Hold Onto Your Car!

Copyright: stanciuc

The pandemic has created many shortages and supply chain issues, among them toilet paper, disinfecting supplies, and workout equipment. But did you know that there is also a shortage of used automobiles? Two major factors which have caused so many people to turn towards used cars are decreased new automobile production, and budget concerns which have resulted from decreases in income. If you have an extra used car sitting around that’s not being used, it may be a small gold mine for you if you sell it right now, because the demand is so high. But if your used vehicle is one you actually need in order to get around, and it’s in good mechanical shape, you’re better off holding onto it until the surge in demand simmers down.

Even my car, which is a 6 year old economy car, is now worth about $1,400 more this year than it was at the beginning of 2020. Strange, but it’s true. Prior to the pandemic, I had actually considered selling my car and getting a newer model, but I am definitely pushing my plans back by about 3 years or more. I truly hope that when I am ready to get a different car, the supply chain issues with new automobile production will not be an issue like they are right now.

If you are in the market to buy a used car, you already know how difficult it is to actually locate one. It took one of my dear friends four months before she was able to find a used car to purchase. She looked everywhere, and kept responding to listings which turned out to be sleazy dealers instead of the private parties they claimed to be. The vehicles were not in good mechanical condition, so they never passed mechanical inspection. The only reason why she was finally able to find a decent car to buy was because a friend of hers whose mother was going to buy one from a family member changed her mind, and offered to sell the car to my friend. Had that not occurred, my friend would likely still be on the hunt for a set of wheels.

If you can purchase a new car instead of struggling to find a used one, be prepared to pay about 5% more than before March of 2020.

Why I Hate The Phrase, “It Is What It Is”

“It is what it is.’

I cannot understand why this phrase has become so popular, because it is incredibly stupid and redundant. I cringe every single time I hear someone utter it, and am dismayed by the number of people I know who have adopted this into their current communication behaviors. Why has it suddenly become so trendy to state the obvious in this manner? I can’t help but think that everyone who utters this string of words either hasn’t given much thought to the circular reasoning buried in it, or has developed a pathological and resigned attitude towards life in which circumstances are shrugged off. Come on guys, take a little responsibility, would you?

Copyright: rnl

If we look at res ipsa loquitur logic, this legal term indicates that someone is presumed to be negligent if that individual had control over what caused the injury. But since I took two years of Latin in high school, I am more intrigued by the original semantics and logic of this particular phrase. If we apply this idea of negligence to the statement, “it is what it is”, does that mean that people are blaming fate, or the lockdown, for the unraveling of society which has occurred in the past year and a half, or are they simply resigning themselves to fate when they utter that? All I know is that I have heard it far too often since spring of last year, and it is raising my ire.

I truly enjoy and appreciate what Ethan Ryan from The Fiddleback has to say about this idiotic statement:

“It is what it is” is a waste of words, a waste of breath. I mean, sure, I get it. It expresses the same sentiment as the French “C’est la vie!” But still, it irks me. It’s just a repetitive series of defeatist monosyllables. Why not just say “It is,” or for that matter, “It’s”?

Of course it is what it is! How could it be anything but it?

The only context in which that phrase would be appropriate would be if somebody asked “Is it what it is?” and you said, “Yes, it is what it is.” Presumably you’d have this conversation in an assisted living home with a demented loved one attempting to categorize an ice cream cone.

When you write “It is what it is” as a mathematical algorithm it looks like this:

it = it

In logic, this is called the law of identity, which states that an object is the same as itself. “A is A” is a tautology. Here are some more:

1 = 1

pineapple = pineapple

J = J

☺ = ☺

poop = poop

X = X

Those are analytical facts, verified by their consistency within the rules of a symbol system. But they’re also stupid and irrelevant. They’re true under all possible circumstances, and they demand little of the world for their truth. You don’t need evidence to back up the claim “Poop is what poop is.”

Here’s another tautology:

Formula_Ryan

Seems logical, right? I don’t know, I’m not a logician.

What concerns me are rhetorical tautologies such as:

“I am what I am.” ~ God talking to Moses

“I yam what I yam.” ~ Popeye talking to Olive Oyl

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” ~ Gertrude Stein

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course.” ~ the Mr. Ed theme song

“It is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is.” ~ this essay

It is it. A is A. But redundancies are redundant, aren’t they? Be succinct. Next time your umbrella breaks, or your toilet gets clogged, or your house burns down, just shrug and say “It’s.”

That’s obnoxious advice, I know. Defeatism gets us nowhere. Life is hard, but that’s no excuse to spout meaningless clichés. There are so many fantastic adjectives and nouns and verbs out there, humming in a deep pocket of your brain. Use your words. Don’t just say “It is what it is.” We already know that.

Wittgenstein said philosophy is the headache you get from banging your head up against the limits of language. When I came across that line I decided I was done studying philosophy. Years later, my head is still hurting. Philosophy is dangerous.

Whatever.

It’s.

——–
Ethan Ryan

Cutting Out The Fat

One of the healthiest things I have done this year is to eliminate a very toxic person from my life. It took me over ten years to realize that this person was never a true friend, and that I was always regarded as “just Stacey”, not as an important or special person. I foolishly kept making generous gestures, including buying this person a new phone when the old one became nonfunctional, even though I struggled to pay for that replacement phone and felt the financial impact of my own generosity. I went so far as to stock special supplements, foods and beverages, which I never personally consumed, in my home to accommodate this person’s visits, even visiting stores I would not normally frequent in order to purchase these special items. In short, I was too nice to a person who never deserved any of it. I have saved money since I cut this person off. I don’t miss being drained financially, emotionally, mentally, even physically. This person NEVER cared about me, and has never wanted to help me with something as simple as taking out the trash while I was preparing food. If I asked for such a favor, this person would say, “You’re just gonna have to wait”, and would take his time reading his book or watching TV before he would begrudgingly get up and toss the garbage.

Copyright: bsd555

I was never good enough in this person’s eyes, and was always being told that if I did things his way, then my life would be so much better. One example was when he stated that a mini fridge I had in a corner of my dining room was not positioned optimally, and that I should pivot it 90 degrees. We bickered about it for several minutes, then I acquiesced. Upon attempting to pivot the fridge, we discovered why I had positioned the fridge the way I had done when I moved in. Basically, the way that I had arranged the fridge was the ONLY way I could plug it into the wall without using an extension cord. So we pivoted the fridge back to its original spot, yet this person never admitted that his insistence on moving the fridge might have been unnecessary. I received unsolicited advice on my finances, how I stored my pantry items, how my home gym was set up, etc. When I say that this person would constantly tell me how to do things, I am definitely not exaggerating. I was ALWAYS in his shadow, even when I knew that his suggestions were no better than the manner in which I did things. It was exasperating and frustrating to deal with this constant criticism.

You might be asking how I could have let someone take advantage of me like this for so many years, and the only thing I can say is that I somehow believed that this person was a good friend. Something clicked in my brain when he decided to wash his car in front of my garage, using water I pay for, and using car wash accessories I also paid for, without asking me if he could do so. I had to study for my family practice board recertification exam, so I told him I needed a couple of weeks to really hunker down and study. I took the exam, then he rudely ignored me for several more weeks (we would often hang out on a weekly basis), triggering an epiphany in me. Only then was I able to stand tall and speak my mind, then sever ties.

When You Just Don’t Like Him

Copyright: estradaanton

Have you ever met someone who seemed to have all the qualities you were looking for in a partner, then after getting to know each other, you kept getting reminders of how much you didn’t like the person? There are two men who come to mind, one whom I dated in 2019 (I’ll call him Sam), and one whom I met during the pandemic (let’s call him Rick). The fact that they were both intelligent and educated actually threw a major wrench in things, because I relish a good intellectual conversation, and didn’t realize that both men simply HAD to be right during any dispute, no matter what. The fact that I had political views which differed from both guys fueled quite a bit of animosity, which strengthened my conviction to avoid any chatter which veered in a political direction.

Things progressed very rapidly with Sam, and by the fourth date, he started referring to me as his girlfriend. Before I knew what was happening, he began to plan out every single weekend for us without consulting with me beforehand. He went so far as to tell me that I would be required to join him and his mother’s family for Thanksgiving, which I completely rejected. It was all too much, too fast, and my independent nature rebelled against Sam’s need to control every part of the relationship. He was also arrogant, had a tendency to insult others whom he deemed less intelligent than him, had the clammiest hands I have ever felt, and was clumsy and terrible in bed (sorry guys, but that matters). I finally ended our relationship after three months via a very heated phone call in which he kept insisting that he had plans for us, and that I was “disobeying” him by breaking up with him. That should tell you something about the hell I went through.

Rick was very different from Sam in a number of respects. First of all, Rick was into fitness and weightlifting, he was very easy on the eyes, and had a more laid back attitude. I soon realized that Rick’s laid back attitude was partially due to a general lack of interest he had in me, which meant that he just wouldn’t make an effort to see me. We’d make plans, and he would conveniently “forget”, stating that he didn’t think we had “PLANS plans”. Rick had even pulled this stunt on Valentine’s Day, when we made plans to get together, only to have him back out with that same lame excuse. The only time we had Zoom calls was when I would suggest that we schedule one, and we didn’t even go out in public until late July of this year. I bet if I hadn’t complained that we had only seen each other in person 6 times over the span of 8 months, and that we would meet either at his home or mine, we would have never gone anywhere. I enjoyed going to a restaurant so much that I suggested that we go out for sushi a month later, and stated that it would be my treat. I figured that at least I would be able to enjoy the sushi meal as well. It didn’t surprise me that Rick didn’t flake this time, and made sure to honor plans for the sushi dinner I had offered to finance. Only moments after I paid the bill, which was over $200, Rick actually complained that he preferred the plain sushi selections over the more exotic ones, so I decided right then and there that I would never take him for sushi again.

Rick had a tendency to dole out unsolicited medical advice numerous times when I mentioned maladies such as neck pain or a rash. Who on earth would have the nerve to deliver medical advice to a board certified physician? Rick would, and it infuriated me every single time. Another very rude habit he had was that he ALWAYS had his phone by his side, and would often look at it, even while I was talking to him. We also argued about politics, cars, and spending habits, and as I realized how little common sense this guy had, my attraction to him flickered out like a snuffed out candle.

One of these days, it would be nice to meet someone who isn’t contentious, arrogant, flaky, or controlling.

Review of Nutree Brazilian Bottox Expert

My hair was always straight throughout childhood and adulthood, to the point where it often fought any type of curl or wave I tried to create. Then menopause hit, and my hair mutated into a super wavy, frizzy, unmanageable mess. To give you an idea of how wavy my hair became after the “change”, let’s just say that as my hair air dries after I wash it, it looks like I had put my hair into two pigtail braids and left them that way overnight, then unraveled them to release intense waves. On the rare occasion when I am rushing around and unable to run the flat iron through my hair once it has completely air dried, a few friends have witnessed how wavy my tresses have become. Despite the fact that those friends have remarked that they think it looks pretty, I cringe when I realize that someone has noticed the change in my hair texture.

Copyright: badahos
This was taken in 1991, when my hair was at its longest. You can see how straight it was.

I wouldn’t mind the waviness in my locks if 1) the wave was evenly distributed (the right side is considerably wavier than the left), and 2) my hair didn’t expand as it dried, creating a frizzy mushroom-shaped mass. I honestly feel a bit like Roseanne Rosannadanna when my hair is in the process of drying, and I fight it like crazy, using a brush-style blow dryer, hair oil, and shine serum. I have tried to skip the flat iron, but I truly can’t stand how my hair looks without that final smoothing step. I am always bound and determined to kill that hormonal squiggle which runs through my hair!

So when Nutree asked me to review their Brazilian Bottox Expert, I gladly agreed to do so, since I am always in search of products and treatments which can calm my unruly mop. This is considered a professional treatment, and the chemicals are rather harsh, so I strongly urge you to work in a very well ventilated room, wear gloves, and even wear protective eyewear if you have sensitive eyes like I do. Though I didn’t use my onion cutting goggles, I honestly did consider wearing them while I applied the treatment and for the 40 minutes during which I had the product penetrating into my hair. Even when I blow dried and flat ironed my hair, some of the fumes made me choke a bit, and my eyes teared a bit then as well.

Since Brazilian Bottox Expert is a thermo multi-control mask, and fills in the hair cuticle so that it is nice and smooth. So what you can expect from this treatment is hair which is shiny, smooth, and more manageable. The large jar should be enough for three treatments on my thick, waist-length, half-Asian hair, which I guess is acceptable. There is a sweet, bubble gum/fruity smell to the product, but that smell can be pretty strong when the product is being applied, or when a hot styling tool is introduced. That being said, the fumes are tolerable.

My post-menopausal wavy hair…

The first thing I did was wash my hair with an anti-residue shampoo, then allowed it to dry completely overnight while I slept (I’m lazy like that, and prefer to let my hair air dry). I then sectioned my hair into six sections, put on a pair of gloves, and applied the product to each section. I also made sure to comb the product through from roots to ends to make sure the product was distributed evenly. I set my timer for 40 minutes and made sure to sit in a well-ventilated room.

After 40 minutes, I lightly rinsed my hair, making sure to leave a thin layer of product in my hair. I could tell that there was a thin layer of product by the slippery quality in my wet hair. I towel dried my hair, then blow-dried it with a round brush. I will admit that this took FOREVER because I have very thick, long hair, and also because I detest blow drying my hair. One of the reasons why my hair is so healthy is because I only wash it twice a week, and I only run a brush-style hair dryer through my damp hair for about 3 minutes to speed up the air-drying process. So what I did was split up the blow-drying into three sessions, with about 20 minutes in between each session.

Once my hair was completely dry, I flat ironed my hair, taking small sections and running the flat iron 12 times through each section. The heat from the flat iron really kicked up the fumes, and my eyes began to water a bit, but I toughed it out. The result was incredibly smooth hair, without that nasty frizz I have been getting after washing my hair.

My hair immediately after finishing the treatment

About three days after I applied Brazilian Bottox Expert, I washed and conditioned my hair with Amazonliss Anti-Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner. As my hair dried, I noticed that the wave in my hair had relaxed somewhat, which surprised and delighted me since the product is not considered a straightener or relaxer. Right before my hair was completely dry, I ran a hair dryer through it, but it took no time to get it to dry, and my hair looked smooth and relatively frizz-free, with no mushrooming out (no more Roseanne Roseannadanna!). I could actually tolerate the amount of curl in my hair, but I still ran the flat iron through it.

My damp hair after washing it 3 days post Brazilian Bottox Expert application
My dry hair after washing and conditioning it
This is how my hair looked after flat-ironing it and sleeping on it overnight

I absolutely LOVE how my hair is significantly tamer, much more manageable, with less wave and considerably less frizz. The other bonus is how shiny my hair is now! I am hoping that this will last a couple of months, because it has completely changed how I feel about my hair now. Brazilian Bottox Expert is a complete gamechanger for me, and I honestly believe that anyone who is dealing with excessive curl and frizz and wants to make their hair more manageable should try this product.

How to Achieve 5K Success – A Runner’s Guide for Beginners

Here’s another great article by Jason Lewis which will lead you to a successful 5K run!

Jason Lewis is a personal trainer, who specializes in helping senior citizens stay fit and healthy. He is also the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He created StrongWell.org and enjoys curating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65

Photo via Pixabay

How to Achieve 5K Success: A Runner’s Guide for Beginners

by Jason Lewis

Running is great exercise and can be a lot of fun. If you don’t typically run, jogging around the block can seem impossible, but even a beginner can train to run a 5K race in just a few months. Ready to get started! Then follow these tips to achieve 5K success.

Start off slowly

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and rarely run, if at all, you aren’t going to be able to run a 5K next week. Start off slowly by walking every day for 30 minutes for four weeks. Then, for the next two weeks, run at least half of the time and walk the other half. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to run the whole 30 minutes.

Try Couch to 5K

If you need a detailed plan on how much to exercise each day, use a schedule like Couch to 5K, which includes a week-by-week plan that builds up gradually to get you ready to run a 5K. When training, don’t worry about your speed. Pace yourself and take walking breaks when necessary.

Team up with a friend

If you need the motivation to train and exercise, find a friend with a common goal. Pick a 5K race in your area that’s a few months away, and train together to run in the race. Having a friend for motivation and accountability can be a big help for beginners.

Use tech

Track your progress with the use of a fitness tracker or even a smartwatch. Though a smartwatch isn’t necessary, it can be extremely helpful to track your activity level. A smartwatch or fitness tracker can also work as a motivator, as well as keep you safe and healthy while running. The newest model in the Apple Watch series, for example, includes health and safety features like electrocardiogram (ECG) generation, fall detection, and emergency SOS. Additionally, some fitness trackers allow you to play music while you’re working out (you may need to purchase wireless headphones, which are available as over-the-ear or in-ear).

Don’t forget to stretch

To avoid injury and increase flexibility, stretch your major muscle groups after each run to cool down. Focus on your hamstrings, quadriceps, back, groin, and hips. Runners World offers these suggestions for post-run stretches.

Reward yourself

In the months leading up to the 5K race, set milestones in your training. Each time you reach a goal, reward yourself with something you enjoy – maybe a massage, a book, fancy coffee, or a new outfit.

Know the course

If possible, run the course (or at least map it out), so you can become familiar with the terrain, difficult areas, or places where you could get lost. Knowing the course will make you more confident on race day.

Don’t wear new shoes

Never wear a brand new pair of shoes on race day. Though you don’t want shoes with treads that are thin, you want to wear comfortable running shoes that are broken in and don’t cause blisters. If you buy new shoes weeks before the race, alternate wearing your old shoes with the new one. Studies have shown that doing this can decrease the possibility of running-related injuries.

Don’t stress about it

As race day approaches, don’t stress about how fast you want to run or other details. Your goal is to finish the race happy and healthy. Enlist a couple of friends to cheer you on. During the race, don’t push yourself too hard in the beginning and take walking breaks for a minute or two throughout the race, if needed. Run the first two-thirds of the race at a comfortable pace. And then if you have a goal of a particular time to finish, pick up your pace in the last third.

Five kilometers might not seem like much, but it’s a big deal for a beginner to finish a 5K. Celebrate your finish by going out with friends, taking a day off work, or doing something else you enjoy. Next thing you know, you’ll be training for a half-marathon.

Dr. Stacey Naito is dedicated to helping people achieve their weight loss goals through her nutrition and exercise plans. To find out more about available programs, reach out today!

Design A Budget Which Works For You

Copyright: akkamulator

Not too long ago, I went shopping at a retail home goods store with a good friend. When we approached the checkstand, my friend experienced a bit of sticker shock, because she kept adding things to her cart and hadn’t kept track of how much she was spending. When I suggested that she might want to review what she had in her cart and perhaps pare down, she responded with, “Well, it will somehow work out. I still have some room on my credit card.” We kept chatting as the sales clerk rang up my friend’s items, and she continued with, “I never know how much I have in my checking account, and I don’t keep a budget, so I always hope and pray that I make it each month.” By this time I was cringing at what my friend was saying, and I also became very concerned for her financial health.

If you are like my friend and choose to throw caution to the wind by refusing to follow a structured budget, you have signed up for a rocky financial future. You may argue that you have the same fixed expenses each month, such as mortgage/rent, cell phone, and your car payment, and that you somehow always know approximately how much you spend on groceries and fuel for your car, but if I challenged you and asked you to itemize those expenses, I would bet that there is some overspending occurring. If you are also forgetting about discretionary expenses like a regular Starbuck’s habit, or even worse, you are neglecting retirement savings or contributions to an emergency fund, then you are skating on very thin ice indeed.

You might be thinking, “But I don’t know how to make a budget!” The whole idea of sitting down and creating a budget may sound daunting, but all it entails is writing down all of your income sources for each month, then creating a separate list of all of your monthly expenses. Once you have the basic framework of your regular expenses, you can add in your occasional expenses, such as personal care items (haircuts, etc.), auto insurance, upcoming vacations, etc. so that you are aware of the need to cover them. If you really dig deep, you will probably encounter hidden expenditures you weren’t completely aware of, such as streaming movie rentals, outdoor dining, or even online subscriptions which you might have forgotten about.

Once you have determined how much money is coming in each month, and how much money must be spent on fixed and variable expenses, you can see which expenses are unnecessary or frivolous, and you can also determine what other financial goals for which you can earmark part of your income. Examples of good financial goals are the following:

  • Paying off credit card debt (make sure that you add your monthly payments into your monthly budget!)
  • Vacation plans
  • Retirement planning
  • Adding to an emergency fund

Once your budget is completed, make sure to refer to it at least once a month, and as you reach certain financial goals (especially paying off credit card debt), you can make adjustments to your budget. Funds which were previously being funneled in one direction can be redirected to another goal, such as cushioning your retirement accounts or emergency fund. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on eliminating any credit card debt, because nothing erodes financial security more than this type of debt. Think about it: if you are paying 19.9% APR on a credit card balance of $2,000, that means that the credit card company is making an extra $400 in a year (this is a very rough estimate, since you would be making payments each month on that original balance). The other problem is that most people will add to a credit card balance, which pushes you into deeper debt. With credit card debt, it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back, so if you have credit card debt, HELOC’s, or another high interest debt, your primary focus should always be on aggressively paying those balances down. Once you are free from credit card debt, I strongly recommend that you curtail usage of any credit cards and use cash or a debit card instead.

When you stick to your budget, you may be surprised by how much it will improve your financial picture. A budget establishes a framework which enables you to move towards financial goals you might never have thought you could ever reach. Another great thing about an effective budget is that it doesn’t have to be static, so as your goals change and you reach certain markers, you can make adjustments to further fortify your financial position.