Friday, April 30, 2010

Stressed Out? Plan to do Something About it TODAY!!

Got Burn-Out? Take These Steps

Are you bummed by job burn-out? If quitting your job isn’t an option, take these five steps to improve your situation.

• Identify stress factors and learn how to manage them. Be proactive rather than passive about workplace issues. Know the difference between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” If you have too much work and too little time, talk to your supervisor.

• Reconnect with your core work. Maybe you’ve strayed from what you were originally hired to do. Focus on the work you enjoy doing.

• Take care of yourself. Take time off to recharge your batteries.

• Build new relationships. Make friends with people who might have fresh ideas and perspectives. Do something different – open a Twitter account.

• Plan your next move. Outline what you’d have to do to change careers and start taking action.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homeowners Insurance.. How Much Do We Need?

Q. We have just purchased our first home. What should we know about homeowner’s insurance before we go shopping for a policy?

A. Getting homeowner’s insurance should be a fairly simple process. Your goal is to get enough coverage to rebuild your house and replace the contents in the event of a total loss of your home. Along with insuring your house, you also need protection in case someone is injured on your property and sues you for maximum damages. Some agents will pull a “quickie” assessment based on your location, the size of your mortgage, and the number of rooms in your home. This can be risky at best, so here is some insider information on how the insurance industry will gauge your homeowner’s policy.

The insurance industry classifies homeowner’s policies on a scale of 1 to 8, tagging them as, for example, “HO-3.” Each level defines a different type of policy, separated by what they cover. Here is a brief list of HO1-8 policies.

HO-1, HO-2 – These basic policies cover from 11 to 17 named perils. Named perils can include fire, lightning, riot, theft, vandalism, falling objects, snow and ice damage, and faulty electrical and heating systems.
HO-3 – This homeowner’s policy is broader and more practical for most people. HO-3 policies protect against all perils except the ones explicitly excluded from the policy. Earthquakes, floods, and nuclear accident are usually excluded.
HO-4 – This level is excellent for renter’s insurance that covers your possessions from 17 named perils, but excludes the structure itself.
HO-6 – If you buy a co-op or condominium residence this level of insurance covers personal property and adequate liability coverage.
HO-8 – If have an antique or landmark-class home, you may not be able to get a guaranteed replacement policy. Companies figure the cost of rebuilding this type of home with the original materials and craftsmanship to be impossibly high. This policy covers against 11 named perils and will repair damage (with no guarantee on materials quality), or pay you the actual cash value of your home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Credit Card Rules Have Changed!!

Protect Yourself: How Credit Card Changes Affect YOU

The new rules for credit card companies that mean more consumer protection went into effect on Feb. 22, 2010. Here’s what they mean for you:

Your credit card company has to tell you:

• When they’re increasing your rate or other fees, giving you 45 days notice. Also, they can’t raise the interest rate on an existing balance unless you’re more than 60 days late with a payment. And they can’t increase your rate for the first 12 months after you open an account (with some exceptions).

• How long it will take to pay off your balance. It will say on your bill how long it will take if you only make minimum payments, and how much you’d need to pay each month to pay off your balance in three years.

Monitor your cards closely and follow these tips to protect yourself:

 Pay on time. Companies are required to mail or deliver your bill at least 21 days (instead of 14) before your payment is due. Plan accordingly.

 Stay below your credit limit. You will, however, be given the choice to “opt-in” to over-the-limit transactions. If you opt-in and go over your limit, your credit card company can impose only one fee per billing cycle.

 Try to make more than the minimum payment. You’ll pay less interest in the long run.

 Shop for the best deal. Don’t forget to check out local banks or credit unions when you’re looking for a card with the best rate.

 Read your mail. They may give you 45 days notice on a rate change, but you won’t know if you don’t open the envelope if it looks like junk mail.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Headache Suffers Have Natural Options

Banish Headaches with These Amazing Natural Remedies

Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Headache pain is one of the top ten reasons for absenteeism in the workplace and schools. The migraine headache strikes 18 percent of women, 6 percent of men and (surprisingly) 8 percent of children. Migraines are throbbing headaches that affect only one side of the head and can be accompanied by vision complications, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. The duration of a migraine can last from a few hours to a few days.

A variety of foods, the body’s own hormones, and environmental stimuli can trigger migraines. Migraine sufferers should avoid beer, red wine, monosodium glutamate (used liberally in Chinese foods), certain cheeses, yogurt, and smoked fish. Sodium nitrate, found in bacon, cold cuts, and hot dogs is also a known cause. Caffeine and chocolate also may be connected with migraines.

Fluctuations in hormones can cause migraines. It can affect men, but it especially affects women during their monthly cycle – possibly due to fluctuations in estrogen and serotonin levels in the body. Sixty percent of female migraine sufferers have them in relation to their monthly cycle.

People on long-term prescription medications or painkillers like aspirin and acetaminophen can experience a “boomerang” effect when medications are stopped. The body may go into withdrawal, triggering a massive migraine. A magnesium deficiency may also trigger migraines, and has been correlated to the migraine-like symptoms of early fibromyalgia.

Can anything be done for sufferers of migraine headaches? The answer is yes. There are new prescription medications for treatment of migraines, but simpler natural solutions may effectively eliminate or lessen migraine suffering with less cost and side effects. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Watch what you eat. Keep a food diary, and notice the effects of the food listed above. If symptoms appear up to 18 hours after eating, avoid the food.

2. Try the herb “feverfew.” This potent herb reduces the release of serotonin and the production of an inflammatory substance known as prostaglandins. Both of these events in the body are associated with migraines. Taken regularly, it has been shown to prevent future attacks.
3. Take 800 mg. of L-carnitine a day. The amino acid L-carnitine decreases the sensitivity of the body’s nervous system to fluctuating oxygen levels, one of the key migraine triggers.
4. Take a calcium and magnesium supplement daily. These two minerals work in tandem to reduce the duration and severity of migraine attacks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Learn it Today!! Online Education is Available and FREE

Learn Almost Anything
Online For FREE

You don’t have to pay for a college degree program to learn over the internet. Whether you want to fix a leaky faucet, speak Chinese, or listen to a lecture on world history, there’s plenty of educational material available for free. Here are some good places to start (and some you might not have thought of):

• YouTube. It’s not just for funny videos any more. You can find tutorials on sports and home improvement as well as how to do the moonwalk! YouTube also has an education channel where you can view content from universities and other institutions. Go to and click on a category from Business to Social Science.

• The History Channel. On their site at you’ll find videos on such subjects as the Civil War, Great Inventions and Space Exploration. Check out the videos under “Topics” and “Great Speeches.”

• Go here for videos on math, science, social studies and more that you can use to help your kids with their homework.

• University of California-Berkeley. Go to to download hundreds of video or audio courses and on-campus lectures.

• The BBC. Visit to study everything from Italian to Chinese. Taking a trip? Learn essential phrases in 36 languages.

• Watch lectures on subjects from Computer Science to Mathematics and Law given by professors from universities such as Harvard, MIT and UCLA.

• This site is a guide to thousands of hours of the latest educational content on the web. Readers will be especially interested in the section on free e-books you can read on your computer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

J.D. Power Reports Customer Satisfaction Way UP For Home Builders

Q. Are home buyers currently satisfied with the work of new-home builders?

A. Yes, customer satisfaction with home builders and new-home quality has improved significantly, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 U.S. New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study.

Customer satisfaction in 2009 was up 32 points over 2008. Markets with the highest levels included Orange County/San Diego, CA; Sacramento, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Inland Empire, CA; and Tampa, FL. In fact, overall satisfaction increased in 22 of the 23 markets that were also surveyed in 2008. The importance of workmanship and materials factored high in the results.

J.D. Power and Associates attributes the improvements to fierce competition in the marketplace. They say this is great news for new-home buyers since builders are offering high levels of quality, value and service at relatively low prices. Because many builders have an inventory of homes completed, buyers can have a smoother experience with fewer delays.

For details on builder rankings in all 24 U.S. markets, go to

If you have any questions, or need capable and trustworthy representation when buying or selling, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

3 Top Negotiating Tips…

The next time you’re negotiating to buy almost anything, remember these top negotiating tips:

 Empower yourself. You have the right to negotiate. Most sellers are open to giving you a discount if it means keeping you as a customer.

 Do your homework. Ten percent is a good discount (20 is great) for manufactured goods (electronics). With household goods (furniture, appliances) try for another 10 percent. The deepest discounts come on services (hotels, lawn care), where you may get up to 40 percent if you pay cash, bundle services, and/or commit long term.

 Ask for something you don’t necessarily want along with the things you do want. If you’re buying a dishwasher, car or TV, ask for an extended warranty, preferred financing or free delivery. When the seller counters, you have something to “give on” to make the seller feel like you’re meeting him/her part way in getting to an agreed upon price.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do You Need A ‘Money Buddy’?

That’s what Trent from “The Simple Dollar” blog calls someone close to you who seems to be facing similar financial challenges as you are. While a spouse is certainly a “money buddy,” it’s helpful to choose someone else (with a spouse’s okay) who can lend a different perspective. By linking up with that person (or a couple), you can support each other and benefit financially and psychologically. Here are 5 things you can do for each other:

Relieve tension and talk it out. Most of us keep our financial problems to ourselves. You’ll ease your stress if you have someone you trust to talk to. How much information you share is up to you.

Give and get advice from fresh eyes. When you’ve reached a point of financial indecision (“Which debt do I pay off first?” “What bank should I use?”), a money buddy is a second set of eyeballs to look at the situation.

Hold each other accountable for goals. If you set a goal for yourself, share it with your buddy and remind each other of your goals regularly. Knowing your buddy knows your goal can be a great motivator.

Share knowledge and resources. Split the cost of a warehouse shopping club membership or divide the items you buy in bulk.

Celebrate each other’s progress and successes. It’s even more gratifying when you take the journey together.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Inexpensive Home Makeover Tips

Q. I want to redecorate our living space, but I don’t know where to begin. Do you have any decorating tips?

A. You can makeover your living space with these simple decorating tips:
1. Change your color palette. You can choose neutral and earth tones, such as whites, tans, beiges, and golds. A room of monotone decors appears more spacious. And you can dress up a room with white walls, a white sofa, and white or glass coffee tables with accented throw pillows, colorful table runners and placements, and decorative rugs.
2. Soften the lighting. Lighting adds warmth and drama to any room. A lamp or sconce lighting will provide more warmth and mood than overhead lighting. In your rooms, place your lamps and lighting arrangements so that they form a triangle of light in the room.
3. Rearrange the furniture. Try moving your sofas away from the wall. You can place two sofas in “V” formation with tables behind them. Or you can arrange the sofas so that they’re parallel to each other. Placing a rug between them creates a conversation area.
4. Create a focal point. Select a special focal point in your room: a piano, piece of art, picture, or floral arrangement. Make sure to hang your art and pictures at eye level. (Many people hang them too high.)
5. Create warmth. You can transform your dining room by adding lamps on each side of the buffet. Be sure to choose tall, sleek lamps to add drama to your dining area.
6. Experiment with ideas. Don’t be afraid to experiment with light, color, and furnishings. Use your own personality and charm to create the living space you’ll enjoy entertaining and spending time with your family.
If you are in the market for a buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Will Aspirin Reduce Your Risk Of A Heart Attack?

You may have seen emails going around that talk about heart attack symptoms and the use of aspirin. The answer to the above question is “it depends.” Here are the facts:

• Aspirin is a drug. Even though you can buy it over-the-counter at any drug store, aspirin is a drug that can mix badly with other medicines, vitamins or dietary supplements. If you’re already taking a medication or supplement to thin the blood, you should not add aspirin.

• It may not be for everyone. The risks of long-term use may be greater than the benefits if there are no signs of, or risk factors for, heart or blood vessel disease.

• Daily aspirin can be safest when prescribed by a medical professional. Aspirin has been known to help people who are living with some kinds of heart and blood vessel diseases. It can help prevent a heart attack or clot-related stroke by lowering the clotting action of the blood’s platelets. Your doctor, nurse or other health professional should decide if it’s right for you, depending on your health and medical history.

• Dosage matters. There are no directions on the label for using aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack. You must discuss the different forms of aspirin products with your doctor. When you buy a product, check the “Drug Facts” label for “active ingredients: aspirin” or “acetylsalicylic acid” at the dose your doctor prescribes.

• If you feel symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. The operator, emergency medical technicians or Emergency Department physician will give you an aspirin if it's right for you. To study the warning signs (chest pain, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath), go to the American Heart Association website at

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to Manage You or Your Company's Online Presence

How To Manage Your
Online Reputation

Go ahead, Google yourself. Everyone else is. Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, what they find can affect your personal and professional life. Did you know employers and colleges search the internet for information about candidates before they make selection decisions? Here’s what you should do:

Find out what’s out there about you (or your company)…

• Search your name on Google, but don’t forget Yahoo, Bing and Ask. Put quotation marks around your name, and use keywords (your city) to narrow the search. Try it with your nickname or middle initial.
• Search again but click on “Images” and again on “Videos.”
• Check alumni sites, genealogy sites etc. Ask your friends if you’re in a video they’ve uploaded to YouTube.

Be proactive about protecting your reputation…

 Safeguard your personal information, particularly on social networking sites. Open a secondary email account or use a different persona for social sites, chatrooms, web forums, etc.

 Use privacy settings to set the right level of control, especially for Facebook and MySpace. Don’t give access to “Everyone.” That makes it visible to search engines, too.

 Set up a Google Profile. Go to to build a personal page that helps people get the right information when they search your name. You can do the same thing on Yahoo at

 Monitor your online presence by signing up for Google or Yahoo Alerts. They’ll let you know if someone searches for certain phrases, such as your name or company name.

 If you find something embarrassing, talk to the source. Even better, create positive content (write a blog or an article) that will appear on search results.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Help Your Children With Financial Strategies That Pay!!

How To Create Healthy Money
Habits In Your Children…

We all want our kids to do well in life...and not make some of the mistakes we might have made. Here are seven important money strategies to teach your kids that will serve them well throughout their lives:
1) Don’t carry debt. Avoid credit card debt. It’s expensive money! In fact, about 30% of college graduates will enter the workforce with $10,000 to $25,000 in credit card debt and other loans.
2) Pay yourself first. Have your children open an investment account and regularly have them put away money for goals and emergencies.
3) Set up a budget and track your expenses. Help your children set up their own budget, and teach them how to track their income (from allowances, gifts, money earned) and expenses.
4) Don’t compare yourself with others. A friend may drive a fancy car and wear expensive clothing, but they actually may be deeply in debt.
5) Don’t trust anyone with your money. No one cares as much about your money as you do.
6) Invest in a Roth IRA, and/or a market index when you start earning money. To reach long-term goals investing is a must.
7) Money doesn’t buy happiness. Money can make life easier when you don’t have to struggle financially to make ends meet. But money can’t buy love or happiness.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Are You at Risk of Bone Fractures?

How To Maintain Strong,
Healthy Bones…For Life!

Nearly 10 million Americans suffer from Osteoporosis. By 2020, half of all citizens over 50 will be at high risk for developing the condition. In a recent report, “Bone Health and Osteoporosis,” U. S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona outlines important measures you can take to maintain strong, healthy and happy bones for life.

One of the most common myths, he says, is that only women need to worry about bone health. Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. By age 75, osteoporosis is as common in men as it is in women!

Are you at risk? The first symptom of osteoporosis is a bone fracture. Other risk factors include: low calcium/vitamin D intake, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, body weight less than 125 lbs, long-term steroid medication like prednisone or cortisone, eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and early menopause.

How to maintain strong bones? First, while bone weakness is evident in older Americans, strong bones begin in childhood. Here are four steps you can take today to prevent osteoporosis and maintain strong, healthy bones:

1. Get the recommended amount of daily calcium by drinking milk and eating green leafy vegetables, soybeans, yogurt, and cheese. (1,000 mg of calcium per day).
2. Exercise 30 minutes per day for adults; 60 minutes a day for children. This can be walking, running, or any weight-baring exercise.
3. Get Vitamin D (200 IU), which is produced in the skin by exposure to the sun. It’s also found in fortified milk and cereals
4. Your doctor can order a bone density test (DEXA), which measures bone density at the spine, hip, and wrist where most fractures occur.

For more information on osteoporosis, call 1-866-718-BONE, or go to

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Home Building Trends

Q. We are thinking of buying a new home. What are the trends in new home building?

A. Buyers have their own personal preferences in what they like in a home. But a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found the top 10 new home trends:
1. No Living Room. Over 30% of homebuyers will buy a home without a formal living room, preferring special interest rooms.
2. Fewer Open Floor Plans. Semi-open arrangements are preferred with partial walls and columns to separate space.
3. Extensive Wiring. Wiring for high-tech equipment and entertainment is a must for new home buyers.
4. Activity Rooms. Many homebuyers want home offices, dens, exercise rooms, and game rooms.
5. Spacious Garages. Buyers want lots of storage space and workshop areas.
6. Traditional Exterior. Homebuyers prefer traditional American and European architectural styles.
7. Storage Areas. Homebuyers favor walk-in pantries, special interest cabinets, and walk-up attics.
8. Lower ceilings. Fewer two-story rooms are being built today.
9. Unique Kitchens. Over 78% of buyers want a walk-in pantry.
10. Future Options. Homebuyers plan for their future years. They want wide hallways, main floor suites, and walk-in shower stalls.
11. Smaller homes, less is more in these days.
If you are in the market for a buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Protect Yourself From Check Fraud

Free Advice…From a Lawyer?

It’s a rarity to be sure...but here’s some sound advice that could save you lots of money, time, and trouble.
• When you order checks, print only your first initial on them. That way if someone takes your checkbook s/he will not know your first name, or how you sign your name...but your bank will know.
• Never place your social security number on your checks.
• Put your work phone number on your checks, not your home phone.
• Photocopy all the contents of your wallet (front and back). This way you’ll know what was in your wallet, account numbers, and phone numbers to call if your credit cards are stolen.
• Write only the last four digits of your credit card account in the “For” line on your checks. Your credit card company knows the rest.
Most importantly, call Equifax 1-800-525-6285, Experian 1-888-397-3742, Trans Union 1-800-680-7289, and the Social Security fraud line 1-800-269-0271 to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. This process alerts any company checking your credit to contact you by phone before authorizing new credit.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Save a Life...Tell a Joke!!

Can Laughter Make You Healthy?

Laughter is strong medicine, so says researchers at Stanford University. The physical action of laughter actually increases blood flow and contracts abdominal muscles. It lowers stress, improves heart health, and can resolve conflict in troubled times.

Here are a few tips to help you add a little more laughter and humor in your life:
• Create a “humor first-aid kit” full of comedy tapes, joke books, funny stories, comics when you feel the need or urge to be silly.
• Take a humor break instead of a coffee break. Read jokes, listen to a funny tape, or create a humor notebook to help during difficult times.
• Remind yourself to have fun. It’s OK to lighten up.
• Go to a funny movie, rent a comedy, or watch an old comedy show.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's Time to Review Your Homeowners Insurance!

How To Save A Bundle On
Homeowners Insurance!

Mounting claims from natural disasters have caused a colossal jump in the cost of homeowners insurance. With wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and mold taking a toll on property, homeowners’ insurance claims skyrocketed resulting in significant price hikes for consumers.

Over 51 million households saw price increases between 2001 and 2003, according to a study by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association of America. Here’s some important advice to help you reduce the cost of your homeowners insurance:

1. Raise Your Deductible. You can significantly reduce the cost of your homeowners insurance by raising your deductible to at least $1,000.
2. Keep Your Home In Good Condition. Make sure that your roof is in good shape. Fix any minor leaks or problems. Make sure the heating, plumbing and electrical systems are in good condition. Also, make sure to repair any drainage problems around your home.
3. Keep Your Credit Score High. Insurance companies use credit insurance scoring to determine who to insure and for how much. Your score depends on your credit report score and your claims history. To improve your credit score pay down your debt, close credit cards, and correct any credit report errors.
4. Avoid Filing Unnecessary Claims. Filing several small claims can result in rate increases and in some cases even being dropped by your insurance carrier.
5. Comparison Shop. Look for an insurer that has a good claims record. Every few years compare your policy with other reputable insurers. You may find a better value. Always buy a policy that pays the true replacement value for any loss.
6. Keep Your Policy Up-To-Date. Review your coverage each year. Make changes to the policy, if, for example, you increased the value of home (remodeling or building an addition). Conversely, reduce coverage for items that may have depreciated.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Don't Supersize it!! Know Your Portions!!

How To Prevent
Portion Distortion

Your mother’s old adage “finish your plate” isn’t the best advice anymore. Whether you eat out (restaurant portions are up 40 percent over the last 30 years) or eat in at home, portion sizes have grown out of proportion, causing many of us to consume extra calories and add unhealthy pounds. Here’s how to prevent portion distortion and help control your weight.

Know your terms. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat for a meal. Big or small – the choice is up to you. A serving is a measured amount of food or drink, such as one slice of bread or 8 ounces of milk.

Read the Nutrition Facts Label. The Food and Drug Administration puts it there to tell you how many calories and how much fat, carbohydrate, sodium and other nutrients are in one serving of the product. You may think the 3-ounce bag of chips is one portion, but the label says it contains 3 servings.

Gradually reduce your portions. Try relating one serving size to everyday objects such as these offered by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute:
1 cup of cereal = a fist
2 tsp of peanut butter = a ping-pong ball
1/2 cup of ice cream = 1/2 baseball
1 medium fruit = 1 baseball
3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry = 1 deck of cards

Use the “New American Plate” guide. The American Institute for Cancer Research says to look at your plate and aim for meals made of 2/3 (or more) of vegetables, fruits, whole grains or beans, and 1/3 (or less) animal protein.

Repackage products. Buying large-size bags or boxes may save you money, but divide the items into single serving packages when you get home.

Don’t “supersize” at fast-food restaurants. It may sound like a good value but you know you’re eating more than you should. If you go for the larger-sized meal at any restaurant, be sure to share it with a friend or take half of it home for another meal.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time to Payoff that Credit Card?

In Debt? Five Warning Signs
You’re In Over Your Head!

Most of us carry some type of debt: mortgage, car payments, credit cards, or educational loans. How do you know when you’re carrying too much debt? Most people fall into debt trouble with impulse buying. Here are five warning signs that you may be in dangerous debt trouble, and what you can do about it:
1. You’re unable to pay more than the minimum payments on your credit cards.
2. You have more than three major credit cards and they’re near the credit limit.
3. You use your credit cards to pay other bills.
4. You hide your bills from your spouse.
5. You don’t have a savings account.
If you answered “yes” to any of the above warning signs you may want examine your debt load and set up a realistic budget. If you are carrying credit card debt, begin by paying down the highest interest credit cards bills first. Resolve to not use credit cards unless you have the cash to pay your bill off when the bill arrives; otherwise, the first step to financial health is to remove the temptation and cut up your credit cards.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bottled Water Isn't Always What You Expect

How Safe Is The Bottled Water You Drink?

Don’t be fooled. The bottled water you’re drinking may not be any safer than your tap water. According the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), some bottled water sold in the United States may contain bacteria and/or chemicals. And 30 percent of bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from a city or town’s tap water!

The NRDC cited one incidence where a bottled water brand labeled “spring water” actually came from a well in an industrial facility’s parking lot. While they reported that most bottled water was safe, about 30 percent of the bottled water they tested contained bacteria, synthetic organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals.

In another recent study, Dutch researchers found 40 percent of the bottled mineral water they tested from 16 countries, (not including the U.S.) showed the presence of bacteria or fungi.

Why should you care? First, people with a weakened immune system (children, the elderly, people with cancer, kidney failure, or AIDS,) may have an increased risk of infection from bacteria. Serious infections can develop from legionella, a bacteria causing Legionnaires disease, pneumonia like illness.

Secondly, bottled water is expensive. A five-year supply of bottled water (8 glasses a day) costs about $1,000. The same amount of tap water costs $1.65.

There are some regulations on bottled water. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requires that if water is taken from a municipal source and not treated, the label must say it’s from a municipal source. If, the water is treated (using common technology) there is no requirement to label the municipal source.

The NRDC concluded that bottled water “should not be assumed to be purer or safer than most tap water.”

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Online Shopping Tips

How to Protect Your Privacy and Be a Smart Online Shopper

Surfing the web has become part of daily life for over 240 million people worldwide (and growing). But new practices by many web merchants, combined with foul play from a few unscrupulous web tyrants, have made cyberspace not only inconvenient, but potentially dangerous.

Many web merchants are trafficking your personal information to other vendors and institutions. When you log on to a merchant’s web site, a small packet of software (the notorious “cookie”) is placed on your computer’s hard drive to track every mouse click as you shop or move about.

Many shopping sites function poorly or not at all without the cookie. For example, book seller (and its cookie) enables the site to remember your name, make buying suggestions based on previous purchases, and streamline order and shipping information. This tracking appears as a convenience when shopping, but the very same information can be used by the wrong people to cause great harm. Here are a few suggestions to safeguard your personal information and shop safely when on-line.

1. Read the web merchant’s privacy policy. Make sure you’re routed to a secure site when ordering. Expect to share personal information to make a purchase, however, don’t consent to your personal information being shared, sold or exchanged. The web site should offer you a simple “one click” way to remove your personal information from all of its lists.
2. Give your purchase 10 to 14 days to be delivered. Part of a multi-item order may be “back-ordered” and won’t be delivered on schedule. If you need a gift, consider a gift certificate. It can be delivered immediately by e-mail or relatively quickly by regular postal service.
3. Obtain and save an order confirmation number. An order number or UPS tracking number is frequently required to locate your purchases during shipping. If there’s a problem with your order, the confirmation number is your first line of proof and legal protection.
4. Check out the return policies when you shop online. Due to the expenses of shipping and handling, many cyber-stores will charge 10% to 20% re-stocking fee for returned or exchanged items. Larger retail sites are more likely to take responsibility for returns and waive re-stocking fees.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Enjoy FREE Concerts and Give Back to the Arts

Get Into the Best Shows and Concerts in Your Town for FREE!

Lots of people do this… and they all rave about the experience! Volunteer as an usher or backstage crewmember for your local concerts, plays and outdoor music festivals. You’ll have to do a little work before or after the show, but expect to have lots of time to enjoy the entertainment.

Here’s the trade-out- volunteers usher people to their seats, set up chairs, give out programs and do clean up after the event. If you do a good job, my times you are on a “first call” list for future events put on by the promoter or theater. With ticket prices going up into the 3 figures, this can save you hundreds of dollars per year on top-quality cultural events and concerts.