Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Google Nexus 6P (Huawei Nexus 6P)

Google Nexus 6P (Huawei Nexus 6P)

Question: Guess what Costco had on sale for $800 AUD?

Answer: Nexus 6P (64 Gb Unlocked!)


Bought and unboxed in a flash! 

Here is a quick 6 minute video showing:
  • Unboxing
  • All box contents
  • Finding Sim Card
  • Setting up Marshmallow
  • Setting up accounts copying from old phone
  • Upgrading to Android Marshmallow 6.0.1

In my opinion the Nexus 6P is currently the best phone on the market. However the price has always been a show stopper. However at $800 for the 64Gb version it has to be worth considering.

Shot using KineMaster on a OnePlus 2, I hope you enjoy it!





Here is a quick run down of the specs for the Nexus 6P:

Display          Size 5.7 inches (~71.4% screen-to-body ratio)
Display          AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Resolution 1440 x 2560 pixels (~518 ppi pixel density)
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4, oleophobic coating
OS     Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810
CPU   Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57
GPU   Adreno 430
Memory        32/64/128 GB, 3 GB RAM
Camera         12.3 MP, f/2.0, laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Video 2160p@30fps, 720p@240fps
Camera front 8 MP, f/2.4, 1080p@30fps
Battery          Non-removable Li-Po 3450 mAh battery
Features       Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
WLan   Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth  v4.2, A2DP, LE
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
NFC Yes
USB v2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
Colors Aluminium, Graphite, Frost


Saturday, 26 December 2015

What is it with Teenagers?



Teenagers. Often thought of as:
Threatening
Evil
Eejits
Non compos mentis
Abusive
Gruff
Edgy
Rude
Strange

However, after writing this The best ever Christmas present and it cost nothing
And reading this Inspirational Irish teens STUN homeless people with wonderful Christmas gifts
It turns out Teenagers have a heart to help:
Team Players
Enthusiastic
Ernest
Nice
Altruistic
Gifting
Eleemosynary
Responsible
Supportive

Teenagers on the Town


BTW: What a great word eleemosynary is. Check it out on our big words page.

Friday, 25 December 2015

The best ever Christmas present and it cost nothing

Do you remember about the Christmas hamper volunteering? Well we spent the last two days packing and delivering hampers to those that currently are in need of a bit of help.

I say 'we' because I went with my son. I originally only volunteered myself as I thought the kids would be with the Ex, however, when I was about to go it so happened my son was tucked away in his room for what was maybe his 20th consecutive hour of gaming on his computer.

I thought I would interupt and ask if he would like to join me.


My son has the kindest of hearts, but he is the laziest 14 year old you have ever met. Did you read my Guinea pig post? He struggles occasionally with motivation and was recently suspended from school ultimately because he was bored and started causing mischief. So I wasn't expecting much of a conversation. Anything more than a grunt would be a bonus.

"Hey I'm going now,  to the hamper homeless place. Do you want to come with me,  and help?  We'll have fun. "

Eye contact was yet to happen. He was wearing headphones and still moving his character on whatever game he was playing. I had at least been graced with the muting of his microphone ensuring his friends wouldn't be entertained by hearing his embarrassing parent.

After a thoughtful pause he replied

"no. "

Well I wasn't expecting any other answer to be honest.

So I thought I would try one last attempt. I was running late,  as always, so I couldn't spend too long trying.

In short I told him that he could play games all holidays. He could talk to his friends at any time. However he has only one chance a year to help people that have not had the best of luck and would appreciate some true Christmas spirit.

To my surprise he said "Ok then. " and then got up and got into the car.

Wow.

I know that volunteering your time gives back more than money could ever buy. I have volunteered a few times in my life and I still get benefit from the eternal proper good volunteering vibes you get for free. Yet  it was still with surprise that I had just received the best Christmas present I could ever ever wish for. It wasn't even yet Christmas, I hadn't even left to do the volunteering and yet this present from my son was the best!

My, what I thought was a,  lazy son that barely manages to mutter more than a grunt to me in most conversations, and has a bedroom messier than a Neighbours love plot was actually giving up his gaming time to help unknown homeless people for absolutely nothing in return.

Thank you son.

When you push yourself to do things outside your comfort zone that are aligned with your own values you will be rewarded in the most unlikely of ways.

Summing up, we had a great couple of days. A mini Road trip with lots of bonding and an abundance of feel good Christmas vibes. I hope the recipients of the hampers got at least a hundredth of the happiness we got from giving them.

Here are some pictures of us packing hampers, at Micah Projects in action.








Monday, 21 December 2015

Child Support Agency (CSA) Empirical Financial Facts


Calling All P*ssed Off Child Support Payers


Do you pay CSA? Does it make you fume? Does it really p*ss you off?

I have had many different custody arrangements over the last 16 years. I have never received any CSA payments. Sometimes I have had to pay around $1100 a month whilst having 50/50 care. Sometimes I have had full time custody and received nothing. I've been through the lot and I would like to share some of my financial details to show just how expensive it is to raise kids.

I want to appeal to CSA paying parents that find it difficult to come to terms with the "non user pays" system that is CSA. I am not going to talk or comment about CSA. It is what it is, However what I am going to do is point out how much children cost by using records from my own budget.

Paying CSA is not pleasant


When I was paying $1100 a month to CSA I also had 50/50 care of my kids. I was paying this amount because I was earning a reasonable amount more than the Ex. Lucky me. In my opinion, and I know its not the Ex's opinion, I was not only paying CSA, but in addition I was also paying the bulk of the kids expenses.

(If you are reading this dear Ex, it's just a blog, and it was a long time ago, my opinion matters for nothing)

Paying CSA Brings You Down


I was pretty miffed. Actually I was quite emotional about it all. I couldn't really accept that it was so unfair. I had to pay, often twice in my opinion, and the kids sometimes still went without! However, looking back, I was lucky that I didn't react on this emotion. Unfortunately I would sometimes lose some control when talking to the Ex and I regret this, however generally I continued to ensure that the kids were put first. Looking back now I get so much reward knowing I did my best to sincerely put the kids before myself.

It's important to put the kids first.

Sometimes we all struggle to realise what putting the kids first means. All of us are essentially trying to do our best to survive in what can be a very challenging environment.


Finance Facts


In an attempt to help reduce angst for other CSA paying parents and help everyone to put their kids first I would like to reveal how much money I have spent on my kids. Please note that I am one of the most frugal people you have ever met (this is why I have records of all my expenditure going back 20 years!). I do not like wasting money. However, I do believe I have always ensured my kids have received everything they have needed.

Lets cut to the facts of finance:

Below you will find two pictures of my kids specific budgets for 2005 and 2015.

These budgets cover the expenses I paid for 2 children whilst attending state schools in Australia. To cover myself I have changed and swapped some figures and details so that if you happen to know me you won't have any evidence to frame me. Revealing financial details on the internet isn't a good idea, however the fundamentals remain intact.

All items have been adjusted to be specific to kids costs only. E.g the Petrol cost is only the petrol spent taking kids to and from kids events.

I am only including monthly cash items in the budgets. There are a few one off items missing. For example, mortgage or rent, but also smaller things like braces. Braces will cost anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000. Some holidays are missing too, such as trips to Perth & Darwin for the kids inter state sport events. This budget only includes regular month to month expenses.


2005 Budget


During the 2005 period I had 50/50 shared custody of two young kids. I was not paying CSA however I was informally responsible for the kids expenses mainly because I was the only one working. The Ex did however pay half for many items.

After School Care Baby Sitting Birthday Clothing Doctors Entertainment Food Gifts Holiday small Holiday big Daycare Pharmacy Petrol School Extras Sundries Xmas
Kids Budget 2005

In 2005 you can see I was spending nearly $1500 a month. 


2015 Budget

During the 2015 period I actually had sole custody of two teenage kids and again I was not paying CSA. I was formally responsible to pay for the kids expenses.



Medical Health Insurance Food Misc Kids Entert Petrol School Hols June Hols Xmas Pkt Mon Extra Act Uniform Camp Book Hire Staionery Mobile Bus Xmas Pkt Mon Extra Act Uniform Camp Book Hire Stationery Mobile Bus Xmas
Kids Budget 2015



In 2015 I was investing nearly $1,800 a month on my 2 kids. In fact, regardless of care arrangements, or CSA payments, throughout all my budgeting accounts I can see I was spending up to $2,000 a month on my 2 kids (give or take a couple of hundred).


Conclusions


From this retrospective analysis of my kids budget we can see that each kid cost me about $1,000 each in cash every month. We can see what this money was spent on and how there were many small expenses that added up to a lot.

Therefore based on my very frugal personal experience, regardless of your care arrangements, if you are paying less than $1,000 a month per a child in monthly expenses then you should probably be paying more. You can take this one of two ways:

You can think: Wow aren't I lucky, my CSA is only $1000 a month for my two kids and I only spend $400 a month so I'm going to spend the extra $600 on my kids from now on.

Or, you can think: Wow, aren't I lucky, my CSA is only $1000 a month for my two kids and I only spend $400 a month so I'm $600 better off!

Although you should put your kids first (option 1 above), it really doesn't matter which option you take as long as you realise that to bring kids up properly you need to be spending bucket loads of cash.

Your kids are only children once. You only get one chance. They only get one chance. A child's job is to learn and transform into an honest and wise adult. If you don't give them every opportunity they deserve then they will suffer forever, and more to the point, SO WILL YOU.

When you get to my age and your kids are leaving home you will only remember your kids being kids. You won't and shouldn't remember the money.

If you do pay CSA and you do fume and you do get down then try to genuinely realise the huge sums of money that needs to be spent on your child to give them the best chance in life.


Give your children a starting chance in life


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Psoriatic Arthritis Acceptance

Previously....

In previous articles I wrote about:

How I found out I had psoriatic arthritis 
How I originally didn't realise the scale of the issue.
How I decided I could take control of arthritis through diet

Accepting Psoriatic Arthritis

In this article I am going to write about Acceptance and how long it takes for some people, namely me, to truly accept that our life has changed forever.

So I was somewhere between the 3 and 4 year point after being diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. I had been through an 'Ignorance Phase', then a 'Denial Phase' and now I was about to enter the Acceptance Phase.

Up until this point I could only imagine life without Psoriatic Arthritis. Everything I did regarding my health was in someway an attempt to cure myself. I had tried a sugar free diet, a gluten free diet, a paleo diet. I had tried prescribed drugs. I had tried meditation and many many other attempts to irradicate this persistent, painful and pointless disease from my body.

Yet it was only now, after many years of ignorance and denial, that I actually began to accept that the rest of my life would have to take into account the many struggles of arthritis.


A photo of a coloured persons hand holding a white person hand

Accpetance 


Amputation


I remember my Doctor, Dr Francis, refusing my request to amputate my foot. I wasn't totally serious, but I did want to consider it. If he had agreed that an amputation would fix the Psoriatic Arthritis once and for all and that I would never suffer from it again then I was genuinely at the point where I would have signed on the dotted line. (Not the dotted line on my ankle saying 'cut here'!) However, he simply told me that if I left with one less foot, then the arthritis would quickly appear somewhere else.

Eeeeeuuuuuuureeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeka!!!!

It turned out that this simple, half serious, half joking conversation was my last known contrived plan to beat the disease. Having had it dismissed, and with no more items on my solutions agenda, I was forced to realise, once and for all, that this stupid, mutant and pointless right royal pain in the arse, sorry foot, disease wasn't going away.

Divine Intervention


No diet, no drugs, no divine intervention was going to happen.
I didn't have a cold,
I didn't have a broken bone.
I couldn't even cut my stupid foot off to solve it!

Plain and simple, it wasn't going away.

Arthritis Anonymous


My name is NakedMidLife and I have Psoriatic Arthritis, an incurable condition where my immune system continually attacks my joints and wont ever stop. I do not have any control over this condition. I have made many past errors and I would welcome the chance to make amends for them. I look forward to a new life where I can live harmoniously with this condition and I look forward to helping others overcome their own struggles with Psoriatic Arthritis.

(I've never been to an AA meeting as I don't drink very often, but I imagine this is what it would be like if it was for arthritis)



F&*( off 


"Will it ever f&*( off ?" I asked Dr Francis staring blankly through his face.

"Well in some cases it disappears at 65 years, or thereabouts." answered Dr Francis causally politely ignoring my sudden lack of formality.

"Well lets sit and wait then." I said stubbornly.

We both knew that wishing the next twenty something years away was by no means any way to live ones life.

Is Acceptance a Good Thing?


My eureka moment had arrived. I had turned the corner. I was resigned to being a Psoriatic Arthritis sufferer. It had taken nearly 4 years, but I was there.

Now, you may think that my acceptance of Psoriatic Arthritis was a good thing, and you are somewhat correct, After my eureka moment I was able to refocus my efforts on drugs, medications and exercises which would make my life better. I am looking forward to an upcoming article on Biologics for example.

Facing Fears


However acceptance of a debilitating disease can not simply be described with a eureka moment. The eureka moment is just the start of a journey. A long, lengthy and difficult journey. A journey where I was challenged at every corner. A journey where I was forced to face my darkest fears.......

To be continued....




Saturday, 12 December 2015

Psoriatic Arthritis. Get Help Early

Previously....


In my previous two articles I mentioned how I found out I had psoriatic arthritis and how I originally didn't realise the scale of the issue.

A persons hands that have deformed because of Arthritis
Arthritis

Arthritis: I Can Beat This!


In this next post I am going to explain how I didn't accept what my doctors told me and insisted I was better than this disease.

Arthritis: The Never Ending Battle


After about 12 months having been diagnosed the pain had spread from my toe to the balls of my foot. This resulted in a noticeable limp. Each and every step required effort, stamina & perseverance. My leg always ached, day and night, morning to dusk, and it throbbed as if I had just climbed Mt Everest. Each and every day was the same. Slowly, like a rock being dripped on in a cave, my tolerance eroded. I didn't notice the change, I certainly wouldn't have expected anyone else to. After a few months, possibly longer, I began to get desperate.

Arthritis: Relentless

It wasn't the pain I couldn't cope with. It was the relentlessness of the pain. Quite a different beast. Simple tasks became an effort. I know that we all get tired. We all get drained. But everyday, without fail, to have your leg throb with tiredness, with pain, sending messages to your brain such as

  • "Hey, lie down"
  • "Hey, there's damage down here!"
  • "Hey, this leg can't do much more!" 
  • "Hey, get some help, go to the doctors"
  • "Hey, stop working and rest"
  • "Hey, this is serious!"
  •  on and on and on...

Arthritis: Seclusion


Mostly you can ignore such signals, not through skill or because you were once trained to be a Green Beret, but because you have no choice. If you did listen, then that would be the end:
  • No work
  • No social life
  • No friends
  • No hobbies
  • Nothing

So instead you push through it.

We all push through pain and suffering at times, Sometimes it goes on for years before you get help. With arthritis it won't stop until you die. It's like the Energex Bunny, it goes on and on and on. Possibly anyway. The doctor told me often it disappears when you get to 65. Only 20 something years to go then.

Arthritis: Take Control!


So with this gloomy state of mind I decided to take control. The drugs weren't doing much, or so I thought. The doctors didn't realise how mentally low I was. The only person to help me was me. So I setup a plan:

1. No negativity
2. You can do anything if you put your mind to it
3. Acquire knowledge: Read books on psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

So I read a few books including but not limited to:

  1. Healing Psoriasis : The Natural Alternative By John O. A. Pagano
  2. One Cause, Many Ailments: Leaky Gut Syndrome: What It Is and How It May Be Affecting Your Health By John O. A. Pagano
  3. Sweet Poison by David Gillespie

Arthritis: Leaky Gut Syndrome


With all this knowledge I decided to:
  • Quit drugs (as they were ruining my immune system) 
  • Quit sugar (ditto)
  • Quit gluten (ditto)
  • Quit processed food (ditto)
And I started to
  • Meditate
  • Walk daily (limping)
  • Cycle
  • Eat yoghurt
  • Have colonic irrigation!

When I do something I do it properly. There's no point putting in effort unless you aim to hit the bullseye.

I kept this diet and lifestyle up for 12 months.

a chopping board with food on it and writing that says "No Gluten"
No Gluten


I lost a lot of weight. I also had hope. I believed totally that I was going to beat this. I knew I could do it. My mental state improved. I had a certain bounce in my limp. It was going to be alright. I knew it was.


The Results of My Plan to Beat Arthritis


After 12 months my arthritis had got worse. The pain was spreading, gaining intensity and the swelling was getting bigger and bigger.

I decided to go back and see the doctor. I went in with my tail between my legs. I had tried to take control and I had lost. I needed help.

I had an x-ray of my foot. It showed that I had sever bone damage. I was at a loss.

It was time to go back on the drugs. I had achieved nothing other than serious, permanent, damage to my bones.

My plan had failed. I was at the mercy of this disease. It was doing it's thing regardless of my efforts. For the first time in my life, I was not in control of my destiny. My mid life crisis had begun.

Time for Plan B: Drugs.

To be continued....


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Supermarkets Giving Free Food To Customers

You may recall this previous post about Tesco's in the UK offering free healthy banana's to kids so their parents can shop in peace.

Well it looks like Woolworths has taken notice. I saw this today!

Free Fruit! 

Hooray for the internet!




Monday, 7 December 2015

Psoriatic Arthritis: Initial Stage - The Phoney War


Psoriatic Arthritis: Initial Stage - The Phoney War

After being diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis I had a twelve month period where I was oblivious to the seriousness and extent this disease would effect my life. It was my phoney war. The war before the real causalities started to come home.

Previously I wrote about my Introduction to Psoriatic Arthritis. In summary I had just been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. It was occupying my toe. In response I had made a new friend, Dr Francis, an arthritis specialist. Together we had declared war on the Arthritis.

A picture of a lady walking along the beach. She is walking away and leaving footprints. The title soul has a double meaning
A Journey Of The Soul

Sickness Life Cycle

I was just beginning stage 5 of the "Sickness Life Cycle":
  1. Feel sick
  2. Enjoy sympathy if available (sometimes there isn't any. if not,  see Mum)
  3. Visit doctor
  4. Get drugs 
  5. Feel better (or die. Game over)   <<<<<  I was just starting here (or so I thought!)

As I was in stage 5, it was just a matter of time until this sorry affair would be over and forgotten. Yeah right! I wasn't aware yet, but this new enemy cared nothing for my sickness life cycle. It was playing a new and different game.


A Quick Review of Stage 2: Sympathy

Let me indulge myself in some self pity, just for one paragraph.

The pain initially led me to incorrectly believe I had a broken toe. My toe was swollen. My foot was swollen.  Some days I couldn't even put my shoe on. Some nights I had to crawl to the bathroom. The sheet touching my toe would wake me up in pain. During the day I walked with a limp. I was in constant pain. Not a pretty picture, but I always kept a smile on my dial!

Biding Our Time


With Dr Francis on board I just had to wait and let the drugs build up in my system and soon, I believed, it would all be over.

I was slowly working my way up to 6 tablets of Sulfasalazine a day. If you take too many at once to begin with your body gets confused and you can get nauseous. Dr Francis advised we needed 6 to 8 weeks before they would become effective and in the meantime to enjoy some relief from our good friend Naproxen.

Propaganda

Naproxen was a bit like dropping harmless propaganda leaflets directly onto the occupied toe. It sent a message to the Arthritis saying "look how easy it is to reduce your swelling" in the hope that the arthritis would realise we had a direct, unimpeded, path to the source and proper bombs were on the way.

I didn't know it then, but the arthritis didn't give a rats about the Naproxen. Yes it reduced the swelling temporarily, but the arthritis didn't care about swelling. It was busy in the joints, gnawing away bit by bit. Some said the Naproxen was possibly doing more harm than good. Stomach bleeding can result in death after all, so the stories go.

From my point of view however, I liked the Naproxen. It did the job.

Without Naproxen? I limped my way along in pain. If I had to walk more than 100 meters my hobbling body would tire and wilt. With Naproxen? I could play golf (9 holes not 18!). It still hurt, but it was in the background.

A Strange Time


This is how it stayed for about 12 months. Sulfasalazine & Naproxen. Building up, waiting and lots of hot air propaganda.

It was a strange time. All I knew about arthritis was the pain. Pain was something I didn't enjoy, but it was manageable. I was yet to come across the real weapons of this unknown evil.

Me, Dr Francis, and his drugs were friends. We lived in hope, yet as time ticked on I was all too aware that I had been in stage 5 for nearly 12 months. To assume nothing was happening in this time would have be wrong. There was plenty of action going on inside my foot, however the action was all internal and unknown to me. Was it good action? I didn't know. I just hoped the drugs, which obviously started a considerable time after the initial invasion, were building up slowly getting ready to take on the enemy when the time came.

A point of view shot dome a man standing on a cliff looking out over the sea
Trouble in the Distance?

The End Of The Phoney War


One day everything changed.

Unexpectedly the pain made a move. In an instant, like a hot knife through butter, it marched on in and spread itself to the balls of my feet.

The phoney war was over. It was a bald, audacious and foolhardy move that Dr Francis and I could not ignore. We needed to step things up immediately. The arthritis was now well and truly marching into our land and we knew it wouldn't stop. Where next? The knee? The hip?

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Worse


My reaction ended up failing so badly I would lose contact with Dr Francis for a long period of time and end up with permanent pains that would last a lifetime. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but the truth was that I was clueless and facing an enemy that had experience and had only know success. I was to be outclassed and out witted.


To be continued.......

Friday, 4 December 2015

An Introduction To Psoriatic Arthritis

I Genuinely Thought I was a Leper


I am going to start blogging about my personal battle with psoriatic arthritis with the hope that it may offer some comfort to others.

I suffer from Psoriatic Arthritis. I have had the arthritis for about 5 years and it is unfortunately still active. 10 year previous to this I had psoriasis, the accompanying skin condition.

I was typical in that the psoriasis came first. I consider myself very lucky that it was only on my hands and feet. I looked like a leper, but I could mostly hide it. At the time I had no idea what is was. The internet was a lot smaller in those days and medical mysteries were still common place. I went to many different doctors all to no avail. Samples of my skin were taken and analysed under the microscope yet no one could enlighten me as to why my skin was falling off my bones. About 4 years later it cleared up and was nearly forgotten about.

Arthritis Specialist


The answer arrived some years later when I was sitting on a doctors bed with what I thought was a broken toe. The doctor was an Arthritis specialist. It had taken 3 months of pain before I went to my local doctor, and then another 3 months on a waiting list to get booked in with the specialist. The specialist didn't say much to me. She had a student with her which she described my symptoms to one by one. I sat there and listened whilst thinking "Yes Yes, I do have that". Yes, my nails do have dimples. Yes my toes are splayed a bit.

Being Labelled as an Arthritis Sufferer


I was at the start of a slow process that would change me from being 'just another middle class person' to 'an arthritis sufferer'. I was quick to accept my toe was not broken and that it hurt because it was swollen as my body was attacking it. I didn't yet realise my immune system was attacking it every second of every day, and that my only chance, and a remote one at that, was to make some huge changes, otherwise, like a relentless terminator, it simply wouldn't ever stop.

A photo of a woman's slender hand that appear to have arthritis yet still looks rather beautiful. It is holding, or rather balancing, a magnificent red apple.
Arthritis
.

So I was finally diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. At last a label. Something I could fight. Something tangible I could attribute the pain and suffering to. No longer was I literally falling apart for no reason, I was falling a part for a reason! I was so happy. They even gave me a script for some drugs that would make it all better.

If Only I Knew


I look back to that point of time now and realise if I knew then, what laid ahead, I would have been petrified. Totally petrified. So petrified I may not have continued.

Instead I was smiling ear to ear, I limped in to the pharmacy, ordered my drugs and excitedly told friends and family that my painful toe was not broken, rather I had arthritis but it was okay because I had some drugs.

Being polite to myself I was just very ignorant. Being harsh I was a total and stupid idiot.

This was the beginning of a new chapter that would lead me to face my biggest fears again and again and again.

To be continued....


Following this short introduction I'm going to write a number of post about psoriatic arthritis (PA). Me and PA have been through a lot together so I have a lot to say. I feel cursed for being introduced to it, but I also feel lucky that I live in such a wonderful country when it comes to health care. As long as you have insurance and some money that is.

At a guess, the insurance has cost our family about $5000 a year (for 10+ years) and the out of pocket expenses specifically for my arthritis has been between $1000 and $4000 a year for the last 5 years. Of course this doesn't include all the money the insurance company, and the government, has paid. If I hadn't had the insurance, which I only took out by chance, then I simply wouldn't have received the medical help due to costs.

So here's the first tip: Get health insurance whilst you are healthy. Do it now. Don't wait.




Free Banana's For Children When Shopping


This is the sort of simple idea that appeals to NakedMidLife.

It is simple
It is fun
It saves money
It makes money

There's little to do with technology, other than using the power of the internet to propagate the message across the globe so that everyone can benefit. So Share!!!!!

A sign in a UK Tesco's store reads "Hi Parents Please feel free to take a piece of fruit on us for your children to eat whilst you shop. We would like to encourage healthy eating and make your shopping trip that bit easier. Enjoy your day and thank you for shopping at Tesco Colchester"
Tesco's is Offering Free Banana's

If you can't read it it says:

Hi Parents feel free to take a piece of fruit on us for your children to eat whilst you shop. We would like to encourage healthy eating and make your shopping trip that bit easier. Enjoy your day and thank you for shopping at Tesco Colchester.

Thanks to the Lisa Giles and her original posting here:

If you read the comments it appears some supermarkets around the world have been doing it for free for a while. Why are we missing out?

The Only Way To Control A Teenager

Taming The Teenager

There's only one punishment teenage kids care about: Loosing the Internet.

How else can we get them to do their homework, tidy their rooms, help set the table, speak politely and with respect. Sometimes, in fact nearly all the time, such basic requests are far too much to ask for.

A Teenager with heiad head on the table
Naughty Teenager
Let's face it, it is always, without fail quicker and easier to unpack the dishwasher yourself rather than ask your teenage son (or daughter) to do it. Forcing them to peal themselves away from their PC, Xbox or PlayStation. Forcing them to hang up their Skype call to one of their Skype buddies. Making them to walk the whole 9 yards from their room to the kitchen and to see them laboriously remove each item one by one from the dishwasher into random cupboards without being told, again one by one, where each item goes. It's like having your teeth pulled out. It's quicker to do it yourself.

Well I have a proven solution that will change your moping, procrastinating and selectively deaf juvenile into a responsive, proactive and obedient youngster at little to no effort. Do you believe me? Read on!!

Two little dickie birds, Sitting on a wall;

A Teenager on the phone looking Grumpy
Grumpy Teenager
Knowledge is power. Knowledge, of technology that you already own, can give you all the leverage you need to get your child back under control, remove the shenanigans and start making your teenager dance like a kangaroo. Depending on your internet hardware all you may need is knowledge. No purchase necessary!

You see, the amazingly simple solution that converts brumbies (wild horses) into Stallions almost overnight, is to reconfigure your internet router (also called a modem) so that it has one wireless network per a teenager. If you were lucky/clever enough to buy a router that can enable multiple wireless networks then the green light is shining and you are ready to go!

Sometimes a second wireless network on a router is called a 'Guest Network'. If you are unsure whether your router can enable multiple wireless networks then google your router name look for 'Guest WiFi Network' in the specs. Or, it may even mention that it can handle 'multiple networks'. Have a quick look at the two screenshots below, these routers have 2 wireless networks, and 6 respectively.


This is a part of the spec for an N600 TPLink showing it has 2 wireless networks
2 Wireless Networks

This is a part of the spec for an Asus RT-AC68U showing it has 6 wireless networks
6 Wireless Networks

One named Peter, One named Paul.


An Idle Teenager sitting ina park bench
Idle Teenager
Let me explain how this works with an example. Our internet router happens to have the ability to create 4 WiFi networks. There also happens to be 4 members in our household, excluding the dogs. Quite simply we have created one wireless network for each child. That leaves one for guests and one for mum & dad.

A Teenager Glaring into a mirror
Glaring Teenager







If we are fortunate enough for you to come round to our house for tea, when you arrive and check your phone to connect to the internet, as you always should, you will see a choice of 4 wireless networks. One called 'Peter', one called 'Paul', one called 'MumDad' and finally one called 'Guest'.

You can join the Guest network. The password is on the fridge.

Paul, however, can't join the Guest network (see later), he can only join the 'Paul' network. likewise, Peter can only join the 'Peter' network.
Now let's assume Paul starts procrastinating, as he will, about tidying his room, He's moping, He's lost his ability to say complete sentences. He's upset that the whole world is pitting against him and all he wants to do is play a simple game on his cheap PC with he never gets to use.

All we have to do is a simply log in to the router, a casual flick of the Paul network switch and:






A Tank pointing its big gun straight in to the camera
BOOOOOOOM
BOOOOOOOOOOM



Fly away Peter! Fly away Paul!


The 'Paul' network is down! Its gone! Nada, Nyet, Nista!

And guess what Paul, it won't be back up until the cups and saucers are removed, the bin is emptied, the dirty clothes are in the washing machine and the bed has been made. Not to mention the vacuuming!

A Teenager looking very Concerned
A Concerned Teenager

How good is that! Turning off their internet, without affecting anyone else, certainly gets their attention.

Obviously Peter, Mum and Dad and any guests are still free to browse the internet at will. As along as they behave of course.

Once Paul has recovered from being on an enforced Digital Diet and realised that the only way out is to obey the almighty powerful ones, then the 'Paul' network can be re-enabled as quickly as it was disabled in the first place.

Oh so simple, and oh so effective!

An old fashioned sign that says The Internet
Browse Browse Browse 


Setting It Up - The Easy Way


So how easy is it to set this teenage trap up in the first place?

Well it's not difficult at all if your router already has the ability to handle multiple wireless networks. It's just a case of logging into your router, finding out where the button is to create a new wireless network, typing in a new name and password and hitting the Go button! Bob's you mother's brother. You can now go and join the Elite Parent Group where all the parents are so amazingly perfect that they have happy trouble free teenagers that are just full of love and a strong single minded desire to study. ... ... A quick message to such parents: You are delirious, all teenagers are trouble, you just don't know about it yet!

Setting It Up - The Hard Way


If your router is old or at the bottom end of the market as some people's are, then there is an option to use two or more wireless routers to achieve the same result. It is a little more complex to setup (far more complex actually) but achieves the same result. An old modem/WiFi can be used as you only need the WiFi part of it? Otherwise new wireless only routers can be bought for peanuts.

In my opinion it's a shame to spend good money after bad. Firstly because there are so many old WiFi modems lying around collecting dust in everyone's 'old wires and crap' drawers that surely a quick Facebook message will soon catch you one. Secondly because if you are spending money then you should really consider investing in an upgrade to a more modern and functional router. Did you know transistors degrade after 5 years so a new modem will give you quicker speeds. Everyone wants quicker speeds.

If you do buy a new router that can handle multiple wireless networks it will also have parental control on it. Parental control normally allows you to configure when a particular device can access the internet on your network. This means Peter and Paul can not use their phone, tablets, PC's, Xbox's to connect to the internet after 11 pm for example. Unfortunately it doesn't stop them using 3G on their phone, but it's usually enough to make them go to bed.

In the setup I mentioned earlier I have to configure the router to disallow each of the kids machines access to the 'Guest' WiFi network. This is because they know the password. It's on the Fridge!

Come Back Peter! Come Back Paul!


A photo of the back of 3 teenagers jumping up in a start jump on a hill on a sunny day
Happy Teenagers


In summary, a simple bit of time spent learning about your router can give you a huge amount of leverage when it comes to rude and procrastinating teenagers. Before you know it you may just get a smile and a thank you next time you taxi them to and from their friends party!

If you need any help setting this up please do leave a comment, I will be more than happy to help :-)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Thermomix Cost Benefit Summary

This is the part where we compare the Costs with the Benefits previously collected and discussed.

Remember that this is just the first of two studies to answer our 3 Ultimate Thermomix Questions.


Let's first review the main costs and benefits again:



Summary of Costs

  1. Cost, financially, of TM5 (the new one) Thermomix
  2. Cost of 'Healthy' Ingredients
  3. Cost of learning to use your Right Hand
  4. Cost of not completing the Learning Curve
  5. Cost Compared to Buying A Cheaper Alternative
  6. Cost of Unused Existing Gadgets
  7. Cost of Electricity!
  8. Bench Space
  9. Customer Service
  10. Hype
  11. Meals We Thought We Would Cook But Never Did
  12. Qualities The Thermomix Didn't Add to Kitchen


Summary of Benefits

  1. Foods & Meals Actually Cooked in Thermomix
  2. Qualities The Thermomix Has Added to Kitchen
  3. Health Benefits Of The Thermomix
  4. Money Saving Of The Thermomix
  5. Other Benefits Of The Thermomix

I have highlighted the costs and benefits I think are most important when making a decision to buy or upgrade your Thermomix.

I have discarded all but one of the costs and two of the benefits mainly because they are subjective. You alone can decide whether you will persevere with  the learning curve. You alone know whether you can tolerate a right handed device, or have the bench space. The cost however is a fact. It is a fact we can throw against the benefits, which we will now do.

Money - Comparing Costs to Savings

The costs are easy:


Cost

A new machine in Australia costs $2089


Savings

So how much does a Thermomix save? It's a good question, but one that totally depends on who you are. All I can do is give you my own figures:

Savings Monthly Amount
Make stuff from scratch $50
Dips and hommus, pesto and lemon butter ($1 instead of $4) $20
Biscuits (Cheaper if compared against high quality biscuits) $20
Ricotta ($2/kg instead of $8/kg) $10
Custard ($1 instead of $6) $15
Yoghurt ($2 instead of 2 x $4) $20
Go to Shopping less - Less impulse buying $50
Less Takeaway $80
Washing powder $0
Other Minor Items $20
Total $285


I'd be happily challenged on these. One month may be very different to the next. It's a guide only, however I do believe it to be a fair representation at this point in time.

Summary of Comparing Costs to Savings

I'm honestly surprised by the size of the savings. This means the Thermomix will pay for itself in under 7 months. Wow! I genuinely didn't expect this.

Even if my savings are half what I have estimate, and they aren't, then we are talking just over a year.



Health

You can't put a price on this. I'm no diet monster, but I have recently, in the last 3 years or so, become so aware of sugar. It is everywhere and in places you don't expect. However, whether it's sugar, preservatives or fat, with the Thermomix you don't have to eat hidden nasties such as sugar or preservatives for example. The last time I bought a breakfast cereal, other than just oats, from the supermarket was a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I don't have to buy it, I can, and do, make my own and it has next to no sugar.



Qualities

The 'Qualities' were things like Quality, Flavour, Variety, Time Saving, Ease of use, Reduced Washing Up.

These are hard to measure and very subjective, but they are all very significant benefits of the Thermomix




Conclusion


We have yet to see the results of our practical tests and given the undeniable positive results they have become all the more important.


In summary what we have seen is that although the Thermomix is a very expensive initial outlay the cost can be recouped in 6 to 12 months based on savings made by making your own food.


Other than the initial cost there is no other significant cost.


Other major benefits of the Thermomix are Health, Flavour, Quality Foods. Time Savings, Reduced & Washing Up.


Based on this Cost Benefit Analysis we find that the Thermomix is a cost effective solution to increase health and efficiency in the kitchen.


Thermomix Actual Real Life Benefits

Thermomix Benefits


Based on our Plan we are conducting a two part test to see whether our existing Thermomix was worth it. The first test is a rather serious and boring cost/benefit analysis. This emulates the husbands role in the cliche 'typical' family. On the wife's side of things we are being a bit more practical. However, to really put the machine through its paces, we are testing whether the Thermomix hype can handle the heat of the kitchen by asking a lovable lazy 14 year old to cook a series of meals.


A close up of my Thermomix sitting on my kitchen bench



So this is the point where we list the benefits of the Thermomix. Now, to be clear, this is not a generic list of benefits. Such lists can be found all over the internet. We have had our Thermomix for months, actually maybe years, so what we really want in order to answer our 3 questions is a list of the benefits that we have directly seen ourselves.

There's a lot of information here, so I will not go into detail for each one. I'll simply let you browse the lists as they are reasonably self explanatory. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments!

This is a summary of the Lists. After this summary you will find each list:
  1. Foods & Meals Actually Cooked in Thermomix
  2. Qualities The Thermomix Has Added to Kitchen
  3. Health Benefits Of The Thermomix
  4. Money Saving Of The Thermomix
  5. Other Benefits Of The Thermomix

1. Foods & Meals Actually Cooked in Thermomix

Too many to list, however here are some of the more regular ones. Also, the list is always increasing as we learn more.
  • Foods
    • Ice Cream
    • Butter
    • Yoghurt 
    • Juice
    • Pizza Bases
    • Almond Meal
    • Curries
    • Soup
    • Lemonade
    • LSA mix 
    • Rissoto
    • Meat balls
    • Custard
    • Desserts

2. Qualities The Thermomix Has Added to Kitchen

The Thermomix has changed how we cook in our kitchen. Here are some of the qualities that changed for the better.
  • Qualities
    • Fun
    • Quality
    • Flavour
    • Variety
    • Time Saving
    • Easy
    • Taste - most meals were awesome!
    • Little Washing up
    • Sanity - Quick Meals when hungry

3. Health Benefits Of The Thermomix

The Thermomix helps your health by giving you control back with what you are putting in your body. Becuase you can make so many raw ingredients from scratch, you do not need to rely on buying mass produced radiated items that have preservatives and sugars in them.
  • Health
    • Organic
    • Gluten free - Choice
    • Less Sugar
    • Less Preservatives
    • Less Take-Away
    • Less Doctor fees / pharmaceuticals


4. Money Saving Of The Thermomix
This is a high level list of the Money savings. We'll break this down in the conclusion.
  • Money
    • Make stuff from scratch
    • Most Foods were actually cheaper to make from scratch
      • Dips and hommus, pesto and lemon butter ($1 instead of $4)
      • Biscuits (Cheaper if compared against high quality biscuits)
      • Ricotta ($2/kg instead of $8/kg)
      • Custard ($1 instead of $6)
      • Yoghurt ($2 instead of 2 x $4)
    • Go to Shopping less - Less impulse buying
    • Less wastage in fridge
    • Less Takeaway
    • Washing powder
      • 2 bars of soap
      • 1 cup of borax
      • 1 cup of lectic (washing) soda. 
      • Use 2 tbsp per load. 

5. Other Benefits Of The Thermomix

I'm sure there's more benefits that we now just take for granted. Here are the ones that came to mind:
    • Camping
      • Saved space in car
      • Saved Time whilst camping
      • Made brilliant Fresh Smoothies
    • Quality Engineering
      • We have had no issues, unlike many other appliances!

That's a lot of benefits to listed! It's now time to consider these, along with the Costs we looked at earlier, and come to a conclusion



    Jeremy Clarkson Delivers His First Amazon Gifts, By Drone!


    Amazon's Drone To Get Bargains To You Quicker


    Do you want quicker delivery? I'm not sure about being cheaper, which is what NakedMidLife is all about, however it is exciting and fun.

    Most of us have bought bargains on Amazon, there's nothing new about that. What is new, and worth talking about, is the new delivery service coming out soon, by drone! Apparently.

    I won't rehash the details, why don't you just look at the Amazon video by their very own. happily fed, Jeremy Clarkson:  Amazon's Proposed New Delivery System


    A photo taken from a drown showing a harbour with boats in it
    A Drone's View 

    Tuesday, 1 December 2015

    Thermomix Costs Never Mentioned


    Thermomix Costs


    Based on our Plan we are conducting a two part test to see whether our existing Thermomix was worth it. The first test is a rather serious and boring cost/benefit analysis. This emulates the husbands role in the cliche 'typical' family. On the wife's side of things we are being a bit more practical. However, to really put the machine through its paces, we are testing whether the Thermomix hype can handle the heat of the kitchen by asking a lovable lazy 14 year old to cook a series of meals.


    A close up of my Thermomix sitting on my kitchen bench



    Here we are then looking at all the costs of getting a Thermomix, it's not just the dollars you know! Lets list them first and then look at them one by one.

    1. Cost, financially, of TM5 (the new one) Thermomix
    2. Cost of 'Healthy' Ingredients
    3. Cost of learning to use your Right Hand
    4. Cost of not completing the Learning Curve
    5. Cost Compared to Buying A Cheaper Alternative
    6. Cost of Unused Existing Gadgets
    7. Cost of Electricity!
    8. Bench Space
    9. Customer Service
    10. Hype
    11. Meals We Thought We Would Cook But Never Did
    12. Qualities The Thermomix Didn't Add to Kitchen

    Lets look at each cost in a bit more detail:


    1. Cost of TM5 (the new one) Thermomix


    The Thermomix can be bought around the world. However, you can only buy it if you go to a party. Yep, you read that right, you have to go to a party. Look it works for them so let's not judge. What is important though is that Thermomix set the price. As far as I know there is no getting round that, unless you buy one second hand, or start hosting parties. Again, let's not get in to the party 'thang'.

    A photo of some folded 20 American Dollar Notes
    The Thermomix is not the Cheapest Kitchen Appliance

    Here are the prices at the current point in time:

    • America $1785
    • UK £1089
    • Australia $2089
    • Europe €1,109
    • Singapore 5300 RM

    Now, if you are an international traveler, as many of us are these days, then you can exploit the exchange rate and buy one abroad. However, do be careful getting it back through customs as you may have to pay tax.

    All in all a Thermomix costs a huge amount of money no matter who you are. No one pretends otherwise. In a later article, currently being researched, we will compare these costs against the benefits to see if it is worth it.


    2. Cost of 'Healthy' Ingredients


    The truth is organic and 'healthy' food is more expensive than mass produced processed food. Even though you may end up making all your ingredients from scratch, i.e. just buying the raw ingredients and processing them yourself with your Thermomix, it is expensive.


    A close up of a lot of peanuts
    Nuts

    A McBurger is many many times cheaper than 500 g of mixed nuts


    3. Cost of learning to use your Right Hand


    If you are left handed then I am told using this machine is a bit of a pain. Whether it is more painful than using any other kitchen appliance I am not sure. With all the buttons on the right hand side I have to admit that I think left handers may have a rough deal here. Sorry 10% of you!

    A photo of a mans left hand
    Left Handed People Struggle With Some Devices

    It's probably a good idea to check one out at a 'Party' before buying it. Ah, of course, you have to!


    4. Cost of not Completing the Learning Curve


    When you are parting with over two bags of sand (sand -> grand -> thousand dollars) for a new piece of cooking hardware you are going to want to use it a lot. This means, instead of going to the old food processor, microwave or oven, you are going to have to force yourself to learn to make the same meal using your new toy.

    A photo of a young child's english book saying 'See Me'
    There's a Learning Curve

    I can tell you from personal experience this is difficult. For some reason, when I am hungry, I don't want to be experimenting with my dinner. I just want to eat it. It's all fine and dandy on a Sunday afternoon when the kids are out playing and I've already done the chores. I can relax, read the Thermomix recipe book and attempt to make some yummie chocolate brownies. On such an occasions, when I end up with something resembling a pasty chocolate mouse its all good! Everyone has a good old hearty laugh, including me, and the sun shines brighter than ever and we all sing songs by the piano until its time for hot coco and then bed.

    However, on a Monday evening when the kids are fighting, I haven't eaten since the cold toast I ate 13 hours ago, the dogs haven't been fed and we have 3 hours of homework to get through, on such occasions, I do not want to start a #$%^& learning curve.

    So it is harder than it seems.


    5. Cost Compared to Buying a Cheaper Alternative


    Don't tell anyone, but Thermomix doesn't have the market for super kitchen machines to itself! Oh no! Here in Australia there are a few to chose from:

    • Bellini
    • MyCook Premium
    • ThermoChef
    • A whisk
    A simple photo of a whisk, or hand held mixer
    A Whisk

    Each one has plus's and minus's and there's endless reviews on the internet pitching them against each other. The point to take in here though is that the Thermomix is clearly the more expensive option.

    6. Cost of Unused Existing Gadgets


    Do you have a juicer, a blender, a mixer, a thermo mixer, scales, one of those bullet devices that are seen all over the TV shopping channels? Well all of these can remain collecting dust. I mean start start collecting dust, because we use them everyday of course.

    A photo of a red blender
    A Blender
    If you are fully kitted out then you are going to have to have a garage sale, and we all know they are a pain in the backside.

    7. Cost of Electricity!


    To be honest I think I must have included this as a joke. I hope I did. If anyone is seriously including the cost of electricity in to the equation then they should firstly go and see their doctor and secondly read the article on the power wall.


    A photo of electric lines with a sunset in the background
    Electricity can be expensive these days

    8. Bench Space 


    The Thermomix is a big appliance and it is unlikely to fit in to most people's kitchen cupboards. It's also quite heavy and has fragile feet that tend to break if not picked up carefully. The feet are part of the scales and are a week point on what is otherwise a very sturdy machine.

    In reality this appliance will have to remain on your kitchen workbench so hopefully you have room and also like the look of it. 

    9. Customer Service


    Fortunately I have never had to call them. However when researching for this blog I found numerous complaints on forums about the customer service. I suppose this depends on the country you live in bit its worth knowing you don't necessarily get royal treatment just because you forked out half a mortgage for the thing. I must also add that there were many posts complementing the customer service. The internet is an easy place to vent so possibly take this with a pinch of salt.

    10. Hype


    By hype I mean the parties you have to attend where you have to talk to kitchen appliance obsessed people. When you buy a Thermomix, if you are not careful, you can soon find yourself stuck in some sort of a cult with no immediate way out. You'll find yourself sacrificing lambs in your machine whilst chanting oms on top of you dining room table as if it was an Aztec pyramid. I exaggerate, but you get the point. Maybe its just the fact the parties are pushed on me. If I want to buy something let me buy it, don't make me lose 4 hours of my precious life feeling like I'm being sold timeshares. I've worked hard in life, if I want to buy a Thermomix just let me buy a Thermomix.

    A photo of stonehenge and the beautiful landscape of green hills
    Cult


    11. Meals We Thought We Would Cook In Our Thermomix But Never Did


    Amongst all the hype is a never ending list of meals that the Thermomix can magically deliver simply by staring at it and making a wish. Apparently. Well here are the meals we thought we would cook in the Thermomix, yet, for many different reasons, they never really happened:

    • Foods
      • Bread
      • Muesli Bars
      • Peanut butter,
      • Mayonnaise
      • Cheese
      • Rice Milk
      • Stock
      • Frozen Juice
      • Frozen Stock - Vegetable
      • Nutella
      • Mash Potato
      • Entries - When you are buying a Thermomix you get excited about entries, however in reality they never happen. When do you really eat entries at home?

    Qualities The Thermomix Didn't Add to Kitchen

      There was only one expected 'quality' that didn't always make the grade:

      Taste.

      Some of the dishes were a bit disappointing. The worst one for me was the mash potato. Mash  should have been the perfect food for the Thermomix. Throw it in, press a button, come bak 20 minutes later and eat away!

      However, it wasnt to be. The issue with the Thermomix is that it doesn't allow the starch to go anywhere! When you cook mash in a pan, after you have boiled the potato's until they are soft, you put the starchy water down the drain. However, with the Thermomix, this all stays in the one pot.
      Sorry Thermomix, I make far superior mash with a pan.


      On that note I will ask you to let me know of any other costs I have missed. Also, make sure you check out the Benefits