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Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Ways to Save for College and Pay Off Student Loans

If you don't know about Upromise or what a 529 plan is, you are losing money you could be saving for your future, using to pay off your student loans or your child's future!

When it comes to paying for college, there are two options:
You wonder how you will be able to afford to go or send a send your children. The cost of college is rising.
You have deferred payment on your student loans for various reasons. You wonder how/if you will ever pay it off.
Sound familiar? Here are 3 fabulous things that are designed to HELP YOU!

If you already have student loans, Sallie Mae can link to Upromise and help you pay off your students loans. That's what I use it for.

Upromise Citibank Credit Card
For the longest time I went without a rewards program on any of my credit cards. You simply can't afford to go without one. But the trick is finding a rewards program that is truly rewarding. The Upromise Citibak card gives 1% cashback to my Upromise account that is linked to my SallieMae account. 1% may not seem like that much, but that 1% is going to where it counts the most, paying down debt.

I just signed up for Upromise. They have devised a way of linking your Upromise account to your club cards at major supermarkets, debit cards and credit cards. When you spend money at their partners or just use your cards, you earn money for college. It doesn't matter if you have already been. You can register your student loans and use the rewards you earn to pay off student loans. They also offer a Citibank credit card which also helps you save.

You can even earn money when you eat if you eat at affiliated restaurants. Why not? You have to eat to live. It's been a nice suprize when I have been out to eat to see a surprise bonus on my Upromise account.

Looking to purchase a home in the near future? If you use their affiliated realtors, they contribute $3000 back to you! What? Buy a condo and pay off your loans in part? Fantastic!!

You can invite other family to register their credit cards online--aunts, uncles, older brothers and sisters, family friends...the list goes on.

Don't miss out! Visit Upromise today!

529 Plan
A fabulous way of saving for college! Don't have student loans yet? Upromise can also link to a 529 plan. Pre-tax contributions can also be made from a paycheck--just like a retirement account. This includes parent contributions or a student's jobs before or even during college. A 529 Plan has another benefit over a regular savings account. The government does not tax the interest you earn in a 529! This means even more money for college!

Fidelity.com offers a College Rewards American Express credit cards that links directly to a 529 account if you have one with them. They give 1.5% cash back rewards straight into your account!

Vanguard.com offers a 529 account through Upromise. It makes the application process easier because all of your information is in their system.

I wish these programs had been around before I went to college. They have truely flourished with the age of the internet. Luckily, it's not too late. Yes, helping pay student loans is after the fact, but every little bit helps!

The best thing is to find a 529 administered by your state. You can also search 529 and your state. What are you waiting for?? Start saving today!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Natural Beauty or the Botox Beast (1)

Do Christians have any business using beauty treatments or doing anything to make themselves physically more attractive?

People go to the gym to work out. Men bulk themselves out using weights. Women are concerned about losing weight and gaining weight. It seems that dietary modifications and exercise are not enough. We resort to pills with or without a prescription and surguries of all kinds. Obesity is called an “epidemic.”

Women get facials, manicures, pedicures, facelifts, bikini waxes, laser hair removal, breast enhancements and botox.

Men and women both are concerned about hair loss and dye their hair. I’ve heard of both men and women using laser hair removal, shaping their eyebrows and getting manicures. It’s tough to be hard on someone who wants to get rid of their unibrow. One of my dates was late because he had just gotten a massage and manicure. I thought it was disrespectful to be late and a bit weird that he not only loved them, but started insisting that he wasn’t gay. He would have benefited from botox for excessive sweating as he tried to convince me his marriage was over.

Beauty can also go to an extreme. Women travel to South America for less expensive cosmetic medical procedures. They run a high risk of infection on the plane ride home. People get skin cancer maintaining their tans. The last time eyebrow plucking was a trend, my mother was in college. She plucked her eyebrows to the point that they don’t grow back.

I always thought I had decent lips, but now that Angelina Jolie’s full pucker is in fashion, I’ve been told I have thin lips and should consider ristalyne injections. Even comic book characters have fuller lips. I’ve seen people with mis-shapen lips from collagen injections.

I worked briefly copying legal documents for a company that produced silicone breast implants and while I photocopied what was marked, I read about the horrors of the illnesses caused by them. www.siliconeholocaust.org

Botox has some uses beyond just cosmetic purposes. It is up to you to decide if excessive underarm sweating is cosmetic or not. It also helps with musicle spasms related to neurological conditions. Its most popular use is, of course, cosmetic.

Rosacea can be fixed when it is just “cosmetic”. If left untreated, it can result in disfigurement. Unbelieveable? Comedian W. C. Fields had a bulbous nose (rhinophyma) that was not caused by hard drinking as was rumored. It was actually caused by the advanced stages of acne rosacea. I have seen a case so bad that it interfered with his breathing. When he drank anything, it was inevitable that some would drip off the vast end of his nose. It shook when he walked. This can be treated simply and inexpensively in its early stages with accutane and dermabrasion. In advanced stages it can be painful both physically and emotionally. At the point in the pictures below it can only be treated surgically. This is considered to be a skin disorder. It's not just a vanity rhinoplasty to shave off a "Spanish" bump.

They told me I had slight rosacea when I went in for a facial. I knew what could happen if left untreated, though rhinophyma is usually a condition which affects men over 40. I had planned on getting an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) for the aftereffects of a years-old sunburn, good thing that same treatment works for both. I felt like I was actually saving money in the long run. I can use makeup to cover it up, but I really hate wearing liquid makeup.

I remember going out with a guy who had the beginnings of rosacea on his nose--little red bumps and blood vessels. I didn't know what it was, and men usually aren't too vain. But I was transfixed and ultimately a little turned off by it. There were other character flaws involved as well, so it wasn't just his nose. Today I met another single guy. I wanted to say he could do something about that, but how? I was, I think, unabashedly staring at his nose. I felt really bad, but the thought of kissing someone with that kind of nose is kind of gross if you aren't already in love with them. And if doesn't grow on you, it can certainly grow on them!

There is a biblical basis for taking good care of oneself. Beauty was definitely used for attracting the opposite sex. It seems to be OK to make oneself attractive. I just think that we have taken it too far.

1 Corinthians 6:19:
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

Song of Songs
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings,
your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
studded with silver.

Esther 2
8 When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.

Ruth 3
1 One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, " 3 Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes…” (Excerpt of more instructions.)

One should also cultivate inner beauty.

1 Timothy 2
9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Certainly some things are OK. But, where are we headed if we don’t stop soon? How much is too much? Personal tastes, career choices and relationship with the Lord are factors in answering whether or not Christians should participate. Greater confidence translates to making more money in our capitalist society. Lawyers have been known to get Botox injections so that they don’t look mean. Breast enhancements and some cosmetic procedures seem necessary in Hollywood. However, is it worth your quality of life and health?

The next install ment investigates some very normal looking stars and Miss America contestants. All this cosmetic stuff wasn't always necessary. Go.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Natural Beauty or the Botox Beast (2)

In an informal survey, people were not as perfect as they are today.

People on the television show, MASH, were blessedly normal looking. I noticed guest stars with crooked, yellowish teeth. Alan Alda or other cast memebers with their shirts off reflected light due to their paleness. They were typified by unremarkable muscles and hairy chests. Loretta Swit (Hot Lips) was mercilessly sexually harrassed, deeply respected and practically flat-chested by today’s standards. Yet they're attractive people in a very normal way.

MASH would not look like that today. But, then again, the Santa Monica Mountains where it was filmed is also dotted with houses. The show would just not happen today.

The Miss America pageant of the 1920s was filled with ladies that would not make the cut by today’s standards.

Are surgical procedures really necessary or have the rules changed? I can guarantee that these ladies were not obsessed with the things that plague us today. These old bathing suits look about as skimpy as the dresses that many stars wear today. The more skin we bare, the more we seem to obsess over every miniscule spec, vein or cellulite. Not only were these ladies considered beautiful, the bathing suits they wore were considered immodest.
(Obviously, modesty has gone on a permanent holiday.)

Plastic surgeons want to show off the latest advancements to earn more money. It is, after all, a mainly commercial business which is not funded by insurance companies. It also fuels our innate desire to remain youthful, beautiful and be more perfect than we were born.

The real issue lies in asking, will we ever be satisfied with ourselves?

Friday, August 10, 2007

When You're the Boss, Behave!

Be good to those who work for you. You never know what the future might bring!!

I have been a performer for many years. Coming back to the city I live in was a big step down after having been in New York City. But now, being a choir teacher, I am in a position to hire an accompanist for my choir. Wouldn't you know it? A ghost from my recent past applied!

When I auditioned for her she told me I wasn't that good. She also told me I should sing a different voice part. When I told her I had been ill, she told me I shouldn't make excuses. When someone else in the choir leaned on me and hurt my knees, she yelled at me in front of everyone. I ended up in tears and the director came over and gave me a big hug. When summer rolled around and she was in charge of preparing the chorus for another show, I asked to be a part of it. She said I would have to miss too many rehearsals.

And now she wants the job I'm offering?? Incredible. I'm not going to bother telling her that she's too difficult to get along with. I'm not going to tell her that I'm afriad she's going to yell at me. As much as I would like to be considered for roles or parts in the future, I don't think I can work with her! I wouldn't want her to yell at the kids or start arguing with me about preparing the choir. I want to live my life in peace!

Besides that, her piano skills aren't good enough for the job! I could live with some of that if I thought I could get along with her!

Just keep in mind, when you're the boss, BEHAVE!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Just my Luck!!!

Exciting news! Despite my unfortunate attempt at meeting up with the New Yorker, I met a guy on Friday night at a party. We had a really nice time and got along great. We had a nice conversation. Our eyes kept meeting from across the room. I was singing in my head. Some enchanted evening, you will meet a stranger.

I always have misgivings about getting some guy's email. But I thought I should give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I sent my email on Monday evening after having misplaced my checkbook. That's what I used since I didn't have cards or anything with me that evening. I didn't expect to meet anyone I liked. But, there I was, liking someone, holding hands, and cuddling up to someone who seemed really nice. He walked me to my car and then gave me a kiss on the forehead. That was just plain sweet! Yeah me! Maybe love is possible.

Hi M,

I just wanted to tell you that I felt really special with you. I kind of knew you were up to something when you moved next to me. I was pretty sure I would spend time with you at some point that evening.

So you made through High School without dating much or at all. That's actually quite common. If anything, it made me like you better in some ways. I even had a girlfriend who graduated from college without having kissed a boy at all.


Dear D,
I'm happy to hear from you love. I am also glad that you felt really special, although I had no agenda where you were concerned. My recollection is that I just happened to sit next to you -- and in so doing had a nice time. You are quite cuddly....

My early experiences with women were non-existent, for the most part, through my late twenties. It was a very frustrating time for me -- and still is on some level. At this point I feel it is important to tell you that I am in a polyamorus marriage. This means, among other things, that I am allowed to show affection for other women in ways that would otherwise not be possible. I do not sleep-around or take my friendships lightly, however. As a healer, I also know (in my heart) that this lifestyle that I have chosen is related to helping others, which is my calling. For the record, I would like to know more about you -- whatever you are willing to share, whether that involves affection or not. However I will understand if what I've said is in some way distasteful to you. Most of the women that I've met thus far want nothing to do with polyamory....
Take care D, and I hope to hear from you again. Please let me know how you feel.

Just my luck. I had a nice time with you, but I am looking for my soulmate and something that is exclusive and monagamous. I am way too innocent and sweet for you. I should have known better than to let my guard down as far as I did. I should have married young when love was still something sweet. It would have been nice to know that before I got cuddly with you. I think you've more than made up for your early years just by deceiving me. I'm sure it wasn't your intent, but that just wasn't nice.

If you're a healer, you shouldn't go around hurting nice girls.
Now you know me better and you know how I feel.


I REALLY wish I made this stuff up!

I'm going to go vomit now.

Subtle Cues Something's Amiss

I have always believed that I could pick up on subtle cues that indicate that something is amiss with a man. People think I am being "picky" or "judgemental". But when you are talking about your soulmate that you trust with your life, your heart, your money, your soul and your children you SHOULD be picky.

When I met Mr. Polyamory I had not one, but two subtle slips of the tongue that told all.

D-So, how's the view in "Mountain City"?
M-We have a great view from the backyard. (Hmmm, "we". Could be a roommate.)
D-Here, let me give you my email too.
M-Oh, I figured I'd have yours when you wrote to me. (Hmmm. Kinda lazy.)

Once he wrote to me I got it!!! No number, no email, no evidence. Clever!!! Brilliant even!!

WE--of COURSE! No man says "we" for a roommate. He would say, "my place--that I share with a roommate--another guy. He's cool."

When you are on a date with a guy, listen carefully. They are very honest. I have heard of guys turning to a girl and saying, "I told you on our first date that I am like X." or "I told you on our first date I don't believe in marriage."

It could be anything. You have to listen for it. A hobby, a habit, a secret... Then ask yourself if you can live with it. Don't think for a second that you can make anyone change.

This applies to guys also.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Oops, forgot to call!!

Sometimes in life and in dating we seem to disconnect. My cousin tried to convince me I was being too picky, so I tried to give an online beau a chance. I received an email from the guy promising to call...

Hi D,

Well I was surprised to hear your voice on my phone. The only reason I have not called back as of yet is when I remember to call it is past 9pm or I am at work. I don't know what your work schedule is like so I thought it would be only polite not to call to late. I will be calling you tomorrow evening to try get to know you a little better and maybe even meet. On church on Sunday I ran into some old friends that I have not seen in at least 8 years and they invited me to join them at the beach Saturday morning. I have Saturday thru Tuesday off this week so we will see what happens.

I am not sure if your interested in seeing a play but my churches performing arts ministry is putting on a performance of "Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat". If you would like to join me then please let me know. I get off work at 6pm tomorrow so I will call you some time after that.


Are you surprised that he didn't call? At first I was, but I guess I'm really not anymore. You can read all the excuses he's making. I've been on enough dates where someone misrepresented themselves and it became quite uncomfortable. Or we just had conflicting personalities. It's been known to happen, right?

Truthfully, it's happened with people I've met in person. I called someone after exchanging numbers. We were both ex-patriate New Yorkers who shared how much we loved the Big Apple while standing in the middle of Chinatown. One of my cousins was there when we met and inspired me to call even though he had made a few anti-Mexican remarks that I didn't like. After talking for a few minutes, he said, "Hey, why don't we go out for a drink or a walk or something on Sunday? Nothing fancy, just hang out." I answered, "Sure, sounds fun." I was driving on a road with many stops trying to get back to the freeway. He said I was breaking up, but I wasn't sure I believed him. "Why don't we talk on Saturday morning. I'll give you a call... Or you can call me." I answered, "Yeah, sounds great." Saturday morning rolled around. I slept in. It was highly unlikely that I would call him because I had already called him. It just seems desperate for a girl to keep calling, especially since being the true New Yorker that he was, he didn't have a car and I would be driving out to see him. Do you think he really intended to meet up with me? Or was he just inviting me to do something because he didn't know how to get off the phone?

I have to admit that I've done it too. I have told people I just met that I would call them just to get rid of them. I had my reasons.

I was looking for the place where I would be filing some paperwork downtown when I was approached by a guard. He, of course, wanted to just be helpful and friendly by walking me there instead of just pointing me in the right direction. He was very complimentary. "If I were available, I'd definitely want to be with you. You're beautiful."

"Thank you. And you're married. I see that ring on your finger."

He told me about his wife of 22 years. "Even though I'm married, have I lost the privilege of calling you?"

Was he persistent or what?

"Why don't you give me your number and I'll call you the next time I'm coming here." He wrote his number on a post-it note.

"Is there any chance I can have your number?"

"You'll have have it when I call you." Which is never.

Perhaps it's not a matter of online dating. Perhaps we are just trying to protect ourselves. Perhaps people are actually doing you a favor by not showing up, not calling and not emailing. Maybe he met someone (doubtful), maybe he's actually married (possible), maybe he's had too many bad dates to keep trying (most likely). Perhaps we should be thankful for the bad date that we just missed out on

For more dating mishaps:

Confessions of a Serial Dater

Dates from Hell -- The Accountant

Mean Boys

Would You Date this Dude?

Mean Boys

Is online dating really a worthwhile effort? You finally worked up the nerve to write to someone who seems to have something in common with you. The response is, to say the least, not nice.

Please note--I really like opera.  I know it's not everyone's favorite music.  I don't expect that it would be.  I also like many kinds of music except for most rap.

I'll post our email exchange:

Original Message (Sent Aug 03, 5:05 AM)


I'm really interested in hearing more about the music related companies since I teach choir.
You sound nice.


Original Message (Sent Aug 03, 6:36 PM)

I'm not really a music teacher per se. My handle is just a combo of the words "music" and "Ed", which is my coffee house name.

My sister is an opera singer. Unfortunately, I've endured pretty much all the opera I can take.


right, that's why I asked about the "music-related" companies. Sorry about your opera problem. I'm taking a bit of a break from it myself, but I expect I'll get back to it once I've adjusted to my new choir job.


PS  Now I know you're not nice.

On the other hand, this makes it easy to move on. That is definitely a plus!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Savvy Fix for Slow PCs

Not again. Your computer is going sooooo slooooow that you have time to make yourself a TV dinner, maybe a latte and keep an eye on Jimmy Kimmel before anything happens.

I found myself in just this kind of situation with my computer. I started thinking that it might be time for us to break up. When I started pricing new computers, I found several that were almost the same as mine, though half the price of what I paid 3 years ago. I was distressed. After just 3 years, I'm just not ready for another computer breakup.

My motto is, "Let it be little." Nothing more than a 12.1 inch screen will do for me. The computer that I really want is a little more than I can afford right now. I have my eye on one that doubles as a tablet and has a built in webcam. Fun! Unfortunately, these computers require a little bit more of an investment than I can afford right now. So I began to look at ways I could save my relationship with my computer.

There are alot of Geek Squads and computer programs that are out there to sell things to you. Your computer can already do some of those things without making a single purchase or breaking your bank by taking it to the Geek Squad. I learned these things from my favorite computer Savvy geek, my brother. In a way, I am passing his Savvy on to you, but I have made it my own. And you can too!!!

To make my computer run faster, I performed two functions with my computer; Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter. Take a deep breath! If you have Windows on your PC, you can do this. Mac users are on their own.

Disk Cleanup

What it does:

Disk Cleanup performes a series of functions that need to be perfomed periodically. It will delete files you no longer use (old versions of present software) Temporary Internet Files, Cookies and empty your Recycle Bin.

How you find it:
Click on Start, then All Programs, then System Tools, then Disk Cleanup.

This may take awhile. Take the opportunity to take the dog for a walk and strech your legs, feed the dog or play with your cat.

After you have completed Disk Cleanup, you are ready for the next part.

Disk Defragmenter

What it does:
The Disk Defragmenter acts like a little librarian inside you hard drive. As you delete files, folders and programs it leaves blank spaces on you disk. When you install something new, it finds the first space the computer thinks it will fit, skipping over some empty spaces so that it is able to fit all of it. The Disk Defragmenter relocates files so that they are closer together on your hard disk. This makes search and retrieval times faster since everything is organized.

How you find it:
Click on Start, then All Programs, then System Tools, then Disk Defragmenter. (Right below Disk Cleanup).

The Disk Defragmenter may take hours if you have not done it. You may want to do this overnight or some block of time when you really won't need your computer. Take this opportunity to get out of the house. You spend waaaay too much time with your computer anyway. Go out to dinner with your husband, boyfriend, friend or your roommate. When you come back it might be done.

Voila! A much better behaved computer for a grand total of $0!!!!! My gift to you! Not only that, you get to feel Savvy for having done it yourself.

(Though pricing computers I did see lots of single guys....)

For more practical advice:
Financial Savvy for the Young, Christian and Clueless

(You don't have to be a Christian to appreciate it, though.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Would you date this dude?

I was reading a guy's profile online at a CHRISTIAN dating site. He is really good looking, had a decent profile and makes bank. I can understand a guy thinking about this kind of stuff, but posting it? I mean, there are alot of good looking people who aren't THIS arrogant! Would you date a guy who said this about himself...

I'm a nice person, looking for a nice person. I consider myself about a 9 (out of 10) and I'm sorry if anyone is offended, but I want to date someone who is a 9 or 10 in the looks department. Sorry if its self-centered. I also want someone who has the ability to hike 5 miles miles with grace and come back home, shower, and wear a killer dress to dinner.

At night before i close my eyes
I get down on my knees and pray
dear lord thanks for this day
please hear the words i say
bless the people all over this world
every single boy and girl, no matter how young or old
give them love and let them know...

Live everyday like its the last day
Like the keiki of Hawaii we all must play
tomorrow never promised me it'll be ok
so live everyday like its the last day

He writes really bad poetry. On the plus side...he's cute and he makes bank! I love to hike and dress up--I could do what he's asking! However, if I WERE a 9 or a 10 I am not sure I would want to date a guy who was this stuck on himself! Talk about ruining a perfectly good profile!