Month: July 2014

The World Is Getting Better

I like to read websites and magazines that forecast gloom and doom. I would like to know what dark possibilities are there in our future. I just read them. I don’t treat them like gospel because for some the element of fear makes their websites or publications popular. And we shouldn’t live in fear…

Last week I happened to watch a video titled “Don’t Panic, The Truth about Population”. It was a video by Professor Hans Rosling, a statistician and a medical doctor. He gave a very enlightening presentation about how we should look at our future.

Quick Question: How many people in world are literate? 30%? 50% 60%

Most people surveyed gave very low percentages, even college students that were considered intellectuals.

So, what is it?

Wait for it…..

How about 80%?

Surprising, huh? The best thing is that this video is based on facts which the professor and his assistants thoroughly researched. He even has a graph and “bubbles” which represented countries to show that statistics can be an interesting subject if presented with zeal.

Another concern of a lot of popular personalities is overpopulation. Are we getting overpopulated? The truth is with seven billion people in the planet all can fit in the state of Texas with 1,000 square feet each of space. This wasn’t in the video but I thought I’d bring it up.

The fact is most families today are opting for two or fewer children. Gone are the days when families in “underdeveloped” countries have six or more families. Yes, there are still poor countries whose families give birth to six or more but family planning is slowly but surely getting adopted by the local population.

He’s projecting that we’ll reach about 11 billion peak population, but after that we will see a decline because of a new mindset about having smaller families.

Another thing that was discussed was life spans. It seems that people are living longer today than 50 years ago in many countries. The average income for most of the countries that are not considered “first world” have been increasing also.

Yes, we live long and prosper nowadays.

So that is something to take into consideration. So even with a bad economy, high unemployment, wars and revolts, price of goods skyrocketing – the population in the whole world as a whole are steadily experiencing progress in all fronts.

There are still widespread myths that the rest of the world (other than the wealthy countries) lives miserable existence and that the  poor countries are getting poorer. But statistics (and real facts) contradict that.

Yes, there’s a brighter future ahead of us, so enjoy life and don’t be miserable.

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The Tough Gets Going

These days I think I’ve been too spoiled by comfort and the “luxury” of equipments, technology and services available (at cost of course). I remember a few decades ago when I was driving a new pick up truck without power steering, no radio, no power windows and power doors and a four-speed manual transmission.

It was exactly the truck that I wanted to order to save money. The salesman even quipped “would you like tires to go with it?”

Nowadays, I don’t think I’ll find that kind of vehicle again unless I buy a model that’s at least 20 years old. Despite the technology and luxurious appointments of today’s vehicles, I still miss the simplicity of that old truck (I won’t give you the brand but it was made in Japan).

In this day and age, huge trucks are used for commuting long distances, hauling a light surfboard, a bicycle or two and the occasional groceries. And oh yeah, the 20-pound baby. These trucks are equipped with electronic marvels that are unheard of as early as ten years ago. Back up cameras? GPS and safety features only recognizable by their initials: ABS, VSC, EBD and about a dozen air bags. 

About 3 years before I got that truck, I was riding a $150 road bicycle to and from work. My apartment was only five miles from work but I ride it in all kinds of weather and even at almost midnight when I get off duty. It was invigorating to ride to work and the trip home served as a wind down activity after a stressful work day.

Just last weekend, I was shocked to notice that mountain bikes were priced from $4,000 – $8,000. They have sophisticated front (and sometimes rear) suspension aimed at giving comfort to ride on trails. Disc brakes that supposedly stops on a dime, and 30-speed gearing to choose from. The irony is they are driven in cars, trucks or SUV (instead of being ridden) just to hit the trails on weekends. 

When my wife found one of her first jobs in the U.S., we can only afford one car, barely. So in the morning, she drops me off to work 11 miles away around 6 am. Then in the afternoon she picks me up so I can drive her to her second job where she works until midnight. Just before 11:30 pm,I wake up my two small children (they’re below 10 years of age so legally they can’t be left alone), put them half-asleep in the car to pick up my wife from work. Then we repeat the process again the next day.

These days, it’s not unnatural for a three-person household to have three or four cars, even if they are all financed on borrowed money for as much as eight years. 

Over the years, due to a slight increase in our family finances, we were able to buy more “comfortable” vehicles, and travel to “exotic” places and stay in “luxurious” hotels. It was accompanied by an increase in weight and a very unhealthy daily diet.

Early this year, my wife and I were discussing that we need to get back to the time when our daily lives were characterized by toughness. At one point, she even worked three jobs because my navy pay was not enough for our daily needs. Now, that is toughness personified!

We are at present assessing how, when and where we can practice spartan living again just like the old days. We always tell ourselves that if we come to a survival situation, we have to be still tough enough (as opposed to luxuriously comfortable) to better deal with real-life hardships.

When the going gets tough…… You know the next phrase already!

 

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Water, Water, Every Where

The Earth is full of water. Did you know that 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water? The oceans hold about 96.5% of all the water on Earth. Did you know that water also exists in air – in vapor form, in the soil in liquid and sometimes in solid form?

The vast majority of water then is salt water. About 96% or about 321,000,000 cubic miles. The rest of fresh water may be found in lakes, rivers, aquifers, swamps and deep in the ground. From this 4% comes most of the water that we use daily for bathing, washing and drinking.

Freshwater are also stored in glaciers around the polar caps and in Greenland. It also exist within plants and bodies of animals. I submit to you that the most important storage of water are in our bodies.

A 2% drop in body water can contribute to a fuzzy short-term memory loss and make it difficult to do simple mathematical computations or concentrating at work. So forget about the excuse that “we probably are getting older that’s why our brain is not working well”. Drink more water and get rid of that issue.

Sometimes we think we are hungry. In reality, we are just thirsty. By drinking water, we get rid of the hunger pang and also give our bodies a cleansing.

There was also a study in which they found out that joint pain can be reduced by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

Any other beverage can never be a substitute for water. Soda adds caffeine and sugar into our body further increasing dehydration. Coffee is a diuretic which gets rid of the water in our body. If you must drink something, it’s gotta be water.

Some benefits of water include:

-Weight loss enabler – by drinking a calorie free liquid nutrient, we maintain or lose weight when partnered with regular exercise

-Energizes muscles – your muscles experience fatigue when they are deficient in water. The muscle cells shrivel so they don’t work well and performance suffers.

-Skin enhancer – your skin would look way better if they are hydrated at all times. All the beauty creams in the world would be useless if you don’t drink enough water.

-It helps your digestive and circulatory systems eliminate all the body waste and toxins making your organs healthy and at their optimum performance. There are many benefits to keeping yourself hydrated at all times.

According to survival experts, you can last 3 weeks (possibly more) without food but only 3 days without water. There may be a few exceptions but exceptions means there’s very few of them.

So, drink up, folks! I myself is getting thirsty from all this talk about water.

(My sources of water facts for this post is usgs.gov, webmd.com and the book “Wisdom for Life” book sold at amazingfacts.org)

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No On Credit

One of the secrets of having a wealthy life is to preserve your wealth. One of the ways of preserving your wealth is to be frugal. One of the ways of being frugal is to avoid debt at all cost.

Practically speaking, debt is okay if you own a business. For example, if you borrowed at 7% interest because you know you will have a net profit of 21% or more from your business, then it’s OK to borrow. Other things like cars and homes can be exceptions too, because it will be very hard for some of us to buy cars and homes because we don’t have that much cash with us but we need the item now or if buying a residence is the practical (not emotional) decision.

Sometimes car companies offer 0% financing (here in the U.S of A) for 60 months. That is a good deal if that is the car you are desiring. The technique is to always pay ahead of the monthly deadline otherwise they may instantly charge you a very high interest on your original loan principal.

For home buying, it is best not to overbuy. During the peak of the housing boom just a few years ago, people were buying $800,000-1,100,000 million homes with an annual income of less than $80,000 (gross, after taxes they take home about $60,000). Many of them were foreclosed. Their down payment is forever gone.

Monitoring and improving your credit score enables you get lower interest rates for homes, car loans and any other consumer loans. It may also improve your chances of employment or the prestige of your small business.

A few tips on enhancing your credit score:

-Do not co-sign for anybody.

-Do not have too many open credit cards.

-Do pay on time.

-Do not max out your credit card balances.

Emergencies are a good reason to use your credit card or credit line. It’s gotta be a real emergency, not a perceived emergency generated by lust.

Now that we have discussed the possible exceptions, let’s focus on saying NO to credit.

Do not use your credit line or credit cards to purchase unnecessary things like jewelry, ATVs, jet skis, bicycles. If you have to borrow money to acquire those things, that means you cannot afford it.

What?

Yes, the best way to buy consumer goods that are not “needs”, but “wants” is to buy them cash. Or use your credit card but pay it in full when the bill comes in.

It’s a great feeling to save up for something. Then when you have the cash, you go to the store and get it. It almost feel euphoric that you waited a few weeks or months to get something you really like. There’s a feeling of accomplishment.

If the item is no longer available, then it wasn’t really for you.

Note: If you really want something but want to pay for it in cash, ask the store to put it in layaway. They would set it aside, then you pay for it every few weeks or so until you pay it in full, then you can take home the item.

Paying in cash makes you realize that once you spend that money, your wallet has now less cash in it. That means you have to start saving for the next want. With credit card, it’s hard to see it because the act of swiping your credit card doesn’t necessarily tell you that you are spending your bank account. Unless you’re one of the very rare people who check their credit card account every night. I know only one person who does that.

So in summary, if you want to prosper, curb your spending. You don’t need all those consumer goods anyway. You have to realize that we are living in an era of the most heavily advertised population in the world.

But you don’t have to follow their propaganda. You have a choice. Daily.

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What? No Bread?

Have you tried losing weight lately? I have been trying to lose weight not only lately but for several decades now. Seems that the advancement in age is directly proportional to weight gain. Do you agree?

Did you know that if you weigh really heavy, say 400 lbs – it is easier to lose 50 lbs than the last 5 lbs if you weigh 170?

What seems to be the culprit?

In a word, carbohydrates. Specifically, simple and complex carbohydrates. And what’s the number one source of carbohydrates? pasta? rice? whole grains? or the less glamorous bread?

Again, I want to let you know first that I am not a nutritionist. So be careful on following what I am about to divulge here, because you never know… you might start losing weight!

Seriously, work with your doctor if you change your diet. You need to be under the care of a medical professional to go on a diet that will affect your overall health.

A few years ago, I read a book and several articles and blogposts about how to lose weight without going on a crazy diet. The one thing I tried is eating meat or fish (not too much), vegetables, very little fruit (they are carbo carriers too) for several days. By the end of the week I found out I could lose 2 to 3 lbs.

The problem is on the weekends I switch back to eating a regular meals and any type of food. Even if I eat moderately I still gain 2 to 3 lbs by late Sunday. So it’s a see saw battle.

I also avoided eating bread. I also eliminated rice and pasta but the main thing is bread. What’s the negative vibes of bread, you ask?

It puts carbohydrates in your body and spikes your blood sugar. So does regular soft drinks but hey, this is about bread. It also spikes your insulin and you go on a roller coaster of high blood sugar level to low blood sugar level which promotes overeating and cravings.

Bread has gluten. If you are allergic to gluten or has celiac disease, anything that has gluten should be avoided. Basically, the only grains you can eat are millet, quinoa and buckwheat.

Commercial breads are full of other materials that are not good for us, including preservatives and other additives to make it more appealing.

Most grains also contain phytic acid, which binds essential molecules such as zinc, calcium or iron. Phytic acid makes them harder to be absorbed by the body. Even whole wheat bread is only slightly better than refined starch bread or white bread.

Wheat fiber may cause your body to burn its Vitamin D supplies faster contributing to a Vitamin D deficiency which is known to be associated with diabetes and cancer.

If you decide to eat less bread, you have to eat less of cereal, pasta, rice and other whole grains too because it would still give you unnecessary carbo which your body will store as fat if unused.

I noticed that I get slimmer in my waistline when I avoided bread. I also felt more energized and able to think clearly even in the early afternoon because my blood sugar is not spiking up and receding every few hours.

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