It’s September, folks. You know what that means? Yes, it means your kids are finally going back to school, but it is also National Pet Insurance month! You may be shocked that pet insurance is prevalent enough to warrant its own month of celebration. According to a recent article in Forbes, there are over eighty million dogs and over sixty million cats in the United States.  

Most companies offer health insurance to their full-time workforce and extend that benefit to significant others and even children. But what about four-legged children and their bills? The more prominent costs, at least for me, include fun toys and tasty treats because my pets are incredibly spoiled. However, the concern that loomed above all others was the pawsibility of one of my fur babies falling victim to serious illness or injury. When my bichon-poo mix Gipsy Danger wasn’t eating and lethargic with a serious cough at 3 months old, it cost over $500 at the emergency veterinary clinic to diagnose and treat her kennel cough. I was, of course, relieved to be able to get her the care she needed, but that bill still stung quite a bit. Had she been insured with Nationwide Pet Insurance at that time, 70% of her total bill would have been reimbursed to me. They even have direct deposit! 

Now, my two cats and pupper are all covered under Nationwide Pet Insurance. Coverage includes a portion of everything from routine visits and vaccines to emergencies. It may be a bit pricier than some of their competitors, but the comprehensive coverage more than makes up for it. Not to mention the easy-to-use app that allows you to access benefits and submit claims within minutes. And did I mention they have direct deposit?! 

A recent study done by Pew Research identified that a staggering 97% of pet owners consider their animals as members of the family – rightly so – with 51% ranking their furry family on the same level as their human ones. If that’s true, it only makes sense to insure your four legged family as much as your two legged ones.  

We’ve all heard the joke regarding the Fitbit app where it’s like a Tamagotchi but the creature you’re trying to keep alive is yourself. In that same vein, I bring to you list of free self-care apps that are designed to help you thrive and live your best life in as fun and engaging a way as possible.


I downloaded Finch because I was going through a rough period and needed to focus on something else. I created an account and my finch, Ophelia, was born. As you complete and log various tasks like housework or self-care, you earn Rainbow Stones. These, in turn, can be used to purchase clothing for your finch to wear or furniture to decorate their home. Once you’ve fully evolved into an adult you can even travel outside of Finchie Forest to destinations like Bali, Paris, or Maui. Not to mention the adorable pets your finch is able to obtain.  There is both a free and paid version of this app and, while I have the paid version, the free iteration of Finch is a full experience. Overall, this app was able to bring a semblance of order and routine to my work-from-home lifestyle while constantly bringing a smile to my face.


The process to create an account in Lumosity is simple, and the games they present you with to assess the areas of your mind you wish to exercise are straightforward. Some of the games were even challenging to the point that I started to get frustrated. This probably means it’s an app I need to keep on my phone!


If you’re on the road, you may be traveling light and not have room for coloring books or pencils. Thankfully, now you don’t have to. Introducing Colorfy, the app designed with you in mind. That is, if you’re the kind of person who finds coloring relaxing. I personally do not, but even I had to admit this app was helping me decompress. There’s a membership option for a fee but the free version was perfectly entertaining on its own.

Goblin Tools

This last one is, to the neurotypical passerby, quite bizarrely named. However, for my fellow ADHD warriors, you know all too well that we are all a bit of a goblin at times. Goblin Tools is an app that I purchased for a onetime fee of $0.99. However, after playing around with it, I would have happily paid ten times that. It takes any task you may be struggling to accomplish and breaks into tasks based on how much ADHD paralysis you are dealing with at the moment with a simple sliding scale. I will never be without this app on my phone and, should it ever be discontinued, I will surely perish.

A job that involves travel must account for a certain amount of downtime to be filled. Books, in my opinion, are the perfect remedy to the problem of free time! Consider one of these wonderful reads before you pick up your phone and doom-scroll on social media.

Fourth Wing

Attention Fantasy Romance readers, this one’s for you! I bought this book on Amazon and then read some reviews and cancelled my order. A few days later I saw a Tiktok covering the book and re-ordered it. Then cancelled after seeing several more videos bashing the book. I finally ordered and received the book almost a month after initially wanting it. I proceeded to devour it in three days and briefly considered re-reading it a week later. It is easily the best new fantasy novel I’ve read in 2023 and the idea that I must wait till fall for the next book in the series brings very real tears to my eyes.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


No this isn’t about OceanGate, nor does it have anything to do with the Titanic. This classic tale of nautical adventure by Jules Vern has stood the test of time since its publication in 1870, and for good reason. Without spoiling too much of the story, the main characters journey to find a sea monster and discover it’s not really a sea monster. At which point they are captured and end up seeing other, completely unrelated, sea monsters.

The Martian

If you enjoy meticulously researched sci-fi, humor, and F-bombs then this is the book for you! Imagine Castaway except you’re on Mars. While you journey far from home, consider joining astronaut and biologist Mark Watney as he struggles to survive on an inhospitable planet all alone. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself craving potato-based foods!


In the mood for current events? I’ve got the book for you! Winston Smith lives in a futuristic society under the watchful eye of Big Brother but his natural curiosity and idealism regarding freedom lead to chaotic revelations regarding the supposedly benevolent government that watches all. This book is great for when you think you may be getting too comfortable with modern society and are looking for something that unnerves you to your very core!


The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War 


You may have seen the movie that came out September 2022 starring Zac Efron but, if not, please consider delving into this book based on the events that took place when Jon Donohue decided to share some beers. What starts as an almost silly venture to track down his friends fighting in Vietnam quickly turns as he comes face to face with the realities of war. A good read for any history and war buffs.  

The Road 

Are you happy and don’t want to be? Well while you travel on the road, consider reading The Road. You may be familiar with the movie starring Viggo Mortesen but, if not, it’s a dystopian road trip (on foot) story about a father and son at the end of the world. Guaranteed to eliminate any of that pesky serotonin you want to rid yourself of!

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer  

Whether you donned pink and saw Barbie or black to see Oppenheimer – or sat for five hours to watch both – there’s no denying the atomic success of both movies. Oppenheimer, in particular, brought to light a hugely important figure often forgotten by history. Oppenheimer’s life leading up to the successful completion and deployment of the atomic bomb, and the hearings that followed, make for a riveting story that any WW2 buff should have on their shelf.

And last but by far the least…

The Sword & Shield

That’s right folks, I don’t just write manufacturing themed blog posts, I’m also a published author! If you have any interest in an immunocompromised, cat-loving assassin who gets involved in various shenanigans then this fantasy novel is for you! Chock full of dark humor and found family, it has hundreds of five-star reviews and is – in my totally unbiased opinion – a good time! Is this a shameless plug of my own novel in the hopes that I gain more readers? Absolutely not! It is a humanitarian effort to enrich the lives of those around me by bringing them the word of Emma Khoury.

The days of manic rushing to Best Buy and Walmart before you’ve even had a chance to digest Thanksgiving dinner are over. In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we now have Amazon Prime Day. Amazon Prime Day is a two-day event typically held in July where the masses are able to converge online to score obscenely amazing deals, with free shipping to boot, if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

Amazon first held Prime Day on July 15, 2015, as a celebration of their 20th anniversary. But, due to the staggering success of the event, it turned into an annual affair. You’d think such an event would be the busiest time of year for the massive shopping site but it actually only ranks in fourth place, after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the lead up to Christmas. Despite its ranking, 2022’s Prime day saw record sales of over $12 billion. Due to such a high demand, it only makes sense that behind the scenes things are being kicked into high gear.

The entire enterprise is a Swiss watch of moving parts. The scope of work doesn’t sound like much when you think about the fact that Amazon already does all this on a daily basis. However, when you factor in the massive uptick in quantity of items sold, therein lies the difficulty. On average, Amazon ships out roughly 1.6 million packages per day, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the more than 300 million items sold on Prime Day 2022. And the effects of this surge across their operations are a perfect case study to understand many of the factors impacting supply chain volatility across the larger economy. Doing so makes the risks and opportunities within this volatility much more obvious to other vendors of any kind.

Demand Fluctuations

Forecasting is key to any business. But the sales on Prime Day are unique and buying patterns are often spontaneous. This makes predictions precarious because both overestimations and underestimations can lead to dissatisfied customers and lost profits. Skillfully walking this tightrope is as much art as science and explains why experienced supply chain experts are so in demand.

Logistical Capabilities

Amazon typically averages a little over $1 billion in gross sales daily. This means that the numbers from 2022 were almost 10 times what happens during a “normal” day. Companies can’t increase their footprint by 10 times for just a day or two every year, so how do they handle surges like Prime Day or Black Friday? The answer is that sometimes they can’t. Websites crash, orders get backlogged, products sell out and that can’t be helped. Twitter revels in highlighting these struggles. But the goal is to avoid it at all costs and many companies do so with careful preparation and nimble planning. When facilities and workforces are well-prepared, and plans are closely monitored issues can be addressed appropriately in real time, consequences mitigated, and customers end up pleased.

Communication is Key

Whether you’re the scale of Amazon or just starting to scale up from a company of one, no business can handle a 10x increase in daily business alone. It takes great partners to do so successfully, and it takes great communication to get great partners. Amazon takes collaborative communication so seriously that it’s driven a lot of their other business research. Now every business doesn’t have to develop their own version of Amazon Web Services, but they should all invest in tools that make communicating with partners easier and more accurate.

There is much more that impacts the supply chain, for Amazon or any other business, than what has been covered in this article. But focusing on these three areas of emphasis has shed a little light on why some companies don’t survive supply chain disruptions while others, like Amazon, are able to thrive. If you’d like to learn more about supply chain resilience and how you can make it a reality at our company, you should read our recent blog about it too. Have other questions about supply chain? Send them to our Writing Team and keep your eyes out for future blogs.

This brief, semi-viral clip, stitched together by several thousand satirically minded TikTokers, is one that has stuck with me for several reasons. First and foremost being that this particular TikTok creator is entirely correct. We do need Electricians, and plumbers and, really, when you look at labor statistics, skilled tradespeople across the board.

An Entire Generation Lost in Too Much Information

As a millennial, I come from a demographic of approximately seventy-one million individuals who were told that anything less than a four-year college degree meant that you would not succeed in life. At no point during my public-school education was the possibility of trade school even suggested to me. In large part, I believe that was due to my inability to operate the simplest of power tools without subsequently requiring a trip to Urgent Care. That being said, my peers were equally neglected when it came to exploring alternative educational options.

This ideology was further reinforced once I entered the workforce and found that most jobs willing to provide a livable wage required a bachelor’s degree. I soon learned that it didn’t really matter what degree I held. My education was treated more as a box to be checked by a hiring manager.

The result of such an emphatic push for the youth of America to go the college route has left a dwindling population of skilled laborers. This population grows smaller every day as more and more workers age into retirement without a fresh supply to replenish their ranks.

While Alex on TikTok may have made his plea in jest, the resultant push towards collegiate life and the overall classist opinion of blue-collar work has led to a very real and increasingly serious problem. “We need electricians.”

Is the work going to be more physically strenuous in a skilled trade than a traditional 9-5 office job? Absolutely. But many would argue that, if you’re able, the rewards far outstrip the negatives. What rewards are those, you ask? First and foremost, in these uncertain economic times… job security.

With news of layoffs in all sectors coming through every day and all over the country, job security may seem unrealistic to hope for. However, given the shortage in workers, combined with the fact that it’s so hands on, a welder isn’t exactly the type of position that can be exported overseas. They need that welder in the shop and ready to work onsite, and many companies are willing to pay a premium to get those workers in as soon as possible.

Show Me the Money

The bottom line when many graduating high schoolers are assessing their options is going to be pay. It is the minority of youths in America who know for certain what they want to do with their life, and even fewer still who work in the field they went to school for. When money plays such a huge factor in the decision-making process, it is impossible to deny the benefits of trade school.

College tuition has skyrocketed faster than the overall inflation rate to round out prices that make even the most financially secure cringe in agony.

Given that most trade school programs are two years versus four, that’s already half the cost in time and money. Even further though, trade schools are cheaper per year than a traditional university, further cutting those financial hardships. Student loan debt, anyone?

The Education Data Initiative estimates that the average college student builds up over $30k in debt whether they graduate or not. Keeping that in mind, the average cost to obtain a degree from most trade schools is $33,000 with the average cost for a bachelor’s degree pricing in at roughly $132,000.

Already, we’re looking at a $100,000 incentive to go into a trade rather than pursue a more “traditional” role in corporate America. Assuming you chose a life as a machinist over life at a desk, who would your competition be?

Roughly 66% of high school graduates go straight from K-12 into an undergraduate program of some sort. Of those students, 46% report that they work in the field they went to school for. Leaving a staggering 54% – myself included – to check HR’s box for higher education by achieving a diploma, but really what we have is a very expensive mousepad.

Looking at the numbers, half of your peers are vying for white collar jobs. But what about the blue-collar positions? Despite the lucrative benefits highlighted in this article, a mere 16% of surveyed high school graduates enrolled in a vocational or trade school.

The long and short of it is this… if you’re looking to work in an ever-growing field, use your hands and never having to type ‘per my last e-mail,’ I would highly encourage a look at the world of skilled labor.

Afterall, you may really like what you find!