Friday, September 25, 2009

Headphones That Protect Kids' Hearing

Griffin's MyPhones are designed for kids' heads and health

Kids today have become used to wearing headphones so that they can listen to everything from music and movies on a portable media player to the zaps and pows of a video or computer game. But kids usually wear headphones that aren't made for their smaller heads and more sensitive ears.

Griffin Technology's new MyPhones ($39.99, available in early October) are specifically designed, over-the-ear headphones for kids. They include circuitry that limits volume to 85 decibels, a level that regulatory agencies and pediatric audiologists consider safe for kids. MyPhones also feature soft, rubber ear cushions for extra comfort and an adjustable headband so that kids won't grow out of them too soon. They plug in via a heavy-duty, 50-inch cable designed to take the sort of abuse that kids can dish out.

MyPhones can also be customized. The ear caps have interchangeable decorative inserts, and each pair of MyPhones comes with three different designs and blank templates so kids can make their own. More templates can be downloaded from the MyPhones Web site, and kids can upload their own designs or download those of others. The MyPhones packaging also doubles as a see-through carrying case, and it can also be customized with kid-designed inserts.

MyPhones lets kids enjoy their favorite electronic activity with great sound quality and gives mom and dad peace of mind about their kids' hearing -- as well as some peace and quiet around the house or in the car.

Drive a Real Ferrari While Gaming

Maybe you can't afford a Ferrari, but if you're addicted to Gran Turismo or PC racing games, at least you can own a Ferrari-licensed gamepad. Four models from Thrustmaster -- the wireless 430 Scuderia and F60 (both $49.99), the wired F430 ($39.99, pictured above) and dual analog F60 ($24.99) -- will all hit showrooms in October.

The first three feature "grips that are reminiscent of Ferrari noses" and are cloaked in the supercars' colors. And to make them feel as exclusive as a real Ferrari, these three limited-edition gamepads all come affixed with a numbered plate.

The two wireless models feature 2.4 GHz technology, while all have an optical wheel with automatic centering as well as dual progressive triggers. All models are also fully programmable, have internal memories and are PS3 and computer-game compatible.

To keep a driver from becoming fatigued throughout a long day of simulated racing, the Ferrari gamepads also feature a "peach skin" texture on the lower grip's lining, which Thrustmaster says provides comfort as well as precision and reliability.

That's something even legendary Ferrari F1 driver Michael Schumacher's race car didn't have.

Spirited England shock Sri Lanka

England 213 for 4 (Morgan 62*) beat Sri Lanka 212 (Kandamby 53, Mathews 52) by six wickets

Eoin Morgan steers the ball towards third man, England v Sri Lanka, ICC Champions Trophy, Group B, Johannesburg, September 25, 2009
Eoin Morgan made a confident 62 against Sri Lanka's formidable attack © Getty Images

Sometimes you just have to get away from it all to find what you are really looking for. After embracing embarrassment throughout a lamentable one-day series against Australia, England's cricketers travelled 6000 miles south from Durham to Johannesburg, where to the astonishment of players, spectators and pundits alike, they atoned for their shortcomings by toppling the tournament pace-setters, Sri Lanka, in their opening match of the Champions Trophy.

Dossier-compilers across the cricketing world will doubtless enquire exactly how England passed the time during their 11-hour long-haul flight on Monday, but if their performance stopped short of being sexy cricket, it did at least last rather longer than most of their recent efforts. An ecstatic new-ball onslaught from James Anderson and Graham Onions set England on course for victory as early as the sixth over of the match as Sri Lanka slumped to 17 for 4, and though Thilan Kandamby and Angelo Mathews responded manfully with a pair of well-paced half-centuries, Sri Lanka's eventual total of 212 was chased down with something approaching assurance, with 30 balls to spare.

After the early loss of both openers, including the potentially devastating dismissal of Andrew Strauss for 9 via a stunning one-handed interception by Kandamby at midwicket, Paul Collingwood lifted England's intensity with a bullish 46 from 51 balls that included three leg-side sixes, before Eoin Morgan sealed the deal with his highest score in ODIs for England. In between whiles, Owais Shah put his recent jitters behind him with a calm and comfortable 44 that drew the sting of Sri Lanka's spinners, particularly the off-colour Muttiah Muralitharan, before Matt Prior partnered Morgan to the close with an aggressive unbeaten 28.

It truly was an upset of the highest order, because the two teams could hardly have come together with their form and fortunes more polarised. In Sri Lanka's opening fixture at Centurion on Tuesday, they racked up the small matter of 319 for 8 as they routed the hosts and tournament favourites, South Africa, in a rain-curtailed contest. England, on the other hand, sloped belatedly into the country with their morale at their bootlaces and their form under a cloud, after the humiliations of their 6-1 trouncing by Australia.

This time, however, being under a cloud suited England perfectly. On a green-tinged surface that might have been imported from Uxbridge in April, Strauss won his seventh toss in eight ODIs, and was delighted to unleash a seam-heavy attack in which Onions had been chosen in preference to Tim Bresnan, despite having played only one previous 50-over international. Sure enough, his faith was quickly repaid, as Onions extracted the out-of-form Sanath Jayasuriya with his fifth delivery, caught behind nibbling outside off for a second-ball duck.

Four balls later, and Anderson extracted the prize scalp of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka's centurion against South Africa, who had been frustrated for 11 probing deliveries in which his only scoring shot was a prod down to third man. He fell to a scything slash to point off the fullest delivery of Anderson's spell, whereupon Mahela Jayawardene - who seemed to have decided to go down swinging from the outset - was pinned lbw for 9 as he attempted an over-ambitious flick across the line.

Kumar Sangakkara endured a torrid mini-innings - he was struck amidships first-ball by a wicked inducker from Onions, but then chased a ball that might well have been called wide, had he not connected with his edge and flashed a high chance to Andrew Strauss at first slip. At 17 for 4 after 32 deliveries, Sri Lanka were staring at the sort of humiliation that West Indies (47 for 7) encountered on this same surface against Pakistan on Wednesday.

But Anderson and Onions could not continue indefinitely, and the arrival of Stuart Broad loosened the shackles enough for Sri Lanka to wriggle free. From his second delivery, Samaraweera drove an indifferent length ball through the covers for four, before following up with a handsome slash through point for a second boundary, and before long, England had truly lost the plot. In total, they served up an unforgiveable 21 wides, as they searched for killer deliveries in a bid to skittle the Sri Lankans inside 30 overs, whereas the more patient approach adopted by the Sri Lankan batsmen would have been far more appropriate.

Broad took a while to gauge the pace and length for the surface - often his biggest failing as a bowler seems to be his inexperience - while his indiscipline spread to Onions' bowling as well, who beat Samaraweera with a vicious bouncer that almost knocked the batsman off his feet, only to squander that surprise element by beating the life out of the middle of the wicket, instead of pitching it up and inviting the ball to swing. Samaraweera followed up two overs later with back-to-back fours off Onions, before guiding another Broad bouncer over the slips and away through third man.

Thilina Kandamby plays the pull, England v Sri Lanka, ICC Champions Trophy, Group B, Johannesburg, September 25, 2009
Thilina Kandamby

But, just as England were beginning to strain for inspiration, Broad rediscovered a good length outside off, and Samaraweera's enterprising innings of 30 from 48 balls came to an end thanks to a sharp catch from Paul Collingwood in the gully. Collingwood then followed up with an eight-over spell of accurate cutters that didn't realise any wickets, but conceded just 24 runs in the process - almost half the rate at which Onions and Luke Wright were dispatched.

It took a run-out for England to truly regain their control of the contest, as Kandamby set off for a second run from a push into the covers, only to find Mathews rooted to the crease at the striker's end. Two overs later, they claimed their second run-out ... but Strauss, with visions of Collingwood's vilification in a similar situation against New Zealand last summer, asked the umpires to reverse the decision. Mathews had turned Onions into the leg-side, and set off for an intended two, only to collide with Onions, who had tracked back towards the non-striker's stumps, and with no apparent intent in his actions, was standing right next to Mathews as he turned blind on completing his run.

Mathews was visibly unimpressed with the decision, and gesticulated as such as he left the crease, but it wasn't until he was in the pavilion tunnel that Strauss called him back to the crease. Three balls and one run later, his generosity was repaid, as Mathews nibbled outside off, and edged Wright low to Prior behind the stumps. As he left the crease for the second time, he acknowledged Strauss's sportsmanship with a wave. Cricket was the winner, and several forests-worth of newsprint were spared.

Muralitharan cashed in with an enterprising slogged 18 before he and Malinga had their stumps demolished in consecutive deliveries from Broad, but at the halfway mark, Sri Lanka appeared to have a more-than-competitive total on the board, especially when Kulasekera struck to remove Denly and Strauss inside his first four overs. But the dewy conditions did not play to Sri Lanka's strengths in the slightest. The same, however, could not be said for England, who have now stormed to the top of their group. Wonders truly will never cease.

Eat Your Way to Better Sex

Do you know the most important factor in good sexual health? It's your mind. Studies involving men and women have shown that it is the mind that determines sexual performance and drive more than anything else. Men and women were given a placebo and told that it would increase their libido and performance; the majority stated that they saw a significant increase in those areas, which shows us that it is the mind more than a pill that is responsible for the change.

So what does food have to do with sexual and emotional health and how the mind works to help us have better health?

For women, the addition of soy in the diet will help in vaginal lubrication because soy adheres to the estrogen receptors, which are responsible for determining how much lubrication the vagina needs. It also helps to reduce the occurrence of hot flashes that happen during menopause. For men, soy is beneficial to helping the prostate stay healthy. Adding chili peppers and ginger to your diet will help improve your circulation and stimulate nerve endings, which will improve your sexual pleasure.

Another added benefit to eating heart-healthy foods is that they also help a man's sexual health by keeping the blood flowing properly through the arteries. High blood pressure and coronary artery disease can affect the function of the male organs due to the inability of the blood flow to reach the genital area, which can cause erectile dysfunction.

There are also a number of foods that are said to directly affect sexual performance due to their aphrodisiac influence. These foods include ginseng, bananas, figs, asparagus, eels, oysters and rhino horn, which supposedly increases sexual appetite.

There are many myths that pertain to food and sexual health that date back thousands of years; for example, that eating certain roots that are phallic shaped will increase a man's performance, but there are some true benefits from certain foods and beverages.

The consumption of alcohol relaxes you and gives you a short-term artificial boost in self confidence. Caffeine and sugar are the solution for a quick energy fix. But it is the diet we follow daily for a long time that will promote better sexual health. Eating lean foods like fish along with fruits and vegetables is not just good for your sexual health but for your heart as well.

Dispelling four myths about electric motorcycles

(Photo: Vogelbilt Corp)

The following is a guest post by Seth Leitman, editor of the TAB Green Guru Guides

Electric motorcycles are a great form of eco-friendly travel, although there are a number of myths/rumors being circulated about them. So we turned to Carl Vogel, author of the new book Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle (part of the TAB Green Guru Guides series I edit), as well as builder of an electric cruiser with a biodiesel side car.

Here's what Carl has to say in answer of the biggest myths about electric motorcycles:

1. Electric motorcycles can't go fast enough

Many electric motorcycles on the market today have a top speed of 60 mph or more. The Electra Cruiser easily tops more than 80 mph. The beauty of building your own electric motorcycle is you determine how fast you want your vehicle to go.

2. Electric motorcycles have a puny range

Nothing could be further from the truth, but unfortunately, this myth has been widely accepted. The reality is that electric motorcycles can go as far as most people need. While lithium-ion batteries will expand the range dramatically, the technology is not yet ready for a massive road trip. But what is its range? The federal government reports that the average daily commuter distance for all modes of motor travel (i.e., cars, trucks and buses) is 10 miles, and this figure hasn't changed appreciably in 20 years of data gathering. An earlier study showed that 98% of all trips are less than 50 miles per day; most people do all their driving locally and take only a few long trips. One-hundred-mile and longer trips are only 17% of total miles driven.

build your own electric motorcycle book by carl vogel

Virtually any of today's 120-V electric motorcycle conversions will go 75 miles using readily available off-the-shelf components -- if you keep the weight under 1,000 pounds. This means that an electric motorcycle can meet more than 85% of the average person's needs. If you're commuting to work -- a place that presumably has an electric outlet available -- you can nearly double your range by recharging during your working hours. In addition, if range is really important, you can optimize your electric motorcycle for it. It's that simple.

3. Electric motorcycles aren't convenient

A popular question is, "Suppose that you're driving and you are not near your home to charge up or you run out of electricity. What do you do?" Well, my favorite answer is, "I would do the same thing I'd do if I ran out of gas: call AAA or a tow truck." The reality is that electric motorcycles are extremely convenient. Recharging is as convenient as your nearest electric outlet, especially for conversion motorcycles using 110-V charging outlets. Here are some other reasons:

  • You can get electricity anywhere you can get gas -- there are no gas stations without electricity.

  • You can get electricity from many places -- there are few homes and virtually no businesses in the United States without electricity.

  • Plug-in-anywhere recharging capability is an overwhelming electric motorcycle advantage. No question that it's an advantage when your electric motorcycle is parked in your own garage, carport or driveway. If you live in an apartment and can work out a charging arrangement, it's an even better idea. Moreover, a very simple device can be rigged to signal you if anyone ever tries to steal your motorcycle. [Oops, guess the Fuel and Veggie Van Organization team needed one of those!]

  • The widely available 110-V electric supply does the job quite nicely if your electric motorcycle has an onboard charger, extension cord and plug(s) available. In the future, you will be able to recharge quicker from multiple voltage and current options, have "quick charge" capability by dumping one battery stack into another, and maybe even have uniform battery packs that you swap and strap on at a local "battery station" in no more time than it takes you to get a fill-up at a gas station today. Just as it's used in your home today, electricity is clean, quiet, safe, and stays at the outlet until you need it.

4. Electric motorcycles are expensive

While this is perhaps true that electric motorcycles manufactured in low volume today are expensive -- and partially true of professionally done conversion units -- it's not true of the do-it-yourself advocates. The reality is that electric motorcycles cost the same to buy (you're not going to spend any more for one than you would have budgeted anyway for your second internal combustion engine motorcycle), the same to maintain, and far less per mile to operate. In the long term, future volume production and technology improvements will make the cost benefits favor electric motorcycles even more.

Check out the new book Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle. Seth Leitman blogs at Green Living Guy.

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Would you raise your own poultry?

The number of people growing vegetables in home or community gardens has increased tremendously in the last year or two.

Would you raise your own poultry?

Experiencing a similar renaissance is backyard chickening. (Chickening = birth of a word.) How else to explain the existence of Backyard Poultry magazine?

In this week’s issue (Sept. 28) of The New Yorker, the author Susan Orlean (“The Orchid Thief”) writes about her foray into raisi

ng chickens.

“Chickens seem to be a perfect convergence of the economic, environmental, gastronomic, and emotional matters of the moment, plus, in the past few years, they have undergone an image rehabilitation so astonishing that it should be studied by marketing consultants.”

Unfortunately, Orlean’s article, "The It Bird," isn’t available online, but a three-minute video of Orlean and her chickens is on The New Yorker site. Click here to watch.

Water bottles and your health: a secret history

water bottle

There’s a lot of talk and confusion about BPA recently … at least within the water-bottle world. Here’s the latest on the scandals and a brief history of water bottles in America. Hopefully this will clear up a few things and help you make an educated choice about buying water bottles for you and your family.


Remember Nalgene? These bottles used to be all the rage, until early 2008 when the clear ones were found to leach BPA. Clear Nalgenes and other similar bottles are made from polycarbonate plastic (usually marked with the recycling number 7, a good way to spot them). The verdict is still out on the opaque Nalgenes, but most people would rather be safe than sorry.


After Nalgene’s BPA scandal, water bottle lovers made a big push for metal bottles made of aluminum and stainless steel. One company in particular, SIGG, seemed to rise to prominence for selling a highly functional, durable, and stylish product that was environmentally friendly and (purportedly) “chemical-free.” SIGG claimed that numerous tests in the United States and Switzerland found absolutely no evidence of chemical leakage into the water. Well … you can probably see where this is going.

Latest developments

Surprise: Last month, SIGG announced that the protective inner liner of its older aluminum bottles contained traces of BPA. SIGG still maintains that all testing “revealed absolutely no migration or leaching of BPA or any other substance from the protective inner liner,” according to a letter from CEO Steve Wasik on the company’s website. So while the liner did contain BPA all along, users were still totally safe … right?

SIGG is now being accused of “greenwashing,” or exaggerating the health and environmental properties of their bottles to make a profit. Some critics claim that SIGG took advantage of the backlash against polycarbonate bottles to push its aluminum bottles into market victory.

What’s next?

From Steve Wasik’s letter: “To be clear, all SIGG bottles made since August 2008 contain our new BPA free EcoCare liner. SIGG bottles manufactured prior to August 2008 have the former water-based epoxy liner which contains trace amounts of BPA.” SIGG contends that its old bottles (even though they contain BPA) do not leach BPA and are 100% safe. At this point, however, many SIGG users don’t want to risk it.

If you have an old bottle (pre-August 2008), and you write to the company to complain, SIGG will replace it with a new BPA-free EcoCare bottle — you just have to pay for shipping.

Read more details on the SIGG website.

Even though aluminum SIGG bottles are still probably safe, it looks like the next era of bottle history will be the steel era. For now, I recommend stainless steel bottles.

5 things that can ruin your skin (a friendly reminder)

Let's be honest with each other: No matter how enlightened one may be, the experience of discovering new wrinkles is everything from startling to a major bummer. It's not easy to watch yourself age, but it is inevitable. However, there are a few things we can do to take back the power, to slow down the process, and to make our faces look as young as possible for as long as they possibly can. You probably know most of this stuff, but you might have forgotten. Or, if you've been living under a little stone and have never heard of sunblock, it's honestly never too late to start practicing safe skin.
Getty Images

1. Unprotected sun exposure
If we could be tan for the rest of our lives, we SO would, but tanning causes premature aging, fine lines, and unpleasant big brown splotches and freckles all over your skin (also: skin cancer. Scary!). This is why we should all be using moisturizers with SPF 30--and don't forget to slather it on your neck and hands, as well. They're two places with delicate skin that's prone to aging young.

2. Smoking
Between the drying out and the toxins and the oxygen-zapping and the above-the-lip, pucker-inhale wrinkles, smoking does absolutely nothing good for your skin and really just makes you look old and gray-faced before your time.

3. Booze
Ooh. I bet you liked those four Mojitos last night, but you know what? Your skin hated them. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, it can cause tiny red veins to rupture on your visage, and make you look as blotchy and flushed as Nick Nolte in a mugshot. To combat this: Down a glass a water between spirits, and limit consumption to just a couple of booze-y beverages per night.

4. Sugar
Dear chocoholics, cookie monsters, and anyone who regularly polishes off a pint of Chunky Monkey: Sugar messes with your skin's collagen; it can lessen its repair function and speed up elasticity loss, leaving your face dull and saggy. Curb sweet tooth cravings by turning to natural sugars like those found in fruit or, even better, snack on a handful of almonds which are packed with both antioxidants (good for skin!) and protein.

5. Dehydration
You know the rule: You need 8 to 10, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. As annoying as this is, it's just enough to keep your organs flushed and functioning and your skin hydrated from within. The second part of the hydration-equation is experimenting with skincare regimens until you find the right one for your budget and skin type. Essentially all you need is a mild cleanser, a good day moisturizer with SPF and slightly thicker night cream that's packed with vitamins and will give you skin-healing benefits while you sleep.

Six products win Green Good Housekeeping Seal certification

Green Good Housekeeping Seal

Six new products have been certified by the Green Good Housekeeping Seal -- a first.

Known for decades as the authority in product testing for its Good Housekeeping Seal, the new seal certifies products that not only live up to marketing claims for efficacy, but for its sustainability. Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluates various criteria, including reduction of water use in manufacturing, energy efficiency in manufacturing and product use, ingredient and product safety, packaging reduction, and the brand’s corporate social responsibility.

"The Good Housekeeping Seal was originally created to protect consumers from potentially dangerous products and false claims,” said Rosemary Ellis, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping. "Today our readers are interested in making choices that are healthier for their families and for the planet, so we’re continuing our legacy of consumer advocacy with the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, offering consumers a guide, backed by scientific research, for products making significant steps towards being environmentally sound."

The best part: If the product fails to live up to its claims in the first two years, Good Housekeeping will replace the item or refund the consumer.

The first round of testing included cleaning and beauty products. Upcoming tests will include more than a dozen categories, including building products, home appliances, consumer electronics, textiles, and children’s products.

Here are the newly certified products, and Good Housekeeping's description of them:

  1. Aveeno’s Soothing Bath Treatment is made of 100 percent pure natural colloidal oatmeal that works as a cleanser, while relieving itchy, irritated skin. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product performed particularly well in the following areas: toxicity and product safety; sourcing of product ingredients; sourcing of packaging materials; producing low levels of greenhouse gases; and reducing industrial and hazardous waste from manufacturing. AVEENO and its parent company Johnson & Johnson are also making great strides in improving their distribution carbon footprint including increasing the number of hybrid vehicles in their fleet 36 percent in 2008 from 2007.

  2. Physicians Formula’s Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Tinted Moisturizer, a lightweight tinted moisturizer with SPF 15, consists of 100 percent natural ingredients including organic jojoba, organic shea butter, and organic sunflower oil, with 80 percent of its ingredients produced from organic farming. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product performed well in the following areas: use of energy efficient and renewable energy processes in manufacturing; toxicity and product safety; sourcing of product ingredients – especially the use of ingredients from certified sources; reducing industrial and hazardous waste from manufacturing; producing low levels of greenhouse gases.

  3. Green Works’ Natural Bathroom Cleaner, which removes soap scum, hard water stains, and rust, is made with at least 95 percent natural plant and mineral-based biodegradable cleaning ingredients. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product did particularly well in the following areas: toxicity and product safety; sourcing of product ingredients; sourcing of packaging materials, especially using recycled content in their packaging and packaging recyclability; producing low levels of VOCs. Green Works and its parent company Clorox are also taking substantial steps to improve the environmental impact of their company as a whole, committing to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy use and waste.

  4. Nature’s Source All Purpose Cleaner uses plant-based cleaners to remove grease and dirt from a variety of surfaces including porcelain, fiberglass, chrome, ceramic, and stainless steel. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product did particularly well in the following areas: toxicity and product safety; using energy efficient distribution practices; reducing industrial and hazardous waste from manufacturing; producing low levels of VOCs.

  5. Nature’s Source Glass & Surface Cleaner contains plant-based cleaning agents derived from natural substances such as coconut oil or palm-kernel oil and also corn-based ethanol, a plant-based alcohol that allows surfaces to dry streak-free. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product did particularly well in the following areas: toxicity and product safety; using energy efficient distribution practices; reducing industrial and hazardous waste from manufacturing; packaging of the product.

  6. Nature’s Source Laundry Stain Remover combines simple, biodegradable ingredients into a natural solution and contains no ammonia, bleach, phosphorus or dyes. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product did particularly well in the following areas: toxicity and product safety; using energy efficient distribution practices; reducing industrial and hazardous waste from manufacturing; sourcing of product ingredients.

  7. Nature’s Source Natural Bathroom Cleaner attacks and loosens soil with the power of lactic acid, which is produced from the breakdown of natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and a variety of other sources. In the Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product did particularly well in the following areas: toxicity and product safety; using energy efficient distribution practices; reducing industrial and hazardous waste from manufacturing; producing low levels of VOCs.

10 Cities with the Worst Cellulite

Cellulite sucks, there's just no two ways about it. A big part of why we lovely ladies get it has to do with genes and hormones (joy!), but there are also some lifestyle factors involved (check out this article to see if you're guilty of any cellulite-causing habits). We looked at those pesky habits to see which cities likely have the most cellulite.

Check out the list below (click on any to see why they made the list). Is your hometown on it?

No. 10: Memphis, Tenn.

No. 9: Charleston, W.Va.

No. 8: Montgomery, Ala.

No. 7: Huntington, W.Va.

No. 6: Jacksonville, Fla.

No. 5: Hagerstown, Md.

No. 4: Mobile, Ala.

No. 3: Rock Springs, Wyo.

No. 2: Wichita Falls, Texas

No. 1: Birmingham, Ala.

Is your home not there? Whew! But you may not be completely in the clear. Get help for cellulite here.

Love our "worst-city" lists? Then check out:

Looking for something a little more positive? Then how about:

Keep up with the latest in beauty -- follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook.

How the new fuel efficiency standards will affect us

traffic jam

“This is the single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”

That’s what Daniel Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign said back in May about the Obama administration’s plans to raise fuel efficiency requirements for motor vehicles progressively over the next several years.

You could, of course, call this damning with faint praise. However, this is a strong step in the right direction that will hopefully be followed up with further environmental sustainability legislation and a strong international agreement in Copenhagen.

On September 15, the details of this plan were filled in. The plan incorporates fuel efficiency requirements in both miles per gallon (mpg) and carbon emissions terms. The mpg increase will be about 5% annually, culminating in a fleet-wide average of 35.5 mpg for 2016.

The carbon dioxide limit will reach an average of 250 grams per mile by 2016. These standards will begin to take effect for the 2012 model year.

The administration has made it clear that financial considerations have been taken into account. They estimate that these requirements will add $1,300 to the initial price of a car by 2016, but that the payback period from the savings on gas will be less than 3 years and come to $2,800 over the life of the vehicle.

The White House also estimates that over the four years of efficiency standard increases a total of 950 million metric tons of CO2 will be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

After hearing the details of the plan Daniel Becker stuck behind his original statement:

“Keeping President Obama’s promise, today’s proposed clean car rule is the biggest single step the US has taken to curb global warming and our oil addiction. It demonstrates to the world that the United States is now confronting the threat of global warming. It shows that we can use the Clean Air Act and other existing laws to tackle the pollution spewing from vehicles and power plants.

Controlling global warming pollution is auto mechanics, not rocket science. All automakers have the advanced technologies — engines, transmissions, high strength, lightweight materials and aerodynamics — to safely achieve this new standard and to go beyond it.

The devil is in the details. Detroit’s lobbyists have done their best to riddle this decision with credits and other loopholes. We urge the Administration to close these loopholes or implement an automatic backstop to ensure that the president’s promise of 35.5 mpg average vehicles in 2016 will be kept.”

More from ecomii:

Coupons are cool again

Goodness knows we like to debate whether we really can save money using coupons here on Shine. But whether you're a coupon pro or you only cut out a few coupons for the products you always buy, you've got lots of company. Coupon use is definitely up for the first time since the early 1990s, thanks ever so much to a these short-on-money-and-jobs times.
Getty Images

Coupon use peaked in 1992, at the end of that recession, when 7.9 billion coupons were redeemed, The New York Times reports. Coupon use dropped pretty dramatically, to 2.6 billion, in 2008 and stayed pretty steady through 2008. But as the economy took a dive and we consumers grew more worried and careful about money, coupons have become very popular once again, with redemptions climbing 10 percent at the end of 2008 and 23 percent in the first half of this year. About 3 billion coupons are expected to be redeemed this year.

Coupons are so in vogue that "coupon," like so many other nouns these days, is becoming a verb. "The households that tend to not coupon as much are all couponing significantly more this year versus last year,” Neil Heffernan, senior vice president and general manager for the research company Knowledge Networks/PDI, told the Times. The researchers found that coupon use is up across the board with people of all incomes. .

You'd think digital coupons would have a lot to do with the resurgence of coupons, but while coupon codes on the Web and via cell phones are definitely being used more (up 25 percent over a year ago), paper coupons still rule. Sites like and provide coupons you can print and clip online, bridging the gap for those of who are online more and more but still like to do some old-fashioned clipping and saving. (For online shopping paperless coupon savings, try sites like and

10 things never to say on a job interview

Job interviews... Most of us have been on a few (or more) and many consider them to be nerve-wracking (at best) and downright painful (at worst). We can't really tell you how to land the ideal job, but we can give you a few pointers on what to avoid. While it's important to let your personality shine through in an interview and to be sincere, it's not the right time to let it all hang out. Here, our list of top things to avoid uttering...

  • "I Need The Money…” Even if the fact that you only have $25 in your bank account is the reason you’re going back to work after a hiatus (traveling through Europe, raising the kids, laid off, etc.), don’t ever mention it. The interviewer doesn’t need to know you’re hard-up for cash. It may unintentionally sound like you’re there only to earn money and that you’re not really interested in working. The goal is to always show passion and enthusiasm for the company and the position you are being interviewed for.
  • “My Last Boss Was A Jerk…” Dissing your previous employer has no upside, no matter how awful he/she treated you. Even if he/she made “Ari Gold” on Entourage look like an angel, sharing the details can come off sounding rude and disrespectful to potential co-workers and those who are “higher up” on the food chain than you. So remember to ban the bad-mouthing.
  • “It’s Worse Than Being A Republican/Democrat…” It’s wise to remain neutral by keeping your political views to yourself. Even if you feel fairly certain that the interviewer (and company) share your perspective, this type of conversation can easily lead to major disagreements and conflict (unless, of course, you might be interviewing for a political job where this becomes very relevant).
  • “Thank The Lord…” It’s beautiful to have faith, but similar to discussing politics at work, religious statements, even innocuous ones, aren’t a good tactic during job interviews. They could possibly offend the person you’re meeting with, or cause them to see you in an inaccurate light.
  • “What The Hell…” While certain curse words seem to have become part of popular vernacular, they aren’t the right way to spice up your personal sales pitch. Keep your language clean as a whistle on job interviews. There’s never a good reason to use expletives to get your point and your passion across!
  • “My Kid’s Always Getting Sick…” Oftentimes, a mention of kids or family may come into the conversation and it’s always nice to give a little taste of your life outside of the office. But don’t take that too far. If you mention that your child is constantly getting sick, an employer may worry that you’ll be easily absent or distracted because of it. Similarly, if your spouse or child has a chronic condition that warrants attention, save it as a personal matter. Assume that you can do the job (if you’re hired) in the best possible way without letting things on the home front interrupt you – in which case, what happens in your private time is your private business.
  • “A 9-5 Schedule Is Best For Me…” No one wants to think they might be hiring a clock watcher or someone who’s going to be way too eager to race out the door at the stroke of 5pm. It’s not a good idea to mention that you have a class three evenings a week at 6pm either. The employer needs to feel that your job will be the main priority. Your schedule will evolve (and work best for you and the employer) once you’ve landed the gig.
  • “I’m Vegan…” Certain people may make false assumptions about your personality based on the fact that you’re a vegan, vegetarian, don’t eat wheat, soy, or any other type of food lifestyle you choose. It sounds silly, but find ways to let them know who you are without leaving yourself open to judgment.
  • “I Don’t Have Time To Read Much…” Whether it’s newspapers, magazines, the web, or books, reading is generally seen as something that increases intelligence and breadth of knowledge. You should also make it a point to do your reading homework and learn as much as possible about the employer you are meeting with. It can easily impress an interviewer when you’re up to date on current events as well as what’s new with the company and that specific industry. Which means you should be reading something!
  • I’m Terrified of Flying…” The job you’re interviewing for may require flying at some point, so your employer needs to know you can handle it. If you have a phobia or family situation that will prohibit your ability to do your job, you should ask questions like: “How much travel will be involved, and where would I be traveling to?”
For more tips on living a stylish and savvy life, check out our Foxy website, and our latest book, Curves Rule And Flat Is Fabulous: Sexy, Stylish Looks For Every Figure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canadian Designer Stirs Plus-Size Model Controversy at London Fashion Week

Dangerously thin models have been a controversial topic in the past, but at a recent London fashion show, it was a trio of plus-sized models who caused a commotion. The Daily Mail reports that when Canadian designer Mark Fast announced to his staff that three women who wore sizes 10 and 12 (UK sizes 12 and 14) would be in his show, two members of his team apparently quit in disgust.

The 5 Most Outrageous Things Seen at New York Fashion Week.

The show was saved by two last-minute volunteers who worked late to get the collection together. "We are glad we stuck to our vision," Amanda May, Fast's creative director, said. "We wanted women to know they didn't have to be a size zero to wear a Mark Fast dress—curvier women can look even better in them."

When Is It OK To Go Braless?



Now here’s a dilemma I’ve never had to worry about since l was 12 and grew size-C boobs one night in the middle of 7th grade: to wear a bra or not to wear a bra? See, even after breast reduction surgery when I was 19, I still can’t fathom actually going braless out in public. I rarely even feel comfortable enough to free-ball it the privacy of my own home (my boobs at 33 simply aren’t what — or where — they were 10 years ago). That isn’t to say I’m not a little jealous of women who don’t have to wear a bra. When I read that quote from Christina Applegate about the, uh, perk of going braless since getting implants after her double mastectomy for breast cancer, I thought, Well, at least there’s one upside! But then, I still have to wonder, just because a woman feels she can go braless, does that mean it’s appropriate?

This question comes after reading an article in today’s Daily Mail about a photo of a braless Kate Moss looking very much like a 35-year-old, post-breastfeeding woman who arguably could have used a little support. The article seems to pose the question: Is it appropriate for women of a certain age to continue eschewing bras while out in public? But a better question might be: Is it appropriate for women of any age? It seems to me that no matter how small and perky a pair of boobs might be, they can always benefit from an extra layer of fabric between them and the rest of the world. At the very least, a bra can help dim the headlights a little, right?

You ladies out there with the delightfully perky boobs what say you? Do you ever skip the bra just because you can? Where and when do you think it’s appropriate to do so, and how do you justify your decision? And for everyone: is going without a bra simply a matter of comfort or is there a thrill in being that much more exposed?--Wendy Atterberry for The Frisky

Raining revolution: Collect rain water, help the planet

image name
(Photo: RainXchange)

EarthTalk is a Q&A column from E / The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How can I make good use of the rainwater that runs down my roof and into my gutters? -- Brian Smith, Nashua, NH

For most of us, the rain that falls on our roof runs off into the ground or the sewer system. But if you're motivated to save a little water and re-distribute it on your lawns or plants -- or even use it for laundry, dishes or other interior needs -- collecting rainwater from your gutters' downspouts is a no-brainer.

If it's allowed in your state, that is. Utah and parts of Washington State have antiquated but nonetheless tough laws banning anyone but owners of water rights from collecting rainwater flowing off privately owned rooftops. Such laws are rarely enforced, however, and one in Colorado was recently overturned.

According to John C. Davis, writing in E / The Environmental Magazine, just about any homeowner can collect rainwater, given that the roof and gutters do most of the work. And since an inch of rain falling on a 2,000-square-foot roof produces some 1,200 gallons of runoff, one can harvest enough to supply all the water needs of a family of four for about two weeks. Of course, most of us would only use rainwater to irrigate our lawn or garden, and there should be plenty to go around for doing that in all but the most drought stricken areas.

Plants and grass actually do better when fed rainwater instead of tap water, which is usually treated with softeners that actually inhibit plant growth. And, reports Davis, the lack of minerals in rainwater actually makes it more effective than tap water for shampooing or doing dishes. Using rainwater for plumbing uses can also extend the life of pipes and water heaters, since the salts added to tap water facilitate corrosion. Homeowners should set up a water purification system if they do plan to use rainwater for interior needs.

Beyond the benefits to individual homeowners, rainwater harvesting can also be good for the local community, as it reduces the erosion, flooding and pollution runoff associated with heavy rainfall, and lessens reliance on public water supplies, alleviating some of the burden on utilities. Given these benefits, some states, including even drought-prone Texas, subsidize residential rainwater collection systems.

Many varieties of rain barrel systems, starting at just $100, are available for home installation. A typical set-up is simply a rain barrel positioned under a gutter's downspout. "The barrel is typically fitted with a spigot at its base to fill a watering can or attach a soaker hose (which bleeds out water all along its length, providing effortless drip irrigation), and a filter or screen at its top to prevent a buildup of leaves and other debris," writes Davis. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a single 100-gallon rain barrel can save up to 1,300 gallons of utility-provided water during the high demand summer months.

Handy homeowners can make their own water harvesting systems (even from discarded barrels), but buying one pre-made is easier. Most nurseries and garden centers offer a range of choices (as well as advice), but websites such as Aquabarrel, Clean Air Gardening and Rainxchange make it easy to order a system online.

Got an environmental question? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E / The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it here or by email. Read past columns here.

Bracken out of Champions Trophy

Ben Laughlin celebrates with Nathan Bracken, South Africa v Australia, 1st ODI, Durban, April 3, 2009
Nathan Bracken will not be part of Australia's Champions Trophy defence © Getty Images

Australia have suffered a major blow before their first Champions Trophy match with Nathan Bracken ruled out of the tournament with a chronic knee injury. Cricket Australia confirmed Bracken would be sent home on Thursday due to the problem with his right knee.

"The nature of Nathan's right knee problem has meant that he has had some ongoing manageable pain, but this has now reached a point where he is unable to continue playing in the ICC Champions Trophy," Australia's physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said. "He will return to Australia to consult a knee specialist for an opinion on the best course of action. His return to cricket will be determined after consulting the specialist."

The loss of Bracken will hurt Australia's attack as he is the team's highest-ranked one-day international bowler, sitting sixth on the ICC ODI rankings, ahead of the next Australian Mitchell Johnson in equal ninth. Bracken, who played in the recent one-day series in England, will also be in doubt for the Champions League Twenty20, where he was expected to represent New South Wales in early October.

Australia's first match of the Champions Trophy is against West Indies on Saturday. Cricket Australia has not yet confirmed a replacement for Bracken in the 15-man squad, although contenders will include Doug Bollinger, Stuart Clark and Brett Geeves.

Quick Seafood Pasta for the Busy Cook

I prefer to make my Project Recipe assignments to a share with others, but there are times when conflicting schedules and picky eaters leave me cooking for myself. This was the case recently with grill-roasted clam linguine, which I happily turned into a solo weekday lunch.
The Recipe: Grill-Roasted Clam Linguine

My prep time: 37 minutes
My total time: 37 minutes

Grilling the clams serves two purposes--first, to concentrate the flavors with high, dry heat, and second, to accommodate cooking four dozen clams at once. Online reviewers--who universally loved this recipe--attested to the ease of the grilling technique. But since I was reducing this recipe by three-quarters, it didn't make sense to fire up the grill. Plus, I was worried about losing some of the precious "clam liquor" (Bridget, that was for you) to heat and spillage. So much like my grill-deprived colleague Bridget, I used a lidded cast iron skill and a hot oven.

First one makes the sauce, some oil, flavored with garlic, lemon zest, crushed chiles, then a little white wine. After the wine boils down, minced anchovies, lemon juice, and flat-leaf parsley (whose bright taste is perfect here) round out the flavors. I hadn't started out particularly hungry, but the fragrance of the simmering sauce sharpened my appetite considerably.

Everything you need to know about cooking with mussels and clams.

My clams were a local manila variety, mostly on the small side with a few jumbos mixed in. Roasting them was a slightly improvised experience. I heated the skillet in a 500-degree oven while I made the sauce. That was a mistake, as I realized when I later lined the hot skillet with heavy-duty tinfoil to catch clam juices--which would have been so much easier before it was 500 degrees. I dumped in the clams, clapped on the lid, and popped it in the oven.

After about four minutes I could smell the briny aroma of roasting clams; I removed the lid and let them cook a little longer in the oven's heat. Just as I had hoped, most of them had popped open, although one troublemaker had forcibly shattered, tearing the tinfoil and allowing a lot of the juice leak beneath it (making a mess of my carefully seasoned skillet), so I had to cautiously transfer it to a baking sheet to without dribbling it all onto the floor. I was able to get most of the accumulated liquor from the clams into the sauce without mishap.

Next one cooks the linguine. In another departure from the recipe instructions I lifted the al dente pasta directly from the cooking water (allowing a little to cling to it) and mixed it into the simmering sauce to enrobe it completely.

All that was left was to toss the clams on top, sprinkle on the remaining parsley and a little lemon juice, pour a glass of sauvignon blanc, and sit down to lunch. This was a sublime meal. Every time I eat shellfish I am struck by just how good they are, and how infrequently--due to family preferences and my own inertia--I eat them.

Sometimes the best meals are the ones a busy cook prepares just for himself.

Younis fit for India game

Younis Khan will be available for the Champions Trophy fixture against India on September 26, the PCB said on Thursday. Younis suffered a minor hairline fracture on the little finger of his right hand during the warm-up game against the Warriors in Benoni on September 20 and had been advised rest by doctors.

Younis could have been available for Pakistan's opening Champions Trophy game against West Indies in Johannesburg on Wednesday but the team management decided against taking a risk so that he could be fully fit to play India in Centurion.

India suffered a setback even before their Champions Trophy campaign began, with Yuvraj Singh fracturing his finger during a practice session in Johannesburg. He has been ruled out for six weeks and, though Virat Kohli will replace him, his absence is likely to alter the roles of some of the main members of the batting line-up.

The last time the teams met in Centurion was in the 2003 World Cup, where India won by six wickets.

The Art of Conversion

If you are cooking for one, one of the greatest challenges you will face is finding single-serve recipes. Even though recipes for one are few and far between, portions can be scaled down to individual serving sizes in just a few simple steps.

Here is how you can get started:

1. Learn the Art of Conversion: In order to scale down your recipe you must first adjust all the ingredients into single quantity units. Don't fret if you are not a math wizard, there are a host of recipe conversion calculators online which will seamlessly calculate the conversions based on the ingredient measurements entered. One of my favorites can be found on the Fruit from Washington website. (Keep in mind that electronic scales provide a more accurate read than measuring cups so you will not be way off when measuring new quantities.)

2. Know the Limits: It is best not to scale a recipe more than four times down from its original serving size. So, if possible, stick to recipes that serve four because results beyond this cannot be guaranteed.

3. Adjust Cooking Time and Temperatures: Since cooking pots and baking pans will be smaller, you may need to adjust cooking temperatures. Start with the original temperature and adjust from there by shortening baking/cooking times and slightly increasing temperatures. When roasting meats, the cooking time is based on the amount being roasted, so use per-pound guidelines.

4. Be Sensible with Seasonings: It is best to use less seasoning than the scaled recipe calls for, so always use less than the adjusted amount. You can always add more spices and seasonings as you go!

Keep in mind that not all recipes scale well, including dishes that call for egg whites, breads with yeast as an ingredient and single large items intended to be divided into smaller portions, such as a whole chicken or pot of soup. For those recipes, we recommend preparing the original recipe and storing them in individual sized containers in the freezer.

It may not be easy reducing recipes, but if you like to cook it can be a lot of fun experimenting. Start off with easy dishes like sautes and stir-fries that are less precise and work your way towards harder-to-scale menu items like casseroles, souffles and baked goods.

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Are we charging the planet into ruin?

credit card

As I've written before, ounce for ounce, your little plastic charge cards arguably create a larger carbon footprint than any other single item you probably own. Well, maybe "create" is the wrong word; "enable" is more like it.

You see, the production, distribution and consumption of nearly all goods and services result in the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, and thus the creation of a measurable "carbon footprint." And now, according to, nearly 25% of all goods and services purchased in the U.S are purchased using a credit card.

Of course I'm not saying that all of those purchases are unnecessary, or that we wouldn't still manufacture and consume many of the same things even if we didn't have charge cards. But there's no denying the fact that America's trend toward uber-consumption over the past few generations has been fueled in large part by the widespread availability of consumer credit and, specifically, the skyrocketing use of charge cards. A number of studies in recent years have shown that we do, indeed, buy more stuff when we use a charge card and we're willing to pay more for it. For example, one study showed that people using credit cards at fast food restaurants spend up to 50% more than those paying with cash. Now that's likely to result in both a larger carbon footprint and a larger waistline.

The first charge card, the Diners Club card, was issued in 1950 to allow businessmen the convenience of charging their meals at 27 restaurants that were individually listed on the back of the card. Today there are more than 20,000 different charge cards available to U.S. consumers, and the average American family owes nearly $8,500 in credit card debt. Since about 60% of all active credit card accounts are not paid off monthly, that typical American family is paying about $1,200 annually just in credit card interest, to say nothing of the $43 billion in other fees collected by the credit card industry last year.

Another shocking credit card fact from The typical credit card purchase ends up costing 112% more than if cash were used. That's right, more than twice as much!

Reducing or even eliminating entirely the use of credit cards in your life is likely to make you happier -- or at least less stressed out over being in debt -- and may very well reduce the size of your carbon footprint in the process. Few people need to own more than one credit card, and studies show that if you make it a point to always pay with cash, on average you'll spend about 30% less. It's just harder, psychologically, to part with actual greenbacks. Also, in the case of discretionary purchases, make it a point to wait at least a week between the time you see an item in the store, and when you go back to buy it. I'll bet that most of the time you'll never go back to buy it.

And if your debt and spending is seriously out of control, get help from Debtors Anonymous, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people overcome "compulsive debting." With a mission like that, in the end it might just be one of the greenest organizations around, too.

Jeff Yeager is the author of the book The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches. His website is

Would You Let Your Husband Visit A Sexual Healer?

Let's say you and your significant other are having major sex problems. Perhaps he can't maintain an erection, finishes too quickly, or you never finish because he doesn't know what in God's name he's doing. You've got some kinks to work out. Big kinks. Read: The Myth of the Male Orgasm

Could you ever imagine hiring a "sexual healer" to sharpen his skills? And when we say "sexual healer" we mean a woman who sleeps with him and offers him pointers. Think of it as hands-on consulting. Read: Therapists: Virtual Worlds ‘Could Replace Real Relationships’

Mare Simone boasts a sex resume of over 1,500 men. Many of them "clients" and technically other women's husbands or boyfriends. Nice.

I earn my living by sleeping with other women's husbands or boyfriends. But I am in no way a prostitute as sex surrogacy is legal, as long as it is done in a therapeutic and healing atmosphere. People are paying for counseling and to cure their problems—not sex. I am helping improve and change the sex lives of thousands of men, which means I am also helping improve the sex lives of their wives and girlfriends.

According to an interview she gave to The Sun, couples flock to the 54 year old for sexual counseling. She charges about $100 a session. She has five (five!) appointments a day. Sure, sometimes she gets naked but her main objective is to make couples feel more at ease in the sex department. She counsels women, too. Read: Couples Who Drink Together, Stay Together

All of my sessions start in the same way. We start by chatting while I caress their hands to make them feel relaxed and confident with me. During the next few sessions I move to giving them back and shoulder massages, so the client relaxes further while talking about their problems. Following that, we do a mirror exercise. This is where the client and I will both take off our clothes and look at our bodies in the mirror... Sometimes I will have sex with a husband in front of his wife, to show them both how to be more sensitive lovers. Often, couples find just talking openly to a stranger about the problems in their love life helps in the bedroom.

Hmm. If you're wondering where all this sexual, er, openness stems from, we learn later on in the piece that Mare was raped at a young age. She found sex difficult with her husband and decided to let the pendulum swing the opposite way. She has now adopted a sexual attitude so relaxed it borders on vain exhibitionism dressed in faux-spiritual clothing.

Just a quick question. If a man is having a hard time making his wife climax, why would he improve by pawing a stranger? Is she that much of a sexual connoisseur that a few rolls in the hay will transform him into a man of experience? If he has so much performance anxiety with his own wife that he can't perform—how does stripping in front of a mirror with a strange middle-aged lady serve as a cure?

Maybe we're just jaded. If this does in fact work, then bravo and more power to her.

Ask Umbra on that new-car smell

Q. Dear Umbra,

I have an old and dying Cash for Clunker-eligible SUV with well over 210,000 miles on it ... My problem is I find the VOC off-gassing of new cars intolerable. Is there any way to off-gas a new car before I drive it so that I am not inhaling that not so healthy “new-car” smell?

Alli K.
Spokane, Wash.

A. Dearest Alli,

Umbra illustration

Either you or I or both of us are a little behind the times, as the Cash for Clunkers program ran out of money and ended on August 24. A new program called the Dealership Funded Cash for Clunkers Program is trying to pick up where the federal program left off. But the dealership funded program has no mileage requirements, and the used cars will not be destroyed. It seems more like a “let’s keep this car sales thing going” project than a mileage improvement program. (The mascot is either a frog or Gollum—you decide.)

If and when you do buy a new car instead of a used one, you will need to deal with some amount of off-gassing fumes. Car interiors are constructed from metals, plastics, adhesives, cloth, and sometimes leather. A few tests have indicated that the new car smell in some part consists of unpleasant and unhealthy chemicals wandering out of these interior materials, including toluene and xylenes. Then, of course, there are the ones that have no odor and simply give us a special feeling inside, like phthalates. The dust settling on our dashboard also contains dubious matter.

Hence it is probably best if we all give new cars a daily airing for the first few months. Keep your windows down when you drive, and leave them open a crack when your car is parked, if that’s practical. When you use the vents, choose fresh air rather than recirculated. Other suggestions beyond good ventilation include using solar reflectors and avoiding parking in the sun, since exposure to UV rays hastens the breakdown of these chemicals. (Of course, if hastening is your goal, I suppose you could park in the sun intentionally, bake your car, then leave your windows open and not drive for the six months or so it takes for new-car fumes to dissipate—but this seems a bit deranged.) Some people also swear by using charcoal to absorb the odor.

The easiest solution would be to buy a used car whose fumes were inhaled by a previous owner, or to own no car—you could make every day car-free day! If you do buy new, you might investigate companies that have made a commitment to using fewer toxic chemicals in their auto interiors. Volvo has made a name for itself in this area. Honda is also a leader. To find more information on the interior threats of your car of choice, visit—but please, please remember that the most important factor in your car purchase should be fuel efficiency.

A WWE Diva leaves a career for marriage: Do women really still do this?

Last night, Lilian Garcia stepped out of the ring and waved goodbye to her career as an announcer for the WWE. Garcia, one of the federation's most famous voices, participated in many of the dramatic story lines while wielding the mic for Raw and other wrestling specials and shows.

Dubbed the first and only "Decade Diva" for the WWE, Garcia's ten-year stint came to an official and emotional close, which she described as "tough." Although her contract expires at the end of the year and wrestling publications report that her retirement was not a surprise.

What is most interesting to me about this story is not that the singer, radio deejay, and pageant winner made a career out of belting out the national anthem and playing along with wrestling hijinks, but the reason given for her departure. Garcia, blogs and other pubs are saying, left to get married.

Several blogs do say that Garcia wants to put together a band. However, many more play up her forthcoming wedding to a non-WWE fiance.

As fascinating as the world of wrestling is to me (admittedly, a non-WWE person myself), I am more compelled by the idea of a woman exiting her career to enter into a marriage.

Clearly, there are women who believe that this is the best route for them and have made arrangements with their partner to pursue a full-time dedication to the household and family. But other than the requisite Housewives of Pretty Much Every Metropolitan City, we don't see these women in the spotlight very often.

Garcia stepped out of her own spotlight after bringing her fiance into the ring to slow dance for the audience to the song "I've Had the Time of My Life." Somehow, this soundtrack seems so bittersweet. Did she have the time of her life in those ten years, or is the time of her life just beginning for the now-former announcer?

Who are the women who choose to leave a job when they get married? Do you know them? Are you one of them?

Whether you have a glittery, on-stage profession like Lilian Garcia did or something much more everyday, what do you think are the politics and long-term effects of this decision for a woman?

Stylish Steal of the Day: The Perfect Fur Collar Trench For Fall!

Object Of Desire

BB Dakota brown tan lammar coat, $106, at

Reason #1:

Now that fall is officially here, we've jumped on the bandwagon wholeheartedly with the perfect fall moisturizer, the five key pieces you need to stock up on now, and even our three favorite new restaurants for fall dining.

Reason #2:

While this coat doesn't fall under the red outerwear trend that we are currently loving, the classic trench shape and fur collar will never go out of style.

Reason #3:

We already found you our 16 favorite fall coats for under $100, but this one might just be worth the extra $6. Actually, it definitely is. We literally did a double take at the price for such a great, lasting piece.

New York climate talks: The good, the bad, and the ugly

smoke stacks
(Photo: Thaddeus Robertson)

Representatives from 100 nations are meeting in New York to discuss global warming. That is good.

But they're meeting because the United Nations leadership is worried that there isn't momentum enough to create a strong successor to the Kyoto Protocol that governs global warming action worldwide. That's bad.

While everyone talks a good game about the importance of doing something about the old rich nation-poor nation divide, embodied by hyper consumption in the U.S. and hyper industrialization in China, with neither willing to concede too much ground for fear of alienating citizens and losing power. That's ugly.

More to chew on:

The Good

World leaders have already agreed to halt the growth in temperatures to no more than 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) by 2050.

China vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, get 15% of power from non-fossil fuel sources (including nuclear) and foster a green economy, all by 2020.

The U.S. House has passed the first-ever national cap on carbon emissions, as part of a comprehensive energy bill designed to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and jump-start a more sustainable economy.

U.S. negotiators are no longer questioning whether global warming is really a problem in need of a dramatic solution, as they did during the Bush Administration, nor trying to work outside of the U.N. process with only the world's biggest polluters.

Climate Week is mobilizing hundreds, if not thousands, to take part in events designed to show that U.S. residents want to see action, both within our boarders and around the world.

More than 500 companies signed a statement urging dramatic and fast action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bad

Rajendra K. Pachauri, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's chief scientist, warned leaders that the worst-case scenarios for climate change appear to be unfolding before our eyes, as emissions lead to more drastic and near-term consequences than had been anticipated.

Many U.S. politicians, citizens, think tanks and business associations still cling to arguments that human's role in global warming is neither real, really a problem, or really worth doing anything about.

Small island nations are so scared that global warming-induced sea-level rise will inundate them that they're committing to steeper cuts by 2020 than the rest of the world has set. The bad news: The moral high ground is about all they have in that category.

The Ugly

While world leaders have agreed to a temperature target, they have not agreed to a framework to achieve that target, with mandatory emissions limits or technology transfers from rich to poor nations.

China's 2020 goals lack specificity, and are contingent on economic growth, so that they mirror in some ways President George W. Bush's "carbon intensity" targets, which cut carbon dioxide emissions only relative to economic output, not overall.

Debate on a U.S. Senate bill that might match the House carbon cap-and-trade bill is stalled at least until the health-care reform is finished, and however the health-care bill comes out, it may leave President Obama without much political capital to spend on a revolutionary energy policy. If the Senate fails to act by December, other nations are unlikely to follow Obama's call for worldwide action.

As Thomas Friedman illustrated recently, the U.S. is falling far behind in reaping the jobs benefits of its technological prowess, with one Silicon Valley solar company having built 14 solar panel plants, employing hundreds -- all overseas.

As CBS News pointed out, the U.N. gathering has a heavy carbon footprint.

The Women of "Modern Family" Get Stylish

On our recent trip to Hollywood we talked on and off-screen style with Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, two of the stars of ABC's hilarious new comedy "Modern Family".
Read More »

Airlines pledging to cut emissions by 50%

At the UN climate talks today in New York, an agreement between airlines, airports and aircraft companies to slash emissions by 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 will be presented. If the UN accepts the proposal, it will be added to the Copenhagen agenda.


This would be significant because not only is the aviation industry responsible for two percent of yearly global emissions, but those emissions weren't part of the Kyoto Protocol. Adding a commitment like this to whatever agreement comes out of Copenhagen will mean a substantial improvement over Kyoto.

The International Air Travel Association is also promising that all industry growth will be carbon neutral by 2020.

The one downside of this pledge by the aviation industry is that it will undoubtedly raise fares for travelers, at least initially, while new technologies are being developed.