Monday, July 16, 2018

20 Tasks to Simplify your Life

I aim to keep this post simple, but also to reflect on what I've done with my "summer off." I had a fear that if I turned down work, I would never be offered work again. This all-or-nothing type of thinking is not healthy. I also had a stigma associated with collecting unemployment. But this financial safety net has allowed me the freedom to buy and do things to make our lives better. This in turn makes us happier and better members of our community.

1) old mail = shred

I have a bad habit of letting mail pile up on our dining room table and then putting it in a bag and then putting that bag in the garage. I did this for years. Then I watched "hoarders" on netflix and got in gear. I started shredding this stuff by hand and then remembered that I could just as well take it to school. Plus side, I found some unused gift cards!

2) old papers = shred

I have a habit of keeping all student work and fearing throwing it out either because I thought I would forget what I've done in the classroom and also for reasons of confidentiality. Our mail services at CSUN has a program where you can request a trashcan for shredding and they do it for you. So I purged out so many old papers.

3) craft supplies = organized

I think it's every crafting diva's dream to have a 'craft room' where all the supplies are organized and accessible and projects can be started and stopped with ease. I can't say I have a 'craft room' but I do have a 'craft closet' and an oversized guest bedroom where I can do my papercrafts. Husband says no needles on carpeted floors, which I get, so the sewing machine is still in the garage.

4) bike supplies = organized

I'm sure it's also every gearhead's dream to have an organized garage where they can do maintenance and cleaning, to keep their equipment in tip top shape for the next adventure.

There's a funny store here in Northridge called "Mr. Stuff" and they have some really random inventory. One thing we bought there is this cart on wheels, which works really nicely for bike stuff. We've had it for 10 months now and I would say it is one of the best purchases I've made in the last year. It holds inner tubes, bike lights, helmets, locks, gloves, hats, bandannas, pumps, bags, all the things you need to grab and go. We built a bike rack to hold all our bikes and we have a bike stand to use when we need to clean or fix the bikes. These investments have lowered our stress and anxiety to make living a bikelife more enjoyable.

5) medicines = returned to pharmacy

I'm not sure if you have old prescription medications in you medicine cabinet, but I did. I had three bottles from 2008 and one from 2012. I knew that you can't flush them down the toilet because they can contaminate the municipal water supply or end up in the ocean, but I didn't know what was the best thing to do with them. Turns out Walgreen's pharmacies in California have a dropbox for this purpose. Not every location has one, so check online before you go.

6) electronics = recycled

We had two old cell phones, two old digital cameras, and a bunch of batteries that we dropped off at the Solvents/Automotive/Flammables/Electronics (S.A.F.E.) center. Now that I'm re-reading their flier, I should have also taken some old spray paint. Even though dear husband points out that landfills are sealed so that toxic wastes do not escape, I feel like this option may lead to reclaiming the trace amounts of rare earth elements that are present in our devices.

7) work office = organized, purged

This is an every semester thing, but it's important. I go through the stacks of chaos and rearrange important items into 3-ring binders. What paper can be recycled is put into a recycling bin. What paper must be shredded is sorted into the shredding bin. What supplies can be diverted into other chemical storage areas are moved from the office to the "Chem Club Room."

8) bedroom = new pillows & sheets

Not that this would bother everybody, but it bothered me. Our fitted sheets kept coming off the mattress. We had one set of cheap sheets, which didn't work at all. We went back to buy a more expensive set of sheets, which also didn't work but we tolerated them for over a year. Finally, I took those gift cards that I found going through the old mail and converted them into very expensive Martha Stewart sheets from Macy's. I also got new pillows. There are some things that you just can't buy used and I believe that pillows are one of those things.

9) home office = new bookshelf

There's a bookshelf that was in our garage when we moved in over a year ago. It's really nice and I always felt that it should be upstairs in the "library" a.k.a. guest bedroom a.k.a. craft room. But it was really heavy. Luckily, since we've been doing a new workout program, we're stronger. We finally carried that upstairs and it's just beckoning me to fill it with books.

10) computer = backed up

The cost of removable hard drives has come down so far. I got a new computer and used a removable hard drive to transfer files from the home computer to the new work computer. There's something satisfying about using a new, fast computer to search your old files.

11) bills = auto pay

It sounds so silly, but I've been paying bills each month manually over the phone. I finally got the monthly bills on autopay and it feels so great.

12) vitamins = restocked

I haven't been a big believer in vitamins, or maybe I should say that I go in phases. Anyhow, I threw all the expired vitamins out and bought new ones. Yeah, one could argue that calcium doesn't go bad like acetaminophen goes bad, but you never know what coatings and inert ingredients may do when left unattended or worse in hot storage units or in a hot garage. 

13) contact lenses = restocked

I am not sure why I'm so averse to doctor's offices, maybe it's the cost or the fear of finding out there's something seriously wrong with me. I also don't like to face the idea that I should get new glasses (for me a $600 investment). But I finally found a new optometrist in our new neighborhood and got the exam to get the new 1-year inventory of contact lenses.

I should say that part of simplifying your life involves adulting. Tasks such as sorting out what your insurance covers like ob-gyn, dental and vision. We've delved into doing this and although scary and intimidating, it's important to know what you don't know (known unknowns and unknown unknowns). That way when you really need it (in an emergency) it's already sorted.

14) seeds = harvested

Not everyone has a garden, and I get that, but I do. I feel so great now that my seeds are sorted. I use old cosmetic bags to sort them into families, that way when I want to share seeds or plant something I don't have to dig through the entire library.

15) car = washed, oil changed, registered, insured

Living a bikelife tends to lead to neglecting our car. We only have one car and it's very tiny. I swear I haven't taken it to a car wash in like 5 years until recently. Also, it was important to establish a new relationship with a service station for oil changes. The DMV has a kiosk where you can pay your car registration, and now there's even one of those kiosks at the grocery store!

16) junk email = unsubscribed

This may sound like a silly thing, but instead of spending idle time deleting junk emails, I spent a few hours (while waiting for the oil change and at the optometrist) unsubscribing from all the email lists that I am on. I got this idea from my students years ago (before I got a smartphone) and I finally spent the time doing it. Now when I check my inbox, it's all stuff I actually want to look at.

17) podcasts = subscribed

I spent time (and energy) looking for stuff to listen to on long drives (where there is not good radio reception) and now I'm on the podcast bandwagon. I downloaded an app called Castbox which automatically downloads podcasts I've subscribed to so that I can listen to them offline. I also want to say that Hoopla has changed my life. I listen to audiobooks there, which can also be downloaded.

18) laundry = washed

I love my laundry situation now. I finally got around to cleaning the washer and dryer (which used to live outside) and I bought more laundry soap. There's a luxury that I don't take for granted in having W/D hookups and the space for my drying racks. I have a fabulous clothing rack on wheels that is so easy to move around the garage. And hot days are perfect for drying laundry.

19) closet = sorted, purged, updated

What I have done in my closet is simplify, label and keep lean. Labeling all my drawers and bins helps dear husband contribute to putting away his and hers laundry.

20) bathroom = cleaned, purged, organized

Finally, cleaning the bathroom involved throwing away old lotions and cosmetics that are expired. See also 5, 12 and 13. It was fun going to the drugstore to get new contact lens solution and sunscreen and vitamins knowing there are empty spaces which they can go to. I read that one of the reasons people don't like dockless bikeshare in cities is because the bike seem like they are never "put away." Now I didn't grow up in a house where things got put away, we had quite a cluttered upbringing, and some say that clutter is a symptom of creativity, but also I've read that when things are put away it brings a sense of calm and peace. I like the sound of that.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Summer Garden in bloom

I am LOVING my summer garden and it's thanks to a wet March. We had two inches of rain over normal, which set up my soil and got my seedlings started perfectly. With a few hot days, we had a relatively normal spring temperature-wise with no late frost, so that also helped everything survive.

Unfortunately, today we have excessive heat. To mitigate the damage, I added burlap coverings to the new vertical garden shelf and to some of my growboxes. The "Garden Patch" growboxes have holes in the four corners, which are for the polypropylene (fiberglass) Staking Kit. 

For the vertical shelf (below) I drilled holes into the wood. I used a wire hanger and some of the leftover pieces from the Staking Kit to create supports. The burlap was purchased from Home Depot in a roll, which I cut in half. It's not a perfect system, but hopefully it's better than no shade.

I do need to buy "Mosquito Dunks" to prevent the standing water in the bottom of the growbox from becoming a breeding ground for pests. I had a mist cooling setup, but water was pooling in the trays and I saw bugs hatching in the excess water. So I dumped the water and let the trays bake in the sun for a few days.

I used the "Nutrient Patch" on a non-Garden Patch container. I planted every-other slot with salad greens and it worked out really well (no weeds). I wouldn't say that box was more productive than the boxes without a Nutrient Patch, but they were in a different locations so it's hard to compare.

I'm super excited to harvest seeds from my radish and arugula. The lettuce just started bolting. I got some new succulents and a friend said he'd be happy to share some clones with me. Something completely ate the two varieties of kale, which I'm sad about, but I'll replant for a fall/winter garden.

I have two 'Husky Cherry Red' tomato plants, one 'Jubilee' tomato plant, one 'Red Bull' pepper plant and one 'Jalapeno' pepper plant that are now 110 days old. Of the seeds I planted in March, it's good that some of them may grow to adulthood. I guess it's almost time to plan the winter garden.

There are some recent news articles about Californians going back to water usage at pre-drought levels. I am guilty of this. I had grown fewer and fewer vegetables and leafy greens in order to save water (growing cacti and succulents instead) but I'm going back to growing food since we had a wet enough winter to refill our reservoirs. 

Until water restrictions are reenacted I will continue attempting to produce home-grown veggies. Technically, we're still in a 'Severe Drought' so we'll see what happens between now and winter. There's a trade-off in sustainability between buying fruits and veggies that are trucked in versus home grown fruits and veggies. At least I can be sure my home-grown produce is organic. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 15: A little science behind XoM3 Product -- You Can Dew It!

Source: XoM3

Remember my last post about the great facial product by XoM3 -- You Can Dew It!! -- shown above?  That might have seemed like a long time ago.  Furthermore, you may have been curious as to what I have been doing in the meantime.  Remember, I promised to talk about a science paper which I found regarding topical benefits of plant oils?  I have read the paper and am ready to discuss the topic a little.  Which means that the science behind the paper will be introduced.

Below, I have included the statements from the scientific paper titled "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils".  The paper is a review of the literature of plant oils and their healing properties with respect to skin inflammation along with wound healing.  In total, the paper is around 20 pages with tables and rich in references.  Why do I mention this fact?  Because, there are a large number of statements made in the paper which need to be further investigated (looking further into their references -- specifically the studies to back up a claim).

As a result, I have had a large amount of difficulty deciding on how to interpret the heavy hitting scientific statements made to the public (or the reader -- you).  This has taken me a few weeks of indecision.  Finally, I decided to lay out the statements regarding the specific ingredients which are contained in the product by XoM3 product -- You Can Dew It!   Further, in the next blog post, I will go deeper into the contents of the paper regarding wound healing, anti-inflammation, anti-aging properties.  Feel free to go through this open access paper by yourself.  The paper can be found at either this link or here.

With that being said, let's move onto looking at results from a science article regarding the topical benefits of the ingredients in the product -- "You Can Dew It!" by XoM3 as reported in the cited article.

The following plant oils are contained in the facial treatment -- "You Can Dew It": 1) Jojoba Oil and 2) Argan Oil.  These two oils are specifically discussed and researched along with others which will be detailed in the next blog post.  First, I will list the statements regarding the two oils made in the research article I cite above.  The remainder of the ingredients will be listed by their respective 'overview' descriptions from 'WebMD' as shown below:

1) Jojoba Oil:

The section on Jojoba Oil states:

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) is a long-lived, drought resistant, perennial plant. Jojoba oil exhibits a high oxidative stability and resistance to degradation [131]. Jojoba oil is widely used in cosmetic formulas such as sunscreens and moisturizers. It has been shown to be effective in enhancing the absorption of topical drugs [132–134]. The high content of wax esters makes jojoba oil a good repair option for dermatoses with altered skin barriers, such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczematous dermatitis, AD,and acne[98]. Jojoba oil also has a proven anti-inflammatory effect,with potential uses in a variety of skin conditions including skin infections, skin aging, and WH [99,132].

2) Argan Oil:

The section on Argan Oil:

Argan oil is produced from the kernels of Argania spinosa L. Argan oil is composed of mono-unsaturated (80%) and saturated (20%) fatty acids. It contains polyphenols, tocopherols, sterols, squalene,and triterpene alcohols. Traditionally,argan oil has been utilized in cooking,in the treatment of skin infections, and in skin/hair care products. Daily topical application of argan oil has also been shown to improve skin elasticity [81] and skin hydration by restoring the barrier function and maintaining the water-holding capacity [123]. Additionally, topical applications onto skin provide a softening and relaxing effect on the skin, as well as helping to facilitate the accumulation and transdermal delivery of topical drugs such as allantoin [82]. Recently, tocopherol-rich argan oil-based nanoemulsions has been developed as vehicles possessing anticancer activity in murine breast and colon carcinoma cells [83]. Argan oil has also been shown to be effective in enhancing WH created second-degree burns in rats [84].

3) Rose Hip Oil:

The section on Rose Hip Oil:

Rose hip oil is extracted from seeds of rose hip (Rosa canina L.). Rose hip oil contains substantial UFAs. The most abundant fatty acid is linoleic acid (35.9–54.8%), followed by α-linolenic acid (16.6–26.5%), and oleic acid (14.7–22.1%) [141]. An appreciable number of lipophilic antioxidants is present, especially the tocopherols and carotenoids. Rose hip oil also contains high level of phenolic acids, especially p-coumaric acid methyl ester, vanillin, and vanillic acid. Due its high composition of UFAs and antioxidants, this oil has relatively high protection against inflammation and oxidative stress [109]. Shabikin et al. has tested the efficacy of topical rose hip seed oil together with an oral fat-soluble vitamins on different inflammatory dermatitis such as eczema, neurodermatitis, and cheilitis, with promising findings of the topical use of rose hip seed oil on these inflammatory dermatoses [110]

Next, the following ingredients which make up the remainder of the facial moisturizer - 'You Can Dew It!' are the 'overview' statements from 'WebMD' as shown below:

4) Primrose Oil:

The statement is from the 'Overview' webpage on WebMD for Primrose oil:

Overview Information
Evening primrose oil is the oil from the seed of the evening primrose plant. Evening primrose oil is used for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It is also used for rheumatoid arthritis, weak bones (osteoporosis), Raynaud’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS), Sjogren’s syndrome, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, a movement disorder in children called dyspraxia, leg pain due to blocked blood vessels (intermittent claudication), alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia.
Some people use evening primrose oil for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); asthma; nerve damage related to diabetes; an itching disorder called neurodermatitis; hyperactivity in children and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); obesity and weight loss; whooping cough; and gastrointestinal disorders including ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and peptic ulcer disease.
Women use evening primrose oil in pregnancy for preventing high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), shortening labor, starting labor, and preventing late deliveries. Women also use evening primrose oil for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), breast pain, endometriosis, and symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes.
In foods, evening primrose oil is used as a dietary source of essential fatty acids.
In manufacturing, evening primrose oil is used in soaps and cosmetics.
In Britain, evening primrose oil used to be approved for treating eczema and breast pain. However, the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), the British equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), withdrew the licenses for evening primrose oil products marketed as prescription drug products for these uses. The licenses were withdrawn because the agency concluded that there is not enough evidence that they are effective. The manufacturer disagrees, but it hasn’t published studies yet to prove the effectiveness of evening primrose for these uses.
How does it work?
Evening primrose oil contains “fatty acids.” Some women with breast pain might not have high enough levels of certain ”fatty acids.” Fatty acids also seem to help decrease inflammation related to conditions such as arthritis and eczema.

5) Yarrow:

The statement below is from the 'Overview' webpage on 'WebMD' for Yarrow:

Overview Information
Yarrow is an herb. The above ground parts are used to make medicine.
Yarrow is used for fever, common cold, hay fever, absence of menstruation, dysentery, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating.
Some people chew the fresh leaves to relieve toothache.
Yarrow is applied to the skin to stop bleeding from hemorrhoids; for wounds; and as a sitz bath for painful, lower pelvic, cramp-like conditions in women. In combination with other herbs, yarrow is used for bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), mild gastrointestinal (GI) cramping, and other GI complaints.  In foods, the young leaves and flowers of yarrow are used in salads.  In manufacturing, yarrow is also used as a cosmetic cleanser and in snuff. Yarrow oil is used in shampoos.
How does it work?
Yarrow contains many chemicals that might affect blood pressure and possibly have anti-inflammatory effects.

6) Calendula Oil:

The statement below is from the 'Overview' webpage on 'WebMD' for Calendula oil:

Overview Information
Calendula is a plant. The flower is used to make medicine.
Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. It is also used for treating sore throat and mouth, menstrual cramps, cancer, and stomach and duodenal ulcers. Calendula has also been used for measles, smallpox, and jaundice.
Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), ear infection, gum disease, peeling lips (exfoliative cheilitis), diaper rash, vaginal yeast infection, and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis). Essential oil of calendula has been used as an insect repellant.
Don’t confuse calendula with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, which are commonly grown in vegetable gardens. 
How does it work?
It is thought that the chemicals in calendula help new tissue grow in wounds and decrease swelling in the mouth and throat.

7) Comfrey Extract:

The statement below is from the 'Overview' webpage on 'WebMD' for Comfrey Extract:

Overview Information
Comfrey is a plant. Even though this plant contains poisonous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), the leaf, root, and root-like stem (rhizome) are used to make medicine. The amount of PAs found in comfrey changes according to the time of harvesting and the age of the plant. The roots have 10 times higher amounts of PAs than the leaves. Some products labeled “common comfrey” or Symphytum officinale actually contain the more poisonous “prickly comfrey” (Symphytum asperum) or “Russian comfrey” (Symphytum x uplandicum) species.
Comfrey is used as a tea for upset stomach, ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, diarrhea, bloody urine, persistent cough, painful breathing (pleuritis), bronchitis, cancer, and chest pain (angina). It is also used as a gargle for gum disease and sore throat.
Comfrey is applied to the skin for ulcers, wounds, joint inflammation, bruises, rheumatoid arthritis, swollen veins (phlebitis), gout, and fractures.
How does it work?
The chemicals in comfrey might have a healing effect and reduce inflammation when applied to the skin. However, comfrey contains toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin.

8) Frankencense oil:

The statement below is from the 'Overview' webpage on 'WebMD' for Frankencense:

Overview Information
Frankincense is the hardened gum-like material (resin) that comes from cuts made in the trunk of the Boswellia carteri tree. People use it to make medicine.
Frankincense is used for colic and intestinal gas (flatulence). It is sometimes applied to the skin in hand cream.
The essential oil of frankincense is used on the skin and by inhalation as a pain-killer.
How does it work?
There isn't enough information available to know how frankincense works.

9) Ylang Ylang:

The statement below is from the 'Overview' webpage on 'WebMD' for Ylang Ylang:

Overview Information
Ylang ylang oil is made from the flowers of the herb Cananga odorata genuina.
People apply ylang ylang oil to the skin to promote relaxation, kill bacteria, lower high blood pressure, and increase sexual desire. It is also part of a combination spray used to kill head lice.
In foods and beverages, ylang ylang oil is used as a flavoring.
In manufacturing, it is used as a fragrance for cosmetics and soaps.
How does it work?
There isn’t enough information to know how ylang ylang oil might work.

This concludes the statements from the cited research article above along with the website 'WebMD' for the ingredients of the product by XoM3 -- You Can Dew It!

In total, the scientific paper I introduced only covered 2 ingredients listed on the back of the facial moisturizer -- You Can Dew It!  The overall message regarding the scientific research for those two ingredients (chemicals) is as follows:

Jojoba oil: Jojoba oil search returned the results of having a beneficial effect in skin barrier repair along with anti-aging properties.  The oil has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as referenced in the cited paper.  These benefits are important for a facial moisturizer developed to repair and return healthy looking skin.

Argan oil:  Argan oil is beneficial for wound healing and skin barrier repair as cited in the referenced paper.  There are questionable data regarding anti-aging properties or anti-oxidant properties.  Although, argan oil along with jojoba oil have anti-inflammatory properties when incorporated into a skin care product.

Rose Hip oil: Rose Hip is beneficial as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.  According to the table cited in the article, rose hip also contains anti-aging components which contribute to the overall properties of the moisturizer.


The other ingredients are referenced with information from the website 'WebMD'.  In the next blog post, I will go further into the properties and benefits behind the science listed in the cited article.  Plants have beneficial properties as noted in the cited papers.  How to measure or design an experiment to test these ingredients is difficult, but ongoing.  As science moves forward, the knowledge will increase proportionately on the safety of the ingredients used in cosmetic products.

Until next time, have a great day!

Related Blog Posts:

Anti-Aging Skin Series 14: You Can Dew It by XoM3

Index of Anti-Aging Blog Posts

Monday, June 11, 2018

Hacking Google Fit

Let's say you are dorkin' out on your fitness tracking. Or maybe the technology you have isn't helping you stay fit. That's what happened to me. I still use the GoPro Hero4 but not as much as I did when we first got it (3 years ago).

I really enjoyed my Nike+ sport band for tracking runs (9 years ago). That is when I actually went for runs. Its limitation was that it was limited to step counting. Then dear husband bought me a Garmin Forerunner (7 years ago), which could track both runs and bike rides. Its limitation was that over time the plastic band got worn down so that I had to safety pin it to my handlebars, and during one bike ride (2 years ago) it fell off. Shortly thereafter, we upgraded our phones and I started using apps to track fitness.

We had the Samsung Galaxy S7 for two years and have now upgraded to Samsung Galaxy S9. We didn't get the S9+ because it was even bigger. Honestly, your technology is only as good as it is useful. The phone is powerful but kind of large and definitely doesn't fit into most of our bike bags. My sister-in-law bought me a product called buddy pouch, but the phone is so heavy I feel like it will pull my yoga pants down if I tried to run with it.
I'm actually enjoying the REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack quite a bit more. The waistband is sufficiently wide and doesn't cut into my skin, it's long enough to fit my circumference. I can fit my phone, wallet, keys and poop bags for dog walks in there. I have also stuffed a light jacket or pants extenders if I have to. It's not really large enough for a water bottle, so I carry that in my hand. I wear it rollerskating ALL THE TIME.

We purchased a Lenovo ThinkCentre M72e Tiny Desktop with Intel i3-3220 CPU @ 3.30GHz and 8.00 GB RAM running Windows 10 Home 64 bit with 2 TB hard-disk space and LG 24M38H-B Monitor (1920 x 1080 resolution) from Fry’s. It makes my home computer (5 years old) seem clunky. I'm sure it doesn't help that the 5 year old computer is completely full of GoPro footage and other photos that should probably be uploaded to the cloud. One good thing about the new computer is that I edit video using Camtasia. I screen-capture video directly OR use the webcam on my AsusT100 OR use my Samsung S9 phone.
I used to use my teeny mp3 player, Sansa Clip (6 years old) to record audio files, but now that's completely unnecessary. From my phone, I can record audio and get a transcript, then email those files to myself and I don't even need a cable to transfer it. I bought the Sansa Clip to use with my Smart Car audio (there's a USB input in the glovebox) but the car doesn't recognize it. I haven't tried to interface the Samsung S9 with the car yet, maybe I'll try that soon.
Strangely enough, the car will recognize my super-old SanDisk mp3 player which sadly only holds 128kB of data (14 years old). In case you're wondering, that's like 2 albums of music or 12 podcasts nowadays. It's so passe to download files now anyway, most people use streaming services like Spotify to get their music. I have an older Pandora account (8 years old) that I still use when I really need to buckle down and get something done that does not require writing, such as housework. I do use the Pandora app on my phone for stair-climbing workouts.

I bought this handlebar bag to hold the phone on bike rides (2 years old) and one of the two zippers recently broke. The thing I like about it is that it can be worn as a purse or fanny pack, which is definitely something I looked for. When you lock your bike and walk away, it's convenient to take your valuables with you. I also detach the GoPro from my handlebars and slip it in here. I liked that it has some reflective detailing and there are mesh pockets on the outside for holding used Kleenex or sticky Clif bar wrappers. It's a great size for holding sunscreen, snacks, sunglasses, wallet, keys, phone and it is large enough for a 500mL water bottle. One drawback, besides the cheap zipper, is that when you have the bag facing you, the sun reflects off the plastic and can be blinding. I am considering making a fabric cover for the plastic part. Also, when you try to run Strava or Google Maps during your ride and the sun is shining, the phone will overheat and shut off. When the phone is inside the bag, this doesn't happen, but it's not always handy for navigating when you want to see the map on your phone as you ride. I have used the plastic window for a printed routeslip, so if you don't mind using old fashioned paper, this bag is great. On some bikes I Velcro the bag to the handlebars on the same side as the top tube and on other bikes I do it the other way. It depends on how close your knees are to the handlebars and your body position when climbing hills. It was originally designed for a folding bike.

One last item I'm obsessed with is the BESKYDDA safety vest from IKEA. When you don't need it, the vest folds up into its own pocket making a cute little sachet. When unfolded, you can put your phone in the pocket with the speaker facing out and let the Google Maps tell you where to turn. As long as you don't need to look at the map and the traffic isn't too loud, this works great. I'm not a fan of using headphones while walking, biking, cycling or rollerskating. I am a big fan of wearing safety yellow and reflectors.

Today, I've updated my Fitness Logs for 2016, 2017 and 2018 using data from the smartphone

It took me a moment to find out how to get the data from Google Fit into a spreadsheet

The data will be in a zip folder, which you need to unzip. Then look in the following directory:
Takeout\Fit\Daily Aggregations\Daily Summaries

After that, you can delete any rows/columns that aren't useful to you. The default units are meters and milliseconds for distance and time, which I thought was kind of strange.

I used Strava and Google Photos to remember what some of those workouts were, unfortunately Google Fit doesn't automatically create any kind of description of what you did. Also, you have to manually log things like our Commit To Be Fit (CTBF) program. I guess that would be one advantage to going back to a watch-based activity tracker. What do you use and what are the benefits and limitations?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Clean Up the Environment with a Lunge, a Squat while Running!

Source: EPA - West Virginia

Do you like to lunge?  How about squats?  Oh my, I am a work in progress on both of those exercises.  Running is alright as long as I can keep going and not stop.  Needless to say, I need to definitely improve on both my lunges and squats in order to build up certain yoga poses.  At least, that is what my wife says.  Maybe I should try what is happening in Europe to see if my opinion toward lunges and squats will change with incorporating a little clean up of the local surroundings?

Instead of turning a blind eye or my head when I encounter litter while walking, maybe I could squat and pick some up?  How about running and stopping to pick up a few pieces of litter?  That is what one running group is doing in Europe and seems to be having a positive impact to say the least.  In the video below - just under 2 minutes, a group's routine is highlighted for their positive impact on the environment while exercising:

I love it.  What are you doing to improve your health and the environment?  I usually separate these activities.  Until I saw this video.  Now, I feel inspired to try to do the same.  Maybe you can too?  incorporating alternative activities into your workout just might spice up the routine to make the process that much more easier (and fun).  It is very easy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a painful skin condition that runs in my family. Women between ages 30 and 50 with fair skin can suffer from rosacea that is aggravated by sunlight, diet soda, stress and heat. I contacted my friend Sepi from CT Organics in 2016 when my skin was in such a bad state that I was at my wit's end.

I've been using Clinique "Redness Solutions Soothing Cleanser With Probiotic Technology" since around 2007. I also use Clinique "Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Cream" and more recently Clinique "SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Fluid For Face." They say the mineral sunscreen is virtually invisible, which is to say that it is like wearing clown white makeup. But for days when I'm out in the sun all day, I feel it provides better protection than the face cream.

To treat the skin irritation, Sepi first gave me a sample of pure borage oil to make sure that wouldn't aggrevate the condition. Then she gave me a sample of Borage Pearl Powder cream to try. I've been applying it only to the areas of extreme redness. It's definitely working. The redness in my cheeks is less but I still get irritation on my chin that I'm trying to tame. I think maybe the chin is something that still gets sun even when the rest of my face is covered by a hat. Also, I was using only SPF 30 for awhile but I've gone back up to SPF 50.

Oct 2016
Nov 2016
March 2017

April 2018
I can't say enough wonderful things about the Borage Pearl Powder cream. The only thing I need to do is make sure I have a travel size. Last month, when I went to New Orleans (on a plane) I was limiting myself in terms of how many ounces I brought in my carry-on luggage. 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. The thing is that I brought a bunch of hair products which left less room for skin care in the 1 quart bag. Priorities~!

March 2018, New Orleans
Every day on top of the Borage Pearl Powder cream, I put Clinique "Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+" and I use that to cover areas outside of the T-zone where my rosacea isn't. I sometimes use Clinique "All About Eyes" but not every day. Especially since I hardly go anywhere without my glasses these days, and then on top of that I wear goggles in lab 5 days a week. So nobody is really looking at my crow's feet. Then I put "Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Cream" on top of all that. Or SPF 50 if I'm planning to be outside for more than 20 minutes at a time.

When I've got TOO much sun or TOO much wind or if I've done TOO much gardening and my skin has been hit with dirt, I use Clinique "Moisture Surge™ Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator" together with Clinique "Repairwear Laser Focus™ Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream." I keep this on overnight or all weekend (plus staying indoors) to let the skin heal itself.

But I will say that this entire regimen WITHOUT the Borage Pearl Powder cream didn't work.

According to CT Organics website, borage seed oil contains high amount of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) fatty acids that help reduce inflammation naturally.

I could say more about a BUNCH of other CT Organics products that I love, but that's all the time I have for today AND this product has been a game changer for me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Anti-Aging Skin Series 14: You Can Dew It by XoM3

Happy New Year to everyone!!!!  Sorry for the delay in response, I have been busy with other projects.  I have been thinking about the direction of the 'Anti-Aging Skin Series' quite a bit over the break.  Up until now, the products which I have chosen to deconstruct have been off the store shelf.  A few months ago, I met Mandy of XoM3 products.  My last blog post was on her and how this year I would incorporate her products into the 'Anti-Aging Skin Series'.  Why?

Specifically, because in addition to deconstructing the ingredient list on the bottle of a given product, we can find out exclusive information not yet known to the public about the formulator's (creators) intention in designing the skin care product.  Which makes us the consumers feel even a step closer to the process and the product.  Without further ado, lets dive into the first product from XoM3 product line: "You Can Dew It" as shown below:

Remember, if you are interested in reading any previous posts contained in the 'Anti-Aging Skin Series' please either choose the hyperlink "Aging" on the cover page (in the right hand corner) or click here.

"You Can Dew It"

First, to put the product into context from her website, Mandy has a product description which I directly quoted below from her website:

Seasonal and dry weather, time, or biology can do a number on delicate facial skin. Handcrafted You Can Dew It Demulcent Oil can help. Lush with organic and ethical ingredients, precious jojoba, rosehip seed, argon and evening primrose oils are infused with skin loving botanicals and essential oils of frankincense and ylang ylang to deliver a velvety, dew kissed finish for glowing results. 

Upon asking Mandy for a complete ingredient list, she was super kind to be open with her products.  She is interested in bringing awareness to the community of consumers in the skin care industry that she stands by her products and has nothing to hide.  She is very knowledgeable regarding the exact reason why a given ingredient is used in one of her products.  Which makes her product line even more attractive.

To start with, I will list each ingredient and list the function as I have done in past blog posts.  If the ingredients are 'highlighted or hyperlinked' then the reference page is from 'Environmental Working Group'.  Otherwise, the ingredient information reference number will be given along with the corresponding reference listed at the end of the blog post in the bibliography.  Below is a list of ingredients in "You Can Dew It":

1) Jojoba Oil:

About SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL: Jojoba oil is extracted from seeds of the desert shrub, Simmondsia chinensis, native to California, Arizona and Mexico.

Function(s): Hair Conditioning Agent; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive; EMOLLIENT; SKIN CONDITIONING; VISCOSITY CONTROLLING

2) Yarrow:

A strong-scented, spicy, wild herb used in astringents and shampoos. (Ref.2)

Note: Astringent:  a substance that causes the contraction of body tissues, typically used to protect the skin and to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions. (Ref.3)

3) Argan Oil:

The oil is high in lipids, including the omega-9 oleic acid and the omega-6 linoleic acid as well as vitamin E.  Argan oil has anti-inflammatory properties. (Ref.3)

4) Calendula Officinalis (POT MARIGOLD) Flower Oil:

About CALENDULA OFFICINALIS (POT MARIGOLD) FLOWER OIL: Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil is an oil derived from the flowers of Calendula officinalis.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; MASKING; SKIN CONDITIONING

5) Comfrey Extract:

The leaf and root contain allantoin, mucilage, tannins, starch, inulin, steroidal saponins, and pyrrolizine alkaloids. (Ref. 2)

6) Fankincense Oil:

Fragrant component used in skincare products; it can be a skin sensitizer, but is not considered a potent one. There is no research showing frankincense has any benefit for skin. (Ref.4)

7) Ylang Ylang:

About CANANGA ODORATA (YLANG YLANG) OIL: Oil obtained from the flowers of the ylang-ylang tree Cananga odorata.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; MASKING

8) Primrose Oil:

About OENOTHERA BIENNIS (EVENING PRIMROSE) OIL: Evening Primrose oil is extracted from Oenothera biennis, a plant native to North America.

Function(s): Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous; EMOLLIENT

That completes the ingredient list for the product "You Can Dew It" by XoM3 Botanical Solutions. On the bottom of the front of the bottle is the label -- "Demulcent Oil" which means -- "(of a substance) relieving inflammation or irritation."


In the next post, I will provide a little background into the benefits of natural oils based on science.  I recently stumbled upon an article which I would like to work through to see the evidence of the benefits aside or along with those listed in the ingredients (functions) list above.

I also promised at the beginning of the series (this year) to include Mandy (the producer, formulator) opinion on the product.  I have to rescind that for the present time.  We are both looking into the Food & Drug Regulations guidelines on 'interviews' and 'product discussions.'  I will hopefully have more on that topic in the near future.

For the time being, I will move onto a new product after I discuss some benefits of natural oils in the next post.  Until next time, have a wonderful day.

Reference Bibliography:

1) Environmental Working Group

2) Cosmetic Dictionary

3) Google Dictionary

4) Paula's Choice