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Saturday, 30 October 2010
My Vegas Vacation

So now it's Thursday morning and the weather is gorgeous again so we head out for breakfast. We stopped and played some quarter slots briefly and had the breakfast of champions (tequila mary's)just to warm up. Have to do the Bellagio buffet just once so about 11:30 (now it's the lunch buffet) we get ready for the feast! WOW! $14.00 and they didn't know what was comin'.

I attacked that shrimp bowl like there was no tomorrow - hee hee. Then there was the lox and the lamb and the baby scallops and the rolls and the desserts - OH MY GOSH - the desserts! I think we tried one of everything. So then we waddled out and headed north towards the Mirage and TI. We had a little luck on the nickle slots before breakfast which paid for the buffet so we're feelin' lucky. Somebody didn't tell the luck god again. We decided to skip the Secret Garden (there's always next trip, right?)and went across the street to the Venetian.

We saw the same bride that had just gotten married that another poster on the board saw right around the same time. If I had only known ya! We watched the moving statue (the guy NEVER blinks) and just did some more window shopping. They've got a 64 carat diamond with a price tag of 2.4 million dollars in the window of one jewelry store. YIKES! Latte time and then a $40 win on a poker game for me. Then we went to TI and watched the first pirate battle of the evening.

We go in and TC wanted to play some VP so we warmed a couple of seats for awhile. She gets to talking to a farmer from Pennsylvania in the next chair about milking bulls and getting pineapples from palm trees or something with the Hawaiian bartender and this all gets a little boring for me so I tell her I'm going over to the Flamingo for some more slots. I play for another hour or so on the blazing 7's and loose another $100 and go to the room to meet her - or so I thought - for dinner. She must have been having too much fun cuz she never showed so my option was either to spend the last night in the hotel room with the tv or head out on my own. I walked over to Harrah's and caught their free shuttle (waaaayyy in the back) to the Rio.

I got there just in time to catch the last Masquerade in the Sky show. Quite entertaining. Lots of glitz and music and dancing. Two Elvises hanging from cables from the ceiling and lots of beads flying thru the air. I went to the Voodoo Cafe (50th floor) for dinner and when I told the hostess that I had been ditched she gave me a great seat right by the window.

There is a $5.00 cover for women and $10.00 for men to go up but if you eat dinner, they take it off your bill. I had their seared ahi which is to die for and a great glass of wine. Took the second glass up to the Voodoo lounge with me and it was VERY crowded and the band wasn't that good. So I went out on the balcony and stood chatting with a guy from Pittsburgh who was hoping to win enough money to buy his wife a rolex. I sure hope he did.

It was a beautiful clear night and we just absorbed the view of the whole strip for about an hour. I hopped back on the shuttle and went back to the Flamingo, played BJ ($10 table) for about 20 minutes. The table was really cold, I lost $45.00, everybody was getting creamed so I left back to the room and found TC in the tub. She had spent the whole time at TI with this guy playing VP on $20 for about 4 hours. She sure knows how to milk a machine! Lights out. poker

Posted by loraboggs at 8:43 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 October 2010 8:44 PM EDT
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Why Some Diets Don't Work
Our bodies may very well be our temples, but we busy moms sometimes treat them more like theme park rides.yo-yo Pressed for time, we roll along, inhaling all the snack foods our kids like us to keep around. Then we soothe our stress, fatigue and overwork with—you've got it—additional fats and sugars. When we're ready to notice that we seem to have picked up a few extra pounds, we're horrified. So, we catch the latest diet wave—Atkins, Sugar Busters, The Zone, meridia diet pills, whatever—and hop the down track to slimness by eating cabbage soup or bunless burgers. When all is said and done and we resume our usual habits, we balloon back to our original weight—plus a few extra pounds for good measure.

Why, after working so hard to trim the fat, does it always come back and with such a vengeance?

Three words: Diets Don't Work.

"People get tired of the restriction that so many diets employ, so that after a while they go back to eating the foods they like," explains Keith Ayoob, Ed.D, director of nutrition at the Rose F. Kennedy Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "If they had given a nod to moderation instead of deprivation they would have been much better off."

Fad diets, he says, are particularly insidious because most of them are low-nutrient, "quick fix" type scams, which encourage their followers to radically restrict their food intake—which will actually only help them to lose water weight, as opposed to fat. Water, unfortunately, is gained right back once the dieting period ends, giving dieters that frustrating yo-yo feeling. And any diet that drastically alters eating habits without teaching new ones, Ayoob says, won't give lasting results.

"When their diet is over, people go back to square one, because their attitudes about food are the same as when they were heavier. They haven't learned a new way to eat." diet pills

Posted by loraboggs at 9:45 PM EDT
The Silent Epidemic of Suicide
Every 17 minutes, someone dies from a silent epidemic that is sweeping college campuses. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among students, behind car accidents. It kills more teenagers and young adults than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, pneumonia, influenza, birth defects and stroke combined.

Of course, suicide, just like many other things, can be preventable if you know what to look for. According to Dr. Dolores Cimini, director of the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program at the University at Albany, almost everyone exhibits at least some warning behaviors before attempting suicide. And while more males commit suicide than females, females attempt suicide much more frequently than men do. Cimini says there are around 10 danger signals that someone might be suicidal:

1). Many, but not all, people who commit suicide are suffering from depression. Some signs that a person might be depressed are a general absence of mood or a significantly depressed mood. They may have an inability to experience pleasure, or lack interest in daily life. They may have inexplicable crying spells, sadness, irritability, or constant insomnia or hypersomnia. There may be a substantial change in appetite, eating patterns, or weight. Some people suffering from depression have fatigue and tend to rely on drugs like Modafinil to function during the day. Finally, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and a lack of sexual desire may be a signal of depression.

2). Depression as a warning signal. If someone you know has exhibited signs of depression and is going through a particularly stressful situation, such as a recent loss, or is having difficulty maintaining a meaningful relationship, that could be a warning sign.

3). Another danger signal is when someone consistently fails at meeting preset goals, or even experiences stress at having failed an important test--watch for signs of a crisis

4). Many people convey their intentions directly with statements such as "I feel like killing myself," or "I don't know how much longer I can take this."

5). Others may hint at a detailed suicide plan with statements such as "I've been saving up my pills in case things get really bad" or "lately, I've been driving my car like I really don't care what happens."

6). In general, statements that describe feelings of helplessness, extreme loneliness, may be made. These are extremely important to pay attention to--they are what's known as the "cry for help." These individuals are desperately seeking someone to communicate with.

7). Look for outward changes in behavior. For instance, they may prepare for death by giving away prized possessions, making a will, or putting their affairs in order.

8). People considering suicide often withdraw from those close to them, or lose interest in prior activities or relationships.

9). A sudden, intense lift in spirits may also be a danger signal as it may indicate the person already feels a sense of relief knowing their problems will soon be over.
"Almost everyone exhibits at least some warning behaviors before attempting suicide."

10). Finding a note is perhaps the most obvious sign that someone may be thinking about suicide. According to Dr. Cimini, all signs of suicide should be taken very seriously. Whether a statement is as direct as "I want to die", or passive as "I wish I could just go to sleep and not ever wake up," the meaning is still the same. The most important thing you can do, as a friend, is to get help--for yourself and for the suicidal person. No matter how good your intentions, unless you're a certified counselor, you should never try to handle the situation by yourself.

However, if you are in a situation where someone comes to you for help, remain calm. In most instances, there is no rush (however, don't be afraid to just dial 911 of it is an urgent situation). Don't forget to deal directly with the topic of suicide. The myth that talking about suicide will "give someone the idea" is just that--a myth. Encourage problem solving and positive actions. If you feel the issue is urgent, make a contract with the person not to harm himself or herself for a set period of time, for instance, until they are able to talk to a professional.

Reinforce the idea that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Whatever the current crisis is, it will pass. Nearly every community, college, or city has a suicide hotline for emergencies. Don't be afraid to use it if you know someone who is suicidal, or for more information on suicide. buy provigil

Posted by loraboggs at 12:59 PM EDT
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
What to Do About Declining Interest Rates
It's your worst nightmare. You find a deal you're happy with, file your application, lock in your rate and then watch in horror as interest rates continue to sink. If that kind of scenario keeps you awake at night, you may have been tempted by the "float down" option. This program seems like a great deal: For a price, usually an increase in your interest rate of 1/8 of a percentage point, you buy yourself the right to lock into a lower interest rate if there's a drop while your online cash advance is being processed. Don't fall for it. Because you're adding a permanent increase to your rate, "you're defeating the purpose of a float down," says Nagy Henein, president of Greater Mortgage in New City, N.Y.

The fact is, although interest rates may fluctuate some, they aren't really expected to change much in the near term. HSH projects rates between 7.05% and 7.35% over the next few months. Looking ahead to the rest of 1998, Fannie Mae expects rates to range between 6.9% and 7.4%. More important, even if rates do change, it's much more likely they'll go up than down. "Right now, all the risk is on the upside," says Bill Anderson, president of Bank Rate Monitor, noting that mortgage securities are near 30-year lows. Taking out insurance to protect you in case rates fall just doesn't make sense in the current climate.

Rather than worrying over whether rates will drop another eighth of a percentage point, find a rate you're comfortable with and then lock it for 60 days to allow for any delay, says Norwest's Robertson. "Don't be greedy. There's really no point hanging out there waiting for it to drop." (In case you're wondering how much cash advance rates would have to drop to make this safeguard worth paying for, think of it this way: You'd need to see a drop of at least 1/4 of a percentage point; if rates slide only 1/8, you're getting the same rate you'd get without the float down. What's the chance of that happening? Pretty slim in this interest-rate environment. HSH Associates compared rates for the first week of the month with rates for the last week over the past 13 months. During that time period, rates dropped more than a quarter of a percentage point just three times.)

Posted by loraboggs at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 6 September 2010
Removing the Mystery from Personal Finance

Many young people admit that they find money and personal finance a bit mysterious. Much of what is required to remove the mystery, though, isn't as complex as it seems. Goals, careful record-keeping and self-discipline are the keys to a successful beginning. The asset young people have in abundance is time; used wisely, it can solve many problems, but once wasted, it can never be recovered. Thus, if you are just starting out, it's very important to get your finances under control and begin a saving and investing program so that the years will work in your favor. You do that by knowing what you have and figuring how to get the most out of it.

Here are some steps to get you going. + Budget. Before you can develop a saving or investment strategy, you need to know where you stand. Many young people who have decent jobs say they continually find themselves living from payday to payday -- or even running short -- and are not sure why. The best way to get a handle on things is to do what you might call a cash-flow analysis. This, despite the fancy name, simply means keeping track of your income and expenses by category. You can do this the quick and dirty way by going over your check stubs and credit card bills going back a few months. That will pick up your income, assuming you deposit your paycheck, and many of your expenses.

However, if these numbers suggest you should have money left over each month and you don't, consider carrying a notebook for a few weeks or a month or two and jotting down cash expenses. That's probably where your leak is. If you're just starting out on your own, begin tracking right away, said Kathy Jatras, a financial planner with Organized Finances Unlimited in Arlington. "I tell {young people} for the first three to six months when they have living expenses, to keep really good track of what they are because a lot of students right out of college have no clue about room, board, transportation, those kinds of costs," she said.

Then sit down with your numbers and organize them into categories. If you're into computers, there is software for this, or a plain old spreadsheet will do. This done, look for places to cut. Meals out and entertainment are common money swallowers, but check less obvious areas such as credit card interest as well. The idea here is to create a surplus, money that could be saved and invested, which in turn is the key to getting ahead. + Debts.

All too commonly today, new graduates coming out of college are loaded down with debts. Primarily, these are personal finance loans, but many young people also have run up credit card balances. Then, upon getting a job, the first impulse of many is to buy a nice car on credit or go out and get an instant payday loan when during tough financial times. If you are in this boat, look over your cash flow and the various same day payday loan terms. Your goal should be to pay these off, the most expensive first. Note that with credit cards, it will take many years to repay if you just make the minimum monthly payment.

Even if it's not practical to pay off your debts right away, there may be ways of reducing the burden. Many payday lenders, for example, will reduce the interest rate if you agree to certain things, such as having your payments automatically deducted from your bank account.

The Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae) will not only knock off a quarter of a percentage point for automatic payment, it will give you a credit equal to the loan origination fee, minus $250, if you make the first 24 payments on time, and it will cut your rate by 2 percentage points if you make the first 48 payments on time. At current interest rates, a borrower with $10,000 in student loans who participated in all three programs would save $866 over the 10-year term of the loan, according to the company. If you have a credit card balance you can't pay off right away, start paying attention to those solicitations you're probably getting. If you see a card with an interest rate lower than yours, take it and move your balance. But again, your main goal should be to get the balance paid off. Credit cards are among the most expensive ways to borrow. This may mean doing without some things you want, but perhaps if you stop and think, that's not so bad.

About 59 percent of the students in Hira's survey reported that they buy things they don't need, and the same number said they "shop to celebrate." + Saving/investing. If you can squeeze your spending down below your income, you're ready to begin saving. Planners recommend setting aside some emergency cash, so begin by creating that stash, which eventually ought to equal a couple of months' pay. A money market mutual fund works well for this. Next, check out retirement plans at work.

Many employers now have 401(k) or similar plans, which allow you to set aside money before your taxes are taken out. This lets you put more to work for you, and in many cases the employer will match at least part of your contribution. Look at the investment options available under the plan; if there's a a stock mutual fund with a good record among the choices, that's likely your best bet for the long run.

Finally, think about other goals -- a new car, a nice vacation, perhaps -- down the road -- a house, and start a separate kitty for them. You'll still have to borrow for a house, and probably a car, but the more you can pay in cash, the less you'll borrow and the less your interest costs will be. Few of us can have everything we want, but most of us, with careful money management, can build a secure life and still have a good time now and then.

Posted by loraboggs at 12:46 PM EDT

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