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Stupid Policies / Massive Medical Insurance Price Hike

Stupid

In continuing the crappy year that has been 2016 for my family, today my wife was sent home from her place of work and told not to come back until she can get an unrestricted medical release.

In accordance with that request; my wife called the doctors office, where she was yesterday for an appointment concerning the very issue she was sent home for. My wife has deformed feet and every now and then, she has a flare up and finds it hard to walk. However she still does her job despite the pain while never complaining. However, on this occasion, she asked for help with delivering notices.

Sorry, got a little off track there, back to the doctor’s office; my wife called and they told her she would have to see a podiatrist for a medical release. Fine, but the earliest appointment was for December 21, that’s two weeks away. In the meantime, my wife’s employer won’t allow her to go back to work until she gets a medical release, that’s two whole weeks without any wages, that’s close to $800 in income lost.

I don’t know about you, but our income is not so high that we can afford to simply lose $800 in income. Obviously, this was not a viable option, so my wife called another podiatrist and lo and behold, they had an appointment tomorrow, December 7, two weeks earlier than the Via Christi podiatrist appointment.

I believe this company policy to be a stupid and inflexible one; how can you expect people to not have income for weeks? My response would be “I’m looking for another job”; I cannot sit idle because of petty company beaurocracy when my job is mostly sit down at a desk with maybe 10-15% up on my feet. They could have easily had my wife manning the office while the other staff member showed apartments.

Now, the concern is that this new podiatrist won’t give my wife a medical release with no restrictions as required by my wife’s employer. Which means end of employment and ending 2016 like it started with my wife being unemployed. I get paid well for this city, but still not enough to absorb a $1,600 monthly income loss, especially with just having taken out a $24,000 loan to zero our credit card balances.

Now to the second part of the title; it’s time to renew my medical insurance and damn! my insurance premium has increased by 44.8%. The letter from my company CEO said it was a 12% increase; but an increase from $153.51 to $222.29 is definitely not 12%, just glancing at the difference tells you that much.

Not that I am complaining about the cost; $222/mo for what is very good insurance is great value. However, I got a 3% salary increase while the medical insurance went up by nearly 45%, seems somewhat disproportionat doesn’t it? How I wish that the DNC didn’t screw over Bernie Sanders in the primaries.


Canon EF-S 10-22mm Versus Canon EF-S 10-18mm

Canon EF-S 10-18mm Vs 10-22mm

I have recently purchased a Canon EOS 80D with EF-S 10-22mm USM Lens; you can read my initial thoughts here. I replaced my EF-S 10-18mm STM lens with the 10-22 because of the issues I was having with ghosting and flaring of light sources and windows in my real estate work, see my thoughts here.

If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of these two lenses, you’ll need to look elsewhere, I am looking at specific elements and this write-up is aimed at real estate photographers and real estate agents.

I took two identical shots with the same settings and my thoughts are based upon these two photos. The settings I used were 1/4 second shutter, F/8, ISO 400 and I switched lens without changing tripod positions or turning the camera off, both lenses had their respective Canon branded lens hoods

The first thing I noticed was that the 10-22mm was approximately half a stop darker; the 10-18mm produced brighter images despite the same 1/2, F/8, ISO 400 settings. Image sharpness seems to be the same; neither lens was sharp when zoomed in 100% without any post processing. The 10-18mm did look wider at 10mm, but that is because the 10-18mm is a shorter lens; giving the impression of being wider.

The reason I did this experimentation was because I have heard so many people praise the EF-S 10-18mm lens and reported no such issues with ghosting and flaring. Yes, I could have just gotten a bad lens; but if that is the case, many others have also gotten a bad EF-S 10-18mm STM lens as I have also seen plenty of reports on the ghosting/flaring issue written on the Internet during my research.

So the results are in and with the identical shots I took; my 10-18mm had ghosting of the ceiling mounted light and flaring from the window. It was not as bad as in some photos I had taken of other properties, but it’s definitely there while the 10-22mm showed none of the same ghosting and flaring.

I won’t tell anyone to buy one lens over the other; it comes down to personal choice and the 10-18mm is less than half the cost of the 10-22mm, which is why I initially chose the 10-18mm STM over the 10-22mm USM. However, I’ve had issues with the 10-18mm which has cost me precious time in post production and in some, albeit rare cases even ruined the shot completely as I could not fix it in Adobe Lightroom.

I didn’t include the photos as I did not want to post photos of the disaster that is my house right now. If you have questions or want me to elaborate on my quick write up, please comment below.


SCAM: Domain SEO Service Registration Corp

Scam Alert

As someone that manages multiple domains for my employer I get these Emails from Domain SEO Service Registration Corp on a regular basis. The Emails give the impression that you are renewing your domain name; but if you read a little closer, you’ll see it’s for SEO services, not domain renewal.

Clearly this company trawls the Whois database for non-private registration information and then spam the contact Email address. The subject line says “[your domain name] Expiration”, this is what gives the impression that it’s time to renew your domain(s), clearly hoping you’ll pay the $64 without realizing.

Domain SEO Service are technically doing nothing illegal; the message tells you exactly what the service is; but only if you read carefully and fully. I knew that it was a scam as this is not the company I register our domains with and the cost is five times more expensive than our regular domain renewal fees.

The thing that makes me think it’s a scam; other than the misleading text is the following;

Failure to complete your [your domain name] domain name submission search engine optimization service may make it difficult for customers to find you online.” and “Non-completion of your domain name search engine optimization service submission by given expiration date for [your domain name], may result in the cancelling of this search engine optimization notification offer

I don’t know if this company actually provide the service they advertise; so I won’t comment on this.

Domain SEO Service Registration Corp claim to be located at 1000 5th St, Suite 200, Miami Beach, FL 33139; and have a phone number, (954) 320-4679 listed on their website, http://www.dorvice.org.

For all I know, Domain SEO Services Registration Corp could be a legit company; however their methods of marketing would suggest otherwise to me. They even sent postal mail to my employers business address; thankfully the company Chief Financial Officer called me before simply paying the invoice.

You can ignore the expiration date shown; I get these Emails 3 – 4 times a year for each of our domains. These solicitations use scare tactics to make you click on the link and submit your credit card details.

Just out of interest; I clicked the link from the Email, then clicked on the payment link on the site for one year and the payment input page is not secured by SSL; this in itself is a massive red flag as all your payment information will be sent in plain text; which means it can be hacked and stolen.

Below is the actual message I received so you know what to look out for…

Domain SEO Service Scam

PS: The domain shown in the Email screenshot above is a personal domain that I let expire.


Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2016

Nico Rosberg Wins The 2016 World Drivers Title

Nico Rosberg sealed the world drivers championship by finishing second to Lewis Hamilton for the fourth consecutive time since his win at the Japanese Grand Prix. While Sebastian Vettel delivered a podium for Ferrari in the final race of the season with a late charge on super-soft tires overtaking both Red Bulls.

You have to say it was a dull race overall; Hamilton trying to back Rosberg into the chasing pack, Max Verstappen spinning coming out of turn one on lap one to recover to finish fourth, jumping ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo by staying out for 22 laps while Ricciardo pitted on lap 9. And finally, Vettel’s late charge through the pack on super-soft tires, that’s the story of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton has received significant criticism for his actions during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, backing Rosberg into the chasing pack and ignoring direct team instructions. Personally, I don’t blame him; why should he do anything to help his title rival? They’re racing drivers, not best buddies on a road trip.

The other talking point is did Red Bull disadvantage Ricciardo, intentionally or otherwise by pitting him so early compared to his team mate, Verstappen who was running significantly behind on the road at the time of the stops? I think it’s safe to say that decision swung the inter-team battle in the Dutchman’s favor.

More significantly, Abu Dhabi marked the final race of two of the old guard; McLaren’s Jenson Button and Williams’ Felipe Massa who between them started 555 Grand Prix, claimed 26 wins and 91 podiums.

Personally I will miss Jenson Button; I’m sad that he didn’t take Williams up on their offer for a drive in 2017; but that said; I could see that Jenson’s heart was not in it during 2016. Button himself said that he regretted not announcing his retirement before the British Grand Prix; I guess this was brought on by the emotional response of the Brazilian crowd for Felipe Massa at Interlagos two weeks ago.

I’ll be happy to see the back of the 2016 Formula 1 Grand Prix season; like the two seasons beforehand, 2016 was a forgone conclusion with Mercedes dominating proceedings claiming an easy constructors title victory and one of their drivers was guaranteed the world drivers title such was their dominance.

That’s about all I have to say about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and season overall, this season has been a disappointment; dominance of one team makes the sport very dull; not to mention the accustomed FIA bureaucracy and inconsistency; and who can forget the qualifying debacle at the start of the season.

I’m hoping that 2017 and the new regulations will rejuvenate the sport, I can’t bare more of the same.


An Expensive Camera Doesn’t Make You A Good Photographer

I'm sorry but buying an expensive camera doesn't make you a photographer

Today; I received a set of photos taken by someone else of some of our local properties and I am really not impressed. I’m not sure why someone else was used for photography when we already have high quality photos taken within the last twelve months. Looking at the photos; I am making the assumption that it’s someone with a highend camera; rather than a professional due to composition and settings.

According to the EXIF data, the camera used was a Canon EOS 5D MkIII with a 17-40mm F/4 USM wide angle lens; and yet the photos I took with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and EF-S 10-18mm STM lens a year ago are better composed and sharper. Obviously, that is subjective at best; but general real estate photographers consensus about good composition, lighting and exposure were not followed in the shots.

Given that ISO’s ranged from 100 to 4000, apertures from F4 through to F11 and shutter speeds between 1/100th and 1/2000th; I would think that their camera was set to full auto mode, I always shoot with my camera locked in M mode. The interior shot at ISO 4000 was so noisy that I would’ve thrown out the shot; this could have been fixed with a tripod; lower ISO, maybe 200, 400 max and longer shutter speed.

There are certain things that are accepted practice in real estate photography, such as using the lowest ISO possible to minimize noise, using a tripod and slower shutter speeds; avoiding converging lines created by shooting up or down; verticals should be… well, vertical, not at a 10-15° angle.

I understand that not every vertical can be perfectly straight in camera; heck, I often correct verticals in Adobe Lightroom; but my verticals are never more than 1-2° off straight. Honestly, I believe the photos to be straight out of their camera; even the best photographer needs to do some post production work. Just to be clear; I am not claiming to be the best photographer, I am still learning and improving.

The standards expected by local real estate professionals is not very high looking at the photos in the MLS of million dollar houses. So if expectations are that low; having professional grade equipment will create better photos than photos taken by the real estate agent with a cheap point and shoot camera.

I have recently stepped up from a consumer DSLR to a prosumer DSLR due to feeling I had reached the limit of my current kit. Not to say that my previous photos taken with the Rebel T3i were bad; but there were little things that I was not happy with, mainly the light ghosting and flaring caused by the $300 10-18mm lens. I’m incredibly critical, I set a very high standard for myself, I always feel I can do better.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the photographer; maybe I shouldn’t hold others to the same standards as I hold myself. After-all I am not the end customer; most would be happy with the shots provided as they don’t know any better. In a previous life, I was a live sound tech and because of that; I can no longer go to a live gig without analyzing the sound and thinking what I would do to change it.

As a result of being a professional real estate photographer; i.e. getting paid to take photos of houses and apartments. I tend to analyze others work; sometimes I am not impressed; but sometimes I am amazed by others work and want to know how they achieved the shot to improve on my own photography.

Rant over; being told to use inferior photos on our marketing really grated on me. Don’t get me wrong; if the photos were genuinely better; I would replace my photos; infact there were some exterior shots that were better that I did use; but the majority were inferior, so I kept my original photos on our marketing.


First Impressions: Canon EOS 80D + EF-S 10-22mm USM Lens

My personal Canon EOS 80D w/ 10-22mm USM

I have talked about upgrading my Canon Rebel T3i for some months now; and last week I finally took the plunge with a total $1,600 investment and I am now a very happy Canon EOS 80D DSLR owner.

I have been on three real estate shoots with my new DSLR; and it took a while to get used to the more advanced 80D. I had to re-shoot my first house as it did not go as well as I had hoped, I ended up with a very soft focus using the 45 point auto focus in manual mode. I experimented at home and found that a single center focus point with spot light metering works best for sharper images; although still a little soft.

Apparently the Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM tends to have slightly soft focus at 10mm. I could have done testing with the 10-22 on my T3i to compare; to see if it’s the EOS 80D creating the soft focus; but I am not a professional reviewer, so decided to skip the extra work. Besides the softness can be easily fixed in Lightroom and/or Photoshop; which is what so many 10-22 owners have recommended online.

The camera itself is 15-20% larger than the T3i to make room for the top mounted LCD display which allows for quick changes to settings such as auto-focus, drive, ISO and metering modes, it also has an orange backlight for darker environments. Although I have to admit I haven’t really used this aux screen.

Instead I have been using the 3 inch articulating touchscreen on the back of the camera. The screen is easy to use and the touch response is top notch; a little too responsive at times; it’s easy to activate the screen while articulating the display. It’s very easy to change settings by pressing the Q button and then simply double tapping on a setting to change it while a single tap brings up some function helper text.

Pressing the INFO button alternates the screen between off, camera stats, electronic horizontal level and current settings. The menu system is comprehensive; with menus being split into five sections with multiple sub-sections which can be accessed via the DPad to the right or the touchscreen itself.

Taking photos is very simple; even in M mode. The 80D feels good in the hand, not too heavy and is made of a grippy rubber material. Shutter speed is controlled by the scroll wheel just behind the shutter button. A half press of the shutter button activates light metering and then it’s as simple as rotating the scroll wheel to bring the indicator in the exposure meter to the center then fully depress the shutter to shoot.

In real estate photography, the touchscreen is amazing; when I compose the shot on my tripod; sometimes the camera is unable to focus on the center AF point; however, I can tap on the screen in live mode to focus; so I don’t have to move the camera, half press the shutter and return to the original position before taking the shot which means I don’t have to change my meticulously composed shot.

The new AWB White mode allows you to shoot indoors under tungsten light without the inevitable yellow/orange tint to the photos in normal auto white balance mode. The emphasis is put on creating truer whites instead of the warmer yellow look of traditional AWB, I personally love this feature as it requires me to do much less work in post processing of the photos in Lightroom after the shoot.

The EF-S 10-22mm USM lens is a big step up from the 10-18mm STM lens I was using previously. The 10-18 has major issues with flaring and ghosting of light sources; to the point where it ruined shots. The 10-22 doesn’t suffer from the same affliction; however there is some flare if exposing for a darker room with bright sunlight flooding in through the windows; but nowhere near the level produced by the 10-18.

Although I have been working with real estate photography for a few years now; I am still learning, so maybe it’s me that is doing something wrong. Maybe a flash would help balance the interior and exterior light to reduce this flare. I currently use HDR in my photography without a flash; maybe it’s time to experiment; although a Canon speedlight is not in my budget after spending $1,600 on the 80D & 10-22.

Overall, I love my new prosumer grade Canon EOS 80D DSLR; it’s a big step up from my consumer grade T3i which I had been using for three years. The 80D may not be a full frame camera; but the APS-C format of the 80D is more than adequate for almost everyone; most would not be able to tell the difference between a photo taken with a Canon EOS 5D and a photo taken with the Canon EOS 80D.


Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2016

Max Verstappen Wins Brazilian Grand Prix, 2016

Lewis Hamilton inched a little closer to Mercedes stablemate Nico Rosberg taking victory at Interlagos, Brazil. However, Rosberg is doing what he needs to do to win the world drivers title. He just needs to finish second to Hamilton for the remaining races; which he has done so far, just one more to go.

The race started off as a damp squib; starting behind the safety car on full wet weather tires and round and round they went for seven laps. The safety car came in at the end of lap seven and we went racing but only for six laps; which was enough time for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to slide down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari for third at turn one on the restart. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson brought out the safety car again after he lost control coming out of turn 14, hitting the wall coming to rest at the pit entry.

Sebastian Vettel also lost control at the same spot a couple of laps earlier but unlike Ericsson managed to gather it up and continue. The German went on to whine over the radio to his team about the conditions and that a red flag should be thrown and lo-and-behold after team mate Raikkonen lost control on the main straight, hitting one wall, then the other, a red flag was thrown and the race was halted.

I’m just going to pause here for a moment to raise the subject of full wet tires and their lack of effectiveness. Back in the day; it was fairly rare that rain stopped the race as we had monsoon tires. Modern Pirelli full wets are not even close to those tires and according to Kimi Raikkonen, whose crash caused the lap 20 red flag suggested current full wets are not as good as years gone by.

The race restarted under the safety car for a second time when the rain subsided; only for the cars to circulate for 8 more laps behind Bernd Maylander before the race was red flagged for a second time.

After another red flag break for the drivers; the race restarted for the third time behind the safety car; this time for four laps before the track going green and we went racing in anger on lap 32. Verstappen pounced again on the racing restart; this time it was world championship leader Rosberg that fell victim. The young Dutchman clean drove around the outside of turn 3 to snatch second place from the German.

Vestappen himself fell victim to the turn 14 curse; having a half spin and narrowly avoiding the barrier at the pitlane entry. Watching the replay of the incident; it shows how he worked with the steering wheel to regain control with no brake lock ups while sounding cool as a cucumber over team radio.

Rosberg also spun in the same section of track but recovered while Williams’ Felipe Massa’s final Brazilian Grand Prix ended in retirement, bouncing off the wall out of turn 14. There was a nice moment in the pitlane where all the teams lined up and applauded the home town favourite in his penultimate F1 race.

Massa’s accident inevitably brought out the safety car for the third time and stayed out for eight laps. And on the racing restart; turn 14 claimed another former world champion; Fernando Alonso losing the back end, spinning onto the grass before recovering to the track. Prior to the green flag lap on lap 56; Verstappen stopped to change back to full wet tires which dropped him back to outside of the top 10.

Then came the mighty fight back from 11th to third from the young Dutchman; firstly picking off team mate Ricciardo, driving around the outside of turn 13 and 14 moving him back into top 10. On his way to the podium, the year 2 rookie overtook Kvyat, Ocon, Nasr, Vettel, Sainz and finally Perez all within 11 laps.

Outside of the podium, it shook out as follows; Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Nasr and finally Fernando Alonso. Solid drives from Perez, Sainz and Nasr who scored Sauber’s first points of the year. This is a huge boost for the team and their chances of claiming 10th place in the constructors championship and the millions in prize money that goes with it.


42nd Street Photo, 42photo.com Misleading Advertising

42photo.com False Advertising

I’ll start by saying that I will not tell you to buy or not buy from 42nd Street Photo. However I will write about my experience shopping with them and you can decide for yourself. I was in the market for a new DSLR as I had reached the limit of what I could do with my Canon T3i. I was browsing Facebook like I do most days when I saw an advert for a Canon EOS 80D for $899; which is $300 less than the MSRP.

With a deal like that; it’s hard to turn down and I found myself buying the Canon EOS 80D body, EF-S 10-22mm USM lens and EW-83E Lens Hood. On Monday afternoon I receive a phone call from 42nd Street Photo with their salesperson starting off with the soft sell of saying my kit would arrive by Friday, 11/11. Before trying to sell me a $250 memory card, telling me the 80D does not take standard SD cards.

He moved onto the biggie; telling me the $899 deal is for an imported Canon EOS 80D, which does NOT come with a United States warranty, firmware updates or English manuals; which explains the 25% lower price, more than likely originating from Asia. I said to the rep that I felt misled as their website, nor Facebook advertising indicated that the $899 80D was an imported product. He assured me the website does state that it’s imported, I went back to look again and the word import is nowhere to be seen.

I did end up getting a deal as I was ready to cancel the entire $1,500 order due to these dubious marketing techniques; I ended up getting the $1,199 camera for $999; which is $100 more than their website led me to believe. A search on their website doesn’t even bring up the $1,199 80D, suspicious? If I saw it priced at MSRP; I would have bought it from Amazon instead of a company I’ve never heard of.

Going back to the 42nd Street Photo salespersons claim that I needed a 120MB/S SD card for the 80D to function properly; which he claimed cost $250, but he could get me a deal for $200; I have looked up the costs of these cards and a 64GB card rated upto 150MB costs just over $30, which is not close to $250.

However I did look up the specific model that is being sent to me and that is $244.99 from Amazon.

The salesperson said that if I bought the US EOS 80D, which cost $999 for me; it would come with the afformentioned 120MB/S SD card; which in fairness, it does seem to do according to the invoice online; but for the life of me; I don’t get why a 120MB/S card costs 8x more than a 64GB card rated to 150MB/S?

Now, I have to wait and see what I receive in the mail; hopefully, they have not charged me $100 extra for the same model as they were going to send to me. I will not shop with them again as clearly they are deliberately misleading people, luring them in with the 25% cheaper prices. As I said at the head of this blog, I’m just telling you my experience, yours maybe different, I just want you to be informed!


IMPULSE BUY: Canon EOS 80D, EF-S 10-22mm Lens, EW-83E Lens Hood

Canon EOS 80D w/ EF-S 10-22mm Lens

I’ve just cleared all of my credit card debt via a personal consolidation loan and then I was browsing Facebook and BAM! something I had been considering for a while appeared in a Facebook ad for $300 less than other retailers. I click on the Facebook ad and suddenly I am clicking add to cart on three items; although I did pause for a moment while I applied for 42nd Street Photo credit from a link in the cart.

I was provisionally accepted for credit and they said they would call me shortly to complete the order. But, after 20 minutes there was still no call; so I went ahead and put it on my American Express card. It’s now two hours later and I still have not received a call, so they have lost out of that interest on the credit.

So what did I buy you ask? well, it’s in the title of this write-up… I have been wanting to move upto a prosumer DSLR camera as I have reached the limit of what I can do with my current consumer DSLR.

I would say that I am a professional real estate photographer as it’s a large part of my work as an Internet Marketing Specialist for a property management company. I could have gone for an older full frame camera; but I elected to stay with the APS-C format as I already have multiple EF-S lenses.

Now, this is where I justify the cost to myself, which is close to $1,500. My current EOS T3i and EF-S 10-18mm reflects it’s $800 price; the lens does not have the best glass; frequently creating ghosting and flaring of light sources, which I have to Photoshop out, adding extra processing time after the shoot.

This upgrade also provides me a higher dynamic range, better video recording functionality and the ability to have more than three auto bracketed shots, the EOS 80D allows upto seven brackets; which will help with my use of HDR photography. The EF-S 10-22mm lens is a straight replacement for my 10-18mm which has caused me so many issues with flaring and ghosting over the past two years of property shoots.

I do some shoots outside of my full time employment; but I am looking to expand on that. Wichita really needs some good property photography; trawling Craigslist reveals the terrible state of real estate photography, even million dollar homes have dark and blurry photography. I think there is money to be made if I price my service correctly. I was thinking about $100 per photo shoot, plus mileage over 25mi.

Of course, this means I need to get my shit together and create a portfolio website and start marketing to real estate companies here in Wichita. I hope that these companies want to step up their game and not be content with the horrible photos they are using currently in their marketing online. Point and shoot cameras focusing on bright windows, which also is the light metering point does not cut it in my view.

Maybe I am misreading the market for quality real estate photography and the upgrade may not make me any extra cash; but I want to improve my photography and this new camera and lens will allow me to do that. Knowing I can personally do better, but being limited by equipment frustrates me immensely.

I will write a full review of the Canon EOS 80D and EF-S 10-22mm Lens after a few shoots.


Refinancing My Life + Life Without Sugar

 Refinancing My Life + Life Without Sugar

I have talked about it previously but had not taken out a personal consolidation loan until now. So I decided on a round figure of $24,000 which pays off my wife’s Discover, my Discover, AMEX and our bank VISA credit card. The interest rate is not the greatest in the world at 13.99%; although I thought that over the phone we agreed on 11.99% because I chose automatic payments, but I am not 100% sure on that!

My payment is just under $500 a month over 72 months, which is a little more than the minimum payment requirements; but less than what I was actually paying on the credit cards. The aim with this consolidation loan was not to reduce the payment amount; but to create some structure with a single payment instead of four separate payments while limiting spending on the four credit cards.

Due to a slight miscalculation of not factoring in interest accrued while the loan was processing; I still have a small balance on my bank VISA; but that is manageable; I can zero that balance in a few months.

The downside of taking out this loan at such a high interest rate is that I will be paying close to $12,000 interest; but that is less than the interest rates of the credit cards that ranged from 16.24% to 20.24%.

From a personal point of view; I feel much better about my finances. Before I felt that our spending was out of control due to mostly medical bills and short term unemployment; bills continue to come in even if you don’t have cash readily on hand. I require structure in my finances and credit cards don’t offer that.

Moving onto my [ almost ] sugar free diet; since the scare with my eyesight, I have been trying really hard to limit my sugar intake. Which means no more Pepsi, which is the toughest pill to swallow, I previously had too much blood in my Pepsi stream. I was not much of a candy eater; but now I can’t have the candy; I suddenly want it more. It is amazing how much you take things for granted until they’re gone.

I have even started taking Splenda in my tea and coffee; which is taking some getting used to. But it’s all for a good cause; that cause being saving my eyesight. Yes, I should say that I have type 2 diabetes, hence the sugar free diet; something I did not take that seriously until it impacted my visual acuity.

I also suffer from depression at times and this sudden change to little to no sugar in my diet has made that depression worse. I find myself to be short tempered, especially with the kids constantly in and out of my office while I am trying to work. Another example, which happened just this morning is my office door doesn’t always latch first time; I found myself getting angry with the door as stupid as it sounds.

I’m hoping that this irritability will go away in time as my body adjusts to a very low sugar diet. You wouldn’t think giving up sugar would be so tough, the Pepsi in particularly had become like a drug for me, drinking upto four liters a day. I guess for a couple of months I will be saying sorry to my family a lot after I snap at them for very minor things. I don’t like feeling this way, but I must stick with the program.