My wife and I chose our home in Norwood because more than two dozen of our friends live within a couple of blocks of our house. Camaraderie, to me, makes for a good quality of life in a neighborhood. It’s a friendly place and people frequently greet each other on the street.
Norwood also has its share of problems. Parts of the city are very nice, but in others, the effects of domestic violence, drug addiction, alcoholism and family breakdown are readily visible on its streets. It’s a far different place than Mariemont, which was recently voted one of the nation’s ten best neighborhoods by the American Planning Association.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
The association, which promotes good planning, announced its top 10 neighborhood list Wednesday. The 10 Great Neighborhoods list is part of the association's Great Places in America program, which singles out communities with exceptional character that were shaped by intelligent planning.
The association didn't rank the 10 neighborhoods.
Since Cincinnati philanthropist Mary Emery founded Mariemont, the village has been regarded as a paragon of planning and design. "Given the critical need for all of our cities and neighborhoods to reduce carbon emissions because of climate change, Mariemont provides us with a timely model of how to plan, build and adapt places for compactness, walkability and sustainability," said Paul Farmer, the American Planning Association's executive director.
I have no idea how friendly Mariemont residents are, so I won’t try to compare it with Norwood in that way, but there are some objective facts to consider.
- Norwood has a Kroger store, a viable retail strip and restaurants at its center, within walking distance of most residents. Mariemont’s nearest grocery store is of a mile east of the town square, more than a mile from residents on the west side of Mariemont. Mariemont’s central square is limited to entertainment and dining.
- Norwood is mixed income, including poor, Appalachian and Mexican residents, middle and working class folks and high-income residents.
What really makes a great neighborhood? Is it a resort styled community or one in which we can really live, work and engage with people from a variety of backgrounds?
If you use cereal bars as a quick snack (as I often do), you might be concerned about the ingredients (high fructose corn syrup) and maybe even interested in making your own.
I tried this a couple of years ago and ended up with some rather dry fare. I learned that I didn't use a binder. A binder is exatly what it sounds like--a sticky substance used to tie grains and nuts together. Maybe I'll take these tips and try again. What have been your experiences with trying to make healthier food?
Between workdays extending well beyond the old school eight hours, children’s extracurricular activities and the enigma of how to pay all of the bills while still having money left over for vacations and college funds, who has time to relax? To this day, when my mother is sick and you tell her to relax, her response is always, “Baby, I don’t have time to relax.”
Aside from making you grumpy, stress is a real medical problem. It contributes to headaches, muscle tension, heart attacks, high blood pressure and has even been linked to cancer. Stress can weaken your immune system, making it nearly impossible to fight off infection. With this in mind, there are a number of local businesses that are in your corner, ready to help with stress reduction.
The Relaxation Center, located in Loveland, offers exactly what their name says—pure relaxation and a vision of “healing the world, one body at a time.” According to Joyce Warner, co-owner of the center, hers is a company that prides itself on a quiet, warm and inviting atmosphere and was even voted Best Massage in 2006 by Citysearch.com. They offer many services to help your worries melt away including deep tissue massage, relaxation massage, pregnancy massage, sinus massage and craniosacral aromatherapy, just to name a few. The Relaxation Center also provides on-site chair massages, brought directly to your home or office.
Tucked away in a historic train station in Blue Ash is the Mantra Wellness Center. The key word for this business is “holistic.” They are focused on not only treating stress, but also preventing it. While they do offer some unfamiliar services such as Iridology, which studies a patient’s iris for signs of illness, and Feldenkrais, which focuses on body awareness and movement, they are best known for their customized services. Some of these include massage therapy, Reiki energy healing, acupuncture, diet and nutritional guidance, hypnotherapy and detox hydrotherapy. They have practitioners who specialize in bamboo massage and Thai yoga massage. In addition to their many services, they offer classes including Reiki Dojo, where one can be trained to become a Reiki practitioner, Primordial Sound Meditation for deeper, more effective meditation and even classes on aromatherapy and infant massage. According to Adrienne Davidson, owner and operator of the center, they take personal attention seriously. “We know who your are when you come in, and not just because we’ve looked at your chart,” she says.
If you’re looking for total energy treatment, then visit Het Heret Transformation Resources in Blue Ash. This center offers something completely out of the norm and, in fact, there are only ten practitioners in the country who offer Atlasprofilax services, which involve using a vibrating instrument as well as some light manual pressure on acupuncture and trigger points in the upper cervical region. The treatment works toward deep and thorough relaxation in the muscles and it leads to a new balance between the antagonist muscles (a medical term for muscles which pull in opposite directions), causing the vertebrae to function better.
Beverly Welbourne, owner of the center says, “Atlasprofilax relieves not only the neck and back, it also brings more life force, Qi or Kundalini to the body. It is an initiation into a new energy field, one which is very welcome for those who are prepared for it.”
These are just a few of the incredible alternative health experiences available in our area. Through holistic work, you may just find that there really is a happier, calmer you somewhere inside after all.
Fox News: A Brazilian bikini wax nearly kills an Australian woman.
Wall Street Journal: States slash health care for uninsured while the Federal government picks up the slack.
Finance and Frugal Living
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This article on the murky and industrialized world of high fructose corn syrup walks readers through a psychotically complex process that takes corn and turns it into sweetened gel (or fat Americans or poison, however you'd prefer to describe it).
"HFCS has the exact same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it is obviously much more complicated to make, involving vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt. Yet in spite of all the special enzymes required, HFCS is actually cheaper than sugar. It is also very easy to transport--it's just piped into tanker trucks. This translates into lower costs and higher profits for food producers"
Here are some other facts to consider--
HFCS consumption is up:
HCFS "... has become a popular topic in the discussion of obesity in America. The reason for this is that HFCS comsumption has increased dramatically since the 1970s when it was developed and so has obesity. It has not been proven that there is a link, but the average American consumed 39 pounds of HFCS in 1980 and 62.6 pounds in 2001"
HFCS doesn't trigger an insulin reaction:
"If you are an optimist, you are happy that fructose - unlike glucose - does not stimulate the release of insulin, and in small amounts can be a useful sweetener for people with diabetes.
If you are a pessimist, you will fret that fructose is preferentially metabolized to fat, raising the possibility that HFCS - or any other source of fructose (but we won't worry about fruit) - could have something to do with current obesity trends.
HFCS entered our food supply in the mid 1960s, but did not really come into its own until farm subsidies encouraged farmers to grow as much corn as possible. In 1981, at the dawn of the obesity era, the United States food supply provided 23 pounds of HFCS per person per year, along with 79 pounds of sucrose - 102 pounds total.
Today, the balance is 56 to 62 (118 pounds), with the increase entirely due to HFCS. Guilt by association! Glucose corn syrups and honey add up to yet another 18 pounds, but their use has not changed much over time. All told, the food supply provides a third of a pound a day of HFCS and sucrose combined, which works out to about 600 calories a day per person, just from these two sources."
HFCS may accelerate aging, boost hormones and more:
"Fructose interacts with oral contraceptives and elevates insulin levels in women on "the pill."
In studies with rats, fructose consistently produces higher kidney calcium concentrations than glucose. Fructose generally induces greater urinary concentrations of phosphorus and magnesium and lowered urinary pH compared with glucose.
In humans, fructose feeding leads to mineral losses, especially higher fecal excretions of iron and magnesium, than did subjects fed sucrose. Iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc balances tended to be more negative during the fructose-feeding period as compared to balances during the sucrose-feeding period.
There is significant evidence that high sucrose diets may alter intracellular metabolism, which in turn facilitates accelerated aging through oxidative damage. Scientists found that the rats given fructose had more undesirable cross-linking changes in the collagen of their skin than in the other groups. These changes are also thought to be markers for aging. The scientists say that it is the fructose molecule in the sucrose, not the glucose, that plays the larger part.20
Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter. Fructose raises serum triglycerides significantly. As a left-handed sugar, fructose digestion is very low. For complete internal conversion of fructose into glucose and acetates, it must rob ATP energy stores from the liver."
There have been a lot of days when I’ve wanted to just throw in the towel on all of it and just stay in bed all day, reading books and wallowing in some sense of self-pity. Each time, though, I’ve made myself get up, eat a decent breakfast, take a shower, and at least make some sort of an attempt at productivity, whether it be writing a handful of entries on a good day or simply just answering a couple of emails on a bad one. Some days, I would stop very early and take a nap so that I would have energy in the evening to spend with my children.
What’s kept me going - and will keep me going for the foreseeable future - is hope. I truly believe that at some point in the near future, things will return to some degree of normalcy in my life and health, and that will be a great moment for me, for my wife, for my kids, and for everyone else in my life.
I look for signs that today is better than the day before it. Many days, I can find those signs, and they keep me optimistic, even if I still don’t feel normal. As I write this, for example, I can reflect that today my energy level has been pretty consistent all day, and that’s been a pretty rare thing as of late.
I keep the positive things in my life front and center at all times. My office has a bunch of pictures of my wife and my children adorning the walls and the desktop. Whenever I need some inspiration, I look at those pictures - and I remember the great things I have to work for and live for.
I remind myself of the positive potential of the future. I think ahead to the things I want to enjoy in the future. I look forward to Christmas, for example, and to the spring and summer beyond that. Thinking of a warm summer day gets me actually excited and really keeps me positive.
I take care of the fundamentals by eating a very healthy diet. I’ve been focusing very hard on eating healthy foods over the past month, carefully selecting a diet that will keep my energy levels up, not put a lot of junk into my body, and provide all my nutritional needs.
What these tactics have in common is that they’re the same tactics I’ve been using to fix my personal finances. I look for ways to motivate myself, keep careful track of my progress, set goals, and focus on the fundamentals.
Whenever you see something that seems difficult in front of you, stick to the basics. Look for ways to motivate yourself and think positively about the obstacle. Keep track of your progress, so that you can clearly see that you are moving forward even if the path seems very difficult. Set goals and milestones along the way so that success can be reached on a regular basis. Focus on the fundamentals along the way - the little things that you know how to do well and the things that can “grease the skids” for the more difficult pieces.
The building blocks of success are universal. One just needs to apply them effectively in the situation they find themselves in.
TRENT HAMM blogs about personal finance at www.thesimpledollar.com. If you have a question that you would like answered, ask in the commments on his blog.
This has been a three-cup-of-coffee morning for me. Maybe for you, too. To help get you started on a healthier week, here's some wellness oriented news that should get your blood moving. (We'll work on getting it to boil next time.)
Over the past several months, Senate leaders have been contemplating imposing an obesity tax on non-diet sugary drinks in an effort to help pay for a renovation of the country’s health care system and lower consumption of a product presumed to be a crucial contributor to obesity in the U.S. Congressional estimates state that a tax of 3 cents per 12-ounce drink could potentially raise up to $50 billion over 10 years.
Are you thinking about money this morning? That's what most people are doing--fretting over how much they have to spend and where they can find the best deals. Money should be the first thing on your mind today and, conversely, the last.
In case you hadn't heard, Black Friday has an alter ego: Buy Nothing Day. It's a loosely organized event designed to help you unplug from money for a day. No transactions. No gifts. No buying gas. I like it and advocate it, though I won't be a strict adherent today. I have a car with a bad axle and I need to fix it. So after I finish this article I'm on my way to Autozone. No gifts for me, but I will spend $60 on a car parts.
As a person who is (or at least is trying to be) health conscious, I have discovered that besides an active lifestyle with plenty of physical exercise, one of the most simple and radical things that I can do to improve my health is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the proper proportions.