Launching a new obsession

(and helping those who want more time for theirs)

For everybody who has kids, busy lives, jobs with long hours, long commutes, and no time, I feel you.  This post is all about doing something you always wanted to do, but don’t think you have time for.

I feel like I have almost no time.  That’s not really true, but it sure feels that way.  I’m not writing as much as usual, reading or doing art as much either.  That’s because my new job is taking more time and energy and I want to get my new career off to a good start.  Yet, time slips by as it will and I re-prioritize.

Now, with all that said, why is it that I’m buying an electric guitar so I can learn to play it?  Because I want to.  I really, really want to.  Hearing live guitar just gives me a thrill that little compares to, and it’s high time I do something about this interest.

But I have that little time problem.  Here’s what I’ve done, maybe it will help you.

Steps to making more time in your life

Tally up all the ways you spend your time.  Recreation, work, eating, commuting, resting, etc.  You don’t have to write this down, but maybe think it over during a commute, a morning shower, or a quiet meal.

Prioritize your activities.  Start with the non-negotiables and work your way down.  Don’t forget sleep and exercise.  Often, those are sacrificed for other things that really aren’t as important.

Reduce what’s least important.  Recreation is important.  Even so, maybe those two hours of TV could be reduced to one, or maybe there’s a website that is a total time-suck that could be eliminated.  Knowing yourself and your behaviors will really help here.  Remember, you aren’t really giving things up, you’re making room so you can enrich your life.

What you can’t reduce, combine.  Deep knee bends when brushing your teeth.  Meditation when falling asleep.  Reading books or drawing during lunch breaks.  Listening to music in the shower.  You could label everything in the house in a foreign language, so you practice as you go about your routine.  Get crazy with it!

What you can’t reduce or eliminate, make more efficient.  For example, if you spend twenty minutes going out to get lunch at work, spend an hour on the weekend packing up five lunches for yourself.  That way you can grab and go, and use that lunch period to do something else.  It saves money, too, and the lunches might be better for you.  Or lay out your clothes before bed so you don’t have to fumble in the morning.  Little things can really add up.

Staying a little more organized (having a place to put everything) has saved me a whole lot of time – I don’t waste it trying to find stuff.

Now that you’ve eked out a bit more time, figure out what you really want to do more of.  Then break it down into bite sized pieces.  If you’re learning a language, try for a word at a time.  If you’re reading a book, you could read a few pages here and there.  If writing, it’s a little harder but similar.  If you want to exercise, you could design mini work outs.

Finally, put it all together.  Fit your bits of progress in wherever you can – work out when watching TV, read audio books when driving, write during breakfast, or whatever works for you.  You can definitely find time to do things, but it takes drive and creativity!  The great feelings of accomplishment are more than worth the effort, and you’ll feel more fulfilled as a person.  As a bonus, lifelong learning helps keep the brain healthy and staves off depression.

My own example

I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t have the same problem!  I have a full time job, a half hour commute, time with the spouse, time doing housework, taking care of the ever demanding cat, shopping, doing errands, and internet time.

Some things are non negotiable, like work, sleeping, spouse, eating, errands, commute.  But I realized I could cut the net time down a bit.  I’ve wanted to learn to play guitar for a really long time, it’s on my “bucket list,” and I want to get to it while my fingers are still limber.  Besides, I found a beginner’s guitar kit for under a hundred bucks, which is way less than I thought I’d find one for.  So I can cut back online gaming by a half hour and slide the guitar right in that spot.  I can also use odd moments to watch YouTube lessons and read up on music theory.  I can do this without sacrificing (much) on blogging and the other things I need to do.  Mine is a simple case because I don’t have kids, but this system will work for almost anyone.  Still, I already feel more at peace because I know I’m doing one more thing I always wanted to try, instead of waiting till the right time comes.

Instead of waiting for the right time, I’m making the right time.

Happy living!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/launch/

A Glorious way to dispel darkness – and muggers.

The days are getting shorter again.

Do you sometimes feel unsafe at night, or have to go through dangerous areas in the dark?  Do you want something to help protect you, but don’t want to have to deal with pepper spray, mace, or a weapon?  Would you like more options if you are ever attacked?

There’s a simple tool that is not only good for all those things, but is just handy to have for other reasons.  Best of all, you can take them anywhere, even into banks and office buildings!

I’m talking about a tactical flashlight.

You’re walking to your car after a hard day at work.  Your eyes are a bit bleary, your back hurts, and all you can think about is your favorite Netflix show that’s waiting for you at home.

You hear a sound from between a couple of cars.  Someone is there!

The light in the parking lot is bad – maintenance still hasn’t gotten to it.  But you know you aren’t alone.

Is Brad, the creep who kept texting his undying love even after you told him “not jus tno, but hell no” and blocked him?  Or is it the robber you’ve heard about at break, the one who’s been trying to get into cars?  Or is it just a buddy, trying to freak you out?

You don’t know.

Something jumped out of the dark at you.  You turn, bring your hand up.  Your thumb flicks the button at the base of your tiny flashlight, its intense beam pierces the night…

…revealing a stranger’s face, who is now bringing his hands up to shield his eyes from the blinding light.  You hear the clank as something heavy, maybe a tire iron?  hits the ground.  Taking advantage of the sudden distraction, you run back to the building, to call the police or maybe that tough chick who’s always well armed.

Tactical flashlights come in small versions, pocket sized, often with specially reinforced bezels so you can use them to make strikes if the bright flash of light isn’t enough to help you escape.

Look for one with 400 lumens or better Mine has different settings so you don’t use up the battery very fast if you don’t need the ultra-bright setting.  I like it a lot, it’s made by Fenixfire.  I bought it on sale of course but have been very pleased.  It looks kind of cool and lightsaber-y.

Whatever your choice in flashlight brands, look for a flashlight that is either rechargeable or uses rechargable batteries.  Immediately reject anything that uses AA or AAA batteries.  It won’t be powerful enough.  The kind that these flashlights use can be expensive, better to be able to recharge them.

Look for a flashlight that has a button on the tail cap rather than on the side.  If you are going to use it as a striking tool, this will come in handy.  Also avoid glass lenses unless they are tempered.  Also, if you ant something small, do your internet searching with the keyword “EDC.”  EDC, or EveryDay Carry flashlights have to be tiny and robust.

Here is an article all about tactical flashlights.  The most important thing is to note that you need to be prepared to move quickly.  Even the brightest light won’t hinder an attacker for long, you need to get out of the situation or fight back as quickly as possible.  However, a small, powerful flashlight can get you out of more than one sticky situation without permanently harming anyone…

… and they can be great to find things in the dark, too.

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/glorious

Easy Tips to Prepare for Disaster

“When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, don’t forget your kitty…”

As if I ever would.  This fluffy girl is my best four footed friend, just as my wife is my two footed best friend.

However, by making a bed of an empty box, she’s also reminding me I need to restock!  When maintaining a good supply of food, whether for daily use or long term storage, it’s good to rotate your stocks periodically and also check for old or spoiled food.  I just had to get rid of about fifteen pounds of rice because there were weevils all through it.

Easy tips for long term food storage:

Plastic Buckets are your friends.  Sometimes grocery stores and fast food restaurants give them away, or you can buy them at the hardware store.  They are great for wheat, rice, beans, and smaller bags with other items.  They are stackable for storage in small closets and usually quite sturdy.

Dry Ice works well with your buckets for storing food.  Fill the bucket with dry goods, then place a piece of dry ice on top and tamp the lid shut.  The carbon dioxide will help repel bugs and keep things from spoiling.

Powdered cinnamon repels some insects.  I sprinkle some around the floor of the pantry to help keep bugs away from the cat food and other dry goods.  Diatomaceous Earth is also nontoxic and can be used for the same purpose.

Gallon water bottles are a fairly economical way to buy emergency water.  I buy the Glacier Springs bottles for a dollar or less apiece and then just never open them.  That way the water won’t go bad very quickly because it’s factory sealed in a sanitized bottle.

Don’t forget the spices.  If you have to live off your stockpiles of beans and rice, spices will be your best friend.  Get those pound and half pound giant containers when you see them on sale then store them unopened.

Rotate your stock.  If the cans or bags are getting too old, start using them and buy new ones to replace them.  That way everything is relatively fresh and you don’t have to buy a bunch of things at once.

Grab energy bars when they are on mark down.  They make great emergency food – highly portable, and usually with added vitamins.  I just found a bunch of Atkins bars for a cheap price so I put some in storage and others I’m using for my work lunches.

Watch for Sales.  When you see something that is being sold cheaply, such as cans of tuna, canned chicken, sardines, beans, or rice, buy a little extra and store it.  Even a few dollars spent here and there can really add up over time.

Check your medical supplies.  Make sure tape isn’t getting gummed together, there are no rips in gauze packages, and swap out your antibiotic ointment and other perishables every year or so.  Aspirin can easily last for five or ten years, and things like betadyne and rubbing alcohol will be fine too, but creams, lotions, gel caps, and other such things need to be replaced periodically.

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Everybody should be prepared for an emergency, whether it’s a kid getting a nasty bruise, a mis-routed pay check, or a natural disaster.  Having a pantry full of food and supplies will give you some much needed peace of mind.

via Daily Prompt: Casual

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/casual/

Job Interview Revelations

As I go higher into the corporate ranks, I learn that the interview process becomes both longer and less certain.

No longer do I see the exact pay they are offering, they are vague about it till the actual job offer comes.  I have to go through more interviews.  Sometimes I don’t even know where the job is until I get fairly far into the interview process.  Also, I don’t even know if they are passing me farther into the process, except by subtle cues!  However, this is the best way to be paid more, especially if you are currently working in entry level customer service and want to get a better job.

Tips and Revelations to get you through Corporate Interviews:

The people hiring you often want to hire you as much as you want to be hired by them.  Your job is to make them see you’ll be a good person to work with.  So be personable and try to relax as much you can while staying professional.

If you get to the interview and they are already talking about dress code, corporate culture, travel requirements, and where the company is going in the next year or so, that’s a very good sign.  They are interested in you.

It’s especially good if you can get them laughing a bit!  Smiles are good to see.  Keep a gently cheerful expression on your face.  A good thing to do during the wait before the interview is a little deep breathing.  Think about cheerful things that always make you smile.

It’s a bit stressful for the interviewer too, they are just as human as you are.  That’s the number one reason not to be too nervous.

Do a little research on the company – glassdoor.com is pretty good for this – so you know how much salary to ask for in your area.

Wear a conversation piece with your interview clothes.  For instance, I wore a black skirt, black blouse, royal purple jacket, and a simple pendant.  However, the pendant was a piece of opal that grew inside quartz and is captured in a silver setting.  So even though it was understated, it was interesting, and has helped people remember me.  Simple and classic clothes are best whether you’re a man or a woman.

Stand up straight, look people in the eye, and act like you are comfortable there.  Don’t be informal but at the same time tell yourself “I belong here.  I will work here.”  It helps.

I am writing these tips because I have just gotten through several successful interviews and have gotten myself a $3.50 an hour raise with at least three companies wanting me to work for them.  If you have other tips for potential interviews, post them here!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/revelation/

It’s Prudent to prepare

Disaster preparedness is not something to be ashamed of. It’s just good thinking.

When I read comments about being prepared for a natural disaster, I often see traces of embarrassment or defensiveness inherent in the message. I think this happens because it is so easy to be labeled an “extremist” or a “radical fringe element” or a “prepper” or a “survivalist.”

Shouldn’t we all be “survivalists?” That is, shouldn’t we all be focused on survival? Independent of rogue government elements, market collapse, alien invasion, rogue six legged GMO cows from the secret Monsanto corn mazes, or whatever, there are still the age old concerns of famine, fire, and flood. It’s only smart to have some stored food, some medical supplies, some survival skills, and some tools. It’s really, really naive to just assume that the mechanism of modern society will keep ticking on, despite all ravages of earthquake, blackout, tornado, ice storm, blocked road, or vicissitude of human stupidity.

It doesn’t have to take much. Some sealed gallons of water. Some cans of tuna or the ever popular beans. An extra month of medications.  Pet food.  Rechargeable LED flashlights. A few extra blankets.  A sturdy knife.  A first aid kit and a little basic training. You can work up from there, but even a little bit of preparation could mean the difference between life and death, comfort and hardship. It pays to know how to build a fire, clean a wound, cook over an open flame, where it is safe to use fire and where it is not, how to purify water, how to keep warm without heat, how to change a tire, how to light your way at night.

Training such as this has quite literally saved my life and it wasn’t hard to acquire. You never know when you may have to boil a pot of beans or know how to keep your water clean!

via Daily Prompt: Prudent

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/prudent/

For the Craft of Life – keep a good knife

Everyone needs a good knife. 

The knife is one of our oldest and most useful tools. The only tool older is the hammer, which originally became the knife when the rock being used as a hammer split into a sharp edge. With a knife and the right skills, you can rebuild society.

I’d be naked without my knife. It’s a very useful tool for daily life. However, there are some pretty strange ideas out there about knives. I’ve talked to people who seem to think I run a terrible risk of cutting myself because I have a knife. It reminds me of the mythical pistol that jumps out of the holster and shoots people on its own. However, this doesn’t happen. A  good knife in a proper sheath is no danger when used properly.

As for those who fear knives instinctively, I think they are thinking symbolically. To them, knife = weapon and weapon = danger, with no thought of how a person might be using the knife, or what they might use it for. However, a good knife is a tool, and a very useful one at that!  It’s a great feeling to be able to help someone or do something for yourself because you already have the proper tool for the job.  There are even times when having something to cut with could save your life.

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This knife could free you from a stuck seatbelt after a car wreck.

What kind of knife?

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A classic.

There are nearly as many kinds of knives as there are knife users. If you are a city dwelling person who likes to dress sharp, a bone or pearl handled penknife would be a classic choice. If you love the outdoors, a sturdy lockback or maybe a sheath knife with a staghorn grip could be good for you. If you’re of a more tactical mindset, there are many varieties of self defense knife out there, including ones that can be carried in wallets or as part of belt buckles. For people who are handy, the venerable Swiss Army knife or Leatherman l might be best. The possibilities are endless. I, myself, wear a neck knife. It hangs on a length of paracord and friction fits into a sheath. It’s unobtrusive but I can slip it inside my shirt if going to a place that doesn’t welcome knives. It’s my best friend when it comes to getting things done around the house, from opening packages to trimming an overgrown shrub.

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This knife is a good, simple companion for hikes.

When picking out a good knife, simplicity is supreme. When starting out, l look for simple designs. Don’t fall for the multi edged fantasy designs, for example – they may look cool but aren’t really good for much, and are often made with poor quality steel. Also, keep in mind that stainless steel can be a lot harder to resharpen. Carbon steel needs a bit more oiling and care, but it’s much better when you want to keep an edge on it. Keep your needs and goals in mind, and let that guide your decision on what kind of a knife to carry.

Below is a great article on choosing a pocket knife.

Every Man Should Carry a Pocket Knife

Safety

It’s easy to stay safe while using a knife, by following just a few simple rules. Because I’ve followed these rules, I’ve only cut myself once in thirty years!  When I did, it was because I broke rule number four.

1. Maintain your Grip.
Make sure your hands and the knife are not slippery. Only use knives with good, solid grips. Don’t use a broken knife or one with a loose grip.

2. Watch your direction.
Cut away from your body. Keep your strokes careful and controlled.

3. Keep it sharp.
A sharp knife is a safe knife. It cuts better and doesn’t slip as much.

4. Use the right knife.
Different knives do different jobs. If you use a flimsy knife to chop wood, you might break yourself or the knife. The time I cut myself, I was trying to use a kitchen knife to carve a name into wood. If I’d used a jackknife or penknife with a strong, sharp point, I would have been fine.

5. Know your laws.
Knife carry laws vary widely state by state and country by country. Know the laws where you are, as well as where you travel to. If you are questioned about a knife you may happen to have, whether by police or private citizen, refer to it as a “tool” or “utility blade” to emphasize the useful qualities and reduce fear.

Knife care

Once you have your knife, you want to keep it around for a long time. Like most quality things in life, a good knife needs care and maintenance. The following articles will help you keep your knife sharp and useful for many years.

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife

How to Sharpen Edged Tools

 

via Daily Prompt: Craft

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/craft/

A Tale of two yogurts: part 2

Soy Milk and Soy Yogurt
I recently found that I could do exactly the same thing with soy milk. I don’t like soy yogurt as well as I like cow or goat yogurt but I’m choosing at this time to stay away from dairy products so here is how I make soy milk.
Ingredients needed:
4 ounces (around a half cup) of raw soy beans.
Look for them at an health food store, co-op or ask a local feed store if they can provide them.
Blender
Sauce pan
Nylon stocking, knee length
You can get them at your grocer’s in boxes of five pairs or something and they’re useful for lots of things. You can even wear them if you want!
Place a half cup of beans into a large bowl or pan and fill with cold tap water. Let stand for at least 8 hours. After this time, drain water off of beans and let that go down the drain or into the flower bed. I use a colander.
Place soaked, drained beans into your blender, fill to near the lip with cold water, put on the lid and process until you have something smooth and relatively thick. Sometimes it takes a while and you may want to use a spatula from time to time (with blender turned off) to move unprocessed chunks toward the bottom of the blender jar.
When you judge it’s done, move your bean slurry off the blender stand, take your magic knee sock and stretch it over the open mouth of the jar. Holding with one hand, tip the jar over your sauce pan. With the other, shake the jar a bit, try to coax all of the slurry down into the stocking.

Remove the sock from the jar and hold the stocking shut, twisting it is good. From here on it’s a process of kneading, gently squeezing the mash within the stocking to get the bean juice out of the pulp. This takes a little while but is sort of transcendental and even a little bit sexy so it can stand in for yoga or meditation or something.
When you have the pulp inside the stocking at a consistency about like homemade salt clay, put the sauce pan on about medium heat and cover. Turn the stocking inside out and dump the bean leavings into a bowl. Now run, go feed that to your chickens. (I did tell you to buy chickens did I not?)
Bring the virgin soy milk to a gentle boil and continue cooking for ten minutes. This will kill off some unwanted organisms and lessen the amount of gas you might experience on drinking the stuff. When done you can pour the now “experienced” soy milk into a jar or pitcher and refrigerate. It’s funny how foamy it is at first.

Should you want to make soy yogurt, cool it to body temperature and follow the yogurt recipe above including the starter. Soy yogurt is good in veggie stroganoff, or mixed with dry onion soup mix as a dip for baked corn chips.
A caveat:

Soy is controversial. It does contain phyto or plant estrogens, chemicals which mimmic the female hormone that some of us manufacture independently. Like regular estrogen, the plant type has been accused of causing certain kinds of cancer and it may contribute to infertility in males. I tell women to use soy or flax seed meal in their bread because it will cause their husbands to talk with them more freely but I’m joking—-mostly. As with everything else, it’s probably best to use soy in moderation. A serving or two per day perhaps.