Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Gimme a C: I love pink grapefruit and that's a good thing, since research has found that foods that are naturally rich in vitamin C—think citrus fruit, cantaloupe and red peppers—can help reduce fat absorption. In fact, skip it and you may see your middle expand, since diets low in vitamin C have been linked to bigger waistlines. Meet your daily goal of 75 milligrams by snacking on an orange or a cup of strawberries. See how these small changes can add up to big results.
Tea up: Women with the highest consumption of catechins, the plant-based antioxidants in tea that may boost fat burn, put on fewer pounds over 14 years than those who drank less tea, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals. Try to choose green or white varieties, which contain the most catechins. Learn how to maximize the benefits of tea and other superfoods.
Peel it off: Reach for a banana and you'll banish bloat faster than you can say Buddha belly. The fruit contains 422 mg of potassium, which controls the amount of puff-producing sodium in your system. Toss a banana in your bag for a fabulous ab-flattening snack. Try our Flat Abs Fast plan for more bloat-reducing tips and tricks.
Go low: Consuming just one meal of low-glycemic-index foods, those that your body digests slowly, can help you feel fuller all day so you're less likely to pack your tummy with treats, a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports. Low-GI foods include oatmeal and vegetables (sorry, not potatoes), as well as some fruit like grapefruit and blueberries. Oatmeal Meatballs are a tasty way to curb cravings.
Stroll away your sweet craving: Loco for cocoa? Me, too. A little dark chocolate is fine, but if you've already hit your limit, try lacing up your sneakers! Chocolate lovers who walked for 15 minutes reported reduced hankerings during the walk and even afterward, according to a study in the journal Appetite.
Ditch high-fructose corn syrup: Scan labels and you're likely to see high-fructose corn syrup on many ingredient lists...even on things like tomato sauce! When you do, put down that jar and look for something else. Why? High-fructose corn syrup can cause a surge in your blood sugar, and some research suggests it messes up your hunger and satiety signals, like leptin, leaving you less satisfied and causing you to eat more. When leptin responses fail, it's tougher to control appetite. The result: Extra calories get deposited as fat. To prevent this, trade packaged foods with high-fructose corn syrup for ones with healthy fats and fiber—think veggies, hummus, nuts or sunflower seeds.
Snap your snack: Taking a photo of your plateful of food can keep you slim. People who took pictures of everything they ate for five days reported consuming fewer snacks and being less likely to go back for seconds than during a week-long period in which they kept a written food diary, a study from the University of Wisconsin at Madison finds. Try capturing your meals for a week to help eyeball portion sizes as well as color variety—aim for more green, less white (unless it's cauliflower). See an example of this, and get ideas for healthy, photo-worthy meals of your own, at Eat Like Me.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
In an event that hits the computer world only once every few years, security experts are racing against time to mitigate the impact of a bit of malware which is set to wreak havoc on a hard-coded date. As is often the case, that date is April 1.
Malware creators love to target April Fool's Day with their wares, and the latest worm, called Conficker C, could be one of the most damaging attacks we've seen in years.
Conficker first bubbled up in late 2008 and began making headlines in January as known infections topped 9 million computers. Now in its third variant, Conficker C, the worm has grown incredibly complicated, powerful, and virulent... though no one is quite sure exactly what it will do when D-Day arrives.
Thanks in part to a quarter-million-dollar bounty on the head of the writer of the worm, offered by Microsoft, security researchers are aggressively digging into the worm's code as they attempt to engineer a cure or find the writer before the deadline. What's known so far is that on April 1, all infected computers will come under the control of a master machine located somewhere across the web, at which point anything's possible. Will the zombie machines become denial of service attack pawns, steal personal information, wipe hard drives, or simply manifest more traditional malware pop-ups and extortion-like come-ons designed to sell you phony security software? No one knows.
Conficker is clever in the way it hides its tracks because it uses an enormous number of URLs to communicate with HQ. The first version of Conficker used just 250 addresses each day -- which security researchers and ICANN simply bought and/or disabled -- but Conficker C will up the ante to 50,000 addresses a day when it goes active, a number which simply can't be tracked and disabled by hand.
At this point, you should be extra vigilant about protecting your PC: Patch Windows completely through Windows Update and update your anti-malware software as well. Make sure your antivirus software is actually running too, as Conficker may have disabled it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Cut back on these seven items and you could save roughly $1,000 a year.
1) Bottled Water
Getting your recommended eight glasses of water a day by bottle instead of tap is a huge waste of cash, says Phil Lempert, founder of Supermarket Guru. That buck-a-bottle water you down on a regular basis can really add up. (Even more so now that cities like Chicago collect an additional tax of five cents per bottle.)
Potential Savings: Spend $37 to buy a 40-ounce Brita pitcher and filter ($13 at Bed, Bath and Beyond), plus a four-pack of replacement filters ($24), and you'll be able to filter 200 gallons of water. Buy that much water in 24-packs of 16.9-ounce Aquafina bottles at Shop Rite instead, and you’d spend $283.50. Your total savings: $246.50.
2) Extended Warranties
Think twice before you shell out $10 a month for a two-year protection plan on your pricey new BlackBerry. New products tend to malfunction within the manufacturer’s initial warranty period, or well after any extended warranty has expired, says Michael Gartenberg, vice president of strategy and analysis for Interpret LLC, a market researcher. (Most extended warranties exclude accidental damage, too, so you’d still be out of luck if you drop that Blackberry and crack the screen.) To protect yourself, pay with the right credit card. Many credit cards -- including most American Express and MasterCard cards -- double the manufacturer’s warranty on purchases, adding up to another year of free protection.
Potential Savings: Someone buying a 40-inch Samsung flat panel high-def television at Best Buy for $800 has the option to add a four-year protection plan for another $150. Skip it, and pocket the cash instead. (The set already has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.)
3) Gym Memberships
The cost of a gym membership can really rack up over the course of a year (an average of $775, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association). So make sure you're tapping into all of the discounts available to you. Check with your employer, health insurer and other membership groups like your union or alma mater to see if they offer discounts on gym and fitness club memberships, says Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation, a benefits consulting firm.
Potential Savings: On your own, you’d pay $54.99 per month, plus a $49 enrollment fee, for a national access plan at Bally’s Total Fitness. Through discounter GlobalFit.com, which offers special rates for members of partner companies, you’d pay $37.80 per month plus a $29 enrollment fee for the same Bally’s membership. Over a yearlong membership, that’s $226.28 saved.
4) Overdraft Fees
Overdraft fees can run as high as $35 apiece and banks have a host of sneaky tricks that can cause even the most diligent consumer to overdraw on an account. For example, they may approve debit purchases that would put you in the red, or re-order transactions so that the biggest purchases go through first -- and deposits get processed last. To protect yourself, sign up for overdraft protection, which can cost as little as $5 to $10 a year (and is often free with high-level checking accounts), and can save you hundreds of dollars.
Potential Savings: Pay $5 annually for a connected line of credit at Citibank. It kicks in only when you overspend, helping you to avoid the $30 fee per overdraft. Mess up just four times within a year and you've saved $115.
5) Organic Produce
Sure, buying organic makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing, but it isn't always the best choice for your wallet. Fruits and vegetables like kiwis, sweet corn and broccoli require very little pesticide to grow. Others -- like avocados, onions and pineapples -- have thick or peelable skins that reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. “Any pesticide that remains is not getting through,” says Lempert. For a handy reminder as you shop, download the Environmental Working Group’s wallet-sized organic produce guide.
Potential Savings: Organic broccoli costs $2.99 per pound at online grocer FreshDirect, which also offers conventional broccoli for $1.49. A pound of navel oranges is $4 for the organic and $2 for conventional. Someone buying a pound of each item weekly could save $182 over the course of a year.
6) Auto Insurance
“[Auto insurers] often give discounts for consumers who don’t drive long distances,” says Sam Belden, a spokesman for Insurance.com. If your driving habits have changed in recent months -- say, you’ve switched jobs or cut out pricey trips to the mall – call your insurer to ask if you now qualify for a better rate.
Potential Savings: A driver who cuts back to fewer than 7,500 miles a year could shave 5% to 15% off his premiums, depending on his insurer. Considering that the average driver shells out $817 a year on auto insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute, that saves $40.85 to $122.55.
7) Music Downloads
For the longest time, Apple iPod and iPhone owners were stuck downloading their music from iTunes, while consumers with other MP3 players couldn’t put the service’s content on their devices. But now, most online music purveyors (including Apple as of March) offer content in a DRM-free format -- meaning you can listen to it on any MP3 player. That frees iTunes users to pursue cheaper music from sites like Wal-Mart and Amazon.com. Music fans with other MP3 players may benefit from Apple going DRM-free, too. The company plans to revamp its fees in April, charging 69 cents to $1.29 per song instead of the current flat fee of 99 cents. Bottom line: Check prices on several sites before you download.
Potential Savings: “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry costs 99 cents at iTunes, but just 74 cents at Wal-Mart and 79 cents at Amazon.com. Someone buying a song a week could save $10.40 to $13 annually by shopping around.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Caleb: Mom you know when we were watching "That 70's Show" with you last night we knew what she meant when she told Fez his one hand was stronger than the ohter
Me: and what did she mean
Caleb: come on mom you know
Me: whacking the weenie? LOL
Preston: OMG mom
Me: I said well you will probably be doing it one day
Preston: so how do you know we don't already do it? and we don't call it that MOM we call it beating the meat.
Me: laughing till tears came down.
I swear it is just to funny