TEMPTED?

You are stronger than you think!

tempted

In the USA, the 4th Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day.  The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. So the holiday officially originated in what was known as the ‘New World’ at the time. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Because some years had a fifth Thursday in November, this date was later changed from the last Thursday to the 4th Thursday by Congress who passed a law on December 26, 1941 fixing the date after a public outcry when President Franklin D Roosevelt kept changing the date from year to year.

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The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879.  In 1957 Canadians established their Thanksgiving Day as the 2nd Monday of October, (which is Columbus Day in the US). Thanksgiving may pre-date both the US and Canada as countries, but it began here on the North American continent.  Over the decades other traditions such as the Thanksgiving Parade, football games, and certain foods have evolved with the holiday, and in some instances it has spread to other a few other countries. There are nine other nations besides the US that have a version of Thanksgiving which is associated with giving thanks for the bounty of the annual harvest.  Canada, Norfolk Island, Liberia, and Granada have similar versions of the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving associated with the USA.  Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Japan each have their own unique versions of a ‘thanksgiving day’.    

Financially, the average cost of feeding a family of ten, with leftovers, is under $50.00 according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey.  That of course is ASSUMING you have a sane amount of food, and make most of the food from scratch. Some families go way overboard with with holiday meals.  

The beginning of the holiday season marks an abundance of calorie-laden, rich fattening foods, coupled with less physical activity as people spend more time indoors to avoid the chill of winter, and lessening amounts of daylight. For people struggling with their health and finances, Thanksgiving dinner marks the first half of a double-whammy, as next month they get to do it ‘once more’ with a fattening, expensive Christmas dinner.

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Focus on what’s important.

My first permanent health decision as an adult occurred in college when I made up my mind once and for all to become a vegetarian. This was a lifestyle choice that my late mother could not quite wrap her mind around.  My mother DID NOT COOK.  I kid you not, the woman could burn water.  We ate our holiday meals at my aunt Arleen’s home. Thanksgiving dinner was easy, there were many choices that were ‘meat-free’ on the table. Christmas dinner was not. That first Christmas I refused to eat my aunt’s famous lasagna which she slaved for days to make. She made the sauce from scratch, she shredded the mozzarella by hand on a cheese-grater, she browned Italian sausage and ground beef, boiled noodles, mixed cheeses, and assembled pans of lasagna. Enough to feed everyone, except one resilient vegetarian, who ate cheese pizza while everyone feasted.  Fortunately my aunt understood. The following year, she made a small, special, personal cheese lasagna for her favorite nephew.

So, you have to ask yourself, what’s more important? The food on the table? Your personal health? Or, are the people seated around the table the real reason to celebrate? 

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Choose wisely.

Just  because there are NINE different desserts doesn’t mean you MUST eat each and every one of them.  Heavens to Betsy  if you should miss aunt Betsy’s special cracker pudding.  Or Grandma’s famous jasmine rice pudding with golden raisins and chopped pistachios. Or cousin Ethel’s pecan pie. Believe it or not, some of the more common desserts like pumpkin pie are available year round. The special family dishes that your family worked so hard making are the more important dishes.  The dishes that they made as a token of their love for their family and friends gathered.  Yes, there are signature recipes that are associated with the people we know and love, but the people are the important part of the gathering.  So ignore the more common foods when planning the meal, and highlight the dishes that are unique to your gathering.  If there are still too many choices available, your other option is smaller portions.  Maybe a table spoon of the cranberry relish, or a half-scoop of mashed potatoes.     The key is not to over-eat.

Water is your friend.

So you STILL have a plate of high-calorie fatty foods after making the agonizing choice of passing on the coconut custard pie with whip cream topping and nut meg.  Limit your drink choices to water. A glass of water before, during, and after a meal will fill you up while helping to metabolize fats and flush toxins from your system.  The sparkling juices, sodas (and in some cases alcohol) only add empty calories and will ruin your diet.

Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y

The food may all taste delicious, but it still takes about 20-30 minutes for your brain to register that you have eaten enough food.  By eating your meal at a more reasonable speed, you might discover that you weren’t   really starving to death after all, and you might actually get to participate in the lively dinner chatter around the table.  By giving yourself time to actually eat your food instead of shoveling it in your mouth, you may find that that second helping of whatever is not needed, because you are full.

Keep active

Yes, it’s winter and the days are shorter and colder, but there are still ways to stay active. If you are a runner like myself, you can still find winter 5K races, even on Thanksgiving Day in some cases. You just have to dress appropriately for the weather.  If you don’t like being out in the cold, there’s always the gym.  Many fitness chains have extended holiday hours, or  24hr locations to accommodate the heath conscious individual.  The key to success  in maintaining your healthy lifestyle is to MAINTAIN it.  If you fall off the health-wagon for ONE holiday meal, it’s not the end of the world. That ONE SLICE of pumpkin pie didn’t make you fat, giving up did.  So enjoy the healthy choices you made for your meal, ignore the items you passed on, and celebrate the day with your family and friends. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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TURNING BACK TIME!

Let’s do the time warp again!

turning back time

The idea of turning back time, or speeding ahead into a future time, is quite often the plot of many science fiction stories. UNFORTUNATELY here in the most parts of the USA it’s a reality, and an outdated nuisance.  Twice a year we ‘change the clocks’. Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November  at 2:00 AM when we turn the clocks back one hour to Daylight Standard Time.  To add to the confusion, not all of the USA observes Daylight Saving Time. the states of Arizona and Hawaii ignore it completely, as do all of the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. So in the Autumn, we ‘gain’ an hour when the clocks ‘FALL BACK’, and ‘lose’ an hour in the Spring when the clocks ‘SPRING FORWARD’.  Despite this little ‘FALL BACK, SPRING FORWARD’ mnemonic to help people remember to adjust their clocks  accordingly, many times they still get it wrong, either setting the clock the wrong way for some bizarre reason, or forgetting completely.  It used to also be done at a different time prior to 2007. (Back then, the time shift was the last Sundays in April and October.)

BLAME CANADA

Benjamin Franklin once theorized about the benefits of adjusting the clocks to save daylight in the Winter months when the days are ‘shortened’  in the Northern Hemisphere due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.  In 1908 Canadians in Thunder Bay Ontario adopted this asinine  practice for the first time. A few years later it was also instituted by the Germans in 1916 to conserve coal during the first World War. It didn’t plague us here in the United States until 1966 when President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act under the assumption that it would ‘conserve energy’ because if it’s light outside longer, you’ll use the lights in your homes less.

Spread read the confusion

I don’t know of any person who truly believes that changing the clocks is beneficial , but it is observed for better or worse by 70 countries around the globe, each adjusting their times on a slightly different schedule.  If you are one of those people who simply forgets about adjusting the clocks, it’s not so bad in the Fall when you gain that hour, but it’s a nightmare in the Spring when people who are already ‘pressed for time‘ rush out the door only to find out too late that they are an hour late. The poet Charles Bukowski  wrote a poem about this in 1972 titled DAYLIGHT SAVING, and it is a concrete poem shaped like a time card. The poem recounts an event in which the poet went to his day job only to discover the time cards were all pulled and he was late one hour, and had to explain why to his disbelieving supervisor. Fortunately today many of our electronic devices auto adjust themselves to the proper time.

The changing of the artificial clock doesn’t reset the biological clock. Our Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock that controls sleep-wake cycles as well as metabolism, cognition, and more. It uses clues such as light and darkness to help determine when it’s time to shift into sleep mode and when the body should wake up. When we artificially change the time, our bodies need an adjustment period.  If you’ve ever flown in a plane across several time zones, like from the East Coast of the USA to the West, you probably experienced this disruption by another common term,  jet lag. It can take as little as a day to recover, but some people feel the effects of jet lag for up to several days. Also since animals and very young children do not tell time by a clock, playing with the clocks means that you may get an earlier wake-up call from your pet dog who urgently needs to go outside and ‘never got the memo’.

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Why so S.A.D?

The end of Daylight Saving Time means less natural daylight during the day. When you couple the darkness with cold Winter’s chill, it can lead to a mental state of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.  This is no laughing matter. People suffering from S.A.D. have a general feeling of less energy and moodiness.  Depression during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas and even to a lesser extent New Year’s when you are surrounded by happy merry-makers and an abundance of alcohol results in higher accidental deaths from drunk driving, as well suicides from desperate people who can’t see past their current circumstances.  Life is a cycle. We have good times, and bad times, but things do get better.  In the end, everyone of us is going to die, but it’s important how we live. There is not a person on Earth that can say with absolute certainty that they will be alive tomorrow, so don’t wait for tomorrow. This is why you don’t put off important things, like spending time with friends and family and letting them know you care. This is why it is of the utmost importance to take care of our physical bodies with proper diet and exercise. This is why it is vital to straighten our minds and our souls with  knowledge and wisdom, especially the Gospel found in the Holy scripture contained in the Bible. We can do all things with Christ who strengthens us, and  we can deal with today much easier when we have hope for a better tomorrow. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

SPARE TIME?

Living in the Moment!

SPARETIME

“We’re all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities. We are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

There are at least two things that differentiate the highly successful individual from the unsuccessful crowd.  Firstly, they handle their money quite differently than the average person. Instead of spending every cent the moment they receive it, they budget their money, save much of it, and invest.  Secondly they do the same thing with their time. 

You may be familiar with the old adage ‘time is money’.  In a very real sense it is. When you work at a job, you get paid for your time. When you invest over time, you get a return on your investment.  In fact, time is more important than money because money can be replaced, but time cannot. Every moment wasted is gone forever. Unsuccessful people usually whine about how unfair life is because they don’t have as much money as Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.  Here’s the main point. Rich or poor, Successful or not, every single person on Earth gets the exact same number of minutes each year. 525,600 minutes each and every year, with two exceptions. The year we are born, and the year we die. How we spend that year is up to us.

When I started writing my weekly blog InstantCoffeeWisdom over two years ago, the first article was The 52 Week Challenge. It was a weekly savings plan to be done over the course of one year, the end result being  $1350.00 saved to be used as you wish. Every year, I take a great vacation at the shore in Ocean City MD, that is my decision. I know many people who always whine that they never have money for vacation, so the first year I focused on microeconomics (personal finance) to help demonstrate ways to budget, cut expenses and hopefully achieve that goal set by The 52 Week Challenge. The second year, I focused on the bigger picture, exploring macroeconomics, and explaining how religion and politics are interconnected to economics, and why you should have a firm grasp of all three. Hopefully you were able to understand my points, see where I was leading you, and you were able to reach the same conclusions.  As I embark on my third year of blogging,  I’m going to focus on the topic of time. As I already stated, time is money, and we each have EXACTLY the same time each day, week, month, and year, despite financial disparities. How we spend our time is entirely up to us.

When I was a still just a young boy, the biggest time waster was the TV. I had family members whose entire lives were lived vicariously through the television. As a child, it was my ‘babysitter’. Plop me down in front of the set with a plate of snacks and I was good to go. My 77 year-old aunt does nothing but watch TV all day, or sleep. It doesn’t seem like much of a life to me, but she’s 77 and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I got rid of my TV a decade ago. I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by ‘cutting the cord’. If I do decide to watch some program, almost everything is available online and I can watch it when it’s convenient. Although the letters TV  are an abbreviation for Television, it should stand for TIME VACUUM because this activity is just a  waste of time that can suck away hours of your life each day if you let it. Now the biggest waste of time and productivity is the mobile smart phone.

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The smart phone  puts the sum total of human knowledge in the palm of your hands. You can load it’s memory with apps to help you track everything financial or health related. It is a tool that in the right hands can increase productivity and knowledge, and likewise can kill it in the wrong hands. In my youth, phones connected people. Now they divide people. The typical smart phone user touches his or her phone 2,617 time every day, according to a study by research firm Dscout. Extremely addicted individuals use it twice as much as that. The phone is NOT reality. When you spend your time looking at your phone instead of living your life, you are wasting your life. You are cutting yourself off from life and missing all the wonderful things the world has to offer when you bury your face in your phone.

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Human lives are terribly short. We live at best about 120 years, but that is not guaranteed. There are preemie babies that live a few hours, or a few days.  My father died when he was 57. I missed out on all those great father-son moments growing up without a father as a result.   We are ephemeral, a vapor, and but a blink of the eye of God. We live our lives moment by moment, stringing each moment to the next like pearls on a string. We should do our best to make those moments shine.  Time cannot be replaced when it is gone, and neither can people. The greatest gift you can give a person is your time, and the second greatest gift you can give is your undivided attention. 

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One of my close friends has cancer. I pray for him every day. I hope he beats it, but ultimately that’s in God’s hands, and worrying about it won’t change that fact. If God wants us here on Earth, it’s where He wants us to be. No man can know the mind of God, but He’s in control even if it doesn’t make sense to us now. It is up to us to use our God-given free will to be stewards of our resources, which includes not just money and possessions,   but our time and our health as well. Make every moment count and interact with people instead of tuning out the world. As always, I wish you success and happiness!       

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CONQUER THE WORLD!

Ask me how…

conquer the world

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. – Dale Carnegie

The world is made up of two types of people. Those who talk about doing things, and those who go out and get those things done.  According to a recent article printed in Business Insider  about a third of Millennials think that they are worse off today than they were ten years ago.  The question that really begs to be asked is what were these ‘eager young space cadets’ doing over the past decade to improve their lives? The overwhelming response was nothing. They stayed in the same dead-end jobs for fear of finding a better job. They didn’t invest in the stock market for fear of losing money. They didn’t save because they had just enough to make ends meet, and they feared they wouldn’t be able to.  The end result of doing nothing is nothing. Nothing happens unless someone makes it happen. You will never be able to conquer the world until you learn to conquer your irrational fears.

Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear. –Dale Carnegie

If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. – Napoleon Hill

Many times, we are held back by bad habits. Laziness is chief among all bad habits. We put off for tomorrow what could be done today because we ‘don’t feel like it’ or we ‘don’t have time’ or we have ‘something better to do.’ Motivation can be difficult when we don’t see immediate results, but all things take time, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. This goes for all bad habits from poor eating habits to addictions to failure to exercise regularly. If you start something, keep at it until the task has been accomplished. Never give up. Focus on doing what you can, and then going one better.    

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ― William Faulkner

If you believe that something is impossible, and you don’t attempt it, you will never know if it could have been accomplished. Trying once and failing is not an indication of impossibility, it’s just an indication of inexperience and lack of knowledge. No one was ever an expert the first time they did something, and if they happened to do it perfectly that first time, it was dumb luck. You’re an expert when you can consistently deliver the same results, and that takes time and practice.   

Energy and persistence conquer all things. – Benjamin Franklin

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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. –Jeremiah 29:11

Make plans! If you fail to plan you plan to fail! You need to know where you are, where you want to be, and have the steps to get there. You need to know what direction to go, what tools you’ll need to accomplish your goal. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all unless you take to proper measures beforehand. Spontaneity is great when you’re stuck and need to think of something to get you back on course, but it’s a terrible way to live your life. All successful people take notes, make plans, and work from paper. Again, if you do nothing, nothing will happen. You got this! You just have to believe in the possible.

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I believe that in the end the truth will conquer. –John Wycliffe

As you continue moving on towards accomplishing you goals, You’ll encounter a lot of fake news and negativity. You need to cut the dead-weight that’s holding you back. Unhappy, unsuccessful people will be jealous of your attempts to better yourself. Success is the best revenge. There are many people you will meet throughout your life who will never accomplish half the things you do, and they will try to make you feel bad about yourself by calling you greedy or selfish. What they think of you says more about them then it does about you. Your success does not doom them to failure. They doomed themselves to failure by doing nothing and just want you to feel sorry for their poor life choices. You can’t help them, they are the only ones who can help themselves, and they don’t want to for whatever reason. If you have access to the internet, you have access to the sum total of human knowledge. Ignorance is a choice, knowledge is power, and the truth will vanquish any lie in time. Stay focused on your goals and they will become your accomplishments. You got this, and no one can take that away from you!  If you can conceive it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it! As always I wish you success and happiness!

EVERYONE’S WATCHING!

Everyone’s being watched!

EVERYONES WATCHING

(Part one of a two part series)

Megabytes, Gigabytes and Terabytes, oh my…

As you are well aware the home computer boom of the 1980’s culminated with the birth of the internet in 1989. ‘Smartphones’ had been first introduced in 1992, but took fifteen years to evolve into the technological marvel that Steve Jobs demonstrated to a captivated audience  at Macworld 2007 when he introduced the first Apple iPhone.  NTT DoCoMo launched the first 3G network in Japan on October 1, 2001, making videoconferencing and large email attachments possible.   For the roughly the next ten years this rapidly became the telecommunications standard. The iPhone could only have been possible with the 3G Network. Just as the Apple iPhone and many other ‘copycat’ Android smart phones continued to improve, so did the wireless network. By the end of 2010 4G was springing up, and now 5G is being rolled out. Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint have promised 5G devices for the first half of 2019, while T-Mobile says a nationwide network will launch in 2020. 5G will offer faster data and longer battery life. But network availability will be limited in 2019, and Apple’s iPhone may not support it until 2020. In terms of peak speed, 5G is approximately 20 times faster than 4G. The new technology also offers a minimum peak download speed of 20 Gb/s . When I purchased my first computer in the 1990’s the salesclerk at Radio Shack told me that the 50Mb hard drive would store more data than I could ever use. Now there are media files that are 1Gb or larger, and my computers have Tb hard drives.

The world in the palm of your hand, with a price!

In 1995, 27 satellites were launched into Earth’s orbit by the US government, creating what is now called the GPS constellation. The Global Positioning System (GPS) allows a user’s position, speed, and time to be tracked by the satellites using their equipment.  (The constellation of satellites must have at least 24 to work, but can support up to 30.)  The data is relayed through a ground control network which connects the two.  GPS is used to support land, sea, and airborne navigation, surveying, geophysical exploration, mapping and geodesy, vehicle location systems, farming, transportation systems, and a wide variety of other additional applications. Telecommunication infrastructure applications include network timing and enhanced 911 for cellular users.

All modern smartphones have a built-in  GPS receiver which trilaterates your position using data from at least three GPS satellites and the receiver in your phone.  Whenever you have your cell phone with you, or near you, it can be tracked, and so can you. Now this is nothing to be alarmed by, unless you’re a criminal.  The NSA (National Security Agency) can reportedly even track phones which are turned off.

Whenever you take a picture using the camera on your smartphone, the image is stamped by the GPS receiver with the location coordinates that is hidden in the code of the image. Software can scan the image to retrieve the data.  This is how law enforcement can determine exactly where a photo was taken by examining the geotagging hidden in the exif code .    

WiFi surveillance? WTF!

According to an article posted in The Atlantic in 2016, the human body interacts with the signals produced by WiFi, (Wireless Frequency). By observing disturbances in the WiFi field, the number of people in a room, what they are saying, or even typing on a keyboard can be monitored using sophisticated software. 

The wireless router in your home allows all the WiFi capable devices to connect to the internet or network with each other.  Even homes which do not have computers but have a cable box have WiFi because all cable boxes contain internal WiFi routers that allow the parent company such as XFinity or Spectrum to offer a WiFi guest network.

Most modern electrical meters on your house now use WiFi to transmit electrical usage to utility companies. They study the data and can tell when you are home, sleeping, or watching television by examining the spikes in kilowatt usage.

All new cell phones have the capability of being used as a mobile WiFi hotspot.

There is NO escaping WiFi.

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Who needs a Nikon camera? I have a PHONE!

They say a picture says a thousand words, and anyone who was in school before the internet existed probably had some moment that they wished they had a camera to record some unbelievable or breathtaking event.  Now every smart phone produced since 2007 can record video, audio, or still pictures. With the ability to take pictures and video, as well as to transmit or receive those files via the internet, the smart phone has changed the way we see the world  Using the internet or bluetooth , they can connect to pared items such as spy cams, action cams, and video drones. Events can be recorded and shared. I once attended a music festival in Ohio. Months later while watching a video on Youtube taken at that same festival , I was amused to see myself in the crowd. I never even knew I had been videoed.  

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What? Me worry?

As stated earlier, unless you are actively engaged in criminal activity, or are being stalked by someone wishing to do you harm, there is nothing to worry about, at least here in the USA, for now.  You shouldn’t worry that you are being watched, because no matter where you are, God is always watching. As always I wish you success and happiness!

Check back next week for part two FAKE NEWS?

Time for a do-over?

Reset the clock!

time for a do-over

“Clocks are made by men, God creates time. No man can prolong his allotted hours, he can only live them to the fullest – in this world or in the Twilight Zone.” — Rod Serling

Welcome to the first week of the New Year, 2019. There was no blog post last week for the first time since the inception of http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com back in September of 2017. I felt it was appropriate to schedule a break over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period.  Today is Sunday, January 6th.  Some Christians still refer to this day as Epiphany, or the Twelfth-Day, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi. In a few countries around the world, it is almost as big a celebration as Christmas Day itself. Here in the USA, not so much. Epiphany spelled with a lowercase ‘e’ is also a word to describe a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. There is nothing more commonplace then the annual changing of the calendar, and the start of the new year.   It is a do-over, a time for new beginning and a fresh start as we lay the past to rest.

“The place is here…the time is now…and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey…” —Rod Serling’s opening narration to The Twilight Zone’s pilot episode, “Where is Everybody?,” October 2, 1959

For the past twenty years in the USA, the cable TV SYFY channel (originally called Sci-Fi) has celebrated New Year’s Eve by broadcasting a Twilight Zone marathon.  This classic television program from October 2, 1959 through June 19, 1964 depicted weekly tales of bizarre, supernatural occurrences and the effects of such on an ever-changing cast of characters. The show has been revived several times and a new version is in the works. The title of the show is so recognizable that it has become a colloquial term to describe any bizarre or ludicrous situation or behavior that rears its ugly head to cause chaos or havoc.

Sometimes things really do happen which are beyond our control. But only sometimes. Often we bring these unfortunate things upon our on heads due to poor planning, stupidity, and/or laziness. No one ever promised that life would be easy, or fair, but it is worth it, and there are countless opportunities to reset the clock, and begin anew. The key is both to learn from our mistakes and to not quit. Quitters never win, and winners never quit.     

Perception is the lens which defines our reality.

Are things really as bad as we ‘think’ they are? Or do we make our situations far worse by convincing ourselves as we bemoan our circumstances? One surefire way to determine progress is to diligently keep track of the pertinent data, and recording your findings  on a regular schedule, then track the records by journals or charts. As negative trends emerge, you will become aware of them early on and be able to correct the course before you sail into dangerous waters. As this is still just the first week of the new year, there is still time to run out and buy a calendar/planner book for you to chart your progress throughout the new year. I do this religiously every year, and have been doing so for most of my adult life. Keeping records and tracking progress has been instrumental in keeping a positive outlook, and propelled me further on the path of success, keeping miles ahead of The Marching Morons.

There are many people in media who keep informing us about how terrible the US financial markets were in 2018, and how 2018 was the worst year for the market in eleven years, and that is was the worst December since The Great Depression of 1931. Yes, I too reported a SLIGHT loss in my net-worth for 2018. (4.7%) If I offset my loss by my gains of the last decade, it is nearly non-existent, a mere pittance. So tell me Great Kreskin, what does 2018 predict for 2019?  Only a fool would bet against the mighty economy of this country.

How do you eat an elephant?

The elephant is the largest animal on land. There’s an old saying. ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is ‘One bite at a time’ . Sometime we have grand ambitions and lofty goals. The key to accomplishing these lay in proper planning and by breaking down the larger parts of the goal into smaller, more manageable sub-goals. The original task in its entirety may seem overwhelming, but by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable jobs, you can slowly accomplish the big picture, while bolstered by noticeable progress as you tick-off boxes on your to-do list. Again, as this is THE FIRST WEEK OF 2019, There is still time to plan out your goals and sub-goals by week, month, and quarter. You have an entire new year to improve various aspects of your life. Some goals can be worked on simultaneously, as they may complement one another if done in tandem. One example of tandem goals is the two-fold goal of eating healthier, and exercising. Both work best when done together. When you complete your goals, mark then down. Successful people work from lists and write things down! Don’t be afraid to start small, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The most important part is to START. Just keep your goals clear and measurable, and write them down. Set reminders on your phone or calendar planner book. Enlist the help of friends as ‘accountability buddies’ if you need to. Begin at the beginning, and repeat to completion! You got this in the bag!

Which way to the front?

We were all newbies once, so we’ve all experienced the uncertainty of where to begin. Here’s a few self-improvement suggestions for helping to jog your journey to a ‘new and improved’ you.

  • Drink a liter of water every day, and eliminate soda. (water good, soda bad!)
  • Exercise.
  • Cut out meat for one meal a week. (Better yet, become a vegetarian like me)
  • Eat a cup of veggies at lunch and dinner.
  • Go to bed before 10 P.M. (Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.)
  • Start a budget
  • STOP USING YOUR CREDIT CARDS! (Go cash only, if possible.)
  • Save 20% of every paycheck.
  • Take ‘The 52-week Challenge’!
  • Get 30 minutes of ‘ME-TIME’ every day.
  • KILL YOUR TELEVISION
  • Limit internet/social media usage.
  • Discover a podcast
  • Read one chapter of a book 3 times a week.
  • Read the Bible. (God is good, always!)

Start today, and before you know it, you’ll have developed good habits that will eventually add up to a fresh new you! As always I wish you success and happiness!  

Fruitcake! Oh, you shouldn’t have!

Making the case for giftcards.

Fruitcake

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year according to numerous cards, songs, and movies. For some people the holidays are filled with stress as they obsess over various topics some of which are related to the practice of gift giving. ‘Tis the season to go broke for many people who go way over-budget on holiday spending. Unfortunately, many times we  end up giving some people on our lists ‘the perfect gift’ which ends up being something they wouldn’t have purchased for themselves ever, even if it was on sale 95% off, and they had just received a huge Christmas bonus in their paycheck.  Everyone has different tastes, and some people are just impossible to buy presents for.

To top it all off, It’s probably also impossible to get gifts for our entire family, as well as every friend you know.  So we agonize over who gets a gift and who doesn’t.

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!”

In the 1983 film ‘A Christmas Story’, a young boy named Ralphie obsesses over the only gift he wants for Christmas, a Red Rider BB gun. Everyone he tells this to, including the mall Santa, admonishes him that he’ll shoot his eye out.  It’s a silly movie, and a little fun. I’ve watched it and at least one cable channel TNT shows the movie on a continuous loop each Christmas, but it’s no ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. Now life seen through the eyes of a child are very different from the view of an adult. When we were kids, our parents were probably the only ones who knew what we wanted for Christmas, and as children our lives were over if ‘Santa’ failed to deliverer the coveted item. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a spoiled brat as a child and cried when I got sensible presents like socks and a warm coat. Now as a grown up, I want what ‘I want’, and sometimes I get an undesirable gift. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world.

The gift that keeps getting given.

One ‘option’ that we as adults have adopted to deal with the unwelcome gift is the practice of ‘re-gifting’. Re-gifting in and of itself is not a  bad thing, but it can backfire. Whenever you re-gift, make sure it’s not in the same circle of friends, and NEVER EVER EVER re-gift  within your family. You don’t want to give the fruitcake ‘Aunt Francis’ gave you, to ‘Uncle Billy’.  Also make absolutely certain that there is no tag or personal note anywhere in the gift that identifies it as a ‘re-gift’. Think of these ‘twice-given’ gifts as recycling, and as a way of being thrifty. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t appreciate it.  If it’s something that you absolutely ‘hate’ keep in mind that re-gifting a despised item may elicit the same reaction in the receiver as it did you. If they in turn re-gift the gift, it might end up coming back to haunt you, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, or that infamous  fruitcake that seems to be the same fruitcake that has been around, and around, and around.  

Paper or plastic?

Cash is king, but some people still think of cash as an impersonal gift. Sticking bills in a envelope is probably the easiest gift you can wrap. The other option is the gift card. Like cash, a gift card enables you to give a gift that the recipient ACTUALLY wants, as opposed to what you think would be perfect for them. Gift cards have come a long way from the days of the paper gift certificate.  Some of today’s gift cards (BUT NOT ALL) can even be purchased by credit card. Some gift cards are VISA/Mastercard ‘money cards’ and are good at any merchant. Store cards are good only at that store. You can’t use a Burger King gift card at McDonald’s.  As a result gift cards are now the most popular Christmas gifts among adults, and are also the most easily ‘re-giftable’ gift, second only to cash.  

Children don’t understand the economics of Christmas. For them, it’s all about the toys. For adults, it not about what’s under the tree, it’s who is around it that really matters. Money is a renewable resource, but people are  finite and when we’re gone, we are gone.   So as we head into the final days of the Christmas season, keep it simple and remember that it’s the thought that counts. As always, I wish you success and happiness!