Asparagus – Why Does it Make Your Pee Stink?

Why is it that about 15 minutes after eating asparagus your pee has a wretched, foul smell?

This is the big question!

As I asked people if their pee stinks after they eat asparagus, I either got the ” I cant believe you are asking me this” look or the understanding, quick “yes”. I thought of doing an experiment but from some of my responses I decided not to. Most people agreed though and I was happy I wasn’t the only one with this stink. I decided I would find out the answer to this mystery and if there is anything that can be done to stop the stink. Here is what I found out.

As stated on the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board website. There is debate on whether the compound that causes the odor in urine after consumption of asparagus is, Methylmercaptan, a sulfur containing derivative of the amino acid, methionine OR asparagine-amino-succinic-acid monoamide. In either case, the product is formed as a derivative during the digestion and subsequent breakdown of beneficial amino acids that occur naturally in asparagus. Thus making your pee stink. The funny thing about it is that there have been studies done and only about 40% of people have the autosomal genes required to smell it. Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink, because they did do another study that showed 103 out of 103 people did have odorous pee. Can anything be done to stop the stink – Well No, but below are some good reasons why you should keep eating and enjoying asparagus.

Facts

-Asparagus is high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C and thiamin.

-Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence.

-Asparagus is used ethnomedically to treat urinary tract infections, as well as kidney and bladder stones.

Charles Lamb, English poet, says it best – “Asparagus inspires gentle thoughts”.

Check out cafepress.com for some great asparagus tees.

7 Ways to Cool Down without an AC

Most people have air conditioning these days. But unfortunately there are still some of us that don’t. As the summer heat beats down on us less fortunate souls without AC, we look for ways to keep cool. Not always is this easy.

Here is a list of things you can do when facing the melt down of the summer heat.

1. In the morning open up all the doors and windows and let the cool from the night cool down the house. Then close them before going to work and keep the blinds closed. This has seemed to keep the house about 5 degrees cooler then when this isn’t done.

2. After the sun goes down, which can be pretty late this time of year, open up the windows and doors and put a fan in front of either the door or window and let it bring the cool air in. It cools down significantly in a very short time.

3. Install an attic fan, they can cool the house to outside temperatures in just a few minutes. This is a more energy efficient and cost efficient way to cool the home.

4. Buy a Swamp Cooler or Air Evaporator Cooler. There are plenty of options out there for under $100.

5. Put a block of ice in a container behind the fan to cool down the house. A wet wrung out towel hung behind the fan works wonders too. Make sure you have a dish under the towel to let it drip into. If you stick the fan in front of a door or window it makes it even cooler.

6. Try to make meals that don’t call for using the oven. The oven can heat up the kitchen and essentially the whole house by more then 10 degrees. Check out AllRecipes.com for some great summer recipes.

7. Use someone else’s AC. Take a seat at your local coffee house, most have free wi-fi, so you can do some work, check email, even watch an episode of your favorite TV show.

Other cooling ideas? Leave a comment.

Scooters – Are they really Scooterific?

I never really saw a scooter, except on movies usually taking place in Europe but now they are everywhere. With gas prices rising almost daily, people are looking at scooters as a big way to save money on gas. I started checking out scooters, trying to figure out what all the hype is. Being a family of four I have a hard time with a scooter, only two people can fit on one, so why would I buy one? Can it really save that much money over time?

Here are some of the pro’s and con’s to owning a scooter.

Pro’s ~ 80-100 miles per gallon, they can fit anywhere, you wont be left searching for a parking space, they are fairly inexpensive compared to buying a new car and they are fun.

Con’s ~ You cant take your family on a scooter, if you have cold, wet winters you will need to drive your car or get some really nice waterproof gear, only the large 250cc can be driven on the freeway, they are dangerous and sorry to say they make you look a tad dorky.

Check out this article at ,MSN Is a Scooter the answer?. It has a calculator on the side that can tell you how much money you could save over a year. Another calculator that will tell you how many miles you would need to ride a scooter in order for it to pay for itself is: Scooter Money Saver Calculator. I would have to ride a scooter 11,613 miles for it to pay for itself. That’s a lot of miles!

Here is another article that piqued my interest, Scooters – 11 Reasons not to Buy One. This is from the point of view of a man who owns a scooter.

If you want an alternative to the normal scooter and a greener ride, check out the Vectrix. Its a bit pricey at over $11,000 but doesn’t need gas. It has a 20-kilowatt (26.8 horsepower) direct-current motor. Its top speed is 62 miles an hour but the drawback is that it cant be taken on very long trips without needing a charge.

What do you think about Scooters?

How to Safely Dispose of your Electronics

Electronics contain an alarming amount of harmful chemicals. Here is a list of chemicals that are in your electronics: Lead, Mercury, cadmium, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Polyvinyl chloride, lead acid, lithium, arsenic and the list goes on.

The best way to safely dispose of old electronics is to ship or drop them off at companies here in the US that will correctly recycle or dispose of them.

Here is a list of companies that will do that for you.

Sony’s National Take Back Recycling Program. You can recycle old electronics or rechargeable batteries free of charge.

Dell Recycling. You can recycle your unwanted Dell-branded products for free.

Apple Recycling Program. Apples recycling program is a bit different. Purchase any qualifying Apple computer or monitor and receive free recycling of your old computer and monitor — regardless of manufacturer.

Sharp Toner Recycling. Free recycling for your Sharp toners.

Panasonic has a Refurbishment, Recycle/Exchange Program. It doesn’t say if there is a charge for recycling your batteries, computers or toners.

HP recycling services provides an easy way to recycle computer equipment, printing supplies, rechargeable batteries and other items.

If you want to donate your computer and get tax credit check out eCycling for details and lists of local programs.

If you want to know what state E-Waste laws and bills are under consideration for 2008 check out e-takeback. They also have information on how to find recyclers in your state.

Please consider these options when getting rid of old electronics. Just a little work on your part does a lot for our environment.


Most Brilliant Gadgets of 2008

It was brought to my attention the other day that the year is already half over and we are on the downward slope towards Christmas. So I was thinking about Christmas and gifts and knowing that the time for picking out gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people is coming. I searched high and low for the best gadgets of 2008. I found some great sites with some fabulous gadgets.

For the hard-to-buy-for lady in your life, check out, The Hottest Gadgets in 2008 on geeksugar.com or shiny shiny A girls guide to gadgets. The gadgets on these sites have a lot to do with a womans fashion sense. Chic laptop bags, jazzy cell phone or camera cases, glamorous bright phones, and any other gadget you can think of, made with the stylish woman in mind.

As for the hard-to-buy-for man in your life, check out, Top 20 Gadgets Men Want at AskMen.com or 10 Awesome Gadgets You Should Grab for 2008 on popularmechanics.com. Both sites have some amazing gadgets, from the low-priced small gadgets to the extravagant large gadgets. Some of the gadgets that are on my list are the Polaroid PoGo, Merrell Gatherer Jacket and Nakamichi Sound Space.

By the end of the year I know there will be many new gadgets for the new year but maybe that means we will be able to get these brilliant 2008 gadgets at a lower price. What are some of your favorite Gadgets of 2008?

Starbucks VS Peet’s

These are the two coffee companies I hear most about these days. What are the differences between the two, why do some people like one over the other? Here are some differences I found.

Starbucks has a rewards program. I mentioned this in an earlier post but I will repeat it for those that haven’t read it. Register any starbucks card for amazing benefits. Free refill, free flavors or special milk, free beverage with whole bean purchase and 2 free hrs wi-fi. I love this, it saves you a lot of money when you use a card.

Peet’s has no reward or special incentive program. But they do offer free wi-fi for 2 hrs now.

Score – Starbucks 1 Peet’s 0

Starbucks offers sugar-free, skinny options. I am not a fan of the sugar-free syrups starbucks uses. The after taste is not so good.

Peet’s offers sugar-free and lower fat milk options also. Peet’s sugar-free syrup is the best I have tasted, it has no after taste and it actually tastes good, not like most sugar-free syrups.

Score – Starbucks 1 Peet’s 1

Starbucks is on the list of 100 best Companies to work for. I have heard from many employees that they truly are a great company to work for. They offer a great package, even for those employees that only work part time.

Peet’s isn’t on the list.

Score – Starbucks 2 Peet’s 1

I heard that Starbucks has changed some of its ways of doing things, like not re-steaming milk, using only recently roasted beans and freshly brewed coffee every hour or something like that. But I cant find anything about it on their website.

Now Peet’s has a section on their website under Peet’s Stores called 10 Things You May Not Know. It lists things like, our whole bean coffees have been roasted within 10 days, never re-steam milk, hand scoop beans to the customers order, grind our coffee beans just before brewing and 6 other things. I find this to be very helpful and informative.

Score – Starbucks 2 Peet’s 2

I have had drinks at both coffee companies and I enjoy my regular, fat induced drinks at Starbucks and I enjoy the sugar-free low fat drinks at Peet’s. Both are great companies and make great coffees and I give them both a thumbs up! Why do you like one over the other? Whats your favorite coffee house?

10 Simple Ways to Save Big

Everyone is looking for ways to save money; I have listed 10 of the least painful ways to economize.

1. Pay with cash. Everyone knows it’s harder to see your cash disappear then using a credit card.

2. Brown-bag your lunch. Make it and take it, instead of eating out every day. Here is 25 Tips for Better Brown Bags.

3. Clip Coupons and use Store Reward Cards.

4. Have a garage sale or sell it on Ebay/Craigslist. Most of us have a lot of unused items lying around, why not make some money and clean out the house at the same time.

5. Visit the Library instead of your nearest book store.

6. Disconnect your home phone line, and use your cell phone.

7. Stop your daily trips to your favorite coffee house and make your coffee at home.

8. Quit smoking. Not only is it good for your health, it saves a lot of money. Need Help? Check out this article on How to Quit Smoking.

9. Ride a bike or take a walk. Not only does it save on gas, its also great exercise.

10. Cut your own hair or have someone in your family cut it for you. For helpful tips on how to save on haircuts check out sheknows.com.

Saving money is a way of life. You have to make changes and stick with them. Its OK to go out to eat every once in a while or stop by your favorite coffee shop for a scrumptious latte but its the daily routines we get stuck in that suck the most money out of us. The amount of money you will save by changing what you do daily will amaze you.

Freeganism – How can we do our part?

What is Freeganism? The Wikipedia definition says – Freeganism is an anti-consumerist lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on “limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.” The lifestyle involves salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters that have passed, or in some cases haven’t even passed, their sell by date, but are still edible and nutritious. They salvage the food not because they are poor or homeless, but as a political statement.

There is much controversy over this issue of “dumpster diving” for food and the Freeganism way of life. One of the main concerns is the cleanliness of food that is dumped in a dumpster filled with germs. The second and third go together, the company is liable if someone gets hurt and the legality of salvaging food from a dumpster. In many states it is illegal.

What can we do to help? How can we stop perfectly good food from being wasted and thrown away? How can companies stop waste?

First lets look at an article from Donna L Montaldo about How much food does your family waste? In her article she states that an average family of four tosses out an average of $590 a year of food, wastes 14% of their food purchases and 15% of that waste is still within its expiration date.

1. Recyclaholics.com has some real ways that we can make a difference, starting with our homes and branching out to the communities we live in and businesses that we work for.

2. Heifer International has some great ways that we can limit our waste.

Continue reading “Freeganism – How can we do our part?”

Emergency Text Messaging Notification

Universities all over the Nation are using text messaging to instantly communicate to all students that sign up, wherever they are located. How it works is that the University sets up an account with a company like e2Campus, Rave Campus, or Mobile Campus and in the event of an extreme, campus-wide, life threatening emergency, the University would text message alerts to students, faculty and staff. Knowing that over 90% of all students have cell phones today, text messaging alerts are the ideal way for schools to communicate swiftly and effectively.

Not only are Universities going to be using emergency text messaging notification. In an article from CNN, the FCC has approved an emergency alert text-messaging system for all cell phone companies that choose to participate. The FCC representative explained how the plan would work. Cell phone companies that voluntarily opt into the system would send text-based alert messages to subscribers in response to three types of events:

1. A disaster that could jeopardize the health and safety of Americans, such as a terrorist attack; these would trigger a national alert from the president of the United States

2. Imminent or ongoing threats such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes

3. Child abductions or Amber alert

Even Businesses, Organizations and some High Schools are taking advantage of this effective way to send emergency alerts.

Check out this article at NewScientist.com for more about text message disaster alerts.

Why use Dryer Sheets? Here are 5 Alternatives

After my trip to the grocery store to buy dryer sheets and seeing how expensive they are, I decided I would figure out what alternatives are out there. I found some interesting things. My main reason for wanting an alternative is to save money, but what I found was a lot more reasons why I should find an alternative. I did not know there were so many bad chemicals in dryer sheets, such as Benzyl Acetate – Linked to pancreatic cancer, Ethanol – known to cause central nervous system disorders, Limonene – a known carcinogen and Pentane – a chemical known to be harmful if inhaled, just to name a few. For the complete list of chemicals and information on what those chemicals can do to you, check out the article “The Toxic Danger of Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets” by ezinearticles.

Here are 5 alternatives I found.

1. Dry your clothes on the line. This is great for this time of year when we have lots of sun and clothes get dried fast. As the weather changes you can try one of the options below.

2. Dryer Balls. Eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softener. As your wet laundry tumbles in the dryer, these bumpy balls lift and separate fabric to make it soft and fluffy and to allow air to flow more efficiently. Check out gaiam.com for price and more info.

3. Don’t dry your clothes completely. Hang your clothes to dry or dry them on a drying rack for the last 10% of drying. The small amount of moisture in the clothes helps static from getting a foothold. Check out more ideas from grinningplanet.com.

4. Trader Joe’s sells lavender sachet dryer bags a natural alternative to dryer sheets. Most Health/Organic food stores sell all natural alternatives. Check out your local stores and see what they have.

5. Apple cider vinegar in your rinse water takes away static and makes your laundry extra soft. Try a 1/2 cup for big loads and 1/4 cup for small loads.

Please share any other alternatives you may have for dryer sheets or comments on the the alternatives I did list.