Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Got a Refund from Airbnb for a Cancellation in Austin Due to Hurricane Harvey

About a month ago I made reservations on Airbnb to stay in a cute little apartment in Austin, Texas, over the weekend of Gay Pride, which was scheduled for August 26th and 27th. I was planning to drive down from Dallas on Friday the 25th after work and drive home on Sunday. As that Friday approached the ominous forecast about Hurricane Harvey looked like it might put a damper on things.

When I woke up on Friday morning, it was to news stories about the imminent threat of the hurricane as it approached the coast. People were evacuating Houston, and Austin was under alert for heavy rains, flooding, and loss of electricity, especially if the storm continued on toward Austin. There had been a run on supplies at supermarkets in Austin and the surrounding areas, leaving shelves empty. I decided to cancel my reservation. A few hours later the organizers of the Gay Pride fest announced that it was canceled as well (it has been rescheduled–more on that below).

After going through the process of canceling, I wrote a note to the landlord to say that I hoped he would offer a full refund due to the extenuating circumstances. He replied with a standard line: sorry, but we have a cancellation policy for a reason, and we will not be offering a refund.

The Airbnb policy in this situation appears to be that you have to wait 72 hours before you can open a dispute. I did so. When I went to the contact me page on the Airbnb website, I wrote a simple note explaining the situation and asking that they offer a full refund. There were notes on the site asking customers who were submitting requests that were directly related to Hurricane Harvey to save these things, in case the company wanted them as proof that the cancellation was related to the hurricane:

  • News coverage describing how the area around the listing was affected
  • Emails from local authorities advising you to evacuate, or warning you to stay away from the area

I did have some of those things, such as the news report I linked to above, but there was no way to provide them, and it turned out that I didn’t need to. Within 12 hours, I had received a response apologizing to me for the trouble, and offering a full refund, no questions asked. If you were planning to visit Austin for Gay Pride, and you canceled your plans, write to Airbnb and request a refund, even if your host (like mine) refused to provide one!

Regarding Austin Gay Pride, the parade has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 30th, and the festival will take place on Saturday, October 21st. It looks like I will miss the festival, but I do plan to make the parade!


Do I Need to Buy a Pass to Enjoy Southern Decadence?

Put simply: NO

The first thing I would tell you is that you DO NOT NEED TO BUY ONE OF THE PASSES—especially as a first-time visitor. The first time I was planning to attend, I worried about this and wondered if I should spring for one of the VIP packages at the Bourbon Pub, but please rest assured: you do not need a pass. Each venue has its own calendar of events for that weekend, and they each try to make it seem like you need a pass (guaranteed admission! No waiting in line!), but you can have a great time without ever attending any of those events. There are several websites claiming to be the “OFFICIAL” website, but that is just marketing. The official events take place in the streets and are free to everyone. You can simply pick and choose among the other events that take place over the weekend.

Corner Pocket New Orleans Southern Decadence VIP Pass

That said, some venues offer a pass that can save you some time waiting in line, as well as some money. Most of the venues charge a cover charge over SD weekend. Even the ones that are usually free or cheap begin to charge due to the overwhelming crowds. For example, Corner Pocket, a stripper bar with guys dancing on the bar, usually charges a $5 cover on the weekends. On the weekend of Southern Decadence, they might begin with $5 during the day (totally rough estimate there…they will adjust according to the crowds), but they might go up to $10 by 9:00, and they might be charging a $20 plus cover by 10:00 PM. And you may wait in a long line. As an alternative, they offer a weeklong pass ($40 in 2016, $50 in 2017) that guarantees that you get admitted without waiting in line. If you know that you are going to want to visit a specific venue every night, it could be worth your time to invest in a pass.

What to pack for a trip to New Orleans

I love New Orleans! It is honestly my favorite city to visit in the United States. The culture, the food, the architecture, and the feel of the place make it a wonderful place to spend a few days or a week, absorbing a culture that is unique to this awesome city. But there are some things you might want to know, and some things that you can take with you that will make your trip that much more enjoyable. I will put a list of items at the end of this article, but I first wanted to point out a few things you might not think of.

The first thing to know about New Orleans is that it is not only frequently very hot, it is also incredibly humid. Literally swampy. If you spend some time in the French Quarter, you will smell some smells that you have probably never smelled before! The constant humidity and warmth support lush and beautiful trees and plants, but they also support things like mold and mildew, so one of the things I recommend if you have regular or occasional allergies is an antihistamine. I use Zyrtec because it works for me, but that’s very much a personal thing, of course.

The second thing to know about New Orleans is that, because of the high humidity, your sweat will not evaporate as it normally does. You are quite likely to walk around and sweat and soak through your clothes. On my first visit, I had an absolute blast, but my clothes kept getting drenched in sweat, and I had only packed enough clothes for a regular weekend trip, so my next suggestion would be to pack extra clothes (and underwear and socks!) in case you want to stop back at your hotel or AirBNB and shower/change mid-day. I go to New Orleans at least three times a year (four already this year), and I always pack three full changes of clothes per day.

The wet underwear problem leads to my third suggestion. Again on my first trip, I experienced an extreme version of “chub rub”, exacerbated by the always-damp underwear and all of the walking I was doing. My inner thighs chafed like crazy, till they were red and raw and painful. I ended up walking with my legs spread, doing my best not to waddle. Changing into dry underwear a few times per day will help, but I was able to get rid of the problem completely by using something that I consider a miracle product: Body Glide. It’s not lubricant! It’s an anti-chafing stick such as those used by marathon runners or bikers to prevent friction chafing under their arms and between their legs. I actually use this produce EVERY DAY of the year now (TMI?), but it is especially necessary when you are planning to walk a lot in a humid location such as New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Disney World, Miami, or Key West. A little swipe of this stick on your inner thighs will prevent that painful chafing completely! It goes on thinly, so barely-there that you might wonder if it’s applying correctly. I can honestly say that in 10 years of using this product, I have never again experienced that awful problem. And if you ever forget to apply it and develop the beginnings of the dreaded rawness? You can apply it even AFTER the chafing has started, and it will stop it in its tracks, as well as alleviate the symptoms and give you some relief! I believe in this product so much that when discovered while I was packing for a recent trip that I was almost out, I panicked until I realized it was available in my area on Amazon Prime Now for same-day delivery. This is my #1 recommendation for you. I would never take a trip to New Orleans without this product!

You will definitely need some sweat-proof sunscreen. My favorite, that goes on smoothly and invisibly, is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face & Body Stick in SPF 70. This is a solid stick that comes in a package that is small enough to throw in a bag, or even in your pocket, if you are planning to spend hours in the sun. I apply it once before leaving in the morning, and then consciously attempt to spend as much time in the shade as possible (by crossing to the shady side of the street, hanging out under awnings or trees, etc.), and I am fine all day. If you are especially sweaty or if you are spending time at a place without shade like a festival or something, I would reapply it after a few hours.

The last item I recommend might not be for everyone, but it is definitely good for anyone who (like me) enjoys the drinking aspect of New Orleans. I use and highly recommend hangover prevention capsules. I have found the capsules called PreToxx to be highly effective. The product is a vitamin and herb blend that contains high-dose Vitamin B and Vitamin C, Magnesium and several other minerals, as well as some ingredients that are meant to support your liver, NAC (N-Acetyl L-Cysteine), Prickly Pear Fruit Extract, and Milk Thistle Seed Extract. You take 3 capsules BEFORE drinking, along with a glass of water, and then three more capsules AFTER you finish drinking, before bed, again along with a full glass of water. Simply drinking water will help to avoid a hangover, but I have used this product for a few years, and I personally believe (although I have not proof), that this product DOES do what it claims. On the few occasions where I have forgotten to take the capsules, I have suffered much worse hangover symptoms.

So, my master list of things you should pack when you are going to New Orleans, in addition to the things I mentioned above:

  • Extra shirts, underwear, and socks (more than you would normally pack for the number of days you will be in town.
  • SHORTS. Extra shorts if you sweat heavily like I do
  • Comfortable shoes that breathe
  • A hat or baseball cap, especially if you are planning to spend time in the sun
  • sunglasses
  • A swimsuit (most hotels have a pool here)
  • Beach Towel (frequently provided at the nicer hotels)
  • A book to read
  • A plastic tumbler and straw is handy if you want to save money on drinks by mixing them at your hotel (it is legal to carry around an alcoholic beverage in NOLA, as long as it is in a plastic container)
  • Sunscreen
  • Body Glide to avoid inner-thigh chafing
  • Hangover prevention pills
  • Antihistamine pills if you suffer from allergies, especially molds and plants

Basis by Elysium Health: My Experience After One Year

I previously wrote a post when I started using Basis by Elysium Health exactly one year ago today. I wanted to update with my experience using this product over the last year. My old post includes a link to request a working coupon code that will give you a FREE month with your first order–with a prepaid subscription of 6 months or longer. FYI, the discount will not show up in your cart until AFTER you have created an account by entering in your address, email address, etc.

My experience has overall been quite positive. It is a bit odd to try to quantify this, since it is almost entirely subjective. I prefer to use hard science when possible, but I have little in the way of evidence to offer (my numbers on my annual physical exam were better this year than last year, but I have also done other things such as cut sugar entirely out of my diet–no more cheat day!–in that time frame, and the numbers could just as easily be due to those positive changes). So, my anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of Basis boils down to this: I feel better. I think I look better (and many others agree). I actually turned 50 a few months ago, and people commonly tell me that they assumed I was in my late 30s. My skin seems to be slightly more elastic. I put on muscle a bit more easily ( I notice gains in the gym quickly). My endurance is heightened–I commonly do an hour on the elliptical when I visit the gym, with no difficulty (no shortness of breath and no lingering fatigue). I sleep better. I actually feel for the first time what people might call a “spring in my step”–I walk lightly and with ease–although this could of course be chalked up to the fact that I have developed stronger thighs and calf muscles. All of these things are inextricably linked, and I can’t narrow them down to any one factor (is the spring in my step due to Basis or due to the increased muscularity of my legs–and, if it is my leg muscles, are they bigger now because of the Basis? It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum).

Although I cannot say definitively that these positive changes are due to taking Basis, I can say that I believe that they are at least partly due to my year-long twice-daily dose of Basis. If you would like to try it for yourself, you can get a free month by contacting me and requesting an invitation.

Edit to say: sorry to anyone who has tried to contact me recently! I just discovered my contact form was not working correctly. Please try again.

Pure For Men Is Not a Scam, but It IS a Rip-off—Save Your Money!

If you have opened Grindr or spent much time looking at the gay press lately, you have probably seen some ads pop up for a new product called “Pure for Men”. It is a product that promises to “Keep your runway clear for landing” (a clever tag line—these guys are great at marketing—which is good, since the success of their product is mostly due to that marketing). Pure for Men is basically a bulking laxative that promises to make your bowel movements more easily and completely eliminated from your body, leaving your lower colon “clean”—and ready for bottoming. No more enemas or shower wands—several customers have said they just shower and they are good to go without any additional preparation.

Psyllium, Ground Flaxseed, and Ground Chia

Psyllium, Ground Flaxseed, and Ground Chia

Does Pure for Men work? Yes. It’s as simple as that. It is made from three natural and readily available products, Psyllium Husk (the main ingredient in many popular constipation remedies—Metamucil, for example), Chia Powder, and Flaxseed Powder. The product’s recommended dosage is 2 or 3 capsules, TWICE a day. The product has glowing reviews on Amazon, as well as on their own website.

So, I believe the product is effective, and I know that many people are happy with it (I can also personally attest that it has been effective for me), so it is definitely NOT a scam. But at the prices they are charging, I would say that it definitely qualifies as a rip-off, and I’m going to explain why, as well as explain how you can save yourself some money.

The amount of the “proprietary blend” of psyllium, chia, and flaxseed in each of the capsules is 750 mg. This makes the total amount of the product taken at one time 1500 or 2250 mg, depending on whether the customer chooses to take two or three capsules (and remember, you have to take these capsules twice each day). As of the date I am writing this, and for at least the last month or so, the price on Amazon has been $24.99 for 120 capsules, and $14.99 for 60 capsules. Taken at the rate of two capsules twice a day, the bottle of 120 would last for 30 days, and would cost 83 cents per day. If you opt for the 6 capsules per day route, that goes down to 20 days, or $1.25 per day. The smaller bottle has an even higher daily average cost ($1.00 per day at 4 capsules, $1.50 per day at 6 capsules). Given the amount of product in these capsules, and the actual cost of those readily-available products, this price is outrageous, and you can save yourself a ton of money and get the same results by simply mixing your own batch at home!

As mentioned previously, the main component of Pure for Men is plain old psyllium husk. I was able to purchase a very affordable 1.5 pound bag of ORGANIC psyllium husk on Amazon for $13.99. You can find it here (prices on Amazon update regularly in order for them to stay competitive, so the pricing may differ).  I also purchased a 3 pound bag of ground flaxseed for $13.65, and 10 ounces of organic ground chia seed for $7.84 (again, current pricing may differ).

At this point, I had to make some assumptions about the nature of Pure for Men’s “proprietary blend”. We know the three products they use, but we can use some educated guesses about their proportions. Because psyllium husk is the product most commonly used for this type of laxative/constipation product, and because it is listed first on the ingredients, it is safe to assume that the bulk of the blend is made up of psyllium husk. I assumed 60% psyllium husk, and 20% each for the other two items. If you are wondering what the reason is for including chia and flaxseed powders, we can actually look to the “questions and answers” section of the reviews on Amazon to see the answers that were posted directly by the makers of Pure for Men. They say, “Pure for Men also contains Chia and Flaxseed which are great sources of insoluble fiber – very important for the physical scrubbing-like cleaning that occurs as the supplement passes through your digestive tract.” In any case, both chia and flaxseed are known to be good for your body, with high levels of Omega-3s, so their inclusion here can only benefit you. I can also tell you that I have tried my formulation (instructions at the end) and that of Pure for Men, and the results seem identical to me.

Here comes the math! At my chosen 60/20/20 ratio, I mixed 1.5 pounds of psyllium husk ($13.99), .5 pounds of ground flaxseed ($2.28), and .5 pounds of ground chia seed ($6.27). The total cost of my batch of Pure for Men knockoff? $22.54. So, I now have 2.5 pounds of blended psyllium/chia/flaxseed. What do I do with it, and how does the cost compare to Pure for Men? Two point five pounds is equivalent to 1,134,980 milligrams. We know the dosage is two or three 750 mg capsules, so if we assume two capsules (1500 mg), the cost of the

1/4 teaspoon on the micro-scale

1/4 teaspoon on the micro-scale

same dose when you blend your own batch is 3 cents per dose or a total of 6 cents per day! At three capsules (2250 mg), the cost is 4.5 cents per dose, or 9 cents per day. That means the Pure for Men is charging you 14 or 15 TIMES what you would pay by mixing these ingredients yourself! For less than the cost of a single month of Pure for Men, you can mix up a batch of your own that will last you LONGER THAN A YEAR!

If you want to save yourself some money, here is how you can do it. Go to Amazon and buy the three products linked above (or smaller sizes, if you wish—there are plenty of options on amazon). I measured the ingredients two different ways, using sophisticated and accurate scales: by VOLUME and by WEIGHT, and I found that the density is practically negligible in this case—meaning you do not need a fancy scale, you can simply measure by volume. The easiest way to do this is to use an identical scoop for each of the items in the blend, and put three scoops of the psyllium, one scoop of the chia powder, and one scoop of the flaxseed powder, to achieve our desired 60/20/20 ratio. Once you have put the ingredients together, blend them thoroughly! I would stir them with a whisk for at least a minute to insure even distribution of all ingredients. I would freeze any leftover chia or flaxseed in an airproof container (they both have fats that will go rancid over time, especially if exposed to high temperatures or air or light). Once mixed, I put my blend into an airtight container, and I store it in the fridge.

3/4 teaspoon in the bottom of a pint glass

3/4 teaspoon in the bottom of a pint glass

The final hurdle is deciding how much to take. I have a very accurate scale that measures in 1 mg increments. However, we know that we do not have to be precise in this instance—it is not like this is actual medicine, where a tiny difference in dosage can have disastrous consequences. The makers themselves recommend anywhere between 1500 mg and 2250 mg per dose—quite a wide range! I used my scale to weigh the ingredients many different ways, and I came up with measurements that were very close by using the following method: for each capsule, assume that 750 mg is equal to a level ¼ teaspoon. I measured this multiple times, and every single time the weight of ¼ teaspoon fell between 717 mg and 789 mg. This is a 4.4% to 5 % margin of error, and in the case of psyllium (which in the case of Metamucil, for example, is dosed as “rounded teaspoons”—a completely, wildly inaccurate type of measurement!), this margin of error is entirely negligible. For the chia seed and flaxseed, which are often used as supplements in smoothies, and which make up only 20% of the total mixture, the variation is also completely negligible.

My blend mixed with small amount of water

My blend mixed with small amount of water

So: How to take this, since it is not in the admittedly handy capsules? I prefer to measure the mixture into a pint glass, add a small amount of water, stir quickly, and then down it like a shot. I then fill the glass with water, stir again to dislodge any leftover ingredients, and drink the remaining water (psyllium works by absorbing water and swelling up, so you should drink plenty of water after taking the supplement). Note: DO NOT LET THE MIXTURE SIT IN WATER! Psyllium absorbs the water quickly, and it turns into a thick, pasty, gooey, gel, and nobody wants to try to choke that down! Seriously, add the water, stir, and then down it within a few seconds! You can always avoid the gel effect by adding more water, but it will still be somewhat slimy in texture if you let it sit for long—I prefer to get it down quickly! Then follow up right after with more water to rinse it down.

Slimy Psyllium after sitting for two minutes--nobody wants this!

Slimy Psyllium after sitting for two minutes–nobody wants this! Please note–this should NEVER HAPPEN. This is why I say you should drink it QUICKLY, like a shot!

To measure the proper amount of the powder, you have several options you could use a ¼ teaspoon measuring spoon and measure two or three scoops, depending on your preference (remembering that one scoop is equivalent to one capsule). To make it easier, though, you can use a single ½ teaspoon measuring spoon to estimate two capsules, or you can buy a special measuring spoon set that includes a ¾ teaspoon measuring spoon (a rather uncommon size), and use a single scoop of that as an equivalent to 3 capsules (I use the ¾ teaspoon measurement myself, before breakfast and again before dinner.

I hope I have helped to save you some money, as well as helped to keep your runway clear 😉





Gay Guys on Dating Apps are So Sensitive

Guys on dating apps are so sensitive. They don’t seem to understand that it can’t always be a match. When I have to turn someone down, I always do it politely by saying “Sorry”, and then I go the extra step of following up with an “I statement” that makes clear that it is about me and not them. They never seem to appreciate my polite gesture. For whatever reason, “Sorry, I am not desperate” always sends them over the edge.

Baderbräu Brewery Taproom Now Open in the South Loop/Bronzeville Neighborhood of Chicago

The taproom at Baderbräu Brewery has finally opened after months of delay. I work nearby, and I have been keeping my eye on it for a year now. I was finally able to stop by and try a beer this afternoon and I enjoyed the space. The taproom does not offer food currently, but they do have menus available from several local area restaurants that will deliver. They had 10 beers listed on tap (only Baderbräu brews, no guest taps currently), but I believe that only 8 of them were actually available. Three of the beers were available in cans: Baderbräu Pilsener, South Side Pride, and High Noon, their hefeweizen. The space is modern and inviting, with many vintage touches, such as an original ad for “Leterstone Sales Co./Majestic Handle Co.” painted on the original brick exterior of the building (now part of the interior–you will pass it on the stairs as you climb to the second-floor taproom).

Baderbrau picnic tables

The seating area at Baderbrau Brewery


Baderbrau mural

Baderbrau mural

As you enter the business, it may not be immediately apparent where to go. I was left wondering if they were actually open as I walked in, even though they have a large “now open” banner on the exterior of the building. There is a kind of bare-bones entryway and no signage to direct you. To find the taproom, you will walk through the entry area and climb the stairs all the way to the left, then pass by a glassed-in seating area with tables and chairs to the left of the stairs (I originally thought this might be the taproom), and turn to the right at the top of the stairs and walk down a wood-lined hallway. The taproom is quite large, almost gymnasium-sized, and it has graffiti-style murals along the wall that looks down over the actual brewery operation. There are picnic style tables, a seating area with couches and club chairs, and barstools at the bar. The west wide of the building has large windows that look over a vacant lot near State Street.

Baderbrau Beer Menu

Baderbrau Beer Menu

I tried their Veloci-Radler, which they describe as the “beer-mosa”. It was light and citrusy and refreshing after a morning spent in the garden. The remaining taps listed included the three canned beers mentioned above, Naked Selfie (black IPA), MyBOCK (just guessing that this is their Maibock style beer), Lawnmower Lager (one of the beers they currently market in bottles at local Whole Foods Markets and other grocers), and EZ Squeezie (All Day IPL). The two beers that were listed buy not currently available were Red Velvet (described as a big, bold bock), and Blizza!, an unfiltered, hoppy lager.

Behind the bar at Baderbrau

Behind the bar at Baderbrau

I was served by owner and founder Rob Sama, and he mentioned to me that they plan to offer an Oktoberfest beer during that season. I look forward to trying it. I also look forward to bringing a group of coworkers to the taproom for an after-work happy hour. It seems like a perfect space for that kind of gathering.

The Baderbräu Taproom is located at 2515 S Wabash Ave in Chicago. The street directly in front of the entrance is permit-parking only, so be sure to check the signage carefully before parking your car.

Vintage AdWindown Looking down over Brewery

On Fat-Shaming Wentworth Miller and Taylor Lautner in the Gay Community

I was inspired by a post I read by out gay actor Wentworth Miller last month, in which he broke down the things that were going on in his personal life at the time a photo was snapped of him that showed some weight gain. The photo was later turned into a cruel meme. He revealed in his powerful letter that he had been suicidal at the time the photo was taken. It is a visceral, emotionally raw piece of writing, and it is well worth a read.

A few weeks later, I saw another fat-shaming meme, but this time aimed specifically at the gay community. It featured young heartthrob Taylor Lautner from the Twilight Series. It shows a young and very fit Taylor on one side under the heading “Single Gay”, then the post-weight-gain Taylor on the right under the heading “Taken Gay”. The implication, of course, is that people take care of themselves and look “good” when they are looking for a mate, but once they pair off, they let themselves go.

Taylor Lautner Fat Shaming Meme Single vs Taken Gay

I reacted negatively to this meme, but I dismissed it as silly, and I saw it only in passing–none of my friends had posted it or shared it. Today, however, I ran into an updated version that an actual friend had shared on Facebook. The “Single Vs Taken” heading was gone, this time replaced by “When Twilight is finally over and so is your career”. In addition to the change in heading, an additional visual pun was added in the form of a fierce looking CGI wolf, compared to a very fat dog.

Taylor Lautner Fat Shaming Twilight Meme

This led to an exchange where I expressed surprise that my friend was stooping to fat-shaming, and a discussion that led me to understand that my friend thought my objection was because I didn’t know that the guy in the pic was Taylor Lautner from Twilight. I had actually been sort of puzzling this over in my mind, but the discussion clarified it for me: Is it possible that some people understand why fat-shaming someone like Wentworth Miller is wrong (because he is a well-respected actor and writer/director, and a valued member of the gay community), but they dismiss it when it is someone like Taylor Lautner because he is less respected, due to his stature as an actor and/or his association with the much-scorned Twilight series? Perhaps because he is young? Twink-ish?

In the case of Wentworth Miller, he spoke up for himself. The Lad Bible, the website that actually produced the cruel meme, took it down and issued a formal apology to Mr. Miller. I was not able to find any reaction from Mr. Lautner regarding the meme in which he is featured. The second meme, which hinges on his career being “over”, is also inaccurate: Mr. Lautner reportedly gained the extra weight that is revealed in his recent photos for a role in a movie. Extreme weight gain and loss in the service of a role is the province of serious actors (see Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull, Tom Hanks in Castaway, or Christian Bale in The Machinist). Perhaps the weight gained by Mr. Lautner is his stab at being considered a serious actor. Yet, due to his association with something frivolous and even girly like Twilight, many of his fans (and detractors), assume that the fact that he has gained some weight means that he must now be unemployable.

My take on the whole thing is this: It is not OK to fat-shame someone, no matter who they are. Whether they are young or old, serious or goofy, Well-respected or maligned, fat-shaming is wrong. In every case.

The Best Dishwasher for a Small Apartment–I Love this Thing!

When Idishwasher showing perfect fit on cart was looking for a new apartment in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, I saw many options at many different price points, based primarily on size and amenities. I consider a dishwasher a non-negotiable, must-have item, though, because I absolutely hate to do the dishes, and I hate having them clutter up the sink or counter. I had previously rented a beautiful vintage apartment that came without a dishwasher, and on that occasion, I solved the problem by purchasing a full-size roll-away dishwasher. I later sold it on Craiglist for almost what I had paid for it, when I moved to an apartment that came with a built-in dishwasher.

My favorite apartment, and the one I ended up renting, was not only the largest apartment I looked at, it was also the cheapest, mainly because it was vintage. Although it had an updated kitchen and bath, it did NOT have a diswasher. However, it was approximately $400 per month CHEAPER than the other options I had viewed, and I knew from previous experience that roll-away dishwashers work very well. Because the kitchen was somewhat small, though, I decided to go with a smaller, counter-top dishwasher. I chose the white SPT Countertop Dishwasher from Amazon (I paid the very cheap price of $219–it was definitely worth it to save $400 per month in rent)!  I had a few doubts about the thing, related to its quality and its size, but I have had it for six months now, and I can say without a doubt that I am very happy with it. The wash function works perfectly, just like a full-size dishwasher. It is about half the size of a normal dishwasher because it has only one level instead of two, but I live alone, so I really don’t need a full-size dishwasher (and if you have the space and think you would need a larger dishwasher, I still recommend the larger one that I had before).

faucet fitting

The Fitting on the Faucet

host attachment

The hose attachment

collar pushed down

The collar pushed down

If you are unfamiliar with this type of dishwasher, it works by attaching to the faucet in your kitchen sink. There are two attached hoses, one that takes clean water from your faucet, and one that drains the dirty dishwater into the sink so that it can go down the drain. There is an included faucet attachment that fits any standard faucet–simply screw off the aerator on the faucet, and screw on the fitting, and when you are  ready to wash the dishes, it is as simple as pushing down a small collar to secure the water supply/drain line onto the fitting.  There are four tension bearings in the collar, and when you release it, the tension creates a watertight seal to the fitting. After you have attached the hose, just turn on the water and you are ready to go!


It did take some practice to learn how to load the dishwasher most efficiently, but the instructions include a handy guide that does work if you follow it. The only thing this dishwasher cannot handle is a very large charger plate or platter. I regularly wash my 13″ by 9″ baking dish in it.dishwasher on cart

The one thing that I discovered after getting the dishwasher is that I did not like using it on my countertop. I hated giving up that space permanently. I searched around and found a cart that works perfectly with the size and shape of the base of this dishwasher (most carts are too narrow to support it levelly, which is important for the drainage)! The cart I chose is the Seville Classics Stainless Steel cart. It works perfectly with the SPT dishwasher, and I am very happy with having my counter back. The cart also comes in a sturdier medium size version with a bamboo top, and that would have been my choice if my kitchen were just a little bit bigger, since it has solid shelves and looks nicer.

NOTE: Please be aware that Amazon sells a “silver” version of this same item. It does NOT have a Stainless Steel finish–it is simply silver in color, in the same way that this one is white.

BASIS by Elysium Health (including coupon code)

EDIT: If you want to receive the coupon code to receive a FREE MONTH of Elysium Basis, which is only available to friends and family, please contact me to request the link, and I will email it to you as soon as I can. Basis has changed the discount…it is no longer $10 off the first month. They are now offering a FREE month with any prepaid subscription of 6 months or 1 year. The current cost of a six month subscription is $45, which is a 25% discount off the $60 price for a single month. Combined with the free month, that brings the monthly cost down to $38.57, a significant savings.

I recently saw an article about BASIS by Elysium Health. The gist of the article is that one of the world’s Elysium BASIS anti aging supplementleading experts on aging, MIT biology professor Lenny Guarente, has banded together with some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to bring to market a product that he believes has a great deal of potential to slow the process of aging in the human body. The process of taking his drug through human trials as part of the FDA approval would take years and be very expensive, so he has chosen to get it to market by an alternate method–by packaging it as a supplement rather than as a drug, because the supplement market is much less regulated.

Instead of the actual drug, the supplement he is selling contains a precursor of the drug that allows your own body to manufacture the ultimately desired compound, which is NAD+, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. NAD+ occurs naturally in the body, but the amount of NAD+ drops steadily as people age, and an elderly person has approximately half the amount of NAD+ that would be present in a younger person’s body. The decline is similar in mice. In a study with mice, relatively elderly mice (two years old) were given NAD+, and in only one week, the tissues in their bodies appeared to be younger, similar to an adult six-month old mouse in its prime.

In order to be considered a supplement, the product has to be a naturally-occurring. The people at Elysium have chosen to include only two ingredients in their product: nicotinamide riboside 250mg (the precursor that the body will use to make its own supply of NAD+), and pterostilbene 50mg, which is a naturally-occurring polyphenol that can be found in blueberries (and which is similar to resveratrol, but which Dr. Guarente believes has the potential to be much more effective than Resveratrol at combating the effects of aging).

I was immediately interested in this product, because it does seem to have an excellent pedigree, and to be backed up with hard science, unlike many other products on the supplement market. I decided to look into the two components to see if I could beat the product’s $50 per month cost (the cost if you subscribe using the pay-as-you-go method–the product can be less expensive if you pay for a six month supply or a full year’s supply up front). What I found is that on Amazon, nicotinamide riboside costs almost as much as Elysium’s BASIS product, and when you add the cost of pterostilbene, it actually exceeds the cost of BASIS. Add to that the fact that the people at Elysium have stated that they use state-of-the-art production methods, that their product is pharmaceutical-grade, and that they plan to do their own regular safety and quality-control testing, and ordering directly from the folks at Elysium (which is the only way to get the product–they are not making it available through any other channels) became an easy choice to make. When an eminent scientist puts his reputation on the line by backing a product, that carries some weight with me.

I was not able to find a working coupon code to use, so I signed up for the full $50 per month cost (shipping is free), but I was able to register on the Elysium website and get a discount code to share. It used to get you $10 off your first purchase, but the terms of the offer have now changed. It currently gets you a free month with any prepaid subscription. I’m happy to be able to share the free month with friends and family. You can simply contact me to ask for it and I will send you the link as soon as I am able (please note: the discount will not show in the shopping cart until AFTER you have created an account using your email, address, etc.).

Will the product work? I can’t say for sure, not only because I haven’t received my first shipment yet, but because I’m not sure this is going to be the kind of thing that is actually noticeable anyway. How would I be able to tell if my cells are feeling any younger? In a way, I think it’s probably the kind of thing that you will just have to take on faith. But I have seen some reports that people have felt more energy after taking the product, including in that Fast Company Exist article that I linked to back at the top. If I feel more energetic, I’ll definitely consider that an excellent side benefit!