How do you know that my data is public?
OK - let's clear this up first before we go into what a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is, and how to protect your data by using one.
So how do I know your data is public? Well, I don't know that it is public in the way that this blog is public, but I do know that it could be, and very easily.
How would that happen? Well, it would just take the will of one of the many millions of capable hackers from anywhere in the world. Every day there are breaches of privacy and data that harms innocent users of the Internet. They are able to, once having peered into your stream of data, they can see everything you do, and get information on things like payment information, banking information, all documents, emails, and literally any ingoing or outgoing, sensitive information. This information can be used to do a load of harm, like wiping bank accounts clean, stealing personal identities, and releasing information that could be damaging if made public.
Is there a way to protect my data and browse the Internet privately?
The simple answer is yes, and yes.
And the simple solution is to go buy a VPN service.
What is a VPN (Virtual Private Network), and how does it work?
A VPN is a system that allows your connection to be hidden behind an extremely sophisticated system of encryption. Just like with everything else on the planet, there are good VPN systems, which typically cost more money, and there are bad VPN systems, which can be as low cost as FREE (the FREE ones don't actually work. If you look into this, you will soon discover that this is true).
The ones that work go through the process below where they are in between your device and the Internet, and they go through a process of cloaking your IP address, blocking unwanted connections, and encrypting all data going in, and coming out, which all allows you to browse anonymously, and safely.
Go get one. I won't make any suggestions because I've only tried one. Go out there and do some research. I think you will find that the prices are reasonable, the options are good, and that the benefits make having a VPN very worth trouble and service fees.
The ridiculous rise of Internet talk shows, podcasts, and broadcasted entertainment options for the new generations!
Podcasts, YouTube Channels, Twitch.tv, oh my!
If you don't know what I'm talking about at this point, you've been living under a rock. You need to get a connection to WiFi or 4G wireless as soon as possible, do a search for anything that seems like it might be interesting, and pay attention to the fact that videos and live streaming are absolutely everywhere. It's not just famous people - like Anna Faris on her podcast, or Joe Rogan on his YouTube channel - it's millions of Joe Shmoes who are sharing live experiences while video gaming, playing PokemonGO, cooking the next thing that will also be viewed on their Instagram, or being retweeted on Twitter.
When did this all happen, and what does it mean for people who are afraid of all the change?
Well, first of all, it's important to even understand that this is happening, and it's not going away, unless something happens to where we legally can't do it - which I don't see coming what with all of the money advertisers are also making from all of this.
To answer the first question - it has been happening for a long time, a little over a decade - where people started podcasting, and sharing a lot of recorded videos online. Most of these people were seen as wasting their time, or being outright dangerous for posting on the Internet where they will never be able to retract their statements, or truly take down their content for good. Now, more than a decade later, a lot of people who started back then are rewarded with huge subscriber bases, with 1000s of YouTubers, Podcasters, and individuals on websites like uStream and Twitch, having over 500,000 subscribers, and making tons of money off of their loyal fans.
I think this is the new way of entertainment for people who aren't old or who aren't boring. Let's face it, if you are still paying $100 a month for cable you are either terribly boring, and nobody gives a shit about you, or you are old and you've had a lifetime of watching television that was picked for you, and you are just set in your ways. The only people I know who are 30 and under who have normal cable/satellite subscriptions are people who get it as an added benefit to their HOA or apartment dues. People who are a part of any of the younger generations are subscribing to Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, or none of those and instead subscribing to individual entertainers like the infamous, and annoying as shit, PewDiePie.
All of this is generally great. If nothing changes, we will all be able to find hundreds, if not thousands, of entertainment options all across the web, available at the rate of speed at which we are connected to the Internet (which is pretty fast for most of us), and we won't have to watch anything we don't want - except for the commercials in between. I believe the only people who will have a problem with this will be the cable companies and everybody else in that industry who was desperately clinging to the old Cable TV model, and of course, old people, or people who are boring and can't decide what they want to watch for themselves - but I'm sure the likes of YouTube and Twitch will have a solution, even for them!
When I was growing up, I was not a fat child. I didn't have issues with a poor diet, either. That's not to say that I was a gymnast, or that I never ate McDonalds.
I was lucky enough to eat healthy, made-from-scratch and with love, home cooked meals at least 325 days out of the year.
I'm also lucky that neither my mom or dad are overweight people, so I didn't get any unlucky genes. I was skinny, and pretty much bullet proof until I was about 22 years old. So what happened?
I lacked Discipline
I was eating crap for a long time. By crap I mostly mean foods with a lot of bread or grain, and also stuff that either had lots of sugar already, or lots of ingredients (bread included), that turn into sugar in the body.
I was capable of eating better, so I should have been eating better.
I love cooking and have the time to do it, so I should have been eating better.
I have enough income to buy healthy foods, so I should have been eating better!!
BUT I LACKED DISCIPLINE!!!
It's not that I wasn't aware that every year I was about 5lbs heavier than the year before, or that I had to buy new pants to fit around my fat waist every year either. I started gaining weight at 22, when I was around 185lbs. At 190lbs, I liked the added weight. I was filling in around all the places on my body where I thought I looked feeble.
As I got heavier, my chest got fuller, my legs got very powerful, my arms gained only slightly in size, and everything else looked proportionate and attractive - until one day I put a shirt on and I realized that my belly was poking out. It immediately hit me that I had officially the best case ever of "dad bod", which is just a super nice way say that you're fat, although you used to be in shape, and that if you don't do something soon, you are going to get fatter and it's going to be hard to get back to a non-dad-bod look and feeling.
I was miserable. For the first time I didn't feel good about my physique. For the first time I felt really unhealthy. I realized that I had let myself go.
Eating Better - a Long First Step With ZERO Weight Loss
The first thing I decided to do, since I already liked cooking and knew that I had to change my diet first, was to cook more of my meals. I realized I was missing a lot of tools in the kitchen that I didn't like not having, but I didn't let anything become an excuse. I went out the next day and bought a bunch of stuff I felt I needed. I knew I needed a new chef knife, so I went to Costco and bought a 2-pack for $12. They are awesome. I knew I needed some new pots and a cutting board, so I bought those off Amazon. I bought the cheapest, yet still high-quality items and I started finding recipes I wanted to try, and I also started making up my own recipes. Within about a week I realized that I really, really, loved to cook. I loved to make my own meals. I loved to think about the recipe and how hot things were and tasting them in between to season more or less, and zoning out until the I "wake up" to find a delicious meal waiting in front of me. I lost almost no visible size, and was hovering around about 200lbs, but after about a month of cooking at least 4-5 dinners a week and every breakfast, I began to have more energy, and I began to start to think about losing weight seriously.
I started to cut down on fatty food, and I tried many different diets. Nothing stuck, and I actually started to gain lots of weight.
What The **** Is Going On?
It's 1 month later and I weigh in at 210lbs - What do I do now?
I stopped eating like a slob, and I started cooking home cooked meals that were delicious and hearty. I barely used any sugar. Isn't eating non-processed foods supposed to make a huge difference? Why am I ballooning in weight? Why am I getting BIGGER?
My Wake Up Call - 220lbs & 27% BMI
Basically long story short I was just getting bigger and bigger and started worrying about my health, big time. I went to an LA Fitness to get my proper weight and BMI measured, and when I was told that I weight 220lbs and had a 27% BMI, I was embarrassed and totally determined to make those numbers be a thing of the past.
I got serious and started researching a lot of stuff. I got into the science of weight loss, and stopped listening to people. I came to the conclusion that I need to stop eating so much bread. I also came to the conclusion that I would start a workout regimen. I knew, from previously successful diets that restricted carbs, that discarding bread would make a big difference. It has. I also knew that exercise was necessary. Diet was not enough. My metabolism was officially out of it's youth stage, and I needed to help out.
Time to Sweat - and Starve - and FINALLY GET HEALTHIER!!
That week that I had made the decision to make a change, I signed up at my local MMA gym, American Top Team, and started going to mobility and conditioning classes immediately. I was taking just 1 - 2 classes a week for 3 weeks, and then on the 3rd week I started working out on my off days at my neighborhood gym. Simple workouts. Nothing longer than 20 minutes. Sometimes the workouts would last 10 minutes. The length of time didn't matter to me. I just had to go, and I had to sweat, and I had to be breathing deeply when I was leaving the gym.
Those were my three goals. GO - SWEAT - BREATH
Here I am. I'm in the thick of it. I'm just starting my 4th week at American Top Team, and I've been without a loaf of bread, a single strand of pasta, a slice of pizza, or an ounce of beer for 3 weeks. I'm hungry a lot of the time. When that happens, I eat no more than 15 pieces of seeds and/or nuts. Every lunch I have a small salad, a palm full of meat (never pork - afraid of the trichinosis- it's usually fish, steak, or chicken), and I don't eat any beans or grains, like rice or black beans. I am also making sure that I eat something good for gut health at least twice per day. This means anything with probiotics. I usually have a few pieces of pickled vegetables before or after a meal, and every now and then I drink Kombucha tea. Both of these things are packed with healthy probiotics that support healthy gut flora. I have perfect bowel movements, and I have more regular trips as well. I have never felt better.
This is not complicated stuff. I am just doing what I know is right. It all comes down to discipline. I do look to the Internet for advice, but 99% of it is just following through with what I know is right, and it's working. It's nice to be proud of yourself. The same efforts that can give you pride, in this situation, can get you skinny, healthy, and happy.
Where Am I Now, & What's Next?
Now I'm at 211lbs - a 9lb drop from 3.5 weeks ago. Not dramatic, but my pants aren't tight anymore! I am also stronger, and I am much less tired on any given day. Most of my workouts are done with body weight. I do HIIT and lots of plyometrics since all I'm trying to do now is build stamina, increase endurance and core strength, and keep my metabolism pumping.
At least once a week, however, I do use weights, and it's usually when I do my kettlebell circuit.
I follow this one -> Kettle bell Workout - Click Here fot the YouTube Video, it's awesome.
I never do it the whole way through. I usually just pick a few from this workout and do 2 sets of whatever I'm doing. The first few times that I did this workout, I used the very lightest kettle bell I could find. Then I bumped up to 12kgs. Today I used a 22kg kettle bell. The goal is not strength right now, it's just a good sweat, and gaining a good foundation of lean muscle. I feel awesome and will keep this up for probably one more month until I switch to a regimen that consists mostly of two things: strength + explosive movement. Also, I start my first MMA Striking class tomorrow. I plan to start my first no-gi BJJ class on Monday, and I will continue to do my workouts on my off days at the neighborhood gym, with 1 MMA Striking class per week, 1 no-gi BJJ class per week, and 1 mobility or conditioning class per week.
I will also continue to not have any grains. I will also continue to not add any sugar or eat things that become sugar, like beer, and bread. I will continue to consume good fats that come from foods like avocado, nuts, fish, cooking oils (EVVO, Macadamia Nut Oil, Avocoado Oil, Coconut Oil) and so on. I will also continue to eat raw vegetables with most meals, and I will also continue to make sure that I will max at only a little bit bigger than a palm full of animal proteins with each meal - and that when my plate is done, I will not refill it right away with a 2nd helping, but rather weight 1 hour and have a handful of nuts to curb my appetite.
I presume I will continue to lose weight, build lean muscle, think even more clearly, sleep better, have better dreams, and so on, and so forth. I'll update later. This all comes down to discipline.
Are you unhappy with your job?
Lots of people go to work every day, come home, have some sort of routine, and then go to bed only to start the same process for the next 4 days, and then the weekend comes where they can catch up on chores. They feel miserable, locked in a rut, and they feel like they can't get away from this scenario. Their job doesn't excite them. The money they make doesn't excite them. The future of their professional career doesn't excite them. They don't find things that give them a reason to get up in the morning. They have nothing that makes them go all chips in.
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Maybe you just aren't happy, period.
What would you do if you could try another job? I know some things I could think of include:
Try and make yourself a list. If you can't come up with anything, keep trying. I do not have my captains license, I've never scuba'd in my life, and I don't have a yoga teacher training certification, but that doesn't matter. These are things I would like to try.
Once you create a list of things you'd like to do, see if you can narrow down the list. If you have a list of things that you do know how to do, like make custom wooden furniture, start with those items first. These are your possible "set me free" interests.
Here's where I usually see problems, however. What if you just can't make a list? You try and you try, but nothing interests you enough to write it down. Well - at this point, I usually look people square in the face and ask if they are truly happy, from within. How they answer is irrelevant. I truly believe that to be happy, you have to have a state of advancement in your life. You have to be working towards something. If you have no skills to advance, that's fine. But if you don't have any things you can even think of learning, or working towards doing better, than you have a problem.
Humans are tool makers. That is what set's us apart. Some animals use tools, but nothing on this Earth makes them except us. We do this because it's necessary for us to answer questions of how. How can this be done faster? How can that move with less effort? How can this grow to be more bountiful? How can I live more successfully? The answer is with tools. Either a skill-set, or tangible items, or a network of helpful people. These are all tools. At this point, I would encourage you, if you can't make your list, to pick something - anything at all - and begin trying to get proficient.
What can I do if I have no time to learn?
The first thing you have to realize is that you do have time. If you feel like it would be a waste to learn anything that doesn't help you outside of your current obligations, than don't do that. Find something to do better in your current life.
If you don't want to learn anything even remotely related to what you are doing - even better. In that scenario, pick anything you like, and stick to it.
Find something you like - and stick to it.
My life has shown me that when you are a child, no matter what you are doing, you go for it at 100% effort 100% of the time. Look at kids next time you are in public. If they aren't holding onto their parents, and they are moving, they are likely running. If they are laughing at something, its mouth wide-open and making a lot of noise. There is no 50% with kids. They go for it.
Now, as we get older, we tend to throttle back on a lot of what we do. We don't run everywhere - maybe it hurts to run, or maybe we just aren't excited to get anywhere. We don't laugh like we are hearing the funniest thing we could ever hear. We just lose passion in every day life. This is okay. It's normal. What is not okay, is to not have anything in life that we want to be 100% on.
Go for it!
Now is when you need to go for it. If you want to start at work, that's fine. How could that play out?
Do you wait tables at a restaurant and sell wine, but always wish you knew the wine list better? Perfect! Go to your boss, ask if you can get to learn the wines by tasting them with foods with your chef, and if you are sincere, and let your boss know you are, I bet they will be happy to oblige and you'll feel great once you start selling wines that you know pair well.
Do you manage a marketing staff, but wish you understood digital marketing a little better? Great! Take a class on Google AdWords. Tell your digital-focused employee that you are doing so and go over items with them that you are learning or need help with. You'll create a better bond, feel more confident about your abilities, and maybe find more that you want to learn about.
What if you want to take a sharp turn, and do something totally unrelated? GREAT!
Always wanted to be able to play guitar? Go take lessons. Can you only afford 1 per month? Take 1. Make no excuses.
Always wanted to be able to cook a beef wellington? Go on youtube and search for beef wellington recipes and keep inviting anybody over who will take a bite and give you honest feedback.
The key here is to just GO FOR IT. Find something - anything - that you like, and stick to it. Don't make excuses. If you have to go slow - fine. If you have to fail a lot at first, no problem. All of these things are excuses not to start. Don't allow that to happen.
Go for it.
Lunch prep for the week. My version of a pulled steak and vegetable bowl.
So, my girlfriend and I love Chipotle, who doesn't? We especially love it for lunch because it's relatively healthy, inexpensive, and we can split 1-bowl between us and still feel stuffed. There is just one problem with Chipotle, in my opinion, and it's the complete barrage of cilantro that they use in everything that they make. I'm not kidding either, take a look next time you're there and you'll notice that they put cilantro in everything from the tomatoes, to the corn salsa, and even the guacamole.
For most people, this isn't a problem. Cilantro is a great herb, and it brings a fresh taste to many dishes and meals. For me, however, I don't like that much cilantro. A touch, maybe, but any more and I'm turned off. It is such a problem for me that I decided to make my own Chipotle bowl, and here we have my version of it. I plan on making this for lunch for at least the next couple of days. It was easy, fun, and best of all - no cilantro! Below are the ingredients I used, and if you are a home cook, you will be able to easily replicate it without instruction. It's simple!
Jalapeno Pulled Steak Bowl
1) Steak. Get a cheap one, because it doesn't really matter - it's gonna be tasty no matter what - I used Chuck.
2) Garlic. I used 10 cloves, minced and pressed to release the flavor.
3) Salt and Black Pepper
4) 1/2 a Jalapeno pepper, minced
6) Black Beans + Pinto Beans
7) Yellow Rice
8) Red Onions
9) Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil, Balsamic Vinegar
10) Baby Portobello Mushrooms
11) Bell Peppers
12) Chicken bullion cube.
14) Red Pepper Flakes
1) Put a pan on the stove top and let it heat up. No oil or anything is necessary. I turn my dial to 6, which is just past the med/high point.
2) Season the steak with lots of salt on each side, covering it heavily. Then, add about half that amount in black pepper.
3) Throw the steak onto the pan and let it cook for 4 minutes.
4) While the steak is cooking, get another pan on the stove top on the lowest heat setting. Add enough water that when you put the steak in, it will cover it. If you have a little less or a little more water than that, it doesn't matter at all, so don't worry. *Remember, cooking should always be fun and stress free!
5) Add some broth to the water, or if you don't have any, season it up with your favorite spices. I put a chicken bullion cube, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cumin, and a light amount of red pepper flakes.
6) Peel and dice the fresh garlic. I press it with the blade of the knife so it's juices come out, then I add that to the water.
7) Check the steak again, season it, and flip it for another 4 minutes.
8) When the steak is done, take it off the pan and cut it into long strips, around 2 inches wide.
9) Throw the steak into the broth.
10) Cover the pan with the steak and broth and let it cook on low for 4-6 hours. I never go longer than 4 hours, but if I did, 6 hours would be my max.
11) While that steak cooks, dice and sautee the red onions, and prep the other vegetables.
12) About 30 minutes into cooking, add minced Jalapeno to the covered pan and then don't lift the pan again until it's done.
12) When the steak is done, take it out of the sauce and use two forks to pull it apart. Put it back into the juice and let it simmer for another 20 minutes, than it's ready.
13) Add everything when you're ready to eat and voila!
Seriously one of the easiest, tastiest things you can make. If you want, you can add things like cheese, sour cream, salsa, and so on. You can also get a tortilla and make a burrito. I can't wait to eat this tomorrow!
Stocks Are Down - Good Time to Start a Portfolio!
So, the last two weeks, the stock market has been going nuts! Oil and all of the things that surround it have been making the prices of many companies swing wildly both up and down, but mostly down, and this has been great for opportunistic investors who like to buy low, and hold, or sell high later. I happen to be the kind who wants to buy low and hold, but if I have to sell later, it still works out pretty well!
I'm not new to the stock market, but I am starting a new portfolio. I had built up a great portfolio of shares from high quality companies that all pay dividends. I had to sell of all of it last year, however, as my money was used better elsewhere. Now that I'm ready to start buying again, (and have already started), I figured I'd document some of it here on my blog. I don't have much else to write about, and not only do I hope that somebody will read it and find it entertaining, but I find it personally useful to write down what I've done and what I'm doing. Gives clarity.
Anyway, so, what stocks did I buy?
BNS (Bank of Nova Scotia) at $37.77 x 4 shares
T (AT&T) at $33.85 x 6 shares
MAIN (Main Street Captial Corporation) at $26.73 x 7 shares
JNJ (Johnson & Johnson) at $99.66 x 1 shares
UNP (United Pacific Railroad) at $76.72 x 4 shares
All in all, I'm pretty happy with everything, although I definitely could have done better with JNJ and UNP. Oh well, I was happy at the prices I bought at, and if I can get the oppportunity to buy more at a lower price in the future, I'll be happy then too!
Why Buy Stocks at All?
I buy stocks for three reasons:
The first reason, is because it's a great way to not spend money! Does that sound wrong to you? It might! Well, I'll explain. Basically, I'm guilty of spending the money that I make, and not saving enough of it. When I "buy" stocks, I look at it like I'm actually shoveling money away. I don't intend to sell these shares (unless the companies end up sour), and I hope to retire one day with the income these stocks could one day provide me. So, for me, it's not spending money, it's putting it away.
The second reason I buy stocks is because it's a smart investment. Wealthy investors typically invest in stocks for two reasons that I'm aware of. To either "preserve wealth", or to evade taxes. I do it because I want to retire from it one day, and if it preserves wealth, well, I have no wealth, but I can definitely keep adding to the pot until it turns into "wealth", even though I have no clue what that number will be for me.
The third reason why I buy stocks is because it's interesting and fun. I like reading up on companies, markets, trends, politics, and all that surrounds it. I also get a rush out of pressing the buy button. It is, after all, gambling. As far as I can tell, its just a smarter and classier way to gamble.
Why Did I Buy The Stocks I Bought?
To be honest, I just look through a list of high quality dividend stocks, see what a few of the analysts say about them, make some weird, unexplained calculations in my head about why the price looks right or wrong, and then I buy it. That's it. I have been watching the same stocks for about 4 years, and over time you just kind of know, "hey, thats a good company, and the price seems right". So, it's at that moment that I look to see if notables in the long-term dividend investing community have purchased in the last 6 months, and if they have, I check the numbers they bought at (or guess the price they bought at based on the time of publication), and I make my decision from there. Not a fancy method, but I have always come out on top.
Anywho, thanks for checking in!
Share your thoughts with a comment, I'd love to strike up a convo if you invest, or have an opinion on anything I wrote here today!
I'm sitting here, in the guest bedroom at my future in-laws. I'm on the computer and I can't stop doing several things:
Nothing wrong with all of this, right?
Not if it's any holiday at all - and you're the guest.
So, I just wanted to let it be known that if you are like me, basically trying to keep yourself busy doing productive things, all while having your family upset that you're doing so and not stopping to "smell the roses", you're not alone. I'm with you. Let's go spend some time with family (we can always get back on the computer when they're all asleep)!