Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So What Exactly IS a Green Drink?

There is nothing better than starting your day with a glass of green juice or a green smoothie! For those unfamiliar with green drinks, let's review the difference:

Green juice: A combination of pounds of greens and other vegetables like celery that are juiced together. Because they are juiced, the fiber from the greens is filtered out, resulting in a very smooth liquid. Advocates feel that juicing is an excellent way to obtain daily nutrients. Juicers are typically required for making green juice.

Green smoothies: A combination of fruits and vegetables that are blended instead of juiced. The fiber from the fruits and vegetables is kept intact. A high speed blender is preferred for making smoothies.

Following are some of my favorite green smoothie recipes! Enjoy -- and let me know what you think :)

Dr. Oz Green Drink
(as seen on Oprah)
Serves 1-2

1 cup spinach
4 celery stalks
1 cucumber
1 large apple (cored and peeled)
1 juiced lemon
1 juiced lime
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
Small handful of parsley
Water (for blending)
Ice cubes (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a blender except ice cubes. Blend until smooth. It may be necessary to blend on high two or three times. Serve in two tall glasses with ice cubes (if desired).

Apple Lime Smoothie
Serves 1-2

5 medium bananas
2 apples (cored and peeled)
2 leaves kale
1 cup of spinach
2 medium juiced limes
1/4 cup water
Ice cubes to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender except ice cubes. Blend. Add ice cubes. Blend again. Serve in tall glasses.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

E-book Gift-Giving Made Easy for Kindle Apps

This holiday season, I gave my best friend a Kindle! I have loved my ebook reader since I got it last July... and wanted to share the joy! Why the Kindle you ask? As opposed to the nook or one of the many other e-books? One of the main reasons is that as of November, I was able to buy a Kindle book as a gift. It has been surprisingly difficult with any of the services to purchase books as gifts until then.

When you purchase a Kindle book for someone, obtaining the gift is really easy. You will need to enter their email address at the time of purchase. The recipient will then need to click on a link in the email and click on another link once they get to the Amazon site to accept the gift. Once accepted, all that remains is downloading the book to their Kindle. This same process also works for any of the free Kindle apps, including those for the PC, smartphone or tablets rather than the device itself.

As a Kindle user who has many friends with Kindles, I'm glad that Amazon finally began offering this option. And I'm surprised that Apple, Barnes & Noble and Sony haven't followed Amazon's lead! Think of all the money being left on the table! What retailer can afford to do that?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are YOU a victim of recall fatigue?

Seems like every time I turn the television on lately... there is a new recall. 2010 started with the big Toyota and Tylenol recalls ... and then within the past month, McDonald's asked customers to return 12 million Shrek glasses... Campbell Soup asked that we return 15 million pounds of Spaghetti-Os... 2 million cribs were recalled by 7 crib manufacturers... and Kellogg's warned us about 28 million boxes of Froot Loops and other cereals. Doctor's offices were even dinged for handing out trinkets with Cadmium as a treat for good little boys and girls. Frighteningly... those products we heard about are just a fraction of the items that were recalled in the United States just over the last month.

Most of us never even find out if a product we own, use or are planning to consume has been recalled. Even though the government maintains a massive recall site at www.recalls.gov... and a SmartPhone app makes it possible to check for recalls as you shop. Seems like overload to me! If you paid attention to every recall notice that comes out, it would be more than a full time job.

So it's obvious that the national recall system that we have simply doesn't work. The easy part is getting the items pulled from the shelves. The hard part is dealing with those items that are already in our homes. It's been noted that the best way to deal with this is for the manufacturers to notify the consumers directly... so they are aware that a particular recall applies to them. Well... that's one thing to have a car manufacturer use registration information provided at the time of purchase to notify me when my brakes are defective... but I really don't want to complete a registration card for each can of SpaghettiOs or box of Froot Loops I buy... do you?

Notification concerns were behind a new federal law that took effect this week that requires manufacturers of durable baby and toddler items (such as bathtubs, cribs and high chairs) to include registration cards with those products. But what guarantee is there that they will be completed and returned? Brings to mind the registration card I just pitched for the new entertainment center in my den!

Another alternative is that all stores be responsible to maintain customer information and track purchases, similar to Costco, so that notification is easy in the event of a recall. However, do you want your health insurance provider to have easy access to each bag of potato chips you purchased so they can refuse your high cholesterol treatment? Thought so... :) A blog post for another day ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

University of Minnesota researchers reviewed studies with 3,000 people who were either trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss. Of those 3,000 people, approximately 40% weighed themselves daily, 20% weekly, and the remainder avoided the scale as much as possible. After 2 years, folks who did daily weigh-ins lost an average of 12 pounds. Weekly weigh-ins lost 6. While those who avoided their scales gained 4.

Folks who did daily weight checks said that their frequency helps them to avoid gaining back unwanted pounds. If they see the scale creep up a bit, they act on it quickly. Researchers speculate that consistent scale feedback helps dieters set goals and eliminate small fluctuations before they are large gains.

However, there is a lot more to a scale than a mere measure of weight. In our culture, we (women especially) have given scales a lot of power. Their feedback of our weight tends to directly correlate with our body image and self confidence. I am sure that your daily, weekly, or infrequent weigh-ins have their own ritual... Perhaps you...

1. Carefully clean your scale before stepping onto it?
2. Grab the towel rack and gingerly set each foot onto the scale before releasing the bar and gently easing your weight onto it?
3. Hold your breath, close your eyes, look down and only then carefully open your eyes?
4. Measure a known quantity item, e.g., a 10 pound bag of flour, to ensure your scale's accuracy before weighing yourself?

I don't know too many women who can blithely hop onto their scale, glance disinterestedly at the number, and merrily go off to face the day.

So, while it is a good idea to keep tabs on the numbers... keep the following in mind before you let them ruin your day... or develop an unhealthy obsession that just might lead to an eating disorder.

1. Scales do tend to be inaccurate and do not indicate if the weight is due to muscle, bone, flesh or flab.
2. Your body weight can fluctuate up to as much as five pounds during the course of a day.
3. Your body weight can fluctuate alot more than that as a result of your monthly cycle.

It is much healthier to use a range of measurements to determine overall fitness, including BMI, body fat, and circumference measurements than to paint a picture of yourself based on the numbers on the scale. And whatever those numbers are, don't attribute your entire self esteem and self worth to those numbers. We really are more than what we weigh ;)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Prednisone Side Effects

Anyone ever experienced the joys of Prednisone? Well lemme tell ya! A while back I experienced the joys of prednisone to address some back pain due to a fall, and the resulting prednisone side effects. Now... to be fair... the doctor did warn me that some of the prednisone side effects would involve weight gain. He said that I MIGHT experience an increase in appetite and/or sudden weight gain. Might?? MIGHT?!?!?!? There were no mights about it! I literally dropped clothes off at the dry cleaners... picked them up 10 days later... and couldn't even get my leg into my pants! ACKKKKK!

So... drastic times call for drastic measures! I decided to try one of those "unhealthy," fad diets that I have been seeing a lot of buzz about. The HCG Diet. You buy this bottle of drops and place 6 drops under your tongue 6 times a day. And you go on a 500 calorie a day diet. Seems to me that you would lose weight just from being on such a restrictive amount of calories each day? But I looked at their FaceBook page and from their 65,000 members... did not find any unhappy or snarky comments. So that in itself said something to me -- unless of course their customer service people are really quick to remove them. (Always a possibility).

I called the company and talked to the customer service rep. She claims that the drops keep you from getting hungry, and reset your metabolism while you are starving yourself (my words - not her's - LOL!). The claim is that as you gradually resume a normal, HEALTHY diet after reaching your goal weight and enter the maintenance phase, you will not regain the weight. She also says that the drops have you losing weight from the problem areas, rather than places you don't want to lose from. We'll see. I got my drops and started the "load phase" today. The load phase takes place on days 1 and 2 of the diet.

During these 2 days, while your body is loading up on the staving off hunger part of HCG, you get to eat anything and everything you want. This is kinda fun! I will keep you guys posted on my progress over the upcoming weeks, and leave some tips on how to do the HCG Diet should any of you decide you are crazy enough to try it yourself ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Most Common Birth Control Side Effects

When my younger daughter started taking "the pill," she started experiencing many of the hormone-related birth control side effects that I'd taken for granted for years. With there being so many options on the market today, and Google-info-geek that I am, I thought it might be an idea to check into the ways to alleviate birth control side effects... mostly so I wouldn't have to listen to her whine ;)

Headache, Dizziness, Breast Tenderness: Wait it out. Once your body gets used to the influx of hormones from "the pill," these symptoms will likely subside all on their own. If not? Talk to your doctor about switching brands.

Nausea: Nausea will also subside after a few months. Remember that birth control is tricking your body into thinking it is pregnant, so you are experiencing the equivalent of morning sickness. If you are taking an oral contraceptive pill, try taking it with some food. If you are using NuvaRing or a contraceptive patch, you may need to switch methods entirely.

Breakthrough Bleeding: Now this is a birth control side effect that can drive you completely crazy! Mostly because you never know when it will happen. If you are on the pill, try taking it at exactly the same time every day. Spotting can also be prevented by taking an anti-inflammatory or additional estrogen. Discuss it with your doctor if it continues.

Decreased Libido: Adjust your method. Switching to a more testosterone based product will take care of this in a jiffy ;)

Mood Swings: If your hormone-based birth control method is indeed causing mood swings, all hormone based products will likely have the same effect. Doctors usually prescribe an anti-depressant to combat mood swings due to birth control.

Cost: My daughter is still trying to get over the fact that her health insurance provider covers Viagra for their male members, but not her birth control! (Come to think of it, I am still trying to get over that too!) Check into coupons for your birth control prescription. Coupons, discounts and patient assistance programs are usually available from the manufacturer's website. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about samples, rebates and exclusive savings offers.

Pregnancy! Yep, pregnancy! My daughter got pregnant her third month into being on "the pill." After she figured she was regulated and ready to depend on it as her sole means of birth control. Starting on a hormone-based birth control method can be tricky and usually requires adjustments over time. Sometimes your dose isn't high enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. While we would not trade our (now 2 year old) bundle of joy for anything!... you may want to use a back up method until you are sure that you are on the right dose... and of course taking your pill as close to the same time as you can every day helps too :) If you miss a day, be sure to use an alternate method for sure!

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please talk to your doctor for specific information about addressing side effects from using various methods of birth control. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Got a Pain in the Neck?

Seriously! If you have a pain in the neck like I did today, the day seems endless and you're just not functioning as well as you could be. My 15 hour days hunched over my keyboard are the worst culprit. Take my word for it, the following tricks really helped to unkink the neck muscles and alleviate my neck pain so I wasn't completely miserable for the whole day. Use one or two of the following tips to increase flexibility and strength, and alleviate your "pain in the neck!"

1. Apply heat. Take a hot shower to soak those painful neck muscles. Or use a hot, wet towel or heating pad applied directly to your neck. Don't make the mistake of applying the heat for too long a period of time or you will wind up aggravating the pain and making it worse.

2. Stand up straight. For every inch the head is forward in posture, the weight of your head on your neck increases by ten pounds. Keep your shoulders down, not rounded forward. Center your head over you
neck and spine, not down on your chin while you are pounding away on the keyboard. Higher monitor placement so that your work is at eye level is crucial!

3. Talk a friend or loved on into a quick 10-15 minute neck massage. Massages are a great way to provide temporary pain relief. Make sure your buddy or partner uses oil or lotion and uses gentle to moderate pressure while rubbing your neck in small circles of downward strokes.

4. A few minutes of abdominal breathing will do wonders to relieve stress, one of the main causes of most neck pain.

5. Try a few gentle neck-stretching exercises:

Slowly bend your neck towards the right side. Stretch your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position. Then bend your neck to the left and hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position. Repeat 5 times.

Turn your head slowly to stretch your neck as far to the left as you can. Hold for 10 seconds. Then turn your head as far to the right as you can for another 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cetaphil Coupons

Cetaphil is a wonderful facial cleansing product for those of us with dry skin -- especially in the winter. A bit pricey to buy on a regular basis though. Yesterday I found Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (8 oz) priced at $5.47 at Walmart. That combined with the $5 printable Cetaphil coupon I scored from the official website made for a great deal!

Head here to take a 4-minute survey and join the club to net two $5.00/1 Cetaphil product coupons. After you print your first coupon, click the back button to print your second coupon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Which is better? Hulu Plus or Netflix

Move over cable and satellite companies. Customers now have an alternative to overpriced programming bundles with web-based services. While streaming movies and television shows do not match the offerings of traditional paid television, they are getting closer.

Price and Features

Hulu Plus costs $7.99 per month, and has every episode from the current season of popular shows from the major TV networks, including ABC, NBC, and Fox. In addition, entire past seasons of classic shows such as 30 Rock, The Office, and The X-Files are available. Theoretically, you may never need to purchase a boxed DVD set again!

Netflix also costs $7.99 per month for its unlimited streaming service, with an extensive catalog of movies and television shows. Episodes from the current season are not available, and some past seasons are available only on DVD/Blu-ray (available for an additional fee). Overall, Netflix is better for movie buffs, while Hulu Plus is best for network television fans who want to keep up with current shows.


Netflix has more than 20,000 titles available for streaming, while Hulu Plus has 2,000-plus TV episodes. Both services will continue to amass titles, so the numbers will continue to rise.

Hardware Support

To watch Hulu Plus or Netflix on your television, you will need an Internet-enabled television with ethernet port, Wi-Fi, or both; or a Net-ready Blu-ray player, game console, or set-top box that's compatible with the service you want.

Netflix currently supports more devices, including Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii); seven Internet-enabled Blu-ray players; three HDTVS; the TiVo digital video recorder; and three set-top boxes, including the popular Roku Streaming Player. Hulu Plus runs on select Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, with support for Sony and Vizio hardware coming later this year. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 support are "coming soon."

Mobile Devices

Hulu Plus supports Wi-Fi and 3G connections, as well as several Apple mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Netflix's iPhone/iPod app should arrive soon, and the iPad app is already out. With 4G networks on the way, both services could soon be major players in the mobile entertainment business.


Shows on Hulu Plus, like their counterparts on the regular (and free) Hulu, will have commercials. Netflix has no commercials.

Image Quality

Hulu Plus shows display in high-definition (720p) resolution, but Internet connection speed determines much of image quality. Netflix shows certain titles in HD, but only if the broadband link is faster than 5 mbps.

Learn more about Hulu and Netflix at Mahalo:

What Not to Watch: Skating with the Stars is a Train Wreck

I love figure skating. Loved hitting the local rink when I was younger. I wasn't half bad once I got used to gliding on the skinny blades. I still watch skating championships on television (when there isn't a good football game available). And never miss Olympic figure skating... But when the idea behind Skating with the Stars was first announced... I thought it was nuts! Similar to Dancing With The Stars, celebrities are paired with professional skaters to learn how to perform ice dancing and figure skating routines. Sorry, but teaching a non-dancer to navigate the dance floor is entirely different than teaching a non-skater to figure skate and ice dance. Having now seen the debut episode... I think that Skating with the Stars just might possibly be the very worst show I have ever seen. It was painful to watch and as hard as I tried, I just could not manage to stick it out for the entire first episode.

First... British host Vernon Kay... who is no Tom Bergeron... droned on and on about this being the most dangerous live competition on TV: "The performances will be just as explosive, the costumes even tinier, but there is an added element of danger — razor-sharp blades of steel strapped to the feet of six very nervous stars!" And then after all that, nobody even fell. Which I guess is a good thing. At least there were some good falls in the training montages... As Kay says, "If you like watching celebrities fall over, and let’s face it who doesn’t, then you’ve come to the right place." (He did have a point on the watching celebrities fall over thing!)

The judges are an "interesting" mix. Dick Button is a legend, the voice of television figure skating for as long as I can remember, and it's sad to see him here on this horrible show. Johnny Weir is pure entertainment in a Bruno Tonioli kind of way... he makes for good television but stands out in a way that begs to be made fun of. Laurieann Gibson is a wonderful choreographer, but does not do well on television. She comes across pretty flat.

I've never heard of any of the professional skaters. And barely heard of any of the celebs... OK... Sean Young from an old Kevin Costner movie... On the plus side... since there are only six celebs, my guess is that the show will do a test run for 6 weeks and fade into oblivion? One can only hope!

And Sean Young proves just why it is she is so annoying!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Best GameStop Black Friday Deals for your Favorite Gamer!

Shopping for a gamer this holiday season? Head to GameStop at 5 a.m. Friday morning for 40% added trade-in credit, multiple gift with purchase deals, AND a World of Warcraft freebie! All prices are valid in GameStop stores nationwide until noon on Black Friday. Additional special pricing is available between November 26th and 28th. The best freebies for your gamer in this year's GameStop Black Friday ad are:
  • World of Warcraft (PC): priced at $4.99, with a bonus $5 gift card toward future purchases while supplies last. They actually pay YOU a penny to buy the game!
  • Buy two pre-owned game titles or accessories, get one free.
  • Buy any new E-rated title and receive a free activity book while supplies last.
  • Trade in one of the over 100 best-selling titles on the GameStop wanted games list for a $20 credit toward: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Halo: Reach, Fable III, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fallout: New Vegas, and more! Most of these titles are on sale for approximately $39.99, which would mean a $19.99 net price after trade-in.
  • Trade in two games for an extra 10% in-store credit, four games for an extra 20% in-store credit, or six or more games for an extra 40% in-store credit.
  • Assorted PlayStation 3 Greatest Hits titles, regularly $29.99, are on sale for $14.99 between November 26 until November 28, including The Beatles RockBand, Guitar Hero: World Tour, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits.
  • Nintendo DSi Nerf Armor Kit, regularly $24.99, on sale for $14.99.
  • Sonic Sega All-Stars Racing (Wii), regularly $29.99, on sale for $19.99.
  • Wii Essential Gold Pack, regularly $29.99, on sale for $19.99.
  • Chicken Blaster (Wii), regularly $29.99, on sale for $19.99.
  • Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360, PS3), regularly $59.99, on sale for $39.99.
  • Halo: Reach, Fable III (Xbox 360), regularly $59.99, on sale for $39.99.
  • Pre-owned DS lite gaming system, regularly $99.99, on sale for $69.99.
  • Buy a limited-edition Mario Party Nintendo DSi bundle for $149.99, and receive the following free titles: MarioParty DS, and a choice of Fossil Fighters or The Legendary Starfy.
  • Buy an Xbox 360 4GB console for $199.99; and choose a free Medal of Honor or Madden NFL 11.
  • Buy a new black or white Wii system bundle for $199.99, and receive $60 of free titles: Just Dance, Wii Sports, and Wii Sports Resort.
  • Buy a GameStop exclusive PS3 160GB console bundle for $299.99, and receive a free set of the God of War trilogy.
And don't forget to check in with the Mahalo Video Games Team for the latest in gaming information before spending your hard earned dough!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Liberals attribute Bristol Palin’s "Dancing" success to a Tea Party Conspiracy!

Tea Party conspiracy? So what? Bristol Palin has been interviewed countless times during her surprisingly successful run on "Dancing with the Stars" about a number of topics that have kept America buzzing since her mom, Sarah Palin, hit the national scene. It wasn't enough that we have been bombarded with rumors about her on again-off again relationship with baby daddy Levi, alleged love life with dancing partner Mark Ballas, and the state of any battles between her and mama bear Sarah Palin... now we are being subjected to the alleged organized faction of pro-Bristol block of political voters who are helping her to take home the mirror-ball trophy.

Here's what she had to say…

Bristol is pleased as punch that she made it all the way to the finale of the hit reality show. "I work my butt off," she said, dismissing any notions of a Tea Party conspiracy keeping her dancing. Aside from the fact that... for every voter that would vote for her because she's her mother's daughter... there's another who... quite frankly... wouldn't. Think about the droves of people who cannot STAND Sarah Palin.

And to put the relationship rumors to rest... while Bristol and Mark have been putting in double duty at the rehearsal hall... both claim that they are keeping their relationship purely professional. "Nothing with Mark," Bristol claims, "He's like a friend." Like a friend? Hmmmmmm....

As for any other potential dates, Bristol said she had "no time" for dating at the moment. And that she understands the difficulty of her mother's position in the spotlight a bit more after her own 15 minutes. "I see how rumors get made up," she said. Going forward she plans to keep her publicity appearances to the occasional episode of her mom's new reality show: Sarah Palin's Alaska while she works towards her long term goals. In 10 years, her plans include being "married with more kids." How ambitious...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Online Casual Game Walkthrough: Jungle Jewels

Any of you play Jungle Jewels? It's one of those free online match-three games... And one that I happen to be sadly addicted to. (Addiction is NOT pretty in any form!) Literally HOURS can go by while I mindlessly scramble to match 3 sets of gems until all the medals reach the bottom of the playing area.

Similar to Bejeweled, Jungle Jewels has players exchange the order of two side-by-side gems to form groupings of at least three gems of the same color. Once you match three gems in a row, the jewels disappear, making room for more gems to drop in from above. If you are lucky, or skillful, enough to get four gems to match, one explosive jewel remains after the three disappear. A match of five leaves a swirling vortex. If you swap the vortex with one of the gems next to it, all of the same-colored gems will drop from the board.

And that's where the similarities end. While the whole focus of Bejeweled is simply to swap as many jewels as possible, causing cascading reactions to score more points, Jungle Jewels adds a few more challenging elements to keep you hooked!

Keep an eye on the upper left corner of your screen. Displayed there are the goals for your current level, each represented by a number of jewels of a different color. Once you have matched enough jewels of those colors and all of the gems have dropped from the upper left corner, you are rewarded with a gold coin. After the gold coin is added to your game area, the jewel needs to be moved to the bottom row by removing all of the gems under it by matching sets of 3.

On level 1, there is only 1 gold coin. Once it reaches the bottom, the next part of the puzzle is unlocked and the player levels up. Increased coins are added to each subsequent level, two coins on level 2, three coins on level 3, and so on.

Jokers are additional rewards that players receive through gameplay. Using a joker will remove an entire vertical and horizontal line of jewels simultaneously, speeding the progress of the gold coin to the bottom of the gameplay area. Once a joker is used, the clearing bonus for the gameboard is divided in half. In addition, using a joker does not clear goal gems in the upper left area of the game window. You're best off saving your jokers til Level 4 -- believe me you will need them!

Jungle Jewels also allows a bit longer gameplay time with its five minute timer... It's amazing how fast five minutes flies... and multiplies!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Are you addicted to Facebook games?

I can’t log onto Facebook with seeing that one of my friends whom I haven’t spoken to since high school has declared war on one of my other high school buddies! What's a girl to do? Faction infighting? Really? Now that I think about it... not much has changed since high school.

But now it’s all part of this Facebook craze. What should’ve been just another fad has taken users by storm and driving all the other users crazy.

Have you recently heard anyone say "I have got to go home and shake down my rackets." And you think to yourself, "Shake down what rackets?" Or "I only have four hours left to water my crops" which of course prompts the thought, "They live in the city... what crops?"

They’re talking about Mafia Wars, Mobsters, Farmville, Farm Town, Country Story, or any of the other very addicting game applications on Facebook that do a very nice job helping people to waste their time.

With the farming games, for example, players are given a virtual farm they must tend to. They can plant crops, which grow at different intervals so they must remember when they’re ready to harvest before they are ruined. They earn coins to buy more crops by selling them. They can also earn ribbons for advancing skills. Truth be told I even play one or two of them myself!

Try doing a simple search on Facebook and you will find over 500 groups with the word Farmville in the name. The groups promise cheats, coins and new friends if you join them. Same with Mafia Wars or any of the other popular applications.

People have entire blogs devoted to the games, spending every waking moment strategizing how to get "level up" so they can get more coins. Do these people not have a life?

I’m not the only one who feels this way, a Facebook fan page called Not Playing Farmville boasts 2 million fans!

But "it’s just a silly game," you say to yourself. Just a silly game? Tell that to the 75 million users of Farmville and 14 million users of Farm Town!

Of those, 235 of those Farmville players are my friends! And Mafia Wars another 917!

It’s a travesty.

Maybe they can all join the Farmville Addicts Anonymous group. Even though it’s not exactly anonymous considering your name is on your Facebook.

Oh, and I figured out how to block the constant game notifications that kept me from keeping up with my friends. At least I can get on Facebook without going crazy now ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do You Want to Dance Like a Star?

While I was working last night, I was catching up on my weekly dose of reality television... watching the stars dance... missing Florence Henderson just the teensiest bit... and chuckling over Bristol Palin's introduction as a (insert British voice-over announcer here) teen activist. I guess it does sound better than "single unwed mother." Who knew that she would still be on the show rueing the flaunting of her sexuality on the dance floor when Florence was so obviously shown the door for displaying sexuality at the age of 76 during her sexy Rumba?

But I digress... After hearing Jennifer Grey's review in which Len absolutely trashed her Paso Doble performance... I was clueless. I mean... I caught the mistake that she made towards the end... looked like Derek Hough almost wiped out to me as well... Don't get me wrong... last night's performance was nowhere near her amazing Argentine Tango -- which earned her the first 10s of season 11.

But I didn't think it was THAT bad... !

Check out the instructions on the Mahalo page and see if you can tell where Jennifer went wrong:

How to Dance the Paso Doble

While I didn't think Jennifer Grey's paso was BAD, my favorite paso in DWTS history is Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya's paso from Season 10.

And then when Bristol's tango was praised to the heavens by the judges, I didn't think it came close to Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson's Star Wars tango of Season 4.

Next time you are watching and don't have a clue what Len is talking about... Mahalo offers several pages on DWTS' most popular dances so you can try to understand the judges' scores.

How to Dance the Fox Trot
How to Dance the Jive
How to Dance the Viennese Waltz
How to Dance the Samba
How to Salsa
How to Tango
How to Dance the Argentine Tango
How to Dance the QuickStep
How to Dance the Rumba

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All Work and No Play?

There are so many "perks" to being a freelancer. The most obvious is that my schedule is pretty flexible. Aside from the ability to lunch with friends or arrange doctor's appointments without asking for time off, I made a decision to move cross country last summer... from the gulf coast of Florida to Rochester, Minnesota. I did not have to worry about quitting a job... or finding one when I got here. I can work for Mahalo from anywhere... so my home office... and my job... moved with me :)

Don't mistake my boastfulness about flexibility for "light" work days. Believe me, they aren't! The hardest part of being a freelancer for me... and having my office only steps from my living and sleeping space... is learning when to call it a day :) The hardest part for others is forcing themselves to work :) My schedule, even though I work for myself from home, is much as it would be if I were working for someone else.

I wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 most days. I take a shower... work out... grab a Slim Fast or breakfast bar... and head to the computer in my home office. There are usually a stack of emails that need to be addressed... and then I begin to edit articles that have been submitted while I was sleeping. That's when the fun starts! I learn about so many different kinds of things that interest me through the course of an average day. Writers submit articles about a wide variety of topics ranging from the latest movies to political figures and saving money in today's economy.

I chat with my work buddies in our IRC chat rooms or on the telephone to compare notes, get advice, ask and answer questions, or just shoot the breeze... much as I would if I were in a traditional office. I love what I do with Mahalo... so the toughest part for me that I am still working on, even after four years of self-employment, is learning when to call it a day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Evolving Mahalo Freelance Career -- Part 3

Life was good... I was working at Mahalo Monday through Friday... receiving a stable monthly check based on an hourly pay rate... working around 45 hours a week... home for my son and able to spend time with my daughter and new grandson.... in a relationship with someone who was fun and appreciated ME! Life was good at 48 :) And then the other shoe fell. It always does - LOL!

Mahalo sent an email in June that they were discontinuing the remote guide program and beginning a revenue share program that would be based on a percentage of Google earnings on the pages you manage. Instead of earning my comfortable weekly check... it was gonna be dicey! Fortunately, with my experience managing the video games and walkthrough teams, I had learned the finer points of writing a video game walkthrough. My son and I had the best time playing video games that summer. Well... he played... I wrote the step by step instructions to beat the game while watching him. I was earning around $300 for each walkthrough we wrote... and he had practically an unlimited video games budget. Gotta love a tax writeoff. A total win win for me and Sam :)

While I was playing video games, I was learning about how to SEO pages and provide good backlinks... all tools that would help them to keep climbing in the Google search index. When I first managed pages, I was earning a whopping $2 a day! It was pretty nerve wracking! But as my pages gained traction, income on each page slowly began to grow. By the time the revenue share program ended, I was earning approximately $75 per day.

Unfortunately, all people and verticals are not suited to working within the confines of a revenue share program. I still miss it terribly, but am enjoying my latest role with Mahalo... that of the training "manager." I work with a group of really awesome and committed people who are focused on making Mahalo the best content site on the web... and continue to "meet" fun people on a daily basis. Yep! Life is still good -- even at 50 ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Evolving Mahalo Freelance Career -- Part 2

After a few months with the "buzz team," I received an email from Mahalo's video game team leader, Mark Burnham. Mark was inviting me to join Mahalo's video games team. Video games? ARRRRRRRRGH! You have GOT to be kidding! Leave the heavenly soap opera world of politics to write about video games? That was on a par with being relegated to Siberia :( It turned out to be the best Mahalo career move possible for me... I just didn't know it yet ;)

The first six months on the video games team were on a par with torture. The days were lonnnnnnnnnng. I had no interest at all in writing about video games. It was all very much like a foreign language :( And then i discovered something... my son (who was 13 at the time) thought I was like the coolest mom EVER. I was speaking his language! Which was pretty exciting. About the time other parents lose touch with their teens, I had found a channel to maintain a relevant relationship with mine. Conversations with video games have easily transitioned into troubles with school... discovering girls... dodging drugs... and all kinds of other issues. It has made parenting a teen a lot more fun for me. And I began to find that some of the games were actually FUN! Discounting the sex mini games in the God of War series of course... (sigh) And I really did know which games were age appropriate -- another HUGE help in the teen parenting world.

And then Mark left :( And the management of the video games team transitioned to me. I spent the next year and a half or so at Mahalo managing the video games team... worked with a great group of eight video games writers and grew the vertical into one that was gradually being recognized in the industry as having quality walkthroughs and other video game related information. I thought that I'd found my niche... but... Mahalo had other ideas ;) More later!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Evolving Mahalo Freelance Career -- Part 1

Remember those blank stares I mentioned earlier? When I mentioned that I work from home? You might be wearing one yourself about now! LOL! It's not that what I do is all that complex, but it is not the norm I guess.

When I started out working for Mahalo in April 2007, I worked in what was called the "Mahalo Greenhouse." The Greenhouse had hundreds of researchers, whose job it was to gather the best resources on a variety of topics. I was paid $10-$15 for each topic that I researched that was approved by the corporate staff. Eventually, the Greenhouse got so big, that Mahalo's corporate team could not ensure quality for all the work that was submitted in a timely manner. A few of us were invited at that point to become Mahalo "mentors." It was the mentor's role to QC submissions and teach new Greenhouse members the proper way to organize a Mahalo page.

Mahalo's Greenhouse was based on mediawiki software... so the work was all very manually intensive. Details were very important as far as maintaining standards. And it was important that we learn wiki code and learn it quickly.

After a few months as a mentor, I was invited to join the Mahalo "buzz team" with my Mahalo buddies Susan and Bunny, who I still work with. (I now manage the Mahalo training program, while Susan heads up the QC team and Bunny leads Mahalo's booming video games vertical). The buzz team was very different than the QC team. The work was exhausting at first! It was our job to keep up with the latest news stories and write summaries about them, and keep them updated. For this work, instead of the piece rate we had grown accustomed to, we were paid a flat hourly rate.... which allowed for steadier paychecks and the return to more of a "normal" life.

I am a total political junkie... so that job was like heaven! Getting paid to monitor CNN and track the latest in politics was like a little big of heaven here on earth! I thought it could not get any better... but Mahalo had something else in mind! More about that later ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Life of a Freelancer

A fun part of moving to Rochester from Florida's sunny gulf coast has been meeting new people! Of course one of the first things they ask is "what do you do?" And when I reply that I am work for myself from home, I receive a variety of replies that inevitably begin with a blank stare and end with "You're so lucky!" I guess I am :)

For my first 25 or so years after graduating from college I worked in corporate America... beginning in human resources and ending in information technology. It was not an easy balancing act as I did not have family locally, but was very fortunate to work for people who (for the most part) understood the challenges of single motherhood.

After the tragedy of 9/11 when I was in my early 40s, my industry took a huge hit. As a senior project manager and one of the higher paid staff members on the corporate team, I was one of the first that was let go. What I learned was two-fold: my oldest was graduating from high school and I had missed a LOT while I was earning a living to support my three children, and it isn't as easy to find a job when you are 42 as when you are 22.

i taught myself web design and took on a few clients, but the work came in spurts. It was definitely feast or famine. One of my friends told me about this new website called "Mahalo" that might help to ease the highs and lows of freelance work and keep income on a steadier keel. Mahalo has changed a lot since its early days when my role was to find the best links about a wide variety of topics. Although my income is not what it was in my corporate ladder climbing years, I do enjoy more flexibility and still get to have "watercooler moments" in online chat... I don't think at this point that you could pay me enough to return to the corporate ratrace!

Friday, October 1, 2010

I was wrong! Our elected officials DO look out for us!

And just when I thought our esteemed Senators left us hanging and took off for their recess without doing anything for us common folk... after all... the recess to go home and campaign for their jobs is certainly more important than any "people's business" that I can think of... I find out they ARE focused on our needs by passing some of the most important legislation EVER: Turning down the volume on television commercials! The Senate unanimously passed the most controversial of bills last Wednesday that requires television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

Thank Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. for his hard work in the Senate that requires the FCC to adopt the recommendations as regulations within the next year and to enforce them a year after that. Send your emails to Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., the driving force behind the bill in the House before it's too late. After all, it's past time to stop using loud commercial volume to startle us all into paying attention. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO WATCH OUT FAVORITE PROGRAMS WITHOUT FEAR OF LOSING OUR HEARING WHEN A SHOW GOES TO COMMERCIAL by god!!! After all, lifting the remote to turn down the volume is much too much work for the likes of me after a hard day's typing in my home office.

Forget health care! Forget the economy! Forget the balanced budget! Federal deficit? National Security? Pffffffffft! It's about time someone went out on a limb, took a stand and addressed these kinds of important issues! Let's all take a moment and thank those selfless brave men and women who take the time to look out for us this way. I sure hope this didn't bump their annual raise from the docket? Now THAT would be a shame!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Almost Equal Time for the NFC North

The NFC North teams to beat (in my opinion) are the Packers and the Vikings. And I'm not just saying that because of my recent cross country move from Florida's lovely Gulf Coast to Rochester, Minnesota. Absolutely LOVING Rochester by the way! The rolling hills and lakes are simply beautiful. I'll update you all as to my opinion in winter time and let you know if I feel the same way -- BRRRRRR! But I digress... Let's bring it on back to football.

Aaron Rodgers has become the team leader the Packers expected, and has been doing an incredible job as QB in line with the Packers' "throw the football" style game. To allow Rodgers to fully meet his potential however, their offensive line needs to establish a more consistent level of play. Last season's 51 sacks need to be cut in half. Tramon Williams will also need to step it up with cornerback Al Harris unable to play.

The Vikings on the other hand, have a brilliant defensive front that is effective against both the pass and the run. Their claim to fame especially is in their ability to rush the quarterback. Their secondary, however, needs to work on consistency, which is going to be difficult given their current secondary line-up. The Vikings are, to be blunt, old... and injured. Cedric Griffin is still recovering from the torn ACL he acquired in that sad NFC Championship game. Antoine Winfield, entering his twelfth season, is just recovering from a foot injury. And starting right corner Chris Cook is dealing with a torn meniscus. The Vikings acquired running back Toby Gerhart, runner up in the Heisman Trophy voting, needs to step it up to spell Adrian Peterson and help keep Favre healthy. If the Vikings get through October's schedule against the Jets, Dallas, Packers and Patriots... they are a lock for post season.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are YOU Ready for some FOOTBALL?

It occurred to me last Sunday night as I was channel surfing that I very nearly missed the first televised pre-season game of the 2010 football season! ARRRRRRRGH! Close call! So of course I had to go scooting over to the Colts' official site to check out what's going on... sadly... looks like the first beyond-local telecast will not be until August 26th on ESPN at 8 PM.... sad dayyyyyyyy! Of course that is when I will be in transit to my new home in Rochester, MN :( Here's hoping that Vikings country will be a more Colts-friendly environment than its been down here it Buccaneer land. Bad enough that I was stuck with a pathetic excuse for a team mere miles from home... but Colts games were CONSTANTLY being bumped by the Bucs televised atrocities.

After getting caught up on the state of things in the AFC... I am fairly certain that the playoffs will come down to The Colts (of course), Dolphins, Chargers and Patriots. And here's why...

Last season, my boys in blue won eight games that were decided by less than eight points. Some of them were ugly, granted, and fights to the last second... with more than one "hail mary" finish. But Peyton Manning always seems to find a way when it counts. As long as he stays healthy... and the defense keeps it together... The Colts will be in good shape in January. Looks like they may have to start the season without Center Jeff Saturday, who underwent arthroscopic surgery last Tuesday... but hopefully he will be back closer to two weeks than the possible six? Just four weeks would have him back in time for the season opener against the Texans... and DEFINITELY by the time the Colts face the NY Giants. On top of that, left tackle Charlie Johnson sprained his right foot... but seems to be on the mend... and should be healthy in plenty of time.

With the addition of a big running back in Ryan Mathews, the Chargers should be an even more dynamic team than last year and will (as much as I hate to say it) give the Colts a run for their money. With the ability to run the ball so the play-action fake will actually be worth something? The Vince Lombardi Trophy might just be their's for the taking.

I have waited a lonnnnnng time for the Miami Dolphins to find their way as a team again... They were awesome at execution last season, but not so great on the 2-minute defense end of things... and just not very good at making the big plays. But... if they can figure out how to stop those big plays on defense, and make a few on offense, we just might see them in the January playoffs.

Had to include the New England Patriots. Mostly cuz I hate 'em. Don't laugh - I'm serious! I have never despised a team in any sport as long or as hard as I have despised the Patriots. But that has nothing to do with football. That's an integrity thing (or lack thereof). But... back to football... As much as they try to surround Brady with young talent, they are definitely a team in transition and can't hide it. And they need their young players to start playing quickly and producing or they won't go anywhere this season. Although I have to admit that I found it quite joyous to watch them let the opponents score EVERY time they were first and goal inside the 5-yard line last season :) Not to mention those turnovers in several game-ending offensive drives :) But I suppose, as reluctantly as I type this, that if their young guys can toughen up and pull it together, we will likely see them in January. UGH.

Now to head to the NFC sites and check out what's happening on the other side of the football ;)

Is it Illegal to Legalize Marijuana?

This may sound like your basic bubble-headed blonde type question... but marijuana reform opponents have maintained for years that federal law prevents states from enacting their own marijuana legislation. I ran across an interesting post today that examines how the feds might handle marijuana use should Proposition 19 pass in California's November election.

To summarize, federal authorities might have the right to interfere with the distribution of marijuana, but recreational and medical marijuana users would be within their rights as citizens of the state of California. The fact that Proposition 19 also allows for personal grow spaces would mean that the number and size of these personal spaces would be impossible to target under federal law. Recreational and medical marijuana users could circumvent the inability to purchase during a "dry spell" by growing their own supply.

Interesting stuff... I am waiting to see how other states react should California's voters pass Proposition 19. And how marijuana's tax revenues will impact the growing California deficit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Medical Marijuana Legal in Washington DC

A democratic Congress did not overrule the Washington, D.C. Council bill allowing the district to establish up to eight medical marijuana dispensaries where patients can purchase the drug. Congress had 30 legislative session days to review the bill that was approved by the D.C. Council in May of 2010. Now that the bill has cleared Congress, patients will likely have to wait several months for Mayor Adrian M Fenty and the D.C. Department of Health to establish marijuana dispensary licensing regulations.

The law passed by the District of Columbia allows allows patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and other chronic ailments to possess up to four ounces of the drug. Patients will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana for medical use. Medical marijuana will need to be purchased from licensed companies once a patient has obtained a doctor's permission. Patients who prove financial need will be eligible to purchase medical marijuana at reduced cost, or receive it free of charge.

Medical marijuana sales are also subject to the district's 6 per cent sales tax.

Washington, D.C. residents voted to allow medical marijuana use in a 1998 referendum. Until last year, Congress blocked the city from enacting that referendum.

This announcement comes just a few days after the startling news from the Department of Veterans Affairs that will formally allow veterans being treated at its hospitals and clinics in states that have legalized use of medical marijuana to use it. The directive, expected to take place during the week of July 26, 2010, is designed to clarify conflicts between federal laws outlawing use of marijuana and the 14 states that currently allow medicinal use of the drug. The new policy will not permit VA doctors to prescribe marijuana, but alleviates the concerns of VA patients who use the drug and are concerned about losing access to all prescription pain medications if caught.

Doctors may still modify a treatment plans if a veteran is using marijuana, or opt to discontinue other pain medicine if there is a risk of interactions, but the decisions will now be made on an individual basis. Veterans have fought for this change for many years, citing marijuana's positive effects on physical and psychological pain, as well as its role in diminishing side effects of specific medical treatments.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Will "Doomsday" Happen Before the Sky Falls?

I'm not sure how many people have read about the ancient Mayan prophecy in which the calendar abruptly ends on December 21, 2012. The first time I personally remember hearing about the world ending was 1968. I was only eight years old, so I forget what event was to allegedly trigger the 1968 Doomsday event. But I remember being curious, and a bit scared. And paying REALLY close attention in church one Sunday as Father Dolan explained from the pulpit that none of us would know the time so why speculate... when it is nothing we can control or know. All we can do is live every day loving God and our neighbors so we don't have to be afraid. Gimme a break! I was eight. I am sure that's a loose translation ;)

As I've gotten older, I've realized that speculation (displayed as mass hysteria within some groups) as to when the world will end has been around since the beginning of time. The next world-ending event that I remember hearing about was in the early 1980s due to some unusual alignment of the planets. There have been a few of those over the years. And of course, thanks to Nostradamus, there was rampant speculation around the turn of the century. I didn't pay too much attention as I was in information technology at the time and really busy adapting computer systems to accommodate the date change. And I was turning 40. And had found my birthmom :)

Over the past few years I've read articles and books about global warming and how it will trigger our impending doom... and how there are plates shifting under the ocean that will cause the earth to turn on its axis so that the poles and equators all do a 180 (so to speak). Of course these issues are more complex than that... but I don't have time to get into ALL the technicalities of it and am far from a rocket scientist ;) To be honest... I've always felt that other than living in moderation as much as possible... there wasn't a whole lot I could personally do about global warming... And plates on the ocean floor were even more out of my jurisdiction than global warming... So I relied on that old sermon from Father Dolan: All I could personally do about any of it was live every day of my life as if it were my last... being kind and loving to my family, friends... and mother earth... and that hopefully if anything cataclysmic happened... or my personal journey ended... I could rest knowing that my heart had always been in the right place. At 50 I have gotten to a place where I am comfortable with that philosophy and don't give our impending doom too much thought.
So why did my brain start travelling down this path again this week? I read an article on Helium entitled "Doomsday: How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a 'world-killing' event". The article speculates that methane bubbles caused extinction events twice before in our planet's history, and that the Gulf Oil spill just may have hastened another one. Allegedly, within 6 months, another methane event will occur, and no known technology will stop it. To summarize the article: "The bottom line: BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years." Of course, according to the article, the media has been kept away from the center of operations, allegedly with a threat of a $40,000 fine for each infraction as well as felony arrests.

Frankly, every journalist I know is into scooping a story, First Amendment rights, and the "truth." At least idealistically. So I have a hard time believing that not one journalist is attempting to breach the alleged media blackout. But my personal thoughts? I have no proof that any of this is true... and I am again back to Father Dolan's sermon. So I dismissed the article as "interesting" and got back to work ;)

And then ran across a CNN article: "Scientists baffled by unusual upper atmosphere shrinkage"... about the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years... and I thought "oh JEEEEEEEEEEEEZ!" Fortunately, despite the headline, it seems that the collapse of the thermosphere is unlikely to have a direct effect on our daily lives... unless of course you count slight disruptions in satellite communications or space navigation around all the space junk we have left up there... (You'd think we would be happy just polluting our planet and leaving space alone? But noooooooo!) So at least it looks like, at least for now, the sky is not falling... and that's a good thing...

In the meantime, I am counting on the powers of the Bilderberg Group to take care of any other prophecies of doom. A cataclysmic event would surely disrupt their plans for the "New World Order." ;)

Posted via email from momsdaword's posterous

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tylenol Recall Expanded to Include 21 Additional Lots

Additional Tylenol brand products were recalled on July 8, 2010. This most recent recall includes 21 lots of children and adult Tylenol, as well as Motrin and Benadryl allergy tablets. These lots listed were produced prior to the Jan 15 Tylenol recall.

The July 8 recall was announced after an internal company review determined that package materials used in these lots had been shipped and stored on the same type of wooden pallet used in the previously recalled lots. McNeil has since stopped using that type of pallet. According to information released by the manufacturer, chances of becoming ill from this recall are slim, however, if you are in possession of any of the following 21 lots of recalled Tylenol, Benadryl or Motrin medication, do not use it. Contact McNeil Consumer Healthcare at (888) 222-6036 for instructions on getting a refund or replacement.

July 8 Recall Lots:

MOTRIN® IB CAPLET 24 count Lot ACA003
MOTRIN® IB CAPLET bonus pack 50+25 count Lot ACA002
MOTRIN® IB TABLET 100 count Lot AFA060
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength EZ TABLET 225 count Lot ASA206
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength EZ TABLET 50 count Lot ABA005
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength COOL CAPLET 24 count Lot ABA566
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength CAPLET bonus 24+12 count Lot ACA025
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength CAPLET 50 count Lot AFA018
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength CAPLET 50 count Lot ABA168
TYLENOL®, Day & Night Value Pack 50 count Lot ABA168
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength RAPID RELEASE GELCAP 24 count Lot ACA024
TYLENOL®, Extra Strength RAPID RELEASE GELCAP 225 count Lot AJA119
TYLENOL® PM CAPLET 24 count Lot ACA005
TYLENOL® PM CAPLET 24 count Lot ADA259
TYLENOL® PM GELTAB 50 count Lot AFA100

Monday, July 5, 2010

OMG! Farmville Groceries are REAL!

Now let's think about this! Any of you who play Farmville... where you spend hours and hours growing your own virtual fruits and veggies. I just found out that now you can buy your very own FarmVille brand junkfood at 7-11! Where have I been? Not playing FarmVille I guess... Don't look at me! I just get paid to write about these games... not to play them :P And the iPad games are kinda the "in thing" right now so I have been sadly neglecting my Facebook play time.

But ya know... Nuthin says "fresh and healthy" quite like a good junk food spree at 7-11! Especially when an in-game swimming pool might be included with your snack purchase ... if you're lucky ;) I guess that's one way to work off those junk food calories... Taking a dip in your very own FarmVille pool!

Posted via email from momsdaword's posterous

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ummmmm.... Wait a minute... Jesus wasn't crucified?!

Rained out for this year's July 4th festivities ... and unstructured couch potato lounging about not being my strong suit... I headed to the computer (surprise surprise for those who know me I'm sure! LOL) Starting with my standby for news... the CNN website (gotta love Anderson Cooper!)

Soooo ... we have the JFK airport terminal reopening after a bomb scare... the Green Zone under mortar attack during Biden's visit... Sen. Dole's rehab inspiring his fellow Walter Reed patients... the stimulus program not helping the economy... standard blah blah depressing stuff ... Oh wait! Here's a piece of good news! Tori Spelling's hubby is out of ICU! THANK GOODNESS! Haven't slept in DAYS waiting for that tidbit!

But wait! There's more! The pièce de résistance! The headline that reads... Gospels don't say Jesus was crucified... uhmmmmm... you have GOT to be kidding me! An entire 12 years of Catholic school education wasted...? I wonder if I could get a refund! Not to mention the 2000+ years of Christianity that are now going down the tubes? I can almost see the good Sisters explaining THIS one in religion class at my all-girls private high school... "Girls... looks like there's been a slight case of confusion over the years... why don't you go to gym while we figure out a new lesson plan for religion class?"

It was about all my muddled brain could handle when Sr Mary patiently explained that there was "no Adam and Eve." They were merely representative figures to tell a story of how we came to be... during a simpler time to less educated people... And the world was not created in 7 days. Because a day to God could be a year... a thousand years... a million years... Cuz after all... he is GOD. And we weren't there. So no one knows for sure. Uhmmmm... ok? So the Bible LIED?!? OMG! You could almost see everyone's brains racing... The room was so silent you really could have heard a pin drop. So Santa was a lie... the tooth fairy was a lie... and now the Bible is lying TOO? What ELSE have they been keeping from us?

But no... not that simple... See... the Bible is not lying... but there are parts of it that express "BIblical truth" as opposed to factual or literal truth. And so much of it was passed on by word of mouth for so many years... that you could more or less think of it as a very elaborate game of "Telephone." And let's not even bring up the people who wanted to embellish the stories a bit to make Jesus sound even better than he already was. Soooo... did that mean the next time Patty and I blew curfew in Dunkin Donuts til 4 AM that I could come up with a few "Biblical truths" of my own? (sigh) Didn't think so.

OK... time to quit yabbering and click on the link to see what happened to Jesus since he wasn't crucified. Maybe the fireworks being rained out is a good thing? Or I never would have learned the truth even at this late date!

Turns out that this Swedish evangelical pastor says that in the original ancient Greek Gospel text... there is nothing about crucifixion... it only says that Jesus carried "some kind of torture or execution device" to a hill where "he was suspended" and died. Not that it wasn't a crucifix. Just that the Greek word used is 'stauroun,' which may or may not refer to a crucifixion. The word itself means suspended. So... according to this guy... to be technically correct... we would need to say that Jesus carried some kind of torture or execution device to the hill on Calvary. He was suspended from it. And he died. And then he admits that Jesus was most likely crucified. But the Bible doesn't say that. Somehow... 'Stations of the Torture Device' doesn't quite have the same ring to it as 'Stations of the Cross.' UGH. Semantics. The dude is trying to turn my world upside down based on semantics. (sigh) Guess I'll head back to the couch :S Happy 4th!

Friday, July 2, 2010

High Levels of Cadmium Prompt Recall of Children’s Trinkets

Approximately 70,000 trinkets distributed by doctors and dentists as a reward for good boys and girls have been recalled by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission due to high levels of Cadmium. Cadmium, a naturally occurring toxin, is a known carcinogen and can weaken kidneys and bones. Particularly dangerous when ingested, regulators are concerned that children may bite, chew, suck on or swallow the cadmium-jewelry. Included in the recall are ""Happy Charm Bracelets" with colorful beads on an elastic band and a metal charm depicting either a butterly, sun or moon attached to the bracelet. Rings with a metal football-shaped charm appended to an adjustable band are also part of the recall.

The trinkets were imported by the Toy Network, of Indianola, Iowa and Fun Express Oriental Trading Company, of Omaha, Nebraska. They were made available free of charge in doctor and dentist offices nationwide from June 2005 through March 2010. Consumers are urged to dispose of the jewelry immediately. Contact SmileMakers, Inc, a Staples subsidiary and the distributor of the items, toll-free at (877) 390-5470 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET for more information concerning the recall.

There are currently no federal requirements for testing cadmium in children's jewelry. However, some companies began testing for it when it was learned that some Chinese manufacturers began substituting cadmium after lead was banned from children's jewelry in 2008. As a result of the testing, federal regulators have recalled Disney-branded jewelry sold at Walmart; "Best Friends" charm bracelets sold at the international jewelry and accessories chain Claire's; and 12 million "Shrek" movie-themed drinking glasses being given away at McDonald's with cadmium pigment in their decoration.

Paris Hilton detained in South Africa for smoking pot?

Interrupting Paris Hilton's recent tweets spouting her love of South Africa (and life in general) is a brush with the law on suspicion of marijuana possession. A Johannesburg radio station reported that Hilton was detained outside the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after the Brazil-Netherlands quarterfinals. Two South African police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Hilton did have marijuana in her possession and that an investigation was underway. However, it seems that a South African judge has dropped the charges. Good thing. I'd have hated for Paris to miss the upcoming Safari she tweeted about just a few short days ago!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Consumer Group Takes Aim Against Happy Meal Toys

You might say "they're hatin' it," in marked contrast to McDonald's long-running slogan: "I'm Lovin' It." The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has issued a notice of intent to file a lawsuit against McDonald's, claiming Happy Meals toys lure kids into unhealthy eating habits and break state consumer-protection laws in multiple states. "McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," states the news release announcing the impending lawsuit. CSPI claims they will continue with the Happy Meal lawsuit if McDonald's does not stop offering toys with Happy Meals within the next 30 days.

McDonald's of course, strongly objects to the CSPI claims, stating: "We couldn’t disagree more with the misrepresentation of our food and marketing practices made by CSPI." The McDonald's statement notes that McDonald's participates in the Better Business Bureau's voluntary initiative to address children's well-being. It defends Happy Meals and notes that since 2008, U.S. customers have purchased 100 million of the meals with Apple Dippers. According to the statement, McDonald's served 31 million gallons of milk, which is three times the amount of milk served in 2004. In addition, the statement points out that the recent ads featuring the lovable ogre Shrek offer Apple Dippers and 1% milk instead of french fries and sugary soft drinks.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Magic Power Coffee Recall due to Viagra-Like Ingredient

Federal regulators are warning consumers away from Magic Power Coffee, coffee seemingly designed for men who want to stay awake and have more sex. Marketed as an all natural nutritional supplement, the Magic Power brand of instant coffee contains a substance similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in prescription ED medicine Viagra. Sildenafil can interact with nitrate-type medications commonly prescribed to patients for the treatment of hypertension, causing dangerous drops in blood pressure.

Most supplements are thought to be harmless and pose no health risk, however Magic Power Coffee can cause serious side effects. And, the addition of ingredients reserved for use in prescription drugs into
over the counter products is a violation of the law. Magic Power Coffee is just one of the male enhancement products flagged by federal regulators this year.

The coffee supplement is currently being sold online as part of a multi-level marketing program. FDA officials advise that the product be discarded. Adverse effects can be reported to the FDA by calling

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Uh-Oh SpaghettiOs!

According to the USDA, Campbell's Soup recalled 15 million pounds (35,000 cases) of SpaghettiOs with meatballs due to a cooker malfunction at the Paris Texas plant that left beef and noodles underprocessed. Underprocessing means that the product was not sufficiently heated until it reached commercial levels of sterility, which ensures shelf stability. Without shelf stability, the cans can not be sure to be free of microorganisms, like bacteria, and spoilage can occur. Since the company could not be sure exactly when the cooker malfunction occurred, they opted to err on the side of caution and issue the SpaghettiOs recall for all products manufactured at the affected plant between December 2008 and June 2010.

The specific products in question are:

* 14.75-ounce cans of "SpaghettiOs" with Meatballs with product code "U5" on the bottom of the can
* 14.75-ounce cans of "SpaghettiOs" A to Z with Meatballs with product code "4N" on the bottom of the can
* 14.75-ounce cans of "SpaghettiOs" Fun Shapes with Meatballs (Cars) with product code "KS" on the bottom of the can

They can also be identified with an establishment number "EST 4K" on the can and a "Use By" date between June 2010 and December 2011.

Were spoilage to have occurred, cans would appear bloated, or there would be a foul odor upon opening. If the product was consumed, nausea or vomiting are likely to occur. To date, there have been no reports of illness related to the SpaghettiOs recall.

Consumers in possession of products with identifying product codes KS, 4N or U5 should return those products to the place of purchase for a full refund. Any related questions may be directed to Campbell's
Hotline at (866) 495-3774.

Eight Cases of Salmonella Linked to Marie Callender's Recall

Eight cases of salmonellosis have been linked to the nationwide recall of Marie Callender’s brand Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals, according to state health and agriculture officials. The recall was initiated when the CDC informed ConAgra, the company that produces Marie Callender products, that of the 30 people diagnosed with a rare form of Salmonella, Salmonella Chester, 8 reported eating the product prior to becoming ill. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture was able to isolate Salmonella Chester from an intact package of Marie Callender's from one of those infected with the rare strain of salmonella. The Marie Callender's recall specifically includes 13-ounce packages of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice White Meat Chicken and Broccoli over Rice Topped with Rich Cheddar Sauce.

More information is available from the USDAs' FSIS division. All packages of Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken & Rice with P45 inside the USDA inspection mark should be discarded and not consumed. Further consumer questions about the recall may be addressed by calling ConAgra Foods at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hi! My Name is Colette and I'm a Workaholic...

The great thing about cell phones, smartphones and laptops is you can always be reached.

The bad thing about cell phones, smartphones and laptops is... you can ALWAYS be reached.

That makes truly getting away from work and everyday stresses all the more difficult. Especially when you are a freelance contractor who works from home (like me!). And it seems that I am not alone. According to a story in this week's Wall Street Journal, half of working Americans come back from vacations actually feeling rested and rejuvenated. 56 percent of workers say they need a vacation more than ever after they return because of the amount of work that has piled up in their absence.

A 2002 study in the Netherlands claimed to find that relaxation attempts even causes something they termed "leisure sickness" in 3% of our vacationing population. Symptoms of leisure sickness include fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Huh... who'd have thought that withdrawing from stress and relaxing would be such a painful experience? But for some people, it seems that removing stress from their daily environment is comparable to steroid withdrawal and may be the cause of dramatic mood swings and changes in glucose metabolism.

Bryan E. Robinson, author of "Chained to the Desk, a Guidebook for Workaholics," theorizes that workaholics are driven by low self-esteem and fear of inadequacy." He continues, ""For a lot of workaholics, work alleviates anxiety, and when you are not working, the anxiety bubbles up." Sadly, I can see apply both of those statements pretty accurately to my life. Especially having all that time to fill since my kids have left the nest.

I've been talking alot lately about achieving balance in my life and leaving behind my workaholic tendencies. It seems that this has been easier said than done! So in keeping with my workaholic nature... I've come up with a plan to achieve some balance. (Did I mention I am list happy too?!)

1. Learning something new. While it's good to get outside of the comfort workzone, I've acknowledged that exploding out of it from a 17 hour work day to doing NOTHING just ain't gonna happen. Finding something to stimulate the brain that is not work related will keep the mind busy on a more "fun" pursuit. (I've decided to relearn high school Spanish and keyboards. Let's just hope I don't get as obsessed about that as I am with my "job"! LOL!)
2. Have a plan, but be flexible. Having scheduled work hours (mostly to designate a stop time) is a good thing. But flexibility is important too in case someone calls one morning for a quick trip to the beach ;) After all, that's why I opted out of corporate America to begin this freelance journey!
3. Get physical. Our bodies were just never meant to sit at a desk for 12+ hours a day. I've recently begun starting my day with an hour of either aerobic exercise or weight training. Exercise releases endorphins to put you in a better mood, as well as burns off excess adrenaline and cortisol that result from your daily stress.
4. Breathe. I've decided to end my work day with some time to meditate. A period of separation (so to speak) to end the work day and begin relaxation time. What I used to use my daily commute home from the office for.
5. Practice mindfulness. Work just as hard at "not working" as you do at working. Quit judging yourself and setting the bar so high. Be aware of times you do that and ask why. Focus on the moment. Be objective in observing your behavior to learn why what you've accomplished is never enough.

So now that I have my new checklist... we'll see how it goes. Let me know what you think... and I'll keep you posted ;)