Thursday, May 26, 2016

**REVIEW** CreateSpace for Publishing

**For those who want to skip my ranting & get right to the tips and "helps" (hah!) I offer, those items are scattered throughout the post so I put them in boldface font.**

I'm thankful for CreateSpace giving independent writers (and other artists) a platform. Believe me, if it were not for CreateSpace, I'd still be begging to get my foot in the door with an agent or publisher.

Here's the thing: I'm not writing to became rich and/or famous. I write because I like to tell my stories. I might never become a household name, but I will get to see my work in print form. I might connect with a few people who like the way I think.

Whatever the case, I think that it's pretty awesome that I can be in control of all aspects of getting my work into print (or even in digital format) for people to read. So, once again, thank you, CreateSpace.

But, uh...



LOL

There are some headaches in the pursuit of anything. Writing the stories for my first C.S. project wasn't hard. Okay - the writing wasn't any harder than I expect writing to always be. I'm full of stories (however that sounds) and want to share all of them, no matter how difficult that might be.

The hard part of preparing the book was using the CreateSpace process.

Oh.

My.

Heavens to murgatroyd.

I had so many problems. The template I downloaded (to conform to CS standards) drove me crazy. Parts of my manuscript kept being shifted and knocked out of sync with fonts and alignment... I think I've mentioned in another post about the day I literally just sat down and wept. That's right. I wept,

Once I got my manuscript to jibe with the template, I thought I was done with the hard stuff.


The hard part was just beginning.

When I did get the manuscript uploaded, CreateSpace flagged problems with it. Something to do with font embedding, blah, blah, shoot-me-now, blah.

I decided to take a cooling off period with the manuscript and skip past it and work on the cover.
That was going to come back to smack me upside the back of my head. Just wait.

The cover that I wanted were in these beautiful hues of reds and golds. The font was exactly what I wanted (though I can't even remember now which font that was) and I was so happy that I was on a natural high. For about five minutes.

Now the dang cover was erroring out with CreateSpace. Nothing I did would clear the errors - and I really had no idea what the errors were.

Going into the community forums to look for sympathy, empathy and, maybe, help, I learned that I was just having first-timer's dilemma. Apparently, just about everyone was having the same problems. I did find a couple of offered solutions, but they didn't work for me.

After more tears, I decided that the entire universe was against the idea of my getting anywhere with my book. I considered becoming an alcoholic, but I'm such a lightweight that, once I get past two glasses of wine, I'm out so cold that I don't even drool. Someone once took a photo of me passed out drunk. I should take all my photos that way. I was so out of it that I looked perfect and embalmed. Of course, it helped that I was dressed from a night out and my hair and makeup were  seriously on point.

I spent a couple of days feeling sorry for myself, then I jumped back into the task. Since by now I was sick of the cover, I went back to the manuscript. For anyone else who has gotten stuck on the "embedded fonts" error message, here's the deal:

Make sure you are using the correct PDF format. I was trying to save my file as PDF (from Word). When I tried exporting the file as a PDF, I had the PDF/x option. Apparently, using that PDF/X option fixed whatever the heck was wrong with my fonts. This might explain why.

I'm a dummy when it comes to Adobe and all that. I realize the tip I just gave might sound stupid to smarter folks, but some writer out there is going to love me.

Now that the manuscript was finally uploaded, I got back to the cover. Guess what? No matter what I did to that cover, it was always going to error out. Why? Because (and I'm making a logic leap here), until the manuscript got uploaded, the system had no way to know how many pages the book was going to be. The cover has to be somehow auto-configured to match the book size.

Like I said, I'm using some of my logic here. At any rate, once the book was uploaded (and the system knew that it was a 58-pager), it could work with the 6x9 format I'd chosen.

Basically, I had skipped past steps of uploading the manuscript and created unnecessary headaches for myself.

Learn from my trauma: just follow the directions and follow them in order. Here are some other tips for not going insane while using the CreateSpace process:

  • Make sure that you are in a decent state of mind (or whatever comes closest for writers).
  • Before you even start anything else, download a template that will work for CreateSpace. I used one of theirs. You can also find advice for just formatting your doc to the appropriate standards.
  • Keep track of what you are doing. I had several copies of my manuscript done in Word. When i was uploading, I mistakenly worked with the wrong Word doc. Twice. I suggest making a Desktop folder just for the CreateSpace files you'll be working with.
  • Don't keep working on the process once you get frustrated. Get up and walk away.If you are having a problem before you get too frustrated, just imagine the need for a Valium if you go past that point.
  • Do use the Community forums. Even when I wasn't finding a solution, I was relieved to know that other people were struggling. The other members are sympathetic and encouraging even when they don't have the answers you need. 
  • Don't compromise. I did give up on my cover and used another one. As I'm waiting for the proof copy of my book to get here, I've already decided that I'll probably be changing the cover back to the one I originally wanted.
  • DO get a proof copy. There's the quicker option of proofing your work from a digital copy, but I think that seeing your work the way readers will be seeing it makes a difference. (By the way, I am going to do a Kindle edition of my work, but I haven't yet looked at the proofing methods available for that.)
Another reason that I wanted a proof copy - even though I know that I will be making some minor corrections - is that I want to have that copy for my bookshelf. I will set it right next to a finalized copy. When I start to work on the next project, I will use that proof to remind me that I can (and did) do this.

Good luck to any of you who are on the road to getting published - regardless of the route you take getting there. I will leave you with a list of helpful resources that I perused (or wish I had) during the nightmare that was my first try at CreateSpace. Also, there is info for other self-pub options.
Peace
--Free

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

**REVIEW** Scapple Software

So, this is happening. Finally.

Might be changing the cover. We'll see.
I almost had a mental breakdown trying to deal with CreateSpace's Cover Creator, but that was mostly my fault. (Tip to other users: Don't try to fix cover errors until you've actually uploaded your manuscript. In other words, do things in the order set out by CreateSpace.)

Anyway. Now that I have Volume 1 of the short story collection done (just waiting for my Proof copy before giving the go-ahead and selling on Amazon), I needed to work on two other projects. If I had a lick of sense, I'd work on one project at a time. That's just not how my brain works. I must make my life as difficult as possible. LOL

Since I already have a couple of stories written for Volume 2 of Therapy Sessions, I'm leapfrogging back and forth to work on another set of stories. I only have general ideas for what I want to include in that set. This is where my scatterbrained way of thinking and processing tasks was causing me problems. And this is what I found as a solution.





Those are screen shots of  Scapple boards I put together just for this post.

I've tried out all kinds of software to ease or organize the process of writing. I will test out the Trial version of something and, usually, only get a couple hours in before I'm going nuts. Scapple is so good (and simple to use) that I actually `~ are you sitting down? ~ paid for it. Yeah, I know. I'm such a tightwad that I should be writing a book about being a tightwad.

Thing is, Scapple is such a lifesaver for me. Now that I depend on my writing for extra income, I've been feeling the pressure to not only be productive but to be organized and productive.

As a writer, I am very disciplined. I will give myself a schedule and stick to it. I line up tasks and check-mark them off until I'm done. Actually, when I was working, I was the same way. The only difference is that, before I began struggling with an illness, I had tons of stamina and I could focus like nobody's business. A former manager once called me a "multi-tasking workhorse."  (At the time she said that, I decided to take it as a compliment.)

These days, I still have lots of creativity, but it's very hard for me to focus and organize my thoughts. I spent months working on the 5 short stories that make up "Love & Madness". Whenever I stopped work on a story for the night, my brain would re-set itself so that, by the time I got back to the story, I'd lost track of things.

My solution before now was to handwrite notes and index cards that I'd tack up all over the place. That works, but it is something of a nightmare when you have to change something around or re-think part of a story.

Scapple lets me do all my note-taking and tracking of ideas without the paper and cards. I can pick back up on outlines and ideas easier. When I want to play around with an idea, I can do that.

The best thing about this software is how cheap it is (compared to other stuff I've seen), and how easy it is to start using it right away.

This is not just something for writers. Anyone who thinks better with visual prompts will love this software. Students can use it to organize study notes. There are so many ways this can be used.

If anyone knows of similar software, please share. For now, I'm so happy with Scapple that I expect that I will never want to be without it.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

**REVIEW**' Silk Elements Pure Oils

Okay, this is actually a review of 2 products, but they are both from the Silk Elements line of "Pure Oils".


Silk Essentials Hair Butter and Moisturizing Marmalade

I could have sworn that I had already done a review for the Hair Butter. Oh, well, I will do a quickie about how much I love the stuff.

The Hair Butter is a "thin". It moisturizes the scalp without a lot of weight. I don't use it on my hair just because I don't like oils on the hair, but I could see this being used by some people to protect the ends. I think that even people with Caucasian type hair could use this on their ends and flyaways.

I'll get back to this in a moment, but I now like using the Butter very heavily on the roots of my hair while they're damp and when I am using the Marmalade.

The one thing that I noticed right off about the Butter is that there is little to no smell to it.The Marmalade, though, has a really wonderful fragrance that I wouldn't have placed without looking at the label:


I spotted "honey" in the list of ingredients but had to look harder for the "Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil".

Silk Essentials Pure Oils

Anyway, the Marmalade smells delicious. The scent fades as soon as the product dries so there isn't a problem for people bothered by conflicting fragrances.

The Marmalade has an odd texture. Right out of the jar, it's super moist and has a slightly slick and slime-like feel. (Not like something gross, so no worries.)  In my book, this was a Plus for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it takes very little product to work with my hair and, the other thing is that it really helps the twisting process. It's a little bit like Eco styler in the way it applies.



Do I like the Marmalade? No. I love it. It defines my twists like crazy and the hold is serious. Now, do I have any negatives to report? Yep. One.

The Marmalade is very moist going on the hair but, boy, when it comes time to unwind my twists... That stuff is like hard glue. I had to be really careful not to tug and break aloose the hair when I was untwisting it. That was a little alarming. I mean, how could this be that moisturizing when it dries so hard???

Well, there's an upside to that downside. Once I went back and studied the label, I saw the suggestion to use some Pure Oils Moisturizer with this Marmalade - "for softer hold and definition". (Tip: when you're ready to untwist/style your hair, use a moisturizing spray if you forgot to add something when setting your hair. I used some StaSof and it softened my curl right up.)

So, yeah. I'm not even mad about that. For one thing, I love so much how this does hold and define my twists that I'm going to be playing with other styles. For another thing, the label did warn me! LOL

When I added a little bit of my Mizani Moisture Stretch while twisting my (damp) hair, the Marmalade still defined well and without the over-strong hold. I don't yet have any of the Pure Oils leave-in, but I can't wait to try it. For now, it seems like the Mizani - or any other good moisturizer - will do the job. There are going to be times when I need the stronger hold of this Marmalade, but it's nice to know that I can add another moisturizer to lighten things up.

So, to sum up a bit:

  • The Butter is fantastic for light scalp and ends use
  • The Marmalade will hold you like Teddy Pendergrass would have and it will define like a dictionary.
  • The Marmalade has a nice (light) fragrance that I like. The scent fades with drying.
  • The Butter has no noticeable fragrance.
  • Both products work well, but the Marmalade is for getting serious definition and hold. The Butter could work for all hair types, depending on what you're looking for.


By the way, a long while back I used a little of the Butter on my hands. I had washed dishes without using gloves and, for some reason, I wondered what the Butter would feel like on my skin. It feels really good but, since that's not what it's labeled for, I'm not going to suggest anyone else use it that way. (But it did make my hands feel really good! LOL)

All in all, I really do like both of things. As I type this, I have just done my scalp with the Butter and I did my twists last night with the Marmalade. 



Still hard to tell. Take my word, it looks and feels good.

Is that a freaking double chin???
What the heck!

They make a nice hair styling duo. I just have to get me some of that Pure Oils Moisturizer to test out...

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

**REVIEW** Ceylon Cinnamon Powder (Frontier Co-Op)

Here I am again, trying to do something natural and healthy for myself.

Years ago, I heard talk about cinnamon being good for you. I was never a big cinnamon fan. When other kids were eating cinnamon toast and cinnamon cereals, I was sticking to the plain stuff. I like the taste of cinnamon in very small quantities because the flavor is too spike-y or "hot" for me. You know me, when I do something, I go all out. Good thing I never got into the cinnamon craze when I first heard of it because the only kind I'd heard of was the most common types: Cassia and Saigon. Those are tasty (if you like cinnamon), but they contain something called coumarin. Too much of this coumarin can have a negative effect on the liver.

When more recently I started hearing about the health benefits of cinnamon, I did a little research. What I learned is that there is a cinnamon that has very little of the coumarin that is to be avoided.

You can see that the powdered Ceylon cinnamon is a different color than the kind we've grown up sprinkling on our toast. It's also a very fine (talc-like) texture.


Ceylon cinnamon is from Sri Lanka. Where the common type of cinnamon found in local grocery stores can have as much as 63 times more coumarin than the Ceylon variety. Big difference. Also, the flavor of Ceylon is milder.

Some of the claimed benefits of cinnamon in general and specific types of:
  • Regulating the blood sugar
  • Helping with weight loss
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Treating yeast infections
  • Anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant
  • Relief for depression
  • Helps concentration and memory
  • Good for the immune system
I just like spices and experimenting with new ones so I figured, why not cinnamon? But I had to find the Ceylon (or Cinnamon Verum) type. The one I could find that had good "ratings" and reviews from other users was this one from Frontier Co-op.

Let's go straight Pro and Con with this one:

PROS - 
  • The brand source does have lots of good reviews from users.
  • The size and price* is very reasonable (especially considering how little I need to use for a serving)
  • The taste is amazing.
  • Their website is wonderfully informative (about the company and user info)
  • The company lists their contact number for questions (and they answer those questions)
  • The company is a Fair Trade co-op (which equals ethics in sourcing).
*Note The price for this 1-lb bag was $18.57. I had to do a double-take when I saw the prices for larger quantities:

I don't think I'd ever need anything larger than the 1 pounder but, if I did, why wouldn't I just order 2 or 3 of the one I did buy? I mean, why does the price-per-unit go up on that listing???
CONS - 
  • Not much info on label for new cinnamon users
  • The powder doesn't "melt" completely, and...
  • ... is very fibrous (which might also be a Pro)
  • Country of Origin not labeled (you have to call)
  • Amazon Product Page info confusing on C/O also
  • Their website doesn't offer a lot of info on their products' pages
  • No scoop included (okay - I'm being a bit petty)
Really, though, there's not much not to like about this product. Because I am a rookie at using this kind of cinnamon, I did have to do some searching. Since I don't plan to bake with this cinnamon, I looked into ways of cooking with it. For me, that's going to be limited pretty much to mixing this with other spices. I'll end up adding some to what I call my TCC spice mix (Tumeric, Curry, Cardamom) for seasoning meat and veggies.

What I will be using this a LOT for is as a beverage enhancer. 

Cinnamon and honey drinks are supposed to be great for weight loss. I think that's because (at least for me) they help reduce cravings and give a boost of energy. It's claimed that you can lost up to 5 pounds a week with the mixture. I don't know about all that. I'll have to let you know how that works out later. For now, I just love the way this tastes. 
I call this my "Cinnamon Sludge" drink. It's basically about 2/4 cup of the cinnamon powder, 2/4 cup of raw (filtered) honey, and around 4 1/2 cup of water. 

I boil the water and cinnamon (stirring it a lot), the I let that mixture cool down before I add it to my honey. (Remember that too much heat can leech some honey benefits.). 

When I add this to a container, I will let the "sludge" of the powder settle to the bottom so that I can sip from the clearest part. Every now and then, I shake the container, then let it settle again. From the photos, you can see the difference when shaken (right)  and then settled (left).

I don't drink all this amount you see at one time. What I do is sip from it off and on during the day (making sure to get some first thing in the morning and last thing before bed), adding up to about 1 cup per day. 

This helps me not have to make a new batchup every day. I keep the ready batch in the fridge in between drinking it. When I finish off this batch, I will add more cinnamon and honey to the "sludge" residue.

Here's the thing, since I gave up carbonated drinks a long time ago, I limit myself to coffee, water, honey-water and, every now and then, a bottle of juice. That gets boring and, sometimes, I am really tempted to buy a Dr. Pepper or Sprite when I'm at the store. The only thing stopping me is I can no longer finish more than a few mouthfuls of that stuff. Yew-ick! Having this cinnamon-honey mix is nice. If I want to drink more than a cup a day, I can always dilute it with more water.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, May 15, 2016

**REVIEW** Forskolin Extract (from Bioscience Nutrition) ***UPDATED***

**UPDATE** Cannot say how very glad I am that I got to try this. Barring any future problems (I don't expect any), I plan on using this for life. Seriously. This morning, my BP reading was 122/93. That's is the lowest I have been in over 10 years. I have not been taking my regular BP RX either. I plan on talking with my doctors about permanently substituting this for my THREE prescriptions. In my initial reviews, I mentioned that I had not noticed other significant changes. Since then, I can report that I am (for the first time in years), having very regular bowel movements (sorry that there's no more sensitive way to say that), and I am noticing a bit of an energy spike. Weight loss changes are slight, but any more weight loss could be due to the cinnamon-honey drinks I am doing.  I will update again as I hear and learn more. I am so happy about the improvement in my blood pressure readings that I could cry. I wonder if some of my fatigue was due to the high BP??? At any rate, this is such a positive change for me that I'm only upset that I didn't hear about the supplement sooner.




I very rarely apply to review supplements like this Forskolin extract.

 The reason I'm wary of supplements is because I take prescribed medications and infusions for existing medical issues. I'm not trying to create more problems for this aging body of mine! So why did I want to give this supplement a try? Not so much for any of the claims made:

  1. Sustained and safe weight loss
  2. Improves metabolism
  3. Fat burner
  4. Curbs appetite
Okay, truth be told those are some attractive claims. Lots of products make those same claims though. I wasn't really drawn in by any of that. What got me was what I'd read elsewhere about Coleus forskolii root extract - commonly called Forskolin.

Normally when I look up info on supplements, I don't find anything supporting the claims I want to believe in. Most times, I find that there is just a lot of hype from people selling something, but only "insufficient evidence" from respectable sources. Not this time. I was interested in the claims that this supplement might lower blood pressure and my trusty standby source (you know, until I can check with my personal physicians), WebMD was all over it:

On how it's used...
"Forskolin is a chemical found in the roots of the plant Plectranthus barbatus (Coleus forskohlii). This plant has been used since ancient times to treat heart disorders such as high blood pressure and chest pain (angina), as well as respiratory disorders such as asthma."
... and how it works:
Forskolin works on muscles in the heart and in the walls of the blood vessels. It produces a more powerful heartbeat and widening of the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
Still, this caveat was also  part of the article:

Herbal product manufacturers are now producing Coleus forskohlii extracts that contain high levels of forskolin. These preparations are being promoted for the same conditions for which forskolin has been traditionally used. However, currently there is no reliable scientific information that shows Coleus forskohlii extracts taken by mouth are effective. (my emphasis)
I wanted to give this a shot anyway. I'll run down what the Pros and Cons as of just 3 days use.

I can't tell you that I've experienced any boost in energy. I still use my 'strap molasses and my various honeys for that. The first day I took the Forskolin, I was really beat. I was still beat by the end of that day. (I noticed that the extract is supposed to be "good for insomnia" so not sure how that matches with boosting energy???)

The claim about this particular supplement curbing the appetite also is falling flat for me so far. I'm not eating more, but I'm surely not eating (or craving less). Maybe the metabolism part with help me with any weight loss. I've weighed myself so that I can do a comparison when I've finished this bottle, but it's way, way too early to tell anything yet.
None of the claims highlighted on the product page for this particular brand has been happening for me. Still, I am really so happy that I am giving this a try because, guess what? The claims made in general about the extract lowering blood pressure are being proved out for me.

I'm certainly not giving medical advice here (and if I was, you'd be crazy  to take it from me!), but I can tell you how this is working for me.

I currently take up to 3 different meds to try controlling my blood pressure. Sometimes, they work, sometimes, they don't. If I eat ZERO sodium and drink gallons of water, my meds work okay. If I get any kind of stressed out, or eat wrong, well then, my numbers go crazy. I'm always in a struggle to keep my top number under 140, but I've recently had trouble with my bottom number being high.

The first day, I took the supplement, I didn't notice a huge difference in my BP readings. I certainly didn't make any special notes about it in the tracking app I use. 

On Day Two of using the supplement, I checked my BP only because I was stressed. My reading was 140/87. This is a huge thing for me. Normally, the only way my numbers look that decent is if I am completely chilled out and haven't had my coffee yet - or any "forbidden salts" for several hours.

My BP numbers for Day Three were especially good. Not only was I mildly stressed (trying to do some freelance work that's driving me bonkers), but I also hadn't yet taken my prescribed meds. I wanted to check my BP after taking the Forskolin and before taking meds just so I don't get bottomed out. My numbers? 134/97.

Shut the door. Get out of here. Drop the mic.... All that. I'm checking my BP before I even dare take the prescribed meds. It would be so not-funny if I passed out from LOW blood pressure.

I can't wait to see my doctor so we can talk about this. I have some questions for the medical professionals: if this works, why isn't it being used more to treat blood pressure? Are there good reasons that it's not even being experimented with as a solution???? 

Anyway, I will update this post as I use the supplement more. I'm so happy about my blood pressure that I'm not worried about the other claims, but I will follow up on the weight loss thing.

Peace
--Free



DISCLOSURE:
In exchange for providing my fair and honest review, I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free or at a discount using AMZ Review Trader. Regardless, I only review products that I have personally used and can give an opinion of.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hauntings and Hemorrhoids

I was talking with a friend about crazy things that have happened to us. I had a story about the time I spent in a haunted building (and later injured myself in that building). I guess that counts as two stories, but my friend topped me with her one story. First, my stories:

I worked for a company that had the brokerage contract for a major shipping/transport company. My job was to run training classes for employees. The employees worked at one site and the training was done in an off-site building where we had a classroom, an HR office, and a small team of technical workers. There was a warehouse attached to the building. We used it for storing the thousands of paper files we had to keep on hand for 5 years.

At the time, I was younger and more energetic. One of the things I liked most about my job was the freedom to be creative and the need for a crazy schedule. I might work a two-week classroom schedule from 9 to 5 - am or pm - it all depended on the schedule of the employees being trained. Usually, there would be two weeks of classes, then a two-week lull. The "lull" was when I'd put together materials for other classes and I could work any hours I wanted.

For the lull time, I preferred working graveyard because I'd have the building (and copier, office supply closet and break room) to myself. The only downside was that the building was supposed to be haunted.

Now, I don't believe in ghosts. I believe that when you're dead, you're dead til Judgement Day. I believe that I have more to worry about from the living. That said, I do believe in hauntings. I've lived in a house that had some crazy things happen that couldn't be explained by The Amazing Randy. And I worked in that building that was either haunted or just caused people to hallucinate.

One time (and this is before I knew the building was supposed to be creepy), I was working alone, putting together materials for a class. The classroom was huge, with about 12 sets of tables and chairs so that four people could be seated together at each table. Along three walls we had set up computers on other long tables. That was for Data Entry training. My desk was at the front and off to the side, I had a a tall standing fan set up. I kept the fan unplugged when not in use. The door to the classroom opened up to a hallway running straight southward. Another hall to the left of the classroom ran north to the rear of the building where there was an office for a staff of auditors.  Outside the classroom, A couple of feet into the hall was the doorway into a small office that I shared with another trainer. Across from that office was a tiny bathroom. Further down from the trainers' office was a small alcove with  a copier and fax machine. Stairs leading down the to first floor were at the end of this hall.

I was inside the classroom collating material into several notebooks that would be given to each of the 10 trainees I expected for the next class. If I looked up, I could see part of the north hall because there was a small window above one of the computer tables. I wasn't looking because I was concentrating on gathering the next set of material I needed to copy for the notebooks.

Do you know how it sounds when kids are running down a carpeted hallway?  Out of nowhere, that's Image result for scarywhat I heard. At around 2 in the morning. In an empty building.

I looked over at the window that showed the north hallway. Nothing.

When something weird happens, the mind tries to un-weird things.

Because other workers would come in to finish up tasks, I thought that someone from one of the other offices was in the building. Then, I heard that running again. It was as if a couple of kids were running partway up the hall toward the classroom, then back toward the rear of the building. (I don''t know why I thought it would be kids.)

To un-weird things even more, I pretended that I must be hearing kids that had come in with their parents and they were just goofing off.  At two o'clock in the freaking morning.

You know what, I just kept right on working. My mind was wonderful at un-weirding things.

Until I left the room to make some copies.

When I'd left the classroom, I'd left nice, neat stacks of papers next to each of the notebooks I was preparing. Maybe 80 pages of material for each notebook. I was almost done for the night. When I came back into the classroom, I saw papers wafting a little, like in a mild breeze. Then I noticed that the fan was on, blowing at the lowest speed.

I walked over and looked at that fan. I knew that it had been unplugged.

My mind went into protective mode for real now. It wouldn't let me think about why that fan was plugged in and turned on. My mind told me to just turn it off, unplug it, and don't even think. At all. I unplugged the fan and made sure the dial was turned to the Off position.
Image result for scary
There was just a little bit more work to do, then I could leave, so I got on with it. I did secure all the loose papers into each notebook before I went back out to the copy machine. I refused to even look toward the other hallway.  I went straight to the copier, ran it, collected the last of the papers and went back to the classroom.

And that damn fan was blowing full  blast.

I was done. I got purse and keys and sailed. I still don't remember shutting off lights and setting the building's alarm. I do know that I was halfway home before I realized I had all those last copies I'd made sitting on my passenger seat.

So, no, I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe in things that turn on fans and run down empty hallways.

When I told everyone else who worked in the building about what had happened, they weren't even surprised. I found out that there was one lady who would not be in the building alone. It didn't bother me too much. I took enough crap from the living. I was damned if I was going to let the invisible push me around.

My other story is about the night I was working alone in that building and hurt myself. No, nothing invisible pushed me or anything like that. Like everyone I worked with, I was suffering from a really bad cold. While I was working one night to make up for time I'd lost when I was first sick, I sneezed and fractured a rib.

The pain was so bad that I could barely breathe. I called over to the hub and one of the other supervisors came and drove me to the ER.  Nothing could be done to fix my rib (except let it heal on its own), but I was prescribed something to help me not cough for a few days. End of story.

There you go. I had a "ghost" story and an injury story. When I finished, I told my friend that I'd been scared to sneeze hard for a couple of years. She said she knew what I meant. Then she told me her story.

She said that she was at a restaurant with a friend. She had just forked in a mouthful of pancakes when she felt a sneeze coming on. Of course, she held in the sneeze. A real bad idea, it turns out.

"I felt something inside me pop," she told me.

Image result for laughing"What do you mean?" I asked her. "What popped?"

"My a*s, apparently."

My friend went to the doctor and found out that she had "popped" out a hemorrhoid.

"Talk about blowing out your behind," she said, "I've never tried to hold in a sneeze since then.."

Once again, I'm done with life...

Peace
--Free

Thursday, May 12, 2016

**REVIEW** Isododecane

This is a cosmetic ingredient that I am using to "thin" out and moisturize some of my makeup:



The item is from Making Cosmetics, the same place I get my Wrinkle Blur from. While the Blur is easy to use, with this product,  I'm kind of experimenting.

Here is the description for Isododecane ("Iso" from here on out). This is straight from the product page:

"Description: Hydrocarbon that is most often used as an emollient and solvent in skin care products. Thanks to its low viscosity and density, it has a high spreadability. Colorless liquid. Water-insoluble, but completely soluble with silicones, hydrocarbons, isoparaffin & mineral spirits. CAS# 31807-55-3. INCI Name: Isododecane."  (my emphasis)
And some more info:

"Properties: Has a weightless feel on skin, enhances spreadability of products, helps prevent evaporation of water from the skin, excellent emollient and can be used as replacement to oils in emulsions. Compatible with silicones for imparting shine, slip, combability for hair care products, conditions hair & skin. Use: Can be added to formulas as is, add to oil phase, use level 2-15%. Storage: Stable when kept in a closed container at a cool & dry place. Application: Mascara, eyeliner, creams, lotions, hair care, conditioners, hairsprays, perfumes." (my emphasis)

What I plan to use it for is what a lot of laymen Cosmetics Kitchenistas seem to use it for. I'm going to be adding minute amounts to my foundations to help them spread better and also with my gel liners to help them not "clump". I also add a bit to the Vanilla-Grapefruit fragrance that I'm so in love with. I noticed that the Iso helps the scent "stay" longer. Maybe that's because of the whole evaporation prevention?

I will definitely not be using this to try getting more mileage out of my old and dried out cosmetics. It's not good to use old cosmetics - eyeliners and shadows, etc - simply because they can cause me skin issues. I won't try to tell you guys what to do with your old products, but I will suggest you be careful of them. I've read of people getting eye infections and having serious skin breakouts from working with their ancient makeup. LOL.

So far, I've had good results.

With my fragrance, I added the smallest amount I could manage. I put one drop into a 4ml vial of the fragrance.  As far as using with my makeup, I have some concealer that I use the Iso with. I will dampen only the very tip of my smallest makeup brush with the Iso, then run the brush across the concealer before applying to my skin. It really does help with diluting the concealer and making it spread better. This works for me because, even when I want more foundation coverage, I never want a heavily applied concealer. Pretty sure this might work for thinning out other creamy cosmetics. Haven't tried that yet.

The one way that I absolutely love using the Iso is when I have over-applied my mascara or get clumps on my lashes. I take a clean mascara wand (you can get these at beauty supply stores), dab on some Iso, then run the wand through your lashes to "clean" them up a bit. It also works to thin out heavy lipsticks. I have a couple of lipstick shades that I like to blend together on the back of my hand before applying to my lips. The Iso makes this easy.

I did have to get used to handling the Iso. It's very, very runny and it only takes a bit to work with. I find that best way to use it is with a clean dropper.

I haven't used the Iso with hair products yet. I'm going to experiment with it though. I know that I want to try thinning out some of the hair gel I use sometimes. What I'm thinking about is the moisture and evaporation factor. Wonder if this would help my hair retain more of the moisture I get from some products? Hmmm....

As you can tell, I'm still playing around with uses for this stuff. If any of you have used it before or have tips for using it, let me know. I'll try to keep you updated from this end.

Of course, there's a bunch of info online about the Pros and Cons of Isododecane. It's not one of the "natural" products, so I get that a lot of people might not like that. For myself, this is one of those cases where I'm going more for control of my beauty products - natural or not.

Peace
--Free


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