Monthly Archives: January 2015

Keep Calm, And Drink “Kalm With Kava”

Anyone who is familiar with drinking kava knows about the kava dilemma.  On one hand, kava is one of the few herbal anti-anxiety, anti-stress remedies legally available that actually works.  The catch is that it is really only effective when it is made into a drink and consumed that way, or maybe chewed.  The added catch is that it tastes pretty nasty.  Sure, some users try to get around this by using capsules, but taking it in that manner has never worked for me.  Has something to do with how the active ingredients are absorbed in the body’s mucous membranes.

So, in order to achieve the desired relaxation effects, you’re stuck with having to chug something that can really best be described as tasting like sour dirt.  And first of all, in order to prepare kava for drinking, you have to take the dried root and strain it into water or another liquid, which gets to be messy and time consuming.

Enter “Kalm With Kava,” from Monsoon Beverages, LLC.  It is available as a tropical-flavored kava drink in pre-mixed servings, or as a concentrated kava drink  that you can add to water or whatever liquid you choose.  The ingredients also list California Poppy and L-Theanine.  For this review, I ordered the concentrated product, which is recommended to be mixed with water at a 1:7 ratio (one ounce of the concentrate to 7 ounces of water.)

Kalm With Kava concentrate.
Kalm With Kava concentrate.

I mixed about 1.5 ounces of the bright red/pinkish colored liquid with about 8 ounces of ice water.  Took a swig, and was very pleased to find that this is one kava drink that actually tastes good.  It is a mix of fruity flavors, but you still get that familiar kava taste as you drink it, just so you know what you’re getting.  Somehow, the makers of this product have found fruit flavors that actually complement the kava bite quite well, making it very tolerable and not something that you have to force down.  And after several minutes, I began to feel the mild effects of kava kicking in.  Not overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination, but then again, you can make the drink as strong as you would like, really.  Kava pros might want their drinks a little stronger than the recommended ratio, but there’s enough in each 10 ounce bottle to make at least a few decently strong kava drinks.

At $20 for 10 ounces, Kalm With Kava is not particularly cheap, but it’s not exorbitantly priced either.  I had to add $10 for shipping as well.  I plan on ordering more, and will probably get a larger quantity to minimize the shipping percentage of my order.  It definitely works as a substitute for alcohol when you want to sip on something to relax, but it will take a few servings to feel substantially “rooted.”  But, perhaps more importantly, it finally offers up a way to pleasurably attain kava’s relaxing effects, without any mess or hassle.  Definitely worth a try.

Patriots’ Tom Brady Used Robotic Arm During AFC Championship Game, NFL Investigation Finds

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady used a cleverly disguised, robotic arm during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, according to findings of an NFL investigation.  A uniquely designed, slightly over sized jersey enabled Brady to hide his regular, biological arm underneath his uniform and tuck it close to his body,  while the metal arm was used for throwing and handing off the football.  It is unclear how game officials did not notice that Brady was not using his actual arm, as each quarterback is typically checked and verified approximately 2 hours before kickoff.

pixabay_roboticarm
Prototype of the robotic arm used by Brady. Source pixabay.com/dantetg

 

Detractors claim that the pinpoint accuracy and strength of the arm gave Brady an advantage during the 45-7 rout, however some have stated that the difference is negligible.

At a press conference Thursday, Brady called accusations of cheating “ridiculous” and said that using a robotic arm is actually common practice in the NFL.  He went on to say that using such equipment does not account for the Colts’ lack of effectiveness of offense.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he had no knowledge of the arm being used, but will take up the issue with the team’s equipment manager.

Photo credit – WikiMedia Commons – Keith Allison

Have You Been To The Mountaintop?

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Photo courtesy Pixabay.com/WikiImages

 

Tomorrow we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest humans to ever grace the planet.  But it’s much more than just a day off from work for me.  I will always look up to his message of love, justice, non-violence and tolerance.  I can watch his speeches over and over again and still become captivated and sucked in every time.  He was a beacon of promise and hope for not just our country, but for humanity as a whole, and he gave us all ideals to continue to strive and fight for.

In looking on Youtube for speech clips from Dr. King, I came upon his famous “Mountaintop” speech, which was his final address just before he was assassinated.  I love this speech and find it very inspirational.  In the last parts of the speech, Dr. King talks about not living in fear of anything or any man.  He talks about how he’s been to “the mountaintop” and how even though he knew that he might not get to see the day when his dream becomes realized, he will continue to have faith in it.

Although this speech has very religious implications and I am not religious, I feel that I can apply it to my own life.  I think having “been to the mountaintop” can mean arriving at a place in one’s life where you have a sense of peace with all that is and all that ever will be.  Ironically, I think I had to hit rock-bottom before arriving a my own personal “mountaintop.”  But I no longer live in fear of life’s circumstances or what anyone else can throw my way.  I know that, in the end, I am my own worst enemy.  And no person or thing can take away from me that which I don’t let them.  It’s a very empowering message and one which I take with me every day.

So, thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Your legacy will never die.

 

Naturespace Ambience App For iOS, Android And Windows

If you’re looking for an ambient sound application to escape into another world at the click of a button, look no further than the Naturespace app, which is available for Apple, Android and Windows devices. This app delivers crystal clear, seamless loops of binaural audio, to create a wide variety of 3D audio environments.

What sets this app apart from other similar ambience apps out there is that the audio is holophonic, which is a special way of recording binaural audio to generate a 3D soundscape. You really feel as if you are immersed into a new, different world when you listen through high-quality headphones. The app also has headphone optimization, which increases the 3D effect, depending on the type of earbuds or headphones you are using.

From rushing river sounds to quiet, lonely fields, to the dramatic crash of ocean waves, Naturespace offers a very wide variety of ambient environments to match whatever mood you are seeking to enhance. The soundscapes are recorded in the field at actual locations in nature, for an extremely authentic feel. You can purchase the different loops in special bundles or individually for a few bucks each.

You can use this app for meditation or to set a relaxing mood in your home, to block out noise from your external surroundings, to enhance concentration, or just to escape and get “back to nature” in an instant. If you are into ambient sounds and haven’t tried this app yet, I highly recommend it!

Photo credit – www.pixabay.com – 7854

San Diego Chargers Face Mounting Pressure To Change Name From Electricity Advocates

The controversy over the San Diego Chargers’ name is getting heated as members of the National Association For The Advancement Of Electricity (NAAE) call upon team owner Dean Spanos to change his team’s name, which some in the electrical community have labeled “patently offensive” and a “disservice to societal gains made by electricity over the course of its history in human use.”

Advocates from the electrical community claim that the “Chargers” name represents a stereotyped depiction of electricity and that it belittles the role of electricity in society. Some point to the image it represents as one that is “intimidating” and even “dangerous.”

“People see the way electricity is represented by the San Diego Chargers football team, and they think that electricity is all about shocking people and lightning bolts,” says Ed Thomason, spokesperson for the NAAE. “They don’t get a respectful, three-dimensional representation of the different ways that electricity has contributed to American society and the obstacles that it has had to overcome.”

Dean Spanos could not be reached for comment.

Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

Abating The Allure Of Alcohol

My memory is failing me at the moment, but there was a beer commercial campaign a few years back which ended with the slogan “see where it takes you.”  I have always thought that it was pretty ingenious, because that is exactly the way I used to think about drinking.  Alcohol had the appeal of making the night offer more promise, of making music more emotive, and just generally making things bigger and better.

Upon reflection, I see now that alcohol wasn’t taking me anywhere, and, if anything, was landing me further and further from where I needed to be.  It was only letting me temporarily escape feelings and thoughts that I just did not want to have.  It smoothed the edges of life for sure, but it did so more by blurring things out, instead of actually erasing them.  All of those worries, insecurities and unpleasant things that I didn’t want to deal with temporarily weren’t there when I was drunk.

But when the morning would come, and by the time I finally collected myself and figured out what happened the night before, all of those things would be back, and even stronger than before.  Thus the cycle would continue.  Drinking made me do and say things that I would regret, which would be compounded by more drinking to not think about those things.

Alcohol abuse is often spoken of as a spiritual crisis, and even though I don’t subscribe to any particular religion, I am finally seeing the truth in that and what it means.  Whether it is genetic, a disease, or just a lack of willpower is irrelevant when you consider the void that it creates and the way it clips the wings of a person’s soul.  When I think about the way I used to drink, I now can see how I was lost and without direction.  And in some ways, I think the self-destruction was deliberate.  I was in a place of little to no self-love.  I was punishing myself by putting myself in dangerous situations and tempting the fate which finally caught up with me, on the wrong side of the road and upside down at two in the morning.

The haze of being buzzed or drunk lingered even after a bout of heavy drinking.  It wasn’t just when I was wasted that things were fuzzy and unclear.  This has only recently become apparent to me, after nearly five years without alcohol.  I didn’t realize how much of the world I wasn’t seeing and experiencing clearly during those years of heavy abuse.  It is kind of like how the world suddenly came into focus years ago when I first put on eyeglasses.  I really didn’t know what I had been missing.

It is still really hard at times to resist the temptation to pick up “just one” drink (which I am well aware would not be just one.)  There is an appeal to the relaxation it brings and to the idea of taking the edge off.  Those cocktails really do look beautiful in the Facebook and Instagram posts.  It does make it easier to laugh at things and let everything just fade away for a little while.  There is still that allure to “see where it takes you.”

But when I think of how I feel as a whole without alcohol in my life, I am grateful for not going down that road anymore.  Because for myself, it would be a road to nowhere, and more like a ceaseless loop.  I feel productive, lucid and more fully in touch with the things that I would like to accomplish while I’m still in this reality.  I am looking out the window at the landscape as I pass through life, and the true beauty of the world around me is in focus and being received rather than blurred out and missed.  I am grateful for the many blessings I have been graced with, and I am able to receive them with a deeper appreciation than before.  It really is a great feeling, and one that I have no desire to give up.

Photo credit – www.pixabay.com – jarmoluk

You Can Quit Drinking If You Really Want To

It won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but if you want to quit drinking, you can. The thing is, you have to really want it. You have to have reached a point in your life where you realize that alcohol is no longer an option to be included in living the life you want. You have to reach a point where it is no longer acceptable to have another drink, under any circumstances, and with no excuses.

Although I only have first hand experience with alcohol abuse, I believe the same can be said of other addictions as well. It took me a long time to realize I had reached a point where alcohol was becoming a clear obstacle to my overall enjoyment of life and detrimental to my safety. That is how persistent the monster of alcohol abuse is. I had already racked up two DUI convictions, spent time in jail, lost my driver license and totaled my car, and there were times when I was still getting drunk and worse yet, driving also.

You can go to A.A. or use medication or whatever strategy you need to stop once and for all. But you can do it. The thing is, A.A. is not a cure. It won’t make you stop drinking. Medication is not a cure. These things are only tools that you need to use when you have decided that enough is enough. But you have to make that decision, and nobody – not your family, your dog, your brother or friend – can make it for you. And if you decide to quit, it must be to quit entirely. Not halfway, or only drinking beer or wine, or anything short of not having another drink. Ever.

What helped me quit was externalizing the promise that I made to stop drinking. Once I put it out there and told somebody very dear to my heart and who I wanted in my life that I was quitting, I realized that I had passed the point of no return. That was it. I was done.

It is never easy, but then again, ask yourself – when is anything worth having really easy? No, it is hard. And riddled with self-doubt and anger and frustration and just about any emotion under the sun. But you can do it. You just have to want it.

Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – koratmember

Is Bubblews A Scam? An Honest Review Of The Social Revenue Sharing Site

Up until December 31, 2014, my answer to that question would have been “no.”  But things sure have changed since then.

I was a member of Bubblews since September of 2013.  I had my hesitations about the site when I signed up, because the idea of getting paid to post short articles about anything seemed a little too good to be true.  In addition, there were some people online that were saying that the site didn’t pay out, or expressing their frustrations with general payment issues.

Although there were fairly frequent technical problems, like the site going down from time to time or slow speed, for the next year I was compensated for my articles in the time frame that they promised, and in the full amounts that were promised.  The site very much seemed to be the real deal, although there were still a lot of people complaining of non-payment.  However, as there were many people who frequently violated the site’s fairly straightforward rules (such as plagiarizing,) I took those complaints with a grain of salt.  The people who followed the rules all seemed to be getting paid.  Communication with members was never a strong point with the Bubblews team, and while that was frustrating, I was able to be forgiving and accept that as bumps in the road that would someday be rectified.  Sadly, it never was.

Things started to go downhill during the latter months of 2014.  I had one payment that was received late, after the time frame in which it had been promised.  This was no big deal, but the vibe on the site started to degrade.  More and more people were posting their concerns about late payments that they were waiting for.  Then, the time frame for processing of redemptions was extended, first to 30 days, then to 60 days.  Still not a dealbreaker, but definitely something to get used to.

Then came the reduced earnings in November of 2014.  Bubblews CEO Arvind Dixit announced that their pay model had previously been flawed, and that from now on people were going to make less in effective earnings due to changes in advertising rates.  This largely affected international users the most, but overall earnings seem to decline for everybody.  It was frustrating to suddenly be making 10 cents a post, when previously it was a dollar or more.

But the fatal blow was announced in a very sneaky way on December 31, 2014.  The rather abrupt announcement was that any redemptions made before November 11, 2014 would not be honored at all, and that the ones that were submitted after that date would have the new, lower advertising rate of pay.  Many bubblers were shocked at this news.  This included all bubblers, no matter where they were from or if they had ever broken any rule.  By no coincidence, the comments on this announcement post were disabled, so that people could not freely express their feelings about this huge change.

I have since removed almost all of my posts, as have many other bubblers who have given up on the site and finally realized that it could no longer be defended against accusations of being a scam.  There are still some people who are willing to stay and are trying to be optimistic, but I think they are in denial about how duped everybody was.  Arvind and company tried to justify their actions as necessary due to fraud and a flawed business model, but these appear to be just excuses for what they really did – rip off the legitimate earnings that thousands of members had made and were counting on.

So, is Bubblews a scam?  Well, you definitely can’t say that it is not.  Even giving the benefit of the doubt, and assuming that the sudden actions of the Bubblews leadership was due to a bad business model or bad money management, at the end of the day they broke an agreement to legitimate members, and did so in a very underhanded manner.  Arvind swears up and down that this will never happen again, but how can his word be trusted? The Bubblews team has shown that members are not a priority, and that they can and will do whatever they want, when they want and how they want.  Who could feel comfortable putting time and effort into generating quality posts for a site that is supposed to share its revenue, when earnings can be suddenly, retroactively taken away at a moment’s notice?  I know I can’t.

Photo credit – www.pixabay.com – PublicDomainPictures

Corporations Are Not People!

According to the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling and many conservatives across the nation, corporations are the same as people, and their money is considered speech. This idea allows for corporations to basically buy politicians left and right, and undermine our entire democratic process. For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would not agree that considering corporations as people works AGAINST the people of the United States. I don’t understand why anyone other than CEO’s or other corporate higher-ups would even consider this concept as beneficial.

To say that corporations are people is the same as saying your neighborhood drug dealer is identical to an organized, international drug cartel. Corporations have so much more influence, reach, and power than the average citizen, that they can’t be considered the same thing! If you were walking down the street, would you rather come face to face with one thug, or an entire gang of thugs? Unless you have a death wish, I would expect the single thug to be preferable. Same idea with corporations versus people.

When the founding fathers drafted the Constitution, there is no way I can imagine that they would agree that Wal-Mart spending millions or billions of dollars on any given politician is protected free speech. We need to get money out of politics, not give corporations more power. On the right and the left. And get back to a system closer to one person, one vote.

Photo credit – www.pixabay.com – PublicDomainPictures

Compassion And Giving Are Not Un-American

Call me a shameless liberal, or even a socialist…But I don’t believe that helping people in need (such as government food assistance) or having compassion for people that may be here illegally, in a desperate attempt at a better life on this Earth, are bad things.

It seems that the concepts of giving and offering services to those less fortunate have been made into bad words by the political right. Instead of focusing on the ways in which people can help one another and we can invest in our own country, the right refers to those people in need as “freeloaders” and liberals as “bleeding hearts,” and even twists things around to make it seem as if helping people actually harms them. But I don’t believe this.

True, there may be some abuse of the system. But there is abuse of the system in EVERY aspect of life. There are always going to be cheaters in life and those who try to take advantage of others. But, overall, I think people getting government assistance really do need it, and would rather be in a better position to provide for themselves and their families. A lot of these people are active military personnel. And offering them help doesn’t harm them, it just puts them in a better position to do for themselves.

What happened to the idealists? The leaders who tried to bring us a message of love, compassion, and service unto others? Nowadays, we have people like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh who simply spew hate and venom at every chance they get. How anyone could look up to these people is beyond me. And, other than Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I haven’t really found anyone on the left that inspires me politically.

I don’t mind paying higher taxes if the money goes to helping others. As it is, my money goes towards a lot of things that I wouldn’t prefer, such as illegitimate wars and corporate tax cuts for companies whose CEO’s give themselves insane salaries and bonuses. So, I’m not expecting all of this compassion to come from the wealthy, and I am willing to do my part. I think, in the long run, it really serves our country, and ultimately ourselves, if we invest in each other.

Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – PinkBlue