All posts by Stephen

Just some guy on the internet

Changing My Diet

Starting in January of this year, I made an effort to eat less carbohydrates with the hope of losing weight. For a few months I mostly just limited the big carbs such as bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. I must confess that I wasn’t very strict but still lost about 10 pounds.

My wife, Barbara, was also going “low carb” but she was focusing on getting into ketosis. I measured the ketones a few times, using the urine ketone strips, but didn’t see a color change and concluded that this ketosis stuff didn’t work for me.

During this time Barbara was also measuring her morning blood glucose. One day I decided to measure mine and was shocked to see a number above 140 mg/dl, a number suggesting I had diabetes! This was the wake up call I needed to start doing more research and changing my lifestyle.

I started recording my carbohydrate intake and cutting it to less than 20g/day. I soon found that the low carb diet I thought I was on was not low enough. I was probably eating between 50-100g/day.

After a week on my new very low carb diet, I achieved a low level of ketones.

It has now been about 5 weeks now and I am still keeping the carbs below 20 grams and trying to get 80% of my calories from fat. I’ve lost an additional 8 pounds (from 222 to 214 pounds)! But more importantly, I have a much better understanding of nutrition and metabolism than I did a month ago.

I hope to continue this new low carb high fat lifestyle and to post about my progress and share information along the way.

Snow storms and travel bans

Sitting home today because of the New England weather. We received somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 feet of snow in the last 24 hrs and everything is closed. In fact the governor declared a state of emergency and imposed a travel ban for everyone except essential personnel; snow removal equipment drivers, medical personnel, etc.

In today’s case in the Boston area, staying off the roads was a smart move, but these government imposed travel bans seem to be more frequent and may be conditioning us to ask permission before traveling.

In days past it would have been up to the individual and the road owner to decide if it was safe to travel. Travel is generally accepted as a right. One should be free to travel where he/she chooses as long as he doesn’t trespass on another’s property or violate anyone else’s rights. Is the right to travel becoming “travel is privilege?”

But in an age when the State has a monopoly on road ownership they can restrict travel at will. I suppose you could argue that they were only restricting motor vehicle operation and one could, if he choose, walk or ride a horse on the road. But I’m not even sure that would have been allowed.

While it is probably not worth worrying about, it seems like these travel bans could be a form of conditioning. What sort of future emergencies might be excuses for banning travel? Civil unrest, false flag terrorist attacks, or just the threat of an attack of some sort?

Freedom doesn’t mean we will always be safe from all dangers, it means we are free to weight the risks and rewards for ourselves and choose our own action.

Massachusetts minimum wage increase

The commonwealth of Massachusetts raised the legal hourly wage that an employer can pay his/her employees on the first of this month. Whereas it had been $8 per hour the new minimum is $9.
This may sound like a great deal for marginal employees but is it?
As an employer and small business owner that is making less than minimum wage as I struggle to grow my business I have a different perspective.
While I was paying my few employees a little more than the minimum last week, now I’m only paying the minimum legal wage. Next January the minimum wage will be raised again to $10/hr and in 2017 it is to be raised again to $11/hr.
Hopefully my business will still be around in 2017 and I’ll be forced to deal with the wage issue the best I can. Suppose I’ll have to raise prices or cut back hours. And forget hiring a high school student looking for a first job.

10 ideas – ways to cut overhead

Exercising my “idea muscle”. Ten ways I might be able to reduce overhead at my store.

1. Under-staff on most days and have extra labor only when we get behind
2. Cancel that store cell phone we don’t use.
3. Reduce animal inventory even more to cut down on labor, towels, electricity. food, etc.
4. Move to a cheaper location.
5. Seal the windows to be more energy efficient.
6. Charge employees for water bottles.*
7. Get rid of the live plants.
8. Shop around for cheaper insurance.
9. Stop taking in people’s unwanted animals.
10. Find better deals on deli cups, towels, etc.

These are just items that came to mind.
* Some are not very great ideas.

Is email dead?

Email is no longer useful. I get dozens of emails a day but almost none are even opened or noticed at all. Most are commercial updates and social media updates. I almost never get a personal communication.

Just clicked the email icon on the iPhone and 53 messages downloaded, I scanned them and there was a reminder about an appointment with our kitchen remodel contractor and a reminder to make an appointment at the eye doctor. The rest will never get read or even looked at. And I’ll just ask my wife to remind me about the appointment with the contractor and I may or may not make an eye appointment.

I really think I could just ignore the email and never miss anything important ever again.

Ebola Concerns

With all the news about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa it is hard not to be concerned. But how worried should we be?

The virus is highly infectious, as little a 10 virus particles are needed to infect a host. However, the virus is not easily transmitted. It does not survive on surfaces very long, unlike the common cold and flu viruses. Ebola is not particularly a respiratory ailment, so it is unclear if it is spread by coughing, but the general feeling is that it isn’t.

Ebola is mostly transmitted to the patient’s caregiver. Even in Africa where the disease is having its biggest impact, children that are not caring for the patient are not often infected. So unless you are in direct contact with an infected individual you really should not be too concerned with getting sick and dying.

So why is there so much hysteria around this virus in North America? Mostly because the news media is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. They need to keep people on the edge and addicted to the news reports so they sensationalize the situation.

There are easily a dozen things that are more worthy of our worry than the spread of ebola, but that is another post.

Stay safe.

The secret to creativity

Lately I’ve been feeling like I need another creative outlet. Haven’t really felt like writing though. Maybe this explains my lack of posts.

Today I went to Michael’s, the craft store, and bought some modeling clay. Started kneading it around and trying to shape it into things. Not really making anything in particular. The lump of clay started to look like a stump and then it became a human head shaped stump.

I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing with my hands. Started listening to a podcast and the host made a comment about creativity. He said that to be really creative you need to stop “self observation.” If you are looking at yourself and observing why you are doing what you are, you can’t be your creative best. You just have to create.

Anyway, I found it very profound considering that I was trying to fill a creative void in my life at the time.

Set backs don’t have to define you

I like to start out my day by reading something motivational or watching a positive video on YouTube. One YouTube channel I subscribe to is Eric Worre’s. Eric describes himself as a network marketing pro and offers positive advice for others that choose this profession.

Today Eric’s video was about not letting drama define you. We all experience set backs in our life and they are bound to have a negative effect (or is it affect, I can never remember) on our life. The trick is to not let the negative event and the drama surrounding it get in the way of living the life want for ourselves, and deserve.

We all know those people that have let some drama define them. I remember a work associate that went through a divorce. He went from being a positive, fun person, to being all about how his wife betrayed him, stabbed him in the back, etc. It seemed that every conversation became about how he was a victim. He let the drama surrounding the breakup of his marriage define him. He became Larry the divorced guy.

As Eric says we can become the victim or the victor, it is how we decide to let the drama influence us. I know it isn’t always easy to forgive, and move on. In fact a lot of times we like to feel sorry for ourselves and want others pity/attention, but it does us no good.

We only have this one life and it is too short to let drama rule it. Take a good look at your life and identify one drama that you are clinging on to. It is in the past, there is nothing you can do about it except learn from the experience and be a better person.

Hope you found this useful. Peace.