Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Happenstance Collection of Helpful Health & Happiness Tips

Guess what ...

... even everyday emotions like tension, frustration, and sadness can trigger ischemia - a drop in the heart's blood supply that is often a precursor to a heart attack! In one study, published in "The Journal of the American Medical Association," negative emotions were found to MORE THAN DOUBLE the risk of ischemia.
- Reduce stress "in the moment" by asking yourself if it's really worth getting upset. If the answer is "No," try using mental manipulation tricks, or relaxation techniques such as meditation, in order to move forward as smoothly as possible.

... changes in diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks. Try to focus on a diet low in fat and rich in vegetables, fruit, fiber, and low-fat dairy.

... dark eyeglasses without ultra-violet (UV) protection may be WORSE than no sunglasses! Dark lenses reduce the visible light, causing the pupils to expand, letting in more UV light. This is particularly important with children, whose eyes are more sensitive to sunlight than adults' eyes, because sun damage during childhood may increase the chance of cataracts and overall vision loss later in life.

... surgery patients recover faster and go home sooner when they share a room, especially with someone who has already had the same operation. If you can't room with someone who has had the same surgery, don't dispair - similar benefits can actually be found by at least visiting with such a person prior to your procedure. Ask the floor nurse if they can facilitate it for you.

... garlic should not be refrigerated. The cold makes it soften and sprout, and gives it a bitter taste. Garlic bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry place with adequate air circulation. Onions should be treated the same way, until cut, although many people refrigerate them to "reduce" the tears caused by cutting them.

... you may be able to retrieve a letter mailed by mistake. A free form called a "Sender's Application for Recall of Mail" should be filed in the zip code where the letter was sent. The catch: your chances are best if you contact the post office BEFORE the mail is collected. Good luck!

... there are some quick tricks for finding a mild-tempered, friendly, healthy puppy. The best time for testing is around seven weeks old.
  • Gently lay the puppy on its back on your lap. It should wiggle a little and possibly try to bite your hand, but not wiggle uncontrollably nor continue to bite you.
  • With some distance between you and the puppy, clap your hands and make sure the puppy is attracted to the sound. It's a good sign if you walk away immediately afterwards, and the puppy follows you.
  • If you throw a ball, the puppy should show some interest.

... washable allergen-proof covers for pillows and mattresses are available just about everywhere those items are sold. The covers can greatly reduce your exposure to allergens from dust mites and significantly relieve nighttime allergy symptoms.
On a similar note, a CLEAN bath towel placed over your pillow each night can greatly reduce acne in affected individuals.

... low fat diets combat migraines. Migraine sufferers who cut their dietary fat intake by 1/3, reported fewer, shorter, and less severe migraines within two months. This is mostly because bloodstream fat alters the amount of serotonin and histamine in the blood in ways that either cause, or make migraines more severe.

... a study of 35,000 post-menopausal women, showed that those who took at least half the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin E - current RDA is 15mg (22.4 IU) for anyone over 14 - decreased their likelihood of developing heart disease.

Here's hoping, that hour after hour, you have a healthy happy wholesome weekend! ;-)

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Live From Texas, it's Saturday Night!

Just some light laughable reading for a lackadaisical weekend.
  • A big man can cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.
  • If you fall off a tall building, go really limp so people might think you're a dummy and try to catch you, because hey, free dummy!
  • A little boy asked me where rain comes from, so I told him "God is crying." He asked me why God was crying so I told him "Probably because of something you did."
  • Boxing is a lot like a ballet, but without the music and choreography. Oh, and the dancers beat the crap out of each other.
  • A hippie once asked me if I would be so nonchalant about cutting trees down if they could scream. I said, "I might be, if they screamed all the time for no good reason."
  • I think they don't take dogs into space, because if it stuck its head out during re-entry, its face would burn off.
  • I think clowns are scary. Mostly because of that time I went to a circus when I was a kid, and a clown murdered my father.
  • I think a nude opera would be really awesome, because every time they hit one of those high notes, you can probably really see it in their genitals.
  • As I was driving with a friend, we saw a sign that said "Watch For Rocks." My friend said it should read "Watch For Dangerous Rocks." I told them they should write a letter to the highway department, but they said "No, no, it was just a joke..." just to get out of a simple letter! And I thought I was lazy!
  • Do you think there's anything more beautiful than a beautiful eagle soaring across a beautiful sunset, carrying a beautiful rose in its beak, with a very beautiful painting in its talons? And also, you're high.
  • I'll always remember my Uncle Cave Man. We called him Uncle Cave Man because he lived in a cave and from time to time he would attack and kill someone. It made a lot more sense when we finally discovered he was a bear.
  • In weightlifting, as with any sport, I don't think sudden, uncontrolled, projectile diarrhea should automatically disqualify you.
  • Whenever I see something screech across a room and latch onto someone's neck, and they scream and try to get it off, I have to laugh, because what is that thing?!?

Have a great weekend!!

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Shrewd Safe Stock Investment Strategies

The stock market is a crazy messed up world, and can be unforgiving to naive captains setting sail for the first time. If you want to get your feet wet, without getting shark-bit, try following some level-headed investing advice.
The following guidelines are based on advice from a large-cap value fund managers.


Don't spend your time and energy trying to predict the economy, interest rates, inflation, or the current market flow; focus on finding stocks of great businesses whose prices have been beaten down. If you want companies that will deliver the highest possible returns with the least amount of risk, but also provide great growth, you should be looking for companies which meet the following criteria:
  • High return on tangible assets.
  • These are the numbers on the left side of a balance sheet. Compare them with the company's cash flow minus depreciation. There is a strong relationship between assets and profitability - the more assets it takes to earn one additional dollar of revenue, the more difficult it is to improve your earnings. Make sense? For this reason, you should also avoid companies that are in capital-intensive industries, such as railroads, airlines, utilities, and industrial commodities like paper and steel.
      Focus on the following types of companies:
    • Unique professional services: tax preparation, advertising, money management, etc...
    • Development, manufacture, or distribution of vitally important, inexpensive, or widely used products: pharmaceuticals, retail, etc...
    • Media outlets with few, if any, competitors: tricky in this digital age, but think about Amazon's app store and Apple's iTunes to get your brain kicking...
    • Government-guaranteed franchises: mortgage and student-loan packagers (if their numbers, and contracts, are good after all the bailouts and bubbles of late, then they are definitely worth looking into)...

  • Shareholder-oriented management.
  • Defined as management that has demonstrated an ability to recycle cash flow in a strategically effective manner. Management has a number of choices about how it can allocate capital. The most important is reinvesting cash in research and development, improving marketing, or implementing cost-reduction programs.
    Other ways include: acquiring other businesses, liquidating less-profitable sections, buying back company stock and paying down debt, or paying dividends. There should be evidence, over time, that management will actually use capital in the best strategic way.
    Clearly, the way management allocates capital is a good test of its regard for shareholders and the company's future growth, however, this is a subjective conclusion, which is usually reached by conducting interviews with top executives.

  • Low purchase price.
  • Don't think of this in a "penny stocks" mindset. Think of it in relative terms, and I don't mean your uncle Joey's inside tip. Look for a company's stock price to be substantially below its "private market value," which is what an intelligent businessperson would pay for the stock.
      Three reasons for a "cheap" price:
    • Stock market decline
    • Perceived external threat to the company's cash flow, even though the company is doing well
    • Overreaction of the market to a short-term problem with the company that can be easily corrected


As you can probably imagine, you don't have to look far to find companies that match the above criteria. Simply summarized, we want slightly above-average quality companies in a discounted state. Consider a good discount to be 60 to 70 percent of "true" value. Consider selling when your purchase reaches 80 to 90% of that value. Consider that this could take years, and remember we are discussing shrewd safe investing here. This keeps you from being swept up in short-term market and economic trends and limits your portfolio's risk.

    - The Rules -
  • Look at a company's "free cash flow."
  • - This should be considered instead of its price-to-earnings and price-to-book ratios (the traditional tools of value investors). Technically, free cash flow is a company's net income plus depreciation and amortization, minus maintenance and a portion of capital expenditures. Basically, this tells us what kind of earnings a business really is capable of generating for its shareholders.
  • Invest in a few well-chosen companies.
  • - Concentration (Confucius would be proud) on the big hitters is just the way good teams win - like it or not. This doesn't mean you have to limit yourself, but make sure you know where your loyalties lie. Consider your top five stocks holding around 30% of your total portfolio value, and your top 20 accounting for around 65% overall.
  • Invest for the long term, and trade as little as possible.
  • - On average, expect to hold stocks for five years.
  • Think independently.
  • - Don't get caught up in the market mentality, and don't buy stocks based on firm ratings. Use the standards, follow the considerations, and remember the rules. This is not the be all to end all, but it will get you started on the right track. Once you've developed your own trustworthy instincts, feel free to make your own rules.

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