Monday, September 29, 2008

Melamine Comtaminated Food Forces a Change in Shopping

My shopping is undergoing a revolution because of the latest food contamination crisis. My wife just sent me an email from Worksafe with another list of foods recalled because of melamine contamination. Luckily we didn't have any of the products in the house, but we had eaten a lot of them on a recent holiday!

This corruption of the food supply is one more reason why we are striving to buy organic and local foods. A few years ago buying organic was difficult and expensive. But now with Walmart and Whole Foods involved, the scale of production has brought prices down and availability up.

Now, to be honest, I'm not totally convinced on the health benefits of organic foods. Those who promote organics have an arsenal of evidence on their superiority. Organics are also supposed to be better for the environment etc etc. My first criteria is taste. I want the best tasting food. Then comes cost. Then comes nutritional content.

But now after a series of health alerts, I am adding accountability to my criteria list. I want to know who and how my food is produced, and I want assurances. This does not mean huge Gov't involvement. To be honest, I think some of the problems are because gov't has regulated the local farmer out of business. Independant organizations are doing a great job. Still when I see the USDA Organic logo, or the Oregon Tilth Organic label, I tend to feel better about the ingredients.

Hopefully, something labeled Organic or even better, Bio Organic, has been produced by people dedicated to purity and health. Perhaps this is naive, but I think it is better than some of the other standards.

Meanwhile, I buy my eggs from a local farmer. I know they are free range, because I have to dodge the chickens when I visit. My fruit and veggies are bought at local farms or at a farmer's market. Some of what I buy is grown in hot houses. They have no need for pesticides. And then the remainder of my food is bought at the supermarket, where I cruise the organic aisle first and compare prices and ingredients. This does take a bit more time and energy, but I treat it at a hobby. Getting great tasting food at the best price possible sure beats building ships in a bottle!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Afraid of Vista? Then Wait and Use These Tips

Vista is about to become history. This is good news for a lot of us who have been hearing all the horror stories from friends and experts. Microsoft is coming out with a new operating system in about a year. It is currently called Windows 7. Before that it was called Blackcomb ( a ski mountain nearby). Windows 7 is not an upgrade of Vista. It is a revolution in PC experience. This is important for you to understand because if you go buy a new computer and think that all you will have to do is pop in a new operating system, you will be looking at it with disgust in a couple of years.

Windows 7 is going to have all sorts of interactive features. It will allow you to move things around with a touch of your screen..not the keyboard! I could go on and on, but I hope you get the picture ( pun).

The problem is what to do now!

Are you running Windows XP and are quite happy with it? Well, MS has announced that they will soon be ending support for XP. Is your current computer getting moody? Are you at that stage where you are crossing your fingers every time you open an application? Is it taking a few minutes to load up and get going? Are you getting those awful stalls and hear your hard drive chugging to keep up? Wow, I could go on forever!

Well, I've got news for you. Your computer is not wearing out. In fact, there are very few parts to a computer that ever do wear out. Your main problem is that Windows loves to squirrel massive amount of data away, and then forgets where everything is.

I'm what they call a Power User. When I do research I have a multitude of programs and windows open. I'm searching audio and video files. I'm building and editing multi page websites. And I am conscientious about keeping my computer clean and lean.

But even I was getting frustrated by all those things I mention before. My poor computer was looking exhausted. And I started thinking about building a new one. But the effort and expense held me back. I'm glad that it did, because a friend recommended a book to me.

This book transformed my computer. It is almost back to its feisty self. I say "almost" because I keep throwing some heavy duty programs at it and it's P4 processor struggles to keep up ( video production, spreadsheets, HTML editing, email program,multiple tabs etc, all running at the same time)

I'm recommending this book to you because it is going to help my computer last until 2010 and still allow me to do what I want to do. I'm sure it will do the same for you.

Here is a link to Kris's Ebook. The instructions are very easy to follow, and he follows the book up with weekly resource and tune up tips.Click Here!

So hang in there and keep what you have running smooth. Then when Windows 7 comes you can upgrade and get the full experience of this groundbreaking system.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Auto Insurance: Avoiding Last Year's Mistakes

Our Auto Insurance renewal notice is sitting in my inbox.  This year I'm going to do a few things differently to avoid another year of nervous driving.   We had a conversation the other day and came up with the following points that we are going to ask our insurer:
  • What discounts do we get for having a safe driving record, and what happens to that discount if we get into an accident?
  • What if we are driving out of Province ( State) or Country and get into an accident?  Who do we contact and what resources are there to get the car fixed?
  • Our car is getting older.  If it is totalled, how much do we get for it.  Can we get replacement insurance and buy a new car?  I don't want a car payment.
  • How fast is the claim process?  We are in a remote area and need a vehicle.
  • Does the car insurance cover a rental car while we get our car fixed?
  • Are there specific drivers assigned to the auto insurance policy?  Who is not covered by the car insurance?  
I'm adding to the list as I think of things, but these seem to cover the important points so far.  Last year we didn't go through this process.  When our auto insurance came up for renewal we were very busy.  We ended up going to see a local insurance broker near the last day.  Buying car insurance was just one more thing on a long list of things to do that weekend.

The insurance broker said he had a new insurance company that would save us a few hundred dollars.  A few hundred buck insurance discount sounded great considering all the shopping we were heading out to do.  So we signed up and took off.

But once we got all the chores done and life leveled out I began to read the fine print of the policy.  The worst part was there was very little documentation.  We just had a phone number to call if we had an accident.  Not very reassuring!

So this year we took a good look at how we use our car and decided to buy an auto insurance policy according to that criteria.  What good is a great insurance discount if the insurance is no good?