Daily Duolingo Sessions

My streak as of March 17, 2022

As of today, April 12th, I have completed a 567 day streak on Duolingo, and I have every intention of continuing my daily language practice on the user friendly app. I began this streak with Japanese and Spanish as my daily languages, and added Portuguese at the beginning of March because I want to have some familiarity with the language when I visit Portugal in May. Duolingo is an excellent app for brushing up on languages or even learning a new one, and Duolingo Plus is only $84 per year. For that price, you can practice as many languages as you’d like.

I have practiced a bunch of languages, besides the ones I mentioned previously, on Duolingo over the past several years (French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Italian, and Hawaiian), and I love the fact that I can jump back into practicing any of those languages if I’d like. Though I took French and Latin in high school, I am rusty in those languages, and I only know a small amount of Hungarian, German, Italian, and Hawaiian. It is important for me to polish my Spanish speaking and reading skills constantly, not only because I was immersed in it when I would visit my dad and his children from his second marriage, but also because I don’t want to lose the skills I learned from Spanish classes I took throughout grade school, high school and college. I also feel a responsibility to learn as much Japanese as I can, since I am half Japanese, took Japanese in college, and intend to visit Japan again in the future.

Duolingo truly is a fantastic way to learn any language which is in their system. I highly recommend it!

Flossing

No, I’m not talking about the urban meaning, i.e., showing off. I’m talking about flossing your pearly whites.

I’m willing to bet that many of you neglect to perform this important task on a regular basis. I am not lying when I tell you that I floss NIGHTLY, and have been doing so for the last two years. Yes, that’s right, not for the last several decades like you might have thought. I got lazy, as many people do, and my gum health suffered as a result. So when my dentist implored me to floss regularly during one visit in June of 2015, I actually heeded his advice and forced myself to re-learn the habit which my mother had gotten me into when I was a child, one which I would follow somewhat erratically as an adult.

Now, before you go thinking that I never flossed, let me just set the record straight by saying that though I wasn’t good about doing it every single day, I still flossed. I would typically be diligent about flossing daily about a week before each dental visit, and for about a month after those visits, but then I’d slack off, perhaps flossing once or twice a week when I remembered to do so. So it wasn’t a surprise that my gums would bleed every time I had my teeth professionally cleaned, and that my dentist would berate me.

Now I will not allow myself to go to sleep before flossing. I won’t even allow myself to brush my teeth at night before grabbing a pre-threaded flosser and going to town on those dental crevices. According to the American Dental Association, we all should clean between our teeth once a day. Why? Because interdental cleaning removes plaque, which is the main causative agent for formation of cavities and development of gum disease.

I personally can’t stand the idea of winding floss around my fingers. The thought of food-laden floss wrapped around my digits makes me squirm. In addition, I contend with forearm tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis in my dominant (left) hand, and as a result find it very challenging to wield a rope of dental floss. My solution is to purchase the pre-threaded flossers which are available. They’re easy to use and just as effective, provided you use them correctly. When flossing between teeth, gently arc around the column of the tooth to remove any plaque which has built up there.

Happy flossing! Your teeth and gums will thank you for it.

Your Latte Habit Is Costing a Fortune

starbucks-menu

Every time I go into a Starbuck’s, I cringe at the inflated prices of their coffee drinks. Even a plain cup of coffee is pretty expensive, at $1.75 for a Tall (12 ounces), $1.95 for a Grande (16 ounces), and $2.25 for a Venti (20 ounces). Look at the prices of some of the other coffee drinks sold at Starbuck’s:

Item Price

CAFFE LATTE
Tall $3.05
Grande $3.80
Venti $4.20
Trenta $4.30

CAFFE MOCHA with WHIPPED CREAM
Tall $3.45
Grande $4.20
Venti $4.50
Trenta $4.70

WHITE CHOCOLATE MOCHA WHIPPED CREAM
Tall $3.90
Grande $4.65
Venti $4.85
Trenta $4.95

Starbuck’s Coffee is a treat for me, not a daily habit. I may have five Starbuck’s beverages a month at the most (my average is one or two Starbuck’s beverages each month), but I know many people who indulge in Starbuck’s beverages on a daily basis, and some of them get the fancy drinks every time. All of those multisyllabic coffee concoctions can really add up and burn a hole in one’s wallet over time. In addition, the mochas, the lattes, and certainly the frappucinos are loaded with calories. Here is the nutritional breakdown of my favorite Starbuck’s beverages, a Tall Caffè Mocha. I get it with nonfat milk but even then, the calories, carbs and sugars really add up:

Caffè Mocha (Espresso with bittersweet mocha sauce and steamed milk)

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (12 fl oz)
Calories 190 Calories from Fat 20
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 100mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 27g
Protein 10g
Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 30% Iron 20%
Caffeine 95mg**
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
**Each caffeine value is an approximate value.

Let’s look at how much someone would spend in a year by getting a Grande Caffè Mocha every day, including weekends (after all, when you need your coffee, you don’t take breaks on the weekends, right?). At $4.15 per Mocha, you would end up spending $1,514! That same $1,514 could be invested in a vacation fund, put into an IRA, or be used to pay bills. Do you really think it is worth spending that amount of money on coffee drinks each year? I certainly don’t. What I do is I load up a Starbuck’s card with some money, say $50, and use it when I visit Starbuck’s. I find that I re-load my card maybe one or two times in a year, and I confine my consumption to special events, travel, and the occasional weekend coffee run. I am comfortable with the idea of spending $100 to $150 on Starbuck’s coffee in an entire year, and couldn’t imagine being hooked on those beverages and having to pay ten times that amount!

I challenge all of you who have a daily Starbuck’s habit to spend one month in which you brew coffee at home. Then what I want you to do is to set aside the money you would have spent at Starbuck’s ($126 in the example above). You will dip into the money you set aside to buy ground coffee and whatever ingredients you add to your coffee (like chocolate, sweeteners, milk). At the end of the month, see how you feel. If you truly love Starbuck’s Coffee (or Coffee Bean, or Peet’s) THAT much, then by all means, resume your habit. But if you can’t stand the idea of spending a small fortune on caffeinated delights, you might want to continue with your home brews.