Monday, August 26, 2013

Nowsurance (My Summer of Living Dangerously)

This photo needs no explanation...
I've been incommunicado the last few weeks, partly out of not really feeling inspired to write anything, but mostly out of living dangerously. No, I haven't joined the Merchant Marines or become a stripper, although a few weeks ago, I came pretty darn close to simulating the latter when I got annoyed about the fact that, as a woman living in the godforsaken state of Georgia, I'm not permitted to expose my breasts in public, no matter how uncomfortable I am in our stifling summertime heat and humidity. Says who?! After informing Spartacus that I was going to step outside in our public courtyard to enjoy the morning sunshine bare-chested, to which he responded, "Just make sure the po-po don't catch ya," I threw caution, and my T-shirt, to the wind. My boobs haven't stopped thanking me; in fact, they caught the cool late August breeze just this morning. Aaaah!

That moment of living on the edge got me thinking about just how ridiculous the concept of insurance is. Take disability insurance, for example. For several years now, I've been paying around $600 per month so that if I become disabled, I'll be guaranteed an $11,000 monthly income. That's an awful lot of dough for reassurance that I'm guessing will never be actualized. My income's dropped considerably since I negotiated that policy, and since my monthly expenses aren't anywhere near $11k, not to mention the fact that I dare to live in the moment and am healthy as a horse, I decided it was time to either drop that policy altogether or reduce it substantially. Even though I've already reduced my life insurance coverage, I'm still worth more dead than alive!

I'll let you in on a little secret. All summer long, I've been working on developing my own personal insurance. Nowsurance is probably more like it. Just because I live like there's no tomorrow doesn't mean each day doesn't count. Although traditional disability insurance is designed to prevent one from worrying about untoward future events, I can't help but think that it leads to complacence and a smug lack of caring about the here and now. My independence--being able to do things for myself--is incredibly valuable to me. I really can't imagine living any other way.

Hemp...it's what's for dinner.
There's no monetary premium for my nowsurance policy, just common sense and accountability. When my jeans started feeling tight a few weeks back--despite all my crazy-aggressive workouts--I quit drinking wine every night, substituting green juice instead, and guess what happened? I lost 10 pounds. Even though I wasn't technically overweight to begin with, making that adjustment has done wonders for my sleep and energy levels. If I do drink wine, it's no more than a glass now, as my alcohol tolerance has gone down to zero. Best of all, my jeans are back to fitting like a glove, which is a wonderful thing when you hate clothes shopping as much as I do. (I'm a bit of a freak in that regard, and will wear the same clothes for years, provided they fit). I've worn these jeans for 6 years, and they've still got plenty of mileage left. Another lifestyle modification that both Spartacus and I have made is skipping traditional dinners during the week. Because we tend to work out later in the evening, we weren't eating dinner until 9 pm, which meant we were going to sleep with full stomachs. That's precisely how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight, by eating massive amounts of food and napping right afterwards. Not sexy! After our workouts, I make us both some kind of well-balanced smoothie with homemade almond milk, fresh fruit and leafy greens, and a little hemp protein, leaving us both satisfied, instead of overstuffed. Best of all, I have no pots, pans, or dishes to wash.

Rory (pink glasses) with BearKnuckle, feelin' green :-)
Juicing might sound like a silly fad, but I've seen recent anecdotal evidence suggesting that it boosts immunity. A few weeks ago, my son, Rory, called and told me that his lung functions were down despite a two week course of oral antibiotics. His pulmonologist recommended continuing the antibiotics for a couple more weeks, but felt this was probably a cystic fibrosis exacerbation that would definitely require intravenous antibiotic therapy at home. Rory and I had a long talk about the role nutrition and exercise play in maintaining and improving one's health. Like most people, I think he viewed exercising as time-consuming drudgery. The new thinking about exercise is that short but intense workouts achieve the same level of cardiovascular fitness, without taking up a huge chunks of precious time. There's really no need to spend more than 30 minutes working out. I sent him a few of my favorite total body and high intensity interval training workouts, all of which can be performed with no equipment in 20 minutes or less, and he started exercising daily before going to work.  

Rory's Lung Power juice and my amazing sprouted raw granola bars
I read him the riot act about his diet, which doesn't contain much in the way of fresh produce. He agreed to try drinking some green juice on a regular basis. After researching juicing for cystic fibrosis, I came across a recipe for Lung Power juice. Apparently, the watercress and pineapple it calls for contain anti-inflammatory compounds, as do the golden beets and turmeric root that I added. Because I've been taking him a two-liter bottle of juice every few days, it means I get to see him more often, so that's been an added bonus for me. Anyway, after two weeks of juicing and exercising, he went back to the pulmonary clinic to get baseline lung functions prior to starting his IV antibiotics. Even though it sucks that he's having to go through another round of home intravenous therapy, I was delighted to hear that his lung functions had actually improved by 4%, instead of declining further as we'd anticipated. Since the only thing that had changed was his lifestyle, I think that's pretty significant. Hopefully, it will be good motivation for Rory to continue with his workouts and intake of raw micronutrients. 

Attack of the Maple-Bourbon Cro-Doughs. 
Yesterday, Spartacus and I went out for doughnuts before running a few errands. Revolution just released its version of the cro-nut, so the queue was snaking itself outside the double doors. This was such a momentous event that I dolled myself up in my favorite (and only) pair of diamond earrings, which happen to be insured. At least, I thought I was wearing both of them. While we were standing in line, I kept noticing people looking at me oddly, as if maybe I had a booger in my nose. Spartacus confirmed the absence of any conspicuous nasal nuggets. I tried to ignore the continued awkward glances. Finally, when I ducked into the natural foods co-op to replenish my supply of buckwheat groats used for making my almost-famous sprouted raw granola bars (Spartacus stays in the car when we go there; he complains the place smells like B.O.), I figured out what all the stares were about. The cashier mentioned how pretty my "earring" was, and when I reached up instinctively to touch my earlobe, I discovered my right earring was MIA!

Diamonds, roughing it the concrete floor near the garbage can
A brief panic ensued, prompting us to retrace our steps. After thoroughly searching the car, we went back home to check the gravel lot where we park our cars. Nada. My original thought all along was that the earring had never even made it outside the house, that I'd somehow failed to engage the clasp, allowing the post to fall right out of the hole in my earlobe. Sure enough, Spartacus found it lying smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor. After breathing a sigh of relief that we wouldn't have to notify the insurance provider, we talked about how bizarre it is to even have such material possessions in the first place. I purchased those earrings at a time in my life when, despite making an insane amount of money, I was the unhappiest I've ever been. Life's gotten much simpler since then, and I rarely shop at all. Having less "stuff" makes more room for happiness. The lost earring was a gentle reminder of that, and I was pleasantly surprised at how un-upset I was at the prospect of it really being gone. If I hadn't been walking around multi-tasking while I was putting those earrings on, it wouldn't have fallen out in the first place...the jeweler replaced the flimsy original clasps with spring-loaded ones that are fail-proof and unbreakable, and if engaged properly, will keep the earrings in place indefinitely. I've decided that from now on, I'll put the earrings on while standing in front of the mirror, gazing upon my womanly beauty, LOL. Seriously, though, multi-tasking is SO overrated!

Barefoot wife vs. husband's 2 ton briefcase...ouch!
On Thursday, I went to the doctor for the first time in two years. I don't have any health problems, except for two broken toes, but because two years have elapsed since my last mammogram and Pap exam, I figured it was time to get plugged back into the system. Initially, I was a little bit nervous about the visit with this new doc, but it couldn't have gone any better. She turned out to be a very cool lady, clearly a patient advocate like me. I liked her immediately. My blood pressure was 100/60 mm Hg, and my body mass index was normal at 22.8 kg/m2. She did an EKG on me because I'd had a history of premature beats, presumably from stress at my previous job. That, too, was stone cold normal. After examining me, Dr. Bernard looked me in the eye, smiled and said, "Welp. I can't find anything wrong with you." Cha-ching! My nowsurance has paid off. I've taken matters into my own hands, trading the comfort of future assurance for the risk of real change, and it's producing fantastic results. Now, if only my poor feet would cooperate... 

32 comments:

  1. I love the idea of nowsurance! Of course that love did not stop me from finishing the leftover pizza I was eating as I read this. I can love more than one thing at once. It's a gift :) My new thing is giving up my late night snacking. I'm not thrilled about this but...now that I know it will help me avoid Sumo-status, I feel better.

    So happy the new regime had a positive effect on Rory! That's awesome!

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    1. Rory's feeling tons better now, and hopefully, he'll go a long time without needing IV antibiotics again. That leftover pizza sounds delicious right about now, Gina! Re: the late-night snacking, both Brad and I feel like we're sleeping better by having a much lighter evening meal. On the weekends, we do go out for dinner, so it's a real treat.

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  2. What the hell did you do to your left foot! I swear you can dress up in those fancy earrings but you don't watch where your feet are a traveling.

    I, too, have been incognito and am resurfacing. Glad to read your marvelous story and wonder what is hemp juice or green juice? I am allergic to pineapple, so please enlighten me as to the recipe and perhaps a substitution for the pineapple, too?

    Glad your son is seeing improvement in his lung function because we all understand the importance of our breathing.

    As for your streaking in the courtyard, I say as long as you felt cooler and you have almost no excess fat, then have a real good time. In NYC it is legal for women to go bare breasted. What's a little innocent traipse every now and again. I approve wholeheartedly. Hugs from me to you.

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    1. Theresa, it's great to see you back at BC. I broke my baby toe, running into my husband's briefcase with bare feet. Then, I broke the middle toe a couple of weeks later, from hyperextending it during weighted lunges. I think I've been holding my toes on that foot funny because of the broken baby toe, and the lunges just pushed that middle toe beyond its limits. Hemp seeds and powder are great for adding protein to smoothies. The green juice I make for Rory does have pineapple, but it's not essential. Other sweet fruit, like peaches or grapes could be used. There are tons of green juice recipes out there, but the one I use for myself is Dr. Oz's, which has celery, apples, parsley, cucumbers, spinach, lemon, and lime. I add kale, ginger, and turmeric root, and drink a glass in the morning, afternoon, and evening. it's basically just a way to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Marty (nothingprofound) told me that it was legal for women to go bare-chested in NY; I've got to get up there!

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  3. Thanks to a court case several years back, it's legal for women to go topless in public in the Province of Ontario here in Canada. I've only seen women take advantage of that a couple of times. Once in the park near me, shortly after the court declared it legal because it was discriminatory for men to be allowed to be topless, but not women, a woman ripped off her t-shirt for no apparent reason and danced around the park. And a few years back I was walking along the main street here in Toronto (Yonge St.) when a woman walked past me going the other way. She was wearing a professional-looking business skirt, she was carrying a smart, professional-looking attache case and she was totally naked from the waste up. I admit to being taken aback. But it was, and still is, perfectly legal as long as you aren't displaying yourself with the intent to titillate. (I forget how it's worded but it's along those lines.)

    Congratulations on the weight loss. But, green juice? There ought to be a law. Congratulations also on Spartacus finding you earring and on being given a clean bill of health.

    Re insurance: If you can afford to cover the risk you're considering insuring against and there is no law requiring you to have insurance (such as the liability insurance that many jurisdictions require you to have to drive legally) then insurance doesn't make sense.

    Insurance is a bet. You're betting that the thing you're insuring against will happen. The insurance company is betting it won't. (That's true even with life insurance because the bet isn't on your death, but on your early death.) That bet is stacked in the insurance company's favor. They charge premiums high enough not only to cover the number of times they lose those bets, but also to cover their administrative costs, commissions to sales people, taxes, and profit.

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    1. Joel, that's probably the best explanation about insurance I've ever heard. Thanks for that. I wish the US was as progressive as Canada is with its insurance and nudity laws. The green juice isn't so bad...it's better than swallowing vitamin pills or eating tons of salad every day! As for the earring, I'm happy we found it. I kind of knew we would.

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  4. Oh, I forgot to mention, re cro-nuts: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/08/23/toronto-public-health-cne-food-poisoning.html

    They made 150 people sick in Toronto. Well, actually it was cronut burgers. And it probably wasn't generic to that food item, just one batch or some problems at the particular vendor.

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    1. I'm guessing it was contaminated meat. I can't think of anything more gross than a sugary doughnut with a meat patty inside it!

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  5. All I am going to say is you look amazingly in shape! I am actually grateful I could ware clothes because my body fat can be hidden... as far as insurance goes, I have very little knowledge on that. I have only insurance that the law requires, other than that, I am always in danger.

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    1. Thanks, Yun Yi, staying fit is something I really enjoy. I wear as little as possible during workouts because I get so sweaty, which is precisely what got me irritated with our public nudity laws. If I'm outside and I want to cool off, I think I should be able to take off my shirt, just like the men do. As for insurance, whether you have it or you don't, it's always a gamble!

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  6. Hey, you are the She-Achilles! Why, you even have a tender heel -OK, toes.

    I hate death and all its dealers, representatives and salesmen. Ditto for disability. I wonder if these crooks are somehow secretly hedging their exposure by betting on our deaths too. Did I read $600, Kris?. That is one sixth of what I earn and the cost of living isn't cheap in India either (you just read my post). Junk it, Spiderwoman, you are not going to drop dead and disabled. Not with that body.

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    1. "I wonder if these crooks are somehow secretly hedging their exposure by betting on our deaths too." From what Joel said above, it seems like that's exactly what they're doing! In my mind's eye, I don't see myself dropping dead or becoming disabled, and when I think about all the money I'm paying every month for that little bit of future reassurance, it makes me cringe!

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  7. Billions of blue blistering boiled and barbecued barnacles! Did I write "That is one sixth of what I earn" when I actually meant One sixth of that is all I earn??! I am doomed whenever I write comments on my phone and my mind is prone to multitasking (modern phrase for wool gathering).

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    1. Haha, you're so right about multitasking...it's a liability! Re: monthly earnings, it's amazing how vastly different our countries' economies are :-(

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  8. Hello, you bare-breasted babe! I have to say, you've got a some courage there. And that's great news about Rory. I'm guessing he didn't join you on your cro-nut expedition. But that's the great thing about taking care of yourself. If you eat well, you can enjoy a dalliance now and then. Huzzah!

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    1. For sure, working out and eating healthy most of the time makes donut dalliances all the more special! The cro-nuts are SO good. I can see what all the fuss in NYC's been about with that. Rory's feeling much better, and has a week left on his IV antibiotics. The improvement should be pretty dramatic. We're hoping that the exercise and continued juicing will keep these "tune ups" to a minimum.

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  9. From what little I know of where you live, you do seem a fish out of water Kris! Are they ready for someone like you?

    You change Georgia...not the other way around!

    I know what you mean about eating late. Don't know how the hell the Spanish do it to be honest.

    Oh yes, & I am surprised you'd leave such a long time between medical check-ups. Is that unusual for women? (You do look in good shape btw.)

    Cheers, ic

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    1. I do seem like a fish out of water, Ian, but luckily, people are surprisingly tolerant here. I like to think I've changed Georgia just by being myself. Cutting out the late dinners has made such an improvement in how I sleep at night...it's much more sound sleep now. Two years is about the longest I've gone without a check up, but since I've never had a positive mammogram or Pap exam and no significant family history of breast cancer (Mom's breast cancer was post-menopausal), it's the maximum allowable limit. I usually do try to go every year, but because we moved and I never got my medical records transferred, it took me awhile to get plugged back in to the system.

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  10. Kris, that photo is an awesome statement for womanhood and comfort. :) You look fantastic, definitely in great shape! Love Spartacus’ casual response when you told him you were stepping into the public courtyard topless lol! Good for you! That cool breeze must have felt so good on your bare chest. Breasts can get very hot and uncomfortable under clothes. If society didn’t have such Puritanical views on the body, it would be just as commonplace for a woman to go bare-chested as a man and nobody would pay it any mind. It was very natural in many ancient cultures.

    Nice segue from bare breasts to the ridiculous concept of insurance. Nowsurance, great idea, you are unto something with common sense and accountability. Juicing is very healthy. So glad Rory is more focused on nutrition and exercise, and drinking the homemade green juice you bring him. I think it’s significant too that his lung function improved after he made some lifestyle changes.

    Dolled up in diamond earrings for the cro-nut event, love it! Glad that earring was found, it is very pretty. Yes, multi-tasking is so overrated. Excellent on that clean bill of health, nowsurance has certainly paid off. Hope those broken toes heal quickly!

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    1. Madilyn, I feel like the Puritans ruined everything for us, with their stupid work ethic and proscriptions on nudity. Drives me nuts. Spartacus always comes up with the best one-liners; he cracks me up on a regular basis. Rory's doing much better, and I really do believe his lifestyle changes have made a dent in his lung functions. I can't attribute that slight bit of improvement to anything else! Re: the cro-nuts, I think you'd love these little pastries...just the right amount of crunch and chewy texture! I have to say, I was very relieved after my doctor's appointment!

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  11. You just reminded me, I have to make an appointment with my DR. I feel fine but gosh I haven't been in so long! LOL I hardly get sick, I never have any pains, well except when I work out or I haven't worked something out in a while, I breathe just fine. I use to smoke. And I quit is the only reason I want to go; just to make sure cancer or some other newly found disease that makes my lung and penis connect isn't destroying me. Similar to your diet, I found that eating lean protein at night can help when it's late and you worked out heavy. So don't feel to bad grabbing some lunch meat or something along those lines. Are you a fan of fish?

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    1. Good for you for quitting smoking! How did you quit? That's something I always talk to my patients about during their pre-op assessment. You're absolutely right about the lungs and penis being connected...smoking can kill an erection fast! I don't eat much animal protein anymore, even though I do like it. If I do eat it, it's usually fish. I've been adding hemp protein and almond butter to our dinner smoothies to boost the protein content. Hmmm, fish smoothies...whaddya think? ;-D

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  12. Love your posts, Kris. Always bristling with humor and irreverence. Until I was 40, nowinsurance was the only kind I carried. Then I happened to stumble on a job that provided the other kind, so I graciously deigned to accept it. I suppose it was a good thing, considering my daughter was a gymnast, and was in no less than six casts by the time she was 11. I rarely go to the doctor, and whenever I do, it leads absolutely nowhere. So I've learned to live with the weird symptoms which pop up in my body from time to time. The important thing is not to be disabled by fear of the unknown, which is what that insurance stuff is all about. When the Big One comes, the doctors won't be able to help me anyway. So, until then, I'll throw caution to the wind and do my best to enjoy all the time I have left.

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    1. Yes, the insurers really do capitalize on people's fear of the unknown, don't they? I think that having a working knowledge of one's own body, especially its idiosyncracies and weird symptoms, is something that quite a few people are afraid of. But, who can know our bodies better than ourselves?

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  13. You preach a mighty fine gospel there Kris. I really can't understand why people allow themselves to become so unfit. I have to say though that your smoothies don't appeal to me; although I probably eat three times the recommended daily quantities of fruit and veg. I would also have to admit that I've never "worked out" in my life; smacks too much of exercise for the sake of exercise to me. I've always climbed and cycled because I enjoy it, not because it's good for me.

    My personal tip for a healthy life: marry an Olympic athlete 13 years your junior (it wasn't deliberate, but it has worked).

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    1. Dennis, you're definitely outside the bell curve in your fruit and veg consumption, compared with the general population! Good point about working out vs having a love for physical activity. As someone who was decidedly non-athletic growing up, I started walking in my late teens so keep my weight in check. Now, I love exercising because it makes me feel good. Yes, marrying an Olympic athlete would be great motivation to stay fit!

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  14. Now now Helena, showing off all those super-fit goods will only get 'peepers' in Georgia and the neighbours won't be pleased, jealous neighbours can make life hard.

    As for insurance, it's one hell of a tricky thing. So many people have been conned into buying policies that they can never claim on, so I say, always read every bit of the small print first before signing on that dotted line. Things sound great until it's time to claim. Don't let that little man on the end of the phone line twang your head, after all, he is trying to make a living for himself too! I love the idea of your nowsurance.

    Beautiful earrings. Glad you didn't lose the other side, and I know what you mean about happiness and having less stuff too :)

    Oh dear, I hope those feet heal soon, looks pretty bad but all that green stuff will in no doubt go towards the healing process.
    As for the blood pressure, yours looks pretty good at 100/60 and healthy, I'm no expert but mine is hovering at 161 over 108 tonight. I dare not tell you my BMI, no way. But it's good to see that you are doing very well in health, especially in America.

    Thank God you are who you are because regardless to what you say, your input has saved the lives of your twins, and I say this in a very positive light. You're a brilliant mother Helena. And congrats on the weight loss mate.

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    1. RPD, I've learned the hard way about reading the fine print on insurance policies. At one point, I had a homeowner's warranty insurance policy that supposedly covered my large appliances, but when the hot water heater blew, I ended up paying almost $2k out of pocket because they'd only install a new water heater if the old plumbing was brought "up to code." Hmph! I'm guessing that you're probably on blood pressure meds; is that a normal reading for you? Sounds as if you have a home blood pressure monitoring device; that's a good way to determine trends and see if you need your medications adjusted. There are similar devices that I'm thinking of getting for the boys so that they can check their lung functions at home and detect an exacerbation in its early stages. They're not expensive anymore, so I think it's a smart move on their behalf.

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    2. Helena, sorry for the late reply. I was just popping over to have a read then I saw that you had asked me something.
      Yes, I've been recently diagnosed with High Blood Pressure, on top of all the other things and it's fast becoming a flaming nightmare trying to get a tablet that will take my pressure down. In a matter of months I'm on my third set of different tablets. The last one caused me to bloat up like a football. My feet looked like elephant feet - disfigured looking and I was instantly taken off it. The first one caused me to sweat like a pig with headaches, and I mean sweating like you were out in the rain for half the day. I looked like a nutter.
      Yes, I have my own device which I check at home all the time now, and I also check it against the doctors device to make sure we are getting the same readings. Now, since I started these new tablets a couple days ago, my readings are climbing up again.
      I say, if you get good devices that are recognised by quality foundations then it's good to invest in them, so you can gage what's going on.

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  15. I love the way you managed to fit streaking, insurance and a lost earring into one post and still make it work.

    You are clearly in fantastic shape, btw.

    And what on earth is a cro-nut?

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  16. I love your writing. The way that you're able to seamlessly thread these different stories into one cohesive post is pretty cool. The concept of nowsurance is intriguing... and it obviously works for you (seriously though, you could probably compete as fitness model... you're sculpted!). There's still a place for insurance in the world, because no matter how much you prepare, things beyond our control just happen and if you have loved ones, it's unfortunately a must have.

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  17. I very much enjoyed the article, $600 a month for disability insurance is pretty incredible.

    I hope I don't regret it, but to the horror of my Mother. I have chosen to be uninsured for almost a decade now, I had always felt that putting my money in the bank for a rainy day would see me through, and I think I can afford most hospital stays these days, and if I suddenly die of course it will be there for my son.

    Glad you have a place to expose yourself :P You look great!

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