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Last Sunday I observed a traveler ahead of me being pulled aside for a body scan, pat down, and luggage check. While they did have TSA Pre-Check, the metal detector kept going off when they tried to go through multiple times. (Likely due to their smart watch that they failed to remove before walking through.) This resulted in the traveler undergoing a random check, which drew attention from fellow individuals passing through TSA.

Their suitcase was opened on the counter and their food packages were swabbed. The traveler insisted it was just food they brought with them. Everything came back negative according to the machine. They were told to repack on another table and the traveler looked irritable as they took over repacking.

The TSA agent who handled the case was weary and commented to me that she knew the traveler was irritated, but it was her job. She said she gets this kind of treatment all the time when rare cases like this come up and concluded that she wouldn’t recommend her job to anyone else.

From the traveler’s perspective, it’s hard to not be flustered when all eyes are on you for a random check. Your brain tells you that the other passing through without problem are silently judging you, wondering why you’re a problem. On the other hand, the scanners don’t do the best job producing a crisp, clear image of everything inside a bag or piece of luggage, which is why certain bags get pulled aside for a second look. In today’s world, you can’t be too careful.

I said to the TSA agent that there is no such thing as an easy job and gave her an understanding look. No one likes to have their luggage opened in public with nosy people peeking in, but the best one can do is try to remain calm and composed. At the end of the day, it can be awkward for all parties to check someone’s belongings, but cooperating can help things move along faster.

TSA aside, I want to encourage everyone to try to remember as we travel for the holidays and vacation to treat everyone with respect. We all want to get to our final destinations on time with as few hiccups as possible. However, taking our emotions out on others only makes things difficult and you could become someone’s lunchtime story of an impossible customer.

The Post-High School Debt Dilemma

Go to college/university, get your degree, and you’ll set yourself up for success. That’s what many of my peers heard before we finished our fourth year of high school and began to think about the future. It’s no surprise I’ve heard this from elementary school to high school – in the area where I grew up, many of the schools pushed for students to dream big and shoot for the iconic colleges or a Bachelors before heading into the workforce.

In recent years, many are reconsidering college or university, citing high tuition, housing, and miscellaneous expenses over 4-5 years that one can accumulate by attending a 4 year university or college. There’s no shame in that – someone once told me that not everyone saw college as an end game before they focused on a career. In an age where social media reigns, there are many ways one can make a living or some form of income without a degree in place.

Time magazine noted that as of this year, 44 million Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. While some candidates promise to roll out programs or incentives to wipe out debt if elected, others are faced with the grim reality that it will be a long couple of years to wipe out the debt on their own or with some help. I know I’m part of the latter who is steadily working toward paying off her amounts through hard work.

A company called Blockstack has addressed this issue and shared that the month of November will be spent offering to pay off student loan debt for a few lucky winners. If you’re interested in trying your luck, check out their site and enter here.

Who Cares if You’re Popular on Instagram?

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Influencers are everywhere online and you can find people who will talk, blog, and record videos about any topic or promote various products and services. With the rise of sites like Influenster and Pinch Me, everyone can feel like one for a moment. (If chosen for those sites, as they have criteria that reviewers/testers must match to qualify.) However there has been the trend of people who fake their follower counts by buying users to bulk up their numbers or those who loop in people to sign up for updates and newsletters through giveaways and contests. This leads to the question of who is truly an influencer and who is in it for the freebies?

Perhaps the concept did start with good intentions though. Regular individuals like you and me have shown that they would rather trust the opinions of a regular, working individual versus a celebrity endorser these days. Especially if the regular person reviewing the item or promoting a business doesn’t look like your stereotypical air-brushed glamazon with a perfect life, home, job, etc. We feel we can relate more to the every day individuals, which may be why we spend time subscribing and following normal, every day people who claim they buy or try things on their own dime and give candid reviews for everyone to see.

Nowadays, anyone can open a YouTube or Instagram account and post content to grab attention. Once someone sees your work or your style, usually it gets passed along by others, increasing the potential for foot traffic. Yet for every successful person with a strong following, there’s several struggling to make a name for themselves. It’s almost a get rich quick scheme when looking at it from the darker side – some of the celebrities and influencers make a good deal of money from their endorsements or for making posts about various products. No office required, no staff, just one person (supposedly) making the content on one platform and showing the world who they are.

While some brands have embraced the trend of reaching out to influencers to help promote their brand or product, others have stayed away, having seen the uglier side of it. Many “influencers” try to reach out to brands, boldly asking for free product or trips so they can create more videos and image content for their accounts, claiming this will drive the brand’s business up. But companies such as this ice cream truck have struck back, pointing out that they have their own publicity and name for their brand out there – no “influencer” assistance needed.

The question I now ask is, who truly is in the influencer job/business for the right reasons any more?

Nothing New Here – The Mall of Recycled Goods

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure as the saying going. With the trend of people recycling goods, frequenting thrift and donation-based stores, and scouring resale apps, people have sustainability on the brain and it’s not ending anytime soon. While this hurts the traditional malls and shops pushing new product and new season trends, it’s interesting to see a new type of mall pop up, such as this one in Sweden.

Located near a large donation center, ReTuna will sort through donated goods and allows vendors to see if there’s something they would like to repurpose or offer for sale in their shops. This has turned out an impressive sale of recycled goods in one year and has reduced waste.

For shoppers, it allows them to peruse the items and feel good, knowing they bought something unique and it didn’t end up in a landfill. Also it encourages the thrill of the hunt for something special and different from the mainstream shops pushing everything new.

Do you know of any centers like this? Comment your favorites below!

No Bad News on the Doorstep Here

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Where do you get your news from? Social media? TV? Streaming system?

It’s no surprise to me that newspapers are becoming obsolete, due to a number of readers wanting to avoid spending money on printed articles that become outdated after a day. (Or in many cases, people cancel because of the tone or quality of the writing.)

Sometimes I can’t stand to watch a regular news channel because it feels like almost everything is “bad news on the doorstep”, no matter where you turn.

Recently I discovered via a friend that a young woman felt the same way, noticing that regular news outlets skew toward the bleak and sad news stories were affecting her and her friends. When you’re constantly bombarded with bad news, it’s hard to find the good in the world. Instead of sitting back and stewing in misery, the young woman created “The Happy News“, a 30+ page newspaper that focuses on the positive stories in the world that are being missed by traditional outlets.

The publication comes out quarterly, with the intent to celebrate stories with a fresh twist.

For more information, please visit their site.

You Never Forget Your First Accident

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Happy 2019 followers and visitors.

Another year flew by and now we’re into the new one. I was reminded by Facebook that today marks the anniversary of my first car accident.

When someone once told me “You never forget your first accident”, they were right. Many people have told me that the sight was so incredible that it’s impossible to forget about.

“Are you okay?”

“Do you get anxious driving?”


It’s difficult to avoid flinching if you see a car coming up fast behind you. My eyes are always looking to avoid any cases where an unseen car or pedestrian is coming toward me and could collide any moment.

It’s sad and funny how one incident changes you. It’s showed me who is out there that thinks of my well-being in times like that. A good number of friends stood by me and offered support, an ear to hear what was going through my mind, etc. Then there are the ones that simply reacted at first, then went silent without further interaction. The latter don’t get written off as bad people or untrustworthy in my circle of friends; instead, I have realized that they are not as close as the people who have repeatedly demonstrated that no situation, big or small, is a problem for them to offer any kind of help if possible.

Optimism is what I strive for as the rest of the year lies ahead. I only hope everyone else has a successful and safe 2019.

Overdraft – Where the Blame Falls

The 2016 story about a college student who spent $4 million in luxury goods, due to an overdraft error her bank failed to catch until later, isn’t a new one for many. The wide-eyed young woman posing with her expensive bags and using various photo filters has sparked much conversation between people who hear the story. Some look at the bank and scold them for catching this nearly a year after it happened, others blame the young woman for being so reckless with her spending.

The story came up in my Facebook feed and I read it, surprised but amused since it doesn’t sound real. (Maybe it’s because the average individual only dreams about going wild on a shopping spree where sky’s the limit.)

I did note before sitting down to write this post that there was no mention of the young woman’s parents and how they were handling the situation. A few mentioned that they had money back home in Malaysia and would transfer a monthly allowance to their daughter while in Australia. While I do not know any of the parties personally, one predicts that a case of kids copying adults probably influenced her as she grew up. In other words, if she was used to seeing her parents spend their money on luxury items and her parents giving her what she wanted, she was mimicking their spending patterns in terms of how it was used. That is a red flag for me – most parents strive to teach their children the value of money and try to establish rules with asking for things and encouraging them to earn money in order to work for things. (Usually people have shown to have more appreciation for the things they earned the money for, versus those who simply have it handed to them.)

However the majority of the blame should not be on her parents for poor financial management skills – the bank employees managing her account should have done their due diligence on routine checks. We entrust banks to keep our accounts and money safe and hearing stories where they didn’t actively check the status of the accounts for fraudulent or suspicious activity lessens that trust. Who wants to do business with a establishment that cannot protect your money from thieves, fraud, or other incidents? There’s a reason why those mocking the bank in this case are laughing at them for being so careless to oversee the error.

While the young woman had the charges dropped and the bank is working to rectify things after the loss, you wonder if the former and her family learned their lessons. (The young woman for exercising caution and checking the validity of the funds and the family for giving her what she wanted with little instruction on the value of money.) The bank likely required staff to undergo training to learn how to spot suspicious activity and what to do if it happened again, but their reputation is already tarnished as a trustworthy bank.

Where do you fall on this case?

Hype Resell: Business or Avarice?

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For those who know me, I’ve always grown up with an interest in fashion and understanding what makes clothes unique and worth the price tag. Traditionally, quality clothing meant it was made with top notch materials, sewn with complex stitches (ex. French or flat-fell seams), and embellished with detail and care, hence the high price tag. Now with the rise of fashion houses, those values are still valid, but in many cases the high prices are more for the brand name.

It’s no surprise how fashion has changed from glamorous details and high end materials to more comfort-based clothing that translates from every day wear to dressy casual in some cases. Simply put, most of us would rather slide on a jacket, tee, and pants than a tux or gown. Many of the pioneers like Off-White, Balenciaga, and VETEMENTS earned favor with the elite and famous because they’d rather be sporting comfortable, well-made hoodies and tees off duty without worrying about said items falling apart after a few wears.

Yet with the rise of brands doing limited drops like the former or brands such as Supreme and Anti Social Social Club, one has to wonder where the line is drawn when numerous units go up on eBay and resale sites for double, triple, or quadruple the original price. I know there are cases where someone buys something with the intention of wearing or using, only to receive said item and it doesn’t fit/look right or it’s not what the buyer expected. If the brand doesn’t except returns, the item ends up on a resale site to get back some compensation for what one paid for originally. But it feels like the majority of listings are those who buy to turn around and make a profit on the unlucky who missed out the first time.

It’s just business as the old saying goes. Hold on, is it really? A prime example is the Off-White Converse high tops that completed Virgil Abloh’s TEN collection with Nike, which dropped suddenly this past Tuesday online and in physical locations today. A quick scroll through Twitter and Instagram reflected many bitter fans who attempted to nab a pair for their personal wardrobe, with a majority of those scoring pairs saying that they’d be on eBay shortly for those who missed out. Original retail was $130 USD. Scroll through eBay and Grailed, you’ll find pairs starting at $450 and going as high as $1200. Seriously? Many users cried foul on those charging 5 to 10 times higher than original retail and remarked that they hoped the resellers would suffer some form of karma payback for taking advantage of unwitting buyers who weren’t fast enough. There are, of course, those who are so eager for a pair that they simply bit the bullet and paid the prices to have the shoes in their closets.

Regardless of whether the items are sneakers or rare memorabilia, one will always find those who buy simply to make a profit off those who couldn’t obtain the item. It’s a catch 22 – you’re paying for the convenience to own the item without fighting tooth and nail in person or online to own it but you’re paying more for the item in price and shipping. Is it fair? Yes and no. I’m one of those people that buys something because I want it and want to use it. If in the off chance it isn’t for me, it goes online or elsewhere for resale, but I never start it at or above retail, knowing that I tried it on and may or may not have used it for a short period of time.

What about my readers? Chime in on the comments below.

Walk it Off

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Taken by me

Accidents happen as the saying goes. Everyone has heard this at least once or twice in their life and others have been warned against the dangers of driving distracted.

A regular weekday could have become a tragedy for the author. The car on top of the Corvette is mine. The van ahead of me was stopped at a yellow light turning red and I stopped once I saw the van. In the blink of an eye, I was pushed forward into the van by the Corvette and elevated at a 45 degree angle. The Corvette driver admitted they took their eyes off the road for a brief moment to retrieve something that had fallen on the floor of their car and before they knew it, their airbags had deployed and it was dark.

Everyone was fortunate to walk out of the accident in one piece. No one was younger than 26 in this accident – age has nothing to do with it. Regardless of age, no one should ever drive distracted.

Ever Good Enough?

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My homepage suggested an article from Popular Science about a recent trend in consumerism, namely the craze behind bargain hunting and why people never stop looking for the best prices or deals. Curious, I took a look and mulled over the information presented.

The holidays always trigger a craze of people looking for the best deals on items, whether they are gifts for friends and family or a little something for ourselves. In recent years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday expanded to include days leading up to the designated “holidays” to give consumers a chance to shop with more time. I sense its because stores know that people want to think through their buys before forking over their money. There are still cases where the lure of a limited time frame or percentage can encourage people to shop in a frenzy, but the investment items require more thought and planning.

I encourage everyone to read the article from Popular Science to get the whole picture. In brief, it notes that our brains are trained to find the best bargains and we become fixated on what was saved, versus what drove us to buy the item in the first place. How many times have we bragged to people about how much something cost us? I know I’ve done it a few times, but I’m trying to share why I picked up said item and why I’m glad I bought it.

Take for example this dark chocolate crafted in the shape of a Day of the Dead skull I bought on Black Friday from a gourmet food market.

According to the gourmet market, it was made by a local artisan chocolate shop in Los Angeles for Day of the Dead. The item wasn’t expired or damaged, but it was no longer Day of the Dead and was on clearance for $2. Why did I buy it?

  1. The chocolate was 72%, which is one of my favorite percentages for dark chocolate.
  2. I have a fondness for skull items, especially consumable ones.
  3. I love buying unique chocolates and trying them out.

It’s long gone now, but I made sure to enjoy that skull. Very hard to eat – incredibly solid all the way through (no sunken or weak areas like in an Easter chocolate bunny). Flavor was deep, a little nutty, and a light hint of sweetness without being overpowering. Worth the $2? Yes because it was fun to look at and eat. I would have been hard-pressed to buy one full price since its a company I was unfamiliar with and the risk would have been disliking the chocolate.

What about you? Is Popular Science right about the never-ending chase of the bargains? Are you guilty of falling into this cycle? Share your thoughts below.