31 July 2009

Tanning Beds + UV Rays = Cancer

International cancer experts are saying that tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation are definite causes of cancer. Previously, the beds and UV rays were given as "probable carcinogens". 20 studies concluded that the risk of skin cancer increases by 75% when people start using tanning beds before age 30.

The World Health Organization does not recommend them. According to studies, use of tanning beds caused a 20% increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

A recent article by Maria Cheng of the Associated Press said that tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation are definite causes of cancer, alongside tobacco, the hepatitis B virus and chimney sweeping. Vincent Cogliano, a cancer researcher, hopes that culture changes so that teens, especially, don't think they need to use sunbeds to get a tan.

The American Cancer Society advises people to try bronzing or self-tanning creams instead of beds.

29 July 2009

Get Affordable Automobile Insurance Using American Car Quotes

In today's economy your money is being stretched in many directions. Your car insurance doesn't have to be one of those areas. Affordable insurance using American Car Quotes is just a matter of filling out one form for quotes from several auto insurance companies. They do the insurance shopping for you. Fill out the form, submit it to American Car Quotes who will forward it to companies that match your needs. The insurance companies will then contact you.

There are many things to consider before purchasing insurance. One is "How much insurance do I need?" What are ways I can reduce my insurance cost? Safety and security devices in your vehicle that help prevent auto theft can work to lower your rates. Information is given on some ideas to consider.

Students and young adults are usually in a financial crunch so suggestions such as changing their deductible are given as are other cost-cutting suggestions.

By filling out the form and submitting it, the agencies that contact you will have the quotes and information needed so that you can get affordable automobile insurance.

Air Travel Tips

If you haven't flown in a while, major changes have taken place in the airline industry in the last few years. Don't forget to check your passport way ahead of your international travel time due to some restrictions by certain countries (see my July 23, 2009 post on "Important Passport Information...").

Airplane food is something you haven't seen in quite awhile and probably won't be seeing again unless you're on a flight of several hours or traveling international. So if you want to eat while you're in the air and not pay a small fortune for trail mix or a pre-packaged sandwich, either bring your own snack or eat before you get on the airplane. Many airlines no longer give free peanuts/pretzels and soft drinks due to sever cost-cutting measures.

In the past luggage could be checked in at no cost. Several of the major airlines are now charging $15.00 for the first piece of checked luggage and $25.00 for the 2nd piece (if you check in online). If you check in at the airport, each piece is an additional $5.00. Check with the individual airline for their luggage policy. Remember: never check anything you can't live without; that includes medicines, jewelry, valuable papers, etc.

Plan for trouble! What will you do if you miss your plane or you have a travel delay due to inclement weather? Most airlines now give text, email and/or telephone alerts if they know about delays or flight schedule changes. But what happens if you're already at the airport on the first leg of a trip with 2 or 3 plane changes? What happens if you miss your connecting flights?

Be careful in duty free shops. Due to the limit on the size of liquids (3 oz. containers) that can be brought on board planes, this can be a major problem. Also, be sure you know the price before you pay in a duty free store as there are not many bargains.

There's lots to think about when traveling in today's airline world: "direct" vs "non-stop flights", upgrades, leg room, what to put in carry-on luggage, seat assignments, acceptable identification and documentation, stand-by, flyer miles etc. So: GOOD LUCK and have fun traveling.

26 July 2009

Are Motorcycle Helmet Laws Needed?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) almost 5,000 motorcycle related deaths occurred in 2006. Several states require helmets for the motorcycle driver and their passengers. Several states have laws covering only the riders and 3 states have no helmet laws at all. Many states with motorcycle helmet laws are repealing them.

NHTSA, reports that 65% of fatally injured riders in 2006 were not wearing helmets compared to 13% in states that have rider helmet laws. The largest increase in motorcycle fatalities from 2006-2008 was in the age group 50 and above. The group still having the largest percent of fatal crashes was in the 20-29 year age range. 27% of those who died in vehicle accidents with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more were on motorcycles.

With the availability and creativity in today's helmets, there's no end to what kind of helmet the motorcycle driver and rider can purchase. There's also a wide range of helmets for children. Some of the helmet photos are from: Creative Art in Motorcycle Helmets.

24 July 2009

GOOD Traffic vs BAD Traffic

Traffic isn't wanted when you're stuck in it due to an accident, construction or zillions of commuters. Traffic is great when it's directed to your site and I want to share a fabulous, fast, free and easy way to increase your traffic: TrafficG.

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23 July 2009

United States Passport Information You Need To Know

Are the following statements about your passport "True or False" ?

1. Your passport's expiration date can keep you out of a country.
2. What is not in your passport can be as important as what's in it.

Both statements are true. Countries can set their own entry and exit rules and if your passport is set to expire earlier than the country you plan to visit allows, you won't be able to enter. Lou Lint, a travel agent in Grand Rapids, MI offers additional passport information. He says some countries require your passport to have 2-4 blank visa/stamp pages. Some airlines won't allow you to board if this requirement is not met. Africa requires 2 blank pages in the passport book.

To visit Mexico your passport only has to be valid on entry. To visit Jamaica, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months prior to the date of entry. Many destinations around the world including Italy, France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand require a passport to be valid for 3 months prior to your stay.

Before traveling to foreign countries including Canada, Mexico and Bermuda, check to see what is required for passport and visa pages, passport expiration dates and if a visa is needed. For new or renewed passports or visas, be sure to allow ample time for your request to be processed. Contact the U.S. State Department for guidelines as this post is for general informational purposes only.

21 July 2009

Do Hummingbirds Really Hum?

Ready for an old joke? "Why do humming birds hum?Because they don't know they words." (It's okay to groan now!) Hummingbirds lack a true sound. Instead they make a chirping noise.

The hum comes from the super-fast beating of their wings. The smallest hummingbird's wings beat up to 8o times per second. The slower beat of bigger humming birds is 20 times per second. Their wings "buzz" or make a whirring sound while in flight. The hummingbird is able to fly up, down, sideways, forward and backward. 30% of their weight consists of flight muscles.

Hummingbirds are very small birds with a high metabolism. They spend a great deal of energy flying so the need to feed almost constantly. They usually feed on insects and nectar and consume half of their weight daily in sugar. Hummingbirds feed through a long tube-like tongue that darts onto the flower's corolla for nectar.

Hummingbirds radiate color. Early Spanish explorers called them Joyas Volardores or flying jewels. Their color (which comes from iridescence) is structural rather than pigmented. The iridescent colors of the feathers come from layers of special cells within the top layer of the feathers. Light that hits these cells is broken apart . The resulting colors are amazing but can only be seen when the light is hitting the feathers at the right angle.

19 July 2009


The word alone causes different reactions in people, sometimes even within families. Cremation is a word that causes strong emotional responses.

What is cremation? Simply put, it's another way of preparing physical remains for final disposition.

Does cremation give you options? (Yes...many)

  1. Ashes can be buried
  2. They can be put in a niche
  3. They can be scattered in one or many places
  4. Ashes can be divided among children
  5. They can even be made into jewelry

Does cremation raise questions? (Yes....many)

  1. Are there religions that do not approve of cremation?
  2. How can you be certain that you receive the correct ashes?
  3. Is embalming required prior to cremation?
  4. What do cremated remains look like?
  5. Are urns required for the cremated remains?

Dealing with death is never easy but forethought can help in this difficult time.

17 July 2009

Legend of the Apes

According to legend Gibraltar (sometimes called the Pillar of Hercules), which is located on the southern tip of Spain, will remain British as long as there are apes. Currently there are about 250 apes living on the rock and they are the only ones living in the wild in Europe. The British conquered the rock in 1704. Spain tried to recapture the sovereignty of Gibraltar until 1713 when it surrendered the fortress to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht after the War of Spanish Succession.

To visit Spain and not go to Gibraltar is to miss a fabulous opportunity for fun, adventure and a chance to get really close to nature. I'm glad I did it !!! It was one of the funniest experiences I've ever had.

The apes are not confined and are free to roam. Tourists are told not to touch them as they may become aggressive. As you walk around, so do they apes. They are adorable to watch. The young ones like to slide down vehicle windshields and sleep on the wipers. The apes will fight to hang onto side-view mirrors. When a vehicle drives away, it goes slowly as there are still usually 10-15 apes on the top, hood and hanging onto the outer mirrors. Eventually the apes hop off.

14 July 2009

Natural Beauty

White peacocks are frequently mistaken for albinos but are a color variety of the India Blue Peacock. They don't survive long in the wild as their white plumage makes them easily seen by predators. Some people believe if they see a white peacock, they will have eternal happiness. The name white peacock is also associated with butterflies.

According to ancient Greeks, peacocks were the physical representation of Hera, Queen of the Gods. The crest (crown) on the top of their heads gives them a royal appearance. The brilliant colors and decorative "eye" of the peacock's tail feathers are this bird's trademark. An adult peacock's train of feathers can be 60" long and is nearly 60% of it's total length. The large train is used in mating rituals and courtship displays.

Peacocks are ground feeders and hunt for small animals like spiders and amphibians in tall grasses or small streams. They eat plants, flower petals and seed heads. "Peacock" is commonly used to refer to birds of both sexes although only the males are peacocks. Females are peahens, and together, they are called peafowl.

In India, the peacock is the national bird and lives in the wild as it does in Sri Lanka. The standard peacock that we see in the United States is the India Blue. There is a jungle peacock which is found in Burma, Malaysia and Java.

12 July 2009

"Shrimp on the Barbie"

"Shrimp on the Barbie" is a phrase that originated in a series of television advertisements by the Australian Tourism Commission from 1984 through to 1990.

With grilling season here, it's time to fire up the grill with an easy recipe for LIME GRILLED SHRIMP.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • In a glass bowl, mix together all ingredients except shrimp
  • Add shrimp and refrigerate for several hours
  • Thread shrimp on a skewer so they don't touch
  • Place on grill
  • Cook 2-3 minutes until shrimp are curled
  • Turn shrimp to the other side.

    Don't overcook!

    10 July 2009

    There's CAFFEINE in My DECAF

    People with certain medical conditions, including high blood pressure and heart arrhythmia, as well as those taking certain prescription medications are advised to avoid or limit caffeine.

    Sticking to decaf isn't going to eliminate caffeine from your coffee. Researchers say that even though the caffeine content of decaffeinated coffee is low, people can develop a dependence on it. There's about 1/10 of the caffeine found in an 8 oz. cup of regular coffee which contains about 85 milligrams of caffeine.

    How is coffee decaffeinated?

    1. Using organic chemical solvents (methylene chloride or ethyl acetate)
    2. Using carbon dioxide
    3. Using water (know as the Swiss Water method)

    Most people who drink decaffeinated coffee believe it's better for them than regular coffee even though coffee has been cleared of nearly all health charges. Is decaf healthier than regular coffee? Does the decaffeinating process process itself present a health risk?

    Remember: decaffeinated does not mean caffeine free.

    07 July 2009

    The Leaning Tower of Pisa = 294 steps

    The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Tower of Pisa), one of Europe's most famous towers and designed by Bonanno Pisano, is the free standing bell tower for the adjacent cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa. The work of art was built in the years 1173-1350 in 3 stages. It's 183.27 feet tall from the ground on the lowest side and 186.02 on the highest side. The walls are 8 feet thick at the base.

    A little know fact is that many of the cathedrals in Italy have bell towers and many of them are leaning for one reason or another.

    There are 7 bells in the tower at Pisa that are tuned to musical scale. The largest bell, cast in 1655, is three and a half tons.

    Another fact is that the ground beneath the tower is soft so that even before the building was completed. it had already started to tilt. The builders tried to compensate by angling the new construction.

    In 1275 architect Tomasso di Andrea da Pontedera realized that the tower could not be straightened due to the poorly laid foundation and loose substrate so many attempts were made to stop additional leaning. The tower (which leans to the southwest) has been closed at various times as engineers worked to shore up the base

    The tower was closed in 1990 and re-opened in 2001. I was fortunate that while I was in Pisa I was able to climb to the top. There are 294 stairs, but as you climb, it feels more like 2094. There are no handrails and the walls have been worn smooth. The stairs have slippery groves from the thousands of feet that have gone up and down over the years. The stairs are in a very tight spiral and I think that it's harder to get down than go up.

    05 July 2009

    Obsession with Celebrity Deaths

    There was Elvis Presley, Princess Diana and now Michael Jackson who were and are being revered in death.

    Do many people have an unhealthy obsession with the death of a celebrity? Approximately 17 people committed suicide after learning about the death of Michael Jackson. His passing overshadowed the death of Farrah Fawcett whose death overshadowed the passing of Ed McMahon the same week.

    30 years ago, the now-defunct New Times magazine said: "There are almost no famous people anymore, only celebrities. That's because fame is too suggestive of steady achievement. Almost anyone can be a celebrity".

    When Princess Diana died, she garnered more TV coverage than Mother Teresa. The question remains: who made the greater contribution?

    The list of celebrities who have turned their lives into a train wreck is growing. Why do so many chose to idolize the "celebrities" who have broken, lousy relationships and use drugs especially when they see where it leads for many of them.

    Since the beginning of 2009, many have died with little or no fanfare including:

    Milvina Dean (last Titanic survivor)
    Exodus Tyson (Michael Tyson's daughter)
    Socks (the White House cat)
    Andrew Wyeth (artist)
    John Updike (author)
    Ingemar Johansson (fighter)
    Louis Belson (musician)
    Paul Harvey (radio personality)

    03 July 2009

    Confused about getting blog traffic?

    Confused about which sites(s) to use to increase traffic to your blog? There are so many out there, each one promising to be better then the one before. If you're like me, you're always looking for a fast & easy way to increase traffic to your site.

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    02 July 2009

    wind turbines slowing down?

    Is climate change affecting wind turbines, a source of power? Wind, a power source of the green energy movement, seems to be dying down across the United States. and the cause may be global warming.

    Sandra Pryor, an atmospheric scientist at Indiana University says there's been a jump in the number of low or no wind days in the Midwest and wind measurements show wind speeds falling along/east of the Mississippi River. Texas and parts of the Northern Plains don' t show as much slowing. Northern Maine, western Montana, Michigan and Georgia show some of the biggest drops in wind speed.

    One of the things Pryor said that can slow wind speeds are changing conditions such as growing trees or buildings being erected near the wind gauges. These can skew data.

    Several other experts agree that there are signs of decreasing wind speeds and that global warming is probably the cause.

    01 July 2009

    No Drugs in the Water

    For years, doctors, pharmacists and even the federal government have advised people to flush unused medicine down the toilet. Trace amounts began to show up in the nation's water supply. Several years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that tests on 139 streams in 30 states showed trace amounts of Prozac, codeine, antibiotics and drugs for high blood pressure and diabetes.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found no immediate risk to people but suspects that drug contamination is causing ecological harm.

    Legislation introduced this year in Congress would require the Justice Department to develop rules for "take-back" facilities. The government is urging people to seek "drug take-back programs" instead of flushing them. However, such programs are rare as it is illegal for people to give their controlled substances to others, even if it is just to get rid of them.

    The federal government recommends mixing the drugs with "undesirable substances" like coffee grounds or kitty litter, placing them in a sealed container, and throwing them in the trash.