BennyEast.Com/Blog The official blog of Kenny West

15Apr/170

Threat Or Challenge

I'm listening to more of this human emotion podcast from Yale University while I'm outside working on the mulching and weeding and lawn cutting and picking up sticks that fell from the trees over the winter...

And they discussed stress.  Turns out, and I had no idea before listening to this podcast, that if you perceive stress as a challenge instead of a threat, you are able to deal with it much better.

It's interesting, so if we look at whatever is causing stress in our lives as a challenge, a few things change.  You actually get more blood flow to your heart, your brain, and your organs and muscles.  Your body releases the same chemicals that it would right before you would compete.  So, that means your body amps up.

If you look at it as a threat, your body does the opposite.  It preserves blood flow and only delivers it where it thinks it might be needed and withdrawals it from places it thinks aren't needed for the fight or flight response that it's preparing for.

Now, it didn't say HOW to look at stress as a challenge instead of a threat, but I guess that's kind of the trick.  But they took two groups of individuals and they found that the one common survey question among people who were able to fair better in a stressful situation, such as right before they were about to take a test or something like that, or about to go into a job interview, or going on a first date... Or about to give a talk of some sort for work.

The people who did better, looked at all those stressful situations, like moving to a new place, or even a new apartment or buying a house... or going to a work convention for the weekend to give a big presentation...

They viewed it as a challenge.

So, that's kind of neat.  What I found also interesting is that according to the studies cited, it turns out that stress events isolated actually drive us to be more creative and to sort of become better people.  That is, having events in our live that produce stress that we then come up with ways to handle it... Lead us to changing ourselves.

So, individual stressful events are actually good.

What's not good is chronic stress.  So what we do need are breaks of relaxation.  So, if you have an event happen, but then you relax after that even is resolved... That's good.  Just having constant stress though is very bad.

People who have stress events followed by breaks and relaxation have better immune response to colds, but the opposite is true for constant stress.

Interesting stuff.

The last thing they mentioned was that people who are hopeful and curious seem to have less chronic diseases than people who are not.

SO if you look at everything as a challenge and remain hopeful and curious about everything.  You do better overall than if you view everything as a threat and are not hopeful and don't care to know more about things.

Well anyways, I got more lawn work and mulching done.  I'm remulching the plant beds.  What I did so far looks pretty good.

I really want to get one of those cut in half whiskey barrels from Lowe's and fill it with potting soil and plant something in it to put on top of this stump I have in my yard.  I think that will look good.  There's a tree stump from a tree that was cut down a few years ago.

I have so many projects though.  I want to re-do the vents around the house with these fancy ones I saw at Lowe's and I also want to get a new screen door.

I want to put in one of those wood overhangs on the back porch, maybe.  We had one growing up in California and I thought it was cool.  It's just planks of wood that are over the porch.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/16/fc/cc/16fcccd9c5f9b86ade352c3597b5b985.jpg

That.

Or...

http://rolitz.com/2016/09/patio-overhang.html

Patio overhang.  One of those would be cool off the back of my house I think.  We'll see.  I do need to pay this obnoxious tax bill first.  And I want a drum set.  And my iPhone is old as dirt.

My portfolio manager is supposed to talk to me in the next couple weeks to start setting up a monthly or quarterly payout from the trust income.  I've decided that I want 50 percent pay out and 50 percent reinvested.

I have my own portfolio too, I'll be getting 53 bucks in dividends on Monday!  So, that's cool.

I really am considering using some of my money to buy property, maybe a condo, and then start AirBNBing it.  The thing is, anything I do of that nature takes away from music time... Which is the whole goal of my life is to be able to make it so that I change my life and figure out a way to do more music.  Not less.

Which is why I'll probably just continue to put money into dividend stocks.

It's a challenge!  To figure out how to get my life setup and geared towards making more music.

Well anyways, so, the next time you have something in your life that is stressful... Try to view it as a challenge instead of a threat!  At least that's what the science people at Yale say to do.

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14Apr/170

How My Life Could Be Different

Let's assume we go back to the day I was born and make some changes.

Now, my grandparents had about 10 million in assets in 2007 as we were told my the previous trustee.  When he came off as trustee there was about 4.

He used trust money to defend the trust and stay on as trustee, so he was using our own money against us to keep himself on as trustee and pay himself a management fee.

I would argue at least 2 million was lost to legal fees alone from 2007 onward.

Additionally my great grandmother had 5 million when she passed in 2002.  Now, the previous trustee used my grandfathers money to fight the other side of the family that took most of her money.  There actually should have been more money because I know for a fact that before the dot com bubble she had at least 15 million.

So that money was probably not invested right.

But let's assume that we walk with the 5 and the 10 million in 2002 and 2007.

SO let's assume there was no previous trustee.

Let's also assume that my mom never moved me from California.

Let's also assume that money gets divided equal parts in my own family members, there are 6 of us.  Now 5 because my mom passed.

Now let's assume I live in LA.

This places me at getting my first 800k in 2002 at 20 years old living in LA.

I then use that 800k from my great grandmother to start my music an acting career at 20.  I invest that money and let dividends come off that money.  If you had invested 800k of money (that's 5 million split 6 ways, it's a rough estimate, there's taxes and whatever and I didn't do the actual math but it's close enough).  Even if I never make it anywhere in music or acting... I still have 3 to 5 percent of 800k in dividends coming in, I also have capital gains.  800k invested in 2002 would have grown pretty nicely.

Then 7 years later at 27 I get 1/6th of 10 million.  SO, that's another 1.2 million or something.

Now I have close to 2 million to fall back on... But I've also been working at my music and acting now for 7 years.

Could I be someone famous in hollywood right now?  I could be.  We'll never know because of my grandfather's friend who basically mucked it all up.

So instead where are we now?

Instead I live in Philly... I've spent 11 years working IT... I chased a girl I never got for many years and she now lives in Florida.  The trustee who mucked things up also lives in Florida...

So I have an ex trustee and an ex romantic interest who both live in Florida.  The trust is in LA.

There should't even be a trust at the moment actually because my grandfather's original wishes were for it to terminate at 30 years... But the previous trustee's plan was to make the trust go until we were 50 so he could mooch off the trust in fees that he charged as management fees.  But the court didn't throw that out because the doctor mysteriously refused to testify any further when asked about my grandfather's condition.

It's a whole thing.  Nearly 10 years in the courts.

I still make some time for music but it's very little.  I started writing books... I took a handful of acting class things improv and other stuff.

But here's my thing... Maybe I'm here where I am because the other path in life would have lead to something worse?  Maybe I would have ended up in some other situation that would have been worse.

Or maybe being a famous actor or musician just wasn't where I was meant to be.

Who knows really.

So, what I know is here I'm.  I'm not poor by any means.  Yes if all that money would have been invested properly and none of it lost to the various things it was lost to... My great grandmother's thing was that her husband who lived longer than her was supposed to sign a document not taking half of her share.

So then his kids took half of her money even though he had his own 10 million himself.

That means my grandfather and his brother and another step sibling each got 2.5 million to share between them.  But the previous trustee used my grandfather's share to appeal and file court decisions to try and get the other 2.5 million back.

So most of that money was lost after a few years of wasted court money and legal money.

Well anyways... SO here I am.  My goal now is to get back to making as much music as I can.  To use what I have left to just live my life as is and hopefully try to build things back up.

What I find interesting is simply the order of things.

If my great grandmother had outlived her husband... That issue with half her money being taken by her husband's children, or her step children (she remarried in her 60s and died in her 90s) wouldn't have been an issue.

If my grandmom had outlived my grandfather she probably would have moved back to the east coast to be closer to us.

See my grandmom passed in 2001.  That's when my grandfather's friend moved in on the cash and started getting my grandfather to sign papers.  So here's a grieving man... Who was married for 50+ years... just lost his wife, and 2 weeks after she passed away, the first document is signed giving his friend sole power of attorney over everything.

Then shortly thereafter... He's made trustee of my grandfather's survivor trust and my grandmother's stuff.  And he's then made trustee of my mom and her sister's stuff, then our stuff.

Then he goes after my grandfather's mother's stuff as soon as she passed in 2002.

But if my great grandmother had lived longer than my great grandfather... And my grandmother had lived longer than my grandfather...

Theoretically there would be 15 million there, and let's assume it was never split up between the 6 heirs... If you had invested 15 million in 2007 lets say my grandmom passed then...

The general rule of doubling is that money doubles in investing every 7 ish years...

Today?  We'd have about 30 million.

The order of things changes so many things.  If my grandmom and great grandmom had outlived my grandfather and great grandfather...

My life would be significantly different.  I could have moved BACK to LA, or NYC... I could be a famous musician or actor right now instead of an IT person.

But maybe fame wasn't the path I was meant to take.  It sounds glamorous... But maybe something really bad would have happened from all of that.

It's still not all bad... I still have 1-2 million in a trust in LA.  And assuming the rule of doubling... By the time I turn 50 and the trust is cashed out in 16 years... I should have a pretty nice nest egg to then carry me through into my golden years.

Maybe I'll be one of those actors that didn't come on the scene until I was up there in years.  Or I'll really get cracking on these books and become an accomplished writer in my 40s.

Or I could use what happened to me with my trust to advise others with wealth so that they don't have the same situation when they go to pass money to their heirs.

I guess only time will tell where we go from here.

Maybe I could have had a different life... But my past has brought me here to this point, so... I gotta take things how they are and make the best with them!

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13Apr/170

Unhatched Eggs Don’t Pay Taxes

The tax man cometh.  Or something like that.  Isn't that the phrase?  Pay now, pay later, eventually you're gonna pay.

Anyways, I'm definitely paying.

Okay, so here's the deal with taxes.  Taxes always have to be paid.  Sometimes you pay them now, or you pay them later.  Sometimes you don't even pay them, someone else does.

But at some point, they get paid.

A long time ago, my grandfather started an IRA.  I mean, I have an IRA too.  And every year, I don't pay taxes on my IRA.  It's a ROTH IRA.

That is, I don't pay taxes RIGHT NOW.  Eventually... I'll pay taxes on the income made within the IRA.

Well, so this IRA was part of the trust.  Here's the thing... Let me first say that everything with my grandparents and great grandparents stuff got messed up.  I know this because the current trustee has told me this.

He's told me that they had to fix a lot of stuff.

Additionally, my mom's stuff was messed up.  And we had to fix stuff with that.

Additionally additionally additionally....

A lot of money has been lost between my great great grandparents, my great grand parents and my grand parents and my mom.

If things had gone right?  There would be somewhere around 20 to 50 million in that trust.

But it didn't go right and now there's between 1 and 2 million.

Why didn't it go right?  People stuck their paws where they shouldn't have stuck them.  A lot of money was lost to legal fees, to taxes, to things not being done right.

It wasn't invested properly.

The thing is, if you have money and you have it not only invested properly, but you also have it in tax efficient investing, and you also have it setup in a way to avoid legal and bank fees...

That same amount of money can be worth 10 times what improperly setup money is worth.

If you go back 20 years and you setup two investment accounts... One has everything right... It's invested in a proper way and managed by a seasoned portfolio manager.  The taxes are done right... The paperwork is done right and you avoid legal fees and you have lower bank fees and investment fees.

The other one?  Invested wrong, lots of changing hands and active trades, lots of pulling the trigger on selling stock when it's down and buying when it's over priced and losing money.  Legal fees, large investment fees.  Pulling out capital instead of just distributing income, or letting the income reinvest...

Etc. etc.

Those two accounts can be worth VERY different amounts as time goes on.  Fees hurt, lawyers cost money, invested in bad investments hurt returns in the long run... Pulling out money makes the compounding effect go WAAAAY down.

Anyways... One of the things that happened with our stuff is this IRA was cashed out last year.  It wasn't supposed to be cashed out like that in one fell swoop.

What happens when an IRA is cashed out?  The IRS sees it as income.

So... Income is taxed.  Now the way our trust is setup is that the principle stays how it is... Or was supposed to stay.  And then the income was supposed to be distributed to the beneficiaries each year.

This didn't happen.

Why is that important?

Well, because as the income comes in, the IRS thinks we're getting that income in the form of checks.

We're not.

SO?

That means the IRS thinks I made 37 thousand dollars last year from my trust.

I did not.

That means I have to pay tax on 37 thousand dollars in income that I didn't actually receive.  It's sitting in the trust.

Ouch.

Tell me about it.

So, what are you broke or something?

Nope.  Here's the thing, I already knew this was coming, years ago.

My mom always said, don't count your chickens before they hatch.  Most people count unhatched chickens in their favor.  I count unhatched chickens against me.

What I mean to say is this...

My view on life is as follows... Things are always going to cost more than you think, you will always make less than you think you will, and everything will always take longer than you think it will.

I like to use doubling as my go to.

So, I try to live within half my means.  Take your salary and half it.  That's how much you should be living on.

Take your costs and inflate them.  When you buy stuff, make an excel sheet and double the cost.

Save more, spend less.  Live below your means.

Don't count money until after it's been in your pocket for some time.

That's what I did.  I received a distribution in the fall... I didn't spend a dime.  That distribution wasn't part of the income, it was part of something else.

But I knew that this tax situation would be coming.

Additionally, even though I have money in accounts, I don't spend what's there.  I only spend what my monthly income is.

I could have 10 million in the bank... But if my monthly income coming off that 10 million in interest is only lets say... 3 grand a month or something (That would be very poorly invested money, but for the sake of argument) I would only spend 1500 a month.

I know, I'm crazy.  But that's my policy.

It's also the reason why when I go to hit the file my taxes button and I have to pay 3 or 4 thousand dollars in taxes... I'm going to be okay to write the check.

Because instead of taking the money I received and booking a flight to Paris... and buying a new car... and going on a mall shopping spree... and buying the latest and greatest iPhone and all sorts of other things...

I just put it all in the bank and let it sit, and didn't change a thing about my lifestyle.

Trust me, I know people who inherited money and immediately went on a spending spree and travel and vacation spree... Guess what happened when they had to pay taxes on that money?  They had actually spent so much of the money that they had to take out a loan to pay the taxes the next year.

So what's the deal with paying these taxes going forward?

Next year will be different.  The IRA is already cashed out.  That's done.  And they are going to start a quarterly distribution schedule, or possibly monthly schedule of the income coming off the investments.

What that means is I'll get that income into an account that I can then access.

WOO HOO TIME TO GO SHOPPING!

No thanks.  That money will then go into an account and be held to pay future taxes.

I probably will end up investing the money and then maybe use some of the income that comes off those investments.  But, no, it's not time to go shopping.

Most people make that mistake.  They spend most or all of their paychecks... For most people though, they get a tax return when they file... And then they go shopping with that too.

Who am I to tell anyone what to do.

My thing is... just remember don't count your chickens before they hatch... and sometimes not all chickens hatch at the same time.

So, remember to buy enough chicken food to feed all your hatched chickens, but make sure to keep some extra for those eggs that hatch after the fact.

That's why I saved money instead of partying like a rockstar.

I knew that my chickens hadn't hatched yet, but I knew that sooner or later... They would hatch.  And they would be counted against me.

The good news is.... Going forward, there should be less expenses because 2017 and forward everything has been setup and fixed so that it's all properly invested, the accounts are correct, and the taxes are all up to date and filed right.

If anyone is going to setup a trust for future children or grandchildren... I recommend the following...

Don't appoint anyone in your family, or anyone you know as trustee... Now, this also includes what happened to us... That means make sure the paperwork specifically appoints the following, and cannot be changed...

Make 3 corporate trustees and each one has equal say.  Each one has to agree in an all or nothing.  No changes can be made to the trust no matter what.  3 different doctors have to evaluate the person making the trust and they all have to agree if the person is of sound mind or not.

See, with my family trust... My grandfather did make my mom and her sister the trustees initially... but there was a loophole in that changes could be made to the trust.  That means all you need is a doctor willing to say someone is of sound mind when they really aren't and you can then change the trust.

If you specially setup a trust and say that there has to be 3 trustees non-family tied, no one related, and 3 medical doctors have to sign off on it...  And 3 different accountants have to sign off... And 3 different money managers have to approve the investment changes.

You're pretty much set.

Anyways... All that being said... The number one take away from this post is...  Even if you don't have a trust... Even if you just have your regular work paycheck each week, or maybe once a month like my check is...

Save some money.  You never know what costs are going to come up in the future that might be unexpected.  And if you didn't save... You'll find yourself in quite the pickle when it comes time to pay that cost.

I know, no one wants to save (I mean, I wanted to buy tons of things for my house when I was at Lowe's tonight... But I walked away from unnecessary purchases and went with only what I came in for).  We all just want to cruise to the Bahamas 24/7 and buy everything and anything we can get our hands on.  But just trust me... Chickens will eventually hatch and they'll be hungry and waiting.

Spend half of what you make, double every cost... And plan for everything to take twice as long as you think it will.

Oh and don't put all your eggs in one basket.

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12Apr/170

Turned Around

Tonight I didn't turn around.  I thought about it, but I didn't.  I almost did, but I didn't.

What would have happened if I did?  I mean, probably nothing.  Or just wasted time and energy really.

Okay, so I'm on break from work, Easter break.  I'm off from now until Tuesday morning.  I'll still remote in and do work.  Although my coworkers have a different philosophy on that, so I won't see or hear from them probably until Tuesday.  I used to be like that, but my thing is... Then I'd be totally stressed out on Tuesday when I got back.

I'd rather be in the know and prepared for what I'm walking into.  I'd rather keep my ear to the ground, than to sort through a whole bunch of emails and be like... WHOA!  WHATISGOINGONHERE!?!?!

So, instead, I'm remoted in right now and dealing with emails while I cook a sweet potato to go with my salad and salmon that I'm having for dinner.

There are already a few emails that came in right after work.

I plan to work on various things around home this weekend, and work on music, and book stuff, and mulch and landscape outside, and remote in, and go to yoga, and what have you.

My sister wanted me to drive down to VA... I don't know what planet she lives on, but I have stuff to do.  I guess she has a husband, so she lives on the planet where her husband does all the things I'm doing around my house, but around their house.  Anyways, I told her I'm using this break to catch up on my to-do lists which really makes me feel less stressed and feel good.

Driving down to visit her would stress me out more, not only would I have all the stuff I WANTED to accomplish, not done... I'd then have it all piled up even more when I got back...

It's weird, you know, most people love that stuff.  They love some big road trip to see family or friends, they love to get away, and forget about work and their own living space.

I guess I'm weird like that.  I love to use this time to do things that I don't normally have time to do.  My philosophy is this, its simple... Vacation and that sort of stuff is for when you have an empty plate.

I have the same view at work.  My coworker likes to just leave the office for lunch.  He stops at the end of the business day and that's that.  His view is whatever is done, is done... And if it's close to the end of the day on Friday... His famous quote when someone is at our door at the last minute with an issue on a Friday...

"You know what that problem sounds like to me?  That sounds like you have a Monday Problem."

My view is... You're done when your list is empty.

Vacation is for when your to-do list is empty.

It comes from how my mom raised us.  She would say... "You can do whatever... AFTER you finish all your homework."

So basically, we came home after school and did homework.  TV?  Games?  Whatever?  AFTER homework is done.

That's my philosophy.

Right now we have open tickets of unresolved issues.  So, I remote in and work on things after hours.  Right now I have a to-do list of things to do for my personal to-do.  So, I focus on that.

I know it sounds a little like I'm saying we should all be work-a-holics.  I mean, okay, so maybe leave some things on your plate... But it all depends on what queue size.

So, if you have maybe a handful of things?  That's understandable, you can't keep your plate of items to take care of 100 percent empty all the time.

But, if you have say, 500 things on your list, I think maybe it wouldn't hurt to stay home on a long weekend and work on those lists, or skip that vacation.

And that's what I'm doing.

It makes me happy to know that I'm here on my first night of a break from work, just being productive.

That's why I didn't turn around.  Who knows what would have happened if I turned around, maybe better things would have come from it... But what I do know is... I didn't turn around...

Instead of going to Conshy brewing company after yoga tonight, I went to the store and I bought items on my shopping list.

Instead of spending money on a few beers at Conshy brewing... I'm at home making dinner.  I spent that money at the store instead.  I thought about it though, I thought about going to have a couple beers to celebrate my first night of break, and unwind and relax.

Instead, I'm remoted in sorting things, and cooking dinner.

What would have happened if I had turned around?  Probably the following:

I would have had my first beer... 6 bucks + a tip... On an empty stomach.

I would have sat there talking to the bar tender.  Maybe would have tried to sit down next to a cute single someone... She would have gotten up halfway through my first beer.  Or it would have turned out she had a boyfriend already.

I would have probably gotten a little down on myself, which is what happens every time I try any sort of romantic endeavor and fail.  Additionally, the alcohol amplifies that effect.

I would have probably decided to have a second beer.

I would have had some guy and his friend start talking to me...  Then his friend and me and him would probably end up having a third beer as we're all now friends...

And additionally, whenever I do go to a bar and some dude or multiple dudes start talking to me, and I don't get why this is...

They basically are like the type of people who throw back 6 or 8 pints in a night, and it's a week night, and they have work the next day.

Seriously, I have like 3 and I'm wasted.  And I wake up with a hangover.

Anyways so they probably would have been like... YEAH DUDE, go for another one!  You're on break man, do it up!

I would have then spent upwards of 25 or 30 bucks on beer, and then on top of that, I would have gotten some kind of bar entree as well.  50 bucks right there.

I would have left the brewery going my way and them going theirs.  Since I'd be too tipsy to drive yet... I'd now have to walk around for an hour.  Now it's too late to go to the store and I'm also really tired.

Alcohol makes me sleepy.

Now I'm home late, and the cats haven't been fed.

I feed the cats.

Oh and by the way, when I got home tonight... The cats had basically no dryfood left!  SO, if I HAD turned around... The cats would have been SUPER hungry.

I feed the cats, I then stumble up to my bed.  I fall sleep with all the lights on.  I don't brush my teeth before going to bed.

Then, I wake up with a hangover, and then I don't get out of bed until late... I don't get any of my yard work and landscaping done.  I still have this work to get done for accounts for new students.  I don't work on music or books.

I feel stressed... and drained instead of refreshed and restored.

So, let's re-cap.

  1. I don't meet a girl.
  2. I blow 60 bucks at the bar on a booze and unhealthy bar food.
  3. I waste 4 or 5 hours befriending dudes I'll never actually interact with ever again.
  4. I don't get my grocery shopping done.
  5. My cats starve.
  6. I fall asleep with the lights on, waste electricity.
  7. I possibly add to tooth decay and a future of a cavity at the dentist.
  8. I wake up with a hang over.
  9. Don't get landscaping done.
  10. Feel drained and get even less done on my list.

So, I didn't turn around.

Could the love of my life be sitting at Conshy Brewing Company right now?  Yeah.  She could.  But from ALL the nights I went out looking for love I learned one thing...

You're probably not going to meet someone, and... Your to-do list will still be waiting, and you'll have even more things on it.

Maybe I'm just getting older and wiser and more responsible?  Who knows.  What I do know is... My younger self would have turned around... Sat down, had a beer...

And ended up coming home to some very hungry cats.

Instead I'm enjoying a home cooked meal, and about to put a second load of laundry in the washer.

Oh, that's another thing... So, I'd still have a laundry basket full of dirty clothes.

I just feel like my Tuesday morning self is going to be thanking my Wednesday night self for not turning my car around and going to have a beer.  And instead, sticking to my routine.  Oh, and ALSO... I just did dishes that I had in my sink.  Now I have a clear sink as well.  So, add that to the list too!

After I finish making dinner, I'll relax with some a show or movie on Netflix and work on some things on my laptop while I watch a show or a movie.

Productivity and happy cats = 1

Passing out without brushing my teeth after wasting money on a few beers leaving all the lights on and not getting a single item on my to-do list completed at all and forcing my cats to sit at home starving waiting for me to come home and feed them = 0

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12Apr/170

A Mig De La

I was doing some yard work today after work before I went out to trivia.  The podcast that I listened to was talking about our brains and something called temperaments.  I learned that our brains contain upwards of 150 different chemicals.  But get this too, our brains have different concentrations of those 150 chemicals.

So, that means that if you're sitting on the train, or a plane, or in a movie theater... Or just at the mall, or whatever... The person to the left of you and the person to the right of you have different concentrations of those same 150 chemicals.

That means, that everyone is somewhat shaped from the get go by how much of each chemical we have, or do not have.  Some extreme cases of not having chemicals are when we have very little serotonin, which is a predisposition to depression.

But there's people who have extra serotonin... etc etc.

Anyways, so basically one of the things that comes out of that is depending on the chemical makeup, some people have very hyperactive amygdalas and some people have hypoactive.  The same can be true for other organs in the body, like when someone is diagnosed with a thyroid disorder where it's hyper or hypo...

So, the one guy is a research professor and he was discussing how they found a correlation to specific personality traits depending on which amygdala you have.

I'm hyper.  For sure.

Now I want to read all up on it.  I'm pretty sure that I'm like EXTRA hyper.

Well, so the amygdala if it's on the more hyper side, that means we tend to be more prone to external stimuli.

Whereas the hypo people are less prone.

Okay, here's an example.  Hyper amygdala people take in more and things are more intense than hypo.

So, like a concert setting like a loud rock concert setting might be almost overwhelming.  Think introvert versus extravert.  Or someone who's more prone to being tense if the surroundings aren't comfortable or familiar.

Someone who's hypo doesn't mind.  They actually NEED more stimulus to get to the same level of brain stimulation that someone who is hyper needs.

Basically it's like this... Instead of everyone starting at zero and then getting to 10 by adding 10... Some people have a natural state of 5 while others are -5.

So, this explains why some people love loud sporting events with lots of action, they generally have a lower baseline amygdala whereas someone who likes a quite night at home with a movie on the couch might be a positive 5.

Basically if your amygdala is very unhyper, you need to amp it up.  These are people who love clubs, the love going out every night.  They love busy and stimuli.  They probably live in the city, in the center of action.

And it's basically for the most part... Just chemicals.

Now, that's not to say you can realize things about yourself and sort of push yourself to be in places you don't really feel comfortable in, or aren't appropriate for your level of amygdala-ness.

But apparently being a loud and crowd person or a quiet time with a book at home person... Has less to do with something you have learned...

And more to do with biology of the chemical makeup of your brain.

It's just interesting.  Because what's fascinating about this is that people who like certain places or settings or things or activities, probably like them not so much because they made a choice, but because it keeps their brain stimulus level in the green zone.

So, if you have an amygdala baseline level of 10... You basically love quiet spaces.  You love relaxed environments, because hitting up the club scene or going to an amusement park, or going to a sports game with thousands of screaming fans...

Is like overdrive for your sensory input.

But the same is true for someone with a super hypo amygdala.  If your amygdala is -10... You need adrenaline rush.  You probably take risks... You like to skydive.  You love a good highstakes poker game and are more likely to do things that include large groups of people and loud noise.  High energy.

At least this is how I understand it.  I did some quick looking up of how it works and the amygdala is responsible for anxiety and fight or flight.

SO, this makes sense... If you have a lot of uncertainty around you... lots of strangers, loud noises, lots of lights... That in turn can activate anxiety in the fight or flight reaction.  That can make you feel uneasy and scared or anxious.

Basically this means that the pond you feel most comfortable swimming in... might have a lot to do with how you interpret the senses coming in.  Sense we all have the same things coming in given a specific place or space.... Each one of us interprets things differently.

I found a couple of interesting sources related to is from a quick search...

This one...

https://www.unlearninganxiety.com/amygdala/

and

http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/amygdala

It's fascinating stuff!

What's intersting is that you can kind of adapt yourself to yourself.  And learn to understand what's going on.

Let's say for example you're out with a couple of friends at a bar... If you're an easily activated amygdala person you would be ready to go after just 1 or 2 drinks.  You get your fill easy.  You become over stimulated and need to go outside for fresh air.  Or maybe you even find yourself hiding off in some cozy corner spot where the speakers aren't as loud and there aren't as many people, or even taking a few moments in a bathroom stall.

But if you have a much less active amygdala it takes more for you to get amped up and stimulated because you don't get anxious.  You might even find it boring.  So you do a shot, or two, and then you chase it with a Red Bull.  You then want to get out on the dance floor and really get the body moving to get your heart rate up.

It's almost inverted.  People who take in a lot of stimulation from even just reading a book need less to get to the same level as people who find reading boring, or dull.

Anyways, I definitely have kind of heard about this a little before and read some of it, but I'd forgotten about it.  I had no idea though about the 150 chemicals and how we each had different concentrations.

It's interesting stuff because even just knowing this makes me more aware of my own preferences and behaviors.

I definitely get more anxious and worry a bit more I think than most people I know.

I don't prefer to be in a loud environment that's fast paced and lots of lights and lots of people.  I definitely would feel like I need to retreat back to quiet and calm after having been in a place with lots of actions and energy happening.

But I do know people who would close down a bar almost every night or stay out at a club in the city and then want to know where the afterparty is...

The thing is, we can suspend our natural state... But after so long, we need to return back to it.

It's really interesting stuff.  I definitely want to learn more about it.  I'm definitely a hyper stimulus person.  I get my fill pretty quickly.  But I definitely know people who after getting their fill, and then some, they still want more.  Their natural state is to always do things that amp them up because they constantly need to have their chemicals in their brain pumped up.

The next time you are hanging out with a friend, or coworker, or family member at the bar, and you're ready to go home and they are just getting started and keep saying the night is young, or maybe the reverse is true...

Something to consider.  If you're ready to head home and they want to stay out all night, it could just be that they are trying to get to that same stimulated level you are at right now... Just takes a lot more for them.

Anyway, that's the way I kind of understood it.  Although I have more reading to do.  So, it could be that I don't quite have it right.

The bottom line is, we're all different... And it's because of that we each have a slightly different way of taking in the world.  But we can know this about ourselves and just be aware of it.

So, I know that I am slightly more sensitive and emotional and have a lower threshold for taking in stimuli... But it's because of my hardwiring of my brain.  But now I can be aware of it and know myself better to be able to handle the world and life experiences in a better way!

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10Apr/170

HALP! Desk.

Interesting news... Now, this hasn't been made official yet, so keep it on the DL (Down Low)...

BUUUUUUT...

Our current halpdesk coordinator is hanging up her spurs and off to greener pastures.  Or maybe not greener, just different.  She's giving up the halpdesking gig at the college to go work at a the-at-er.

What does that mean?  That means... We're going to be looking for a new helper of desking coordinator.

If you know anyone in the Philly area who likes to keep things coordinated... It could be a fun gig!

Here's the thing, it doesn't pay ALL that great.  It's definitely more of an intro gig, or an extro gig, or an in-between gig.  But it's a decent gig to have for a couple of years until the next gig comes.

Here's the ALSO thing... Even though it doesn't pay well, you get free... that's right, you heard me... FREE classes!  Get em while they're hot!  I think it's free, either that or it's SERIOUSLY discounted.  I know when I was taking classes though all I had to pay for was the books.  So, the policy may have changed and maybe they do like free after you work there 6 months or a year, or something to that effect, and before that it's half tuition.  I'm ALMOST positive it's free though because I know I took classes very early on after working there and my tuition was free.

The selection is limited though.  But still, a master's degree for free?  Seriously, that's a bargain in itself.  AND on top of that, you get all the seasonal breaks.

Like, this week, for example... I worked today, I have work tomorrow as well, and Wednesday.  Then I'm off FIVE days.  That's right... FIVE DAYS!

And that's on top of the standard vacay time that you get.

So, I mean, it kind of makes up for the whole non-profit liberal arts college pay grade deal.

Anyways... that's the news of the moment.

Ideally, the job is best suited for someone who likes to boss people around.  And organize tickets and tasks.  And has lots of sass.  And likes to talk on the phone when people call with their issues.

The one downfall of the job?  Sometimes being in the computer lab with stressed out students can be tough.  While you're in your own office and you can pull the door shut... Students will come-a-knocking when the computers start locking up.  Or freezing up.  Or the printing won't work.  Or the internets won't work.

But it's basic stuff... Like you just go out and refill the paper trays on the printer.  You handle time sheet signing and department bills, and you also reach out to vendors to get quotes for things.

Standard office stuff.

If you ask me?  I think it's a great job for someone who just needs a break from their current gig and wants to start taking classes to get a master's degree, or finish a bachelor's degree.

Or I guess if someone just needs a job in general.  I mean you also get health insurance with it... SO, that's always a plus.

Well... Anyways, we're sad to see her go, but she seems to be super happy with the shift in her career choice.

Who takes the reigns next will be anyone's guess!  Word to the wise though, we generally like at least a 2 to 3 year commitment, and like i said, sometimes the computer center can get a little heated, but if you're good at just bossing the students around and telling them to calm their pants down.  You'll do fine, or anyone who has that job will do fine.

I will say that it's a pretty coveted position... In the 11 years I've been at my job, we've only had 3 coordinators and the first one was there long before I ever arrived.  So the next time that job spot will open up is anyone's guess.

Side note though, in addition to taking classes... It's also a pathway to other jobs at the college... Our previous coordinator still works at the college, she just moved up to the graduate department after she finished her master's degree and she's been there ever since.

So, it's kind of a foot in the door type of job.  You start as the helpdesk coordinator and maybe finish a master's degree, then you move to another job after 2 or 3 years, which is probably how long it will take you with evening classes to finish your degree anyway.

There's always a lateral move to another company or college.

Anyways... Think you've got what it takes?  Keep an eye on higheredjobs.com, it's bound to be posted there sooner or later.  And when I say sooner or later, probably two weeks, since that's when our current coordinator starts her new gig.

HALP!  We need someone... HALP!  Not just anyone... Oh oh oh ohhhhhhh.

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5Apr/170

Avocado Oil

My boss is going to start juicing.  He bought a super fancy pantcy juicer device.  Thanks to my recommendation.  So, he's going to start that.  We're all talking super healthy stuff in our office at the moment.

Actually, it's interesting... So, I usually cook in EVOO, that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Apparently, there's an ongoing debate about that I wasn't aware of.

So, as we were chatting I started Googling.  See, he was saying that flax seed oil can't be made by any other means but cold pressing because the heat turns the fat into free radicals and trans fats.

Then, I found something called "smoke point".  I'd never heard of it!  So, smoke point is when you're cooking oil... The temperature at which the oil starts to burn, goes sour...

Then the oil basically goes from being good for you, to bad for you.  It becomes free radicles and trans fats and what have you.

Apparently different oils have different smoke points.  EVOO is only around 300 or maybe 325 to 350 degrees max.

Avocado oil is significantly higher.  Somewhere around 400+.

So, EVOO is healthy, as long as you keep the cook temp under 300 degrees.  This is why it works better for dressing and such.  As well it works for just sautéing vegetables.

The question is how many times have I cooked above 300?  I don't think I've gone beyond it too much... Most of my cooking is done at number 2 out of 10 on the stove.

From what I can tell 2 of 10 means it's around 275 degrees.

I'm fairly certain that I mostly stayed under the 300 degree limit.

Now that's only for extra virgin olive oil.  Light or regular olive oil has a higher smoke point, so that's much more suited for cooking with.

EVOO is mostly supposed to be used on salads, or with baguettes.  Which is how I'll be using for the most part from now on.  I may still cook with it, but I'll make sure to keep the temps on the lower side.

That means, instead, for most of my cooking I'll be using avocado oil.

It has one of the highest smoke points and apparently is just as healthy, if not possibly healthier than EVOO.  Just do a quick search on Google about avocado oil health benefits and you'll find a menagerie of results.

Oh, and I might also buy a juicer.  I found a cool website that I showed my boss that has all kinds of neat juicing recipes.  It's www.juicerecipes.com.

I've always wanted to try juicing.  Mostly I just make blended smoothies.  But just as EVOO has its limitations, and avocado oil picks up where it leaves off...

Juicing as well has certain advantages over plain old blended smoothies.  Turns out as well there's two different kinds of juicing machines... One of them uses a blade and spins at a high rate to make a centrifuge... the problem with this is that it destroys some of the nutrients... If you use a masticating or slow juicer... Or a cold press juicer, you get higher quality nutrients.

The thing is that the slow juicers are a bit pricier than the spin blade juicers.

I'd say, when it comes to health though, paying a higher cost is worth it.

So, those are my two new health things... avocado oil and a slow juicer.  Neat stuff!

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4Apr/170

Neat or Cheap

I'm at Lowes tonight after yoga... I bought four switches to replace some wall outlet switches that just don't feel as snappy as they should be.

So, my new thing is every time I go into Lowes, I browse the aisles and come up with new things I want to do with my house.

I need new house numbers.  Obviously, I also need the brick repointing thing which will happen this summer, but I also want a fancy cool house number sign.  I'd actually love to make a mini replica sign of the camp sign.  But... I don't think that's going to happen.

But maybe a cool sign that can hang from my lamp out front.

Another thing I stumbled upon is the solar powered pathway lights.  Here's my thing, they either seem neat, or cheap.  You know?  Like, they scream out as someone walks by... Whoa, those are cool!  Or, they scream out...

Man, this guy was too cheap to get real lights put in.

I can't decide which though.

So, before my mom passed away she was on this Walmart buying binge... She was buying like all these things for the house, like a garden chair set and what not.

She was all about trying to spruce up her house.  Of course she also had the back porch in the process of being built so she could catch the morning sun.

I was finished basically as soon as she was moved to the ICU.

So, I guess maybe I'm kind of trying to continue her wishes of wanting to put work into her house.

Well, so anyways, I might end up buying some of those little solar powered pathway lights.  My thing is... They kind of seem gimmicky.  I mean, I think they are neat, but at the same time, they don't really add REAL value to the house.

So, in the end, at least tonight, I decided to skip out on those solar powered pathway lights.  I may get them eventually.  I just really want to work on other things first.

I went for the new switches to keep my inside lights flicking on and off.  But seriously?  There's sooo much stuff I could buy at Lowes.  For real though... I really want to spruce up this house, one little project at a time.

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3Apr/170

Two To One

Tonight I'm at yoga after work... My usual after work thing these days.  And there's this one girl, about my age, who had mentioned last week that she was selling her house in Florida and using that money to buy a house here.

Tonight we were sitting beside one another on our mats waiting for class to start and I asked, curiously, of her if she was from Florida.  She said, that she's from near here, and she was moving back up here after 8 years as a Floridian.

Then another girl sitting near us asked what part of Florida.

The one girl said, "I lived in Fort Lauderdale".  Then the other said... "Oh my God!  That's where I just moved back from!"

I was pretty much out of the convo at that point now that the two of them had instantly bonded over having lived in the same place and having moved back.

The one selling her house actually moved back in 2013 (although she's finally closing on her house next week), while the other just moved back in February.  Although the one who just moved back has things to wrap up with so apparently she'll be flying back and forth a few times over the next few months.

We all ended up talking after the class.  They discussed Fort Lauderdale things, all the hip hangout joints... Some place called a Riverwalk, or a Riverview... Or something with a river, apparently there's good food there, and shops... And I just kind of hung out, mostly standing there.  Every now and then I'd say something pertinent to the conversation.  The one girl selling her house said she used to go to a yoga studio in Plantation.

In my mind I'm just like... Yeah, this is mega weird.

Anyways... None of them know my past history with Fort Lauderdale and a certain someone.  I kept it under wraps the whole time and didn't mention that I might have some previous knowledge of that area because of a certain someone.

So both of them moved back to Philadelphia after many years in South Florida... I did inquire as to why they decided to move back... Out of curiosity.

They cited family as the number one reason.

And traffic.

Home is where the heart is I guess, or the family is.  And where the traffic isn't.

I can't imagine the traffic being THAT bad, that was about when they both sided against me and said... "Oh, it's terrible."

I'm just like... "Okay... I've never lived in South Florida so... I'll take your word for it".

Anyways, the two of them are all sorts of best friends now.

Tonight just reminds me of that one song.  What's that one song though?  You know the one...  "There's always something there to remind me".

That certain someone... You still manage to stick around on my mind.  I don't know how you do it and have done it all these years... But you're still there... Especially when I get stuck in the middle of a conversation about Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Just one of those funny/mysterious things in life that I've still yet to understand or figure out.  That certain someone and the things that remind me of her.  Makes me think about her from time to time.

Well... Anyways... I'm going to go do a few things before bed.

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2Apr/170

Making More Than I’m Really Making

This is an old article... But I've often thought about it since reading it initially way back in the day.

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/a-cost-comparison-of-home-laundry-and-laundromats/

Basically it's a comparison of owning your own laundry washing equipment versus a Laundromat.  I initially stumbled upon it when I was doing some research to see if my landlord had been bilking me for the cost of laundry machines.  We had pay washer and dryers on each floor, no in apartment washing units.

Now, I live at this house that I've ended up with and there's a washer and dryer in the laundry room just off the kitchen.

They are definitely in need of being replaced so it's up there on my list.  What am I waiting for?  Well, I'm trying to build up my investments and then let the investments start buying stuff for me.  My next purchase is actually a new phone.  Then I'll do the brickwork, then the appliances.

I'm also helping this all along by doing my stay in more thing.  Which is VERY effective.  I came in under budget last month... my budget of 1000 dollars on the credit card.

My goal is to do that again this month.  I mean, it's not a big deal if I don't come in under or on budget since I make way more than a thousand dollars a month.  But it's just kind of my challenge to see how much I can really clamp down on spending.

So what about this article?

It got me thinking...

You can either make more money, or you can spend less.  But the two are kind of... Similar.

Here's an example.  If you live down the street from your work.  Like I live 2 miles from work.  My cost to commute is very little.

It's 4 miles a day.  That means my gas is very little, my time is very little, and my car maintenance is very little.

If you live 60 miles from your job... That's a crazy commute.  Also, your gas cost increases, your time to commute increases, and your car maintenance and repairs increases.

That's a big one a lot of people don't consider.  That means you need more oil changes and tire rotations.  And eventually a new car more often.

Maybe that adds as much as a couple thousand dollars a year?

So that means that because I live close to my job, and I have a very short commute, I'm effectively spending less money than someone who lives far away.  So, even if two people were being paid the same salary... But one lives 2 miles and the other lives 32 miles... The person who lives 2 miles is making more money in the long run... By spending less money.

What about brewing coffee at home?  Maybe the person who lives close by now has extra time to make coffee at home in the morning.  That's cheaper.  All those morning coffees at your favorite coffee stop spot before work add up.

What about renting versus owning, or laundromat versus having your own washer and dryer.

What about financing a car, or your home, versus paying cash.

Mortgages have origination fees.

Financing cars have additional costs too.

There's interest.

People who need to borrow money end up paying more for everything in the long run.  Especially if they put things on credit and don't pay them off right away.

I actually get cash back on my card, so instead of paying any interest at all, I always get cash back.

Because my car was paid for in full I have no financing fees or interest.

And because there's no mortgage on my house, I'm actually saving any sort of mortgage interest...

All of these things add up!

Work more, or save more.

I could easily argue that all of the things I do to save, could easily add to beyond 10 thousand dollars a year in savings.  That means that someone out there who lives far from their work, has car payments, puts a lot of miles on their car... Either rents, or makes mortgage payments... Puts things on their credit card but doesn't pay it off...

They could easily be making 10 or even 15 grand more a year in salary than I do.

But because of all that, we basically have the same effective salary.

How crazy is that?

As well I have investments that actually pay me each month.  So that means... That for doing very little work other than paying taxes on the income and doing a little research here and there, just because I have a surplus of cash, instead of living paycheck to paycheck...

My bottom line salary increases even more.

No matter what it always pays to own, and to pay in full.  But the thing is most people can't do that.

It's kind of nuts, that our entire system has been built to make it hard to get ahead, and not only that, we make it easier for those who do pay in full, or pay early to get ahead.

Even with owning... For example, I just paid my property taxes.  There are 4 ways to pay.

  1. Pay in full early.  Get a 2 percent discount. (This is me)
  2. Pay on time, pay face value.  This is if you pay at the end of next month.  Maybe some people?
  3. Pay late.  Pay 10 percent above face value.  Maybe more people?
  4. Pay quarterly.  Pay face value, but add an additional fee for paying quarterly payments.  Probably most people?

So, basically... Let's go back to that person who commutes far to work.  Let's say they also bought a house but are having a hard time just keeping up with the mortgage payments.  Now let's say on top of that... They have this tax bill... Actually taxes are usually rolled into mortgages.  I'm going to guess though, that it's not face value.  Or maybe it is face... But there's no way you get that 2 percent pay early discount that I got.

You're thinking... 2 percent... Big deal.  It adds up.  Because it's not just 2 percent for your taxes.  It's 2 percent cash back on my credit card.  It's mortgage origination fees avoided, and car loan fees and interest avoided.

Basically, because I have the means to pay for everything in cash... I get everything cheaper than  someone who doesn't have those means.

This inverts the other way too... Because let's say you don't have debt.  Let's say you zero out and you have no savings but no debt.

Now, as you accumulate money... And turn that into wealth, or a nest egg.  The fees you get charged for someone to manage your money go down as you have more of it.

So, if you have like half a million, you get charged one rate, but if you have 10 million... You get charged LESS.

It's a seriously crazy system.

So, even though I make less of a salary than many of my peers.  I'm actually more on par with a lot of them because I pay so much less in fees and interest.  And I in fact accumulate interest, instead of paying it.

While I do have to spend money maintaining my house, if you do the rent versus own argument...

The average rent for this area to rent a house the size of the one I live in, is about 2500 a month.

1 year of paying that rent, and you move out.  You can't sell.  You just move.  All that money is gone.

Let's say I put even a fraction of that money into this house for maintenance and such.  The day I move, I sell it.

That means, I get value back in my pocket from the work I put into the house.  Plus, generally real estate properties go up in the long run.

Do you rent?  Think about through all the rent checks you've written your landlord.  Add it all up.  And think about that number.

I bet it's a really big number, especially if you've been renting for many years.  Is it enough for a downpayment, or maybe more than a downpayment for a house?  A downpayment plus many mortgage payments?  My guess is, it probably is.

And we're not even going to discuss the security deposits you've lost every time you moved.  Or the pet fees you were charged every month just to have a cute and cuddly pet allowed in the apartment.

So, just be mindful of where all your money is going.  Maybe there's a way to avoid paying some of that money out.  Which effectively is the same as giving yourself a raise.

 

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