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Friday, July 7, 2017

Gel nails and IBX

My nails suck. And I've been trying to fix them for many years. The ends peel and thin the nail bed to the point where they are soft and pliable and then can easily tear. I haven't been able to grow my nails long for basically my whole life.

I've tried just about everything from Sally Hanson's line of Hard as Nails, to Essie's Millionails, to products like Nail-Aid Maximum Collagen builder. My diet has drastically improved over the years and I get enough iron and other nutrients; plus I've tried putting collagen powder in drinks and eating several months worth of Skin and Nails Biotin. I've also tried just soaking them in vitamin E oil and almond oil, which is basically all vitamin E only less viscous. I've tried gloves when I shower (although that didn't last very long; it's surprisingly annoying plus water still gets into the gloves) and painting my nails week after week to try and protect them from my hot showers [and life in general], which has been the main culprit in damaging my nails further. Nothing has worked. The problem with all these attempts is that they take several months of doing before you realize it's not working once the nail grows out. 

I'm pretty sure my issue is genetic at this point, but that's not stopping me from trying things. My latest attempt was deciding that gel nails was my answer. After buying all the stuff and painting it on, I was astounded. I loved the stuff; it made my nails hard and it lasted a good week before I even needed to make touch-ups. The problem was taking the gel off. As I went through the process each time, I was thinning out the nail plate while trying to get the base gel layer off; each subsequent application was making my nails thin and weak. Although I managed to keep the length of my nails in tact (they were growing, omg!) I was still making them worse.

And then I was introduced to IBX. I'm not sure how I heard about it online, but once I started seeing pictures and reading reviews, I was sold.



IBX works differently by sinking into the nail plate and fusing all the keratin layers together. Now, it is technically a long-term application system, which basically means you'll have to use it for a long while before you see any results, but I can tell you right now that after one application I have already noticed the difference and that's why I'm writing about it today.

My nails are still thin and pliable thanks to the gel, but they're not peeling. They've only grown a tiny bit for the last week but they haven't torn at all from being so thin. It's amazing.  (I clipped them all the way down in order to "start over" once I started using this). In the meantime I'm not applying any gel; just regular polish, so nothing is stopping my nails from tearing, and yet they're not. I'm almost crying in joy.

There's just one issue you need to know about before you rush out and buy it.
It is for "professional use only". It's not sold in stores anywhere. Technically, it's for nail salons so that they can charge a customer some $10 to add IBX to their gel regimen. But, thanks to forum posts, I found a website that supplies it (and no, not ebay, although you can find it there for super expensive). It's called beautysupplycanada.com, and you actually need to register an account and be approved before you can even see the price (hint: it's $46.95 for the duo pack). So yeah, it's not cheap, but if it works it works and it's definitely worth it to me.

Once I grow my nails out for a full cycle, I'll start putting gel polish back on, which makes me super excited. I keep ordering new colors from Wish for like $1 each and they take a whole month to come but who cares lol they're stacking up and I can't wait to try them!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

WTF Lyft?

Dear Lyft,

I have a suggestion for you. Do you have a suggestion box? Probably one that looks like this:



But I'll try anyway. This is a change that probably wouldn't be too difficult to implement and wouldn't cost you any money (hooray!) I mean, now that you have a dedicated driver app, which you like to point out that that means more features can be added (detailed driver summary anyone??) I would hope this would be something that can be easily changed. Here it is.

Why do we, as drivers, need to know how much we could have made? I'm trying to figure it out.
Here's my example:

That big number in bold at the top? Not what I made. Not the "driver payout". That number is the tiny one under "balance". In other words, Lyft took its cut of $13.98 and I get paid the rest.

This has two possibilities that I can think of. They want us to feel like we're making more money than we actually are. Or, they like the bait and switch technique.

Lyft: Here's how much you could have made if we hadn't taken out 25%! Haha!

Lyft: Here's how much you made but not really.

Why - WHY - would I ever in my life want to know how much I would make before Lyft took its cut, and why is it so prevalent at the top of the screen to confuse me? If I wanted to know how much money I made without the 25% cut, I could do the math. But I have no reason to. If I really cared, I could look at my driver summary.

The reason I bring this up and the reason it really really bugs me is a ride I gave just yesterday. The guy asked me how much this trip would cost because he's not the one who ordered the ride. I told him that I didn't know until after it was all said and done. Well, he stuck around (unloading his stuff) and after I rated him I let him know that I made $11.98 so he would probably be charged a bit more.

Well that was my last ride of the day, and because of that incident, I specifically remembered that fare so I went home and got onto the Lyft website to look at my detailed driver summary (again - put this on the Lyft driver app I hope???) and did not see an $11.98 payout anywhere. No, the total was $8.98.
Wait.
Are you trying to tell me that not only does Lyft give a big bold number at the top of my app for an amount I'm not getting, but it also TELLS ME THE AMOUNT BEFORE LYFT'S CUT FOR EACH RIDE?

Are you fucking kidding me, Lyft? Sorry for the language but what the hell?! Why in God's name would you want to make drivers feel good about their payout just to be disappointed when they look at their summary/actually get paid? Now I feel disheartened. Now, I will do a long drive, see a payout that feels good for the amount of driving I did, and then remember that that's not what I'm actually getting paid. Gee, thanks.

This is stupid. It makes no sense. Uber doesn't do this. For all it's faults, at least it gives you a detailed summary of each payout and tells you exactly what you're getting paid. It doesn't throw these happy numbers at your face just to make you sad later. Ugh I am so upset by this, mostly because I don't understand why your system was built this way in the first place.

Please, please change it.

/end rant

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Canopy Tours NW

For the record, this is not the first time I've done a zipline. Unfortunately, I never finished my previous blog post about going on the zipline at NW Trek because it included a write up about the whole facility and I never finished editing the many many pictures I took. I know, sad, because I had the most freaked out experience ever and I really should just post it as a separate entry but anyway, I digress.

Despite the "issues" I had at NW Trek, I flipping loved the zipline and knew that I wanted to do it again someday. Fast forward to yesterday. I got invited to a friend's reception dinner (he got married at the courthouse on Friday) waaaay up in Marysville, which is like an hour and 10 minutes from my house. I figured, if I'm going up there for a dinner, I might as well make a day of it and find something else to do.

Line 2
I'd been toying with the idea of going to Canopy Tours NW, especially because they keep winning Evening Magazine's Best of Western Washington (this link is a good video of what it's about), but they are way up at Camano Island, and it's like $103. So, I kept pushing that idea aside. But yesterday I decided to be impulsive and just go with it. Now, Camano island is still 30 minutes north of Marysville but it was a heck of a lot easier to justify the drive up there now! It was going to be a nice day, and I was still able to buy tickets only a few hours in advance.

Each line gets more progressive and kind of builds up your confidence as you go. There are 6 in total, although line 5 is the longest (longer than the Space Needle is tall) and has the camera. I have to admit, I still felt a little trepidation stepping off of each platform. It didn't really get any easier! But, I have no irrational fear of heights so that wasn't an issue.

 Line 4
Line 5 

The views and scenery are amazing, the guides were awesome, and I felt safe the entire time. They taught me how to control the zip so that I wouldn't end up spinning around or landing backwards, and by line 5 I'd had it down perfectly enough to pose for the camera!


Although I had a great time, I'm still not getting that always talked about "adrenaline rush". I keep trying, but I kept wanting the zips to go slower so that I could look around and admire the landscape. I was concentrating too hard on keeping straight, and it was so fast that all I could really do was prepare to "land" on the next platform. That's the only part where my heart rate spiked, because you're coming straight at a tree going quite fast and the only thing that is going to stop you from slamming into it is a pully brake that the guide uses.

The last thing we had to do at the end was repel down 47 feet. This scared me a bit too, but turns out it was incredibly easy. 



















This is the view from on top of the repel tower


Now that I've done this, I don't think I will ever do it again - I don't need to. I still loved it, and it was a great experience, but I'm cool with just the one time.

What about you guys? Would you ever try this? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Brownies or not-Brownies?

What makes a brownie a brownie? Is it like fudge? It is like cake? Is it a flat fudge cake? What if it had no flour?

What if it had no sugar?

Here is my recipe for flourless, "sugarless", healthy brownies.

5-6 prunes
2 eggs
1 scoop chocolate idealshake (can use whey or casein)
3 (or more – up to you) squares of intense dark twilight delight Ghirardelli bar
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbs coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Several drops of vanilla-flavored stevia (or other artificial sweetener)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Using a small pot, melt the chocolate squares and coconut oil together. Once melted, incorporate the tablespoon of cocoa powder. Put aside to cool slightly.
Add the prunes, vanilla extract and eggs to a blender and blend until as smooth as possible. It will come out thick. Add to a small bowl. Add the scoop of protein powder, baking soda and baking powder to the egg mixture and incorporate together.
Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and mix together. Spray an 8x8 pan liberally with non-stick spray and pour mixture into pan.

Cook for 12-15 minutes. Cool before serving.

As long as you don't expect it to be sweet, they taste really good. You can always make them sweeter by:
A. adding more stevia/splenda 
B. using milk chocolate instead of intense dark chocolate
C. sprinkling some powdered sugar etc on top

This comes out to about 145 calories a piece for 9 servings. Not bad if a chocolate craving hits, right? The chocolate is pretty intense thanks to the three types you add to it. Believe it or not, these come out kind of cakey. I'm not sure how; but they do not come out dense and fudgey like you'd expect they might without the flour. Just a head's up!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Uber Update

Uber has become synonymous with ridesharing. It's even a verb now - "Ubering". (Kind of like how Kleenex is a brand but that's what we call tissue.) Which is too bad considering the myriad of scandals plaguing their company - which of course is all their fault. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClJS1dQ-7q0uiB6xbMiuetg

Casually scrolling through The Apprepreneur's posts, there's scandal after scandal; it's becoming almost commonplace at this point.

But there are two things I hate most about Uber - and Lyft, because even though Lyft seems to stay out of the limelight, their app is no better than Uber's. 

1. Google maps. Or lack of an efficient GPS map of their own. Several things are dangerous and stupid about using Google Maps - and it's not the same exact Maps that you would get if you were to plug in an address yourself; one integral difference I noticed is that Google will have you go up and around a block to make sure you end up on the right side of the street, which is probably where the cool factor ends, because Maps will more often than not send you down dark back alleys to find your passenger when they're in the front of their house, not the back. And because Uber's GPS map leaves a lot to be desired, Google operates independently of the Uber/Lyft apps which causes problems of its own as well. It will 
A. Tell me I've arrived (at an apartment or retail complex) before I found the right spot so my map disappears. (Then I have to rely on Uber's pin) 
B. Run in the background even if my rider cancels or I drop them off early so I have to go back in and shut it down (while driving, usually!) and 
C. Is too eager and tells me I've arrived before I physically do. If I need house number 1370, it will say I've arrived at house number 1365. I've learned to drive another couple hundred feet or so every time.
Maps makes me look like an idiot in front of my passengers. I'm probably calling or texting them 80% of the time to ask where they are because I'm on the wrong side of the house or in another parking lot. Sigh.

2. Their rating system causes a buttload of problems. If Lyft wants to stand apart from the pack and be better than Uber without much effort on their part, it would be to revamp the 5-star rating system. There is post after post about what they could do to improve it, including explaining to passengers how it works (and how a low rating can get a driver kicked off the app), forcing them to either type in or choose a reason why they give anything less than a 5-star rating, and not counting low ratings for things not under our control, like traffic.

But the real reason it needs a revamp is because of something I have now experienced as a driver and should never have had a chance to occur. I got my first creepy drunk passenger. He made my skin crawl. And he sat in my front seat. It was 6:30 at night. It wasn't even dark; and he was already plastered. He smelled like weed when he got in my car, stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time, and mumbled something about me being beautiful. He asked me if I was drunk. Before we reached his house, he asked me if I was smoking weed because it smelled like weed in my car (Duh! From you!). Then, when I reached his house, he invited me to dinner. Um, no thank you. And you know what my response to him was, besides my answers being curt and short? To be nice. And why? Why didn't I kick this man out of my car? After all, my safety should be my number one priority. (I did have a taser and I considered pulling it out but I wouldn't take that step unless and until he tried to touch me.) Because he could give me a bad rating. (Here is an article about it, it's a long read but a good one if you're interested.)

You see, Uber (and to some extent, Lyft as well) does not allow you to dispute any ratings. Passengers don't have to give a reason why they gave you a sucky rating, and there's no way to get rid of it once you have it. Once you reach a 4.6 average, you are kicked off the platform, and it takes a hell of a lot to get you back on once that happens. I read that it takes somewhere around 19 5-star ratings to offset one 1-star rating. It's ridiculous. 

And obviously it doesn't have to be as serious as sexual harassment. It could be something stupid or simple, like telling them to turn down their music because you can't hear the directions, or asking them not to smoke in your car, or any etc situation. They can give you 1-star ratings willy-nilly, and that's just wrong, especially when it has more to do with your ability to drive than the passengers even know. Guess what - you can give them 1-star ratings as well, but does that affect them? Nope. If a passenger's star rating is low, you can choose not to pick them up, but then that affects your acceptance rate (although that doesn't matter anymore like it used to) So there's no winning for the driver in any scenario. The only plus, I suppose, is that if you give them a 1-star rating, you won't be paired with that passenger again. Wooptie do! It's not like *they* get kicked off of Uber for being assholes. Hell no. Uber wants all the passengers it can get. Drivers are a dime a dozen.

UPDATE: Uber is going to trial with Google for stealing its Waymo secrets. I'm probably not thinking as far into this as I should, but I hope they crash and burn and die. Then only Lyft will be left, and it will allow other ride-hailing services to come forth from the ashes. It means two things: Not as many drivers are using Lyft, so if Uber crashes, demand will be high, at least for a few days while those people scramble to get signed up for Lyft; and I'm ready. (As an already full-time employee can be. Hopefully they crash on a weekend lol) But that also means monopoly. And as most of us know from being forced to sign up for Comcast, monopolies are never good for the consumer. Hopefully it doesn't all go to Lyft's head as they reel from all the profits. 

Uber needs a good kick in the dick to stop acting like they're above the law. Even if this doesn't cripple them beyond repair, it better get them going in the right direction. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

My Healthy Minestrone Recipe

Minestrone is already pretty healthy. In case you didn't know, it is an Italian dish that uses in-season vegetables. It normally includes some kind of pasta, like a penne or fusilli, and you can certainly switch out the white pasta for a whole wheat version, but I had another idea.

If you notice, I did not say this was going to be a minestrone soup recipe. I don't really like soups, but I do like stews. I don't think this necessarily qualifies as such but that is what I'm calling it. The recipe I started with was a basic crock pot soup recipe. Normally, minestrone includes beans. Although beans are good sources of fiber and protein, I would rather use this as a side dish to a protein, like chicken breast.

My recipe is as follows:

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto 
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1/2 of a large white onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large zucchini (about 2 cups chopped)
  • 2 cups cut green beans
  • 8 oz package of sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice

Add everything to the crock pot sans the zucchini, green beans, and mushrooms and rice, and cook on high for 1 hour. Add the rice, and cook for another 2.5 hours. At the two hour mark, I tend to add the zucchini in to give it a little extra cooking time. Then, add the mushrooms and the green beans and cook for another 30 minutes or until they are tender. I also let the pot sit and cool for about an hour if possible; that tends to get the liquid soaked up or thicken like a stew gravy.

I tried to do a little research on how much pasta soaks up vs. how much brown rice soaks up and couldn't really find any information on it. But, for future reference, 1.5 cups of brown rice soak up 95% of the liquid in this recipe (6 cups). So that's good to know.

This recipe made an obscenely large amount of food. It makes approximately 14 1-cup servings, which MyFitnessPal gives as only 129 calories! That's crazy. You could even take out the tomato pesto if you wanted, as it can be a bit expensive and hard to find. That's 130 calories for 1/4 cup. I'm not sure how it would affect the flavor though.

Oh, another tip. Cook up some chicken breasts like you normally would, cut them into 3.5oz portions, and just literally stick them into the stew. It's thick enough to hold them on top. But the cool part is that the chicken will soak up a little of the left over soup and keep it nice and moist when you reheat it. Pretty cool. That was discovered by accident but it works wonderfully. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jury Duty AGAIN

You heard me: Again. At 32 years old I have now served on a jury twice. Lucky me. Here is my account of of the first time. Since I already explained the process there, I will move straight on to the case itself.

Again, it was a criminal case. Again, it involved unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, however this time there were a couple key differences: 
1. There were a total of 6 charges that the jury all had to decide on one by one
2. The defendant was pro se

Number two turned out to be a major issue. What could have been a 1 week case turned into 2 (including deliberations) because the defendant didn't really know much of what he was doing. He had counsel, but still. Okay, so here's the breakdown of the charges.

On the night of Jan 12th, 2016, Mr. Cole (the defendant) had smoked a blunt with someone he knew outside the bar at Latitude 84 in Tacoma. He apparently was not told that, what he thought had been regular marijuana, was primo - soaked in embalming fluid. (when I look up what "primo" is, it mentions cocaine so now I'm confused but that's what the court was calling it so I will say that as well.) Anyway, so he realizes something is off and leaves the scene in his car. On his way home he ends up crashing through someone's cyclone fence. Somehow, the door is either locked or stuck; so he climbs out the window, tries to push his car, tries to back it out etc but can't. The occupants of the house are watching all this and calling the cops.

The first to arrive is officer Bratcher. After that, Officer Bradley and Welsh arrive. The suspect is attempting to flee, they catch up, a struggle ensues. During the scuffle, which lasts 2-3 minutes (time that out on your watch. It's a long time!) officers Richie and KP Smith come. Welsh is on his left arm, Bratcher is on his right. Bradley is attempting to hold down his legs and/or use his taser which seems to be non-functional. When Richie comes on the scene, he attempts to use his taser as well, and although it sounds like it should be working, it has no effect. This whole time, Cole is kicking, flailing, actively resisting, and doing everything he can to basically get away from the situation.
At one point, near the end, Welsh calls out "Gun!". Welsh's account of the situation is he felt something on his abdomen (they are all down on the ground at this point), which turns out to be the barrel of a gun pointed up at him as it is stuck under his belt. He manages to wrench the gun out of Cole's hands and it falls to the ground. Then Welsh feels Cole's arm wraped around his waist, specifically his duty belt, and Cole manages to grasp onto his firearm and there's a pulling motion as if it was an attempt to get it free. Welsh manages to get Cole's arm away from there. KP Smith picks up the gun from the ground and puts it aside. At that point, they manage to get the suspect handcuffed and there's a whole account of him at the hospital as we also have Dr. Ursic testifying about his mental state while being checked out at TG.

So, here are the charges:

Count 1 is assault in the 3rd degree with a firearm (towards officer Welsh)
Count 2 is unlawful possesion of a firearm in the 1st degree
Count 3 is assault in the 2nd degree of officer Brtacher
Count 4 is assault in the 2nd degree of officer Bradley
Count 5 is was stricken and never announced
Count 6 is attempting to disarm a law enforcement officer
Count 7 is driving with a suspended license

Okay so obviously I didn't go into nearly all the detail surrounding the case so you might be thinking one way or the other already, however there was a whole lot that I didn't mention. And just like the first case I did, definitions of specific words are key. You literally have to pull each word apart and scrutinize it. 
All 12 of us had to roll over what the legal definition of "intoxication" was. What the legal definition of "assault" was, and (oh my god) the legal definition of "knowing" which I'm going to link because damn, I hate that one. We all did. 
We also had to start over after a full day of deliberations because one of the jurors had a thing she had to do and I guess also was experiencing emotional termoil from the case and wanted to be excused. I believe it was a blessing in disguise, even though we had lost a full day. (All in all, it was 2.5 days of deliberations) 

All of this really hinged on two things.
1. Did we believe Welsh's testimony about the gun because he was the only one in direct contact with it and most of the jury had their doubts as to where the gun had come from in the first place. (This was a big convoluted mess and that I won't delve into).
2. The intoxication part of Cole's defense. Because the law explains that if you are voluntarily intoxicated that doesn't absolve you of any crimes you may commit. However, that leaves involuntary intoxication as a possible "out" to possible crimes.

Because Cole had no prior knowledge of this laced blunt before he smoked it (and testified that he had no memory of events until bits and pieces came back once he was at the hospital), we believed that his actions didn't have intent to harm (and yes, there's a legal definition for the word "intent" as well. ugh) the officers. Yes, he was kicking, jerking, what-have-you, but only with the intention of trying to get away. When the gun ended up pointing at Welsh's abdomen, it was because Welsh had been trying to get in control of that arm and in the process of pulling it out from under him, the gun had come with it. We believed that he did not have the intention of using that firearm to harm the officers. Same goes with the "attempting to disarm". We believed that Cole's hand had inadvertently just found the gun as something to grab onto in his attempt to get back up or to get away. The same goes with Bradley and being "kicked" (his assault charge). The only thing we found him guilty of was possession of the firearm, which was still a contentious issue because even though the firearm was admitted into evidence and sitting at our table during deliberations, there was speculation of it in the first place, which again I won't get into. Charge 7 was a stipulation and he'd already pled guilty to that one.
We basically concluded that the State did not give us enough evidence to convict Mr. Cole. They had the burden of proving guilt and unfortunately due to the police officer's inconsistent testimonies, the handling of the evidence, and various other things the State could (or might have) provided and didn't, we couldn't find Mr. Cole guilty of the assaults.

What we learned later was that if he had been found guilty of the assaults, he would have been looking at life in prison without the possibility of parole due to this being his 3rd strike.
We were also finally able to look up what "embalming fluid" can do to a person: 

"Effects of embalming fluid included visual and auditory hallucinations, euphoria, a feeling of invincibility and increased pain tolerance. The high lasts from six hours to three days. However, the drug also produced feeling of anger, forgetfulness and paranoia."

SIDE NOTE:

We had one witness named Jeffrey Katz. He had been the detective assigned to Mr. Cole's case. I am a complete and utter sapiosexual. As he was explaining why they didn't fingerprint the gun, using a pen as an example, all I could think of was how cute he sounded, how obviously smart he was, and how well he was able to explain a concept into words that everyone could understand. You could say I was enamored. Unfortunately, I did see a ring on that blasted finger so no chance for me! lol Not that I'd be able to just walk up and talk to him as being a member of the jury anyway. Oh well.
One of the jurors, Jessica, coined the phrase "Jury wink" or "Juror wink" because damn, police officers be just like firemen lol Officer Bradley was pretty hot, so was Welsh, as was Bratcher (poor Bratcher - he was pinned up and tangled with the fence during the entire scuffle.) But I'd choose me some Katz. xD

Oh and for future reference, I am fulling intending on getting a work note to be excused next time! This is my progression into madness via Facebook: