I monitor my credit score regularly.  While I wouldn’t say that I live in fear of identity theft, I am aware of it, and would like to avoid it.  Carrie has had some problems just because there is another Carrie Martin in Tacoma with her same birthday who is not a fine, upstanding citizen with good credit.

The scoring method has been shrouded in mystery and I have always been intrigued by the process.  (You know I love to know how things work!)

Ron at the Wisdom Journal (a great blog that I have repeatedly suggested you should investigate) has a great article that is an interview of a FICO expert that explains this stuff in simple terms for those of us who weren’t finance or economics majors.

I recently had the great pleasure and honor to conduct an email interview with Barry Paperno from www.myFICO.com. Barry is an expert in the field of credit scoring. My questions were selected from things I personally wondered about, as well as some questions I’ve been asked by readers in the past. Here is the interview in its entirety.

1. What EXACTLY is a “credit score?”
A credit score is a number that summarizes your credit risk based on a snapshot of your credit report as of a particular point in time. The credit score that matters is the “FICO” credit score, developed by Fair Isaac Corporation and most commonly used by lenders, which uses a range of 300-850 with the higher the score, the lower the risk.

2. What are the components of a credit score? (what information is evaluated and how is that information weighted?)
The five main categories of information that FICO scores evaluate, followed by their estimated weights, are:

  • Payment history (35%)
  • Amounts owed (30%)
  • Length of credit history (15%)
  • New credit (10%)
  • Types of credit used (10%)

It’s a great interview.  Read it all here.

Zemanta Pixie

I don’t think that anyone necessarily plans to be alone and lonely; sometimes it just happens. Perhaps it’s because they got caught up in a career race, or they live somewhere with a limited dating pool. Maybe they’ve been dating the wrong person, they’re divorced, or perhaps it’s because they have simply postponed couplehood until nearly everyone they know is paired up, and the ones who aren’t simply don’t look appealing. However it happens, there comes a day when as satisfying as being a singleton may have been, they suddenly realize that they…are lonely.

My friend Judie at Gear Diary is doing a series about online dating.  She is a grown woman, with a grown child, and a growing business.  She would like to have some companionship, as would, I am sure, many of you.

She has published the first in a five part series. This one is about how she is choosing which service to use.

Part 2 is about writing your profile. (I will add links to the remaining posts as I get them.)

Part 3 is about the do’s and don’t’s of actual dating.

My favorite online dating comment is from a client.  She sent an email to eHarmony after having used their service for a few months.  It went something like this:

I did as you asked.  I filled out all the forms and was completly honest.  I am pretty sure I told you that I am really shallow and that looks are improtant to me.  Why do you keep sending me ugly men?

Zemanta Pixie

I haven’t gotten into digital music.  I don’t have an iPod and I don’t want one.

I know.  You are stunned.

How can it be that the girl who so loves technology can be so behind the times in this arena?

Here’s why:

I like the album as a concept.  I like the idea of musicians creating a complete piece of art.  Where one song leads to another and the songs together tell a bigger story.  I was never one to listen to just the “hit” song on an album.  I buy CD’s and if I want, I can copy them to my computer or my PDA.

If all we do in the future is sell individual songs, what motivation is there to create the art that is an album?  I find that sad.  I know that things change.  I know that what I want doesn’t matter and I try not to complain about it.

One thing I particularly love is cover art.  I like having a visual connection to my music.  In the world of the single song, album cover art becomes irrelevant, and that makes me sad, too.

I found an article today by an author who feels my pain but offers hope for the future.


Is Album Art Dying?

The music industry has undergone more drastic changes in the past 25 years then the previous 125 years before. In 1982, the compact disc was introduced to the public and replaced the need for LP’s and cassette tapes. With the introduction of Napster in 1999, music downloading has steadily become the recommended way to obtain music. Consumers no longer have to go to their local record store and buy music; it is now just a mouse click away. Moreover, there is no need to purchase an entire recording as you can now only purchase the tracks you want to listen to.

According to an article posted on Seeking Alpha in January of 2007, digital sales are showing a steady increase while album sales continue to decline. As this digital trend maintains momentum, will the need for album covers eventually be phased out like records were? Is visual art in music packaging dying?

Album art has long been just as important as the music on the record. Can you imagine a different cover for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Nirvana’s Nevermind? The album cover evokes what is inside and you can almost hear the music simply by looking at it.

Read the rest of the article here.

I don’t see how a one inch square photo can give me the same thrill as a big LP did, but I will try to keep up with the times so that you all don’t call me an old fart.

The technology I do like is satellite radio.  We have Click! cable at the salon, I have Sirius in my car and the husband has XM in his.  I like not having commercials, and I like having someone else mix the music.  Not knowing what is coming is interesting to me.

Got $300 bucks sitting around you don’t know what to do with?  Maybe you would like a pair of these.

CAMiLEON Heels: Exercising a Woman’s Perogative to Change Her Mind

Posted on 30 April 2008 by Judie Lipsett

I first saw a post regarding a concept shoe with convertible heels on Book of Joe back in 2005, and now it looks like an easier to operate variation of the same idea has actually come to pass. Say hello to CAMiLEON, a company which produces women’s shoes with heels that can adjust from a pratical walking height of 1½” to a sassy 3¼”.

CAMiLEON’s heels contain “mechanisms that hold it into place for both the high heel and low heel positions and a stainless steel rod, which runs through the entire length of the heel. The portion of our heel that is stowed underneath the arch region of the shoe, when in the low heel position, is actually made out of aluminum. Additionally, every heel is coated with 6 coats of paint, resulting in a beautiful high-gloss finish. While essentially every other brand of high heel shoe attaches its heel to the shoe with nails, or nails and glue, we attach every heel with four screws.”

I took a look at some of the styles offered on their site, and I have to tell you that I like what I see. The Mary Jane shown in the conversion process is actually one of my favorite styles, and I also like the Mariella shown below. I love the idea of a lower heel for daytime that can convert into a dressier heel for evening.

Read more at Gear Diary.

Buy them at Zappos.

Texas and Georgia are six years old now. For a Great Dane, that’s not young. Georgia is as spry as ever and has only a small amount of gray in her black coat. Texas, The Old Man with lots of gray, occasionally shows signs of a painful hip. It’s by no means debilitating for him, and he seems perfectly fine except for a handful of times a year when he seems to really be in pain.

My sister has worked in the veterinary industry for ages and has recently become involved in the holistic area of veterinary practice. She is currently in the planning stages of opening an integrative practice where animals can be treated with the best of all modalities.

When Texas had his last episode this week, I emailed her for advice on what direction to go for the poor old guy. Her answer was so thorough and helpful, that I thought I would share it here in case any of you had similar troubles.

Hey, sorry to hear he had an episode again…there could be several reasons that this is happening. We could be seeing degeneration of the hip joint which causes the muscles to tense up until there is an acute pain; there could be an inherent tendon or ligament weakness that could flare up when moved in a certain direction; or there could just be a particular activity or movement which creates an acute pain. So, if you want to locate the source, I would recommend seeing a vet to assess the area including x-raying the hips.
In terms of treatment, I would recommend:
A glucosamine with MSM supplement that is designed for dogs (these products are more bio-available for the dogs) such as Dasuquin w/ MSM, Synovi G3 or Glyco-Flex III. You can get these through your vet or at various online retailers.
Use a salmon oil supplement such as Grizzly Salmon Oil, Omega 3 fatty acids are excellent for joint and muscle care.
An antioxidant for dogs using algae would be a good supplement. I use one from a company called Animal Essentials. It is Organic Green Alternative Herbal Supplement. It’s a powder that I sprinkle on their food after I add the Grizzly Salmon Oil.
For the acute discomfort, I would recommend getting Arnica 30c from Whole Foods and giving 1 dose (the bottle dispenses the right dose amount in the lid) orally, followed by another 6 hours later. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy that addresses inflammation. It was what I used after my cat bite to minimize bruising and swelling. I have also used it on my animals with success.
I would recommend having him see an animal chiropractor. It might sound crazy, but I have seen great results for dogs with joint issues using chiropracty. There is an integrated practice in Renton that offers chiropractic service: http://www.rentonwestvet.com/
WHAT YOU CAN DO @ HOME:
Regular range of motion stretches for his hips would be great. The best way to do this is to stand behind him, put a hand on either side of his abdomen and use one hand at a time to move each of his legs. Place one hand under his belly and use the other hand to cradle his knee (the uppermost joint below the hip) and gently lift the knee and leg upwards toward the spine. Follow this by moving the leg in opposite direction, essentially folding the knee up towards his belly. In human terms, if you were standing, the first movement would simiar to you straightening your knee and stretching your leg backwards. The opposite movement would be you bending your knee and moving it up towards your chest. (I generally demonstrate this in person, so excuse the clumsy wording)
The main muscle areas to massage (with slow, gentle, slightly penetrating circular motions) would be those surrounding the hip. I have marked them on one of my flashcards below.

We all know there is business advice available on the internet, but for many of us, we don’t know where to begin looking for the answers.  I found a publication put together by Hewlett Packard that is a collection of advice from online business writers.  Not only is the publication full of good advice, it is a great list of experts (full of links to their websites where you can get even more help!)  I am a big believer in taking advantage of all the free information you can find.

It is always easier to travel the road if you have tales and tips from those that have gone before.

A Letter from the Publisher of Small Business Trends
Welcome to our first—but not last—eBook featuring tips and advice learned from 100 savvy readers.
It was humbling to see the breadth and quality of these reader-contributed pointers. The knowledge of many is far greater than the knowledge of one. No matter how much one person might know, it pales when compared to the wisdom of those who live and breathe the need to go out and get and retain customers every day in order to put food on the table.
I’m reminded of the narrow margin for error under which most small businesses operate. As one reader said, “Market or die! When you’re a small business owner, if you don’t succeed at marketing, your business literally could die.”
And small businesses have to make everything count. As George Langan, CEO of eXpresso (www.expressocorp.com) told me, “When you’re on a tight startup budget, you can’t afford a $2,000-a-month marketing mistake.”
Throughout the submitted tips, I noticed three themes over and over:

1. Simple and inexpensive tools are more popular than complex or pricey approaches.

“Duh!” you might be thinking. “Isn’t it obvious that entrepreneurs and small businesses, being on tight budgets, would favor low-cost approaches?” Well, yes and no. What was surprising is just how many of the tips cost literally nothing but your time. A large proportion of others, such as those that focused on using business cards or blogging, can be done for hundreds, not thousands, of dollars. So don’t be tempted to throw up your hands and say “I can’t afford marketing.” You can.

2. Authenticity, friendliness and relationships matter.

When you count your customers in the single or double digits, as opposed to the thousands or hundreds of thousands, relationships tend to matter much more deeply. The importance of smiling and being friendly was brought up again and again. Doing something nice for others and being yourself were common themes. Most small businesses are NOT about mass marketing campaigns. Instead, we rely on attracting and retaining a relatively small number of customers to be successful. A solo consultant or small Web design firm may have as few as five or six regular customers. For small businesses, investing in relationship building goes a long way.

3. Creative online marketing plays a key role.

We drew tips from those who are active online, so on the one hand you might think that the results would naturally be skewed toward online marketing. And to a degree I suppose that’s true. But I was surprised by the sophistication of the online marketing—especially on limited budgets. Some of the online approaches are very detailed and go far beyond the plain-vanilla “create a nice Web site” type of advice. A number of the small-business marketing techniques represented in this document get into advanced online marketing, including social media marketing.

Read (or print and save) the entire publication here.

comb

I just read a story (with pictures) written by a young woman about her devastating salon visit and her oath to never visit a male hairdressser again.  Objectively I can say that a.) she is percieveing her end result differenly than most of us would and b.) the gender of the hairdresser had nothing to do with what happened.

I want you to read it because it will help you understand that what you see and what the client sees are often different.

This client states that she only wants a maximum of 2″ cut from the bottom.  She also makes it a point during the cut to chat about past cuts that had gone awry where she ended up too short.  When you have a client in your chair that is giving you these signals, please heed them!  Hairdressers have a reputation for being scissor happy and for wanting to chop off long hair.  Please do your best to listen to the client and when they give specific requests, please grant them.  If you think the client needs more length removed, explain what you think and why and then let them make an informed choice.  My favorite technique is to turn them around and use a hand mirror to view the back of their hair.  I show them where the cape can be seen through the hair and suggest that the hair might look thicker if we trimmed it up to that point.  It is often effective.  (I know that to us their is no difference between a “cut” and a “trim” but to many clients there is.  Try to pick up on their cues.)

When they say 2″, I grab my old-school plastic comb from the back of the drawer (you know, the one you used in beauty school that has the inch markings on it) and I show them 2″.  Then, using the comb as a guide, I cut 2″ off the bottom and show them the hair I removed.  Next I ask them if that is OK.  Now we can proceed with the rest of the haircut and the client can relax.

When you meet a client who has already had bad salon experiences, handle them gently.  Talk them through the process so that they feel that they are being heard.

Anyone disagree?

Continuing with the theme of “you put bacon in that?” I have StumbledUpon this recipe via Tastespotting.

How do you think this would taste with the Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies?  Feel free to taunt me with your comments. I can take it.

Candied Bacon Ice Cream
line

March 9, 2008
Bacon Ice Cream

Who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?

Ok, maybe vegans. And folks who are kosher. And people who don’t eat eggs. Or those who don’t like bacon. But I’m not sure that’s possible. (I have a great bacon joke, but it’s not ‘pc’, so I’d better keep it to myself.)

I’m a big fan of both bacon and the beautiful, bright-orange yolked eggs we get in France, so why confine them to breakfast? I was pretty sure Candied Bacon Ice Cream would work. I mean, it’s got salt. It’s got smoke. So why not candy it? Inspired by Michael Ruhlman, l wanted to see what would happened when they all got together.

Read the rest of the recipe here.

Read all the way to the bottom for links to other odd bacon recipes.

ANNIE OAKLEY (from Annie Get Your Gun)
Got no diamond, got no pearl,
Still I think I’m a lucky girl.
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
Got no mansion, got no yacht,
Still I’m happy with what I got.
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night

Sunshine gives me a lovely day,
Moonlight gives me the Milky Way.
Got no checkbooks, got no banks,
Still, I’d like to express my thanks.
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I’m alright.

Got no butler, got no maid.
Still I think I’ve been overpaid,
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
Got no silver, got no gold,
What you’ve got can’t be bought or sold.
I’ve got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.

Sunshine gives me a lovely day,
Moonlight gives me the Milky Way.
Got no heirlooms for my kin,
Made no will but when I cash in
I’ll leave the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I’m alright

There has been a lot of press lately on The Secret and the Law of Attraction. Whether you believe in such things or not, there is something that I find in all of these philosophies with which anyone would be hard pressed to disagree:

The first step to getting what you want is wanting what you get.

Here is another article from Lifehack:

How to Be Happier with What You Have

20070924-smile.png

“There are two ways to increase your wealth. Increase your means or decrease your wants. The best is to do both at the same time.”Benjamin Franklin

Misery shouldn’t be the price for ambition. Somewhere I believe many people got the idea that to want more, you have to be dissatisfied with what you have now. Believing this, your choice is either to dampen your passions or become miserable with what you have.

I think this is a false dichotomy. You can be satisfied and ambitious. And while many self-help books have covered the topic of ambition, fewer cover the idea of becoming immensely satisfied with what you’ve already got.

Beyond affirmations and beliefs, I think there are some practical tips to do this. Engineering your daily life can be a great way to maximize your current fulfillment. Best of all, it isn’t incredibly difficult to do. Here are some tips I’ve found useful in becoming happier with where I am:

Read the rest of the article here.

I have an excerpt here from Lifehack.  If you haven’t seen them before, I suggest you add it to your reading list.  Click here to read this particular story (be sure to read all the comments to get the full discussion) and while you are there, click around and read some of the other articles.  I am sure you will find it both educational and interesting.

Exploring Happiness

Explore Happiness

I know, I know; I’m either stupid or brave to even think about tackling this topic. Alright, we’ll go with stupid.

Before I start today’s chat, let me say that I know there is no ‘answer’ or consensus to this discussion. No sh*t Sherlock. I’m not stupid enough to think there might exist one universal standard or school of thought when it comes to this topic, perhaps just a bunch of different thoughts, ideas and philosophies. Like most of you, I’m still exploring it, which is why I have chosen to make it just that; a discussion, an interactive chat, a group exploration. I’ll open the door on it and you guys can come in and chat. It could get messy, so buckle up. I’d love to know your thoughts and feelings on the subject because it’s an issue which is relevant to every person on the planet. It’s probably the one topic which commands universal interest.

One of the blogs at the Trib that I subscribed to is “In Your Neighborhood.”  As luck would have it, there is an entry about us today!  Oh, please click over and read, won’t you?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tacoma Talk Beauty and Fun: Azarra Salon

I haven’t had a “regular” hairstylist in years; my low maintenance long hair doesn’t go to the hair salon that often and I haven’t found the right person or salon that I wanted to stick with for the long haul. Well, I have now.

Our venerable local paper, The News Tribune, has a number of blogs specific to our region.  There is one about neighborhoods, one on music, one for dining….

I just subscribed to some, so I will share with you any time something pops up that I think would be of interest.  But, if you would rather gather your own news than rely on me (probably a wise choice!) click on over here for the list. 

I am sharing with you a story I found today that I think you will enjoy. Maybe it’s just me, but I often think of the perfect comeback long after the moment has passed. This woman nailed it. Enjoy.

I nearly punched someone today.

The scene is Book People, a Monday evening. The cafe area. Having spent the day feeling like ass and laying around watching TV bundled up in various wubbies on the futon, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the library, then on the way back to Mecca itself, my all-time favorite bookstore and Austin landmark. I can’t count the hours I’ve spent at Book People curled up on a couch or in the cafe sipping chai and collecting recipes, or paging through the latest metaphysical tripe. It’s a comforting ritual and a way that my last couple of bucks could support local business.

So I score a table against the wall, put down my stack of cookbooks and various other and my purse, grab my wallet, and head for the counter. (My purse is in plain sight, don’t worry; I wanted it to mark my table.) Today’s coffee jockey is an adorable pierced-and-tattooed boy en flambe, as most BP baristas tend to be. There’s one woman in line in front of me, waffling between a decaf skim milk latte and some other thing.

Read the rest here.

Have you heard of this? A planned event that is supposed to appear random….

I found it tag surfing here on WordPress. I won’t be there, but, if you don’t have anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon in Seattle….

Invitation: Seattle Flash Makeout, February 24th Read the rest of this entry »

Well, you just can’t please some people. It seems there is a bit of a counter-movement against the pursuit of happiness. My friend Hayden over at Persistent Illusion has written a response. Click over and read it. And if you agree with these miserable sots who think happiness is a waste of time, let me know and then take your grumpy self somewhere else!

For the record, I have been happy and I have been miserable. Happy is better.

Happiness: Enough Already

February 20, 2008 her_sadness_by_oloferla.jpgThe happiness backlash has begun. “Against Happiness” can now be found in bookstores, while “Rethinking Happiness” is winging its way to one in the next several months.

Written by men who attempted to ‘get with the program’ and get happy, their failure – they believe – is a function of the flawed nature of our existence and not, one might conjecture, their own fault.

Read the rest of the article here.

As we get get older, (with any luck) we get wiser. As the parent of two teenagers, I am constantly trying to give them perspective on the things in their life that seem SO IMPORTANT right now. (It is exhausting!) Perhaps if someone else gives shares the perspective that comes from having lived through some events, they might listen. (Mother is an idiot, after all, and knows nothing.)

Click over to Zen Habits to see the full list of twenty.

Number 15 is my personal favorite (surprise!)

15. Forget the drama. Focus on being happy. There have been many things that have happened to me, professionally and personally, that seem like the end of the world. And while these things were bad, they get blown up in our heads so that they become major drama. They caused me to be depressed from time to time. What a waste of time. If I realized that it was all in my head, and that I could be happy instead if I focused on the positive, on what I did have, and what I could be doing … I could have skipped all the moping about.

Follow the story

February 15, 2008

When I read about the political pollsters hanging out in salons, I emailed my friend Mary Atherton at Modern Salon. She has posted about it in this month’s magazine and in her blog. She is interested in hearing your thoughts. Click on over and tell her what you think.

I was surprised by this recipe from Betty Crocker. A sweet version of my favorite savory holiday snack never occurred to me, and I am ashamed that it didn’t! I haven’t made this one yet. Let me know how it turns out! Read the rest of this entry »

Water vs. Wine

February 5, 2008

 vingrotto

This came in my monthly newsletter from my favorite wine bar, Vin Grotto.  I thought I would share.

THIS IS FUN: To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine…and those who don’t. As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop. However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila,rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting. Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health.  Therefore, it’s better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of crap. There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I’m doing it as a public service. Your friend, Kris Blondin

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.