Category Archives: Shopping

The Cashless Conspiracy

Life is like a cash register, in that every account, every thought, every deed, like every sale, is registered and recorded.  ~ Fulton J. Sheen

There is a conspiracy at the highest levels of government and the banking industry that wants to do away with cash ~ that is the notes and coins in your wallet, purse, and pocket.  Here in England our Treasury Department, The Bank of England, (which is really another branch of government), the large high-street banks, and the major retail store chains are doing all they can to bring about the complete end of physical cash.

In the UK the number of free-to-use cash machines, (ATMs), is dwindling at the rate of about 250 every month, and that leaves shoppers and small businesses struggling to get hold of any cash, (source ~ consumer group Which).  Add to that the number of bank branch closures which adds up to about 1,000 a year over the past 3 years, and one can see that the finance industry is just not interested in anything but card payments and electronic banking.

The thing is, cash is utterly reliable, whereas electronic payments systems can and do crash from time to time.  Also some small businesses cannot afford the trouble and expense of installing a card reader and becoming a card merchant, so they are reliant on cash payments.  In addition, for very small payments, a card is just a stupid way to pay.  (And what stripper or hooker will accept anything but cash?)

However, the Government, the Bank of England, and the rest of the finance industry are doing everything possible to either promote cashless payments, or force cashless payments upon us.  Electronic swipe cards are now the norm, which means no signature or PIN is required to make a purchase, just wave your card at the reader.  Trust me, as a guy with 30 years experience in Banking and Finance, electronic swipe cards are not and never will be secure.  And just you try getting your money back from your bank if you have been a victim of card fraud.

One high street bank in the UK is trialing a system which will allow customers to authorise card payments for any amount just using their fingerprint ~ and that is also totally open to a number of easy frauds.

The thing is Governments, Central Banks, the Tax people, High Street Banks, Major Retail Chains hate cash because; it’s expensive for them to handle, they cannot monitor your every payment and spending pattern if you use cash, and they have absolutely no control over your earnings and spending if it’s in cash.

If we are not all very careful, then very soon Big Brother will be watching your money.

These comments apply to the banking and finance industry in England, which I know a bit about, but they also apply in equal measure to the USA.

Some say that Cash is King.  And others, that Cash is Dead, card and electronic payments are the real future.  All I know is I can get cash-back from my favourite store if I just make one tiny card purchase.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

The Bank of England is just another arm of Big Government

Ordering On-Line

a flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and a man cannot live without love ~  Max Muller

Yesterday I committed the cardinal sin for a guy ordering a gift on-line.  My gift to a friend of mine arrived on the wrong day!

A bouquet of flowers I ordered from a great florist in California arrived on February 11th, and not on Valentine’s Day.  That is so very bad.

It was also completely my fault.  In completing the long and complicated on-line order form I neglected to enter the day I wanted the damn flowers delivered ~ so of course they were delivered immediately.  Bummer!

If a guy is going to order flowers for Valentine’s Day, then they should arrive on February 14th.  Similarly, if a guy is going to order flowers or a gift for a friend’s birthday, then that should arrive on her birthday, and not some random day near her birthday.

Only at Christmas is it permissible for flowers or a gift to arrive early, because nobody actually delivers on Christmas Day.

So, my hugely expensive bouquet for Valentine’s Day is slightly wasted.

Men can be such fools at times.

Some say it’s not the gift that counts, but the thought behind it.  And that a kind word is worth more than any mere bouquet of flowers.  All I know is that I hope my friend isn’t too disappointed.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

a man can’t really go wrong sending flowers to a woman

 

Rose Petal Tea

The Healing Powers Of The Rose.

Herbalists and witches know that the rose is a very useful and powerful medicinal plant, and that one of the interesting things you can use it for at this time of year is as a remedy for coughs and colds.  A very easy way to take advantage of the natural healing power of the rose is to make rose petal tea.  Well, the petals do contain vitamin C, which helps combat the common cold, but the petals also hold some powerful polyphenols and antioxidants.  Ideally one should use the petals of the wild dog rose, rosa canina, but I also use the petals from garden hybrid roses.

dscf0012Try making rose petal tea with just a handful of fresh rose petals, and a very little sugar or honey, (don’t use a lot of sugar or honey as it will overpower the taste).  Personally I just scald the petals, but some suggest simmering, (stewing), for 5 minutes.  Some also suggest removing the white portion of fresh petals, although personally I wouldn’t do that.  The white area does impart the tea with a slightly bitter, tannin taste, but I firmly believe that’s also where most of the good stuff is concentrated.

Scientifically, the principal qualities of rose petal tea are that it has; Laxative, Opthalmic, Diuretic, and Linthontriptic virtues.  I firmly believe it’s a lot more complicated than that.  For example, you should find that rose petal tea will slightly numb your mouth and ease any sore throat and cough you may be suffering from.

Among herbalists it is widely accepted that rose petal tea boosts the immune system and has beneficial effects on the following problems;

  • anxiety, depression, and stress.
  • arthritis.
  • constipation and other digestive problems.
  • coughs, colds, and sore throats.
  • menstrual cramps and pain.
  • skin and hair problems ~ the tea is said to relieve the symptoms severe acne.
  • urinary tract infections.

dscf0016If that wasn’t enough, drinking rose petal tea is supposed to help ward off cancers due to its beneficial effects on the immune system.  Some say that drinking rose petal tea also promotes weight loss ~ I couldn’t promise that, other than you may use much less sugar and cream than if you were drinking coffee instead of this herbal tea.

You can make rose petal tea either with fresh petals, (make certain they are pesticide free), and you can also make a green tea with dried rose petals.  You can buy dried rose petals mail order from all kinds of places, including Amazon.  As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s better to collect fresh rose petals, and keep a few handfuls in the refrigerator.

There are a couple of things to be careful of.  Firstly, drinking more than three or four cups of this stuff a day is likely to give you diarrhea.  Secondly, most really effective herbal remedies for menstrual pain are also female aphrodisiacs as they affect the production of oestrogen~ don’t say you weren’t warned.

~

p1050056Aphrodite’s Herbalist, jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

aphrodite

Black Friday

Today in America it’s all about shopping.

b5tr9uvigaaduqgThe Friday after Thanksgiving, is the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.  Some say the reason it’s called Black Friday is because this is the day retailers in the USA start to turn a profit for the year.  All I know is that if I was made to go shopping to Macy’s, JC Penney, Saks, Sears, or Wal-Mart, or anywhere else come to that, at some unearthly hour the day after Thanksgiving, then I’d be in a pretty black mood by the close of play.  Most manly men don’t go for the frenzy of naked consumerism and implausible bargains on offer today.

dscf0015Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving in England, most retail outlets here are trying to introduce the idea of ‘Black Friday Shopping’ to the English.  Like most things which cross the Atlantic from West to East, (American cars, American Halloween, American humor, American Presidents), the materialism of Black Friday doesn’t really work well here.

For a start, unlike a lot of people in a lot of US states, nobody here has today as vacation, so we don’t have to find something to do with our time.  Secondly, we English are a cynical and untrusting lot, and generally think the Black Friday hype is just an attempt by retailers to increase sales volume while at the same time offloading all the crap they can’t sell at any other time of the year.  (Black Friday ‘deals’ are almost inevitably at the rip-off end of the spectrum.) On top of that, November really is a little too early to be the start of the ‘Christmas Season’.

PyewacketAnd, what the average American may not know is that we English have had our very own Black Friday for centuries.  In England Black Friday is any Friday the 13th, and that is a day on which bad things happen.  Nothing good ever happens on any Friday 13th, and it’s become a day to be dreaded; ladders, mirrors, and black cats especially.  There’s even a name for the fear of Friday 13th paraskevidekatriaphobia.

I’m pretty certain that a lot of American men also dread their very own version of Black Friday.   This is a time when all good men really need their urban survival skills.  They could always say they can’t go shopping because they suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia.  Maybe not, it’s a very long word.

~

flagHappy Holidays

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Despoiling Mother Earth

trolley

~

Governments, Big Business, Small Businesses, You, Me, Them, Everybody…

Everywhere I look there seems to be a casual disregard for the sanctity of this planet and everything that lives upon it.  And yet, for the forseeable future this is the only planet we have to live upon.  Why is it that so many seem to care nothing for the Earth, and so few try to preserve and repair this place we call home?

P1040973Forget the big stuff for a while, and take one small piece of casual waste, one tiny instance of wilful vandalism ~ the damned abandoned shopping trolley, or as the Americans would have it shopping cart / shopping buggy.

All over this one-donkey town there exist randomly littered and abandoned shopping carts.

Why do people take them out of the store car parks in the first place, and why don’t they return them?

Do these morons think that shopping carts can find their own way home?

Are there jerks on this planet who actually believe that shopping trolleys can swim?  If not, why do some wassocks chuck shopping carts into the sea?

This is just a metaphor for the total disregard some / many / most people have for the environment.  I could ask if these people would treat their homes like this, but what’s the point?  The answer is that some jerks do treat their homes like dumps / tips / dumpsters / skips…

Then there’s my role in this.  I take lost trollies back to the store they came from.  Not as a crusade, and I don’t go looking for abandoned shopping carts, but when I find one on my daily stroll, I do take them back.

Does that make me public-spirited, or a damn fool, or both?

~

P1050001jackcollier7@talktalk.net

liebster-12

Alternative Living # 8 ~ Declutter

P1010406When I first ran away from real life and came to my seaside apartment I was a broken man.  The thought of friendships and relationships made me feel physically ill.  I also began to relearn who I really was.  The true Jack Collier cannot abide clutter, untidiness, dust, dirt, and mess.  Neither physical, mental, and emotional muddle sit well with me.

Nor do I seem to be particularly acquisitive.  The pleasures of collecting things; pictures, ornaments, and the like, largely passes me by.  Although I have been, and still am, guilty of having far too many books and too much recorded music, (in its multifarious forms), than can be good for one person.

Fashion does not particularly interest me.  My sheepskin ‘flying’ jacket is more than 20 years old, and I am still wearing dress shoes almost as old as that. ~ but then I’m a man.

Without any planning or conscious thought I began the process of decluttering my life.

Some of this was easier than you would think, because there are only three little rules;

  1. Do not buy anything that does not have an immediate and specific purpose in your life.
  2. If you have things which do not have a specific purpose in your life, then either sell them, give them away, or dump them in the trash.
  3. Never, ever, leave anything out in the open, cluttering up table-tops, counter tops, bedside cabinets, dressers, sinks, the sides of the bath…  If you are not actually using something right now, then always put everything away.  If there’s nowhere to keep whatever it is ~ say clothes you haven’t worn for years, then follow rule #2.

What I did not realise until very recently is that living attracts clutter like a dog attracts fleas.  Decluttering your life is not a one-off event, it’s an ongoing process which requires vigilance and effort.  Consequently I am still selling stuff through eBay and Amazon, I am still a regular visitor to my local thrift / charity / goodwill stores, and I still find myself tossing things into the trash.

Worst of all, I still sometimes buy things I don’t really need, or even want.  And, like all men, I am terrible at returning things to the store.

~

thegarretjackcollier7@talktalk.net

Alternative Living # 5 ~ Money

Money makes the world go around…

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness.  Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.  ~  Mr. Micawber

I was a broken man when I eventually moved into the waterside apartment I call the garret.  Broken in body, mind, and spirit.  I was also flat broke.  Which is likely to happen when your business partner is stealing you blind.  (Given how much money she took from me she was probably the most expensive sex I have ever had.)

shoesI was used to having more money than a money-pit, trophy-wife could spend on clothes, jewelry, shoes…, so being penniless came as something of a shock.  I had two choices, make some more money, or spend less.  Given that there was no way I was going to take a regular job I had only 1 choice…

I had to learn how to live on less.  Thanks to synchronicity, my time as a Banker had tought me how to manage money.  Here are some guidelines I followed / still follow:

  1. Pay my debts.  Debt is an insidious trap.  Debts incur interest, and if you don’t pay the debt and interest in good time, you risk serious consequences.  The debts I had were a small mortgage on the garret, and some credit card balances.  Of the two, it was most important that I cleared the debt on my plastic ~ credit cards carry a ruinous rate of interest.  Even if I had to live on white-label canned goods for the rest of my life, the first thing I did, (and still do), with any money I had coming in was reduce my debts.
  2. Pay the local taxes and utilities bills.  I had tried living without water, gas, electricity, telephone, internet, a roof over my head, (maybe you should read Alternative Living # 3), and believe you me, it’s no picnic.  In fact, living without modern conveniences is a short way to illness and death for the modern man.
  3. Learn how to say No.  I stopped accepting invitations to go out to bars / restaurants / coffee shops / cinemas.  I stopped giving to charities.  I would not lend or give any cash to anyone.  Salespeople still get very short shrift from me, as in; ‘what part of fuck-off no don’t you understand?’
  4. I stay away from shopping malls, and I don’t buy things from the internet’s virtual mall.  As it goes, that isn’t strictly true.  If it’s raining I take my daily walk in the local shopping mall.
  5. Write lists.  I am terrible for going into a supermarket and coming out with stuff I did not really want or need.  Supermarkets are very good at getting us to buy stuff…  So, work out what I need, write a list, and buy what’s on the list, and don’t buy anything else.
  6. Shop differently.  Use discount stores and thrift shops, look in the bargains sections, look for and use coupons, and never go shopping when you are hungry, thirsty, angry, depressed, drunk…
  7. Sell the stuff I no longer want or need.  When I lived in a 5 bedroom home, I had a huge study, full of books, music, and man-junk.  I am still using Amazon to sell vinyl, cd’s and books.  Yet the garret still has heaps stuff stored in all kinds of unlikely places…
  8. Rethink what I want and need.  I don’t need the latest and most expensive car, newest television, most expensive cable service, most up to fate cellphone, tablet, the latest fashions…
  9. Stay away from booze.  Given the amount I could drink, if once I started drinking, I could spend a hell of a lot of money on booze.  Added to that I do stupid and expensive things when I have been drinking.
  10. Keep away from other vices.  I am very lucky, the only addictive weaknesses I have ever suffered from are women and booze.  I have never smoked or taken street drugs ~ the people who do those things disgust me.  If you read my Alternative Living # 4 you will know how I came to cope with the whole women / relationships / sex thing.

One of the things I discovered about alternative living is that it can be spiritual, and frugal / low cost, and at one and the same time, have a beneficial / green impact on the whole environment.

P1030754~  jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Dry January Challenge

I pledge that I shall not have an alcoholic drink during January 2016.

Sunrise2

For all those who take the Dry January Challenge, and vow to remain sober for an entire month, please accept my very best wishes for your success.  There are only 744 hours in January, and an hour is not a long time to stay away from the booze.

Seven out of ten of us who take the pledge will stay sober for the entire month.  When we avoid the falling down water we will feel better, think better, do more stuff, save money, and our general health will improve.

For me, not drinking means that I will reduce the chances of something very bad happening.  In general, if I drink too much, something very bad always happens.  I don’t know what will happen, or when, but whatever it is will be pretty bad.  Drunkenness is universally bad.  Drunkenness is far more dangerous for women than it is for men.

That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink.  If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.  ~  Charles Bukowski

And hey!  Even if you slip a little during January, reducing the amount of booze you quaff will have positive outcomes.

Alcohol is bad for you.  Always.  Just stay away from the booze aisle in your local store.

~

P1040373jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Palm Canyon Drive

How does endless sunshine, stylish bars and restaurants, great shopping, fantastic attractions, and a totally cool, (weird), nightlife sound to you?  For someone brought up in a North of England coal mining town it sounds fabulous.

P1020958

From the Pacific coast find the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, (aka Interstate 10), and before you get to Whitewater look for route 111 and head south-east into Palm Springs.

P1020925

(Picture by the girl riding shotgun)

Palm Springs is a one street town.  Almost everything cool is either on or just off Palm Canyon Drive.  Baristo Road is east west and crosses Palm Canyon Drive, (for those who don’t know how street signs work in the USA).

P1020953

To be more truthful, central Palm Springs is a two street town, because Palm Canyon Drive is one-way, heading south.  To double back on oneself, take Indian Canyon Drive, heading North.  If you’re searching for a classic car for your next road trip, then check out the auction lots on Indian Canyon Drive.  But, take my advice, don’t buy an Edsel.

P1020966

If you are in Southern California, Palm Springs is a place which just oozes sexual energy, of whatever flavour you like.  Don’t forget, this town is both close enough and far enough away from Hollywood to have made it one of the illicit meeting places of choice for the stars of the silver screen.  The restaurant in the picture is called Lulu.

P1020947

~

Bogey-bacall-key-largo

pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Eat More Almonds To Lose Surplus Fat

LIVE LONGER, LOOK BETTER, HAVE BETTER SEX, EAT MORE ALMONDS

squirrel-eating-a-nutYet another series of studies has come up with the shocking news that eating nuts is insanely good for your body.  This time the American Society of Nutrition Scientific Session said in San Diego that a daily handful of almonds will help stave off innumerable nasty diseases.  It would appear that almonds are full of vitamin E, which protects against Alzheimer’s Disease and the bad effects of Ultra-Violet light.  They do get an awful lot of sunshine in California.  Eating some almonds seems a small price to pay to stave off abnormal moles and cancerous melanoma.   Possibly because they like sunbathing and walking around with bare suntanned legs and arms, women get a disproportionate amount of fatal skin cancers on their shapely limbs.

Naturally, there has to be more benefits from eating almonds other than not being one of the 48,000 people a year who die of melanoma-related skin cancer.  Luckily there are.  Almonds are high in protein, suppress the appetite, help beat stomach flab and stave off heart diseases.  Also, eating almonds reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood, which helps to prevent type 2 diabetes.

ObesityAll nuts are also full of trace amounts of good stuff such as manganese, which helps prevent osteoporosis, again more common in women than in men.  Manganese also helps the body to regulate blood sugar, and trust me, you do not want to ever get type 2 diabetes.  Almonds also contain magnesium, and this mineral is essential for the proper operation of your nervous system, muscles, regulating blood pressure, and once again helping to control blood glucose.

As is usual with things from plants, the skin is the best part, so don’t buy blanched almonds.  Get them brown and crunchy ~ lightly salted if you must.  The almond skin has flavonoids, (secondary metabolites), which are antioxidants, (and free oxygen radicals are bad for you), and these flavonoids also enhance the effectiveness of the vitamin E in the nuts.

girl-japanese-sexy-softballIt seems that these pretty little nuts, (what man doesn’t love girls with almond eyes?), increase our intake of good nutrients, improve the overall quality of the diet, and somehow make people feel better, physiologically speaking.  There is also evidence to show that snacking on almonds / other nuts, help to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol.  Some say that all nuts are jam-packed with calories, and will therefore make you fat.  The answers to that are; yes nuts are packed with calories, but no they won’t make you fat.  The human digestive system is appallingly bad at breaking down hard plant material, so most of the calories in nuts pass straight through the GI tract.  Don’t believe me, eat a lot of nuts and then examine your next day’s stool.

Because they don’t digest well, nuts make you feel full, which reduces your appetite, so almonds are good for adding into a healthier diet and moderate exercise.

organic-almondsDr Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State University has studied the effects of adults snacking on a handful of almonds a day, as opposed to ‘calorie matched’ high carbohydrate snacks.  Although the total body weight of the two groups stayed about the same, those snacking on almonds has flatter stomachs, less abdominal fat, and a narrower waist than those who grossed out on biscuits and crisps, (cookies and chips)  So eating almonds helps to decrease abdominal fat, and that reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome ~ the technical / medical term for a mixture of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and coronary  heart diseases.  Seemingly all this almond stuff is generally good for your blood vessels, but I have no idea if almonds help stave of varicose veins.

Especially if you are fat, a woman, and pregnant, you should be snacking on almonds, (and / or other nuts).  Some fairly respectable doctors and scientists think that snacking on almonds helps promote a healthier weight gain during pregnancy.

ALMOND-TREEThe best almonds are fresh, which means buying them in mid / late summer.  But as long as they still have the brown skin on them the seeds of the almond tree, (cousin to the cherry, peach, and apricot), are full of good stuff.  Almond oil can go rancid, so if you’re keeping them a long time, store your almonds in an airtight container.

A small handful of almonds has about 150 calories, (which you can’t properly digest), and contains about 1/8 of your daily fibre requirements, 1/4 of the copper your body needs, 1/5 of your daily vitamin B2, half of the vitamin E and biotins, (vitamin B7 & H),  you need a day, and some 1/6 of your phosphorous, magnesium and molybdenum.  Do not buy Californian almonds if you can avoid it.  The Almond Board of California has decreed that all Californian almonds must be pasteurized, irradiated, or otherwise rendered totally dead, and these processes destroy a lot of the good stuff in the little nuts.

Allegedly there are nine major health benefits to be gained from eating almonds;

  1. Reduced risk of having a heart attack.
  2. Lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol.
  3. Protects the blood systems.
  4. Builds strong bones and teeth.
  5. Almonds aid in weight loss by providing healthy fats and fibre.
  6. Lowers the blood sugar and insulin after meals.
  7. Boost brain activity and helps stave of Alzheimer’s disease.
  8. Nourishes and nurtures the nervous system.
  9. They alkalize the body, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

edwina-currie-eggThe more cynical among us may believe that the health benefits of eating almonds is a little overstated by Californian medical and scientific professionals, given that the USA is the world’s largest producer of almonds and a lot of those are grown in California.  As I said before, if you can get almonds that haven’t been totally killed-off, these should be better for you than the Californian grown nuts.  (You can get things like salmonella from fresh almonds, but you can also get salmonella from chicken, eggs and alfalfa sprouts.)

Bitter wild almonds are to be avoided at all costs.  In fact anything from the various trees of the species Prunus, should be left well alone unless you know exactly what you’re doing.  Bitter almonds and the seeds of plums and cherries contain cyanide, which will kill you.  What you need are sweet almonds, and if you soak them in vodka for a while you get a very acceptable drink.

The bottom line is;  Almost all nuts are incredibly good for you in moderation.  If you can, buy the fresh product as opposed to ‘dead’ nuts.

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