Monday, January 21, 2013

Can You Lose Weight Just by Exercise?

Can you lose weight just by exercise?  Well, the answer appears to be, it depends.
In an article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, "The Appetite Workout," Gretchen Reynolds reports on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Wyoming. The study was based upon a group of women who were asked to run or walk on one day and then rest on the next day.

The researchers found that those who ran did not consume as many calories as those who walked.  According to the article, the women who ran at a brisk pace consumed fewer calories because of certain hormones in the body that told them when they had eaten enough food.  On the other hand, those who walked, were more hungry because of an increase in the body of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin was also increased in those who ran but apparently that increase was offset by the other hormones.

So what does this mean for you and me?  If you are seeking to lose weight, more strenuous and longer exercise will probably be probably be your best bet.  This may seem rather obvious, but many people think that walking alone may bring about weight loss and this study suggests that this may not be so. Now walking undoubtedly has many other health benefits, but weight loss may not be one of them.

For the complete article, see

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Best Fish and Chips!

Downton Abbey has created quite a renewed passion for everything English. You now hear people saying things like, "Cheerio, old man" and "TTFN (Ta Ta for now)".  What is more English, however, than fish and chips?

Well, if you are fish and chips lovers as we are and are visiting Southwest Florida, we can recommend what we think are the best fish and chips on this side of the pond (that's the Atlantic Ocean, of course).

Located in a small strip shopping center on Del Prado Blvd. S, in Cape Coral, Florida is a fish and chips shop called "Pete's Fish & Chips." It serves fish and chips and other typical English dishes such as sausage rolls and savory pies either for take out or dining in. But it is the fish and chips we came for and we were not disappointed. 

As the Moody Blues played in the background, we munched on the crunchy Icelandic cod and equally crisp french fries.  We doused the fish with the Heinz malt vinegar handy on the table. They serve the fish in two sizes, small ($7.95 for a 5-6 ounce fish) or regular ($10.95 for a 8-9 ounce fish).  Both are served with a small tub of cole slaw. Imported and domestic beers as well as soft drinks are available

In addition to the cooked food, there is also a small corner of the restaurant where various English foodstuffs such as Walker's, Cadbury, and HP steak sauce are available for purchase. 

The restaurant has been open since April 2012 and is owned and operated by Pete and Diane Rushton.  It promises that it is "Bringing a Taste of Great Britain to Southwest Florida" and the restaurant certainly delivers on that promise.

Pete's Fish & Chips is located at 311 Del Prado Blvd. S, Suite 5, Cape Coral, FL 33990.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Best Technique to Defuse Anger

Recently, I wrote an ebook suggesting that one way of dealing with customer service personnel, such as the cable TV guy or the phone company was to simply be pleasant using the so-called mirror neurons.  A simple "How are you doing?" or "How is your day?" at the beginning of the discussion can do wonders in enabling you to get what you want and sometimes even more than you asked for. How to Get the Best Deal: A Free E-book, November 24, 2012.

Well, this post is about how those service personnel can defuse an angry customer with the same logic. Many customers call the customer service personnel irate at some failure of their car, computer, cable system, you name it.  What is the service person to do?  How can she benefit from the mirror image rule I discussed in that post?

The simple answer is for her to say something like, "I know you are angry and I'm sure your anger is justified. But how can I help you now so that together we can resolve your problem?" It is really as simple as that.  Generally, that person on the other line or across the complaint counter will be taken aback and his anger will disappear (or at least be reduced in volume)..

If every business taught its customer service personnel this simple approach, I believe they would have fewer complaints and happier customers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Will You Have Enough Money for Retirement?

Do you have enough money for retirement?  That is a question that most of us ask ourselves all the time. With the median age of retirement still at 62,  the average lifespan increasing, and health care costs increasing, there is a very real possibility that many people will run out of money well before the 30 years or so that you may live after retirement. Do you know if you have enough?

While the answer to that question will differ for each of us, there is a handy tool that may be useful to determine just how much you need and how much you can comfortably spend each month in retirement.  This is the T. Rowe Price Retirement Income Calculator.  Available at the T. Rowe Price website at, it is easy to use and gives a comprehensive look at your particular financial situation.

You can use the calculator even if you are not a T. Rowe Price shareholder. You simply register as a guest and then provide the required information. This includes the amounts in your and your partner's IRA, 401K as well as the amounts you anticipate (or are receiving, if already retired) receiving from Social Security, pensions, annuities and any other sources of income.  You also are required to provide your monthly budget, i.e., how much you spend each month.

Once you have provided the requested information, the calculator goes to work, performing what are said to be thousands of calculations to determine if you will run out of money before you are 95 years old.  You are then provided with a readout showing the percentage likelihood as to whether you have enough.  Anything over 90% is considered excellent. Below that, you might want to consider saving more. In addition to the percentage likelihood of reaching 95 with enough money, it also shows you how much you can safely expect to spend each month.

This calculator is the best and easiest to use that I have seen. One note of disclaimer, I do own shares in various T. Rowe Price funds but I have no other financial interest in the firm, nor have I been compensated in any way for these views, which are strictly my own. - 5619EB62C1D3715573A5D14C19EFB9AA

Farmers' Markets

I don't know about you, but I love farmers' markets.  You know, the old-fashioned kind, where the farmers come into town and set up tents in a parking lot and lay out fresh vegetables, fruits and homemade pies, jams and jellies. Well, while staying recently in South Florida, we visited a farmers' market set up in a small parking lot of a suburban strip mall. It was a little different from those we are used to up North.

The farmers' markets we are familiar with are usually filled with tables full of apples and the smell of funnel cakes. The Florida market offered a selection of fresh seafood, including lobster tails and grouper! And instead of funnel cakes (which I love to eat) there were beignets! If you are not familiar with beignets, they are a sort of French donut, really just pieces of fried dough covered with powdered sugar. I had heard of them and knew they were popular in New Orleans, but I had never actually eaten one before. I decided now was the time.

So, for one dollar, I watched as the man behind the wooden table, took a small rectangle of dough, placed it in what looked like a wok with oil boiling in it and then took it out after about two minutes, rolled it in powdered sugar and handed it to me in a small paper container. I eagerly took it and bit into it. It was delicious. It was still warm and sort of crunchy. Now, I know why it has such a great reputation as a delicacy not to be missed.

Although it was the middle of winter, fresh corn, tomatoes and avocados were also available. So we loaded up on those and headed home where we ate them for dinner that night.  My only regret was not buying a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade at the stand at the farmer's market.  Oh well, that just gives me a good reason to go back again next time.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fallingwater: The Most Famous House in America

Fallingwater is often called the most famous private house in America.  Designed by the famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, it exemplifies a style which makes maximum use of its setting. Built over a waterfall in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, it is simply spectacular.

Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939 as a mountain home for the Kaufmann family, the owners of a Pittsburgh department store. From the very beginning it was recognized as an architectural gem. It appeared on a Time Magazine cover in1938. In addition to designing the house itself, Wright also designed much of the furniture as well. 

The Kaufmann family used Fallingwater until 1963, when it was donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which conducts tours of the home and surrounding grounds. We recently toured the house and even in winter, with snow everywhere, it was truly a marvel not to be missed.  Reservations are required. A small gift shop is also on the grounds.

For more information about hours, ticket prices and directions, visit the Fallingwater website at

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ohiopyle: White Water Rafting at its Best

Have you ever wanted to go white water rafting?  When most people think of white water rafting, they probably envision rafting down the Colorado River somewhere out West.  There are, of course, places back East that offer the same opportunity and thrills.  One of these is Ohiopyle State Park, located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

The Park is approximately 20,000 acres and offers a number of other activities in addition to white water rafting. These include 79 miles of hiking trails.  In addition, Ohiopyle offers 27 miles of biking trails, connecting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the state of Maryland along the former rail bed of the Western Maryland Railroad.

But it is whitewater rafting that Ohiopyle is most noted for.  And with good reason.  The Youghiogheny River (the "Yough") is said to be one of the most popular white water rafting locations on the East Coast. The lower Yough rapids are rated as Class 3 and 4 rapids. The middle Yough has class 1 and 2 rapids. For those not familiar with the rapids classification system, the Class 3 and Class 4 rapids are particularly difficult and challenging.  They should only be attempted by the most skilled rafters or under the supervision of a skilled rafter.