Cake Decorating

From Cake Boss to Cupcake Wars, America has been immersed in the art of cake decorating. Yesterday, my mom and I decided to jump on the bandwagon and experience cake decorating first-hand. We first watched the instructor roll out fondant and then showed the class how to place it smoothly on the cake. He showed us a number of beginner tips and tricks for decorating the cake once the fondant was on it.

It was a really great experience and my mom and I were able to spend some quality time together. Here is a picture of my final result:

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Next time I would love to do some sort of quilted pattern on the cake! I think it would look beautiful.

Forever Young

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Ever since I was little, I had always heard how important it was to wear sunscreen, stay out of the sun, and never go into tanning beds. I never paid much attention to those warnings. Although I don’t go to tanning beds and I try to wear sunscreen on my face, especially if I am going to the beach, I really don’t wear sunscreen. Recently, I’ve started feeling like I am aging before my time. I’m only 22 and I feel like my skin looks much older. I spoke to my dermatologist about my concerns and she said that one of the reasons I seem to be aging quicker than others is because of genetics and that I have incredibly fair skin. She then emphasized how important it is for me to be wearing sunscreen. I started to think about what she had said and did some research. Avoid the sun and wear sunscreen was everywhere on the internet for preventing wrinkles. One statistic really shocked me: “Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging.” This is an enormous percentage. Think of how many people have wrinkles. Look at your parents. It is shocking that much of the wrinkling could have been prevented.

Because of these shocking statistics I have started to wear sunscreen. The problem with most sunscreens though, is that they do not protect against UVA rays. UVA rays, do not cause burns, but they do penetrate deep in your epidermis causing enhanced wrinkling and aging. It’s important to have a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

I chose La-Roche-Posay’s moisturizing face cream and face sunscreen:

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First, I thought it was important to have a moisturizer. So, I chose La-Roche’s moisturizer with 15 SPF.

Key Ingredients
  • Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) helps protect against short UVA rays
  • Parsol 1789 (Avobenzone) helps protect against long UVA rays
  • Octocrylene helps protect against UVB rays
  • Glycerin moisturizing agent

I then decided to go with the facial sunscreen due to additional protection throughout the day.

Key Ingredients
  • Mexoryl™ SX 3% protects against short UVA rays and is photostable on its own
  • Octocrylene 10% protects against UVB rays
  • Avobenzone 2% protects against long UVA rays and is stabilized by Octocrylene
  • Titanium Dioxide 5% provides enhanced overall UVA and UVB protection

The facial sunscreen clearly has a combination of extremely strong ingredients. I think these are great products. The facial sunscreen can be a little bit thick and turn out a little white on your face. You need to make sure to warm it up a bit and rub it in so that there is no whiteness. The moisturizer is absolutely fantastic. My biggest complaint is the cost, but I think if you are serious about maintaining a youthful appearance and not looking old and wrinkly, it’s worth the investment!

Cites:

http://dermatology.about.com/cs/beauty/a/wrinklecause_2.htm

 

 

Scratch and Dent Dreams – Eric Darby

This is one of my favorite pieces of slam poetry:

Come on in, I’ve got a sale
on scratch and dent dreams,
whole cases of imperfect ambitions
stuff the idealists couldn’t sell.
Yeah, I know none of its got price tags,
you decide how much its worth.
And none of its got glossy colored packaging
but it all works just fine.
I’ve got rainy day swing sets
good night kisses and stationary stars
still flying at the speed of light.
And over there out back
if you dig down through those
alabaster stoplights and those old 45’s
you’ll find a whole crate of second hand hope.
Yeah right there, that’s no chrome,
you just gotta work, polish it up a little bit.
Most folks give up too easy,
trade it in for some injection mold
and here and now.

And over there across the freeway,
you see that purple awning flappin’ in the breeze?
Well that’s Momma Genuine’s shop.
She’s older than all of us put together
but she still laughs like a house.
Now, she only sells tools but not like ya know,
she’s got saws that put back together,
drills that make whole. Mommas a cool legend to know,
and she sells duct tape too.

And down there at the end of the block
are two kids, crew cut and pig tailed
sittin’ behind abindle top table
selling peanut-butter ice-cream out of a galvanized pale,
and there’s no metaphor there its just good ice-cream.
So here’s what ya do, take a look around
pick out what reminds you of places you wanted to be
but gave up on going and jam it all in this big box called “now”.
Then go across the street to Momma Genuine’s,
ask her how she’s been , show her what I gave ya,
she’ll know exactly what you need
and then go back in the center of that freeway
and get to work making it all fit.
You wont have any directions or factory number tabs but don’t panic,
there’s a hundred ways to do it right
and none to do it wrong cause your startin’ out
with what’s already been given up upon,
you cant do any worse.
Use the tools momma gave ya,
hum a little while ya work.
Then you find yourself sproutin’ extra thumbs

Take a break.

Go around the block,
get yourself an ice cream.
Smile when they hand it to you,
tip em if you can
and when you get back it’s all gonna make sense.
You’ll see where it’s gonna fit perfect
and where the duct tape has to go.
And when you get finished,
take whatever spare parts you got at the bottom of “now”
and make yourself a little sign that says “tomorrow”,
and hang it on your masterpiece.
Then you go back down the block
to where those two kids are packing up
their peanut butter enterprise
cause somebody told them they’d fail
and I want you to hand them tomorrow.
Make sure they know how important it is.
After they’ve run off with it all elbows and smiles
y’all can come back here, we’ll do it all over again.

Now im not telling you this to make a profit,
that’s how so many good ideas go wrong.
I’m just tired of seeing every day people
screaming through these doors convinced
they’re gonna hock even their littlest hopes and dreams to fund their 401Ks.
I’m tired of seeing this whole world bet on going big
or giving up. Only handing out glory to newspaper headlines
and story book endings, ‘cause the truth is
I think we need those swing sets most on the rainy days.
I’m happy going to sleep after just a goodnight kiss,
and I believe that beauty can be as simple as two kids,
crew cut and pig tales, handing me a scoop of peanut butter ice cream
that’s so good, you’d think it was a dream.

– Eric Darby

Bodymedia

A couple of days ago I received my bodymedia armband in the mail! There are two different types you can purchase and there is an additional device coming out in August. I ended up purchasing the smaller core armband because I have already experienced using the Link armband a couple of years before.

LINK Armband:

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CORE Armband:

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Armband coming out in August:

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I am hoping that using the armband will help me to get back into shape! I think that it is incredibly helpful because it shows you exactly how many calories you need to burn per day in order to reach your ultimate goal. For instance, you need a deficit of 3,500 calories in order to drop one pound. That means you need to have a deficit of 1000 calories per day in order to lose 2 calories per week or a deficit of 500 calories per day in order to lose 1 pound per week. I personally think it’s surprisingly difficult to reach a deficit of 1000 calories per day and makes me understand why it really is so difficult for people to lose weight. I have my program set for consuming 1500 calories per day and burning 2500 calories per day. In order for me to reach this burn amount, I have to be very active throughout the day. I definitely need to hit the gym and remain relatively active throughout the day. I honestly think this armband helped me in the past, and I think it will help me reach my goals again. I wanted to attach some previous data. I was able to drop about 10 pounds in 2 months while using the other armband in a healthy way. The online tracker helps you monitor your progress:

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Here is the online bodymedia dashboard:

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The armband monitors steps taken, activity level, sleep level, etc. and you can enter in your calories consumed throughout the day. Here are some additional pictures:

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It is kind of inconvenient having to wear an armband and doesn’t necessarily hide great under clothing. Overall though, if you are serious about losing weight, the armband helps to take the guesswork out of losing weight and helps keep you motivated!

Bitter Pill

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The rhetoric involved with the healthcare industry is decidedly vehement with regards to criticizing insurance companies.  The Time’s “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” sheds light on the root causes of increasingly skyrocketing prices within the industry. Politicians and media heavily hype who is footing the bill for healthcare, and do not relay where the bill is coming from and why costs are so high in the first place. In order to discover why healthcare bills are, at times, egregiously high, you don’t have to look too far down the healthcare supply chain to figure out why.

I won’t cover every point made in the article, but I will cover some of the major ones. There are inflated prices and a lack of price transparency within non-profit health care facilities via outdated “Chargemaster” pricing schemes. Chargemasters are essentially master pricing books programmed into the health facilities computers. The Chargemasters have extraordinarily inflated prices, some prices are inflated over 400% of what the items actually cost to purchase. The Chargemasters have little basis in reality and patients are “nickeled and dimed” for every little thing. For instance, patients are charged inflated prices for simple overhead items such as surgical pens that are used to draw surgical lines on a patient, doctors gloves, paper pill dispensers, etc. Not only that, but over testing is a frequent occurrence within hospitals. While hospital administrators may claim that the tests are in the best interests of the patients and that the hospitals are preventing malpractice lawsuits, the majority of the time, many of the tests are excuses for profit hiking.

Although I believe it is a noble sentiment to provide healthcare to everyone in the United States, it was done in an incorrect manner under Obamacare. Insurance companies were painted as leeches sucking the money from people with little means and inability to pay insurance companies for their healthcare bills. In reality, there is a lack of price transparency along the entire healthcare supply chain, especially with regards to the outdated system of utilizing chargemasters for billing purposes in allegedly nonprofit healthcare organizations.

By attacking insurance companies, and implementing Obamacare into the system, premiums will skyrocket, which increasingly paints insurance companies in a negative light. Insurance companies are forced to increase premiums in order to stay afloat due to poorly implemented liberal legislation. Ultimately, as issues steadily grow within insurance company costs, the government, and voters, will inevitably believe the only solution to the problem is government-run healthcare. This is never what our founding fathers intended and never outlined in the constitution and is a violation of capitalism. Entire industries were not intended to be government-run which increases inefficiencies and expands stalemating bureaucracy.

Health & Family

Corrections Appended: February 26, 2013

1. Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.

Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.

Stephanie was then…

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