April 28, 2006

Listen to the JazzFest

MSN.COM has portions of the New Orleans JazzFest available for your listening pleasure online. Live webcasts are scheduled for Sunday, April 30th, and Sunday, May 7th, from 3 to 8 pm CST. From what I can tell, the webcasts are free - though the samples (ranging from Dr. John to Elvis Costello to Louis Armstrong) are not. The site has a nice selection of videos, too: the interview with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown is a must-see.

"If it were necessary to identify one individual who best represents American music in all of its idioms and styles ... one who could single-handedly play the soundtrack that has sprung forth from a nation born from hopes, sweat, fears, blood, misdeeds and glory ... a land that grew an unheralded voice as it expanded westward and cultures clashed, cultures united, cultures bore new means of expressing their emotions - things called the blues, jazz, honky-tonk and Cajun - if we needed one person who lives and breathes all things American music and can present it in all its varied glory ... Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown is that person."

--Danté Domininick ©2004 Rockzillaworld Magazine, from www.gatemouth.com

April 27, 2006

Check the Nutrition Online: Restaurant Reality

Several fast food chains offer online charts where the nutritional components of various menu items are provided. This includes McDonald's, Jack in the Box, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Arby's, Popeye's, Church's Chicken, A&W, Taco Cabana (pdf), Dairy Queen, Sonic (pdf), Subway, Quizno's, Wendy's.

These links are to the restaurant sites themselves. For a master site providing nutritional information for 372 different food places, nationwide, try DietFacts.Com.

April 26, 2006

Blog to Check: Silent in the Morning

Silent in the Morning has great advice on how to keep your leather shoes up and running, as well as some food for thought on your relationship with food (pardon the pun). Nice daily quotes, lots to roam through and more added all the time.

April 25, 2006

Secret Helper

There's a free service that helps all you writers out there proof your works ... it also helps anyone who just wants a break from reading to the kids, as well as those with assorted disabilities. Others convert text -- like their emails -- via this software to Mp3, and then listen while they commute or exercise.

It's the Natural Reader - and while there are voices much more natural that you pay a fee to use, there is a free option with a more robotic voice. For a listen, go here and to get the free Robot voice version, go get the free download.

April 21, 2006

Great Site: The Happy Slob

For those that love or hate to clean house, the Happy Slob has a great site. Here's just an example of all she offers, on her page discussing the many uses of baking soda - and this is only a portion of her advice regarding baking soda:

"Using Baking Soda for FOOD & COOKING and IN THE KITCHEN
1. Scrub Chopping Boards Use baking soda to clean off chopping boards. It's great at removing garlicky and onion smells.
2. Clean Plastic Containers Use as a scrub to get out nasty stains from your Tupperware or other plastic storage containers.
3. Absorb Fridge Odors Everyone knows this one, but it's because it really works! Put an opened box of baking soda in the fridge and freezer to help absorb nasty fridge odors.
4. Shine Toasters (Submitted by Jude) Sprinkle baking soda on damp cloth (a mild abrasive) and shine the outside of that toaster, toaster oven, etc.
5. Clean Coated Pans (Submitted by Jude) Sprinkle baking soda on damp cloth (a mild abrasive) and use to remove brown grease spots from pots and pans - great for those coated pans.
6. Cleaning Tea Stains (Submitted by Mary Lou) Baking soda is the best for cleaning tea stains out of plastic pitchers.
7. Grease Remover (Submitted by Mary Lou) Baking soda is the best for cleaning grease off your stove top and out of greasy dishes.
8. Add to dishwasher AND good for pipes (Submitted by Mary Lou) When added to your dish water it makes more suds and good for cleaning the pipes out when it goes into septic or sewer system."

There's a blog and newsletter, too.

April 20, 2006

Judge Rickhoff's Blog

Recently, I assisted in the formation of a blog to be used locally as a community service. It's the blog of Judge Tom Rickhoff, and contains lots of good information for seniors - including an expanding links list. Organizations like AARP and the Bexar County Gold Pages are listed, along with more legal-specific sites like the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.

The blog will also grow to include articles from probate professionals on various aspects of elder/senior issues; mental health concerns; guardianship matters, and the like.

Since both the links and the articles should be helpful to an audience larger than Bexar County, and wider than that of probate professionals, I'm sharing it here.

April 18, 2006

Free TV Guide

For those of you who watch your TV (and yes, I'm one of them), television guides are great - but who wants to pay for them? If you read your news online, then there's no insert from the Sunday paper for reference. And, those TV Guide magazines cost money. However, there are free television guides for your local area, and your particular provider (dish, cable, antenna, whatever) at various sites. My personal favorite: iwon.com. Not that it's perfect, I just can't find a better one online.

April 17, 2006

Drinking Water

Research has shown that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day can burn off almost 35,000 calories a year, or about 10 pounds. It helps if the water is cold; then, the body has to expend some energy to heat the liquid to the body's 98 degrees. If you don't drink enough water, one doctor reports, your body fluids are out of balance, you experience fluid retention, unexplained weight gain and loss of thirst.

How much should you drink? If you are not overweight, then drink the standard 64 ounces a day. If you are overweight, then some say you should drink an additional 8 ounces for each 25 pounds you want to lose. Others report that you should drink 1/2 ounce for each pound you weigh: if you weigh 100 pounds, then you drink 50 ounces; if you weigh 200, then you drink 100. You get the idea.

April 15, 2006

Last Minute Tax Tips

The photo at the left shows a group of folk filling out their 1920 income tax returns at the Internal Revenue Office. Things have changed since then: you can download tax preparation software at sites like Turbotax.com, and you can file electronically. If your adjusted gross income is less than $50,000, then you are eligible for free electronic tax preparation and electronic filing. There's an explanation of how this works at irs.gov.

And, while those taxes aren't due till Monday, for those waiting till the last minute: did you know that you could charge that tax bill on Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express at a reduced interest rate? Pay1040.com has all the answers.

Find out if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Maybe you owe the Alternative Minimum Tax: find out at irs.gov.

What if you can't pay the balance? Don't panic. SmartMoney tells you what to do.

April 14, 2006

Food as Medicine - 3: Folk Remedies

Folk remedies are still around, and they work - surprisingly. For example, did you know that beets lower blood pressure? Slice a raw beet, then throughly cover with freshly squeezed lemon juice. After the slices have been cooled overnight in the fridge, you can begin eating one slice per day. Dramatic drops in blood pressure result.

Chicken soup really does help with colds. It helps un-stuff your nasal passages and prevents congestion in the lungs according to two well-respected university studies.

Dandruff is cured by using apple cider vinegar, diluted with water in a ratio of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, as a rinse after shampooing. For severe cases, soak your hair in apple cider vinegar for one hour before shampooing.

There's lots more information at the sources listed below.

Sources: health911.com, UAB Health System, tenlinks.com.

April 12, 2006

Homemade Cat Treats

Cats may be more interested in a yarn ball than a rawhide bone, but they deserve their treats, too. There are several sites with recipes for homemade cat goodies: the crispy liver treats at petplace.com is just one of several easy offerings; cdkitchen.com includes a treat for older cats, as does Minnie; and divine recipes has one recipe that looks easy and a cat's version of ice cream, and Rebecca's Soap Deli has a nice one, too.

April 10, 2006

Homemade Dog Treats

Rather than buying your dog those rawhide bones or multi-colored dog biscuits, you can make dog treats at home - better for your pet, better for your budget.

A big carrot serves the purpose of a rawhide bone, for example. Big enough to carry around, and sturdy enough for some good chewing time. Peanut butter - wiped onto the carrot, the dog bowl, your finger ... another great treat that's nutritious and inexpensive. Bits of cheese can be dog nirvana.

For recipes to make actual cookies, hard biscuits, and things, there are several sites with nice collections: stretcher.com has a few, bullwrinkle.com has a long list, and gwi.com promises all of their recipes to have already been kitchen-tested and dog-approved.

April 7, 2006

What "Organic" Means

More and more grocery shelves are filled with products labelled "100% Organic," "Organic," "Free-Range," "Hormone-Free," and "Natural". What's the difference?

Organic food is grown, handled, and processed differently than commercially-processed food. Organic farmers use renewable resources, and they try and conserve their land's soil and water. Organic animal products (meat, poultry, eggs, dairy) come from animals who have never ingested antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food does not come in contact with conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.

Since October 2002, the US Government has offered the voluntary label of "organic" to those producing and selling organic products. However, before something is labeled "organic," a federal certifier inspects not only the product, but also the farm where the food originates to make sure all USDA organic standards have been met, as well as all the companies that handle or process the food before it gets to the supermarket or restaurant. The name and address of the Government certifier will be shown on all packaged products that are 70%-100% organic.

Those products meeting the certification standards can be identified by the word "organic" which will appear on either a small sticker showing the USDA Organic seal (shown above) on the food item, or upon a nearby display sign. If you see the seal, you know that the product is 95-100% organic.

Additionally, the products should identify their percentage of organic content. 100% organic products say so. 95-100% organic items label themselves "organic" without a percentage. Those with 70-95% organic can identify their organic components (e.g, "made with organic oats"). Less than 70% organic, then their specific, organic ingredients will be shown on the side panel of the package, but there cannot be any organic claims on the front of the package.

What about those other labels: natural, or free-range, or hormone-free? They may be true. But these descriptions do not mean that the product is "organic."

Source: USDA.GOV

April 6, 2006

Free Movies Online

Movies are available for viewing - FREE - online. No, they're not new. Yes, some of them are great. There is a nice selection at EntertainmentMagazine, including:

"His Girl Friday" Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell (1940)
"Penny Serenade" with Cary Grant (1941)
"Heartbeat" (1946) stars Ginger Rogers
"Royal Wedding" (1951) aka "Wedding Bells" (UK)
(COLOR) with Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford
"Charade" (1963) Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau
"Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon" (1943)
Sherlock Holmes "Dressed to Kill" (1946)
"My Dear Secretary" (1949) stars Kirk Douglas

as well as a selection on movieflix.com, where they've got films like:

"Of Human Bondage" starring Leslie Howard, Bette Davis & Alan Hale
all the old Dick Tracy and Robin Hood Series from the 1940s
"Lady of Burlesque" starring Barbara Stanwyck (1943)
"The Man on the Eiffel Tower," starring Burgess Meredith & Charles Laughton (1949)

April 5, 2006

Create Your Free Newspaper From Huge News Site

The folk at crayola.net offer a free service that's great for everyone: you create your own online newspaper from their ever-expanding, unfiltered international collection of sources. You even name your paper: Joe's Gazette, The Turner Family Monitor, etc. and provide a slogan -- you know, like "all the news that's fit to print."

Choose selections from around the world in areas of national, local and world news; oped, weather, info-tech; religion; health; science; lifestyles. There are more.

Even comics. Peanuts, Dilbert, Calvin & Hobbes, etc. Columns. Ann Landers, Dave Barry, Rush Limbaugh, the New York Times Editorials .... Lots of stuff for you, regardless of whether you're red or blue.

Not only is this a free service, but a valuable one. Each day, the reader is provided an opportunity to read international perspectives voiced in a variety of locations, for example: the Jakarta Post (Indonesia); the Mirror and the Guardian (England); Kyoto News (Japan); Pari Business News Daily (Bulgaria); the Daily Star (Lebanon); and the Daily Telegraph (Australia), in addition to a large collection of top-tier American news sources (e.g., the New York Times, Reuters, etc).

Reading about the Tsunami from an American news source is one thing. Reading about it in the Jakarta Post is another.

You can also add your own sources. Anything with a URL can be placed on your personal, online paper.

There are some kinks with setting up the graphics, etc. and you may need to play with two-screen versus one-screen layout, things like this, before your personal paper is running smoothly. Once it's done, though, it's one click to crayon.net and a smile as you think about those subscription prices that you're not having to pay.

April 4, 2006

Easy and Cheap Recipes

There are several sites with lots of easy and cheap recipes. Cooks.com offers 38 options. Superchef Conyer offers a smaller list, but it's nice to have the estimated cost of the meal along with the recipe. CookCheap.com took down its recipe list for maintenance but promises to have it back up, soon. And, you might want to check out Rachael Ray's recipes for her TV show Thirty Minute Meals.

April 3, 2006

Your Body and the Weather

Granny Clampett isn't the only one who can predict the weather by her body aches. According to several scientific studies, both barometric pressure and humidity influence the human body's pain levels. (One of the latest being a 2005 study presented at the American College of Rheumatology.)

Wind, precipitation, and temperature also have an impact. As these increase, folk suffering from arthritis or neurological diseases (e.g., MS) can predict an approaching storm because they hurt more. Others may have an increase in migranes, asthma attacks, or escalating problems with circulatory conditions. In fact, chronic pain specialists ask their patients to log weather conditions and pain levels, to determine the patient's physical relationship with the weather.

This information is not new, of course. During the Civil War, it was documented that amputee soldiers sensed pain in their "phantom" limbs whenever the weather changed.

Online "ache & pain" forecasts are available at www.weather.com and at intellicast.com (which also offers a very nice "bad hair forecast," if you're interested).

Sources: weather.com, usatoday.com, 02/21/2005 intellicast.com

April 1, 2006

Finding Support for Simplicity

Lifestyle changes that go against the materialistic mainstream can become difficult when family and friends don't understand the how, the what, or the why of your simplicity goals. If you interested in finding others who do share your interest in living a better, simpler life, then you have several options in finding like-minded friends.

First, check with your local newspaper - call and ask for the reporter in charge of the community calendar, he/she may know of local groups near you.

From your keyboard, try finding simplicity groups, thrift-shopping groups, etc. at meetup.com. Meetup.com has groups in various topics (book clubs, hiking clubs) including simplicity. The Simple Living Network has a database of local groups to search through, as well.

If you prefer meeting online, there is a collection of online groups at Simple Living Network, as well as Yahoo Groups. Yahoo Groups offers 256 different groups under the heading of "simplicity" on the date of this post. ICQ has a group that has been active since 1998.
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