Monday, October 15, 2018

Suspicious Vehicle Story

Where I live is generally considered to be a safe area but one day I noticed a suspicious vehicle parked behind a group of garages on the property. At first I thought it was a bit of an odd place to park but I didn't think much of it. It wasn't until I noticed a pattern of this vehicle pulling in and going behind the garages at the same time each day that I began to look into it.

I was fairly certain the owner of the vehicle did not live here which raised more suspicion. Each day the car would pull in, go behind the garages for about 20-30 minutes and then leave. Considering this pattern and the fact that this location was concealed from view, I figured there might be something going on. It might be nothing, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry so I called in a suspicious vehicle report.

They sent out police to investigate the vehicle. After checking it out, they met with me to discuss the findings. They said there was no one in the vehicle at the time so there was not much they could do about it. They did run the plates and confirmed that the car was registered to someone who did not live there. They said if the car continues to park there for an extended period of time, we should contact the property management to arrange for the car to be towed.

I thanked them for checking on it and said I would continue to keep an eye on it. The next day, again the same car pulls in and goes behind the garages. This time I went to our manager on duty and let them know about the situation. Together we went out to check on the car. I was a bit nervous but at least I had someone with me in case there was any issue.

As we approached the vehicle which appeared to be empty, we saw a woman emerge from the wooded area near by. We asked her if it was her car and she said yes. We asked why she was parking back there and she said she was feeding the cats. It so happens that we have some wild cats that hang around that area so the story checked out. Apparently she goes there to feed them each day.

I left feeling relieved to learn that there was not something worse going on back there. In my mind, it could have been something illegal that was happening but it turned out to be nothing to worry about. I still find it kind of odd that she keeps going to this place which is a residence considering the fact that she does not live here, but maybe she just really likes the cats.

Reflecting on the situation, I think I did the right thing. Maybe I could have approached the owner of the vehicle first before filing a report, but I didn't want to take the chance of putting myself in a situation that could have potentially been dangerous. If anything it was good practice on what to do if you see something suspicious going on. Yes, it may turn out to be nothing, but it's better to make a report and have it be nothing than to ignore it and it turns out to be something.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Concept of False Cause and Result

As educated human beings, we are able to make predictions about what will happen as a result of an action. Sometimes the results of actions are very clear and can be attributed to the action with 100% certainty, but other times, this may not be the case.

For example, sometimes something may happen and you think it is a direct result of something else when in fact it is unrelated and just happens to be a coincidence. When this happens, it is easy to mistake the result as being caused by the initial action. I will explain this concept here with some examples.

Say you eat a big meal and you feel full. Then you see a dessert that looks good and you are considering eating it. You might decide to skip it because you think if you eat it, you might get a stomach ache. So you decide to skip it. Then a little while later you end up with a stomach ache anyway. If you would have eaten the dessert, you would have blamed the stomach ache on this action, when in fact, the same result occurred even when skipping the dessert. In this situation the result is blamed on something that was not necessarily the cause.

Another example, say you are driving somewhere and you consider taking an alternate route, but at the last minute, you decide to take the usual route. Then maybe there is an unexpected delay on the usual route. You might think about how the alternate route would have been faster, but it is just as likely that the alternate route could have been just as slow if not slower. You might blame your choice for making you late, when in fact, you might still have been late even if you took the alternate route.

One more example, say there is an update available for your phone but you decide to put it off. Then later that day you have some trouble with your phone. If you had done the update, you probably would have blamed the problem on the update when in fact, the problem occurred even without doing the update.

Examples like these can happen all the time where we blame a result on something that may not have actually been the cause. Have you noticed any instances like this in your life? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Observed Effects of Diet on Health – Sodium, Saturated Fat, Sugar, Water

With so many foods available to us these days and so much conflicting advice on what to eat and what not to eat, it can be hard to know what to do when it comes to diet. Not to mention, people's bodies react differently to food so a certain diet that works for one person may not work for another. I am not an expert on nutrition but I have studied it over the years. I have also noticed patterns in how certain foods affect my health. In this article I will go over my finding in relation to sodium, saturated fat, sugar, and water.

In the past I used to eat a fair amount of processed foods that had a lot of sodium. I would pick these foods because they were easy and convenient, but I noticed they did start to have an effect on my health. My blood pressure began to get too high. I could also feel it physically as my heart would beat harder and I would start to feel twitches in my feet.

To fix these issues I started to cut down on the amount of sodium in my diet. I stayed away from salty foods and highly processed foods that have a high amount of sodium. I also steered clear of sauces that tend to have a high amount of sodium. As a result of these changes, my blood pressure dropped down to a healthier level and my body no longer had the twitches or feeling that the heart was pumping too hard.

Another element of nutrition that I have been better at managing over the years is saturated fat. This is the kind of fat that is thought be unhealthy and one that can cause issues such as clogged arteries. I tend to be pretty good about avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat, but every once in a while I may have something that is high in this fat content.

After I eat foods that are high in saturated fat, I have noticed it has an effect on my circulation. Often that night or the following morning I will wake up with a limb that has fallen asleep with the pins and needles feeling. This is often because the circulation is not good and I believe it is due to the increased amount of saturated fat. Sometimes I also notice mild pain in the chest area after eating too much saturated fat which I think is also related. When getting back to my diet which is low in saturated fat, these symptoms go away.

One of the other ingredients in food I tend to get too much of is sugar. It can be hard to avoid because sugar is one of those ingredients that seems to be added to almost everything. I never really felt any health issues directly tied to sugar, but nonetheless I decided to try to cut down on the amount of sugar I have been eating.

Since cutting back, I have noticed a decrease in desire for sugary foods. Before I would always want something sweet with a meal or a dessert afterwards, but since I have been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet, I have less desire to eat sugary foods. Physically I don't know that I necessarily feel any different, but I believe it is healthier to keep sugar intake to a minimum.

Water intake is another important part of diet and one I have been observing and studying recently. From doing research I realized I may not have been getting enough water in my diet so I started to keep track of my water intake to try to improve it.

With the increase amount of water each day, I did notice a reduced amount of headaches. In the past I would tend to get headaches on days where I would be out and about and not getting enough water. When I follow my regular schedule and get plenty of water, I tend not go get any headaches. So for me it seems to be related where if I do not get enough water, I start to get a headache.

These are just a few of my personal observations on how changes in diet have affected my health. Feel free to take these findings into consideration when looking to make changes in your diet. Keep in mind this is not a substitute for professional advice but can be used as a supplement.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

My Experience Cleaning Up the Environment

One of the things I am most passionate about is cleaning up the environment, specifically litter clean up. In this article I will cover how I got started, how my efforts progressed, and what I do now to help clean up the environment.

As I kid, I don't recall having any particular interest in the environment or cleaning up. It wasn't until I got older and moved out to my own place that I started taking an interest in the subject. I have always been a pretty clean and organized person so this characteristic may have played a part in how I got started.

One day I decided to take a walk on the bike path near my house. As I was walking, my attention was drawn to a significant amount of garbage scattered alongside the path. I thought to myself, “This does not look good.” Seeing the litter along the path gave a bad impression of the environment and ultimately of those around there who made it like that.

I was pretty disappointed in these findings considering this was my local path and it is where I lived. So I decided to do something about it. The next day I went back out to the same path, but this time I brought a bag along with and picked up garbage along the way.

I was surprised at how much there was! I filled an entire bag in less than half a mile. There was still more to do, but it would have to wait. The next day, I went out again, this time bringing a couple more bags and did the same thing. I covered a good amount of the path and made it look good as new. Little did I know, this was the start of something that would become a big part of my life.

I continued to take maintain the path by cleaning it up at least once a week, but this was just the beginning. Next I started to clean up around the neighborhood where I live as well. Every so often I would walk around the local area picking up any garbage that was on the ground.

It got to be a habit where every time I would go out or come home, I would look around for stuff to pick up. I started to venture out further and would clean up the nearby streets whenever I saw something that was out of place.

Even when going out to stores, I would do the same thing by looking for any garbage in the parking lot to pick up on the way into the store. Often times I would see paper such as advertisements or receipts left in the carts in the store. In the past, like most people I would take a cart next to it that did not have any garbage, but now I actually look for the one that has garbage and take that one so I can clean it up. It just takes a few extra seconds to swing by a trash can and drop off the papers.

Sometimes I will notice a lot of garbage in the parking lots, too much to clean up for someone who is just going in to shop. In cases like this, I will leave feedback for the store to let them know about the condition of the lot. Usually the managers appreciate customers taking the time to let them know about things like this so they can improve their store and improve the customer experience.

You might think that picking up garbage is dirty and do not want to do it because of this, but there are ways to clean up that are safe and sanitary. One of the things I invested in was a grabber which is a reaching tool that has a handle at one end and a claw at the other. It makes it very easy to pick up garbage on the ground without touching it.

Also if you do not have a grabber, a pair of gloves is a good solution to help protect your hands. Even if you do not have a grabber or gloves, most things you find on the ground are not as dirty as you might think. Most things are ok to pick up as long as you are careful and use common sense. Just make sure to wash your hands afterward.

After getting a good handle on the clean up situation locally, I started to venture out and got in touch with the community. I volunteered to do clean ups at the local forest preserve. I also participate in the clean up days that are organized by the park district. These can be good opportunities to meet others with similar interests such as cleaning up the environment.

Sometimes you may see an area that needs attention but maybe you are not able to clean it up, for example if it is private land. In situations like this, there are still things that can be done. If there is an area of land in your community that needs attention, you can contact your village or city to let them know about it. They will be able to check on it and take the appropriate action to see that it is cleaned up.

At times, you might feel like you are the only one who cares, but in fact there are many people out there who feel the same way and want to help clean up the environment. Just by getting out there, not only are you making a positive change, but you are also setting an example for others to follow. Often people will see your efforts and become inspired to get involved as well. In my experience, people are very appreciative when they see you cleaning up. I have received many “Thank you's” when I have been out cleaning up.

Some people live in areas that are heavily littered and they think there is just too much and figure they will not be able to make a difference. It might be a little overwhelming at first, but it does not have to be done all at once. Clean up efforts take persistence to make a difference over time. Do a little bit each day or whenever you have a chance. If you stay on top of it and continue to maintain an area, it will become much cleaner than it was.

Also once it is clean, it can help deter others from littering as well. When an area has a lot of garbage around, people will think that is just how it is and may think it doesn't matter if they throw something else on the ground because there is already a bunch of other stuff there. On the other hand, when an area is very clean, people will realize this is not the place to throw garbage and will instead look for a proper place to dispose of it.

There are online groups where people discuss the topic of litter and clean up where you can get inspiration and share your efforts with others. Even some apps are starting to pop up to help track data about litter in efforts to help promote a cleaner environment.

Cleaning up is something just about anyone can do. Every little bit helps so if you have been thinking about getting involved, now is the time! If you have already begun to help clean up the environment, thank you! Your efforts are appreciated! We only have one Earth. Let's make sure we take care of it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tip for fixing a squeaky door if you have already oiled the hinges

Recently I had a door that was squeaking every time it was opened. Squeaky doors tend to bother me so I wanted to fix it as soon as possible. First I tried oiling the hinges and moving parts such as around the door closer at the top. It was still squeaking but I figured maybe the oil had to work its way in a bit to stop the squeak.

After a few days it was still squeaking so I went ahead and oiled it some more. Still it continued to make the squeak. So finally I got up close to it and opened and closed the door a few times slowly to really pinpoint exactly where the squeak was happening. Then I noticed it. The noise was not coming from the hinge or the door closer. It was coming from the door itself!

The top corner of the door was rubbing against the top of the door frame which was making the noise. I could also tell because there were wear marks on that part of the door frame where the door was rubbing. So I got some oil and applied it to the part where the door was rubbing and sure enough, it fixed the squeak!

So if you have a door that is squeaking and you have already tried oiling all the hinges and moving parts, check to see if the door itself is rubbing against any part of the frame. If it is, there is a good chance that is where the squeak is coming from. Hope this helps!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Should you sweat the small stuff or only worry about the big picture?

One popular phase you may have heard is “Don't sweat the small stuff.”, meaning don't worry about little things that aren't really that important. It can be a good piece of advice, but why is it that we sweat the small stuff in the first place?

The answer may be that we live in the small stuff, so that is why we are so focused on it. We are concerned with things that are close to us like ourselves, our home, our family, our neighborhood etc. When little things happen to us in our little bubble it seems like a big deal because we are only thinking about what is in our space.

It's hard to keep in mind that there is a lot more going on out there and there are more important issues going on outside of our space. To look at the bigger picture, you can think about how large the country is or how large the world is and then think about how the issue that is bothering you fits into the big picture. Often you may find that it is really not a big deal and may not really matter at all when you consider how small it is compared to everything else going on.

One phrase I came up with is “Remember the Universe.” It is a similar concept to “Don't sweat the small stuff.” It means, keep the big picture in mind and realize that the little things that we might think are so important at the time are really not a big deal when you realize how insignificant it is compared to the universe. The universe is huge, almost too big to comprehend. We think our planet is huge but in reality it is merely a spec of dust within the universe.

When you remember this scale, you realize that everything that is going on around us in our everyday life is not as big or important as it might seem.

So the question is, if we live within the small stuff, should we consider it to be important since that is what we live in? Even though the world is a much bigger place than most of us will ever experience, should we take it into consideration when thinking about what is going on locally?

Because we tend to live in a bubble, it is natural to sweat the small stuff because that is the stuff that affects us the most. In comparison to the big picture, these things may not be a big deal, but we don't live in the big picture, we live within the small stuff.

On the other hand, when little things around you are getting you down, it is a good idea to take a step back and consider their importance in the big picture. Often this can make you realize that the problem is not as significant as you thought it was.

Considering both perspectives, there is value to each. While it is ok to worry about the things that are close to us and affect us most, it is also a good idea to “remember the universe” and keep the big picture in mind.

Blog Update - Comments Not Getting Published

I just recently noticed that notifications to moderate comments have not been coming through so there are some comments from readers over the past few months that were not published. I am currently going through all of them to make sure they get published. Thank you for your patience on these comments.