Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Best Music For Working

By T. Payne

If you spend your entire day at a computer, you might need a little help to focus on your tasks. I have found that one of the best ways for me to keep focused and stay fresh is to listen to music. It helps to relieve the boredom of mundane tasks and it can actually help me avoid other outside distractions.
I can't just listen to any music though. I am a hip-hop fan but if I listen to music with lyrics I find myself getting caught up in those. Classical music is always a good choice, but sometimes I want something more modern. That is why instrumental hip-hop is my choice. The following three albums are my current work rotation and I think would be a great addition to yours.
1. Ino Hidefumi - Living Message: This is an instrumental album out of Japan. It is my all time favorite work album in fact. In fact about the only time I listen to this album is while I am working. I love how it is a great blend of classical, organic instruments with hip-hop esthetics. It is catchy enough that it relieves boredom, but laid back enough it doesn't overpower my work. It may be hard to find, but this is the internet age so no excuses!
2. The Roots - Dilla Joints: With the passing of Jay Dee (Dilla), hip-hop lost one of it's greats. The Roots do their best to keep his memory alive with this album. No rapping on this album, this is just the Roots live band doing their version of some classic Jay Dee beats like "She Said" and "Look Into Her Eyes". Anyone familiar with Jay Dee knows that his work is perfect for relaxing. Very jazzy and low key beat that are perfect for background music while working. the Roots do a great job of making the beats come to life. Really, this is right up their alley. I am sure this would be easier to find than the above record.
3. Damu The Fudgemunk - How It Should Sound: I wanted to include this album because it is a bit newer. I also thought I should include it because I felt bad for avoiding it due to the DJs name. I know that is no reason to avoid something...but the Fudgemunk? Really? This album is much more traditional sounding. The above two albums might not even be recognizable as hip-hop to some people. No doubting what this one is when you hear it. It is traditional boom bap rap for the most part. I like listening to this one when I need energy. The other albums are great for background music and so is this...but the drums on here are likely to have you bouncing your head. Great for starting your day, or dealing with any mid day blahs you are trying to get over.
At it's best, work music should help you avoid distractions. it should drown out sounds that annoy you and allow you to focus. It can keep you motivate as well as energized. You don't have to listen to my selections, but next time you are having trouble completing a task - throw on some of your favorite music an see if it helps.
Ted Payne left a soul crushing job 2 years ago to try and make his fortune true entrepreneurial means. A lot of lessons were learned along the way and 2 years later, he has finally begun to realize his dreams. He wants to share how.
For more info on Ted check out his blog: Ted Payne

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top Ten Power Packed Foods

What is the secret to a long and healthy life?  It is in the food that we eat.  As you well know, all foods are not created equal.  Choosing and eating the right foods may help increase your life expectancy as well as the quality of your life.

Here are ten of the top power packed foods designed to give you energy, vitality and all around good health!

1. Beans - If they give you gas, take precautions before you eat them.  Soaking them first can help.  Beans of all kinds (kidney, navy, lentils, chickpeas, Northern) are high in protein.  This is plant protein so it contains very little fat, carbs and calories.  If fiber is a problem in your diet, eating a healthy portion of beans each day can keep your digestive system healthy.

2. Oatmeal - Oatmeal is coming into popularity as a food that lowers blood cholesterol.  You can make it yourself with rolled oats or eat the instant kind if you are in a hurry.  Oatmeal is a filling grain that also provides much needed fiber to keep hunger at bay and your blood sugar constant.

3. Fruits - Fruits are filled with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and A.  Antioxidants fight free radical damage in the body and reduce the risk of cancer.  Berries such as blueberries and grapes have the highest amount of antioxidants.  But choose an array of fruits in a wide variety of colors for maximum health.  The antioxidants in fruit boost the immune system to fight the effects of aging in the body.

4. Allium foods - This class of foods includes garlic, onions, leeks and shallots.  Garlic is known for lowering cholesterol.  Allium vegetables help guard the body against the risk of cancer and many other ailments.  They also help lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots.  Eating these power packed vegetables in their natural state especially garlic increases their health benefits. 

5. Salmon - Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of heart disease and other conditions like atherosclerosis.  Wild salmon is a fatty fish but it contains good fats that has been proven to improve health in children and adults.  Salmon is rich in protein which is of great use after an exercise session to build muscle tissue.

6. Flax seed - Like salmon it contains omega-3 fatty acids.  These seeds also contain omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.  You get a lot of power to fight high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes with this seed.  Ground flax seed can be added to fruit smoothies, sprinkled in yogurt, eaten with cereal or added to pancake mix to name a few.

7. Peppers - Peppers are colorful.  They contain antioxidants like beta-carotene and Vitamin C.  Peppers range from mild and sweet to so hot you'll be calling the fire department.  All peppers contain a substance called capsaicin.  Capsaicin has the properties of an anti-inflammatory, a pain reliever, lowers cancer risk and heart disease.  They are good in salads, salsa and all sorts of dishes.

8. Nuts and seeds - Nuts are high in fat but those fats are the good kind.  Peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and pistachios are all providers of good fats and protein.  Crush them into a fine powder and use as a coating instead of higher carb bread crumbs.  Nuts help to lower cholesterol.  Eat them right out of the shell with no additives.

9. Acai - This berry has been in the news lately.  It is rich in antioxidants and increases energy.  You can get more done and look better while doing it.  You can get Acai juice and supplements in your health food store.

10. Yogurt - The fat free variety is good for you.  Yogurt contains calcium, Vitamin B, and protein.  If you don't drink milk, yogurt is an alternative to get your calcium in to build strong bones and teeth.  Live yogurt also contains friendly bacteria to help promote a healthy digestive system.

Building a better healthier body begins with what you eat.  Try these super foods to get started on the right foot. 

Five Easy Toning Exercises you can Do Anywhere

Exercise is an important part of our lives. Staying in shape is one way to increase your life expectancy. Weight bearing exercises are important also for increasing muscle mass and bone density as you age.

Most of us have learned what to do when it comes to exercising. The problem is where and when to get the job done. With a busy lifestyle, making time for exercise is a challenge.

Weight bearing exercises aren't just for bodybuilders. As you age, especially once you hit the age of forty, you begin to lose muscle mass. For women especially, bone loss becomes a problem. When the body is in need of calcium it can rob it from your bones. Building muscle not only increases their mass but your strength.

Here are five easy toning exercises that can be done anywhere and whenever you have time. At home, at the office, or on vacation, you can do these easy yet extremely effective exercises.

1. The Bridge Butt Lift - Sounds like a plastic surgery technique but it is an easy way to tone your buttocks. Lay down with feet flat on the floor, legs shoulder width apart. Place your hands, palm side down, on either side of your body. Pushing with your feet, squeeze your gluteal muscles and lift your butt off the floor. Hold the position for a count of five to ten and release down to the floor.

2. Squats - Squats work the butt, the hamstring muscles and the quadriceps. If you aren't sure of proper form, you can use a chair. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and feet firmly planted. Push your butt back as if you were preparing to sit in a chair. Keep your abs tight and your upper body straight. Once you reach chair level stop and hold the position for a count of two to five and release. At the lowest point, place all of your weight on your heels for balance and maximum toning.

3. Reverse Lunges - Lunges work the quadriceps muscles. They can be hard for people with knee problems. A reverse lunge still tones the right muscle groups but with less pressure on the knee. Stand with feet together and arms at your sides. Take one leg and move it backwards until you are in lunge position: front leg bent at a 90 degree angle and back leg extended until you are on the ball of your foot. From this position lower yourself down until the back knee almost touches the floor. Hold for a count of two and return to starting position.

4. Pushups - This is a classic toning exercise that works all areas of the arms plus the chest muscles. If you aren't comfortable or strong enough to perform a pushup on your toes, lower your body to your knees. Be sure your arms are tucked into the body and your back straight as you lower and lift your body.

5. Crunches - Abdominal muscles can be worked every day to build strength and muscle tone. Lying on the floor in sit up position, lace your fingers behind your head. Squeezing your abdominal muscles, lift your upper body until your lower back is about to come off the floor. Hold for two to five counts and return to starting position.

These five exercise moves can be done whenever you have time. The best thing about exercise is that its effects are cumulative. Even five or ten minutes at a time will work to your advantage.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How the DEA Scrubbed Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Poppy Garden from Public Memory

Visitors to Monticello don't learn how Jefferson cultivated poppies, and his personal opium use may as well never have happened.

The following is an excerpt from Jim Hogshire's "Opium for the Masses: Harvesting Nature's Best Pain Medication" (Feral House, 2009).
Thomas Jefferson was a drug criminal. But he managed to escape the terrible sword of justice by dying a century before the DEA was created. In 1987 agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency showed up at Monticello, Jefferson's famous estate.
Jefferson had planted opium poppies in his medicinal garden, and opium poppies are now deemed illegal. Now, the trouble was the folks at the Monticello Foundation, which preserves and maintains the historic site, were discovered flagrantly continuing Jefferson's crimes. The agents were blunt: The poppies had to be immediately uprooted and destroyed or else they were going to start making arrests, and Monticello Foundation personnel would perhaps face lengthy stretches in prison.
The story sounds stupid now, but it scared the hell out of the people at Monticello, who immediately started yanking the forbidden plants. A DEA man noticed the store was selling packets of "Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Poppies." The seeds had to go, too. While poppy seeds might be legal, it is never legal to plant them. Not for any reason.
Employees even gathered the store's souvenir T-shirts -- with silkscreened photos of Monticello poppies on the chest -- and burned them. Nobody told them to do this, but, under the circumstances, no one dared risk the threat.
Jefferson's poppies are gone without a trace now. Nobody said much at the time, nor are they saying much now. Visitors to Monticello don't learn how the Founding Father cultivated poppies for their opium. His personal opium use and poppy cultivation may as well never have happened.
The American War on Drugs started with opium and it continues today. Deception is key to this kind of social control, along with the usual threats of mayhem. Ever since the passage of the Harrison Act made opium America's first "illicit substance" in 1914, propaganda has proven itself most effective in the war on poppies. This has not been done so much by eradicating the poppy plant from the nation's soil as by eradicating the poppy from the nation's mind.
Prosecutions for crimes involving opium or opium poppies are rare. But that has less to do with the frequency of poppy crimes and everything to do with suppressing information about the opium poppy. A public trial might inadvertently publicize forbidden information at odds with the common spin about poppies and opium. This might pique interest in the taboo subject and, worse, undermine faith in the government.
The U.S. government strategy to create and enforce deliberate ignorance about opium, opium poppies, and everything connected with them has proven remarkably effective. The Monticello campaign exemplifies an effective tactic. The poppies were swiftly removed, and sotto voce threats ensured no one would talk about it afterward. Today, visitors to Monticello learn nothing about opium poppy cultivation or why Jefferson cultivated it in his garden.
Disinformation about poppies has been spread far and wide. Some of it is subtle, like when the New York Times talks about people growing "heroin poppies." Some misinformation is so bald-faced as to stun the listener into silence, as when a DEA agent tells a reporter that the process of getting opium from opium poppies is so complex and dangerous that "I don't even think a person with a Ph.D. could do it.

This enforced ignorance reduces the chances of anyone even accidentally discovering the truth about poppies. Poring through back issues of pharmaceutical industry news from Tasmania might yield a mother load of cutting edge poppy science -- from genetically altered poppies that ooze double-strength opium to state-of-the-art machines designed to manufacture "poppy straw concentrate." Tasmania's output meets roughly a third of the world's narcotic requirement. But how many people know that Tasmania is the home of the world's largest and most modern opium industry?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Hurt Locker’ Wins at Oscars

March 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES — “The Hurt Locker,” a little-seen war film with big backing from the critics, pushed past “Avatar” and other crowd-pleasers to win the best picture Oscar at a Sunday night ceremony here, while its director, Kathryn Bigelow, became the first woman to win the directing award.

“Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” had come into the night as favorites, but the smaller film took the prize from the bigger in the end.

“There’s no other way to describe it, it’s the moment of a lifetime,” said Ms. Bigelow in accepting her award. It was presented by Barbra Streisand, who announced it with the words, “Well, the time has come.”

Mark Boal, a producer of “The Hurt Locker,” said of his modest expectations when the movie was shot back in 2007, “Hopefully, we would find a distributor and somebody might even like the movie.”

There was no mention of a last-minute embarrassment in which a fellow producer of the film, Nicolas Chartier, had been banned from the show for violating Oscar rules by urging academy members by e-mail messages to vote against a film assumed to be “Avatar,” which had the advantage of a vast budget and enormous popularity.

In a sense, the awards season had shaped up into a showdown between James Cameron, who directed “Avatar,” and Ms. Bigelow, who was previously married to Mr. Cameron.

Among other winners, Christoph Waltz took best supporting actor at the start of a sluggishly paced ceremony for his bilingual performance as a Jew-hunting Nazi officer in “Inglourious Basterds.” And also, as expected, Mo’Nique won for best supporting actress for her portrait of a terrifying mother in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” With no excess of modesty, Mo’Nique thanked the academy’s members for showing that “it can be about the performance, not the politics.” The remark was a reference not just to her considerable talent, but to the fact that she had refused to spend time playing the usual Oscar campaign game. Backstage, she blamed the media for trying to stir up a controversy.

Jeff Bridges, a multiple nominee and now first-time winner, took best actor for his gritty portrayal of a broken-down country singer in “Crazy Heart.” A darling of the Hollywood crowd, Mr. Bridges had been seen as the designated winner almost from the moment Fox Searchlight made a last-minute decision to drop the low-budget movie into the Oscar race. “Thank you, Mom and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession,” said the gray-bearded Mr. Bridges, who brought the crowd to its feet in a prolonged ovation as he whooped, hollered and showed obvious joy in the moment.

“Crazy Heart,” one of the evening’s smaller contenders, also took an Oscar for its theme song, “The Weary Kind,” by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.

Sandra Bullock, who had been pointed toward an Oscar since winning a bellwether Screen Actors Guild award, won best actress for her performance as a tough and loving contemporary Southern mother in “The Blind Side.” Like Mr. Bridges, she was clearly a favorite of those in the auditorium, though she had never been nominated before and had been best known for romantic comedies like “The Proposal” and the occasional action film, like “Speed.”

“Did I really earn this, or did I just wear you all down?” Ms. Bullock asked her cheering peers.

“Up in the Air” was shut out, although the movie, about a corporate operative who specializes in firing people, had propped up the long awards season with appearances at various prize ceremonies on both coasts and in England by George Clooney, its star, and Jason Reitman, the writer-director.

The show clocked in at a relatively long three hours and 32 minutes, but at times it felt longer than it actually was. That was mostly because the first half was loaded with clip samples and retrospectives, while the latter part moved along with the speed that one of its producers, Bill Mechanic, had promised in advance.

Before the bigger awards were announced, there was a trip back to “The Dark Knight,” as Morgan Freeman explained how sound editors handled a movie from an earlier year, and a lengthy string of excerpts from horror movies, in an effort to reach fans who do not find movies like the “Twilight” series on the show.

The pace had already slowed with the screening of highlights — and the introduction of two recipients, Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall — from an honorary-awards ceremony that had been moved off-camera to a November date, precisely to keep the show from slowing.

This came only a few minutes after a narrator took time to read chunks of script over clips from the best adapted screenplay nominees. But Geoffrey Fletcher, a first-time nominee who won for “Precious,” put some heart in the proceedings as he gasped and seemed to weep in accepting. “I thank everyone,” Mr. Fletcher said simply.

Going into the evening, Mr. Cameron’s 3-D blockbuster, “Avatar,” was expected to dominate the evening along with the smaller, intense film “The Hurt Locker.”

But it was not until nearly halfway through that “Avatar” won its first award, for art direction. It was presented by Sigourney Weaver, one of the film’s stars, who sounded relieved as she opened the envelope and spoke the film’s title. Awards for cinematography and visual effects followed. But “The Hurt Locker” had already won for its original screenplay, sound editing and sound mixing, and later added one for film editing, ending any thought that Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes types might have rallied behind “Avatar.”

For most of the night the ceremony put in sharp relief a split between the 5,777 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who in many categories continued a recent tradition of honoring small, independent-style movies, and their own broadcast, which played heavily into the big movies.

Ms. Bullock, from a crowd-pleaser, “The Blind Side,” took the stage as a presenter and was the subject of congenial jokes about her career, which has been heavier on commerce than art, with movies like “The Proposal” and “Miss Congeniality.”

“Avatar,” meanwhile, was a constant presence. Ms. Weaver, Zoë Saldana and Sam Worthington, the film’s stars, were all presenters. From an Oscar stage that was bathed in blue for most of the night, presenters and hosts aimed quips at Mr. Cameron, who had a Na’vi blue kerchief (a reference to characters in “Avatar”) in the pocket of his tuxedo and generally traded on the film’s vast popularity in a clear bid to hold viewers, even as the prizes were sprinkled among other films, many of which had made only a small mark at the box office.

The best documentary feature award, presented by Matt Damon, went to “The Cove,” a film that exposed the slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese village. The best foreign language feature, presented by Pedro Almodóvar and Quentin Tarantino, went to “The Secret in Their Eyes” (“El Secreto de Sus Ojos”) from Argentina.

Mr. Boal’s original screenplay for “The Hurt Locker” made an expected mark for that film. In accepting the prize Mr. Boal talked of his experience as a war correspondent, and dedicated the Oscar to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In more of a surprise, Geoffrey Fletcher won the award for best adapted screenplay for “Precious.”

The Walt Disney Company’s “Up,” about a septuagenarian’s wild balloon ride, won for best animated feature. The prize for “Up” was very much according to the script: it was the fifth computer-animated blockbuster from Disney’s Pixar unit to win the animation Oscar since the category was created for the pictures released in 2001.

In keeping with the straight-ahead nature of the proceedings, clips from the 10 best-picture nominees were shown throughout the show, while another set of clips honored the movies of John Hughes, the comic filmmaker of movies like “Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” who died last year without ever having been nominated for an Oscar during his prolific career.

The ceremony seemed to drag a bit as a result, and, less than an hour in, was already drawing complaints about pacing from a bevy of second-guessers who expressed their opinions online.

As the show opened at the Kodak Theater, the Oscar co-hosts, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, dropped onto the stage from above, holding hands. The two traded quips in a monologue that tweaked a whole string of nominees.

“Over here is the ‘Inglourious Basterds’ section,” Mr. Martin said.

“And over here are the people who made the movie,” joined Mr. Baldwin, Martin-and-Lewis style. The two donned 3-D glasses to peer at Mr. Cameron, director of “Avatar.”

It was a comfortable, by-the-numbers beginning for a show that promised to pit Hollywood’s Davids against some movie Goliaths before it ended.

With the sun finally peeking through the clouds after an off-and-on drizzle on Sunday afternoon, celebrities began to swarm the red carpet outside the theater, where the Academy Awards would be presented. Many first-time nominees still seemed surprised that they had actually made it to the end of what had been a longer-than-usual awards season.

Mr. Clooney, nominated for best actor for “Up in the Air,” said he was not sure whether the decision to expand this year’s field of best-picture nominees from 5 to 10 would benefit filmmaking, but he thought it would be good for the Oscar telecast. “You can get more people on it,” he said. “I think it’s sort of like making the basket bigger in the basketball court so more points get scored.”

In the gown parade before the ceremony began, Suzy Amis, who is married to Mr. Cameron, made something more than a fashion statement by wearing the movie’s signature Na’vi blue, as did several actresses and other women on hand. But Ms. Weaver apparently did not get the memo: she showed up in bright red.

During the ceremony, Ben Stiller appeared in Na’vi blueface and tail to present the make-up award, which went to “Star Trek.” (“Avatar” was not nominated in the category.) He sputtered nonsense lines in what mimicked an alien language that had been created for “Avatar,” and said, “That means, ‘This seemed like a better idea at the time.’ ”

Adam Shankman, a producer of the telecast and a judge on the Fox reality show “So You Think You Can Dance,” choreographed an aggressive dance number to open the show that was marked by a Las Vegas sensibility. Participating in the ceremony were 36 “opening dancers” and 33 “score suite” dancers.

Even before the show began, the year’s awards had made some bits of Oscar history. Lee Daniels, with “Precious,” became the first black director to have a best-picture nominee, while Ms. Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) was only the fourth woman — along with Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Lina Wertmüller — to have been nominated for best director.

The Oscar season was stretched by two weeks to make room for the Winter Olympics, but managed to culminate with renewed frivolity. The expanded best-picture field meant more cocktail parties, and there was little holding back the flow of Champagne, unlike the last two years when a threatened actors’ strike and then the global recession made the bacchanal take on a more somber tone (at least publicly).

On Friday “Precious” dominated Film Independent’s Spirit Awards at a tent show in downtown Los Angeles, taking prizes for best picture and director, among others. On Saturday Harvey Weinstein presided over a party in West Hollywood for nominees from “Inglourious Basterds,” “Nine” and “A Single Man,” all distributed by his Weinstein Company.

Outside the theater before the ceremony, the acres of red carpet came alive with a stronger turnout of stars and executives than in years past, when many had been staying home in silent protest of the Academy’s turn away from splashy, big-budget pictures in favor of the arty and small.

Melena Ryzik contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How can exercise improve my health?

With today's busy lives and busy schedules, it is very rare to see someone exercise on a constant basis. Even signing in a fitness club sometimes doesn't help this situation improve. Nevertheless, the more people need it, the more they try to include it as part of their every day lives.
After work, most people are so tired that they only look forward to putting on the TV, watching an episode of their favorite show, eating something "good" and going to bed. Sadly, this is probably the main reason why so many people are overweight and don't take care of themselves. What they don't realize is that exercise and good eating habits can work better than medicine.
Here are some tips to help get you started:
  • Set realistic goals
  • Take small steps towards your goal
  • Chart your progress
  • See a doctor for specific instructions on what you should be doing
  • Other than exercise and developing good eating habits, you might want to stop or dramatically decrease the amount of alcohol or nicotine you consume
  • If your exercise in a gym, tryseeing a fitness professional to track down your progress, as well
  • Try exercising with a friend for motivational purposes
  • Give yourself rewards for doing something properly or maintaining a promise
  • Know that you are currently taking the right medication
  • Make time in your schedule
  • Replace some miscellaneous activities in your schedule with more important ones such as exercise
  • Make a shopping list before hitting the store
  • Know what food you should be eating
  • Read, research and evaluate your current reason for exercising and dieting

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Book Cover Image. Title: The Whole Truth, Author: by David  
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    Should Credit Scoring Be Used to Determine Insurance Rates?

    Should Credit Scoring Be Used to Determine Insurance Rates?

    As many consumers discovered during recent tough economic times, your credit history is being scrutinized now more than ever. Some consumers worry that their credit history will be used against them when it comes to obtaining affordable insurance, be it auto, homeowners, health, etc.
    In the State of Washington, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is hoping to prohibit the use of credit history, income and education for rating and underwriting personal insurance - the effect of which would likely lead to higher costs for consumers and decreased accuracy in underwriting and rating, according to insurers. In 2003, Washington's Legislature restricted the use of credit scoring when it came to insurance, prohibiting insurance companies from cancelling or non-renewing a customer based solely on their credit score. Despite that action, the majority of insurers still look at credit as a key factor in setting rates. While Kreider looks to pass both a house bill and a senate bill in the 2010 Legislative session, he notes that, "What consumers don't understand if they have no claims, their rates can still go up based on their credit score....this is inherently unfair." As Kreidler points out given the challenging economic times, many people who have lost jobs have had to run up debt, including those without health insurance. All of that can lead to negative credit reports that will be used by insurers, thereby leading to higher premiums.
    On the flip side, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) recently testified before the House Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee that credit scoring actually helps consumers. According to the PCI, "Insurers consider credit information in their underwriting and pricing decisions for only one reason," to rate and price business with a greater degree of accuracy and certainty. The more accurately companies can price, the better they can compete, and increased competition leads to more choices and lower costs for consumers. Another PCI representative adds that, "Credit information is an accurate predictor of the risk of loss, and insurers need to be able to use this tool in their underwriting and rating practices to ensure individuals' risks are properly assessed and policyholders are not paying more than they should."
    Many consumers are still wondering how they're going to keep a roof over their head, put food on the table and meet all their other financial responsibilities.
    It would seem only common sense that insurers should not use credit scores to price insurance. Many people who are going through tough financial times need all the breaks they can catch. Hopefully the State of Washington does the right thing and puts more pressure on insurers to stop using credit scoring when it comes to assessing rates.


    Health Insurance and College Students

    Health Insurance and College Students

    College students need health insurance just as much as everybody else. No matter your age, you should have a health insurance policy that keeps you protected. If you don't, there is no time to wait - you have to change this right away. Living without health insurance, especially as a college student, is a big risk. With more than 47 million Americans without coverage, you can only imagine that there are many college students in this situation.
    Where are you getting your health insurance coverage? If you are on your parent's policy you do not have anything to worry about for the time being. As long as things stay this way you will be in good shape. Of course, something could happen at any moment that changes your situation. Stay in touch with your parents to ensure that you always have the coverage you need.
    What if I am not on my parent's policy? This is when you need to take the initiative and find another way to get health insurance. Your best option is to purchase an individual health insurance policy. This can cost money, but some companies offer great plans for college students. Even though you may need a part-time job to make the payments, it is well worth it. Imagine how much one hospital bill could be if you don't have insurance coverage.
    All college students need health insurance coverage. It does not matter what year you are in school or how much money you have; make sure you are always covered. If you know where you stand right now you can decide what to do next. The bottom line: if you don't have health insurance go and get it today!

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Oscar-Nominated Flicks for Families

    Oscar-Nominated Flicks for Families

    From Common Sense

    The 2010 Oscar nominations are chock-full of family-friendly films. From Pixar’s stunning Up to Wes Anderson’s meticulous Fantastic Mr. Fox, parents, teens, tweens, and even younger kids will find movies to enjoy together. Check out our reviews to see what fits for your family. (The 82nd Annual Academy Awards telecast airs March 7, 2010, on ABC.)

    Movie: The Princess and the Frog

    Movies in Theaters
    First African-American Disney princess is a good role model.
    Release date: 12/11/2009
    video review available

    DVD: Up

    Movies on DVD
    Pixar's stunning adventure is an upper for everyone.
    Release date: 5/29/2009
    video review available

    DVD: Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

    Movies on DVD
    Always-charming claymation duo mix murder with romance.
    Release date: 12/31/1969

    Movie: Fantastic Mr. Fox

    Movies in Theaters
    Offbeat family adventure may charm adults more than kids.
    Release date: 11/13/2009
    video review available

    DVD: Coraline

    Movies on DVD
    Cool but creepy animated fantasy too scary for young kids.
    Release date: 2/6/2009
    video review available

    Movie: The Blind Side

    Movies in Theaters
    Syrupy sports drama uplifts but glosses over deep issues.
    Release date: 11/20/2009
    video review available

    Movie: Avatar

    Movies in Theaters
    Action-heavy epic has dazzling effects, familiar story.
    Release date: 12/18/2009
    video review available

    DVD: Julie & Julia

    Movies on DVD
    Tempting Meryl Streep dramedy satisfies but doesn’t wow.
    Release date: 8/7/2009
    video review available

    Movie: An Education

    Movies in Theaters
    Intelligent period drama tackles mature teen topics.
    Release date: 10/9/2009

    DVD: District 9

    Movies on DVD
    Sci-fi stunner is gory, but also fascinating and smart.
    Release date: 8/14/2009
    video review available

    Alice in Wonderland

    Alice in Wonderland (2010)

    From: Common Sense

    • Is it age appropriate?

      About our ratings

    • Is it any good?


    • Common Sense says

      All new 3-D Alice story is trippy and intense.
    Themes in this movie include:   curiosity, facing fears, friendship, gender issues, imagination

    Why We Rated This on for Ages 11 and Up

    The good stuff

    • Messages:

      The Red Queen's cruelty, jealousy, and insecuri…

    • Role models:

      Alice, like all heroes, must learn to believ…

    What to watch out for

    • Violence:

      The Red Queen is quite bloodthirsty and frequen…

    • Sex:

      Alice catches her brother-in-law kissing a woman who…

    • Language:

      Mild taunts and insults like "imbeciles," "idio…

    • Consumerism:

      Not an issue.

    • Drinking, drugs, & smoking:

      Absalom the smoking caterpill…

    What Parents Need to Know

    This review of Alice in Wonderland (2010) was written by Sandie Angulo Chen
    Is Alice's Wonderland Too Intense?Parents need to know that Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland might be rated PG, but it's pretty intense and scary at times for younger kids, especially because it's in 3-D. This trippy adaptation -- in which Alice is a young adult -- includes some fantasy violence with scary monsters that attack people, a cruel Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) who frequently sentences people to death, and a climactic battle scene between sword-brandishing humans, animals, and beasts. Some parents might want to know that a caterpillar (played by Alan Rickman) smokes a hookah, but this is as Lewis Carroll depicted the character. The language includes taunting insults like "stupid," "imbecile," "idiot," "bloody," and the like, and the sexuality is limited to one kiss between a married man and another woman, and some aggressive flirting.

    Families Can Talk About

    Talk to your kids about the media in their life. We have more tools and tips that can help
    • Families can talk about Alice's nonconformist attitude. How does she buck cultural expecations? In what ways does her adventure in "Underland" change Alice?
    • What do you think about Mr. Kingsleigh, and later Alice's adage that "all the best people" are a bit "mad"? What do you think the Mad Hatter means that things are only impossible if you believe them to be?
    • The Red Queen is cruel but sad. What are some reasons she's so mean? Are there compelling reasons to be angry at her younger sister, the White Queen?
    • Those familiar with the Lewis Carroll books: Compare this version with the original source and other adaptations. Do you like this Alice as a much older heroine?

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Village PourHouse - St. Patty’s Day Pub Crawl & Pacquiao vs Clottey

    64 Third Avenue Corner of 11th street
    New York, NY 10003
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Patty's Day

    St. Patty’s Day Pub Crawl

    March 12, March 13 & March 17

    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17, 2010 AT 3;30PM
    Everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day! Wear green and join us on the World’s Largest Pub Crawl. 

    Enjoy exclusive pub crawl specials:

    $1 Bud/Bud Light Drafts
    $2 Bud/Bud Light Bottles
    $3 Well Drinks
    $4 Jameson Shots

    Pub Crawl Tickets:

    Pacquiao vs Clottey
    Exclusively at Village Pourhouse

    Saturday, March 13th at 9pm

    Purchase tickets at

    General Admission tickets are for standing room only

    Email for table rates and reservations.

    Springtime Savings at RedEnvelope

    20% off Gifts 

    Year of Seeds
    Year of Seeds

    Gift giving just got more affordable with RedEnvelope's Spring Sale.  Shoppers will enjoy savings of up to 50% on gifts for anniversaries, babies, birthdays - or just because.  New customers will also enjoy saving 20% on their first purchase from our unique gift collection this month.

    Colorado Tax Legislation
    Colorado recently enacted legislation that requires online retailers to either collect Colorado sales tax or notify Colorado purchasers that they must file a sales or use tax return to the state of Colorado for their purchase.  In compliance with this legislation, on March 1 RedEnvelope began collecting sales tax on purchases being shipped to Colorado addresses.

    March Promotions


    March 04, 2010


    Gimme an H

    "It's easy to feel alive with possibility, or delusional, at the new Hermès store for men, which welcomes wealth in all its glory and repugnance," writes Jon Caramanica. This store, which opened last month across Madison Avenue from the flagship, "is a thoughtful balance of expert craftsmanship and luxury kitsch, a four-floor clubhouse that somehow manages the feel of a high-end department store." Mr. Caramanica suggests picking a desired persona, say a disheveled and raffish Julian Schnabel or Robert Redford in "Out of Africa," and making the fantasy a reality with a few choice pieces, like a rough linen-cotton blend blazer with soft suede beneath the collar. "Soon I was writing scenes of my new life in my head, most ending with a quick nuzzle from Olatz as I come in the door at Palazzo Chupi, before we sneak upstairs for an assignation on her signature crest-appliquéd Egyptian cotton sheets." The store is filled with other aspirational items. "Most dazzling is one of the store's showpieces, a chocolate leather baseball jacket perforated in an H pattern, wearable by rappers and Mediterranean tourists, but probably not you."

    Collecting Like Koons
    Not all of us can amass an art collection like Jeff Koons. The pop artist has works by Manet, Picasso and Poussin piled up, salon-style, on the walls of his Upper East Side home, not to mention an 1873 Courbet over his flat-screen television. But for those aspiring collectors working on a slightly smaller scale, the Guggenheim is the place to be tonight. The museum is auctioning off 200 works by artists, architects and designers from the exhibition "Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum." The auction, a finale to the museum's 50th anniversary celebrations, will benefit the museum's exhibition programming. First preview the work and then take in a performance by Animal Collective, the artist Danny Perez and Transverse Temporal Gyrus, featuring original recorded music created specifically for this event. The late show at 9 p.m. is sold out but there are still tickets available for the early show at 4:30 p.m. The auction items will be sold online from March 4 through 18 at

    Wallace Stevens in New York
    Before Wallace Stevens became a great poet known for his "verbal ebullience and New England spareness," he was a journalist beating the pavement for the New York Evening Post. Those early years spent in the city informed his later work, and, beginning today, you can see how when New York University and the Poetry Society of America present "Wallace Stevens, New York, and Modernism." The conference, which runs through March 6 and is free and open to the public, includes readings, talks and presentations by literary luminaries like Mark Strand, Edward Hirsch, Elizabeth Willis and many more.

    Slide Show: Film's Influence on Fashion, Then and Now
    Costumes can be protagonists, as in these Hollywood classics.

    On Line Dating Tips

    Traffic Swarm Deals & Steals

    Bag, Bags, Bags

    Internet Coupons and Specials