Glorious spring has finally arrived, and despite the rather mild winter us BC-ershave enjoyed these past several months, (while the lucky ones ice-climb Niagra Falls and dig themselves out of their snow-trapped houses), we can’t help but smile at the induction of spring. Easter, a hallmark of the season, is just around the corner. When many of us think of Easter we either think: fabulous, scrumptious brunch buffet, quality family time conversing around the table, pastel colors and festive spring designs or hunting for those notorious chocolate eggs. Oh yeah. And then there’s the part about the resurrection of Christ. Yes, there’s something very juxtaposing about this rather peculiar holiday. For many, Easteris a non secular holiday – an excuse to eat more chocolate (as if we didn’t have get our fair share at Christmas and Valentine’s). However for others, Easter is one of the most important of all religious holidays. So how do we, as a society, reconcile the paradoxical idea of a large bunny hoping around delivering chocolate eggs in a made-to-look-like-bird-nest-basket during the night for all the little boys and girls,with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? While most of us follow and accept these peculiar customs without a second thought, (as they are so well ingrained in our commercial culture), if we were to actually take a moment to think about why, we would find that ironically, bunnies and eggs enjoy a close symbolic relationship with Eastertide. (more…)
In this emerging world of Food Inc.-enthused, health-conscious pundits, (where magazine articles have made experts of us all in one way or another), the demand for more fresh, organic, locally-sourced and naturally-derived products has given birth not just to the hipster movement, (yes, love it or hate it) but to a whole new breed of thinkers and doers. For the first time in decades, we, the consumer, have regained some kind of control over our food source by choosing to buy or not to buy certain products. In doing so, we bear witness to the vast social, environmental, political and fiscal implications of such power projected on a global scale. It’s taken a little bit of time, but slowly we’re learning and growing, building our houses out of much stronger materials. First hay, then sticks, now bricks. For better or worse, the Information Age, has opened our hearts and minds to the endowment of knowledge, making three very healthy, nut-raised, antibiotic-free porkers out of our three little piggies and one, terrible big bad wolf from the GMO food industry. (more…)
Traveling is wonderful no matter how you do it, but there’s something really special about traveling solo. The first time I did it I was much younger, and although I was excited I was nervous, too. I didn’t need to be, and you don’t either; in fact, I can assure you without reservation that everyone needs to travel alone, regularly if possible, but at least once. Here’s why.
It’s All About You
We should all be ourselves all of the time, but most of us fail at this at least some of the time when surrounded by other people who want or need things from us. Traveling solo, especially far from home, you can be yourself, and you don’t care who knows it. Being able to act, eat, dress, and say whatever you feel like replenishes your reserves. (more…)
If nothing sounds more exciting to you than the constant, adrenaline-fueled night life of the casino, then this is your ultimate guide. Casino Chic is in full force for millions around the world, and these are the absolute best destinations worldwide for lovers of the lifestyle. Check out our list of best casinos worldwide.
Macau: City of Dreams
For the adults-only, high-end experience, spend some time at the City of Dreams on the Cotai Strip, certainly one of the best casinos worldwide. Its chief competitor, the Venetian, provides the family-friendly experience, which might detract from the whole if you’re a real aficionado. The City of Dreams boasts 420,000 square feet of space filled with lush décor and around 400 gaming tables and 1,300 gaming machines. Play baccarat, big wheel, blackjack, sic bo, fan tan, craps, whatever you like. See the hot TABOO cabaret show and watch the Red Dragon, the biggest poker tournament in Asia, which takes place every month. (more…)
Although most of us aren’t in school anymore, Spring Break is still a fantastic time to travel. By traveling during Spring Break you take advantage of the beautiful, temperate weather in most places, and avoid the summer travel crush. Check out our list of best Spring Break trips right now–aside from the obvious, Penticton Lakeside Resort!–for different ways to spend your week.
Best Spring Break Trips On A Shoestring
Who doesn’t need to save a buck here and there? You can enjoy a fabulous Spring Break trip without blowing your budget. Our pick? Sanibel Island, Florida. Spring Break falls within the high season for the area, but you can save money by avoiding the resorts and instead renting a condo for the week or finding a basic hotel. And one of the best ways to enjoy the island is also the cheapest: on a rented bike. (more…)
Have you ever looked up at the planets and stars littering our night skies and wondered what it would be like to travel among them? To abscond from the familiars of our Mother’s green and blue cradle, and retrace an interplanetary narrative that began 4.5 billion years ago? Imagine your life, a rogue earthling, funneling through the starry abyss in an ambit of alien landscapes and bottomless pockets of unknown. How would you feel, leaving everything behind, without the gravity of correlation or context? Life, redefined by a whole new set of doctrines and languages would work to redefine you. The daily, leaping in a weightless state from one exotic to the next, fast becoming a series of inexplicable exploits. Perhaps you are consumed with a fearful sort of pride. After all, you were one among a few chosen to participate in a revolutionary, unprecedented human experiment, setting you on a one-way trajectory through space. Blazing trail for the rest of your species, you are a kind of martyr. You gave up a lot to be here. Walks in the rain, breeze on your face, sounds of birds, cars, airplanes – now the echoes of a past life that haunt an endless horizon of undulating rubble. Prints left in red dust by your space suit mark the successions of your own relativism. Nothing in space is absolute. It is the final frontier and the great leveler. Out here, humanity is not what it used to be. Instead, it is pared down to a thickening reduction. The flavour, always on the tip of your tongue, no matter how much hot water you add to the freeze fried mush you’ve been consuming for the past year. You don’t belong here, and yet, here you are – defying all odds in Total Recall tribute, living outside intuition and common sense by the paradox that gave birth to the dream of the red planet. The red planet. Mars. Your new home. Named after the Roman god of war, you get the sense he’s never too far away. Your eyes scan the combat zone of your new life. From the moment you landed, Mars has challenged you unlike you’ve ever been challenged before. Perhaps this place may just be your redeemer. Or maybe your destroyer. You think about the ones you left behind. (more…)
Distrust in the news media is not simply an extrinsic phenomenon. Recent shock and awe over false claims of deposed MSNBC news anchor, Brian Williams, is a powerful reflection of a much greater, systemic issue. Misplaced trust in corporate news journalism and our inherent need to openly credit any powerful institution, (mistaking power for legitimacy) proves symptomatic of a deeper social discord. The cultural degradation we’ve been experiencing over the last several decades comes with the rising tide of an Information Revolution. Economic, social and technological trends have propelled globalization into new, freak-show heights. The internet, microtechnology, mobile technology and reality TV, have altogether successfully blurred the lines between authenticity and delusion, sucking news media and journalism into its black hole. Personal opinion has made pundits of us all, dominating the news in a need for aggrandizement and melodrama. Even Hollywood, has poked fun at the political underbelly of this social discord, treating Dan Gilroy’s neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler, as a sort of, inflated exposé behind the dismal reality of news broadcasting. Dogged by the relentless self-interest of oligarchical media giants, who control 90% of what we read, watch and listen to, (GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS) profit over news serves as sensationalism in an all-out ratings war. Feeding an addiction to drama by a public jacked up on sports and pop culture, news media distracts from the real, effecting issues of our time, disengaging an otherwise uninformed and ignorant public. While religion controlled the populous through doctrine, language and institution in antiquity, news media labours to controls the majority through distraction and sensationalism in the 21st century.
No longer a safe house for receiving instructional, illuminating information about local and global current affairs, news broadcasting has become a petrie dish of the latest silver screen gossip, crime, and the kind of personal anecdotes one would associate with Reader’s Digest. Instead of galvanizing the public with facts, news broadcasting has turned everything into a hyperbolic human interest story, falling victim to our current cultural shift from realism to surrealism. Where do point the finger in this cat and mouse game? Is it Brian Williams’ fault? MSNBC? Microsoft? Time Warner? Mark Zuckerberg? Or is it us? In this funnel of supply and demand, we are all siphoned into caricatures of our selves; our lives simulated by social media platforms, endless data streaming and the constant uploading of information. Within this divide between dream and reality, there arrives a frightening conclusion: We are no longer able to reconnect. Politics, current global affairs, education, the environment, food, friendships, relationships, ourselves – the world of senses and intellect is fast becoming lost upon the breakwater of our cheap information addiction. We don’t care how we get it, or what we’re getting, so long as it stimulates our central nervous system into a feel-good frenzy. Animated gifs of hamsters playing on pianos, blogs about the latest smoothie diets, viral Youtube videos of men dancing in women’s underwear- this is what we want. After all, what could be more of a downer than hearing about the details of federal election platforms, the global warming crisis, foreign policy, and the war in the middle east? News networks have their work cut out for them. (more…)
Cue the fuchsia, the roses, the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and candies and themed teddy bears. Strike up the jewelry store sales and advertisements, the feverish restaurant frenzy and commercial hoard. As is modern day mercantile tradition, when the opportunity strikes, holiday spectacle intercedes a furious greed. We, the shopper, the consumer, in typical fashion, stuff ourselves sick with Valentine’s Day commercialism in a frantic tender to qualify ourselves with “things” and “doing.” The puppeteers of industry, pulling strings, move hastily and with purpose. They line their pockets with as much holiday gold as they can muster. And so we revisit a familiar Valentine’s montage year in and year out: everyone trying to capitalize on the aftermath of Christmas climax in a bid to escape the post coital tristesse of the New Year. The grace period given between Christmas and the advent of Valentine’s is all but non existent. While shops and store fronts remove Christmas trees, holiday lights and tinsel, pink and red hearts are carted in to swiftly replace them. It’s hard not to grimace. Not to turn away and focus on a solitary point somewhere beyond the blur of mulberry. This unfolding cyclic procession is draped in synthetic livery, like the bitter aftertaste one gets after consuming Pepsi White. It leaves you with a metallic tongue, as if you just sucked on a quarter – (a quarter with lots of lovely heart shapes loitering its head and tail). Why do we always have to turn something beautiful into something so ugly? Perhaps more poignant is our authentic vivacious love for the ugly. Why are we attracted to the manufactured devolution of meaning? It’s clear that part of our nature demands a certain amount of kitsch. We need the shiny wrapping paper, the bows, the pomp and circumstance, the cartoonish caricature of life. Holiday commercialism, as a kind of philosophical, emotive narcotic, helps to ease our suffering within the narrow boundaries of its own religion. For a brief moment in time, it reduces the impossible proportions of reality into small, manageable pieces. The “high” we get from holiday commercialism endeavors to condense all that we don’t know into something we think we can comprehend. But isn’t there something more subtle, more sensitive and thoughtful to behold on Valentine’s and during other commercial holidays a part from the proselyting malarky? Something less cynical, less fabricated and more organic?
No one denies the importance of celebration and festivity. For as long as human beings have been present in the world’s consciousness there has been occasion for revelry. Human awareness has been and continues to be made manifest by the celebration of life as it is experienced by us: the movement of moments, the rites of passage, the marking of time, the evolution, the progression. Within the arch of our journey that take us up over the rainbow and beyond, we remember and we reflect. These observations of past, present and future, have been our way of adapting and configuring the world without to fit comfortably in a world within. Historically, St. Valentine’s Day takes root in liturgical celebration, coined after one or more early Christian saints, Valentinus. Despite there being numerous Christian martyrs by that name, the Valentine’s Day we celebrate today commiserates more specifically, Valentine of Rome, a martyr priest, buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14th, AD 496. The site, along with the date, February 14th, remained an important day of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages in celebration of sacrifice. However when poet and writer, Geoffrey Chaucer emerged on the literary scene in the High Medieval Period, fanciful association by poetic meter converted Valentine’s Day into romantic alchemy, propagating the then, current tradition of courtly love. Many poets and writers were quick to follow suit, denoting the mating of birds and love with St. Valentine’s Day. The earliest description of February 14th as an annual celebration of love, appears in the Charter of the Court of Love, at the turn of the 15th century. Allegedly issued by Charles VI of France, the charter illustrates lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court, including a feast, romantic song and poetry competitions, and jousting and dancing. By the 18th century, circulated published works had captivated British audiences with scores of suggestive sentimentality, while “Mechanical Valentines” were being printed in limited number as cards, transcribing romantic and provocative thoughts and sketches. These “Mechanical Valentines,” so appropriately named, foreshadowed a mid-19th century Valentine’s Day trade, which heralded the proliferation of commercialized holidays in North America that were soon to follow.
So what do take from the history of Valentine’s Day? An evolution of love and sacrifice played out throughout the centuries in our churches, our royal courts, our literature and our homes. A need to celebrate and reflect – to rejoice in the bounty of friendship and connection that love gives us, and to pay respect to the determination and sacrifice that is required of us when we love. Amorphous and sometimes vague in all it’s glaring clarity, love assumes any shape we assign to it – be it a rose or heart-shaped box or teddy bears clad in pink and red, its meaning is transcribed in thought and being that presupposes any material “thing.” Not just reserved for lovers alone, Valentine’s transcends all manners of love – the love of a pet, the love of our children, our country, our mothers and fathers…our families. So rather than be shameful of its habit, why not revel in its glory, and take heart to honor Valentine culture and meaning as we should do with other holiday traditions. Regardless of whether or not the commercialism of any holiday is warranted, it is important we are aware of its purpose and make informed choices through insight. Consciously controlling the flow of commercial superfluousness as something that enhances rather than defines, we can take joy and satisfaction in its gimmick. Whether we’ve planned that luxurious weekend getaway, or dinner for two or four, or simply choose to sit in one another’s company and share a laugh and good cheer, on February 14th, we have the opportunity to pause and reflect, and to honour our love.
Many of us fill up our 4000 pound earth-bound steel rockets at the pump each week, watching the numbers tick by like a rolling slot machine – illusive and liquidic. Liters, gallons, miles, kilometers, fuel efficiency, fuel costs, fracking, barrels, crude oil, dry oil…the wash of information coming at you is like the innumerable waves of radiation emanating our smartphones, iPads and laptops. It’s enough to befog any real acumen – what the hell is actually going on? In truth, we have little control over what goes into our vehicles and what comes out, (primarily the stack of dollar bills emptying our money clips and making the shine on our plastic a little less shiny). Sure we can choose to buy smaller vehicles, more environmentally-friendly electric, battery or flex fuel alternatives, but at the end of the day, the majority of drivers worldwide, (even those self-professed “petrol heads,”) are vulnerable to those political magnets creating currents of economic attraction and repulsion. So what’s the truth behind the oscillating oil prices? Where does our oil come from and who decides how much it will cost us every time we reach for the nozzle and begin fueling? Given the dramatic decrease in gas prices over the past several months, its probable, and not without reason, that one might be inclined to utter that cringe-worthy, hackneyed word – conspiracy. After all, something about the whole gas and oil industry wreaks grotesquely of ulterior motive, (we all remember those weapons of mass destruction?). Covert always lends itself well to paranoia and tin foil hats. There’s a reason something needs covering up, isn’t there? So while most of us can appreciate on some level that not everything we read about or hear about in the news is completely the whole truth and nothing but the truth, what does that leave us with?
The petrol narrative is rooted in political and economic maneuvering coupled with market speculation based on market trends, market value and consumerism. And if that doesn’t mean a whole lot to you just think: it’s all about YOU. You are the euphemism. You are the cause and the effect. As a consumer, you’re not just “in the mix” but at the very centre of it, holding up the house of cards comprised of jacks, queens and aces bedecked in price movements, currencies, investors, and a whole other whack-load of sticky icky implications you probably didn’t want to get your hands dirty with in the first place. The domino effect of the price of oil can be drastic and far-reaching, resulting in either significant revenue shortfalls or gains for many energy exporting and importing nations. So before we dive into conjecture and theory, let’s review the facts. For nearly five years, world oil prices have remained relatively stable, at around $110 a barrel. However since June, 2014, oil prices have fallen exponentially, dropping a staggering 40%, resulting in US crude falling below $50 a barrel. While many political pundits and economists will tell you that market prices rely on supply and demand and speculation, this might be the time when you eyebrows meet each other in a confused stupor. Don’t worry. You’re not feebleminded. Oil prices that drop at the speed of sound, (the sound of SUV drivers uniting and rejoicing that is) can’t just be the result of current supply and demand. Tesla is good, but not that good.
OPEC, (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) which accounts for roughly 40% of global crude oil production, was recently quoted by its secretary general, Abdalla Salem el-Badri saying that declines are largely due to speculation by traders in the market, rather than an oversupply. However many Westerners are more inclined to believe that an increase in global oil, primarily competition from the United States shale oil production, has forced OPEC’s hand. That is, to keep oil prices down in a, “starve them out” siege and conquer stratagem. This tactic would also extend to one of its chief member’s regional rivals, Iran. While some estimates posit that Iran needs oil at $136 a barrel to finance its spending plans, others contend Saudi Arabia only requires the price of oil to be at $99.20 or less a barrel to break even. Moreover, with a multibillion-dollar reserve on the back of budget surpluses, the Saudis and other OPEC nations can easily hold out for several years if the price of oil drops well below these figures. Last month Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies announced it will not decrease its rate of oil production, despite steadily decreasing global oil prices. Following the announcement, the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil benchmark price fell below $66 per barrel – right in the sweet spot that OPEC hopes will check U.S. oil production. However it’s not just Iran or the US that could feel the brunt of this price spiral. Russian President, Vladimir Putin was recently quoted saying, “at some moments of crisis it starts to feel like it is the politics that prevails in the pricing of energy resources.” While neither the United States nor Russia are a part of OPEC, it is plausible that OPEC is engaging in a two front attack, targeting its biggest competitors in the hopes that it will force higher-cost shale producers out of the market. While many non-OPEC countries, Canada included, are guilty of stealing some of the Saudi’s market share, it may very well be argued that OPEC is simply trying to stay relevant in a rather volatile global market with increasing oil production and supplies.
Another conspiracy theory posits revenge politics: the Saudis and Americans joining forces to deliberately target and take down Vladimir Putin for his support of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and it’s unilateral involvement in Eastern Ukraine, (the 1973 oil crisis comes to mind here). For every dollar fall in the price of oil, it is estimated Russia loses roughly $2 billion in revenue, and the World Bank has cautioned that if oil prices do not recover in 2015, Russia’s economy will shrink by at least 0.7%. Despite this, Russia, like OPEC, has also confirmed that it will not cut oil production in a bid to retain its niche market. With dramatic spikes in interest rates, a troubled rouble, and global economic sanctions, Russia could be in serious trouble, which means serious trouble for Mr. Putin.
So what does this all translate into? A game of chicken or chess for these political leaders at the expense of their government’s economies and oil companies? Perhaps. Market speculation based on an estimate of over-supply or a drop in consumer demand? Perhaps. Revenge politics? Maybe. The truth? Found betwixt propaganda, self-interest, tolerance and conspiracy. Increased efficiency, smaller, more fuel-efficient and economic cars and a lesser demand on the global market. Competition from the United States, Russia and other non-OPEC nations. The Saudis and their Gulf allies maintaining their market share and relevancy. A bid to gain political global primacy and hegemony. Although the future economic effects of the plummeting oil prices on particular oil-reliant countries remain unclear, what is certain is that the consumer, (you) – the one driving the market, the supply and demand and paying or not paying for the oil in the first place, will have more money to spend on other sectors of the economy with higher confidence. But this doesn’t mean now that we all jump on the Cadillac Escalade bandwagon and go petrol-happy. Instead, we should take time to understand what’s behind our supply and demand, make smarter consumer choices, educated ourselves on what exactly drives us to buy and not buy, and where the actual truth lies- within the mainstream media and the backdoor conspiracy theories, in this case, the truth is rooted somewhere in them all.
Despite the festive hymns and carols serenading our radio waves and those paradoxical heartfelt messages from cinematic and media mainstream, the holiday season continues as a hallmark for consumer commercialism. Events like Black Friday, (recently imported to Canada from the United States) and Boxing Day are, in many ways, indicators of what Christmas has become. And yet, at the same time, we must reconcile that Christmas would not be the same without the hustle and bustle of our malls and stores, the chanting of cash registers cha-chinging our gingerbread lattes into the night, and the emotional and fiscal investments in holiday hoopla from music albums, to clothing, to kitsch decorations and thematic paraphernalia. Let’s face it. Deeply intertwined with the spirit of Christmas is holiday commercialism. Its market hangs the bows, strings gleaming lights, decorates trees, cooks and bakes, and dangles those stockings by the fire. As much as we might not like to admit it, living in the throws of a commercially-driven society, much of what we do and who we are is influenced by the marketplace. Christmas is no exception. From the big to the small, the rich to the poor, all of us, consciously or subconsciously collectively agree to this cyclic arrangement of spending, buying, receiving and giving. It is arguably, part and parcel of our social contract, something that extends to all facets of our lives, from education to the workplace, to healthcare and the home. And yet, there is an obscenity about consumerism during the holidays that we all observe. A profane indecency that takes away from the gleaming display of Christmas in our windows and our hearts, mocking the very essence of what it’s all about.
Identifying commercial boundaries may be more about personal, intuitive checks and balances than about creating Big Brother government surveillance over holiday spending. Of course this does not just pertain to Christmas, but to an all season way of life. How far do we allow the coy underbelly of marketing, advertising, media and pop culture to affect our daily lives? When and where do we draw the line? That thin line between safe spending and obscene consumerism looks very differently for all of us. While many are perfectly fine with the frenzy of Boxing Day, embracing the shopping hysteria, others believe Boxing Day to be a vulgar misuse of the holiday spirit, exploiting the worst aspects of our nature. So what can we collectively concede about the presence of Boxing Day and other spectacles like it within the context of the holidays? Is it just as vulgar as opening the hoard of presents on Christmas Day, or is holiday shopping for Christmas Day reserved for a special, privileged judgement, (being that it is in celebration of Christ, the spirit of giving, good will, and hallowed saints)? One way or another, it’s important to understand the origin of holidays like Boxing Day within a historical and modern day context, to decide whether it serves to hinder or uphold the holiday spirit.
The exact origins of Boxing Day are not decisive. As with many historical customs that we continue to observe today, such as Halloween, holidays like Boxing Day are likely a culmination of several historical events and practices that have evolved over time to take their own shape and place within the lexicon of modern day society. Etymologically speaking, the term, Boxing Day may derive from a common European practice dated to the Middle Ages, when employers, masters and benefactors would give servants, subordinates and tradesmen gifts known as “Christmas Boxes” on the day after Christmas. Likewise, the term, Boxing Day may be in reference to the Alms Box, which was given to places of worship in order to collect donations for the poor. A similar connection may even derive from a late Roman/early Christian custom where placing metal boxes outside churches would help to collect special offerings in relation to the Feast of Saint Stephen, (a religious holiday, which in the Western Church, falls on the same day as Boxing Day).
Despite the secular and religious connotations associated with the Bank holiday, in the Commonwealth countries, Boxing Day is primarily renowned as a shopping celebration. A time when most stores post sales with drastically reduced items and discounts that generate overwhelming crowds and impossible queues, Boxing Day is favored by social media and news outlets as an opportunity to relay a melodramatic tale of commercial hysteria. Recent years has seen Boxing Day grow to include an entire “Boxing Week”, where sales extend several days before and after December 26th. In a last ditch effort to try and preserve the true purpose of Boxing Day as a Christmas holiday for family time, relaxation and recuperation, regions in parts of Northern Ontario and Atlantic Canada have prohibited retailers from opening on Boxing Day, either by provincial law or municipal bylaw. Likewise, in the Republic of Ireland, most shops have remain closed on Boxing Day, (observed as St. Stephen’s Day) since 1902. Sales however are, in most cases, postponed to December 27th, to continue the commercial hype of what has become an annual shopping day mecca.
In light of excessive holiday spending, in the form of Christmas commercialism and Boxing Day delirium, perhaps we need to rethink and redraw our boundary lines. While we cannot deny that commercialism is in itself, a catalytic engine for progress, a force that drives not just economies, but people, lifestyles, families, technology and even evolution itself, there may be a better approach. It’s incredible effect on the exchange and spreading of ideas, the show of love and affection, and perhaps even as a manifestation of the human spirit, altogether demonstrates the teeter totter effect of commercialism. While Boxing Day may prove to be a beneficial day for our economy, allowing greater access to a wider spectrum of commercial items, it also demonstrates our continuing reliance and dependency on “stuff” that at times, fills our homes, creates redundancy and clutters our lives. For the sake of our own mental health, it is important to keep stock of what’s significant, the meaning behind our purchases, and the emotional and spiritual investments it provides. If shopping and the whirlwind of commercialism, especially during the holidays, brings joy, happiness and a sense of peace, then this is simply what we take from it. The process. The experience. But if it brings stress and confusion and a long list of credit bills, we must retrace our steps and redraw our lines, making certain not to step over them, no matter how big the yellow tags appear, and how enticing those sales may be.