Friday, September 2, 2011

Lindsay Lohan tattoo's Special Meaning

You can take Lindsay Lohan out of Long Island, but you can't take the Long Island out of Lindsay Lohan. Perhaps that's why the actress permanently inked herself with a quote by L.I.'s greatest Piano Man, Billy Joel. LiLo showed off her latest tattoo to TMZ, a scroll of text on the right side of her ribcage that reads, "Clear as a crystal sharp as a knife I feel like I'm in the prime of my life."

The line is a lyric from Joel's minor Storm Front hit "I Go to Extremes," a song whose title seems to encapsulate the young star's tumultuous time in Hollywood. "[The lyric] represented where she is in life and everything she's been through ... it signifies that she's focused," a source told TMZ.

This isn't Lindsay Lohan's first quotable tattoo: In 2009, she had the Marilyn Monroe quip, "Everyone's a star and deserves the right to twinkle" inked onto her wrist. There's also the Rihanna-inspired "Shhh..." tattoo that she and British singer Lily Allen had etched onto their index fingers after a night of partying in 2009, and the "La Bella Vita" (translation: "The Beautiful Life") on Lindsay Lohan's lower back.

The Amp also has roots on Long Island, so two thumbs up to Lohan for making her body a canvas for Joel's words. However, some of his other lyrics would probably be a better fit. Here are a few suggestions:

• A testament to her reckless behavior: "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun... only the good die young."

• If she's adamant about ditching her party girl reputation: "You're not the only one who's made mistakes, but they're the only thing that you can truly call your own. Don't forget your second wind."

• To prove that what the tabloid press writes doesn't bother her: "I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone."

• There's always the Long Island high school yearbook quote route: "They say that these are not the best of times, but they're the only times I've ever known... And so we choose between reality and madness. It's either sadness or euphoria."

• Finally, to describe the current state of her acting career: "Say goodbye to Hollywood, say goodbye, my baby."

Monday, August 29, 2011

World's Top 10 Safest Airlines Named

While European and American airlines rarely feature in the top 10 rankings for best customer service, airlines from these regions have dominated a new list of the world's safest carriers.

A report by the Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA), released yesterday, found that the safest carriers in the world were mainly those based in Europe and the US.

No Australian airlines featured in the top 10. Air France-KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa are the safest airlines in Europe.

The safest US-based airlines are AMR Corporation, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, while the safest from Asia is Japan Airlines, it said, without giving a ranking within the top ten.

To obtain this classification, the first of its kind, ATRA examined publicly available information on 15 criteria, such as the average age of the aircraft used or the homogeneity of the fleet, it said.

The agency explained that to understand airline safety, one needed not only to look at accident figures, but also "technical, human, organisational and external" elements.

"Even though the European Union publishes a 'blacklist' of dangerous airlines, there exists a real difference in safety between the other airline companies," ATRA added.

The agency believed the EU's list was a good start on rating airline safety, but said the list led to the belief that all airlines not on the 'blacklist' offered the same level of safety, which was not the case.

According to its website, the Geneva-based agency says it is independent of all "airlines, manufacturers, regulatory authorities, trade unions and not-for-profit organisations" in performing its aviation risk assessment.

The top 10 list is in contrast to the annual Skytrax survey that ranks airlines based on customer service. None of the airlines in the Skytrax top 10 made the ATRA's top 10 safety list.

World's 10 safest airlines (in alphabetical order)

  1. Air France-KLM

  2. AMR Corporation (American Airlines, American Eagles)

  3. British Airways

  4. Continental Airlines

  5. Delta Airlines

  6. Japan Airlines

  7. Lufthansa

  8. Southwest Airlines

  9. United Airlines

  10. US Airways

Cheryl Cole Starring in her first Hollywood movie

It It was revealed earlier this month that Cheryl Cole could be starring in her first Hollywood movie, What To Expect When You're Expecting.

And now the former X Factor judge has started work on the film in Atlanta, Georgia, alongside Cameron Diaz.

The 28-year-old star was spotted on the set, showing off her figure in a tight black Emilio Pucci lace dress and sky-high heels as she made her way to film her first scenes.

The film – whose cast also includes actors Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock and Matthew Morrison - chronicles the lives of four couples as they prepare to become parents.

And, in what could be construed as a side-swipe at Simon Cowell after she was sacked from X Factor USA, Cheryl will play a TV talent show judge for her cameo role in the film.

Cameron plays Jules who auditions in an X Factor-style contest in front of the TV talent show judge - Cheryl Cole's character.

Cheryl Cole is said to have initially impressed Hollywood film bosses during a four-day appearance at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

A film source revealed to the Daily Mail earlier this year: ‘This is a bit of fun for Cheryl. She will film the scenes imminently and is really looking forward to it.

'It doesn’t mean she suddenly wants to become actress. It was just an opportunity that has come up while she has been having some down time and she thought it would be great fun to take part.’

A spokesperson for the singer confirmed at the time: 'Cheryl Cole is confirmed for a small cameo appearance in the film What to Expect When You're Expecting.'

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Simon Cowell said he wouldn't hesitate to offer Cheryl a role on another of his TV projects.

Defending his decision to replace Cheryl with Nicole Scherzinger in the US, Cowell said: 'You're not drowning puppies here.

'You're offering someone who's got millions of dollars more money and more work. And if people think that's cruel, then they can do that to me on a daily basis. I'll take it twice a day.'

Cowell also confirmed that he offered Cheryl the chance to return to UK X Factor, but negotiations fell apart and they hadn't spoken since.

He said: 'She missed the deadline which meant she'd lost the UK show. I asked her manager, "How does she feel about it?" He said, "It's none of your concern."

'I never heard from her... I think her silence was quite damning.'

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Apple Without Steve Jobs as CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- With Steve Jobs bowing out as CEO, Apple Inc. must persuade investors and consumers that it doesn't need the force behind the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad in charge to keep the technology hits coming.

Tim Cook, his hand-picked successor, has handled the top job repeatedly in the absence of the ailing Jobs, who resigned as chief executive Wednesday and was elected chairman of Apple's board. Though not nearly as recognizable as Jobs, Cook had been running Apple since January. The company's stock has risen 62 percent during that time.

Jeff Gamet, managing editor of Apple-focused news site The Mac Observer, said Jobs' departure has more sentimental than practical significance. He said he has been telegraphing the change for several years.

"All Apple really has done is made official what they've been doing administratively for a while now, which is Tim runs the show and Steve gets to do his part to make sure the products come out to meet the Apple standard," he said.

But Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said Jobs' maniacal attention to detail is what has set Apple apart. He said Apple's product pipeline might be secure for another few years, but he predicted that the company will eventually struggle to come up with market-changing ideas.

"Apple is Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is Apple, and Steve Jobs is innovation," Chowdhry said. "You can teach people how to be operationally efficient, you can hire consultants to tell you how to do that, but God creates innovation. ... Apple without Steve Jobs is nothing."

Jobs' resignation appears to be the result of an unspecified medical condition for which he took a leave from his post in January.

In a letter addressed to Apple's board and the "Apple community," Jobs said he "always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."

Jobs' health has long been a concern for Apple investors, who see him as an oracle of technology. He had previously survived pancreatic cancer and received a liver transplant.

The company said Jobs gave the board his resignation Wednesday and suggested that Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, be named the company's new leader. Apple also said Cook is becoming a member of its board.

Genentech Inc. Chairman Art Levinson, in a statement issued on behalf of Apple's board, said Jobs' "extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company."

He said that Jobs will continue to provide "his unique insights, creativity and inspiration," and that the board has "complete confidence" that Cook is the right person to replace him.

"Tim's 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does," Levinson said.

Earlier this month Apple briefly became the most valuable company in America, surpassing Exxon Mobil. At the market close Wednesday, Apple's value was $349 billion, just behind Exxon Mobil's $358 billion.

Jobs' hits seemed to grow bigger as the years went on: After the colorful iMac computer and the now-ubiquitous iPod, the iPhone redefined the category of smartphones and the iPad all but created the market for tablet computers.

His own aura seemed part of the attraction. On stage at trade shows and company events in his uniform of jeans, sneakers and black mock-turtlenecks, he'd entrance audiences with new devices, new colors and new software features, building up to a grand finale he'd predictably preface by saying, "One more thing."

Jobs, 56, shepherded Apple from a two-man startup to Silicon Valley darling when the Apple II, the first computer for regular people to really catch on, sent IBM Corp. and others scrambling to get their own PCs to market.

After Apple suffered a slump in the mid-1980s, he was forced out of the company. He was CEO at Next, another computer company, and Pixar, the computer-animation company that produced "Toy Story" on his watch, over the following 10 years.

Apple was foundering as he returned as an adviser in 1996 -- a year it lost $900 million as PCs based on Microsoft Windows dominated the computer market. The company's fortunes began to turn around with its first new product under Jobs' direction, the iMac. It launched in 1998 and sold about 2 million in its first 12 months.

Jobs eventually became interim CEO, then took the job permanently. Apple's popularity grew in the U.S. throughout the 2000s as the ever-sleeker line of iPods introduced many lifelong Windows users to their first Apple gadget. Apple created another sensation in 2007 with the iPhone, the stark-looking but powerful smartphone that quickly dominated the industry.

The iPad was introduced less than a year and a half ago but has already sold nearly 29 million units as it inspired myriad rivals in a tablet computer market that scarcely existed before Apple stepped in.

There have been some setbacks. Apple was swept up in a massive Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into stock options backdating in the mid-2000s, a practice that artificially boosted the value of options grants. But Jobs and Apple emerged unscathed after two former executives took the fall and eventually settled with the SEC.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith:"We are still together".

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Will and Jada Smith have issued a statement confirming they are still together after a report surfaced on Tuesday suggesting their 13-year marriage had come to an end.

"Although we are reluctant to respond to these types of press reports, the rumors circulating about our relationship are completely false. We are still together, and our marriage is intact," Will and Jada said in a joint statement, issued to Access Hollywood.

On Tuesday morning, InTouch Weekly claimed the Hollywood superstar couple has decided to split after 13 years of marriage.

Will, 42, and Jada, 39, tied the knot in 1997. They have two children together - Jaden, 13, and Willow, 10. Will also has a son, Trey, 18, from a previous marriage.

Will's previous marriage to Sheree Zampino lasted from 1992 to 1995.

Will and Jada reportedly met when Jada auditioned for a role on Will's long-running series "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

Back in 2008, Will opened up about his marriage during a visit to "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and at the time, said "divorce is not an option."

"What I found is divorce just can't be an option," Will told Ellen at the time. "It's really that simple. And I think that's the problem with L.A. - there are so many options. So a huge part of the success for [Jada] and I is that we just removed the other options."

In 2005, Access spoke with Will while he was promoting "Hitch" to talk about the secret to making a marriage work.

"Jada and I spend a lot of time studying relationships and why things work and why things don't work," Will told Access Hollywood at the time.

"You've gotta love every aspect, you've gotta love it from every angle," Will later added.

Meanwhile, Jada said one of the secrets to the couple's success was finding time - and a place - for each other.

"You have to be willing to move around -- to move your romance around. Kitchen, closet, park, parked car," she laughed during the "Collateral" junket in 2004. "You'd be surprised!"

NorCal Fugitive Captured After 36 Years On The Run

A convicted murderer who escaped from a California prison camp over three decades ago has been recaptured thanks to a clue gleaned from his dying mother, authorities said on Monday.

William Walter Asher III, 66, was taken into custody without incident at a home in the Northern California town of Salida on Friday, FBI spokesman Steve Dupre said.

Asher, who was sentenced in 1967 to seven years to life in prison after a fatal bar robbery, had been on the run since an accomplice helped him escape from a Northern California prison camp in 1975.

The trail had gone cold until 2005, when authorities learned that, on her death bed, Asher's mother had asked family members for help in contacting her son via a secret number, Dupre said.

Agents using phone records tracked two phone calls to a residence in Salida, where Asher was living under the assumed name of Garry Donald Webb, Dupre said.

The fugitive, who shared the home with a female companion of more than 20 years, was arrested there after admitting to his true identity, Dupre said.

"According to the agent who was there, (Asher) was real somber and didn't really say too much, but one of the things that stuck with agent was, he was very curious about how we tracked him down," Dupre said.

"He kept asking, 'How did you find me?'," Dupre said.

The woman was not identified by authorities and apparently did not know that Asher was a fugitive and convicted murderer, Dupre said.

Asher was originally arrested in Chicago in 1966, where authorities say he fled at the age of 20 after taking part in a San Francisco bar robbery in which the bartender was shot and beaten to death.

After escaping from the Growlersburg Conservation Camp in El Dorado County, California, he assumed the name of David Donald McFee, worked as a long-haul trucker, married and raised a family, the FBI said.

Asher eventually separated from his wife, who was later interviewed by authorities but could not provide information on his whereabouts. The FBI said one of Asher's daughters contacted the FBI several years ago trying to find her father. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)

Daisy Lowe Nude for Playboy

Daisy Lowe will be proud of her naked Playboy photo shoot when she's older, her mother Pearl Lowe has claimed.

The songwriter-and-fashion designer's model daughter posed nude for the September edition of Hugh Hefner's men's magazine and Pearl believes Daisy Lowe was right to bare all while she is young because Daisy Lowe has the 'most incredible body'.

The 41-year-old star said: 'I don't really mind (she did the shoot), she's done so many of those kind of things and she's 22 - I can't really say, 'Right you mustn't do this!' At the end of the day, she has the most incredible body of anyone I've ever known. Why not show it off, then she can look back when she's older and say, 'Look at me!' . It's her career and I've never got involved in it. Daisy Lowe is a very clever girl, and she knows what she's doing. She's much more business inclined than I am.'

The former Powder singer - who is married to Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey - has praised her daughter's voluptuous figure and claims all models should have Daisy's curves.

In an interview with Britain's Star magazine, Pearl said: 'I love girls who have bodies - my dresses are made for normal women with bums. I just understand why they use these stick-thin models. I think Daisy Lowe should be the top, top model ever, and more women should look like her. She's a curvy girl, but at the moment she's skinny because she's been working out. She still has her curves and likes her food. I think she just wanted to be really healthy, but she's still eating and still has her boobs.'

7 Ways Sex is Good for your Health

Don’t worry about the calories in those Valentine's Day chocolates – a proper celebration in the bedroom can help keep you in shape.

In fact, sex can benefit your health in many ways. Here are seven reasons to give and get a little love – not just this special day, but any time.

Good for the heart
Sex is good for your heart. Like any physical exertion, sex is a form of cardio-exercise, which gets your heart pumping faster and helps it stay in shape. What's more, studies have shown that men who have sex two or more times per week cut their risk of a fatal heart attack by half.

Helps you lose weight
Like any form of exercise, sex helps you lose weight. Having sex for 30 minutes can burn off 85 calories. To put that in perspective: 15 minutes on the treadmill could burn up to 200 calories; 42 of these half-hour sessions, then, could shave a pound off your weight.

Boosts your immune system
While it's possible to contract a wide range of diseases, both from sex and from simple contact with others, safe sex between healthy partners can make you better equipped to fight illness.

Those who have sex once or twice a week have been shown to have higher levels of immunoglobulin A or IgA, an antibody which helps protect you from respiratory diseases like the cold and flu.

Don’t go overboard, though – in studies, those who had sex three or more times a week had the lowest levels of antibodies.

Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
For younger men, sex reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers have found that men in their 20s who had five or more ejaculations per week were one third less likely to develop the cancer in later life. Although they found no such correlation for older men, you could try to prove them wrong.

Relieves stress
There's a medical explanation for the mood boost sex gives you. The brain releases endorphins during and after sex, and these neurotransmitters create a feeling of euphoria while masking the negative effects of stress.
Researchers have also found that sex lowers your blood pressure, which is good for your health and allows you to better keep your cool in stressful situations.

It relieves pain
Endorphins and lower blood pressure also mean that sex relieves pain. Endorphins are released during sex because of the heightened levels of the hormone oxytocin in your body. This has been known to alleviate arthritic and menstrual pain, among other things. Lower blood pressure can also help relieve migraines.
It helps you sleep

In addition to relieving stress and pain, the oxytocin generated during sex helps you sleep better. Sex relaxes you, promoting deeper, more restful sleep. What more do you need?

@Kardashian Wedding: Lindsay Lohan Copies Pippa Middleton

LiLo pulled a Pippa -- or tried to, anyway.

With her mom Dina and sister Ali at her side, Lindsay Lohan was among the bevy of celebrity guests at Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' Saturday wedding in Montecito, Calif.

And the drama-prone 25-year-old star took a fashion cue from none other than Pippa Middleton.

Lindsay Lohan wore the exact same Temperley gown donned by Pippa, 27, for the evening reception for the royal wedding of her sister Kate and Prince William.

Pippa stunned the world in the Arabia gown, a floor-length satin dress with crystal panel in a striking shade of green. In keeping with the Kardashian wedding's black-and-white theme, Lohan wore the iconic dress in white; she wore her dyed-blonde locks up in a bun.

Joining Lindsay Lohan for the huge, costly bash: Eva Longoria and Eduardo Cruz, Ciara, La La and Carmelo Anthony, Scotty Pippen, Mario Lopez, Brody Jenner and Avril Lavigne, Serena and Venus Williams, Vera Wang, Brittny and Lisa Gastineau, David Spade, George Lopez, Robin Antin, Mel B, Lara Spencer, Ryan Seacrest and Julianne Hough, Cheryl Burke, Mark Ballas, Irving and Shelly Azoff and Joe Francis.

A 5.9 magnitude Powerful Earthquake Hits Eastern U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where President Barack Obama is vacationing.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

It was centered near Louisa, Va., which is northwest of Richmond and south of Washington.

Obama and many of the nation's leaders were out of town on August vacation when the quake struck at 1:51 p.m. EDT. The shaking was felt on the Martha's Vineyard golf course as Obama was just starting a round.

The East Coast gets earthquakes, but usually smaller ones and is less prepared than California or Alaska for shaking.

At Reagan National Airport outside Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking. Authorities announced it was an earthquake and all flights were put on hold.

At the Pentagon in northern Virginia, a low rumbling built and built to the point that the building was shaking. People ran into the corridors of the government's biggest building and as the shaking continued there were shouts of "Evacuate! Evacuate!"

In New York, the 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan began swaying and hundreds of people were seen leaving the building. Court officers weren't letting people back in.

The quake came a day after an earthquake in Colorado toppled groceries off shelves and caused minor damage to homes in the southern part of the state and in northern New Mexico. No injuries were reported as aftershocks continued Tuesday.

In Charleston, W.Va., hundreds of workers left the state Capitol building and employees at other downtown office buildings were asked to leave temporarily.

"The whole building shook," said Jennifer Bundy, a spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court. "You could feel two different shakes. Everybody just kind of came out on their own."

In Ohio, where office buildings swayed in Columbus and Cincinnati and the press box at the Cleveland Indians' Progressive Field shook. At least one building near the Statehouse was evacuated in downtown Columbus.

In downtown Baltimore, the quake sent office workers into the streets, where lamp posts swayed slightly as they called family and friends to check in.

Social media site Twitter lit up with reports of the earthquake from people using the site up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard.

"People pouring out of buildings and onto the sidewalks and Into Farragut Park in downtown DC...," tweeted Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

"did you feel earthquake in ny? It started in richmond va!" tweeted Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted that her staff in Washington was in an "emergency location. Hope everyone is ok."

John Gurlach, air traffic controller at the Morgantown Municipal Airport was in a 40-foot-tall tower when the earth trembled.

"There were two of us looking at each other saying, 'What's that?'" he said, even as a commuter plane was landing. "It was noticeably shaking. It felt like a B-52 unloading."

Immediately, the phone rang from the nearest airport in Clarksburg, and a computer began spitting out green strips of paper — alerts from other airports in New York and Washington issuing ground stops "due to earthquake."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lil Wayne hurt in St. Louis skateboard accident

Lil Wayne said Monday he is recovering after gashing his head at a St. Louis-area skateboard park.

The 28-year-old rapper whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. was in suburban St. Louis Sunday for a performance at the outdoor Verizon Amphitheatre. KTVI-TV reported that Lil Wayne, accompanied by a large entourage, showed up Sunday at DePaul Health Center's emergency room.

Hospital spokeswoman Jamie Newell said she could not confirm Lil Wayne was at the hospital, citing privacy laws. But Lil Wayne wrote about it on his Twitter account.

"The Lou was good but I busted my ... head at the sk8park! 9stitches! Gnarly gash over my left eye! Luv the people," he wrote.

Messages left with Lil Wayne's management on Monday were not returned. Details about how he was hurt, and where, were not immediately available.

Lil Wayne is about to release his new album, "The Carter IV." A previous album, "The Carter III," was the best-selling album of 2008 and the Grammy Award winner for best rap album of that year. In 2010, he served time in a New York jail after pleading guilty to a weapons charge.

"The Carter IV" will be released digitally after Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, at which Lil Wayne will perform. The album, which features collaborations with Drake, Cory Gunz, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes and others, will be in stores on Aug. 29.

Learn How to flatten your belly in one week

Another reason to hate Mondays? Tight post-weekend waistbands. Unless you spent the past 2 days living like a monk, the cocktails, movie snacks, and dinners out can all add up to one thing: belly bloat.

“If you wake up bloated on Monday morning, your weekend food choices are likely to blame,” explains Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. “In fact, overindulging for two days straight can easily cause a gain of three pounds. Fortunately, this weight gain is usually temporary and easy to get rid of in less than a week.”

Feel flat again by Friday with these nine easy tips:

Season Food Differently
You may be attracted to your saltshaker, but water is too. When you take in higher-than-usual amounts of the salty stuff, you’ll temporarily retain more fluid, contributing to that sluggish feeling, a puffy appearance, and extra water weight. Avoid salt, overprocessed foods, and salt-based seasonings. Gans suggests you also ditch the frozen microwaveable meals while you’re de-bloating—they’re packed with sodium. Instead, she recommends a simple turkey sandwich or a salad with chicken for lunch this week. And eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are packed with water.

Add zest to your dinner recipes with fresh herbs and salt-free seasoning blends such as the Original and Italian Medley Mrs. Dash.

Trim Down Carbs
Stay away from heavy carbs such as bagels and pasta. When you decrease the carbs in your diet, you temporarily train your body to access stored carbohydrates called glycogen and burn them off, while also eliminating excess stored fluids.

Trim back on your daily carbs by having eggs for breakfast, making your sandwich open-faced with only one slice of bread, and packing protein-rich snacks such as turkey slices, low-fat string cheese, seeds, and nuts.

Switch Your Starch
If your belly bulges after a high-carb meal like pasta, complex carbohydrate-rich foods may be the cause of your bloat, says Jackie Wolf, MD, author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach. Most starches, including potatoes, corn, pasta, and wheat, produce gas as they are broken down in the large intestine. Rice is the only starch that doesn’t cause gas, so have a ½-cup serving of brown rice (which has more fiber) if you want carbs with dinners.

Stop Milking It
If you’ve ever felt gassy, crampy, or bloated after dairy, you may be one of 30 to 50 million Americans with lactose intolerance. This occurs in people whose bodies lacks the ability to break down and digest the sugar in milk, resulting in digestive issues like gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Try lower-lactose foods (such as hard cheese or yogurt) or lactose-free dairy products (such as rice milk and almond milk), or take a lactase enzyme to help break down lactose. Dr. Wolf recommends soy milk as a dairy alternative but warns that some people experience gas and bloating from soybeans as well.

Make These Fruit Swaps
Wolf recommends you eat fruits that are kinder on your belly. Berries, grapes, and citrus contain a near-equal ratio of the sugars fructose and glucose, making them easier to digest than fruits with more fructose, such as honeydew, apples, and pears.

You can also eat canned fruits in natural juice or small portions of dried fruit, such as raisins and dried plums.

Hold The Hot Sauce
IF you love four-alarm food, lay off the Tabasco, barbecue sauce, and garlic for a few days while de-bloating. Spicy foods stimulate the release of stomach acid, causing irritation. Give dishes a flavor boost with in-season fresh or dried herbs such as dill, basil, mint, sage, tarragon, and rosemary. You can also use curry powder or lemon or lime juice—all perfect with fish or chicken. Also, steer clear of black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, chili powder, onions, mustard, horseradish, and acidic foods such as catsup, tomato sauce, and vinegar.

Ditch Diet Foods
Avoid low-calorie or low-carb products containing sugar alcohols, which go by the names xylitol or maltitol and cause gas, bloating, and worst—diarrhea. And don’t reach for a stick of gum when you’re trying to quell that sugar craving. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth by using a little maple syrup on your morning oatmeal or yogurt snack.

Get On The Wagon
Steer clear of alcohol for the next few days to maximize your body’s belly-flattening capabilities. Alcohol causes dehydration and may slow your body’s ability to eliminate that excess weekend waste, so if you had a little too much to drink this weekend, start chugging the H20.

It’s best to eliminate that occasional glass of wine, beer, or hard alcohol this week while you’re on a skinny jeans crusade—all are high-acid beverages that can irritate your GI tract and cause swelling.

Do Some Activity Every Day
A study from Spain's Autonomous University of Barcelona suggests that mild physical activity clears gas and alleviates bloating. That's because increasing your heart rate and breathing stimulates the natural contractions of the intestinal muscles, helping to prevent constipation and gas buildup by expediting digestion. Take a short walk after meals or pedal lightly on a bike at the gym to help relieve bloat.

More Remedies For Belly Bloat
If you want extra belly-flattening aids, consider one of these products to soothe your belly problems.

• Get gas relief with an over-the-counter product such as Gas-X.
• Try peppermint capsules to kill bacteria that cause bloat and aid digestion.
• Stay regular by increasing fiber with flaxseed or a fiber supplement such as Benefiber.
• Take a daily probiotic capsule. Dr. Wolf likes Align, Digestive Advantage Intensive Bowel Support, and Pearls IC Intensive Care Probiotics.

A definite belly-flattening “don’t” is weighing yourself every day, says Gans. “Bloating is about how you feel. A lot of women will start weighing themselves daily—it’ll drive them crazy and could be discouraging. Go by how your clothes feel rather than letting the scale rule your week.” (S)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Exclusive: Kim Kardashian Wedding Photo

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Kris Humphries has officially caught up with Kim Kardashian. The basketball pro and the reality star are husband and wife.

Kardashian, 30, and Humphries, 26, tied the knot Saturday night in the exclusive Montecito area near Santa Barbara, Calif., Kardashian publicist Jill Fritzo told People magazine and E!

The ceremony will be televised as a two-part special on E! in October.
Kim Kardashian Wedding Photo 1

It is the first marriage for Humphries, who last played for the NBA's New Jersey Nets, and the second for Kardashian, star of E!'s "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." She was married to music producer Damon Thomas from 2000 to 2004.

People and E! reported Kardashian wore an ivory gown designed by Vera Wang. Her stepfather, Bruce Jenner, walked her down the aisle in front of 440 guests, including Demi Lovato, Mario Lopez, Eva Longoria, Sugar Ray Leonard, Alan Thicke and Lindsay Lohan.

Kardashian's gown had a tulle skirt, basque waist and Chantilly lace, and was matched with a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, the media outlets reported. The bride planned to wear two other Wang dresses before the night and the party were over.

Her sisters and TV co-stars Kourtney Kardashian, 32, and Khloe Kardashian, 27, served as co-maids of honor.

The groom wore a white peak lapel tuxedo jacket, black tuxedo pants and, a white shirt and a white bow tie, all designed by Ermenegildo Zegna.

Kardashian and Humphries began dating late last year and announced their engagement in May. He proposed on bended knee with a 20.5-carat ring by spelling out "Will you marry me?" in rose petals.
Kim Kardashian Wedding Photo 2

Since the couple's engagement, the pending nuptials have provided constant fodder for the media and the Kardashians, who posted updates about the wedding on their blogs and websites.

The waves of hype that preceded the ceremony didn't seem to faze the bride. Earlier this week, Kardashian said she was "totally calm" about the much-hyped ceremony.

"I think that freak-out moment kind of already passed," she said at a party Wednesday to launch her new clothing line at Sears.

'Blade Runner': Ridley Scott Directing New Film

Now just eight years from the wrecked, futuristic Los Angeles envisioned in the original, Ridley Scott will be helming a new entry into the iconic "Blade Runner" canon.

Deadline reports that the legendary director is set to revive the classic 1982 film, which starred Harrison Ford as Richard Deckard, who worked to capture humanoid robots before falling in love with one of them.

It's unknown, at this point, whether the film will be a prequel, sequel, reboot or spinoff; Scott is currently finishing "Prometheus," the Damon Lindelof-penned film that is a sort of relative to his classic, "Alien."

Also unclear is whether Ford would return to the franchise; he is still an action star, featuring this summer in the disappointing "Cowboys & Aliens," and recently donned his iconic hat and whip for a new entry in the "Indiana Jones" saga. Another film in that series is expected at some point, as well.

Alcon Entertainment, which runs through Warner Bros., acquired the rights to the film in March, announcing its intention to create new entries, in backward and forward-looking directions, to the original.

Anne Hathaway's Paparazzi Rap On 'Conan'

Sure, Anne Hathaway stars in the upcoming tearjerker love story "One Day," but she's now moved on in to playing Catwoman in the Batman epic, "The Dark Knight Rises." And clearly, the dark edge of Christopher Nolan's doomsday Gotham has rubbed off on Anne Hathaway.

Appearing on "Conan" Tuesday night, Hathaway went hardcore and busted out a rap verse -- "In the style of Lil Wayne" -- that slammed on the paparazzi that have been chasing her down for years. Though it sounds unlikely that the normally sweet-as-sugar actress could ever get intense like that, just listening is believing.

It's also a much stronger hit than the one Anne Hathaway laid on James Franco for his comments on their Oscar co-hosting debacle.
WATCH Anne Hathaway

Kim Kardashian planning a SECOND wedding celebration in New York

Kim Kardashian celebrated her 30th birthday with no fewer than seven parties.

So it is hardly a surprise that Kim Kardashian wouldn't be satisfied with just one wedding party.

It emerged today that ten days after the reality star walks down the aisle on Saturday to wed Kris Humphries, the couple will be celebrating with a bash in New York.

Fashion publication Women's Wear Daily reported today that wedding planner Colin Cowie and media CEO Jason Binn are hosting the lavish event with the newly married couple as guests of honour.
Binn announced the event on Twitter today, to which Kim replied enthusiastically, 'So fun!'

No venue has been selected yet for the event, despite the date less than a fortnight away.
Kim Kardashian and Kris are set to say 'I do' this Saturday at the $30 million mansion of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers co-founder Frank Caufield in Montecito, California - near Santa Barbara.

Kim is said to be wearing two custom creations by famous wedding gown designer Wang on her special day - at a cost of over $30,000.

Exact details of the dresses have not been released but Kim and Kris have asked that their guests wear black and white, snubbing tradition, while the bridesmaids are rumoured to be wearing different shades of green.

Kim is understood to be planning a classic, timeless style for her hair and make-up, according to Us Weekly.

Final preparations are being made for the wedding, with Kris picking up his suit yesterday from a Beverly Hills tailors.

Yesterday Kim and her sisters were pictured at the Vera Wang store for their final dress fittings.

After sorting out the business of the day, he join Kim and her sisters Khloe and Kourtney and the rest of the Kardashian/ Jenner clan for the launch of the Kardashian Kollection clothing line.

The glitzy red carpet event was held at The Colony, Hollywood, where guests were treated to cocktails named after the girls, cupcakes and sushi canap├ęs.

Kim arrived on the red carpet at around 8.30pm in an animal print jumpsuit.

Kim Kardashian smooched with Kris, sharing a kiss amid a flashbulb frenzy, posed for various photographs and spoke to the Press.

She then headed straight to the cordoned off VIP section of the club, where she mingled with her family and friends, including singer Monica and Khloe's personal assistant, Malika Haqq.
But clearly with lots still to do, Kim only stayed for two hours and left shortly before 10.30pm with Kris in tow.

Her mother Kris Jenner left shortly after doing the red carpet, bringing her young daughters Kendall, 15, and Kylie, 13, with her as they were not allowed inside the venue due to their age.

Kourtney and Khloe left at around 11pm, with their partners Scott Disick and Lamar Odom.

Khloe was spotted feasting on a huge bag of Cheetos as she was driven away from the club with husband Lamar, while Scott seemed eager to make tracks in his convertible, looking impatient as partner Kourtney had photographs taken with fans outside.

The 500-strong guest list for Saturday's wedding is said to include a host of other celebs including Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Demi Lovato, Babyface and several NBA stars.

Kim Kardashian sisters Kourtney and Khloe are acting as co-maids of honour.

It has also emerged that Kim and Kris will have to wait until summer 2012 to take their honeymoon due to Kim's hectic work schedule. (S)

Dont leave your laptop plugged in

Laptop battery wearing down? In this week's episode of Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley shows us how to help batteries last longer ... and what to do when they run out!

First, the basics
Most laptops use batteries that can last for 3-5 years, or about 1000 charges. (A premium laptop's battery might last longer.) Every time you charge your battery, the total capacity of the battery is diminished. Originally it may have had a run time of 3.5 hours, but after a year it'll run out of juice at 3 hours, even on a full charge.

If your battery capacity has diminished, there are a few things you can do about it. First, you have to correctly gauge how much capacity has been lost. There are free downloads to do this job, like Battery Bar (for Windows PCs) or Coconut Battery (for Macs). These will compare your battery's current maximum capacity to how long it lasted when it was new.

(UPDATE- we originally recommended Battery Eater and while the program works great, their download site has been compromised and we are recommending an alternate program, Battery Bar downloadable from CNET.)

Calibrating your Battery
You can't miraculously reconstitute your battery's capacity. It loses power over time due to chemical reactions taking place in the battery, as it chugs along powering your laptop. You can't undo those changes, but there is one common battery issue you can fix: In many laptops, the operating system's battery meter gets out of sync with how much juice the battery actually has.

Imagine if the gas gauge on your car dashboard was misreading how much gas you actually had in the tank. You'd either run out of gas when you thought you had a quarter of a tank left, or you'd be filling up too frequently. In your laptop, this can mean your laptop shuts down abruptly when the meter says you have 30 minutes left. Or else the meter might warn that you only have 2 minutes of battery life left and shut your laptop down, when it really has another 20 minutes remaining.

Recalibrating gets the battery meter to correctly read the current state of the battery, so you and the operating system know where you stand with existing battery life.

How to recalibrate
First, charge your laptop's battery to full, and leave it that way for at least two hours. Then unplug your laptop, and set its power management settings to never turn off or lower the monitor brightness. (HP has instructions for how do to this on Windows 7 and Vista, as well as Windows XP, while Apple has instructions for Mac laptops on their site.)

You want to drain the battery completely, then let your laptop sit for at least five hours this way -- like, say, overnight. (Just be careful and mute the volume, since some laptops make a warning sound when they're about to run out.) Afterwards, charge it up again, and you should notice a more accurate portrayal of your battery capacity. In some cases, you may even get more life out of it.

Best practices to maintain battery life
You'd think that the best way to keep your laptop's battery from wearing out is to not use it. Right?
As it turns out, batteries are like muscles; they need to be worked out regularly to stay healthy. Ideally, you'd use your laptop unplugged at least once a day, like on a train or bus commute or on the couch in front of the TV. If you're not going to use it, constantly charging your battery is a bad idea; HP recommends on their website that if you're going to leave your laptop plugged in or put up in storage for more than two weeks, you should take the battery out of your laptop.

Past the expiration date
So when is it time to throw out that old battery? The answer, surprisingly, is "never." Laptop batteries contain lots of toxic chemicals, and should never end up in landfills. Fortunately, has a list of environmentally responsible recyclers that will take your old battery with no fuss.

When is it time to replace your battery, then? Use the free utility apps Becky mentioned, and when they say that your battery can only hold around 25% of its original capacity it's probably time for a new one. You can buy a replacement battery from the original laptop manufacturer, and there are plenty of places online that sell discounted PC laptop batteries, like Laptops for Less and Owners of newer Mac laptops can get their laptop's non-removable battery swapped out at any Apple store, with a scheduled appointment.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

10 Celebrity Teen Girls: Mature Beyond Their Years

Forget overspending at the mall, exceeding cell phone minutes, and staying out past curfew—today's famous teens are living large and dressing the part.

Lourdes “Lola” Leon, 14

When news broke this week that Lourdes Leon had created a new makeup collection, the biggest surprise wasn't that Madonna's daughter was becoming a mini-mogul, but that she was only...14. Seriously, does she look 14?

Ali Lohan, 17
This week, Next Model Management announced they've signed Ali Lohan (now known as, ahem, "Aliana T. Lohan") for a multi-year contract and, though Lindsay Lohan’s kid sister certainly has a pretty face, is it just us, but does she look a wee bit older than her under voting-age years?

Miley Cyrus, 18

Billy Ray’s little girl has been popular for so long it’s hard to believe she’s still a teen—especially in this revealing dress. In her early teens, she came under fire for skimpy outfits, provocative stage moves, a “topless” photo in Vanity Fair, and sexy leaked cell phone pictures. But whether you like her racy image or not, Miley remains an actress and singer with major appeal and selling power: She made $54 million in the last year.

Dakota Fanning, 17
With a resume that boasts more successful films than many actors twice her age, Fanning is already a mega-star with an adult's earning power. Still, call us old-fashioned, but…we wonder: does a girl her age need to be wearing a leather dress?

Selena Gomez, 19

Is Gomez outgrowing her wholesome image? The Disney darling got her start on “Barney & Friends,” and had a recurring role on “Hannah Montana.” Her career took off with her starring role on “Wizards of Waverly Place,” and the media dubbed her the next Miley Cyrus. But recent paparazzi shots of her straddling and kissing boyfriend Justin Bieber, and, well, the ensemble above, make us wonder if she's—in the words of Vince Vaughn in "Swingers"—all growns up

Taylor Momsen, 18

Momsen started her acting career as innocent little Cindy Lou in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” At 14, she signed to IMG Models and landed a gig as the willful Jenny Humphrey on “Gossip Girl,” a role she was phased out of, allegedly due to bad behavior on the set. These days, the precocious star spends her time touring the world with her band, Pretty Reckless, and doing her best very-grown-up Courtney Love impression (see above).

Frances Bean Cobain, 18

Speaking of Courtney Love, remember her daughter with Kurt Cobain? Recent magazine pics show her in full rock-star mode with jet-black hair, an array of tattoos and tattered lingerie. Hard for us to believe Frances is a full-fledged woman—we remember when she was just a babe in Kurt's arms.

Demi Lovato, 18

Lovato recently confessed she struggled with bullying, eating disorders, cutting, and suicidal thoughts for much of her life. That’s a lot to deal with in 18 years — and it's no wonder the teen looks older than she really is.

Miranda Cosgrove, 18

This singer/actress was discovered at just three years old, landing national commercials and a role in “School of Rock.” And, as the star of “iCarly” Cosgrove is probably responsible for your child’s internet obsession. After a year on air, “iCarly” became the most-viewed cable entertainment show, and in 2010, Cosgrove became the second highest paid child star—earning $180,000 an episode.. So basically, regardless of the short red dress, heavy makeup and sky-high heels, this girl looks like an adult because she’s already a powerhouse.

Kristen Stewart Spotted Drinking In London

Kristen Stewart is a dedicated actress, but it’s nice when she gets to kick back and have fun. And it seems like she had a ball when she hit up London’s Soho House on August 12 and had a few drinks with friends — not having to worry about filming Snow White And the Huntsman for a night!

Kristen Stewart, 21, hit up the swanky bar and drank with two other actors, who both tweeted about the encounter.

Leo Staar wrote, “Lovely drink last night with @Lee__Knight and Kristen Stewart at Soho house. Great time.”

In turn, Lee Knight wrote, “funny you mention Kristen Stewart @theverysimong , I saw her at Soho House tonight.”

It’s great K-Stew let her hair down a little, especially considering the tension in London because of the riots. But we’re sure Robert Pattinson wishes he was there with her! (S)

Candice Swanepoel: Victoria's Secret model in Bikini

Victoria's Secret Model Candice Swanepoel certainly cannot be accused of being shy about flaunting her body. The curvy blonde adjusted her ample assets as they poured out of a neon green bikini top, yesterday on a beach in St Barts, the South of France, but struggled to contain them.

The top was paired with multi-coloured bikini bottoms as the 22-year-old South African beauty showed off her incredible figure in the tiny two piece.

Candice Swanepoel is in France shooting a new campaign for the lingerie giant, which will feature her in a series of different swimsuits.

Candice Swanepoel pulled off the obligatory model poses and appeared to be having fun with the shoot - messing about in the water and pretending to throw some seaweed for one humorous shot.

Candice Swanepoel looked tanned and toned in the swimwear, and appeared to have put the controversy she caused over her once-shockingly slim frame behind her.

Amy Winehouse in 5,000 Pills

L.A. based artist Jason Mecier has captured Amy Winehouse in this incredible portrait made out of 5,000 multi-colored painkillers.

The soul singer died last month, bringing to an end her battle with drugs and alcohol. Since 2006, she earned a reputation for her struggle with eating disorders and addiction.

The Winehouse pill popping portrait is part of Jason Mecier's series of celebrity mosaics using everything from aspirin to candy and newspaper. Celebrities such as Amy Sedaris and Florence Henderson even send him their own junk.

Stage collapse, 5 Dead at Indiana State Fair

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - A fifth person has died from the collapse of an outdoor concert stage in heavy wind just before a weekend show at the Indiana State Fair, which was shut down on Sunday, authorities said.

More than 40 people were injured in the collapse on Saturday night, just minutes before the country duo Sugarland was set to begin performing, Indiana State Police said.

Some of the injuries were extremely serious, and more people could die, said State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten at a news conference.

"That possibility is there," he said

Concert officials had informed spectators prior to the show that the concert might have to be postponed due to the weather, but a strong gust blew the stage over before any official evacuation order was issued.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels called the collapse "freakish," saying at the news conference that a storm was anticipated but the blast of wind that whipped through the grandstand area was unexpected.

One of those killed was stagehand Nate Byrd, 51, who was on the stage rigging to run the show's spotlight. He died on Sunday at Methodist Hospital.

Killed on the scene were Tammy Vandam, 42, of Wanatah, Indiana; Glenn Goodrich, 49, of Indianapolis; Alina BigJohny, 23 of Fort Wayne and Christina Santiago, 29, of Chicago, according to the Marion County Coroner's office.

State fire marshals and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the collapse, authorities said.
An amateur video posted on YouTube showed a heavy gust of wind blowing down the stage rigging. People in the crowd can be heard screaming.

Spectators tried to hold up parts of the collapsed stage that fell into the standing area below to help anyone who might be trapped, eyewitnesses said.

The fair was closed on Sunday but expected to reopen on Monday with a memorial service for the victims.
"It's a very sad day at the State Fair and our hearts are breaking," said the fair's executive director Cynthia Hoye.

Sugarland sent a Twitter message on Saturday night about the incident, saying: "We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you'll join us. They need your strength."

The governor said his wife Cheri Daniels and one of their daughters were at the concert but were not injured.
The Hoosier Lottery Grandstand at the state fairgrounds can seat more than 15,000 people.

No decisions have been made about the rest of the fair's concert schedule that includes performances by Janet Jackson and Maroon Five, authorities said. (S)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

3 Mistakes Women Make in the Bedroom

Who doesn't need to spice up their bedroom routine every once in a while? You love your partner and assume he'll initiate sex, so it's all good, right? Not so fast! Did you ever think about what YOUR role is...what you could be doing to turn up the heat? We did, so we asked renowned sex expert and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer. She says women COMMONLY make THREE MISTAKES in the bedroom:

Mistake #1: Comfy Clothes
I know, ladies, that you want to be in those those comfortable nightgowns, those comfortable jammies, that you wear. But, honestly, the quickest turn-off to your partner or spouse are your comfy clothes. So, if you want to spice things up in your love life, shed those comfy clothes and find a ice, hot bra or a nice nighty, something you can be slinky, sexy and comfortable in that will be a TURN-ON to your partner.

Mistake #2: NOT Taking the Lead
Don't wait to get asked to dance, meaning you've got to take the lead. You don't have to wait for your partner to ask you to have sex or make love with them. Get involved, get into bed, take the lead and get your partner into bed with you. You'll both have a lot of fun and enjoy yourselves.

Mistake #3: Criticism
It's to be avoided at all costs. Nothing will turn off your partner faster than you telling him what you DON'T like and what you don't want taking place. On the other hand, what will be a complete arousal and turn-on is letting him know what he CAN do to please you and what will excite you if he does it.

So, tell him what you like, wear those sexy clothes and, most importantly of all, take the lead so that you can have the fun you're looking for!

Know five Signs that He doesn't Love You

You're in a relationship and you've got the sex part down, but you question whether he REALLY loves you. Love and sex expert Dr Jane Greer says there are five signs to tell if he's FAKING IT in the love department:

1. If he says to you 'I only want to be with you," pay attention. The question that should come to mind is, 'Well, who else? Who else would you want to be with? Why am I the only one?' What does that even mean?

2. He says, 'I want you to have my baby.' Trust me, that very often is said in the passion of the moment and he means it in the moment but it's not going to be the way he feels the next day.

3. He's NOT affectionate and/or if you're kissing and he's kissing you back but you find his eyes are open and he's looking around, you should know that's a sign to consider.

4. He makes AND breaks promises. If he's always promising you, 'We're going to go out' or 'We're going to meet my family', but it doesn't happen, there's a reason he's not keeping the promises.

5. He always talks about the future, but the future never comes. It's about what's going to happen, what's always ahead...but you're left dealing with what DIDN'T happen. Bottom line: If you find you're waiting for something more to happen between the two of you and the only thing that seems to be happening is that you're having great sex, he may be faking the LOVING PART. You may want to start paying attention to that so that you don't wind up feeling left out of the rest of his life and not being able to bring him into your life in a more complete way. (S)

This is habits That Can Sink Your Marriage

Can you spot a good marriage? I was pretty sure I could, starting with my own. My husband and I rarely argued, we had similar careers, we shared common interests. Things weren't perfect, but we seemed to be humming along in harmony better than most other couples we knew. In fact, nobody was more surprised than we were when our 17-year marriage ended in a New Jersey divorce court.

It turns out, though, that the signs of trouble had been there all along, if only I'd known what to look for. Instead, I was judging my marriage by the wrong standards—which, I've since learned, most of us do. In one now-famous study, researchers asked therapists, married couples, and others to watch videotaped conversations of ten couples and try to identify the relationships that had ultimately ended in divorce. The results were abysmal—even the therapists guessed wrong half the time.

So how can you diagnose the health of your relationship? Armed with huge volumes of data on married couples, scientists have identified some simple but powerful indicators that can help couples recognize marital strife long before their relationship hits the skids.

The Way You Were
Imagine a couple that go hiking on their first date. In a happy marriage, the wife might tell the story this way: "We got terribly lost that day. It took us hours to find our way back, but we laughed about how neither of us had a good sense of direction. After that, we knew better than to plan another hiking trip!"

But if the relationship was stressed, she might tell the story this way: "He lost the map, and it took hours to find our way back. After that, I never wanted to go hiking again." Same story, but instead of reflecting a sense of togetherness—using pronouns like "we" and "us"—it's laced with negativity. Research has shown that analyzing what's known as the marital narrative—the way you talk about the good and bad times of your early years together—is about 90 percent accurate in predicting which marriages will succeed or fail.

Had I been paying attention, my own how-we-met story could have told me a lot about how I was feeling in my marriage. Early in the relationship, when asked about our first date, I recounted a magical evening that ended with a walk around the Texas capitol building in Austin. I often laughed about the fact that I was limping the whole time because I'd recently had surgery on my foot. But later in my marriage, I changed the story slightly, always adding, "Of course, he didn't even notice."

Fight or Flight
When my husband and I first married, I felt lucky that we almost never fought. But studies show it's a mistake to judge the quality of a relationship by how much or how little you argue, particularly in the early years.

University of Washington researchers studied newlywed couples and learned, not surprisingly, that those who rarely argued were happier in the relationship than those who fought often. But three years later, the findings had reversed. Couples with an early history of bickering had worked out their problems and were more likely to be in stable marriages. The couples who'd avoided conflict early on were more likely to be in troubled relationships or already divorced.

Obviously, fighting that includes violence or verbal abuse is never acceptable. But most marital spats represent an opportunity to resolve conflicts and make things better. "We need to learn to tolerate conflict in our relationships," says Carolyn Cowan, a longtime marriage and family researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. (By Tara Parker-Pope)

Monday, August 8, 2011

6 Ways to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Are you facing monstrous credit card balances? Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix solution to get out of debt, despite what solicitors or infomercials might have you believe.

There are some tried-and-true methods for paying down debt. However, it's staying committed to your financial goals, not necessarily how you go about it that matters most, says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nonprofit organization.

Consider the following debt reduction techniques and determine which method motivates you most.

No. 1: The "snowball" method.
"When it comes to paying off debt, we need to be more concerned with behavior modification than math," says Dave Ramsey, author of "Total Money Makeover" and host of a nationally syndicated radio show, "The Dave Ramsey Show." His solution is the "debt snowball" method, which involves paying off debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. "Pay off the first debt quickly, and it gets you fired up to do it again and again," he says.

Ramsey believes the "snowball" method is for every type of consumer. "The only time that you should pay off a larger debt sooner than a smaller one is when you owe the IRS, or if you are trying to stop a foreclosure," he says. "Other than that, everyone should focus on paying the smallest to the largest debt."

No. 2: Pay the most expensive balance first.
If you are someone who is really motivated by numbers, you will realize the account that is doing you the most damage is the one with the highest interest rate, and you'll take great pleasure in paying that down, says Cunningham.

"Also, if the account with the highest interest is utilizing more than 30 percent of that credit line, focus on paying that one off first to get it under that threshold," she says. Doing so will improve your credit score since debt utilization, which is how much you owe compared to how much available credit you have, is an important factor in determining your score. The lower your utilization is, the better.

No. 3: Do a balance transfer.
Cunningham says if you're considering doing a balance transfer, you should first get out your calculator. "There are certainly fees associated with transfers, so you want to make sure the lower interest rate offsets the fees. You can be a savvy consumer and make that tool work for you if you're very disciplined," she says.

That means you'll need to fight the temptation to use that newly cleared card, while also committing to paying off the balance you moved over in a timely manner, says Deatra Riley, financial education manager at CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling and education service. "Balance transfers are a waste of time if you do it with no plan of action," she says.

Riley recommends dividing the total amount owed by the number of months for which the zero interest rate applies, and making sure you can fit that monthly payoff amount into your budget.

No. 4: Keep debt where it is.
Ramsey warns that moving debt around is only putting a temporary patch on your financial wounds. "The danger of moving credit card balances is that it's easy to start thinking you've actually done something to address the problem," he says. After all, you still have all that debt to pay off.

According to Riley, it's also important to keep in mind, especially if you plan to apply for any type of loan in the near future, that opening a new credit account will negatively affect your credit score for the short term.

No. 5: Grow your emergency fund.
In its 2011 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, the NFCC discovered that 33 percent of Americans have zero dollars in non-retirement savings. "They are one flat tire away from financial distress," says Cunningham.

When an emergency does happen, the cost may mean adding to the current debt load, borrowing from friends and family or forgoing other expenses.

Cunningham advises against wiping out savings to pay down debt, especially if you're not confident about the security of your job. Instead, she suggests keeping a "rainy-day cushion of at least one month's income" in an emergency fund.

No. 6: Use some savings for debt reduction.
If your debt is overwhelming, you might decide to dip into your savings. Just don't bleed it completely dry, says Ramsey. "I always recommend having a $1,000 emergency fund while you get out of debt. Emergencies will happen." You don't want to put yourself in a position where you have to borrow money for the unexpected, he says.

Once you are debt-free, says Ramsey, then you can shift your focus onto building an emergency fund that will cover three to six months' worth of expenses.

A Debt Reduction Breakdown
TechniqueProsConsWho it's good for
Debt snowball methodGet motivated every time an account balance reaches zero.On paper, it's not the most financially sensible.Those motivated by small successes.
Balance with highest rate paid firstYou'll save more over time.Must be very focused, and stick to a rigid payment plan.Those motivated by interest savings.
Balance transfersWill allow you to save on interest, so you can pay off the principal faster.Opening a new account can hurt your credit score in the short term.Determined risk-takers.
Savings-focused"Rainy day" money means you'll be prepared when emergencies arise.Savings account interest is less than the interest on your debts.Potential layoff victims.
Debt payoff-focusedThe feeling of relief that comes with a clean slate, and an improved credit score.If an emergency occurs and savings cannot cover it, you may be forced to borrow.Anyone who's consumed by their debt.