Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Filler Up With…Biogas?

The Los Angeles Times reports that an environmentally positive form of automotive fuel can now be made from municipal sewage, agricultural crop wastes and cow manure. “Biogas” is a compressed methane gas extracted from organic sources (such as cow manure).

The “Biogas” is purified and treated so it can serve as fuel in standard internal combustion engines. The fuel is a joint venture between Pasadena, CA non-profit that specializes in alternative transportation technologies and a Swedish business group that is testing the fuel. “Biogas” has been successfully powering cars and commercial trucks in Sweden for 3 years.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Microwaving Zaps Nutritional Value

Researchers have found certain methods of preparation and cooking, such as microwaving, can cause vegetables to lose many key nutritional benefits. Researchers found microwaved broccoli had lost almost 90% of three major antioxidant compounds - flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives, which are thought to have cancer-fighting properties. In contrast, steamed broccoli had lost only 10% of the same health-promoting compounds. Veggies should be cooked in a minimal amount of water to retain nutritional benefits.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What You Should Know About Child Identity Theft

Guess who are the next victims of identity theft – children! It’s hard to believe but criminals are searching for dormant social security numbers (SSN) online and selling them to people (strangers or even their family members) who use them to establish phony credit. Victims may not know it’s happened until they are older and apply for financial aid or try to open a line of credit.

While you can’t prevent identity theft, you can take steps to limit the opportunities for it to happen. Here’s what you can do and look for:

 Safeguard your child’s SSN and only give it out on a “need to know” basis. School sports teams and doctors’ offices do not have to have the number. Be cautious about disclosing place and date of birth details, particularly online (cybercriminals can find SSNs based on that information). Teach your kids not to give out personal information, especially on social networks (have them use nick names or code names when filling out online profiles).

 Watch for red flags like these:
• You receive checks, pre-approved credit card offers or bank statements in your child’s name. Note: the pre-approved credit card offer may just be a marketing tool sent by an affiliate of your bank because you opened a college fund for your child.
• You get calls from collection agencies.
• Your teen is denied a driver’s license because another person has a license with that SSN. The imposter may even have accumulated tickets or citations in the child’s name

 If you suspect anything, call Social Security and ask if any income has been reported with your child’s number. You can see if there’s a credit report for your child, but don’t do so unless you have a strong indication of theft (ordering a report unnecessarily opens the door to thieves).

For more information, see sites such as

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Falling Behind? Get Help Before it Gets Worse!

Q. I’m in trouble with my mortgage. How can I get help?

A. If you don’t know where to turn for reliable answers or need to sort through your options, turn to these experts for advice:

1. Your REALTOR® can determine the current value of your home and review your options if you owe more than the home is worth. Knowledgeable agents can also explain more about government programs available today. Short Sale may be an option.
2. A Foreclosure Counselor will help you evaluate your current financial situation by reviewing your monthly expenses and income. They can also identify assistance programs and serve as an advocate with your bank, free of charge.
3. A Tax Expert may be needed if you decide to do a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure as forgiveness of debt is sometimes considered taxable income.
4. A Credit Counselor can help develop a plan to avoid future financial difficulty and work to repair your credit score if you’ve already missed payments.
5. An Attorney can help if your lender has filed a foreclosure lawsuit. They can review the lender’s paperwork and see if the loan servicing company made a mistake in applying payments or assessing fees.

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

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Heart Health is Easy With "FIT"

To keep your heart healthy, says use the FIT approach:
 F=Fill your plate with food that won't pack on pounds; find fun ways to exercise.
 I=Individualize your eating and workout routine.
 T=Team up with others.
Getting friends or family involved with your goals improves your chances of success by 147% VS going it alone. Use your team to help you to your goal weight! Start getting FIT today!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Daily Aspirin is NOT For Everyone!

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Ten Commandments for Every Home

1. If you open it…close it
2. If you unlock it…lock it
3. If you turn it on…turn it off
4. If you move it…put it back
5. If it isn’t yours…ask before you use it
6. If you borrow it…return it
7. If you use it…return it
8. If you break it…repair it
9. If you can’t repair it…find someone who can
10. If you make a mess…clean it up
Words to live by!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to 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.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Need Gift Ideas?

If you’re looking for a gift, check out a site like where you’ll find suggestions for every occasion. What to get for the person who has everything? You will get some great suggestions you would have never thought of on your own that they will be sure to love!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

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, February 17, 2012

Go Ahead, Google Yourself - Everyone Else is!

How To Manage Your
Online Reputation

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.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Avoid the Microwave for Your Vegetables

Microwaving Zaps Critical Nutritional Benefits From Foods

Researchers have found certain methods of preparation and cooking, such as microwaving, can cause vegetables to lose many key nutritional benefits. Researchers found microwaved broccoli had lost almost 90% of three major antioxidant compounds - flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives, which are thought to have cancer-fighting properties. In contrast, steamed broccoli had lost only 10% of the same health-promoting compounds. Veggies should be cooked in a minimal amount of water to retain nutritional benefits.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No More Empty Nest

Because of the tight job market, 85 percent of college seniors in a Twentysomething Research poll said they planned to move back home with their parents after graduation. Some plan to stay even after they get jobs!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don’t Read This Sitting Down

Do you sit at a desk all day and become a couch potato on the weekends? Recent studies have shown that those who sit most of the day have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems and other diseases. That’s because the enzymes that burn fat shut down, slowing your metabolism and possibly lowering your beneficial cholesterol.

Even if you do exercise regularly, you need to move your muscles frequently (called non-exercise activity) throughout the day. Follow these tips:

Try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. When you’re not exercising, don’t remain sedentary for long. Get up and move, whether that means walking to someone’s office (instead of sending an e-mail) or going to the copy machine. Even standing burns calories since you tense your leg muscles and shift your weight from one leg to the other.

Turn off the TV. You’ll burn more calories doing almost anything else, such as playing games with the kids, cleaning the house or walking the dog.

When you do watch TV, change your seating. Watch it in a rocking chair (yes, it burns energy!), sitting on a therapy ball or riding an exercise bike. Move around during commercials, which can take up 20 minutes each hour.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It’s Cool To Use Coupons

Guess who’s using coupons now? Everybody! According to a Harris Interactive survey, 6 out of 10 adults with an income over $100,000 have redeemed a coupon in the past 6 months. They’re getting them online from sites like

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reverse Mortgage is Still Available to Millions

Q. What changes have been made to laws on reverse mortgages?

A. First, a reverse mortgage is a loan that lets homeowners (age 62 or older) convert the equity in their homes into cash. The equity can be paid to the homeowners in a lump sum, a stream of payments, or as a supplement to Social Security or other retirement funds. No repayment is required until the borrower no longer uses the home as their principal residence.

Here are the key changes to the laws involving reverse mortgages according to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008:

• The loan limit has been increased from $362,790 (depending on home values in the region) to a nationwide limit of $417,000, and that can increase to as much as $625,500 in high-cost areas.
• Fees are now capped at 2 percent of the first $200,000 borrowed and 1 percent on the balance, with a maximum of $6,000. To protect seniors from aggressive marketing tactics, the law prevents lenders from requiring borrowers to purchase insurance, annuities or other products as a condition for getting the mortgage.

While these changes have made the mortgages more attractive, they aren’t for everyone. You should do your homework and talk with a loan counselor.

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

Saturday, February 11, 2012

10 Ways to Save Big at the Grocery Store This Year

Use These Strategies To Shop Smarter For Groceries
You can read plenty of articles on the internet about how to save money on groceries, but do you really have a grocery shopping strategy? Here are some supermarket tips and secrets that will make you a savvy shopper.

 Approach grocery shopping like a job. You need to have a plan (take a list) and a budget to make the best use of your time and money.

 Stick to a time schedule. Shop for what you need and get out. It is said that if you’re in the store more than 30 minutes, you’ll spend an extra 50 cents to $1 per minute as you walk the aisles.

 Shop alone. Real Simple Magazine says parents will spend 10-40 percent more if they take their kids along. It might be worth it to hire a babysitter!

 Only buy “food” at a grocery store. Generally, you’re better off buying toiletries, cleaning supplies and pet food at a big-box discount store.

 Know the floor plan. Shop the perimeter first for fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and milk. You’ll find some good buys in the center aisles, but you’ll also be tempted by items like frozen convenience foods.

 Don’t assume everything on sale is a bargain. Stores often display “sale” items at the end of the aisles. Manufacturers pay to have their products put there so they aren’t necessarily a good deal.

 Check “price per unit.” Sometimes it’s cheaper per unit to buy two smaller items than it is to buy one supersize package.

 Look high and low. Stores often place higher-priced items at eye level (brands pay for the space). Check prices on the top and bottom shelves.

 Pay attention at checkout. Shoppers lose up to $3 billion a year on scanner mistakes (current sale prices not reflected).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Time to Reduce Your Junk Email

How To Can Spam

If you’re sick of spam, take these steps to help reduce it from your email.

Don’t give out your address arbitrarily. These days there’s a space for you to fill it in on almost any form. Seems harmless, but companies sometimes sell or share their lists with other companies you don’t want to hear from.

Check privacy policies before you submit your address online. Reputable sites will tell you what they plan to do with your address. Make sure you don’t opt-in for emails you don’t want.

Use your spam filter. It works, but check occasionally for legitimate emails.

Don’t click on anything in a spam message. If you click a link, the spammer knows it’s a valid email address and will send more spam. The best option is to delete the email and add the sender to your spam filter.

Don’t be a spammer yourself. Some people consider those emails that warn of viruses or kids who need Christmas cards as a form of spam. Be wary of emails that say “send to everyone you know.” Check out hoaxes on sites like While you may have the best of intentions, your friends will appreciate it if you forward messages selectively.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Texting Has Become Accepted By Most

Why You Should Learn To Text

Do you think texting is just for kids? It’s more important than you think. Here’s why you should learn how to send and receive text messages (just don’t do it while you’re driving!).

It improves your chances of communicating when it counts. During an emergency, such as a natural disaster, voice networks can get congested and calls may not go through. Texts, which use less bandwidth, have a higher likelihood of being transmitted. Plus, if you’re texting, you are freeing up the voice lines for emergency officials to use.

You may soon be able to receive Presidential alerts on national emergencies, imminent threat alerts on things such as hurricanes or tornadoes, and child abduction alerts. The government is developing a nationwide system to allow participating wireless service providers to send these texts to their subscribers. A number of colleges and universities already have systems.

Your kids are used to communicating this way. You should know how to speak their language on a basic level. If you don’t know how, look online or ask them for a lesson.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Let's Raise Smart Consumers

Want to teach your kids to be
smarter consumers? Check out www.ftc/gov/youarehere/. Aimed at students in 5th through 8th grade, the site uses a virtual mall to teach them about advertising techniques, supply and demand and how to spot scams.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are You Talking To Your Kids About The News?

We’re all exposed to a barrage of news from the media and internet 24/7. While access to information is good, many of the stories and images -- from school violence to natural disasters or the terrible report about the Powell family -- may be disturbing to kids. Here are tips to help allay their fears and put the news in perspective:

 Be aware of what they’re watching and monitor age appropriateness. Kids between the ages of 6 and 10 are most vulnerable to the news.

 Watch the news together. Discuss current events and listen to what your child has to say about them.

 Be sensitive to how you respond to a news event. Kids are always listening, even if they’re in the other room.

 Talk about how you can help, particularly in the case of natural disasters.

For information and guidance, go to

Monday, February 6, 2012

Your Challenge: Get Your Family Fit In 2012

Do you start every new year by resolving to exercise more? You need a program like the President’s Challenge, which will help you and your family commit to daily physical activity, set realistic goals and track your progress during the year – plus it’s free! Here’s what you can do to make your resolution a reality.

Study the program. Go to Talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you and your family. Sign up as an individual, start a group (a school class) or join one (it’s a worldwide program).

Know the goals. Adults (over 18) need to be active 30 minutes/day at least five days a week for six out of eight weeks. Or, achieve 8,500 steps/day on a pedometer. Kids need to be active 60 minutes/day in the same time frame.

Choose your challenge. Take the Adult Fitness Test (on the website) to estimate your level of aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. Kids and teens take the Physical Fitness Test, which includes curl-ups, shuttle run and endurance run/walk. You’ll take these tests over again to see how your fitness changes during the program.

Improve your fitness. You’ll add exercises according to the FITT principle: F (Frequency); I (Intensity); T (Time) and T (Type).

Choose from 100 activities, from biking or swimming to walking, dancing, yoga or skating. You can even choose the interactive video game, Wii Sports.

Move on to the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge or the President’s Champions Challenge. These activities will help make physical fitness an integral part of your everyday life.

Enjoy the benefits. You’ll know you’re helping your heart, building stronger bones, maintaining a healthy weight and having fun with your family.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

3 Life-Saving Numbers…

Do you know your numbers? You should know and track at least these three to save your life.

Blood pressure. Normal is below 120/80. Some doctors say to aim for 115/76 or less. TV’s Dr. Oz adds that you can lower it by losing just 10 percent of any weight you’ve gained since you were 18.

Cholesterol. Your total should be less than 200. HDL (good cholesterol) should be more than 40 for men and 50 for women. Optimal LDL (lousy cholesterol) is 100 or lower. Triglycerides should be less than 150. To help lower your cholesterol, add these to your diet: soy-based foods, almonds, grains and veggies.

Blood sugar. Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100. One way to help keep yours stable is to switch to whole-wheat pasta. It also contains magnesium, which lowers the risk of diabetes.

Know your numbers, and ask your doctor what you can do to improve them.

Friday, February 3, 2012

How To Shake The Salt Habit

Are you hooked on salt? Most of us are. Adults consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day on average and that doesn’t count what you add with the salt shaker! Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems. Here’s what you need to know and do to shake the habit.

• Your body needs sodium to function, but only about 500 milligrams a day. Table salt is 40 percent sodium so one teaspoon is 2,300 milligrams. Set your salt budget to 1,500 milligrams a day (two-thirds of a teaspoon).

• Seventy-seven percent of the sodium consumed is from processed and restaurant food. Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking steps to reduce the sodium, but while that’s happening, it’s up to you to take control. When eating out, share entrees, order smaller portions and ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

• Cook more at home and shop selectively. Cook with fresh herbs and spices, and rinse the contents of canned foods before you use them.

• Learn some salty language. The term “reduced sodium” only means that the product contains at least 25 percent less than its original version. “Sodium-free” is better – it means less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. Look for “%DV” (or daily value) for sodium on the Nutrition Facts label. Anything above 20 percent is high. Aim for 5 percent or less.

• Watch out for diet foods. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, for example, has only 15 calories, but 480 milligrams of sodium.

• Focus on eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These are all high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, minerals needed to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

For more salt strategies, go to the Harvard School of Public Health site at

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Education Innovation

Will students in the future use tablet computers instead of textbooks? Students, parents and teachers are helping to determine that as part of Started
by a student, the site includes some recommended apps and a social community that gives everyone a chance to discuss how schools can make the best use of technology.