Is there any Truth to those Magic Skinny Pills?

With the great desire for weight loss today, and the special challenge we all face to keep weight off, is there any way to rely on a “super pill” to provide the results you desire?

There are so many different pills these days that have been released to the public, making people think that there is the ability to lose over 10 pounds a week just by taking a little pill. Many of them are aligned with diets like the ketogenic diet and others, saying that they block certain parts of the diet, burn the belly fat that you have tried so long to get rid of, and that they will work magic to help change the body.

Somehow there is so much more to the diet and wellness than this. I can’t imagine that there is a pill that will work on its own to remove those unwanted pounds. As if there is some way to believe that sitting on the couch, watching TV, eating whatever you like, and taking some little pill, will shred those unwanted pounds away. No matter what, these “studies” and “reviews” that they have posted to state that there is proof of the capability of these pills, it almost seems to show that there is more to understand about human gullibility than these pills.

Can all the ingredients needed for health and fitness be crammed into one little pill? Is it something along the same lines as all of those eating disorders that were so unhealthy so many years ago? The ones that were proven to be dangerous, but still often of risk to people who try to starve themselves to a slim minimum? I guess I would have to think that there is something that needs to be understood about all of these items, especially the pills and the ingredients that we are putting into our bodies in hopes of some sort of magic weight loss solution.

Is it possible that this is actually magic? With a combination of many ingredients, there is supposedly the ability to find all the weight loss support needed without changing your diet or fitness regime in any way. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. You would likely need to take some effort, in the same way, that others do, in order to help with health improvement and weight loss.



Combining Self-Employment and Home Parenthood

As the gig economy builds incredibly, there is much to consider with the growth of self-employment and entrepreneurship in the United States. Considering the high amount that any of us have to pay for childcare, even when we face single parenthood, there is a great amount of savings to be had from working at home while your children are young.

There are several different benefits to taking on self-employment, no matter when it can be done. Sometimes this is something that provides extra cash, and other times it is an option to gaining additional work experience to be placed on that resume in order to start moving up the ladder on your own.

Sometimes there is a benefit to having one smaller job, maybe that doesn’t pay as well but provides insurance or other benefits, while taking on a freelance or gig role that is more along the lines of the field that meets your passions. Sometimes as a new freelancer, you take on the field of an entry-level professional without the ability to charge enough to pay bills with that work alone. Unfortunately, those initial roles, either a full-time office position or freelance on your own, often pay at a minimal rate. It takes time to gain the experience and knowledge that is accepted by the upper levels of any company to help pay the amount that leads to saving for retirement and other needs.

Therefore, one of the key costs that can be cut or at least minimized during the early days of parenthood includes childcare. Not everyone has a grandparent who is retired and can babysit during the day. There is also the need to make sure that a child is well-cared-for during the day, and there is not always access to a quality childcare center that is close to home and within your budget. So, the option of working at least part-time from home can help to provide a great deal of savings over time.


Hydrogen: Renewable Energy Source in Iceland

About 85% of the total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources. This is the highest share of renewable energy in any national total energy budget.

In 2016 geothermal energy provided about 65% of primary energy, the share of hydropower was 20%, and the share of fossil fuels (mainly oil products for the transport sector) was 15%. In 2013 Iceland also became a producer of wind energy. The main use of geothermal energy is for space heating, with the heat being distributed to buildings through extensive district-heating systems. About 85% of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy.

n 2015, the total electricity consumption in Iceland was 18,798 GWh. Renewable energy provided almost 100% of electricity production, with about 73% coming from hydropower and 27% from geothermal power. Most of the hydropower plants are owned by Landsvirkjun (the National Power Company) which is the main supplier of electricity in Iceland. Iceland is the world’s largest green energy producer per capita and largest electricity producer per capita, with approximately 55,000 kWh per person per year. In comparison, the EU average is less than 6,000 kWh.

As of 2009…

It looks much like any other filling station: Shell-branded gasoline pumps lined up before a brightly lit convenience store on the shoulder of a busy highway. However, this is no ordinary Shell station. Just to one side are the world’s first commercial hydrogen fueling station. Pull up in your hydrogen-powered car, swipe your credit card, attach the pump fixture, and in five minutes you’ll be back on the road, your tank full of emissions-free fuel produced right at the filling station from water and sustainably generated electricity.

While many countries talk about sustainable energy and redu­cing greenhouse-gas emissions, Iceland is committed to weaning itself off fossil fuels altogether by the middle of the century. Instead of importing oil to power its cars and fishing vessels, this remote island nation of 300,000 plans to power them like everything else here: with electricity from hydroelectric and geothermal plants.

The government’s plan, announced in 1998, is to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen. The Shell station opened in 2003, serving the needs of three experimental hydrogen fuel-cell buses that plied the streets of Reykjavík for four years without incident. Hydrogen-fueled cars followed in late 2007 and were joined by a fuel cell-equipped passenger vessel last year. But the project, which aimed to convert the country to hydrogen by 2040, is several years behind schedule, due to delays in automobile manufacturers’ roll-out of the next generation of hydrogen vehicles, which the global recession will only make worse. Iceland’s own financial collapse has not only delayed the building of additional fueling stations, Skulason says, but has also underscored the need to develop domestic fuel supplies.

The idea is to use electricity generated by geothermal (steam) and hydro plants to power cars. While plug-in electric cars might be sensible for Reykjavík commuters, long-distance travelers, fishermen, and aircraft pilots have power and range requirements that can’t be practically served by battery storage alone. At the Shell station, an electrolyzer strips hydrogen from H20 molecules, which are later consumed in the engines of specially-modified internal-combustion Toyota Priuses. The hydrogen can also be turned into electricity in the fuel cells of Daimler A-Class electric cars. (Drivers here say the latter approach delivers far more torque and power.)

While the idea of other power cells running off of hydrogen power hasn’t quite developed yet, with everything that has developed over the past couple of decades in Iceland indicates that it has potential. The batteries that run our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other devices may have the potential to gain hydrogen power in the end.

Without much advancement over the past decade or so there remains a question as to whether this technology is “stuck in neutral” or if there have been no further advancements. Considering the fact that it was started by automakers including Toyota and a couple of others, there is much to find out as to the other industries that may be able to look into hydrogen and geothermal power for other locations than the automobile.


Taking Advantage of the Gig Economy at its Peak

Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 55 million people in the U.S. are “gig workers,” which is more than 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. That number is projected to jump to 43 percent by 2020. If you’ve never heard the term, “gig work” is basically just a buzzy way of describing an independent contract or part-time job, like driving for Uber or freelance copywriting.

Millennials, the generation credited with disrupting everything from housing to marriage, are gravitating toward gig work for the promise of greater work-life balance. Boomers and other generations on the brink of retirement are drawn to gig work because it brings in a little extra income without a major time commitment. And recent technologies like Skype, Slack, and DropBox have made the gig life a reality, giving you maximum freedom, an ideal work-life balance, and the chance to pursue your passions.

If you’re thinking of joining the gig economy, it’s never been easier. But freelance work also comes with challenges, like unsteady workloads and pay schedules, lack of benefits, and a ton of self-discipline.

Here’s what you need to know before you make the jump:

  • You’re your own boss, so discipline is key.
  • One of the great things about the gig economy is that you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck.
  • As a freelancer, you no longer have to cater to a company culture or work schedule that might cause physical or emotional stress. Instead, you get to choose the type of work you do and who you work with. Plus, you get to make your own decisions about when to wake up, when to work, when to exercise, when to run errands, and how much work you take on. You’re able to make choices that suit your personality and unique needs.

But this degree of freedom requires a corresponding amount of discipline, and that doesn’t come easily to everybody. With no boss to make sure you’re on task, it’s all on you. If you wake up late and miss a client call, no one else can help smooth things over. It’s your responsibility to apologize, call to reschedule or lose the client altogether. Not everybody is suited to be his or her own timekeeper. Some people need structure and the pressure of an authority figure to stay motivated. But if you’re a self-starter who chafes at being told what to do, the gig life could be a perfect fit.

The gig economy is great for creatives!

When you’re a young creative just starting out, and your resume is more or less a blank slate, gig work can help you get a foot in the door. The gig economy allows creatives to pay the bills while also giving them time to pursue their passions. Visual artists like my Uber driver can supplement freelance design work by driving for rideshare services. Aspiring novelists can freelance as copywriters to make their rent payments.

Plus, you can do these jobs from almost anywhere. You could be in the North Pole as long as you have internet access. You can find work wherever you feel inspired. Just make sure your artist’s late nights don’t keep you from turning projects around on time.

The Basic Premise

Apps dedicated to side gigs tend to follow the same pattern, and they aren’t always technologically sophisticated. First, there needs to be a customer need—a type of service that ideally, almost anyone could provide. Sometimes, that’s housesitting or pet sitting. Sometimes, it’s providing transportation. Other times, it’s a professional service, like writing, designing, or voice acting. In any case, the app functions as both a sophisticated classified-ad-style matchmaking service and as a facilitator of the services rendered. Take Uber as an example; Uber provides value because it matches you with a driver whenever you need a ride (and gives you riders if you’re a driver), and because it handles things like ride tracking, fare calculation, and other features.

On the surface, this isn’t a bad thing. You can look at it in one of two ways. In the first, this is simply a tool that increases the efficiency of something that would have happened anyway. Services like this have existed for a long time, and not always in app form. For example, if you’re managing a multifamily property as part of your investment property portfolio, you could enlist the help of property managers to take care of things like collecting rent, finding tenants, and managing evictions when necessary. In a sense, customers are paying a fee in exchange for making more money and making their own lives easier, and gig-focused apps aren’t the first things to do this.

These thoughts suggest that gig economy apps are mere extensions of things that develop naturally in the economy overall, and therefore shouldn’t bear criticism for impacting the economy negatively. But this isn’t the only dimension to consider.

The Profit Problem

There’s an inherent problem with how this system handles profits, and it’s one with apparent advantages. Tech startups that focus on gig-based transactions count on being able to scrape relatively small fees from either customers or service providers. On a large enough scale, even small fees can accumulate to massive amounts of revenue. Accordingly, the scale needs to be as large as possible for the company to continue growing and remain profitable. This is problematic because it encourages razor-thin profit margins for service providers over the long term, and as more service providers begin to lean on the app for part of their income, it becomes harder to leave.

Benefits and Job Security

Gig workers aren’t paid a salary; instead, they’re paid a fixed fee for each “gig” or task they complete, leading to a sense of job instability. Gig workers are frequently insecure about their future and have to deal with inconsistent income, which can make it difficult to raise a family or save enough for retirement.

Without benefits like health insurance, retirement options, or other perks, it can cause serious financial distress. High-tech IoT devices and other breakthroughs are gradually making healthcare less expensive, but health-related emergencies are still the leading cause of debt and bankruptcy in the United States. Without health insurance, gig workers are stuck fending for those costs on their own and could face financial ruin because of it.

Available Jobs

If a company has an option of hiring someone full-time or using an app to hire cheap temporary help, they’ll probably choose the latter. As an increasing number of jobs and services become available in the gig economy, the number of available full-time jobs could take a hit. And of course, with higher unemployment rates and less demand for workers, the economy would suffer.

Side Effects

If someone is leveraging side gigs full-time, they’ll face a number of other side effects in their life. Faced with inconsistent income and a job that could easily vanish, it would be nearly impossible to secure a mortgage or loan. Considering a relatively small percentage of people rely on gigs for their total income, we haven’t seen this kind of widespread impact, but it could happen as the numbers increase.

This doesn’t even consider the non-economic impact that the gig economy can have on workers. Inconsistent demand leads to inconsistent hours, and sometimes long, boring shifts as workers attempt to pick up tasks to accomplish. That leads to less job fulfillment, and more importantly, a less healthy work-life balance for workers.

The Bottom Line

Despite the weaknesses of the gig economy, there are remarkable benefits as well. People have more flexibility with the type of work they can take on, side gigs can lead to additional income for the average worker, and entirely new industries are being created. There are clearly positive economic benefits from apps that support the gig economy, but if they’re not carefully designed and managed, they could have a negative impact strong enough to negate them. We need to think carefully about the technology we create and how we use it on a regular basis, or it could ultimately do as much harm as good.

Gig Industries and Upcoming Changes

For years, the gig economy has been expanding, drawing independents looking for opportunities to earn extra cash. Now the young generations, such as the millennials, are moving into this industry for their careers. Some fully thrust themselves into this economy and piece together a living from short-lived engagements, no matter the motivations for entering the world of freelancing or the level of involvement. One thing remains true: The gig economy is growing at exponential rates.

There are driving and delivery apps along with other options.  There are others like cleaning, home repair, moving, yard work, or furniture assembly, where TaskRabbit may be for you. There are creatives able to work on some like Upwork and Fiverr as well. You can promote your expertise, applying for short-term or long-term freelance projects. To succeed on these sites, you will benefit from building out a powerful profile and a portfolio or demo reel of your work.

Finding opportunities in the gig economy is often as simple as downloading an app, signing up, and learning how to work on that platform. It is still important that you find the work that best suits you. If you are interested in working on your own time and having a steady flow of work, driving and delivery apps are likely your best option. If you prefer to work at home or with others in your community as projects come in, freelancing platforms are your best bet. Finding short-term and long-term assignments at small and large businesses in nearly any industry is also possible by using these apps.

Your Business

But what about those other benefits — the ones you get with traditional employment? For gig contractors, these benefits aren’t always an option, but I believe help is on the way through health insurance, retirement plans, and equity.

Health Insurance
With health insurance being tied to employment for the majority of insured Americans, there haven’t been many obvious solutions for workers in the gig economy in the past. Similar to how companies started offering health insurance to compete for talent in the 1940s, we are now seeing businesses that offer access to health benefits for contractors as a benefit.

Modern technology and market innovation are racing to meet the demand by providing simple alternatives, including stand-alone companies using technology and data to better understand and underwrite workers. There are also associations and groups coming together to collectively purchase health insurance, providing volume discounts and more accessibility.

Retirement Plans
Because some workers rely entirely on freelancing, we need to consider new strategies and possibilities for retiring. With retirement being a concern for many, it makes sense to consider retirement strategies for gig workers. Contracted work has been viewed as a means to supplement traditional retirement savings.

The future of saving for retirement will be powered by technology. Artificial intelligence, for example, could improve the way people save while making saving more accessible. This type of technology is a great start, but there is more to be done. As we continue to see technological advancements and new startups attack retirement issues, I believe we will start to see a combination of technology and people working together to help plan and execute retirement strategies. In my opinion, both will be necessary because multiple generations participate in the gig economy, and their needs will have to be addressed differently.

While stock options and grants are relatively common benefits among the traditionally employed, they have been nonexistent within the gig economy. However, 2019 might see changes that will continue to make the gig economy more competitive to business owners and skilled workers alike. Major players in the gig market, such as Airbnb, Uber, and Postmates, seek to allow contractors the opportunity to become shareholders. This represents another benefit granted to traditional employees that could become nonexclusive in the job market moving forward. This may be good, but in practice, it might be hard to execute and justify. Ultimately, some version of providing ownership opportunities will eventually exist for gig workers. However, it is not yet finalized.

The Bottom Line
The gig economy has been an innovation driven by its necessity in the modern business climate, but it hasn’t come without its challenges and criticism. These challenges are being met with modern solutions. Moving forward, I believe the future looks bright for the “general economy,” thanks to the gig economy using technology to provide greater efficiency for consumers and businesses with more benefits to contract workers.

Overall Diet Changes Best for Weight Loss

There is no reason to flood yourself in a trend diet if you do not feel confident that it will help you lose weight or get back into shape. However, one of the most popular statements made by nutritionists and dieticians includes the idea of making overall lifestyle changes in order to help begin the process of losing weight.

The most common steps include removing candy and other junk food from your life. Some of those items like chocolate, chips, and other carbs tend to become easily addictive over time. Without realizing it you are often eating well more than one or two servings of chips while you sit and watch a show or movie on TV. Additional items like desserts such as cake, ice cream, and other things have the same effect. It is much easier to avoid the potential of weight gain. With some of those items being eaten over and over again as they remain in the house there is something to be said for keeping them out of the house.

Another trend is over-eating, even when it comes within the period of a traditional meal. There is no reason to change to low-calorie or low-fat foods if you still eat in excess all the time. A great deal of importance comes with keeping all food in healthy portions and spread out over time periods. While this is often called the issue of intermittent fasting. Although this is not a form of starvation, it is actually a manner of scheduling the times in which you eat and the length of time between meals. This is helpful in allowing the body to burn calories between meals and help increase the metabolism.

Finally, there is the benefit of at least minimizing the intake of alcohol. While you don’t necessarily need to give up alcohol completely, it is important to watch how much you drink, exclude drinks that are too high in calories or sugar, and make sure that you try not to keep alcohol in the house. It is very easy to drink in excess once you have started, and when you are in the house alone watching TV or sports, it is easy to finish off that entire bottle of wine or six-pack of beer even if you never intended to do so.

It’s all about control, no matter what you may need to reduce, or the changes you look to make overall. It takes discipline to help switch to a healthier lifestyle, but we are all capable of doing it. There is no reason to expect extreme weight loss incredibly quickly, but there is always the ability to slowly reduce some of those extra pounds and fat upon making these changes.

Do We Have a Definition of “National Emergency”?

What is needed to proceed with the claim of a national emergency or crisis at the border? There doesn’t appear to be any real supporting data, but the president wants to claim the fact that it is his right alone to move ahead with this.

Does he not realize that the claim of a national state of emergency will just extend the current situation into a further legal lull?

The crisis and emergency that continues is that of the government shutdown. There are many different places where a definition of the phrase “national emergency” may be found, but who actually makes the final determination?

Some of those definitions may come from old-time dictionaries like Merriam-Webster pr even from some of the more contemporary locations like Wikipedia and other online dictionaries. Merriam-Webster refers to a national emergency as “a state of emergency resulting from a danger or threat of danger to a nation from foreign or domestic sources and usually declared to be in existence by governmental authority.” Then there are other online dictionaries like the Law Dictionary that provide as simple of a dictionary like “the term that is used to describe a crisis that involves the security and safety of the country.”

Even more so there are many issues that come from the ability of the president to make his own determination of the national emergency that he believes to exist at the country’s southern border. However, it is helpful to the country to know that the judicial branch of the government has a great deal of review to be done in order to determine whether this national emergency is accurate and provides the need to spend a great deal on something that may not increase the security, safety, or quality of our nation.