Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes

Yesterday, Dante, my DD Susan, and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo. Not that big of a deal, right? It was for me. One year ago, I couldn't have hauled my badly overweight carcass around a grocery store, much less acres of walking trails. I would have been humiliated and restricted to one of those expensive rented electric carts, unable to ride the train or get "up close and personal" with the exhibits. I'd have been in my black stretchy knits, hoping no one noticed how sweaty I was. My swollen feet would have been crammed into my black Crocs, just so my feet could breathe and cool me. A few years ago, I would have jonesed for a cigarette and been unable to satisfy my craving because the electric carts would have been difficult to get to the few places where smokers could be.
This year was radically different than all years past where I sat in my wheelchair while Dante and Susan had fun. This year I was in size 18 jeans and a pink tee shirt, bouncing all over the zoo in my white tennis shoes, with my energy level equal to a power plant. I was the one hauling Susan and Dante hither and yon, running to take a picture here, ooohing and ahhing at the lovely creatures, while they struggled to keep up. 
This year, Dante leaned on his cane, sweated, and begged for a chance to sit down. I graciously found places for him to sit and rest while Susan and I bounced around like both of us were 24 years old instead of just Susan. We got him cool drinks and held his place in line while he limped off to rest or smoke. The zoo is smoke free, so he took only one smoke break out on a dock on the Trout River. 
Susan and I yanked the camera out of each others' hands to take pictures whenever we saw a great shot, depending on who had the best angle. We finally had to leave because DH would get off work soon, so we missed the Australian/African portion, but we did stop long enough for a quick visit to Stingray Bay to pet a stingray.
You can see my pictures in this album:
I'm proud that I was the one who walked and didn't get tired, didn't blow my diet, and enjoyed myself. Next time, I think I'll take DH for a romantic stroll. He can keep up with me. (Big Grin)

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Lena Austin

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A new review for Dawgtown: Bad Dawg

Tiger Lily of Whipped Cream Reviews said:
I liked the unconventionality of the relationship, both had their own lives leading in opposite directions, but the love blossoming between them seemed to be enough.
If you want to read the whole review, here's the link:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carnal Nation Headlines 10/17/2009

I get the news from, and normally I just post the URL. This time, the stuff was too good not to share in its entirety. I do urge my friends to get their own subscription.

CarnalNation Headlines for 10/17/2009
Sat, October 17, 2009 4:08:21 AM
published 10/17/2009

Multimedia: The Smell of Sex
To quote a friend, sex is "physical, psychological, emotional, aural and olfactoral". This episode is dedicated to sex smells.[Read More]
posted Oct 16, 2009 04:46 pm by Betty Dodson and Carlin RossSurvey: 36% Tweet After Sex
Once upon a time, the graphic shorthand for someone enjoying the warm glow of post-coital bliss was to show them relaxing in bed, slowly smoking a cigarette. Unfortunately, all that post-sex smoking meant that in addition to STIs, pregnancy, and heartache, sleeping around also put you at increased risk for lung cancer. Nowadays, the kids do things differently, at least according to a survey done by shopping website For a significant number of young people, the cell phone has replaced the cigarette of Mad Men-style sex. Retreveo says that 36 percent of people under 35 post to social networking services like Twitter and Facebook after having sex. Eight percent of those over 35 did so. "Moreover," Retreveo says, "men are twice as likely to exhibit this behavior than women and if you’re an iPhone owner you’re three times more likely to go social media after you-know-what than Blackberry owners." Thirty-four percent of the under-35 group also said that they would frequently post updates while on a date, in contrast to 9 percent of those over 35.[Read More]

posted Oct 16, 2009 03:33 pm by Chris HallIntersex

Australians Must Join Sex Offender Registry To Get Medication
Cyproterone Acetate, better known as Androcur, is an anti-androgen medication taken by both male and female intersex individuals. A change in Australian health care policy, though, means that intersex people--those born with both male and female biological traits--can only get Androcur by signing themselves onto a potential sex offenders' list. The same is true for female-indentified transsexuals, who take the drug to suppress male hormones.
The problem is that the government only approves the drug for two reasons: for prostate cancer, and for registered sex offenders, since the androgen prohibitor reduces one's sex drive.[Read More]
posted Oct 16, 2009 01:56 pm by Matthew Lawrence

'Victimized' by Affirmative Action, Swedish Co-eds File Class-Action Lawsuit
It is something of a cliché that everything comes full circle, and sometimes that circle can be rather vicious in its orbital return to the starting point. Take, for example, affirmative action, the principle/policy through which institutions attempt to maximize diversity and equality as well as to redress past imbalances and discrimination based on race, gender, or ethnicity. It would seem inevitable that at some point inequality would shift from the formerly disadvantaged to the formerly advantaged. At Sweden's Lund University, men are now the underrepresented population that benefits from affirmative action, and women aren't happy about it.[Read More]

posted Oct 16, 2009 01:50 pm by Tim McElreavy

Sex Disasters: Swoon!
She came. She screamed. She passed out.
Fainting during orgasm, or orgasmic syncope, is one of those things that happens more often in porn than in reality. But it does happen in reality. Usually it's nothing to worry about. But, just to be on the safe side...
Lay the faintee flat on her (for the purposes of discussion, we'll assume it's a "her") back. Check to make sure she's breathing and that her heart is beating regularly. If you don't know how to take a pulse, the front pages of your local phone book often have good basic instruction. (And take a good first-aid and CPR class soon, OK?)[Read More]
posted Oct 16, 2009 12:48 pm by Charles Moser and Janet Hardy

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Greener Way to Mop than even Swiffer?

Okay, I'll admit that I've been a fan and buyer of Swiffer Wet Jet since it came out. I still have my originally purchased Swiffer even though a newer, cooler version has come out. However, it had one problem: I was constantly buying the replacement pads at a minimum of $7 a box (on sale.) Worse, all those pads went into the trash and into the landfill, and that's not very "green."
So, what's a girl to do who loves a clean floor, but hates the old "mop and bucket" routine? I found my answer at Look at the link below.
The initial outlay is about the same as what I paid for my Swiffer, but the microfiber pad is washable! Now that's cool. I could buy the mop and a set of pads, and they'll pay for themselves in about two and a half months.
Between this and the MagicJack, I may have found the best money savers of the year. 


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Lena Austin

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Recipe and Pagan blog:

Low Carb Diet blog:


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nine Ways to Knock the Socks off Your Next Landlord Plus One

I'm an ex-property manager, and this article is spot-on, dead in the black right on all counts. If I had a sharp-looking on-time prospective tenant come to me with a pre-prepared rental resume, written recommendations, saved me the trouble of pulling their credit report, and a clear list of their needs and wants, I'd bend over backwards for them.

Tell me you'll set up an automatic rent payment from your bank, and I would happily give a discount, just on the basis of my not having one more thing to stress about on the first of the month. I loved my auto-pay tenants. For every renter family that had me on auto-pay, I sent them grocery store gift certificates for their Thanksgiving turkeys. Honey, I *cherished* those folks and treated them like the gold they were to me.

9 Ways You Can Knock the Socks off Your Next Landlord

Posted: 14 Oct 2009 05:00 AM PDT

This article is by GRS staff writer Adam Baker. Currently, Baker is fat and in debt.

We all know how to rent a typical, cookie-cutter apartment or house. Find a contact number. Set-up a walk through. Fill out the application. Pay your fee and wait for a response.

But sometimes typical just doesn't cut it.

Maybe you're looking to secure a unique apartment in an irresistible location. Or you might be seeking the only house for rent in a certain school district. Heck, you may even find yourself in New Zealand needing a short-term (3-month) lease when everyone wants a 6-month minimum.  *raises hand*

Whatever your motivation, here are nine ways you can knock the socks off your next landlord or property manager:

  1. Create a Rental Résumé. Treat this like you would a job search. The majority of applications are going to ask for the same information. Put together a basic one- or two-page document containing this commonly requested information. Even if the landlord or property manager makes you fill out the application anyway, at least you'll already have everything on hand. Be sure to include:
    • Full names of everyone on application
    • Dates of Birth
    • Contact information (phone and e-mail)
    • Current address (length, landlord information, reason for leaving)
    • Previous addresses (with additional information)
    • Social Security numbers
    • Current employment information (salary, length, contact information)
    • Past employment (with additional information)
    • Personal references
    • Vehicle information (make, model, plates, driver's license number)
    • Pet(s) information (breed, size, age)

  2. Pull your own credit report. Use, if possible. Pulling your own credit report ahead of time will ensure that you are aware of the information contained in the report. If there are any negative marks, be sure to include a written statement of explanation (especially for any bankruptcies, evictions, or missed rent payments).

  3. Obtain and include full letters of reference. Most rental applications only ask for the contact information of your references. However, as with a job, you can go the extra mile by including full letters of recommendation from previous landlords, property managers, or apartment complexes. As a property manager, I was more than willing to write these for our best tenants. Many apartment complexes have a standard reference letter they provide to past tenants upon request.

  4. Provide copies of commonly requested "further information". This is especially important for the self-employed or those with inconsistent employment length. Commonly requested information can include copies of recent paystubs, recent years' tax returns, net worth statements, bank statements, and income/expense reports for small businesses. Also, landlords may request copies of identification like driver's licenses, social security cards, or birth certificates.

  5. Look sharp. Whether you like it or not, appearance does, especially for first impressions. Wash the purple dye out of your mohawk, lose the three wolves T-shirt, and dress business casual. (J.D.'s note: Did anyone notice that Dwight was wearing the three wolves t-shirt on The Office recently? I just about died laughing.)

  6. Be five minutes early. Waiting does not impress anyone.

  7. Find common ground. In any social encounter, discussing a topic that is familiar to both parties is one of the fastest ways to build rapport. When Courtney and I were searching for apartments here in Auckland, we talked to many different agents and owners. Early on in each discussion, I brought up the fact that I had owned a property management company back in the States. It gave us an immediate connection and built instant trust. While you may not have direct real estate experience, chances are there will be many opportunities for you to find common ground of your own.

  8. Know your needs and wants ahead of time. This is a important. Decide ahead of time what features are absolute musts and which are more negotiable. For example, you may know that you need a fenced in backyard for the dog. Or, you may only be willing to consider homes with a detached garage for working on your cars as a hobby. On the other hand, an included washer/dryer may only be a strong want. You'd be willing to purchase these if the rest of the property fit your needs. Get clear on this distinction and be able to articulate this to your potential landlord or manager.

  9. Don't be afraid to ask questions. As a property manager, I always had a weird feeling about tenants who appeared nervous or who seemed afraid to ask questions. The potential tenants whom impressed me the most appeared confident, stated what they were looking for, and asked specific questions about the property. For example, it's perfectly reasonable (and somewhat expected) to inquire about the average costs of monthly utilities.

Once you've established yourself as a strong candidate…leverage it! Knocking the socks off your landlord is not just for fun! After positioning yourself as an ideal applicant, don't be afraid to start negotiating.

Here in Auckland, Courtney and I had luck negotiating ourselves into a three-month lease even though it ended in the middle of December (bad timing when trying to re-rent). At our last apartment in the States, the complex ended up waiving both the application fee and our required deposit.

Try asking for a 10% rent discount. Many apartment complexes run unadvertised specials, and the individual landlord will often discount if he believes you'll be a quality tenant.

I've seen people have luck requesting upgrades on appliances or requiring that an owner furnish a washer/dryer when previously it wasn't included. If your condo or apartment charges extra for amenities (gym, pool, parking), try asking for access to be included in your rent.

Most people are scared because they think it's uncommon to ask for more. I've been on both sides of the rental equation and this sort of negotiation happens all the timeIf you don't ask, the answer will always be "no". So get out there, impress some people, and take your apartment or house hunting to the next level!



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Lena Austin

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Templates

 These are cool pumpkin carving templates! Click on the link below to see!


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Lena Austin

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Your titles are now on the Android Smartphone!

Wow!! ARE now has my titles for the smartphone! Cool!


We wanted to give you notice of a press release that was issued yesterday to the public. Feel free to let your readers know - this is one more way they will be able to purchase and enjoy your books. Smartphone sales are up with a very impressive show of growth for the Google-powered Android phone. Android owners (like iPhone/iPod Touch owners) will be able to download an app that will contain the All Romance catalog providing instant access to thousands of ePub titles.

Lori James

COO, All Romance eBooks, LLC

Download and Read Thousands of All Romance eBooks Right on Your Android Smartphone with the Aldiko Application

All Romance eBooks (ARe) has partnered with Aldiko to make their eBook catalog available to Google's Android-powered mobile phones.

Palm Harbor, FL (PRWEB) Octobe r 8, 2009 – Readers will now be able to browse, search and seamlessly download more than 10,000  http://www.allroman ceebooks. com [eBooks], including free reads, to their Android phones directly from ARe without a computer, cable or subscription using the Aldiko application.

With the Aldiko app readers can easily browse ARe's extensive online book catalog, read detailed descriptions and book reviews, and quickly find the books they are looking for using a powerful search tool right on their Smartphone. They can organize their purchases by criteria such as title, author, or subject, edit detail information, tag, bookmark and search—all on a fully customizable display. New features include a full text search that allows readers to find words g! lobally within the book, and a look up feature, which lets users search for a word in the dictionary, Wikipedia, or on Google.

"Readers love the convenience of being able to download ARe's eBooks anytime, anywhere," said Julie Cummings, ARe's manager of Publicity and Marketing. "Earlier this year we launched an iPhone compatible catalog and it's been hugely popular with our consumers who use ATT. We're really excited to now bring that same service to customers who use other cellular carriers," Cummings added.

"Our mission at Aldiko is to provide an open platfo! rm where users can discover, access, read and manage a wide variety of digital publications instantly and seamlessly" said Tiffany Wong, co-founder of Aldiko. "The partnership with ARe will help us offer the best and broadest selection of titles to our users."

Aldiko is available worldwide and is free on the Android Market as well as available as a paid premium app for Android open platform phones. To learn more visit Aldiko athttp://www.aldiko. com and Android at com.

All Romance eBooks, LLC was founded in 2006, is privately held in partne! rship, and headquartered in Palm Harbor, Florida. The company owns All Romance, which specializes in the sale of romance eBooks and OmniLit, which sells both fiction and non-fiction eBooks.

Aldiko Limited was founded in 2009. The company has developed an ebook reader application, "Aldiko Book Reader" for use on Android-powered devices. . With Aldiko, users can build and organize their digital library, read on the go and wirelessly browse and download from a broad range of digital publications right on their Android-powered devices.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fw: The Rainbow Awards: The Game is On!

Looks like the voting just started!! (Begging look) Vote please??
In a message dated 10/2/2009 4:24:45 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
Hi all

as agreed I posted all the Categories with the submitted books at today. People will have the chance to vote or enter other titles for all the next month. Here are the link to the different categories to vote:

Category: Comedy

Category: Coming of Age / Young Adult

Category: Contemporary

Category: Fantasy

Category: Futuristic

Category: Historical Fiction

Category: Mystery / Thriller

Category: Paranormal / Horror

Category: General Non Fiction

Category: Biography / Memoir

Category: History

Category: Poetry

Category: Travel

Special Category: New Author

Thank you for all the help you gave me,

Elisa Rolle
No paranormal critters were harmed in the making of this email, but many electrons were slightly inconvenienced. Thank you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies for Unicorn Valley!!

New Review - UNICORN VALLEY (Collection) - Lena Austin
Five Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies

From the first sentence, Ms. Austin creates an amazing world that will make you believe in miracles. Excellent work!

Thank you Romance Junkies!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Get Rich Slowly: Happier

Below is a post from my favorite online newsletter, Get Rich Slowly. However, today's article doesn't have to do with money per se, but more on thinking about being happy now as well as when money isn't so much of a problem. Makes you think. At least, it made me think.


Posted: 01 Oct 2009 05:00 AM PDT

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence." — Aristotle

For a long time, I was unhappy. I used to think that this was because of my overwhelming debt. I believed that if I were debt-free, happiness would come to me. It didn't.

After I paid off my consumer debt, I was still unhappy. "Maybe it's my job," I thought. I'd always hated working for the family box factory; it had been a job of last resort, and I'd never shaken free of it.

But even after I quit my day job, happiness remained elusive. I now know that some of this was due to low-level depression. I've also come to understand that part of the problem was that I expected money to solve my problems. I expected money to make me happy. Money and happiness, however, are mostly unrelated. That's just not how it works.

While beginning to research for my own book, I recently read Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar. Happier is a great book. Derived from Ben-Shahar's Harvard course on positive psychology, this slim volume summarizes research into the subject of human happiness — and offers exercises to help readers live happier, more fulfilling lives.

Ben-Shahar rejects certain artificial dichotomies our culture clings to. He writes, for example:

One of my students at Harvard came to talk to me after receiving a job offer from a prestigious consulting firm. She told me that she was uninterested in the work she would be doing but felt she could not turn down this opportunity…She asked me at what point in life — at what age — she could stop thinking about the future and start being happy.

I did not accept her question with its implicit either-or approach to happiness. I told her that instead of asking, "Should I be happy now or in the future?" she should ask, "How can I be happy now and in the future?"

This is brilliant. I, too, used to think that my choice was either now or then. I didn't realize I could have both. I believed that in order to have happiness (or wealth) in the future, I had to sacrifice happiness (or wealth) in the present. This isn't the case. Ben-Shahar elaborates:

Some people might be concerned that pursuing meaning and pleasure over accolades and wealth could come at the price of success…I had similar concerns about my own success as I contemplated the shift toward the happiness archetype. The "no pain, no gain" formula had served me well, in terms of quantifiable success, and I feared that my resolve would weaken — that the next milestone would lose its appeal and no longer sustain me as it did when I was a rat racer. What happened, however, was the exact opposite.

The shift from being a rat racer to pursuing happiness is not about working less or with less fervor but about working as hard or harder at the right activities — those that are a source of both present and future benefit.

Ben-Shahar advocates balance. We find happiness when we consider tomorrow and today. People are happy who perform meaningful work that challenges them. They have goals — and the freedom to pursue them.

Happiness Boosters
Throughout the book, Ben-Shahar offers a series of exercises designed to boost the reader's happiness. I'm the sort who usually loathes activities and exercises in self-help and personal-finance books, but I liked these. In fact, I've briefly summarized a handful of them below:

  • Create rituals. Ben-Shahar urges readers to do the things they love: reading, walking, gaming, knitting, whatever. But because it can be difficult to make time for these activities, he argues that we should create rituals around them. At a specific time every day, do the thing you love. For example, I've recently made it a ritual to walk a couple of miles to have lunch most afternoons. This makes me happy.
  • Express gratitude. I don't do this enough. Research indicates that you can enjoy a heightened sense of well being by keeping a daily gratitude journal. Just jot down five things you're grateful for every day. It's okay to repeat yourself from one day to the next. This exercise forces you to become conscious of the good things in your life.
  • Set meaningful goals. When I was younger, I set goals that had little relation to who I was or what I wanted. I set goals based on what I felt was expected of me. For a goal to be worthwhile, it has to be related to your own interests. And it has to add something to your life.. Pursuing meaningful goals can bring happiness to your life. (And note that it's the pursuit of the goals that brings happiness, not the attainment of them.)
  • Play to your strengths. Ben-Shahar is a fan of Appreciative Inquiry. (That website is awful, by the way — it's written in jargon.) Appreciative Inquiry ignores the things that do not work and looks instead what has been successful. By focusing on past positive outcomes, you can build upon your strengths. Do what you're good at. (This reminds me of Tim Ferriss' philosophy in The 4-Hour Workweek: "Emphasize your strengths, not your weaknesses.")
  • Simplify. Ben-Shahar writes: "To raise our levels of well-being, there is no way around simplifying our lives. This means safeguarding our time, learning to say 'no' more often — to people as well as opportunities — which is not easy. It means prioritizing, choosing activities that we really, really want to do, while letting go of others." As Derek Sivers recently wrote on his blog, if an opportunity doesn't make you say "hell yeah!", you're better off saying "no".

Happier provides plenty of other practical tips. It's a goldmine of useful information.

Best Summer Ever
As I shared a couple of weeks ago, this has been one of the best summers of my life. I feel fulfilled. I am happy. Why? There are a number of reasons:

  • I'm doing meaningful work that challenges me.
  • I feel like I'm helping other people. I get e-mail every day that tells me I'm making a difference in people's lives.
  • I'm making time for exercise. I've been walking five or six or ten miles every day. (This Sunday, I plan to walk 26.2!)
  • I'm reading more. I've always been a voracious reader. Pop fiction, personal finance, Proust — you name it. But for the past three years, I haven't been able to read as much as I'd like. This summer, I've changed that.
  • I'm spending more time with family and friends.
  • I'm allowing myself to indulge in my hobbies once again. As you know, I cut back on comic book spending while working my way out of debt. I still have a budget for comics, but it's not nearly as restrictive as it once was.

In short, I'm balancing the present with the future. I'm still looking out for tomorrow, but I'm not overlooking today. All of this reminds me of the end of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. It's a cold winter evening and young Laura is listening while Pa plays "Auld Lang Syne" on his fiddle.

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, "What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?"

"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now."

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, "This is now."

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

At the end of Happier, Ben-Shahar writes that we often imagine that something or someone in the future will bring us happiness. Or we find ourselves stuck in the past. But the key to happiness, he says, is to live in the now. "Rather than allowing ourselves to remain enslaved by our past or future," he writes, "we must learn to make the most of what is presently in front of us and all around us."

Go forth, my friends, and be happy.

For more reading on happiness, check out Gretch Rubin's excellent blog, The Happiness Project.

Related Articles at Get Rich Slowly:

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for popping by! Don't sit on the whipping horse unless you want to find out how it's used. I speak my mind and annoy many people, but all of it is meant in good spirit. Feel free to argue with me. I like it.

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