Benefits of Backing In

cars-in-parking-lotHow much time do you spend in your car circling to find somewhere to park?  If you live in a crowded state, like California, where people tend to drive everywhere, it’s probably a lot of time.

Inevitably, once I find a spot, there are cars like me waiting, turn signals findingspoton, anxious to zip into any empty space to get on with whatever task, appointment or meeting has caused the need to fight for parking.  Once the spot opens up in we head, nose first, squeezing in to a spot barely large enough for the car, let’s not even talk about the need to open a door to get out or unload anything or anyone that may be accompanying you from the car.

Once your tasks are completed and the time comes to leave the same perilous journey begins again in reverse.  You are virtually stalked by drivers who, anxious to acquire your parking spot, creep along behind or beside you as you make the trek back to your car.  God help you if you do not immediately load your car, get in and, as fast as possible, start and slam the car into reverse so that they are not caused any delay in getting their car into your spot.  It’s amazing how much road rage you can encounter when you don’t move quickly enough in to or out of a parking space.

blind-zone-chartSometimes, if I am not in my large SUV where I can see over everyone, or in my husband’s larger sedan with it’s myriad of cameras, it’s really hard for me to know that it’s safe to back out of a spot.  If I am in my very small sports car and there is a large truck, SUV or other longer vehicle beside me, I am virtually blind when backing out.  Other drivers can become quite impatient and nasty as I creep out to make sure that I don’t get hit by anyone and don’t hit pedestrians or any vehicle that may be darting by without looking for me.

Not surprisingly,  a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2001 and 2002 found that 14 percent of all damage claims involved crashes in parking lots. More seriously, there is a whole category of crashes, often fatal, tracked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called “backover crashes”: These typically occur in driveways and parking lots, often involve children, and happen most often to drivers of SUVs.

Considering all of that, it occurs to me that backing in to parking spots is a far safer way to park than head in.  Apparently there are many reasons to consider backing into spots instead of parking head in:

  • 1 in 7 vehicle accidents occur in parking lots
  • There is a smaller field of vision when backing up
  • If you are at work, or at home for that matter, and there is a need for emergency evacuation, it’s much quicker to get into your car and drive straight out.  You can also see the faces of other drivers parked similarly and can wave to each other and maintain order.
  • If your car won’t start it’s easier to get a jump when you are backed in
  • If you back into your garage at home, there is far less likelihood of backing over a bicycle (or God forbid a child) in the driveway, because you have a larger field of vision through the windshield

In my own experience, I much prefer backing in:

  • Spots are particularly narrow in a business parking structure – this way I can put the passenger side of my car closer to the passenger side of the car on my right so that I can give myself more room to exit my car and give the same to the driver of the car on my left.  With any luck this will cut down on the risk of me getting a ding from the door of the car beside me.
  • If there is a solid (especially concrete) wall that I will be parking against.  My parking assist will help guide me close enough and, with the very narrow spaces and very large cars that generally park on either side of me, I will feel more secure pulling straight out of the spot.
  • If there is no parking barrier in between two stacked spots.  I will pull straight through to make exiting easier.
  • If I am attending a sporting event, concert or other event where there will be a large crowd and traffic exiting at the same time, which could make backing out difficult.

Had my husband taken the time to back into his parking space, or even done a pull through to be facing forward in the spot in front of him, he could have avoided being hit by a FedEx truck which resulted in $19,000 worth of damage to our car.  Even more distressing, had a friend backed into his driveway, he might have been able to see his child playing there and could’ve avoided backing over him.  His son survived, but his injuries were severe and the incident was terrifying.

It’s worth the few minutes of time it takes to have the best view possible when you are leaving to assure your safety and that of others you might not even know are there.


It takes only a couple of seconds more and goes a long way to making everyone safer – especially by keeping you safer from those who aren’t paying attention!  Hmmm

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Post Vacation Stress Busters

protect%20your%20home%20while%20on%20vacationI love traveling:

  • Seeing parts of the world, or even the country I live in, that I haven’t seen before;
  • Unplugging from my far-too-technological existence;
  • Disengaging from my too-many-things-to-do not-enough-time-to-do-them days;
  • Escaping reality for days in the sun and sand with a cocktail just a waiter call away

But there are so many things about coming home that can make me hate traveling too:

  • chaos that occurred in my absence
  • pets that weren’t cared for in the manner that I care for them
  • chores or tasks that weren’t tended to
  • mail or deliveries that went askew
  • perhaps a weather or other catastrophe occurred
  • break-in, theft, vandalism or other casualty related property loss

I don’t know about you, but every time I get back into whatever mode of transportation will be returning me to “the real world” I instantly begin feeling less relaxed and begin wondering what “treat” will be awaiting me at home.

Some past coming home mishaps have included:

  • Returning from a weekend in Oklahoma to find the entire living room and master bedroom under 2 inches of still running water with my brother sound asleep on the living room couch amid the flood!
  • Returning from my 2 1/2 week honeymoon to find that my wine rack had been raped & pillaged (including a bottle we’d saved for our 10th anniversary), my son had spent most of the time next door instead of with the person I’d hired to stay with him at our house, and that my cat had disappeared for 3 days!
  • Returning from a 2 week trip to Hawaii to find out that my girlfriend had left my son “on his own” for 3 days during which time power had gone out (unbeknownst to anyone?) and food in the freezer and refrigerator had gone bad.

pvsdThere have been many more experiences like these (and a few worse) and we’ve certainly learned our lessons on who to call for travel caretaking help.  Thankfully I’ve also come across some really handy things we can all do to make coming home to the inevitable post-vacation surprises a little less stressful.

  • Fill a cup with water, put it in the freezer until it’s solid, then pop a coin on top. Leave it in there, and when you get back, check.  If the coin is on the bottom of a now-frozen cup of ice, the power went out—long enough for the ice to melt back to water in your freezer, the coin to fall through, and then the power came back and the water re-froze. If the coin is where you left it, the power stayed on, or only went out for short periods. Obviously if the coin is at the bottom, you need to throw out all of the perishable food in your freezer and refrigerator.  Thanks Lifehacker!
  • Let’s face it, our friends and family are well intentioned, but can be flakes! catgenie Guarantee that your furry friends won’t be neglected by buying a self cleaning cat box (they have one that self-cleans, uses the toilet to rinse/dispose and you don’t d anything with it except refill bio cartridge every 3 months!) and automatic pet feeders of all kinds that guarantee your furry friends aren’t left to starve in your absence. If they show up and provide companionship, exercise and empty the collection bin/scoop the yard, that’ll just be a bonus!
  • Although it’s always nice to have your kids in the comfort of their own beds, but leave them at the grandparents or at the home of the person responsible for them.  It makes it much more likely they are being supervised.
  • Leave your lights on timers that are set to different times on different days and have radios set to come on loud in rooms near the front door as well. Many home security systems have this option in their user panels.
  • Let the newspaper, post office, UPS/Fed Ex and any other routine delivery services know that you will be away.  Tell the drivers in the weeks leading up to your vacation so they can note it on their route charts.
  • Take a bottle of wine or two to a trusted neighbor and ask them to check your driveway/porch and mailbox daily for any errant deliveries. Ask them to also put your trashcans out on trash day and to return them to your storage spot so things look normal.
  • Invest in a RING or other doorbell system that allows you to “answer” your door from your smartphone. I have one at two of my homes and swear by it!  I have answered my door in LA from hundreds of miles away as if I was just cooking there in the kitchen and couldn’t get to the door.  No one was the wiser and the people left. It does interface if you are an ADT customer, but you do not have to be.  Do it for your peace of mind!
  • Have your gardener come on the regular schedule and arrange to have your housekeeper come the day you are coming home, have her make sure trash is emptied, plants watered, and dishwasher emptied so you return to a clean house.

Keep a video inventory, as well as a digital camera photo disk inventory of your valuables, what the inside and outside of your home looks like and update it when you make any major purchases, receive any expensive gifts, get a new car, boat, or RV that you may store at home.

  • Put both in a fire and waterproof safe/document box. You can get these kind of boxes at Home Depot, Lowe’s,, or other stores of this type.
  • Also include in this box irreplaceable jewelry, spare keys to all vehicles, RVs, boats, all properties you own, etc., take pictures of the bottles of all prescriptions your family takes, insurance policies, passports (if you aren’t traveling abroad) photocopies of all credit cards, ID for all family members, social security cards, original birth/death/marriage certificates, military records, etc.
  • Put that box in your attic or in the rafters of your garage. The idea is to put it someplace that burglars wouldn’t look. This is not something you are going to access very often at all.  Do not put it in a closet.  Also put some cash in case banks are temporarily affected by power outages and ATMs are unavailable.
  • Engrave your Name and Cell Phone Number on the Box, and that of your emergency contact as well, in the event the box is separated from your home (i.e. flood or hurricane).  Do not use ink!  Even permanent ink can wash away with high pressure fire hoses and lashing storm waters.  Engraved letters and numbers are a much better option.
  • In the event of a break-in, catastrophic fire or other home damaging disaster while you are gone, there is every likelihood that the box will survive and you will have proof for insurance adjusters

If these also look like good ideas for things to do in case of a natural disaster where you might have to evacuate, it’s because they are – they’re a great reminder as we enter the stormy winter months.

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Booze is Good For Late Night Laughs

flipcupThis morning a tease of a Page Six article: NBC worried Jimmy Fallon’s boozing got ‘out of control’ grabbed my attention.  I love Jimmy Fallon and some nights fight to stay awake just to see him so I can go to sleep giggling. Thankfully it linked straight to the article so I could skip the main page headline and picture of Kim Kardashian. GAG!

Since the late night guards changed a few years ago from Leno and Letterman to Kimmel, Fallon and Colbert, the show content has, not surprisingly, changed as well.

carnakthemagGone are the Johnny Carson days with his, boisterously laughing from the sidelines, sidekick Ed McMahan, and his orchestra, led by Doc Severinsen.  The bygone “Mad Men” era of weeknight cocktail parties when people stayed up to watch the 11:00 news and couldn’t wait to see who Johnny’s guests would be each night!  It was accepted and even slyly joked that his coffee cup, and those of his guests, held things other than coffee while they:

  • Talked about movies
  • Tame news topics
  • The host or a guest up and coming comedian made jokes
  • The guest might sing a song to the accompaniment of the orchestra
  • The host did skits that were aimed at a generation of adults that thought, Carnac the Magnificent, dropping pumpkins from the tops of buildings, or a man with a sledgehammer smashing watermelons was entertainment

Now ratings are the king.

poopwaterwithhgatesGeneration X and Millennials aren’t likely to tune into late night shows to see a host drone on about politics, to hear a celebrity talk about their latest movie, or, God forbid, reality show.  They will tune in to watch Jimmy Fallon drink poop.

Jimmy Fallon has been very good for NBC.  His admittedly drunken, or maybe just buzzeddrivingheavily buzzed (but kids, as the commercials say: Buzzed driving IS drunk driving!), exploits on the air brought in viewers they had, lost in the post Carson, Jay Leno years to CBS when David Letterman cut into their late night dominance.

martiniswithfergieFallon has a freshness, he’s funny, witty, creative, can carry a tune, he is Gen X, and has a huge network of Gen X and Millennial friends, which is the demographic NBC needed to grab.

While viewers obviously don’t want to see Fallon injure himself, get divorced or get fired, they do tune in to see him:

  • Perform duets with Justin Timberlake and other singers
  • Drink Poop Water with Bill Gates
  • Do Lip-Sync battles with the stars
  • Play Flip-Cup with Margot Robbie
  • Make and drink fancy martinis with Fergie
  • Host Celebrity Drinko (They all want to play)

For what it’s worth, the Page Six article does include a quote from NBC downplaying and denying any suggest that they are upset or questioning the host of the Number 1 rated late night show: “Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, told us, “Jimmy is one of NBC’s biggest assets, and we’re extremely proud that ‘The Tonight Show’ continues to be the late-night leader in all metrics, including ratings and social-media awareness. He’s in a class by himself, and we’re also looking forward to him hosting the Golden Globes in January. As a producer and star he delivers over 200 hours of television a year, and any suggestion that we have concerns about his behavior or have given him any kind of ‘warning’ is completely false.”

NBC can make sure he’s safe on the set and can insist he use a driver on their time to and from the studio, etc.  From what the article on Page Six says, it appears he is taking the steps to make sure he stays in control during the rest of the time.  As long as all parties are safe, I say to those commenting from the peanut gallery, “Stop.”  Hmmm

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Fat Cell Reduction Without Drugs!

I’m feeling chubby and scientific today….a very dangerous combination!

yoda_swsbFew of us regular folk work out for the sheer enjoyment of it.  Most of us do it because we need to.  I like the end results, but to be honest, if I could sit on my butt, drink wine and eat comfort food with the same result, I’d choose the latter.  Unfortunately my biology doesn’t work that way (THANKS MOM!), so, as Yoda would say, “Work out I must.”

Thanks to a discovery I read today from an article in Health Magazine, there might just be a little more motivation to get my workout on a little more often: it seems that not only does a good workout put your body to work burning icky brown fat, but research shows that the release of the hormone irisin during exercise is thought to do double duty by stopping your body from forming new fat cells.  Hallelujah!

Soon after the disovery of the existence of FNDC5,  A.K.A. “irisin“, scientists began disputing whether irisin is just an inert, naturally ocurring hormone or if the human body is actually capable of increasing production and circulating it via exercise.

In 2015, attempting to settle the dispute once and for all, Spiegleman and the rest of the Harvard team went back to work and conducted more precise testing using a technique called quantitative mass spectrometry to isolate the irisin protein.

pauley-perrette-aka-abby-sciuto-ncis-girls-25700162-1024-768For those of us not at the leading edge of scientific discovery think:  Abby Sciuto of NCIS and her, frequently mentioned, “Major Mass Spec,” tool used for breaking down chemical components when the team is solving a crime.

PowerPoint PresentationOnce the protein was isolated they were able to conduct a more precise 12 week study comparing the amount of irisin present in subjects who were sedentary to the amount present in the subjects who participated in a measured amount of aerobic interval training in the same 12 week period.

Their findings were published in the Aug. 13, 2015 issue of the Journal Cell Metabolism (Cell Metabolism, Vol. 22, Issue 4, p734–740), finally settling the lack of concensus.

The data concluded:

  1.  The amount of irisin present in the blood of the sedentary subjects was 3.6 nanograms per mililiter of blood at the beginning and the end of the 12 weeks;
  2. The amount of irisin present in the blood of the participants in the aerobic training increased from 3.6 nanograms per mililiter of blood at the beginning to  4.3 nanograms per mililiter at the end of the 12 weeks (23.96% increase); and
  3. The 23.96 increase could be directly attributed to the amount of exercise the non-sedentary study participants completed.

That bit of science was good enough for me, so, while I toiled over the citations and details (plus the fun Yoda & Abby Sciuto references), I pulled my dusty Cubii under desk elliptical machine out and decided to create some irisin while I worked.

cubiiIn a really shameless, totally unsolicited plug, I backed this fun device when it was under prodution as a Kickstarter campaign and then had to have major foot surgery, so it’s been sitting idle for about 4 months.  It connects to my iPhone (via app), syncs with Fitbit, and is a non-impact way to not let your desk job ruin your good health!

In 125 minutes (2 hours 5 minutes) the health results for my semi-sedentary, Cubii workout while researching/blogging were more than I expected, although I was admittedly dripping wet when I finished:

  • Burned 1243 Calories
  • Took 14,244 Strides
  • Logged 5.84 Miles from my dining room table & without shoes!

My only complaint with the Cubii software is that the calories burned comes in much lower than my Garmin Vivofit 2 (so, of course I am using the Garmin count) Hmmm.  It gave me a good tally, but next time I’ll put my heart rate monitor on for an even more accurate calorie burning count.

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Something For the Men

And by “for the men,” of course I mean for the benefit of the women as well.  Hmmm

Rachael Schultz at Men’s Fitness Magazine did a great job of getting to the nitty gritty of this article, and I’ve included the link so you can read ALL about it, but for my purposes, I’ll just summarize the list of supplements that could help a guy keep his flag pole straight up instead of having to go see a doctor about a prescription for a Viagra.

The Best Supplements For Your Penis

As many as 30 million American men suffer from Erectile Dysfunction, and one in four who seek treatment for ED are actually under the age of 40, according to a study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

ED can be caused by a handful of things, but one thing’s for sure: You need a healthy supply of the neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO) to get and maintain an erection. NO is produced in nerve tissue and helps jolt your Johnson by relaxing the smooth muscle so blood can fill the penis. After the initial release of NO, your body releases a cascade of chemicals—including more of the neurotransmitter—to help keep you hard and happy, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The problem comes when your body can’t produce enough nitric oxide to get and keep you going. Meds like Viagra fix this problem, but herbs, vitamins, and amino acids have been eliminating erection problems long before the magic pill came around.

One caveat: Even though these supplements are all natural, vitamins and amino acids can interact with other medications, so be sure to talk to your doc before you add anything to your daily routine—especially since countless studies have shown ED is typically linked to larger health problems, including heart disease.

#1 L-Arginine: L-arginine, or arginine, is an amino acid found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products that helps expand blood vessels and increase blood flow. “The body uses this semi-essential amino acid as the primary building block for nitric oxide,” explains Harry Fisch, M.D., clinical professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

While the rationale behind why it would work is airtight, the research on arginine’s actual effect on erectile dysfunction is slim, points out Charles Walker, M.D., assistant professor of urology and cofounder of the Cardiovascular and Sexual Health clinic at Yale University. But given its solid safety profile, minimal side effects, and potential benefit on heart disease, it’s worth a try, he adds, especially when taken in conjunction with other herbs on this list, which studies have shown can be more effective.

However, you might actually be better off going one step back in the chain reaction and taking a L-citrulline supplement. While your body converts L-arginine to nitric oxide, it also metabolizes it too fast when the amino acid is taken in an oral supplement, according to a 2011 study from the University of Foggia in Italy. L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, is actually a better option to follow the same metabolic pathway and serve as a treatment for ED, the same study found.

#2 – Vitamin D: According to a study at Johns Hopkins University, Men who are Vitamin D deficient are 32% more likely to experience trouble getting it up.  Vitamin D is crucial for keeping the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels healthy.  If they aren’t healthy they can clog the vessels and restrict blood flow. No or low blood flow = No hard on.

#3 – Yohimbine: Enhances sexual performance by blocking certain neurotransmitters in the brain and increasing the release of nitric oxide in the cavernosal nerves of the penis.  When combined with L-arginine, yohimbine usually is successful in helping men achieve an erection, but it can raise blood pressure and anxiety levels, so do check with a doctor first.

#4 – Horny Goat Weed (A.K.A. epimedium): Helps improve the erection by inhibiting PDE-5 and increasing nitric oxide synthase.  This basically is exactly what Viagra does.

#5 – Vitamin B3 (niacin): Improves erectile function in men with high cholesterol by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow.  B-3 is also important in the production of sex hormones and is best when taken in combination with L-arginine and propionyl-L-carnitine.

#6 – Panax Ginseng: Helps create harder, longer lasting erections, and improve testosterone levels which also boosts libido.

#7 – Folic Acid: This B Vitamin stimulates nitric oxide.  A Turkish study showed that men with ED also suffered from low folic acid.

#8 – Ginkgo Biloba: Helped counteract sexual dysfunction caused by the use of anti-depressants in 76% of patients experiencing the side effect.

Who knows, maybe there would be less need for the anti-depressants if their penises were working.  Hmmm

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Important Facebook Privacy News of the Day

facebook-secret-conversation-end-to-end-encryptionFacebook promised the ability of all 900 Million Messenger Users to encrypt their messages and keep them private last July.  Today, according to an announcement on, that has finally happened.

There are caveats, of course:

  1. The encryption is “Opt-In”
  2. No one can read the conversation except the two people involved in the conversation – not Facebook, law enforcement or government agencies
  3. It has to be done new with each conversation you want kept private
  4. You can only maintain the privacy of the conversation on the same device (phone, tablet, pc) that you started it on
  5. Senders can choose a Snapchat-style expiration time for messages, ranging from five seconds to one day
  6. You can’t send GIF or Video files in the messages, but you an attach JPEG and stickers
  7. In order to receive encrypted messages both parties need to be using the updated Messenger App

The new tool is called “Secret Conversations” and when you update to the newest version of the Messenger App, you will now see an option to start a “Secret Message” at the top right of the new message screen.

If encrypting your messages, and keeping sensitive conversations truly secret, is important to you, here is how you turn it on:

If you want to start a new encrypted conversation:

  1. Tap the new conversation icon at the top right.
  2. Tap “Secret” in the top right.
  3. Choose your recipient and begin messaging.

If you want to turn an ongoing conversation into an encrypted Secret Conversation:

  1. Open the message thread.
  2. Tap their name at the top of your screen.
  3. Tap “Secret Conversation” to switch it over.

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