Friday, July 24, 2020

The Stock Market is a Scam

If you are a new investor to the stock market, there is a good chance you have lost money already. Even those who have been in it for a while and have been studying it closely are likely to lose money. I am not an expert on stocks in fact, I would still consider myself to be pretty new and inexperienced with the stock market, but I have studied it over the past year and nothing is really convincing me that it is not a scam.

There is a ton of information to learn about stocks with all the different statistics and numbers, all the trends, charts, and recommendations. Even when you do your research and try to pick the best stocks, there is no guarantee that it is going to work out in your favor.

One common piece of advice is to buy low and sell high, and I think this is good advice but it is hard to follow because it goes against your natural instinct. For example if you see a stock that has been going down you would not want to invest in it because it looks like it will lose money. Same goes for when a stock is doing really well, it makes you think you should invest in it because it is going up.

Sometimes this works out but often it does not. That stock that was doing amazing and was at an all time high when you bought it is now tapering off and starting to go down. Those stocks that looked terrible before are now starting to go up. It's like you can't win.

In my experience it seems like the market is always against you. As soon as you buy a stock, it goes down. As soon as you sell a stock it goes up. I know it is hard to time the market and nearly impossible to buy at the low and sell at the high but it just seems like whatever you do ends up being the wrong decision.

I'm sure there are individuals who do know how to make the market work in their favor, for example professionals who trade stocks for a living or those who have been studying the market closely for many years. These people have the advantage and know how to play it so they make money. But for the average person who is not an insider, they are more likely to get taken advantage of and lose money.

One thing that should be very simple and straight forward but is not is what makes the price of a stock go up and down? People will say things like supply and demand, company earnings, and daily news will affect the price. But there really is no clear explanation. You just have to look at your screen and accept whatever number is shows you.

You would think that a stock's performance should be based on how well a company is doing. For example if they are earning a lot of money each year, the stock should go up, but this is not the case. A company can be making billions of dollars a year and their stock price does not change, while another company can be losing tons of money every year and their stock price can be going through the roof.

It seems stock price is more based upon what people think about a company or stock. I would explain it in this analogy:

A stock is like a membership to a company. If there is a company you like, you can buy a membership to be part of their club. If you really like it, you can buy several memberships to that club. There are only a limited amount of memberships available for each club.

If the club is popular and more people want to get in, the price of the membership goes up. If no one is interested in the club and the current members want to get rid of their membership, the price of the membership goes down. Again, I'm not an expert but if this analogy is correct, the stock market is more just a popularity contest among companies where individuals try to join the popular companies before everyone else.

Can you make money in the stock market? Of course. If you get lucky by not only buying but also selling a stock at the right time, you can make money. The problem is it is always a gamble and no one knows the future so there is just as much chance that you can end up losing money.

This is why I consider it a scam because it is basically just gambling and unless you are an insider with decades of experience, there is a good chance you are going to end up losing money in the stock market. Feel free to comment below on your thoughts about the stock market.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Reporting Potholes - There needs to be an easier way

If you are a driver, chances are you have encountered potholes in the road from time to time. These holes in the road are not only annoying but they can also cause damage to your vehicle. If you notice a pothole in the street, it is a good idea to make a note of where you saw it and contact the local division that is responsible for that road so it can be fixed.

There are divisions that are in charge of fixing and maintaining the streets, but the problem is it is hard to know which is responsible for each street. For example some streets are maintained by the local village. Some are maintained by the county. Others are maintained by the state and so on. It is not clear which streets are maintained by which organizations and this makes it difficult to report potholes.

This is why there needs to be a universal system available to make it easier to report road issues like this. It would be a website / app that is map based and allows you to pinpoint an area on the map to submit an issue such as a pothole.

The map and submission part of the website would be pretty easy to make, but the difficult part would be integrating it to all the different streets and public works organizations. Each village, county, and state tends to have their own system for reporting issues and many of them only have a phone number contact. So it would be a challenge to get all of these organizations on board with the program.

But if this could be done, it would make it so much easier to report potholes and issues on the road that need to be fixed. This would greatly improve the quality of the roads for everyone because these issues could be found and submitted as soon as they are noticed and that would help get them fixed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Soylent vs Ensure Nutrition Drink Comparison Review

As someone who appreciates nutrition drinks for their ability to provide calories and nutrition in a quick and easy manner, I have tried many of these drinks over the years. My favorite go-to drink is the Ensure Plus, usually in chocolate or vanilla. It has a great taste and lots of calories per ounce but it is expensive so I do not buy it often. I have tried many of the store brand nutrition drinks which try to replicate Ensure but they are never as good when it comes to the actual taste.

I have had Soylent nutrition drinks on my radar for some time now and had been wanting to try them for a while but held off on it because of the high cost which seemed to be even more expensive than Ensure Plus. But recently I found a 4 pack of Soylent in the Cacao flavor on sale so I decided it was time to try it out to see how it compares.

Taste:
When it comes to taste, the folks at Ensure know what they are doing. The Ensure Plus drinks are rich and delicious. They have a thick consistency and are easy to drink. I found the Soylent taste to be just okay. It has more of a watery consistency and tastes similar to store brand nutrition drinks.

Nutrition:
The Soylent 4 pack has 11oz drinks while the Ensure 6 pack has 8oz drinks so I did some calculations to see how they compare per ounce on some of the main categories.

Soylent has 320 calories in 11oz which comes to 29.1 calories per ounce. Ensure Plus has 350 in 8 oz which comes to 43.75 calories per ounce. So Ensure has more calories per ounce.

For fat, Soylent has 17g (1.55g/oz). Ensure Plus has 11g  (1.38g/oz) so Soylent has a little more fat per ounce.

For sugar, Soylent has 7g (.64g per oz) vs 22g (2.75g/oz) in the Ensure Plus. So Ensure has a lot more sugar. Soylent uses some artificial sweeteners such as sucralose while Ensure uses sugar which explains the difference in these stats. 

For protein, Soylent has 16g (1.45/oz) while Ensure Plus has 13g (1.63g/oz) so Ensure has a little more protein per ounce.

Vitamins / Minerals:
Both drinks have good coverage for the vitamins and minerals. Soylent has 15% daily value for all of them while Ensure is at 25% for most of them with some being a little higher and some a little lower.

Cost:
The Soylent 4 pack with 11oz drinks is about $9 while the Ensure Plus 6 pack with 8oz drinks is about $10. This makes it seem like the Soylent is more expensive but when you consider the cost per ounce they are actually pretty close in price with Soylent being about $.20 per ounce while Ensure is about $.21 per ounce.

Other:
Both drinks contain a lot of similar ingredients. Once difference I noticed was Ensure Plus includes milk protein while Soylent does not so those following a vegan diet would have reason to choose the Soylent in this case. Ensure does offer a plant based nutrition drink as well but I have not tried that one yet. 

Verdict:
For me, when looking for the best tasting high calorie nutrition drink, the Ensure Plus is still my number 1 pick. It has a better taste and more calories per ounce. But, for those looking for a nutrition drink with less sugar and similar nutrition compared to Ensure, then Soylent would be a good option.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Pet Peeve – People who touch glass doors and windows with their hands

It would seem like common sense not to touch glass doors and windows with your hands because it can leave smudges, but apparently many people still do this. Lots of places have glass doors which are nice because you can see through and it lets light in, but at the same time they are hard to keep clean because people touch the glass with their hands and leave smudges.

There really is no excuse for this because there is always a handle or a bar or some kind of non-glass surface to use to pull or push the door open. Doors are designed so you do not have to touch the glass, but many people do anyway. This leaves smudges that someone else now has to clean.

While this happens often on glass doors, you see smudges on windows and mirrors as well. Again these are things that should not be touch with hands especially if your hands are not clean and dry. Leaving smudges on windows and mirrors makes the place look dirty and causes extra work for those who now have to clean it off.

I can understand if kids do this because they don't know any better but adults should be more mindful of not marking up the glass in situations like this. If you have not considered this issue before please keep it in mind next time you are going in or out of a place that has a glass door.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Pet Peeve – Squeaky doors and doors that slam too hard

One thing that I tend to notice a lot is issues with doors such as doors that have squeaky hinges or doors that slam too hard. Both of these things tend to bother me but it seems most people either don't notice them or don't care about them. Or maybe they have noticed it but figured there was nothing they could do about it. This is a shame because these issues are very easy to fix!

For squeaky doors, usually just putting a little oil on the hinges does the trick. For doors that close too hard, they usually have a door closer at the top that can be adjusted with a screw driver or a wrench. These adjustments determine how hard the door closes. Also if the door is closing right against the frame, you can add rubber adhesive bumpers to the door frame to dampen the sound when the door closes against it.

These things are very easy and quick to do and can get rid of the squeaking and the slamming. No one should have to put up with an annoying door like this when it can be fixed so easily.

Door maintenance like this may seem pretty minor or not as important as other maintenance and that is probably why there are so many doors in need of attention. Maintenance workers and homeowners may be focused on bigger issues so they never really get around to checking on the little details like if a door is closing properly.

As mentioned before, many people might not even notice these things or care about them, but some people like myself do. For example there is a restaurant I know that has a door that is extremely squeaky, so much so that I avoid going to that restaurant if possible.

Another restaurant I know has a door that slams so I make sure to close it softly by hand when going through. Still when there are issues like this it is a sign that things are not being properly maintained which does not give a good impression.

What are your thoughts on squeaky doors or doors that close too hard? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Travelambo RFID Front Pocket Minimalist Slim Wallet Review

I've had my old Wrangler tri-fold wallet for about as long as I remember but over the years it has started to break down from normal wear and tear so I began to start looking for new wallets. I started with a Levi's leather tri-fold wallet which I liked, but it was too thick with everything in it. Then I tried a Timberland mesh wallet, but I didn't really like the feel of it. Finally I decided to try a slim wallet from Travelambo.

This wallet was pretty inexpensive at just $8 and it had a lot of good reviews so I decided to try it out. I went with the carbon fiber material because it is different from the usual leather options and I figured it would be easier to keep clean.

Upon arrival the packaging was pretty simple, just the wallet in a little wrap and plastic bag. The wallet is very thin and has a decent feel too it. I started adding the cards and money to it to see how everything would fit. I have about 10 cards and usually carry about 10 bills. I was able to get all the cards in but it was kind of a tight fit.

Once you get the cards in, it makes it hard to open the center pocket to put in the money. I also found it to be pretty hard to get the credit cards out of the pockets even with the carbon fiber material which you would not expect to be too grippy.

With all the cards and cash in the wallet, I actually found it to be about the same thickness of my old tri-fold wallet. I was surprised by this, but I think it is because of the individual pockets for the cards vs my only wallet where I was able to put most of the cards in the same pocket together.

Overall because it was hard to get the cards and the money in and out and the fact that with everything in, it was not as thin as I expected, I unfortunately decided to return it. I think the wallet would be good if you only have a few cards and only carry a few bills as emergency, but if you have a lot of cards and prefer to carry more cash, this wallet may not be the best option.

As of now, I am still on the search for a new wallet. In the mean time, since I still have the Levi's wallet, I decided to modify it by cutting out as much of the material from the inside as possible while keeping the essential pockets in tact. By doing this I was able to get it down pretty thin so I will try using this for now.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Why is paper mail still a thing? Do we still need the post office to deliver mail?

While going through mail and seeing all the newspapers, ads, and junk mail that people just throw out, it got me thinking, why is all this stuff still being sent out? It seems like such a waste of paper. The mail carriers are delivering all this paper every day and a good amount of it is basically garbage.

Over the years I have made sure to unsubscribe from as much of these mailings as possible so I do not get that much. I also signed up for the e-delivery of many statement type correspondence which also helps reduce the amount of mail. But many people do not bother with these things so they end up with a ton of paper mail that is unnecessary.

The same can be said about newspapers. I find it hard to believe that people are still paying to have yesterdays news delivered to them in paper form. I know newspaper subscriptions are way down from what they used to be and I understand some of the older generation who are not tech savvy still read newspapers, but sooner or later I think this format should be phased out completely.

The same goes for paper mail. With the option to deliver bills, notices, and letters electronically, there is little need to deliver these items physically by mail. Maybe some local businesses want to send out ads to the nearest residents and the mail is the best option for this so I can see how they may want to keep this option open.

I'm not saying the post office and mailboxes should be done away with completely. Packages that contain physical goods still need to be delivered and the post office is one of the many services that provides this. I think they should continue with the package delivery and local ads if necessary, but other junk mail should start being phased out.

It needs to be easier to unsubscribe from these mailings. Sometimes they have a contact you can reach out to in order to get unsubscribed from their list, but on a lot of these mailings for things like credit card offers, they do not give any option to get off the list. Many times I even visit the company websites and search around for a contact or some way to unsubscribe and they do not offer it.

We are now in the 2020's and it is time we start making the effort to switch away from paper. There are now quicker, safer, and more sustainable ways to deliver mail.