some way, be it talking about climate change, Father’s Day, or feminism, and becoming aware of when you are having a strong reaction in conversation that makes it hard to listen with empathy. And it’s knowing what prevents you from staying present, be it a lack of food or sleep, being a morning person or a night owl, getting distracted by devices, and more. That kind of self-knowledge comes by having a scientific approach and observing yourself in action: tracking your thoughts, instincts, and emotions during a conversation, and also reflecting on them afterward. [Consider] external factors, too, like how your surrounding environment, the topic at hand, or even particular company affect your ability to listen.

When you do this, you can more easily see what gets in the way of your ability to listen with empathy, and even catch yourself in real time. I think that makes many of our work-related conversations much easier. In a performance review or heated debate, you can catch yourself if you’re having an emotional response to feedback and are having trouble hearing the other person out. In a coffee catch up with a colleague, you can notice if you are zoning out because you are hungry, tired, or distracted by a previous conversation. Observing and learning from your behavior and noticing how you are affected by your surroundings helps you to uncover your unique needs for doing your best listening. That’s going to help everything from meetings to brainstorms to interviews and client presentations run smoother. 

What are some lessons you learned about work from the process of writing this book, and how do you hope to implement them going forward?

In my day job, I don’t consider myself to be a perfectionist—my motto when working in startups has always been “done is better than perfect,” and if a project took two months to complete that was considered to be a long time. Yet writing a book is an entirely different endeavor. I worked on the book for two years, and it turns out, I do have some perfectionist tendencies after all, for the right project. Though I loved the blank page part of the writing process (going from 0-80% has always been my sweet spot), when it came time for editing, I found I had a tendency to overdo it.

The editing process taught me the importance of stepping back when you’ve reached a limit instead of trying to perfect something. I can’t tell you how many times in the last stretch of my work I tried so hard to “crack” a chapter that I ended up cracking it wide open and making an even bigger mess of it, all because I was too close to it and couldn’t see that the thing that needed fixing was actually far simpler than I was making it out to be. Kudos to my husband for forcing me to close the laptop and take a walk on more than one occasion!

My editor was also helpful in pointing out when something was good enough. The takeaway for me is that it’s important to be able to step back and recognize when you’ve reached a limit on improving something, and equally important to have people in your life and in support of your work that you can turn to for help with the things you know you aren’t good at, and don’t have the energy or skill set for. 
  

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What I Learned About Weightlifting From Two Olympic | Sidnaz Blog

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Explosively lifting a giant barbell over your head takes strength, technique, and a certain fearlessness. I’ve been training this sport—Olympic style weightliftingfor about two years now, and it seems like I find something new to learn about it every day. Recently, I had a chance to ask two members of the US Olympic weightlifting team, Jourdan Delacruz and CJ Cummings, about how they train, how they stay motivated, and what it’s like to step on the platform while under so much pressure.

Their answers were illuminating to me, partly for what they do differently than me and from each other, but also for what is the same. For example, both of them told me beginners need to be patient and remember they’re in this for the long haul—something my coach has told me a million times.

This is a sport where you do just two lifts: the snatch, which takes a barbell from the ground to overhead in one swift movement, and the clean and jerk, which does it in two. The moves are tricky, and you have to do them so consistently that they become second nature. Pulling slightly too hard, or keeping your balance slightly too far toward the front or back of your foot, could mean the difference between a miss and a make, a win and a loss.

So you spend hours in training every week, and it all comes down to six separate minutes on one big day.

How do you stay motivated to train every day?

My coach programs me three to five days of weightlifting stuff each week. I usually fill my remaining time with other lifts and training for other sports, but that’s because I get bored otherwise, and lifting is fun. I find staying busy physically does wonders for my mental health. But it would probably be different for me if lifting were my job, so I asked these two Olympians how they stay motivated to train every day.

“You know, some days it’s gonna be tiring, but you just always have to remember your goal and why you’re doing it,” says CJ, who also mentioned that people often don’t realize how fun Olympic weightlifting can be. “I love doing what I’m doing.”

Jourdan also connects her daily training routine to her goals. “I have my big goals, and then I have my very small goals,” she says; as recent examples of the latter, she lists getting stronger at squats and focusing on mental health amid the chaos of 2020. (Both CJ and Jourdan were able to train through the gym closures during the pandemic, but the Olympics being rescheduled threw everybody for a loop.)

But what keeps both of them showing up each day is just the fact that that’s what they do. “Because weightlifting is kind of my life right now, it’s become like a routine,” says Jourdan. “Like, it’s kind of weird not to train on a Monday, or not train on a Tuesday.”

How do you prepare to be your best on a specific day?

Peaking for a big competition is another complex skill. You want to be physically strong, but you don’t want to train so much you get tired. You also want to be mentally sharp, and focused but not nervous.

“I say to myself, okay, it’s just like coming into the gym,” CJ says. He reminds himself he’s done these lifts thousands of times, and tries to focus on the familiarity of the lifts rather than the pressure.

Jourdan describes a process of narrowing her focus very intentionally. “About four or five weeks out, I try to make my routine very simple. I tune in on my nutrition, tune in on my mental skills, and tune in on recovery—just basically all the aspects around the lift itself. I try to make those very routine.” On the day of the competition, “I put it down. And then I focus on exactly what I’m doing on the platform.”

What’s going through your mind when you step on the platform?

And then, the day arrives. We spoke before the Olympics (Jourdan has already competed this week; CJ’s turn is yet to come). Here’s how the two lifters describe how they approach the bar.

I work really hard to be able to have, like, a very simple mindset,” Jourdan says. She tries not to focus on the importance of the competition, but just focus on “one or two cues” to think about during the lift. “My favorite cue, and one that I’ve actually stuck with for a couple years now, is feeling the floor with my full foot,” she says. (“I don’t know if that makes sense?” she asks, but I assure her it does—it’s a cue I use, too. If you’re not a weightlifter, well, it helps you stay balanced, so you’ll end up with the bar directly above you rather than in front or behind.)

CJ admits to getting nervous on a big day, especially before his opener, the first lift of the competition. (We all do.) He goes for distraction as a way to manage nerves. “I don’t think about the lift at all,” he says, until the moment he’s on the platform. “I’m thinking about anything else but the lift. So I might think about what I’ll be doing after I compete, I could be thinking about what I’m eating tonight, or if I have to do anything else later that week, because I don’t want to start thinking about the lift because if I think about it too much it’s just gonna mess with my head.” His favorite cue is just “pull, jump, and squat,” a phrase he’s heard over and over from his coach. “But I don’t really think about it until the very last second before I start.”

Was it scary or intimidating the first time you lifted something heavy?

Let’s talk for a second about the fact that people who compete in this sport are yoinking a bar from the ground to overhead, a bar that may weigh more than twice what they do. (My own clean and jerk is only slightly above my bodyweight; CJ’s and Jourdan’s are both more than double theirs.) It does take a certain fearlessness to approach a heavy bar that you’re basically going to throw upwards, and then use its inertia to pull your own body downward while the thing is momentarily weightless. The whole concept is almost unbelievable. I was curious about these athletes’ take on what they do.

“That’s the crazy thing,” says CJ, who started at age 11. “I never found it intimidating at all. When I first stepped into the gym I saw these guys lifting massive weight and I was like, whoa. Like, I want to do that. So I was just like, How can I do that? And that’s when we started training.”

Jourdan admits to feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. “Oh, it’s super intimidating,” she says. “I mean, still even now, I get nervous about really big lifts. But when I first got started, I was super fortunate to be surrounded by already pretty strong women in the gym, so I could see other women and girls lifting heavier weights than me and feel a little bit more confident in [myself.]”

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How to Use Center Stage on an iPad Pro | Sidnaz Blog

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Though it feels like we’ve been Zooming and FaceTiming and using Google Hangouts for an eternity, most of us have still not figured out how to look good on a video call. Luckily, a new feature on iPad Pro called Center Stage has launched, and without much effort, it can make you look just a little bit better on camera.

Center Stage only works on the ultra-wide front-facing cameras on the iPad Pro, and seeks to keep you in focus even as you move around the frame. That means if you have your iPad Pro propped up, the camera will follow you around, and automatically keep refocusing even as you move closer, further away, or to the side.

To activate Center Stage for FaceTime, open up “Settings” and tap “FaceTime. Make sure the Center Stage switch is toggled on (just toggle it back off if/when you want to disable it). If you’re already on a FaceTime call, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen and toggle on or off from the menu that arises.

If you are not a regular user of Apple’s proprietary video calling app, they’ve also allowed the feature to be enabled on other video calling platforms, including Zoom. While on a Zoom call on an iPad Pro, you’ll see the option to turn Center Stage on or off on the left-hand sidebar, just below the options to switch your camera and active speaker view.

Now you can at least trust that your face will be in focus and in the frame, even if you move around. Exactly how your face looks (and what you are wearing or not wearing just out of view of the camera) is still entirely up to you.

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This Is the Safest, Easiest Way to Remove an Avocado Pit | Sidnaz Blog

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There are multiple approaches one can take to remove the round, slippery pit from the creamy flesh of an avocado. You can squeeze everything—pit and all—out into a bowl, but that only works if you need mashed avocado. If you want pretty wedges or slices for aesthetic toast, though, you need to get that thing out without smushing the fruit. You can always thwack it with a sharp knife, but that maneuver is not without risk—avocado-related hand injuries caused by swinging blades are so common, they have their own name (“avocado hand”).

But—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—thanks to TikTok, Joel and I now have a better, safer way to remove the pit from the avocado without hurting our delicate computer hands. (We need them! They’re our money makers!)

You should watch the video to get the full visual effect, but it’s a simple motion: Grab the avocado half that still has the pit inside of it, place your index and middle fingers on either side of the pit, and your thumb around the back of the fruit. Gently press your thumb into—but not through—the back of the avocado, and marvel at the ease with which the pit pops out. Caution: Make sure to use the pad of your thumb, not the tip. I pushed my first pit out with the tip of my thumb (which has a pretty sharp nail on it), and then I had a thumb-shaped hole in my avocado. (I still ate it though.)

Once the pit has been removed from your avocado, you can fill the dent it left behind with things and stuff. I personally like to fill my avocado dents with soy sauce or sherry vinegar and little bits of allium, such as thinly-sliced shallot or green onion. (If avocado toast is more your thing, try it with ‘nduja.)

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Can You Get a Good Workout With Virtual Reality? | Sidnaz Blog

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Virtual reality headsets have come a long way since the first time I saw a VR “arcade” pop up in a mall in the 1990s. (I never played, although I was curious; five bucks a game was like a whole week’s allowance.) Now you can strap on a headset and walk around your living room, with options ranging from dancing games to fitness-centered apps, so I’m setting out to learn: how good a workout can you get in virtual reality?

What can a VR headset do, anyway?

I’m trying out the Oculus Quest 2, a device that plays games on its own without needing to be connected to a computer. You wear the goggle-like headset and grasp two controllers, and the games ask you to move your hands to do things.

In most VR fitness apps, you don’t need to press buttons on the controllers, you just wave your hands around. Since the game is also aware of where your headset is in space, it can ask you to squat or to lean to the side. The games don’t differ too much in the types of actions they ask you to do, but they vary greatly in the kind of environment you are immersed in while you do it.

How to set up your VR workout space

While a virtual world can be as big as the game’s developer wants it to be, your living room is still only the size of you living room. The games have to let you move around while stopping you from actually running into a wall or smacking your hands into your bookshelves, so there’s a system that sets virtual boundaries.

With Oculus, the boundary is called your Guardian. (Vive, another popular VR headset, calls it a Chaperone.) When it was time to set up the Guardian, the virtual world faded away and I found myself looking at my actual surroundings in grainy black-and-white. My couch, the walls, and everything else was visible for this step, and the device told me to use my hand controllers to draw a line on the floor to define my safe space. (The motion is similar to spraying a jet of water with a garden hose.)

The minimum recommended size for “roomscale” games, the ones where you can move around, is two meters by two meters, or 6.5 by 6.5 feet.

I had hoped to perhaps use my driveway as a play space, but the Oculus comes with warnings not to use it outdoors. This is for a few different reasons. First, you are totally blind to your surroundings while you’re immersed in a game, so you may not notice people, cars, squirrels, and so on entering your space. Second, the headset uses little cameras to figure out where it is (and where your hands are), and it can’t work in the dark or in extremely bright light. And thirdly, if sunlight gets on the lenses, you are screwed. Even a few minutes of sunlight—say you take your headset off and leave it screen-side-up on a sunny day—can destroy the device.

So, I set up my Guardian and began exploring the virtual world. When you start up the headset, you’re in a virtual home-like environment with menus appearing as a giant virtual screen in front of you. The border I drew was invisible, but if I ever got too close to it, I saw it appear momentarily, a transparent wall marked with grid lines.

If you walk through the Guardian’s wall, the game world disappears entirely and you see your actual surroundings in that black-and-white view again. I found this handy for placing a water bottle and sweat towel just outside my workout area; I just had to poke my head through the boundary and I could take a drink without having to take my headset off. Another fun feature: you can add your real-world couch to your virtual environment.

What do VR fitness games look like?

The simplest and, I think, best ones throw a stream of objects at you, and your job is to whack them in time with music. Other styles of gameplay include dances where you copy your partner or instructor, and boxing games where you’re immersed in an actual fights. (I found one boxing game so engaging, despite the cheesy graphics, that I walked over to the bench in the in-game locker room expecting to find my water bottle there.)

There are also games that let you play real sports in a virtual world, including simulators for golf and table tennis. Another intriguing format simply creates a continually-moving virtual world around you as you pedal a real-life exercise bike.

Dealing with sweat and practical issues

Active VR games bridge an odd gap between video games (which one plays on a couch while munching Cheetos) and workouts (which one does in sweat-wicking clothing.) The difference takes some getting used to. For example, I had to work out the best way to arrange my hair. Normally I go for a bun or ponytail when I exercise, but the device’s straps get in the way. A low braid was the best option that I found.

Another thing I found, as I browsed virtual-reality forums, is that people who are really into using VR for exercise have tricked out their headsets with aftermarket straps and accessories. One of these I actually bought was a silicone cover for the part of the device that touches your face. (Mine was an off-brand cheap one, but I’m told the VR Cover is the Cadillac of such attachments.) This stops sweat from soaking into the foam, which makes for a much less gross handoff when your son borrows the headset to play Beat Saber and returns it all wet and stinky.

Suitably equipped, I’ve been playing through a bunch of games, and next week I’ll take you on a full tour of my favorites. If you’ve done VR fitness workouts, let us know in the comments how you liked them, and if there are any games I should make sure not to miss.

 

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How to Start Dating Again If You’re Unvaccinated | Sidnaz Blog

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The post-vax slutty summer is happening all around us, but some participants aren’t actually post-vax. The vaccine has been free and widely available for months now, but about half the population still isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. A portion of those unvaccinated people is still interested in dating and if you’re part of it, we have some tips for how to do this ethically.

(Of course, we recommend getting vaccinated, but you know that by now.)

Know that vaccination status will be a dealbreaker for some

Last month, dating app Bumble released its latest research on COVID-era trends among surveyed users. About 30% of those surveyed in America say they wouldn’t go on a date or have sex with someone who isn’t vaccinated. A YouGov poll conducted in Great Britain found that 28% of daters surveyed over there felt the same.

That cuts into your pool of options significantly.

You might be thinking you should just try to cajole a match into going out with you regardless of their position on your vaccine status. First of all, no means no. Second of all, Bumble’s research team also found that 55% of global users said that they are now feeling less willing to compromise on what they want and need from a potential relationship. So the 30% of people unwilling to go out with someone vaccinated are more likely to stick to their guns than ever.

“I am vaccinated and no, I will not go on dates with anyone who is not vaccinated,” said a 29-year-old woman named Darien, who is dating in New York. Since the world has started to open up again, she’s been on eight or so first dates, she said, “and they were some of the worst dates” she’s ever been on. She attributes that to all the good dating prospects “being snagged during quarantine” and everyone else being rusty. If you’re going into the scene unvaccinated, you’re adding an issue to the already lengthy list of problems daters are encountering out there.

Everyone has deal-breakers. Some people on apps might not match with you because you have the same name as one of their exes or parents. Some people might not go out with you because of your job title, hair color, temperament, hobbies, or who-knows-what else. Vaccination status as a deal-breaker isn’t that novel, but it’s a certainty you just have to prepare for.

If you’re still unvaccinated after months of free access, it’s not a stretch to say you are likely actively refusing the vaccine. The people for whom your lack of jab is a deal-breaker are probably not the mates for you, anyway.

Be honest with a potential date about your vaccination status

With so many survey respondents saying they won’t date someone unvaccinated, it’s clear this is a position a lot of people are serious about. The only ethical option here is for you to be totally honest about your unvaxxed status, even though that can come off a little weird, depending on how aggressive you are.

Luckily, dating apps are making disclosure easier after a number of them, from Tinder to OKCupid to Hinge, partnered with the White House to encourage vaccines among young people this spring. Apps Bumble and Tinder, for instance, offer users the opportunity to add a badge to their profiles once they get the jab. Bumble even has a “COVID Preferences Center” that lets swipers state their preferences for real-life or virtual dates, social distancing, and potential partners’ vaccine status, and is rolling out complimentary credits for premium features like Spotlight and SuperSwipe for people using the badge.

“For those trying to date without being vaccinated, maybe be upfront about it. With most things that affect others, it’s best to be honest and give people the option to decide whether or not they want to date you,” said Darien, although she pointed out she doesn’t disclose her own vaccination status in her dating profiles.

“I think it’s pretty easy to tell by one’s profile if they’re vaccinated or not so I don’t think it’s necessary to add that badge to a dating profile, but it’s cool if you do,” she said. “If I was uncertain, I would also just ask in conversation prior to meeting up.”

So, for anyone reading this who is vaccinated, the message is clear: If it matters to you, ask someone if you’re not sure about their vaccination status or personal safety protocols. Tinder chats and first dates are all about communication, right? You ask what they do for a living, where they grew up, and what they like to eat. Ask about this, too.

Maybe find some like-minded people

There are plenty of hits that come up on Twitter when you search “unvaccinated dating.” The unvaxxed decry the badges on the apps and publicly wish for an “unvaccinated dating app.”

We even found one such app, Unjected, that advertises itself as “a platform for like-minded humans that support medical autonomy.” It has more than 23,000 Instagram followers and a merchandise line, so there’s definitely a community out there full of people who think like you.

(But we still recommend getting vaccinated, in case we haven’t made that clear yet.)

 



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How to Make Your Fridge and Freezer as Efficient as Possible | Sidnaz Blog

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Spoiler alert! This video will keep your food from going bad.

Far too often your milk spoils while the LaCroix in the back freezes and the can explodes.

So we put together a visual guide (a video, if you will) of the most efficient way to organize your fridge and freezer. The main things to remember are that the door is the warmest part of the fridge, and anything you need to use up should be kept in the front and in easy eyesight.

Oh also, take extra precautions with raw meat juice.

This article was originally published on August 26, 2019, and updated on July 22, 2021.

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