Sunday, August 29, 2010

Coffee With a Jolt and Not Just From Caffeine

As much as I love coffee, I found that I was not experimenting with other sites and staying with the tried and true coffee bean roasters.

I needed to find more coffee sources.  With a little researching, I came across This site has a great selection of beans from all different categories:  gourmet, flavored, organic, decaf, expresso and blends. You can buy flavorings, mixes, teas, coffee accessories and gourmet gifts.

If you order coffee for your business,  they have it as well as supplies.

I decided to place a small order, 3 different coffees, to see how I would like it.

The coffee arrived pretty quickly and what I liked, even before I brewed a cup, was the label they put on the bag:  it showed an order number, my name and the type of coffee in the bag.   The material that the bag is made of is pretty durable, although I usually keep my beans in a vacuum sealed container, which is actually suggested to do so on the bag.

And speaking of the bag, there is a good deal of information printed on each bag:  Storage, Grinding, Brewing tips, for example.

I made my first cup of the Bali Paradise Valley a day after receiving the beans and it was wonderful.  I also ordered  "Decaf Costa Rica Reserve" and "Guatemala Antigua."   I am almost ready to place another order, this time concentrating on the Organic coffees.

As far as shipping goes, right now they are offering a special shipping price of $1.99 as long as you meet certain requirements.  Otherwise, shipping costs are based on weight of your order.

Today I received an email from, thanking me for my order and offering me a discount on my next order.

I know that I will be taking advantage of this offer. They want to keep their customers happy.

So far, I am.

Where to buy:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tuna Sandwich for Lunch?

Summer is almost over, but school starts soon and making sandwiches begins. How many times will you be giving someone a tuna fish sandwich?

I no longer prepare school lunches, but we take tuna sandwiches to the beach during the summer.

After reading this article appearing on, we may go back to good old peanut butter and jelly. (The article was originally published as a news release on January 31, 2010 by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.)

Tests Show Top Tuna Brands Have High Mercury Levels
White typically has greater levels of the toxin than light, researchers say
(HealthDay News) -- Tests on more than 300 samples of canned tuna from the top three brands in the United States revealed that more than half contained mercury levels above what's considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), found that 55 percent of the samples had mercury levels higher than the EPA standard of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) and 5 percent had levels higher than the 1.0 ppm safety level set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercially sold fish.

The health effects of mercury poisoning include central nervous system damage, hearing loss and vision problems.

"Canned tuna accounts for up to a quarter of the nation's seafood consumption and creates some significant regulatory challenges," study author Shawn Gerstenberger, an environmental and occupational health professor, said in a UNLV news release. "With pregnant women and children the most susceptible to mercury poisoning -- yet also among the top consumers of canned tuna -- federal agencies need to urge distributors to expressly state mercury levels in their products."

The researchers found significant differences in mercury concentration by type (white and light) and brand. One brand had consistently elevated mercury levels, and white tuna from all three brands had the highest concentrations of mercury. White tuna comes from albacore, a different species of fish than "light" tuna.

"Mercury concentration in fish has a lot to do with the environment they're in, but since the locations of where the fish are harvested are not made available to consumers, it is very difficult to positively identify and reduce the source of the exposure," Gerstenberger said.

The researchers said federal regulators should require canned tuna producers to provide detailed information to consumers about the mercury content of each product and to disclose tuna harvest locations. In addition, the EPA and FDA need to have similar tuna consumption guidelines to lessen consumer confusion.

The study is published in the February issue ofEnvironmental Toxicology & Chemistry.

Many states have adopted EPA guidelines on tuna consumption, which suggest an average child consume only one can of tuna roughly every two weeks to ensure an acceptable level of mercury exposure.

More information
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has more about the health effects of mercury.
-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, news release, Jan. 31, 2010
Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Words of Weather

Are you confused at to what some weather terms mean when you hear the weather report for the day?

What bothers me the most is what "Party Cloudy" vs "Partly Sunny" means.

I went to to find out.

Here is the explanation:
Believe it or not, there is a difference. It relates to the average amount of cloud cover expected. Would you believe partly sunny means more cloud cover than partly cloudy? Can be confusing to the public...mostly sunny means more sun than partly cloudy does, while partly sunny means more clouds than partly cloudy does.
Anyway, from least cloud cover to most, the scale is: sunny, mostly sunny, partly cloudy, partly sunny, mostly cloudy, cloudy. Mostly sunny means more sun than clouds, partly sunny means more clouds than sun, and partly cloudy generally means an equal amount of clouds and sun. 
It sounds so simple.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Credit Card Caution Hurts!

When you are told to be cautious using credit cards online, and you follow that advice, somehow you are doing the wrong thing.

Here is what happened to me so take note.

I was paying a bill online with a credit card, through the merchant's own website.  After I put in my credit card number, a window pops up with the words, "Visa Verification," or something like that.

It was asking for my social security number,  a "no no" as far as I am concerned.  I ignored it and continued to submit my payment.

In the meantime, I had used that same card to call in payments that day for various invoices I had received.

A few days later, I had received an email from American Express,, offering a free credit score and credit report, which I took advantage of right away.  When I read my credit report, I noticed that this one particular credit card was closed and all the credit history with it, was just gone. I did start to worry and was going to call my credit card company later that day.  Very interesting to say the least.

In the meantime, I went out and when I used my card in a local store, I was told the card was declined.  They tried twice, but the same message came through and I had to use another card.

Now I am totally perplexed and called my credit card company.  The system was down for 16 hours, I am told, and need to call back tomorrow.  Can you guess how angry I am at this moment?  There was nothing, even after speaking with a supervisor, that they could do until the system was back up running.

First thing in the morning, I called the credit card company.  I finally found out that this all stemmed from my not inputing my social security number in that "pop-up" window the day I was paying my bill.  They claimed that by not doing it, they assumed the charge was fraudulent and closed down my card. This is another layer of protection for the consumer, they said. Why, I asked, did they not even notice that I make this same exact payment every single month?

To add salt to my wound, they said they called my home, but no one answered.  Well, I was on vacation and I asked why they did not send an email to my address on file.  I get emails all the time from them but yet they couldn't manage to send one to me for such an important matter.

The rep said that she was re-instating my card immediately, but it would take 5-6 business days for me to access my account online.  That was unacceptable, so I asked for a supervisor.  Of course the supervisor got in touch with the IT department and had it working in 2 minutes.

If this new procedure is to make online credit card use more secure, why did they not send out a mass email, or mailing, or notification on the monthly bill, to alert the consumers to follow this "pop-up" window instead of thinking it was fraudulent?  The supervisor said that my suggestion of a notification makes sense and that she may not have given up her social security number either had she been asked to supply it online.  This is the moment where you just need to say, "Duh!"

My advice is not to give up any information to these requests without first checking with your credit card company - assuming yours is as inept as mine was in this situation. 

By the way, they are also sending a report to the Credit Bureau to fix my report.

All in the name of caution!

For a copy of your credit report, free one time per year, go to:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Hunt For Medical Insurance

Finding yourself in limbo regarding medical insurance coverage?  It is not a good place to be.

Depending on how much you want to spend is not the problem.  It is getting coverage for individuals, period.

If you are not part of a group, if you don't own a company and are incorporated, or if you are not a sole proprietor, there isn't much hope to find good coverage.

All my research is based on living in New York, where going to doctors is expensive to begin with.

You can start searching for plans using the website: You input the information requested and in seconds, you can see what is available.  What you find are a few plans, either Indemnity, PPO or HMO's. For those not familiar with an Indemnity plan, they function as "fee for service."  You go to any doctor you choose, the insurance company pays a set amount of the total charge.  You may have pay up front and then you apply for reimbursement. You would have to check to see if these cover specific doctors because I don't trust anything without asking exact questions.   There are high annual deductibles and you do much of the paperwork.  

Finding names of doctors you may already know or have heard of could be difficult on some of these plans.

And to add insult to injury, two plans which are Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, have not signed contracts with at least two hospitals I know of and the number could be higher. Maybe this will change over time, but for the present time, it is another roadblock. 

You can go to:, for small business and working individuals, but unless you are earning very little and have limited savings or a limited source of other income, don't bother to apply. Check all the requirements to be sure.

If you are a recent college graduate, try a type of Gap Insurance until you land a job by looking at:

There is a website:, National Association of Health Underwriters, to help you navigate plans and find an agent.

If you do freelance work and earn at least $10,000 in a 6 month period and have the documentation to prove your earnings, you may be eligible for insurance from:  I obtained the name of this organization from an insurance broker whom could not offer any other solution for "individual" insurance.  This organization was also mentioned in a Business Week article from October 13, 2008.

This is a start, although not an easy task.  You can easily see why so many people in the United States are not insured.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Women Always Have It Harder Than Men!

Why do women feel as if they need to fix up their faces as they age?  Just take a look at this article from

Mouth Area Wrinkles More in Women Than Men
Dermatologists discover gender differences that explain the aging inequity
(HealthDay News) -- Dermatologists have discovered yet another gender inequity: Women develop more and deeper wrinkles around their mouths as they age than men do.

The disadvantage had long been suspected, but a new study provides "irrefutable scientific evidence," said Dr. Foad Nahai, a plastic surgeon practicing in Atlanta and editor-in-chief of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. The study appears in the November/December issue of the journal.
The authors of the paper believe they even know why women suffer more in this department.
"The gender differences were most probably due to the amount of appendages [hair follicles, sebaceous glands] and the connections between the skin and muscle of the lips," explained senior study author Dr. Moshe Kon, head of the department of plastic, reconstructive and hand surgery at University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

"We had always had the impression that male skin doesn't age as rapidly as female skin," said Nahai. "What we didn't know, and this study points out, is that one of the reasons that lines are deeper in women is because they have fewer sweat or sebaceous glands, the glands that make the oil that keeps our skin feeling soft ... So women are producing less oil, which is protective and keeps the skin smoother."

Previous studies had not focused in on differences between men and women in the perioral area of the face, meaning the region around the mouth.
Women tend to go for procedures to remedy such wrinkles more often than men, although it hadn't been clear if women were just worried about how they looked or if their wrinkles were actually worse.

The authors studied the skin around the upper lip in both male and female cadavers, as well as reconstructions of those areas.
Several key differences between men and women emerged: women had fewer sweat glands around the mouth than men; women had fewer blood vessels so less blood flow to that region; the muscles around the mouth are closer to the skin than in men, which may pull the skin in tighter, causing wrinkles; and, although the number of hair follicles were about the same in both genders, men had more sweat glands per hair follicle, again contributing to more relaxed skin throughout aging.

Hormones also seem to play a role in women's dermatologic aging process.
"A lot of gender differences in health and disease are related to estrogens," said Dr. Seth Thaller, chief of plastic surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
For instance, estrogens promote healing, meaning that women tend to heal from wounds faster. And postmenopausal women have reduced blood flow, again contributing to lines and furrows. And they experience a decrease in the fat (sebum) secreted by sweat glands.
Meanwhile, women on hormone replacement therapy have been reported to have fewer wrinkles than those not taking the hormones.

Something the authors did not mention were changes in the bone, which also contribute to more severe aging, said Dr. Jessie Cheung, associate director of cosmetic dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

"As you age, your jaw bone actually gets resorbed slowly so the bone shrinks down. That contributes a lot. The skin is going to get saggy because there's no scaffolding holding it up like a tent," she said.

Tissue also gets thinner as people age.
Many existing cosmetic procedures, including fat transfers, can remedy some of these changes, Cheung added.

But, said Nahai, "the best thing anyone can do to keep their skin young is avoid smoking and avoid the sun and keep it moist. Use moisturizers and use skin creams."
"Our findings might stimulate industry to develop applications which take the differences between men and women into consideration [like the use of specific hormones]," added Kon.
More information
The American Academy of Dermatology has more on how to keep your skin healthy.

SOURCES: Foad Nahai, M.D., editor-in-chief,Aesthetic Surgery Journal, and plastic surgeon, Atlanta; Moshe Kon, M.D., Ph.D., professor and head, department of plastic, reconstructive and hand surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Seth Thaller, M.D., professor and chief, plastic surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Jessie Cheung M.D., associate director, cosmetic dermatology, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; November/December 200
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