Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pseudoscience - making reasonable people believe in quackery

Recently, many of my friends and acquaintances have been posting so much pseudo-scientific info on Facebook that I feel the need to post links to reputable sources debunking these mythical “cures” and “remedies.” 

Pseudoscience is defined by the National Science Foundation as "claims presented so that they appear [to be] scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility" (Shermer 1997, p. 33). In contrast, science is "a set of methods designed to describe and interpret observed and inferred phenomena, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation" (Shermer 1997, p. 17).

Anecdotal evidence, i.e. “It worked for my mom!”  “I tried everything, but this was the only thing that worked.” is not scientific proof.  If it hasn't been shown to be effective in scientific studies, then it isn't proven.

Much of this “evidence” comes from the Placebo or Nocebo effect.  Some people are very prone to suggestion.  If I give a group of people plain purified-water and call it medicine then tell them, “this will improve memory, give you extra energy, and make your hair and nails stronger,” some people will report experiencing those effects and spend lots of money to get more of this “miracle” substance.  If I give another group the same plain water, call it medicine, and tell them, “side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea,” some people will develop those side effects.  Most people will probably experience neither a “cure” nor a side effect, but if they hear the rest of the group saying it worked for them, they are likely to report that they saw some improvement or side effect as well.  The water isn't actually doing ANY of those things; it’s all in those people’s minds.  This effect has been proven via scientific method many times.  Suggestion is a powerful thing. 

Here are the pseudoscience topics that I see posted again and again that are driving me crazy!  These articles do a good job of supporting their claims based on actual research and study.

Amber teething necklaces:

Essential Oils/Aromatherapy:


Chiropractic Care:

So what pseudoscience topics drive you crazy?  Have you been taken-in by some pseudoscience claims and then been embarrassed to realize it was false?  I was almost on-board with the amber teething necklaces, it seemed plausible until I started researching it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Year

Happy New Year!  My resolution this year is to read 12 books - in their entirety.  I have a habit of starting books then forgetting about them.

On my list so far:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (possibly the 2 sequels if I like it)
The Master and the Margarita  by Mikhail Bulgakov (I've heard Daniel Radcliffe rave about this one enough)
The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (at least the 1st one, maybe more)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I've never read any Austen, so I figure I'll give it a go)

Some things I read last year that I highly recommend:
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (I love dystopian future novels)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw (okay I only read half of it, but I really enjoyed what I read, I plan to check it out from the library and finish it) 

So I'm taking recommendations!  Is there anything you've read that you'd recommend?  Classics, popular fiction, non-fiction, anything? 

My preferences lean towards young adult novels, mysteries, and dystopian future stories.

Some of my all time favorite books are:
The Harry Potter series
The Little House on Prairie Series
Lord of the Flies
The Wizard of Oz Series
The Anne of Green Gables series
The Stephanie Plum Numbers books by Janet Evanovich

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A song that has made me cry

I'm not much of a crier, this one from Disney's Dumbo always chokes me up a little, but I remember being 8-years-old and my mom telling me the story behind Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven and then hearing it later, listening to the lyrics, and trying to hide the fact that I was crying.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Song I can't stand

I skipped the 3rd song in the list - something reminding you of your first crush I think?  I couldn't think of anything right off the bat and then I forgot about it. 

For this one, I had a few excellent options.  Should I choose something by Nickelback or Creed (too obvious), U2 (too hard to pin it down to a specifically irritating song), wait a minute...Nirvana!  Yes.  Perfect.

Prepare to rage at me for my inability to understand the complexity and depth of the music of my generation.

I love 80's music and I love 1997-present music.  There is a bleak, depressing period in between filled with Pearl Jam, Bush, Dave Matthews, and other "alternative" artists that all my friends and classmates were/are so obsessed with.  The seminal artists of that time, Nirvana, are supposed to be musical geniuses who revolutionized the industry, destroyed the hedonistic excesses of 80's rock and made music more "real." 

Thanks, Kurt Cobain!<\sarcasm>

Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" is a crappy, annoying song and I can't stand listening to it.

You may commence burning me at the stake.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Song of Summertime

Woo hoo!  Daphne and Anali have posted their summertime songs, so I guess it is my turn!

They both chose songs that represent a specific summer for them.  I could do that and it would be 1997, Hanson's MMMBop, which has had more impact on my life than any other song period.  I'm saving that one in case I need to use it in a later post. :)

As it happens, I have an affinity for summer-themed songs.  My sister, Jess, and I had a cassette tape with a bunch of summer songs that we listened to frequently as kids.  I made an ultimate summer playlist a few years ago that has all of my favorite summertime songs on it:

School's Out - Alice Cooper
Summer in the City - Lovin' Spoonful
Hot Child in the City - Nick Gilder
Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Summergirls - LFO
Summer Breeze - Seals and Crofts
Summertime- Billie Holiday; Louis Armstrong
Summer Nights - Grease Soundtrack
In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry
Cruel Summer - Bananarama
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffet
Put the Lime in the Coconut - Harry Nilsson
Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly and the Family Stone
Holiday - Madonna
Vacation - The Go-Go's
Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
Walking on Sunshine  - Katrina and the Waves

Choosing one is difficult, but I'm going to go with Katrina and the Waves' 1985 hit, Walking on Sunshine.  That song always reminds me of summertime and the wonderfully worry-free simplicity of childhood summers.

I had never seen this video before and I'm a bit depressed by how cold and depressing it is!  Where's the freaking sunshine?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Songs of my life

Jumping on the bandwagon with Daphne and Anali, I will be posting about songs that have impacted my life.  The first is a song from my childhood.  I come from a very musical family; the radio or MTV were often playing in the background in many of my early memories.  My mom sang along with radio continuously whenever we were in the car.  In fact, I didn't know there were grown-ups who didn't do that until we joined the neighborhood carpool and a neighbor boy asked why my mom was always singing.

The record that had the most impact on my childhood was Michael Jackson's Bad.  Released just after my 4th birthday in 1987, this was one of the first albums my family purchased on CD (though we probably bought it sometime in 1988).  Without a lot of choices to show off the amazing sound quality of this new-fangled technology, this got played often and loudly.  My younger sister, who was still learning to speak, called him "Uncle" Jackson.  My favorite song was the title track, Bad.  We loved to jump around the living room listening to it.  We loved "Uncle" Jackson so much that we rented Michael Jackson Moonwalker repeatedly from the video store rather than getting animated kids movies.

Without further ado, I give you Michael Jackson's Bad.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year Goals

I normally do not make New Year's resolutions for the same reason I do not make Lenten promises or go on diets...I inevitably fail and can't handle the guilt.  However, I have a few small goals that I have been meaning to work towards and hopefully putting them into writing will bring about some measure of accountability.

1. Improve time-management at work.
  • Step 1 - Use MS Outlook calendar to plot my time commitments.
  • Step 2 - Schedule time for the tasks I normally allocate to the mythical "when I get around to it" hour.
  • Step 3 - Write down EVERYTHING!
2.  Read to Erik and Kyle every night / establish bed-time routine
  • Step 1 - Establish a concrete bed-time.
  • Step 2 - Figure out how long it takes to get teeth brushed, jammies on, etc. so we can start getting ready for bed with enough time left to read.
  • Step 3 - Read a book or two then lights out.
  • Step 4 - Move Erik's bed out of our room and into his room.
3.   Establish 529 College Savings Plans for the boys
  • Step 1 - Research the best plans and perks they offer.
  • Step 2 - Move the kids' money from savings accounts into the 529 account.
  • Step 3 - Connect account with my Upromise account to directly deposit those savings into 529.
  • Step 4 - Make contributions to the accounts and get tax deductions.

I have already started on Goal 1 and have got my outlook calendar looking mighty spiffy for this week.  I will have to confer with my husband before doing much with Goals 2 and 3.

So what are your New Year's goals/resolutions?  Do you make them?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Arizona and/or Southwest Coupon Blogs

     It is important to browse deal sites and blogs specific to your region.  There may be specific stores in your area that only have stores in one state or region.  In Arizona these include Fry's, Basha's, Food City, AJ's, Sunflower, and Fresh and Easy.  In addition, even the large chain grocery stores can have very different sales in different regions.  Safeway, Albertson's, and Kroger (the parent company of Fry's) may have different prices and sales in various markets.

     If you make your list based on prices found on a site out of your area, you may end up not saving the amount you thought you would.

     Here is a list of the Arizona and Southwest (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico) blogs I subscribe to in my Google Reader.

     My favorite ones are printed in Pink.  I subscribe to the facebook pages of these as well, so I get the most up-to-the-minute deals.

Arizona Families

Arizona Grocery Guru

Arizona Savings

Arizona Shopping Secrets

Arizona Thrifty Mom

AZ Money Savin' Mama Deals

Bargain Believer

Bargain Moms

Born 2 Save!

Cents'Able Shoppin!

CG Couponista

Clever And Crafty

Coupon Sense

Coupons In Overdrive

Crazy Cheap!

Desert Deals Diva

Janie Girl

Living The Domestic Life

Michelle's Bargains and Freebies

Moms Essential

Saving Cents with Sense

The Coupon Don

The Grocery Queen

     There are probably many more AZ coupon blogs out there, but these are the ones I've found and liked enough to keep on my list so far.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last chance to buy discounted OPI nail polish?

OPI, one of the biggest names in nail polish, has requested that online retailers (e-tailers) stop selling their polishes at deep discount rates. The company does not sell their polishes on their website or allow the salons who have permission to carry the brand to sell it online either. They are suing the companies that don't comply.

OPI polishes normally retail for about $8.50 in the U.S.  Abroad they cost significantly more.  Several polish e-tailers (8ty8 Beauty, Head 2 Toe Beauty, and Victorias Nail Supply ) have stopped carrying word on what they did with their current stock.

The only e-tailer, that I know of, still carrying OPI, and the one named in the lawsuit, is TransDesign.  They are liquidating their stock, so if you want to get some OPI's for between $4.50 and $5.25 each (more for Designer Series), this may be your last chance.

Here is what OPI's website says on the matter:

Stop Diversion Now!

OPI takes the safety and well-being of our trade and consumer customers very seriously, and has dedicated itself to providing them with the finest Professional Beauty products available today.

That is why OPI is so passionate about fighting diversion.  Diversion is the sale of Professional products outside of Professional beauty channels.  OPI has spent tens of millions of dollars in the fight against diversion, to ensure that our OPI brand professional-use products are used only under the supervision of trained professionals.

OPI brand products are intended for sale in professional beauty (salon) channels.  We sell them to distributors or wholesalers who sell exclusively in those channels.  Those distributors, in turn, sell exclusively to salons. OPI brand products sold outside these channels are improperly obtained and in violation of our agreements and commitments to distributors and salons.  Unfortunately, those diverted products may not be current, or may be improperly and illegally labeled or of inferior quality, or may even be fake or counterfeit.  OPI only guarantees or stands behind products sold through authorized channels.  For OPI brand products, these do not include mass retail channels, the Internet, drug stores, or grocery stores.

Diversion ultimately hurts both salon professionals and salon clients.  In addition, it deprives consumers of the professional care and advice that are necessary to enjoy these professional-use products.

OPI’s efforts to fight diversion include:
  • Agreements with distributors that prohibit the sale of OPI brand products outside professional channels
  • Coding systems to help trace diverted product
  • Pursuing leads that we receive about the unauthorized sale of OPI products
  • Supporting industry-wide anti-diversion efforts
  • A program to track down and take legal and other action against divertors, including the use of private investigators and lawyers
  • A dedicated staff with a toll-free number and email address to record and follow- up on diversion reports
You can help. Should you become aware of what you believe to be diverted OPI brand product, please contact OPI at 800-341.9999 or at  Please provide your name, the name of the store in which you saw what you believe to be diverted product, the address of the store, and the products. 

I think this is ridiculous and is angering a lot of their loyal customers and polish lovers.  Here are a couple of nice posts by polish bloggers with their response to this situation.
The Swatchaholic - Anti-OPI opinion
Carina L'etoile - Pro OPI opinion

In my opinion, this is a total douche-move on OPI's part.  I don't believe their claim that this is about quality is about purchase price control.  They want to force consumers to pay full retail price for their polishes.  If they want us to pay MSRP, they should lower their price because their polishes aren't worth $9.00.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Couponing and other ways to save money

Before you say, "I can't do that because..."

Everyone likes saving money...but using coupons seems time consuming and not worth the effort to most people. It takes some time to learn it, but it can definitely be worth it. I started couponing in October 2008 and have saved between 50% and 80% on every grocery purchase. The amount of time I spend preparing my trips is roughly 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If I save $100, that hour of deal matching and preparation is worth it to me.

There are various degrees of couponing/deal shopping. You can use an e-coupon here and there, or keep up with a blog or two, or you can make it into a full-time job. I tend to think of it as a hobby and a bit of a game.

Another excuse people give for not couponing is health. If you shop mostly fresh foods and organic foods, you are always going to spend more than people who buy a lot of highly processed foods. But there are coupons and sales for EVERYTHING! Sometimes you have to sign up for company newsletters or do more research to find coupons for organic items, but they exist. And the newspaper frequently contains coupons for items like whole-grain pastas and bread, canned beans, soy milk, and cage-free eggs. If you want to save money with coupons, you can do so no matter how strict your diet is.

One of the most anxiety causing aspects of couponing is dealing with cashiers and other shoppers. Before couponing, I worried that cashiers would be suspicious of me and other shoppers would be annoyed at me for taking so much time in line. I have had a few unpleasant experiences with cashiers who don’t understand how coupons work, but overwhelmingly they are happy that I am saving so much money. And other people in line have eyes bugging and jaws dropping when they see how much I’ve saved – they may be annoyed at the extra 1-2 minute wait, but they can’t fault me for doing it. I have had a college guy who was just buying beer ask me where to get coupons and a CVS employee ask me how I work the Extra Bucks deals because she wanted to learn.

Bottom line: you won’t know if your reservations have merit until you test them. You can’t know if it’s not your thing until you try it.

Getting Started – Knowing the Lingo, where to find coupons, etc.

These two ladies have done series of posts on getting started with coupons…very informative and they will explain better than I can. They also talk about coupon organization methods – I am firmly in the no-clip camp (I save the whole inserts and only clip the coupons I am using for the day).
Couponing 101 – Getting Started
Bargain Briana – 15 Days of Couponing

Printing coupons and loading electronic coupons onto your shopping cards

One of the easiest ways to coupon is to add electronic coupons to your store loyalty cards. There are also many printable coupons online. These sites below are some of the most popular coupon sites plus the two grocery store site I use. Check the website of your local stores to see what coupons they offer.
(THE printable coupon have to download their coupon printer software the 1st time)
Shortcuts (e-coupons & printables)
Proctor & Gamble E-saver (e-coupons)
Cellfire (e-coupons for your shopping card or your cellphone)
Upromise (e-coupons that save for college)

Safeway (e-coupons and printables)
Fry's (e-coupons)
Check your local stores websites

Matching coupons with sales - 3 methods to try

  • Option 1 - pay sites
I subscribe to The Grocery Game and get most of my shopping deals from there. I subscribe to 3 stores which costs $20 every 8 weeks. I could put lists together from the different blogs, but this is much faster and more convenient. If you sign up for the (FREE) four-week trial, please put my name and e-mail ( in as the referrer. Referrers get free weeks, but I highly recommend it even if I didn't get that perk. I have saved between 55-80% every shopping trip since starting to use their lists.

Another similar pay service is called Coupon Sense.  They have free local classes available to help you get started.  They are a regional service, but may be a better deal depending on your shopping habits and/or local stores.
  • Option 2 - blogs
I read several blogs that give me info on good deals and coupons. I use Google Reader to subscribe to them all so I only have to check one place to see any new posts. Once you have a Google reader account, you click “add new subscription” and put in the web address of the blog.
A few to check out:
Baby Cheapskate (baby & kids deals)
"Deal"icious Mom
Bargain Briana
Be Centsable
Freebies 4 Mom (and non-moms too)
Couponing 101 (perfect for beginners)

Arizona specific deal blogs (for non-AZ readers, just do a Google search for "coupon blog" or "deal blog" and your city or state):
Saving Cents with Sense (My favorite!)
Arizona Grocery Guru Deals (a good heads-up on event deals too)
Arizona Local Coupons (printable coupons for AZ services)
  • Option 3 - forums
You can check some multi-use websites and forums for help matching coupons and deals. There are forums for specific states or cities where people post their match-ups. These sites also have coupon databases where you can search to see if there are any coupons available for a specific product you plan to buy.
A few to check out:
Pinching your Pennies
A Full Cup
Hot Coupon World
The Coupon Cupboard

Finding deals and coupon codes for online shopping

These sites can help you find free shipping and coupon codes to thousands of websites. You can also sometimes get great discount codes e-mailed to you for signing up for company newsletters of places you frequently shop.
Retail Me Not (awesome site!)

Getting rebates and cash back for purchases

A good deal can be made great when you get cash back or receive rebates. If you plan to shop online, start at one of these sites to automatically receive money! Each of these sites works differently, so take a look at them to see which makes the most sense for the purchase you are planning.

Upromise (saves money for college for you or your child)
Ebates (cash back in the form of a check mailed to you)
Cashbaq (cash back by check or paypal)
Big Crumbs (cash back by check)
Mr. Rebates (cash back by check)
Swagbucks (a search engine that earns you points used to buy giftcards & more)
S & H Greenpoints (like the old green stamps saved and redeemed for merchandise, but online)

In conclusion

This is a lot of information and a lot of's a bit of an info. dump. Sorry about that. I will try to answer any and all questions or point you in the direction of someone who can.

If you love that feeling of finding a great deal or getting that perfect outfit on the clearance will probably enjoy couponing. Give it a try!