Friday, September 21, 2018

The Daily - Friday, September 21, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #23

FLORENCE

Industrialized animal farming: cruel and environmentally unhealthy.
Industrialized animal farming: cruel and environmentally unhealthy.

The effects of Florence continue. Many communities are still dealing with flooding issues. One of the latest threats: water contamination. Much of the danger is coming from large industrial farms that lost thousands of animals and unknown amounts of chemicals in the floods. Decomposition of the animal bodies, plus all the animal waste they produce, are beginning to pose real risk to human health. This is one more example of why industrial farming is a bad idea. Not only is it cruel to the animals, it is bad for the environment and our health. There is a point where cheap food is not really cheap; we crossed that point a long time ago.

HEALTH & FITNESS

Another great jog this morning for 2.12 miles in 38 minutes using Podrunner's "139 BPM - Sudden Summer". I am slowly increasing the pace of my jogs, and it feels great. Sadly, I had to sacrifice my morning Yoga routine due to a late start to the day. Sometimes we have to make tough choices. I had he feeling that today was going to be a very difficult day time wise, so this was the best choice for the day. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to step on the mat and practice.

FINANCES

This will be a really bad month for my budget. I have clearly over-spent in areas I had budgeted nothing for. And I have not even entered data into "EveryDollar" to account for all the expenses incurred this month. There was a certain urgency to some of the things I bought because of an upcoming short trip next week. However, I think I could have managed things differently. And there are some expenses I absolutely did not have to make, like another pair of Zoots running shoes. Alright, I am running everyday. And, yes, the Zoots are super comfortable. And the price was amazing on eBay (70% off!). But it is also true that I did not need them (I think I have enough running shoes for at least a few years). Awareness is a great first step to gaining control — I hope.

TIPS & TRICKS

A few months ago I came across a nice formula for creating toilet tablets to help clean the toilet bowl. It seemed simple enough to make (reference article). I bought the ingredients and went right at it. The first batch … well, you can see from the picture that the first batch did not quite work as planned; too much moisture (as warned in the article). The second batch (left) was much better. And I can tell you that these things are great help in cleaning toilets. Drop one, wait until the fizzle is almost done, and then lightly scrub the toilet bowl.  Just don't add too much moisture to the mix. Perhaps 3-5 squirts maximum would do the trick. However, if your first batch looks like my first batch, don't throw it out. Brake it apart and use the oddly shaped pieces as if they were nicely cubed formations. They work pretty well.

Toilet tablet experiment; batch 1 (right) not so good.
Toilet tablet experiment; batch 1 (right) not so good.

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

I am passionate about bowling. I have been bowling since I was 15 and became a decent bowler in my 30s. I still enjoy weekly league competition/ And it is great to see that older bowlers are still magical on the lanes. Just watch these guys roll 220+ games consistently. They are a great inspiration.


INTERESTING TIDBITS

Do you struggle with the ends of packing and duct tape? Struggle no more! A co-worker showed me how to make it easy to re-use any type of tape: a paper clip! Using a paper clip at the end of the role makes it easy to use the tape again.

A paper clip at the end of any tape for easy re-use.
A paper clip at the end of any tape for easy re-use.

STREAKS - For the record

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 23
  • Blood Pressure Readings: day 10
  • Logging to SparkPeople: day 13
  • Daily Exercise Routine: not counting for now
    • Cardio: Yes (2.12 miles in 38 minutes)
    • Yoga: No
    • Strength Training: No
    • Stretching: Yes, very light stretching during the day
    • Meditation: Yes (10 minutes in the morning
  • Meditation: day 10
  • Number of tabs open: day 6

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Daily - Thursday, September 20, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #22

Today's post will be short. It was a busy, long day that started when I went to bed too late last night which meant I got up late this morning … and it has been one of those days. It was a good day overall. No, really, it was a great day. I got a lot of things done. I had a great experience with our internet provider technician troubleshooting what I thought was slow speeds. Actually, it is old equipment inside the house: need a new router, new network cards, etc. I bought the new router this evening and will install it tomorrow after I get home.

A SIGN

This is my daily mantra as I drive to and from work:
Source: https://www.facebook.com/IndianHillsCommunitySign/

HEALTH & FITNESS

I came across this funny video on quitting sugar for a month; it is worth watching.


GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Today was the start of something I had wanted to do for years: a regular, daily Yoga practice. It took me a few minutes to get things set-up, but it was so worth it. I will do the same routine for the next few days and then try something different. Tomorrow, with a little more time, I will learn and do an evening Yoga routine; just a 10-minute sequence to end the day on a high note.

PERSONAL GROWTH

As I suspected, going to a digital things-to-do list made it easier not to look at it throughout the day. Fortunately, I was able to check off all the important items on the list anyway, but I could have missed something important by not looking at the list at least 2-3 times during the day. Something to work on.

FINANCES

Not logging in your expenses daily is a bad sign that your financial management efforts are about to collapse; that is what has happened to me in the past, and that is what is happening to me right now. Tomorrow evening I will play catch-up with "EveryDollar" until all transactions have been entered. Fortunately, I have been using my debit card for the most part this month, so it will be fairly easy to get caught up. Unfortunately, using the debit card as the main form of transactions tends to quickly escalate and leads to over spending. The flags are at yellow right now, but the flag person is pulling up the red flags; time to get back on track.

STREAKS - For the record

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 22
  • Blood Pressure Readings: day 9 (a little higher today at 128/78; it was a stressful day at work)
  • Logging to SparkPeople: day 12
  • Daily Exercise Routine: not counting for now
    • Cardio: Yes: 1.78 miles for 32 minutes
    • Yoga: Yes!  A nice 10 minute workout in the morning. Mostly stretching and great to do.
    • Strength Training: No
    • Stretching: Yes (in addition to Yoga, I did some stretches first thing after getting up)
    • Meditation: Yes, 10 minute meditation first thing in the morning, another 10 minutes in the afternoon.
  • Meditation: day 9
  • Number of tabs open: day 5 (despite a crazy day at work, I managed to keep the number of tabs and windows to a minimum. I have become very aware of this aspect of computing and how quickly things can get out of hand).

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Daily - Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #21

HEALTH & FITNESS

I had a super fun jog this morning, logging 2.47 miles in 44 minutes. I used Podrunner's "140 BPM - Superconductor." My strategy this week is to vary my pace everyday aiming to increase my speed a little over time. For the month of September I want to at least be able to jog at around 145 BPM once or twice. In October I want to inch up a little, maybe as fast as 150 BPM. I am actually not too hung up on the actual number as long as I keep making progress and, most importantly, remain injury and pain free.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

The multi-factor approach to fitness metrics (having four requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for a "successful day") may not be working the way I had intended. This is not a surprise. Growing in anything we do means making adjustments. Life is like one big project made of a myriad of smaller projects; when we follow the project management cycle (plan, implement, measure/ review, adjust) we can ensure success in whatever we try.

Project management cycle: plan-do-check-act
Project Management Cycle: Plan-Do-Check-Act (Source)

My biggest challenge has been missing weight training. It appears I may want to split the four into individual action items and once all four, separately, are achieved, then the goal will be achieved. As I pondered this point I realized that there may be an elegant solution to this: Yoga. Having a daily or regular Yoga practice can help us achieve balance in all four areas I have listed. When I practice Yoga regularly my running also improves. So that is my new fitness goal: at least 10-15 minutes of Yoga everyday.

Here is the Yoga routine I will start tomorrow morning.


For those of you that think Yoga is not something they can do, please watch this short video:



Yoga is something best started with a teacher. A teacher will take care of you, the whole you: the physical you, the mental you, the emotional you, the spiritual you. There is a difference, sometimes a huge difference, between a teacher and an instructor. The latter usually deals with form and technique but may be unable to help with the other aspects of a Yoga practice. Once you learn the basics from a teacher, then you can work with instructors or even videos. I was truly blessed to have started my Yoga practice with an amazing teacher; her name is Juliet Hewitt. There is not a time that I step on my mat that she is not present even if she is not physically there. So, find yourself a teacher, learn the basics, and then take it from there. As Juliet always says, start from where you are right now.


PERSONAL GROWTH

Clutter is a sign of trouble. If we look around, clutter is all around us. For many, it is in our homes, our offices, our cars. Clutter has become a huge industry in the USA. All we have to do is look at all the self-storage businesses opening in almost every neighborhood, or the incredible growth of thrift store chains like Goodwill. Look at this video and you can get a glimpse of the problem.


Soon I will share a bit of the purging I have done at home.

TIPS & TRICKS

The nice hand-written to-do lists I wrote about a few days ago have matured a bit. I moved to a digital version using the "Notes" app on my iPhone. The main advantage I see is the time saving from not having to re-write things left to do at the end of the day. The disadvantage, as I have experienced in the past, is a significant disconnect with the list; it is easier to forget to check the list as often once it is in digital form. Having handwritten notes makes the connection with your brain a lot stronger. However, using digital notes can be just as effective with some discipline. Whichever you choose, having a daily to-do list is a definite must for improved productivity (at least for the majority of us).

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

Chi Running is a running methodology designed to eliminate injuries and improve anybody's running efficiency. I have read parts of the book and love the concept. Here is a video explaining the basics of Chi Running.


INTERESTING TIDBITS

Not all cookware is safe to use. Here is a video about some popular but not so safe items we may have in our kitchens.



STREAKS - For the record

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 21
  • Blood Pressure Readings: day 8 (down to 111/71)
  • Logging to SparkPeople: day 11
  • Daily Exercise Routine: day 0
    • Cardio: Yes (2.47 miles in 44 minutes)
    • Strength Training: No (see above)
    • Stretching: Yes
    • Meditation: Yes
  • Meditation: day 8
  • Number of tabs open: day 4 (still working on this — today was more of a challenge than in days 1-3, but it is definitely better)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Daily - Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #20

HEALTH & FITNESS

Great 2.1 mile jog this morning using a different old pair of ASICS. They still fit, they still feel good. I listened to Podrunner's "138 BPM - Driven."

Today, I learned that there is something called "Slow Jogging" as a formal sport. This is, essentially, the form of jogging I do. Although I once ran as fast as a 9+ minute mile, I never did so comfortably or consistently.



GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

The ritual/habit of having a four-part workout fell through again today. The cardio and meditation were OK, the stretching was iffy, but no strength training session again. I got really busy at work and allowed it to get in the way. So, tomorrow will be another chance to try again.


STREAKS - For the record

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 20
  • Blood Pressure Readings: day 7 (nice 118/72)
  • Logging to SparkPeople: day 10
  • Daily Exercise Routine: day 0 
    • Cardio: Yes (2.1 miles in 37 minutes)
    • Strength Training: No
    • Stretching: Iffy
    • Meditation: Yes

      (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: day 7
  • Number of tabs open: day 3

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Daily - Monday, September 17, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #19

HEALTH & FITNESS

The rain stopped and I finally got to use those old ASICS shoes that I wanted to try again. I had a nice 2.1 mile jog this morning. It is so good to be back on the road! Today's session was to the tune of Podrunner's "140 BPM - Swift Kicks." Indeed, it kicked me a little about mile marker 1.75, but I pushed through it and ended the session feeling strong.

And I finally achieved a full fitness day. I was able to put a good 35 minute workout this afternoon at the fitness center. I did not get a chance to finish the whole workout I had planned, but it was better than nothing.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Rather than listing all the streaks I am tracking (which you can see below), I am going to focus on one habit per week. I will share my struggles and triumphs as I try to make each activity a ritual, a part of my daily behavior, so that it can become a habit and then help me achieve a goal or series of goals.

This week I will focus on the habit of having a daily exercise routine that includes cardio, strength training, stretching and meditation. In a very real way, those four components are discreet and individual; as a whole, they form the daily habit I want to develop. And this brings up a good point. Complex habits/rituals that have sub-components do not have to be done in sequence. For example, there is nothing wrong with doing cardio first thing in the morning and stretching just before going to bed, with a session of weight lifting in the afternoon and some meditation throughout the day. However, habits (helpful and harmful ones) are formed when we do a certain thing immediately after a trigger happens. For example, we wake up and hit the snooze button — that may not help us achieve our goal. What if we wake up and splash water on our face and do ten push-ups? It is likely that we will not go back to bed then, thus kick-starting our day. The trick is to replace hitting the snooze button with splashing water on our face and doing ten push-ups. Once we do that enough times, the ritual will be established and a new habit formed.

A critical aspect of self improvement is to make small changes. Trying to change everything at once is a sure way to struggle. When we make small changes in the things we do we will, in the long run, achieve far more than we would otherwise. This is one of the reasons people struggle with "diets" — trying to modify our whole lifestyle suddenly will simply increase our natural resistance to change.

If you have followed this blog recently, the one component I have missed consistently is strength training. I do not have a gym at home (just a few dumbbells and a resistance band, which should suffice) nor a gym subscription to a facility near my home. I usually try to do strength training regularly when I am in the office because we have a great fitness center there, and it is free. However, the key word there is "try" — many days I let other things pull me away from working out. These things can be anything from feeling tired to work meetings. Most of them are, in reality, excuses.

I find my biggest challenge for strength training is when I am home (weekends, vacations). I am going to establish a sensible trigger that would initiate the process to do a strength training workout. I will keep you posted.

PERSONAL GROWTH

The fewer-browser-tabs challenge went well today. I feel I was more productive having less tabs/windows open. In many ways I pushed myself to finish one thing before moving to something else. There was a lot less jumping around and a lot less confusion. I like it!

STREAKS - For the record

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 19
  • Blood Pressure Readings: day 6: excellent reading of 117/79.
  • Logging to SparkPeople: day 8 (starting to get more consistent in entering data)
  • Intermittent Fasting: I am abandoning tracking of this habit. I have been doing fairly well without having to track it. I will remove that app from my phone now.
  • Daily Exercise Routine: Day 1
    • Cardio: Jogged 2.09 miles
    • Strength Training: 35 minutes
    • Stretching: Yes
    • Meditation: Yes, 30 minutes overall in 10-minute intervals.

      (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: day 6 (all-time = 40)
  • Number of tabs open: day 2 (down to two tabs open for more than a few minutes. All other tabs either closed or stored in "Read Later" (see "Personal Growth " below).

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Daily - Sunday, September 16, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #18

FLORENCE UPDATE

Florence passed quietly over the city in the middle of the night. It is still raining today and will continue to do so through Wednesday. Winds have died down to a constant breeze.

TODAY'S NOTES


Today is Independence Day in my native Mexico. This normally is a day of celebration throughout the country, a great excuse to party and be happy. And yet, throughout the last 208 years, Mexico has struggled to free itself from a seemingly endless chain of dictators. Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1810. A century later, in 1910, the country endured a bloody revolution that was supposed to benefit the masses. Instead, corruption ate through the country so that an elite class, many of them politicians,became the modern version of a dictator. At the same time, the country has been under the dictatorship of its neighbor to the north, being forced to endure whatever the USA wished to impose on them. Political dictatorship, economical dictatorship, cultural dictatorship — Mexico has seen them all, continues to see them all, strives still to free itself from it all. I miss much of Mexico, especially the people. I do not miss the corruption, the immoral inequality between the few ultra-rich and the many poor; sadly, the same is happening in the USA. It all boils down to greed. When those in power are not satisfied with "enough" and instead they want it all, and they want it all for themselves, all the time, for all times. Historically, this is how civilizations begin to crumble. 

HEALTH & FITNESS

Another wet jog this morning to log 2.83 miles in 53 minutes. I chose Podrunner's "135 BPM - Amplifier" track and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It was wet, with steady rain all through the jog. I have now removed the NHS Couch-to-5K tracks from my phone. It is obvious I now need to work on improving performance and not simply getting to run 30 minutes at a time.

As planned, I opted to use the Saucony shoes with the improved insoles. It was a great choice. The shoes, insoles and socks got thoroughly soaked. The better insoles made a huge difference in the comfort of these shoes. I enjoyed the run and got back home pain free. Although my shoes were soaked, they only felt slightly heavier than heavier than normal. That was a very pleasant surprise.

Today's run was the second in a row in the rain. With the dampness from the rain and the heat of running (and having a raincoat) my old problem of hives came back both days. In the past I would have opted for anti-histamines and scratched the heck out of every bump on me. For the last two days I simply took a cool shower and did some deep breathing. It only took a few minutes for the intense itching to pass and the hives to begin receding. This condition is called cholinergic urticaria, or heat hives. According to something I read today, I may benefit from using cotton instead of polyester shirts. There is also a suggestion of using a vinegar solution to calm the itching down. Further reading indicates Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is helpful. I definitely will try it.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 18
  • Blood Pressure Readings: 5 days in a row. Apparently I missed a reading on 9/11/18. Today's readings are a tad higher than they have been (130/80). Worked on it a little through meditation and got it down to 116/67. 
  • Logging to SparkPeople: 8 days in a row (began entering food and activity data)
  • Intermittent Fasting: 1 day (I did great last night and fasted for over 13 hours)
  • Daily Exercise Routine: 0 
    • Cardio: Jogged 2.09 miles
    • Strength Training: Nope
    • Stretching: Yes
    • Meditation: Yes, 30 minutes overall in 10-minute intervals.

      (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: 5 days (all-time = 40): morning meditation was challenging again today. I chose a five minute meditation and my mind was all over the place. I am going to do at least one more meditative period today.
  • Number of tabs open: 1 day (down to two tabs open for more than a few minutes. All other tabs either closed or stored in "Read Later" (see "Personal Growth " below).

PERSONAL GROWTH

I am all into challenges. One of the most challenging thing I face everyday is the number of tabs I have open in my browser. I often have dozens of tabs open at once. Some are open permanently (for example, Gmail) and others stay up for months before I get back to them. My challenge for the next 30 days is to keep the least number of tabs open at any one time. This is in line with being a minimalist. Of course, there is always the worry of forgetting what tabs were open during some research. With help with that, I installed the "Read Later" extension in Chrome. Instead of  10-12 tabs, I managed to keep one to two tabs open. I kept Gmail going, and I kept Blogger open to add items to this post. My computer seems much happier this way. And I am managing to get a lot more done without so many distractions. A win-win situation.

INTERESTING QUOTE

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

TIPS & TRICKS

If you enjoy Starbuck's then you may appreciate the "17 Ways to Save Money at Starbucks" from The Spruce Eats website.

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

I recently came across this video explaining how an old time management system can be adapted to adult, modern life, for increased productivity and improved life joy. I am seriously considering doing something like this for my time management.


WEEKLY SUMMARY

This has been an amazing week. There are many things I am thankful for as we wrap up the week. Top things to be grateful for:

  • Hurricane Florence was only a minor inconvenience for us. Although the wind and rain were worrisome, we were fortunate not to sustain any damage. Many people in North Carolina and some in South Carolina were not as fortunate. My heart goes out to them.
  • I was able to accomplish some major cleaning and purging around the house. My bedroom closet is hard to recognize. There is much more to be done, but the progress is something to be grateful for.
  • I have been able to jog every morning, and have remained pain free. My blood pressure seems to be stable. I feel well. Life is good.
  • I have gotten into some great habits, especially making a daily to do list and sticking with it. The list is nothing fancy but it has been working well for getting much done; at the top of the list are items (rituals) I want to follow and the rest are items I need or want to accomplish. As a past user of DayTimers, I am delighted with the success. Getting back to a normal routine will be interesting and a true test of this system.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Daily - Saturday, September 15, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #17

FLORENCE UPDATE

Florence is down to a Tropical Storm or Tropical Depression, depends on when the measurements are taken. Regardless, we were very fortunate and suffered no damage. Many others are not so fortunate, even some losing their lives to the storm. We are still experiencing very windy conditions and some heavy rain. The center of the storm is scheduled to go over our home about 2 AM tomorrow with sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. It is not over for us, but it is getting close. The storm path just changed and now the storm center will go 20 miles south of our home; I am not sure if that is good or bad in terms of weather conditions; my guess is that the difference will be insignificant. More on that tomorrow.

HEALTH & FITNESS

I enjoyed a great 2.09 mile jog this morning right after sunrise. It was interesting to jog in tropical storm conditions; it felt much like jogging on the beach when you are running into the wind. I jogged to Podrunner's "138 BPM - Driven" track. It was an amazing experience. I used a slightly older pair of Saucony running shoes that I bought at a significant discount many months ago. I figured I would be OK if they were ruined in the storm. They have not been the most comfortable running shoes. As I removed the insoles to let them dry I discovered why they were not very comfortable. The insoles were extremely thin and probably offered little or no cushioning. Once the shoes were dry I replaced the original insoles with some sports insoles. If it continues to rain (as it is forecasted to) then I will use these same shoes with the new insoles for tomorrow's jog. Otherwise I will switch to an older pair of ASICS that I have not used in a while.

My knees have been pain free despite jogging every morning. That is a huge relief. I have been building up speed and feel terrific. Jogging is definitely my cardio of choice. I recognize, however, that I need to mix things up. I intend to add biking to my routines as soon as I feel it is safe to do so; I think my weight may be too much for my inexpensive bike.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 17
  • Blood Pressure Readings: 8 days in a row. 127/79 today. Perhaps too much coffee? Time to switch to tea in the afternoon?
  • Logging to SparkPeople: 7 days in a row (began entering food and activity data)
  • Intermittent Fasting: 0 days (I ate a snack late last night, so I am back to starting to day)
  • Daily Exercise Routine: 0 
    • Cardio: Jogged 2.09 miles
    • Strength Training: Nope
    • Stretching: Yes
    • Meditation: Yes, 20 minutes overall.

      (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: 4 days (all-time = 40): morning meditation was difficult. I could barely finish the ten minutes because I wanted to get out for a run before the weather turned bad. I had a second meditation period in mid-afternoon to try to bring my blood pressure down a little; that did not work.

PERSONAL GROWTH

My efforts to organize and downsize continued today. My goal was to clean my closet's entrance area. Goal accomplished (and then some). In the process I got rid of about 10 dress shirts, half a dozen shorts, and some t-shirts. I also worked on part of our coat closet downstairs. I am quite pleased with the changes. I should have most of the closet done by tomorrow afternoon. The hardest part will be going through a ton of photos. That will take sometime.

TIPS & TRICKS

This video shows you how to simplify any wardrobe in about 10 minutes. I used this technique today to help me purge clothes from my closet. It worked like a charm. I will do the same thing with another section of the closet tomorrow.


Friday, September 14, 2018

The Daily - Friday, September 14, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #16

HURRICANE FLORENCE UPDATE

Winds have been picking up all day. We have significant gusts and rain started around 6 PM. The forecast puts the center of the storm right over my house by tomorrow afternoon. Fortunately, it will be down to a Tropical Storm (or perhaps just a Depression) by then. It is about 110 miles away as I write this.

I have had several surprise messages of well-being throughout the last day or so. I also have had the usual missing care from other family members. That makes me sad.

HEALTH & FITNESS

Jogged another 1.75 miles this morning using some older ASICS shows. The wind had already picked up quite a bit, and the air was moist and sticky, but not unbearable. I wanted to go longer but stopped myself because I had other things I had to get done.

My blood pressure was a bit high today, and finally came down to normal this afternoon. Perhaps Florence had something to do with it.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Current list of streaks:

  • Writing: day 16
  • Blood Pressure Readings: 7 days in a row. Initial readings were higher than they have been (about 130/90). Tried meditation and a breathing exercise to lower it. Finally it came down to 122/80 by 2 PM.
  • Logging to SparkPeople: 6 days in a row (still need to enter food and activity data)
  • Intermittent Fasting: 3 days
  • Daily Exercise Routine: 0 
    • Cardio: Jogged 1.75 miles
    • Strength Training: Nope
    • Stretching: Nope
    • Meditation: Yes, 25 minutes overall.

      (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: 3 days (all-time = 40): morning meditation was difficult. I could barely finish the ten minutes because I wanted to get out for a run before the weather turned bad. I had a second meditation period in mid-afternoon to try to bring my blood pressure down a little; that did not work. 


PERSONAL GROWTH

From Eckhart Tolle:
"When the ego is at war, know that it is no more than an illusion that is fighting to survive. That illusion thinks it is you."

TIPS & TRICKS

Vinegar is an amazing helper around the house. And it can also be great in your yard:


Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Daily - Thursday, September 13, 2018

Writing Challenge- Day #15

HURRICANE FLORENCE UPDATE

I worked from home again, mostly to stay off the roads and out of the way of those that really need to drive. We have had periods of sunshine, but it has been mostly cloudy. It is definitely windy and very humid. Florence is approaching.

Our internet access has been a bit flaky. That could be related to the storm or just me having an older PC.

Even if we lose power, as we are expected to, I will hand-write notes and then post them to the blog after the storm is over.

HEALTH & FITNESS

Another nice 2+ mile jog this morning. I listened to Week 4 of the NHS series, with a little of Podrunner's "135 BPM - Amplifier". to finish the session.

Nice meditation session this morning before heading out to jog.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 15
  • Blood Pressure Readings: 6 days in a row (holding steady around 120/80)
  • Logging to SparkPeople: 5 days in a row (still need to enter food and activity data)
  • Intermittent Fasting: 2 days
  • Daily Exercise Routine: 0 (I did jog for 30 minutes, stretched a little and meditated, but did not do strength training)
    (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: 2 days (all-time = 40) [The app tells me I missed a day -- darn it!)

PERSONAL GROWTH

I have been doing the rolling of clothes and other items and I have developed several shortcuts. I think I may do a video on some of them. I managed to do more cleaning and purging today; I will post pictures soon.

FINANCES

When should you tap into your emergency fund? Here is some good advise from the Dave Ramsey organization.

POLITICS

Our Liar-In-Chief simply cannot stop! Today (or yesterday) he lied to the whole world about how well his so-called government did when dealing with Hurricane Maria and the disaster in Puerto Rico. More people died there than in the 9/11 "attacks" yet the citizens of Puerto Rico had to fend for themselves for months. Why? Probably because they are Hispanic, not #45's top priority, especially since he cannot kick them off their own island. I bet he would love to build some magnificent golf courses and resorts on free land.

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

One of my favorite authors and speakers is Timber Hawkeye of the "Buddhist Boot Camp" podcast. I loved today's episode on "Self-worth."

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Daily - Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Writing Challenge - Day #14

Spent the day working from home. It was a busy day, much of it keeping an eye out for the start of Hurricane Florence. It was a sunny morning, and then it got very cloudy. It is raining lightly now.

HEALTH & FITNESS

I received a new pair of running shoes (Zoot shoes I got at a bargain through eBay) and had to take them for a run this morning. Almost two miles at a 17 minute mile pace. I think the Zoot shoes are the most comfortable running shoes I have ever worn.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

Current list of streaks:
  • Writing: day 14
  • Blood Pressure Readings: 5 days in a row (holding steady around 120/80)
  • Logging to SparkPeople: 4 days in a row (still need to enter food and activity data)
  • Intermittent Fasting: 1 day
  • Daily Exercise Routine: 0 (I did jog for 30 minutes and meditated, but did not do strength training or stretching
    (In order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation.)
  • Meditation: 6 days (all-time = 40)

PERSONAL GROWTH

The key to success: a three-day work week. According to billionaire Richard Branson, less hours and more enjoyment in the work we do lead to greater success  [Source]
Billionaire Richard Branson is pushing business leaders to embrace the idea of flexible work arrangements, claiming that with today's cutting-edge technology, there is no reason people can't work less hours and be equally — if not more — effective.

TIPS & TRICKS

Close your internal house doors during a hurricane! There is evidence that doing so could save your roof and thus minimize other damage to your home. [Source]
After conducting scientific wind tests, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety concluded that when high wind enters the home during a storm (as it could through an open or broken window), it creates strong upward pressure on the roof. If this pressure grows strong enough, it can eventually cause the roof to blow apart, allowing rain to come in and leaving the home exposed to the elements. In short, causing catastrophic damage. 

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

Watching How-To videos on YouTube has proven extremely beneficial to me. Watching how folks solved problems has released problem-solving juices; all of a sudden I have been coming up with some great ideas on improving issues that have lasted over a decade. So, watch some videos, learn lots, even in unrelated areas and you may experience the same trouble-solving benefits. I will share some of these solutions as I implement them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Daily - Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Writing Challenge - Day #13

Today, our family celebrates the birthday of one of our family members. We only wish we were closer, that we were together to celebrate. We send you our love, regardless of the distance that separate us. You are always in our hearts.

And the USA observes the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center. It has proven to be the most expensive demolition effort in the history of mankind.


In 1297 Scottish rebel William Wallace defeats the English. FREEDOM!

HEALTH & FITNESS

Great jog this morning. I covered over three miles for the first time in months. It was a slow jog (18-19 minute miles), starting by listening to Laura of the NHS Couch-5K podcasts, and ending with listening to Steve Boyett's 133 BPM "Common Ground" track from Podrunner.

Tuesday is bowling night, and today was a challenging day. The bowling center was very hot and humid, and that never helps bowling conditions. We had fun, and that is all that matters.

HURRICANE FLORENCE

Our area is in full Hurricane mode. Two major highways had lane reversals to help with coastal evacuation efforts. This usually means our highways are super congested. On top of that, we are beginning to experience weird weather; this afternoon we had a strong, very isolated thunderstorm that was exciting and a bit scary. Please visit the National Hurricane Center website for more information.

GOALS, DREAMS, HABITS, RITUALS

I am going to begin listing my streaks here.
  • Writing: Day 13
  • Blood Pressure Readings: 4 days in a row
  • Logging to SparkPeople: 3 days in a row
  • Intermittent Fasting: (I will re-start tomorrow)
  • Daily Exercise Routine: in order to count this one, I am making it a bit challenging. A day will only count if it contains at least 30 minutes of cardio, at least 30 minutes of strength training, at least 10 minutes of stretching, at least six hours of sleep, and at least 10 minutes of meditation. The count starts tomorrow.
  • Meditation: 5 days (all-time = 40)

FINANCES

Tomorrow I must catch up with "EveryDollar" entries. This is the danger of not keeping up with it; trying to be accurate and being behind are enemies to financial success.

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

Warning: do not watch videos that start "10 great gadgets …" unless you have lots of self-discipline! I watched two of those today and ended up spending $100 at Amazon. Granted, these are things I need for long term projects, and I did get a huge bargain on one of them (saved over $60), but many of these things could have waited. Indeed, I could cancel the orders if I wanted to, but I am not planning on doing that. I do have the money in the bank, I was planning on getting the things anyway. I am very happy with the purchases I made and I cannot wait to get them delivered after Florence is out of the area.


Monday, September 10, 2018

The Daily - Monday, September 10, 2018

Writing Challenge - Day # 12

The European Union (EU) recently announced that they were working on discontinuing what in the USA is called Daylight Savings Time (DST). The EU citizens found that the time change was no longer applicable to a society that is not, for the most part, largely based on agriculture and farming. Europeans argue that if the aim of this time change is to maximize use of daily time, then the time change is highly ineffective at doing so. I completely concur. I firmly believe the disadvantages of DST significantly outweigh its benefits. It is time to ditch an obsolete construct and settle on Standard time. It is not as if every community in the USA follows it, anyway. I think it is time to let the time be the time and stop monkeying with the time, for time's sake! Time, after all, is just an illusion, a human construct designed to get more things done, often at the expense of actual living.

HURRICANE UPDATE

Hurricane Florence is heading our way, perhaps not as a direct hit to the SC coast, but close enough to cause havoc. Schools in our district have already been closed through next week. Our governor has issued mandatory evacuation orders for all coastal counties. Store shelves are just about empty, even this far inland.

HEALTH & FITNESS

I did a partial workout today. I simply ran out of time (and some motivation) to complete the whole thing. It is hard to get back on a workout routine once you have been off for a week or two. Tomorrow will be better.

PERSONAL GROWTH

I briefly looked online today on ways of making common, free cardboard boxes more usable for organizing efforts. Here is my suggestion: use an old pillow case to cover the box.

Shoe box with top cut off. Not pretty
Shoe box with top cut off. Not pretty.

Shoe box with rolled cleaning rags. That would work.
Shoe box with rolled cleaning rags. That would work.

Found an old pillow case. Slip box into pillow case.
Found an old pillow case. Slip box into pillow case.
 
Cover box with pillow case. Gently tuck material into box.
Cover box with pillow case. Gently tuck material into box.

Same cleaning rags inside newly covered box. Much nicer. Easy project.
Same cleaning rags inside newly covered box. Much nicer. Easy project.

Nice covered box back in laundry room.
Nice covered box back in laundry room.


FINANCES

I recently mentioned the use of Mint for budgeting and expense management. Annielytics has an excellent blog post titled "8 Ways to Customize Mint to Make Budgeting Easier" that should be helpful to anyone considering or starting with Mint.

WARNING: You may owe taxes next April! Please read the article "Millions of taxpayers could wind up owing for 2018" and make adjustments to your withholding amounts as needed.

Get ready to feel the effect of #45's tariffs; please read "Why everything you buy at Walmart and Amazon is about to cost more".

POLITICS

What in the world is a mayor in Louisiana thinking? According to a news report, the mayor of Kenner City has banned the use of Nike products perhaps as a reaction to Nike's decision to use Colin Kaepernick as their spokesperson for the latest "Just Do It" campaign. I don't think the mayor of any city should interfere with free commerce and free enterprise based on their political viewpoint. Government business should be conducted without influence of personal opinions. This mayor has left their city open to a lawsuit, although I doubt Nike will do that. Nike's sales have gone through the roof as a result of their decision to hire Kaepernick. By the way, I admire Mt. Kaepernick for his valor and bravery and his firm convictions; in many ways, his courageous actions forced us to open our eyes to issues that had remained buried under the rug of ignorance for far too long. We may not have liked what he brought to light, and facing these issues has made us a better nation.

TIPS & TRICKS

An easier way to roll jeans:



TECHNOLOGY

Do you log out? It is not uncommon for computer users to allow connections to websites (such as banking sites) to expire before they logout. Often, users just close the window or tab without logging off. This is not a good practice as it potentially leaves the connection to the account vulnerable to hacking. The best thing we can do is to always log off from any resources we have connected to.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Daily - Sunday, September 09, 2018

Writing challenge day 11.

Sunday, a day usually reserved for spiritual time and relaxation. Unless it is this Sunday, which was hectic and it lacked a lot of the spirituality that I normally like to focus on.

I joined my Tribe for some beautiful dancing on its fifth anniversary of starting, and also the last time dancing at our current location. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to run errands and pick up my daughter and do some preparations for Hurricane Florence.which seems to be heading straight for SC.

I managed to accomplish a lot today. In the afternoon I went back to Dollar Tree to get more organizing boxes. Here are some before and after pictures:

The shorts are now in nice boxes; top container for sports, bottom for dress shorts.

Before: Shorts (sports and dress) in available cardboard boxes
Before: Shorts (sports and dress) in available cardboard boxes
After: Shorts (sports and dress) in inexpensive nice boxes
After: Shorts (sports and dress) in inexpensive nice boxes
The second part is cleaning, purging and organizing the remaining two drawers of my dresser.

Before: second drawer -- what a mess!
Before: second drawer -- what a mess!
After: middle drawer (t-shirts, head wear, swim suits)
After: middle drawer (t-shirts, head wear, swim suits)

 The bottom drawer was last.
Before: bottom drawer -- what a mess!
Before: bottom drawer -- what a mess!

After: bottom drawer (swim items, run/exercise items, winter wear)
After: bottom drawer (swim items, run/exercise items, winter wear)

I also managed to cook a yummy Mexican dish called "Mole Verde." It came out great. I will have to share my recipe and tricks will all of you at some time.

Speaking of tricks, I realized during the rolling of many items that one of the tricks to a successful Army roll is to make sure that the area where you begin to roll is narrower than the place where the roll is going to tuck into the garment. The second thing I realized is that you don't really need to roll every single inch of the garment. It works almost as well to fold the part you are going to roll in half and then roll that much smaller amount of garment. In some clothes you can fold the garment into thirds before you begin rolling. Much faster and easier on your hands.

That's it for this post. Much more to clean and organize, but it will wait until tomorrow.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Daily, September 8, 2018

Writing challenge, Day 10: a busy Saturday, a fun Saturday, a productive Saturday.

Yesterday I stayed up late (past 1 AM) trying to master the new skills needed to do the Ranger Roll for best packing of clothes (please see video below). I managed to roll pants, shirts, sports shorts, and socks; dress shorts and underwear, however, did not work for me. I ended up adapting the concept for those two garments. For dress shorts, I still rolled them and used rubber bands to hold each short neatly tucked in. For underwear I modified the tucking step to make it work. It is not as neat or durable, but it still does the job.

Dress shorts, rolled, rubber band
Dress shorts, rolled, rubber band

Sports shorts, rolled, tucked in
Sports shorts, rolled, tucked in

All shorts neatly stored in available cardboard boxes
All shorts neatly stored in available cardboard boxes (to be replaced with appropriate cubes later)

Learning to do the Ranger/Army Roll lead to videos on organizing clothes. This morning I bought some very inexpensive organizing cubes for my socks and such. I wish I had taken a picture of the before. But here is the after.

Socks and underwear, neatly organized
Socks and underwear, neatly organized

Socks and underwear, neatly organized, drawer in place
Socks and underwear, neatly organized, drawer in place

More or less what the top drawer used to look like.
More or less what the top drawer used to look like. This is my project for tomorrow.

PERSONAL GROWTH

Why all the fuss about cleaning and organizing. It is a way to reset my mindset, not just about clothes and drawers, but also about other aspects of life. Just like I started with working on my finances, cleaning other areas of my life is a good exercise in discipline and tidiness.

TIPS & TRICKS

Fantastic clothes folding tricks. I cannot wait to use them the next time I travel!




Friday, September 07, 2018

The Daily, September 7, 2018

SIDE NOTE

I wrote this post on 9/7/2018 and got busy and did not post it until 9/8/2018. Life happens.  :-)

TODAY

I am celebrating day nine of the writing challenge. Speaking of celebrations, September 7 is a very busy day of celebrations:

  • National Beer Lover's Day
  • National Lazy Mom's Day
  • National Food Bank Day
  • National Grandma Moses Day
  • National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day
  • National Salami Day
  • National Grateful Patient Day
  • National Acorn Squash Day
  • National New Hampshire Day

If nothing else, maybe we can bring some donations to a food bank. Perhaps we can then go out and have a salami sandwich and a beer while enjoying a day that has neither snow nor rain, being grateful that we are not a patient (in hospital or nursing home) or that we don't have to endure the New Hampshire winters. I will let you figure out what to do with the Lazy Mom and Grandma Moses part of the list.

HEALTH & FITNESS

I received a nice pair of ASICS running shoes from one of my favorite supplies (Running Warehouse) last night and I went for a nice 2+ mile jog this morning. I am not sure about the new shoes; they feel a bit tight, but it just may be the newer model is cut different than the models I am used to. I will give it one more try on Sunday and then decide if I need to return them. The great thing about Running Warehouse is that returns are hassle free.

FINANCES

So far I am thoroughly enjoying "EveryDollar". Today was my payday, which means entering a whole bunch of manual transactions. I looked at Mint a little today, but I think I am going to stick with "EveryDollar" for now.

TIPS & TRICKS

Excellent tips for times when you are traveling and use a hostel or AirBnB.




Thursday, September 06, 2018

The Daily, September 6, 2018

This is day eight of the writing challenge.

TODAY

On September 6 we celebrate "National Read A Book Day" and "National Coffee Ice Cream Day." Coffee ice cream is one of my favorites, and reading a book one of my favorite pastimes. Maybe it is a sign that tonight we should eat some coffee ice cream (my favorite) while reading a book, although we must be careful not to drip all over the pages (especially if it is a borrowed item).  J

Lots of things happened on this date, among them:

1620  The Mayflower departs Plymouth, England with 102 Pilgrims and about 30 crew for the New World
1901  US President William McKinley is shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, while visiting the Pan-American Exposition in New York
1916  1st true supermarket, the "Piggly Wiggly" is opened by Clarence Saunders in Memphis, Tennessee

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Meditation is a way for nourishing and blossoming the divine within you." ~ Amit Ray

HEALTH & FITNESS

I am been good about logging in to SparkPeople everyday for the last six days. I just caught up with entering the food I have eaten. Sadly, this effort brings to mind that I have not been exercising daily as I know I should. Time to get back on it — today! :-)

PERSONAL GROWTH

As I rose this morning I realized I missed one of my streaks yesterday. I was rushed in the morning and forgot to meditate; then got busy all day and did not meditate during the day. And so my streak of meditation days ended at 40 days. Today, I start that streak again. There is an important lesson there: just because we miss one day of whatever activity we are trying to do regularly, it does not mean we need not start all over. The event (in my case, missing the meditation period) gives us pause to evaluate the importance of relevance of that event. If it is still important and relevant, then we must start again. And, as my Buddhist Master often says, when we forget the activity (and we will), then start again, and then again, and be kind to yourself when you find yourself starting over and over. Whether this applies to meditation, exercise, diet, work assignments, cleaning, or anything else, it is a daily process that we commit to everyday. 

How appropriate that today's quote is about meditation.

The other lesson from this finding is that rituals and routines are critical in developing better habits and achieving our goals and making our dreams come true.

FINANCES

As I venture into using "EveryDollar" everyday, I learn more and more about my finances. One of the things we must be alert to, regardless of what budgeting/tracking system you use, is the impact of automatic transactions. I have many transactions carefully scheduled, and tracking each manually will be a nice challenge.

POLITICS

I published my "Manifesto for a Better United States of America" as a separate post. It is not meant to be a call for revolution, but for reform. Some of the reform is drastic and could be confused with revolution. In my mind, the time for this type of drastic change is now, perhaps overdue by decades. We cannot continue doing things in the same way and expecting different results. When we waste billions of dollars on war instead of spending those resources on peaceful efforts that would result in less suffering then we miss the opportunity to make a real positive impact in our world.

AND THE LIES CONTINUE

Did you read about the inauguration photos? Go read all about it!

TIPS & TRICKS

50 Ways to Make $50+: we could usually use some extra cash, right? Here are 50 ways to do just that. If you want more ways, how about 107 Ways to Make Extra Money?

How about part-time jobs to supplement your income. Here is a list for you!

PODCASTS / VIDEOS

One of the podcasts I listen to regularly and that applies to anyone is called "Hacking Humans." I think we can all learn from the hacks hackers are using to hack into our lives. Power is knowledge, and knowledge brings safety.

TECHNOLOGY

Have you been the victim of an internet based crime? Not sure who to talk to about it? Try the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3

A Manifesto for a Better United States of America and a Better World

I originally posted this manifesto on September 5, 2018. This is my vision of what we must do in order to make the United States a better country and thus begin the process of improving the world. I made small edits on September 6, 2018.

Here is my manifesto for true change in the United States of America and in the world:

1. Congress must pass an amendment limiting the number of terms a Senator and Representative can serve. Senators must be limited to two terms, Representatives to three terms.
2. The salary for members of Congress shall be set to the average wages received in their district. If the average wage in a congressional district is $26,000 per year, then that would be the salary for that member of Congress. There shall be no additional perks or bonuses allowed; the majority of Americans do not get perks nor bonuses.
3. The benefits given to a member of Congress shall match the lowest benefits available in their congressional district. If there are citizens that lack health or other benefits, then the Congress member shall have none.
4. Neither Members of Congress nor the President shall have lifetime benefits after finishing their term. They shall be eligible to receive a one-time payment equal to their previous year's salary to assist them in transitioning back to private life; their health benefits, if any, shall also be extended by one year after the end of their term.
5. Congress shall not pass any law that affects the citizenship but to which Congress is exempted.
6. It shall be illegal for Congress to pass any expenditure resolution which contains unrelated amendments that thus increase the expenditure. For example, a resolution to authorize the funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs shall not contain amendments of any kind unless they directly affect programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
7. Congress shall pass a balanced budget amendment and shall submit and approve an annual budget at least 120 days in advance of the end of the current fiscal year. Failure to do so would result in disciplinary action, potentially including loss of salary and termination for failure to perform.
8. Any Bill/Resolution brought for a vote must be presented to Congress with a minimum of 30 days prior to the scheduled vote. All such items for voting must be publicly available for at least 30 days so that citizens can voice concerns to their representatives.
9. All citizens shall receive basic health benefits at no cost.
10. All citizens shall receive education benefits, including access to college and universities, at no cost.
11. The criminal justice system shall be reformed to help rehabilitate, not punish, those that commit a crime. We shall implement a system based not on revenge but on compassion. Humankind's history shows us that the more pain we inflict, the more pain we suffer; the more love we give, the more love we receive.
12. We shall strive to end poverty, ignorance and disease worldwide; we must dedicate our resources to improve conditions on Earth for all planet inhabitants by focusing all our efforts to ensure we live in peace and freedom, and that everyone has enough food, water and shelter, and excellent free health care and education.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Daily, September 5, 2018

Writing Challenge -  Day # 7

Partisan politics in the USA has reached ridiculous levels. Please read my thoughts below under "POLITICS."

Today is "World Cheese Pizza Day." Does that mean that toppings are outlawed today?

Speaking of outlaws, Jesse James was born on this date in 1847. I bet he would kill for one of those cheese pizzas.

Tonight dinner will consist of cheese pizza to conform with today's celebration, and we will also have pizza with toppings, to push back against the expected, to be a rebel, to be different; mostly, just because pizza is great with or without toppings!



PERSONAL GROWTH

Here are seven things you can control that can make a huge difference in your life:



FINANCES

On my drive to work I realized that some of the knowledge that comes from budgeting and expense tracking can lead us to believe that being over-budget on one or more categories is a horrible thing. While it is not the best idea to over-spend, knowing that we are over-spending is the first step in making changes that will, eventually, bring us to the point where we can live within our means and stop over-spending. This is especially true in the first few months of us taking responsibility for our finances. It is during this time that we discover where money is going that we did not even realize was a factor. It is this process of discovery that brings control to our spending habits. With knowledge comes the power to make adjustments. If we over-spend one month, then we can strive to under-spend the next month to make things balance out. Knowledge is the key to self-control.

POLITICS

Partisan politics in the USA has reached ridiculous levels. Yesterday's Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination were a pathetic display of useless partisan politics. As a liberal, I was dismayed by the ridiculous waste of time and effort in what we all suspect is public posturing for the cameras. Democrats do not have the votes to prevent the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. I understand that there are many things not to like about how the process is going. It is not fair that thousands of pages of related documents were received just hours before the hearings were scheduled to start. It is unfair that twice as many pages were excluded from the disclosure. It is sad that there is no time to digest all this material to make an informed decision on Judge Kavanaugh. On the other hand, Judge Kavanaugh has an extensive public life and Democrats have had lots of time to investigate and they did not have to wait until the day of the hearing to begin the process. And, from what I heard in an NPR report a few months ago, Judge Kavanaugh is the least worrisome candidate amongst the list of candidates originally proposed by #45. Is Roe V. Wade in jeopardy if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed? Perhaps it is. However, considering the erosion to the pro-choice movement at the state level over the last few years, it would not be surprising if Roe gets overturned. Many liberal leaders have allowed this to happen. Change is inevitable, even if we do not like the change that is happening. And change can go the other way if we liberals get our act together.

Here is my manifesto for true change in the United States of America:

1. Congress must pass an amendment limiting the number of terms a Senator and Representative can serve. Senators must be limited to two terms, Representatives to three terms.
2. The salary for members of Congress shall be set to the average wages received in their district. If the average wage in a congressional district is $26,000 per year, then that would be the salary for that member of Congress. There shall be no additional perks or bonuses allowed; the majority of Americans do not get perks nor bonuses.
3. The benefits given to a member of Congress shall match the lowest benefits available in their congressional district. If there are citizens that lack health or other benefits, then the Congress member shall have none.
4. Neither Members of Congress nor the President shall have lifetime benefits after finishing their term. They shall be eligible to receive a one-time payment equal to their previous year's salary to assist them in transitioning back to private life; their health benefits shall also be extended by one year after the end of their term.
5. Congress shall not pass any law that affects the citizenship but to which Congress is exempted.
6. It shall be illegal for Congress to pass any expenditure resolution which contains unrelated amendments that thus increase the expenditure. For example, a resolution to authorize the funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs shall not contain amendments of any kind unless they directly affect programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
7. Congress shall pass a balanced budget amendment and shall submit and approve an annual budget at least 120 days in advance of the end of the current fiscal year. Failure to do so would result in disciplinary action, potentially including loss of salary and termination for failure to perform.
8. Any Bill/Resolution brought for a vote must be presented to Congress with a minimum of 30 days prior to the scheduled vote. All such items for voting must be publicly available for at least 30 days so that citizens can voice concerns to their representatives.
9. All citizens shall receive basic health benefits at no cost.
10. All citizens shall receive education benefits, including access to college and universities, at no cost.
11. The criminal justice system shall be reformed to help rehabilitate, not punish, those that commit a crime. We shall implement a system based not on revenge but on compassion. Humankind's history shows us that the more pain we inflict, the more pain we suffer; the more love we give, the more love we receive.
12. We shall strive to end poverty, ignorance and disease; we must dedicate our resources to improve conditions on Earth for all planet inhabitants by focusing all our efforts to ensure we live in peace, and that everyone has enough food, water and shelter, and excellent free health care and education.

TIPS & TRICKS

Should I Answer That Call? If you are bombarded by phone calls at home or on your cell from numbers you do not recognize, you may appreciate the website "Should I Answer?" Not only can you look up numbers, you can also report scammers and telemarketers.