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Elegant Prom Dresses, Wedding Dresses, Oscar Knockoffs, Evening Gowns & Quincenera Dresses
Monday, 29 November 2004 Sony Digital Cameras, Camcorders, Digital8 High8 and MiniDV
Mood:  lucky
Topic: D8_Hi8_MiniDV/HandyCam

There is no doubt that Sony has come to symbolize versatility, high-end consumer products, reliability and a touch of luxury in the fields of digital cameras, camcorders, photogray and moviemaking. What's clear about Sony is that its products stand for high quality and technological advances. It appears that Sony ingenieurs, designers and marketers have not been sleeping on the wheels. Through their R&D, they try to find out and anticipate what the regular consumer will want. Based on the following products, one can reasonably say that this company is on the right tracks with its large variety of products.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:33 PM
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005 5:02 AM
The Low Interest Rates Contribute to California's Homebuilding Boom
Mood:  cool
Topic: Real_Estate/Properties

The Benefits of Homeownership

Homeownership is one of the keys to the American dream. With the recent low interest rates, more and more US residents have become homeowners. By historical standards, current mortgage rates are very low. For many, it's a dream come true. Knowing that a house in this country appreciates about 4% to 5%, one can clearly see the advantages of homeownership. After the crash of the New Economy, many multimilionaires from the Bay Area of California, Southern and Northern California and many rich pockets of the country have been moving their assets into the housing market. For them, the housing market is a safer long-term investment.

Go anywhere in California and other states, for sure, you'll find a lot of building activities. Commercial building has taken off. Many agents are reporting that commercial buildings don't usually take a long time to sell. Many investors are all too happy to pour their money in this industry. The retail industry has hugely benefitted from the low interest rates in that business owners have been able to add to their existing buildings. Warehouses are springing all over the floor of the Central Valley of California.

What are the benefits of homeownership?

According to a study conducted by some educators, homeownership contributes to the intelligence, education and welfare of children. The gist of the study is that students who are raised in homes fare better than those raised in apartments and other similar living conditions. The premise of this finding is that homeownership contributes to stability which is a requirement for any kids to progress in their studies. Despite the headache of coming up with monthly mortgage payments, a homeowner feels better about these payments because they are going toward something he/she'll eventually own. In the end, the interest on the mortgage and the property taxes come in handy. Knowing how hard it is to save in this country where shopping has become sort of a therapeutic session and a sports activity, buying a house has been regarded as forced savings plan. It's a fact many people can't save either because they don't make much to be able to save or their buying habits get the best of them.

When buying a new home, what are some of the things to keep in mind? High Expectations in the countryside?

Whether you are going for duplex, triplex or multiplex, apartment, condo, co-op or any other derivative, keep in mind that the real estate agents will have a commission of about 6%. Keep in mind that closing costs will also take a chuck out of your new found treasure. Now if the seller wants to assume all or share in the closing costs, you can consider yourself lucky. A new phenomenon has surfaced. Many former homeowners who decided to cash in on the appreciation of their house by selling may never be able to afford the same type of house in the same neighborhood. This gives rise to the coinage of "Equity refugees." They sell high, relocate to a new area with low or affordable housing. They usually can afford a minimansion with the loot they brought with them. The Central Valley of California, considered the last Western frontier has seen many of these people with big city taste and no tolerance for farming activities and cattle raising in the neighborhood. Local city councils have been receiving many complaints from them. D'uh! You moved into dairy territory! What did you expect?

Here is what to remember when buying a new home.

In real estate, think location, location, location! The right location of your new home will contribute to its resale value. Think about the overall quality of life, the type of construction, amenities and neighborhood. It's important to know where the parks, shopping centers and recreation sites are located in relation to your residence.

Summarize: Decide where to live. Pick a real estate agent. Find a mortgage lender. Set your goals and requirements up. Hunt for the right property. Narrow your choices. Feel free to take the plunge. Make up your mind. Hang in there. Become a handyman or know a good one.

Sponsored Links
  • California Homes & Properties For Sale!

  • Central Valley's Fine Homes Directory and Documentary

  • Get Open Houses Lead

  • Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:32 PM
    Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006 8:26 PM
    Honda Accord Sedan: The #1 in the Industry!
    Topic: Car/Auto_Reviews

    For all its 27 years, the Honda Accord line has not ceased to wow car enthusiasts and competitors. The American Honda Motor Co is not ready to cede their position of status to any other manufacturers either. Even when the Toyota and Passat engineers have been bringing on the market vehicles that become sudden eye-catchers, Honda Accord keeps its loyal band of enthusiasts. These two previously mentioned car manufacturers have become leaders and standards in the Sedan market, that did not prevent Honda Accord from being the best-selling car in America in 2001. And the Accord line is not ready to rest on its laurels either. This is why we have the all-new 2003 redesign. Just a few looks at the Sedan and the Coupe will let you realize that the Honda engineers are dead serious about clutching to their traditions of pleasing the American car buyers. With all the bells and whistles added to this year's models, the Accord is poised to lead once more in this competitive category.

    Back up this stuff: Test-driving the EX Sedan

    This great sedan of the American household comes in the following trim lines: DX, LX and EX. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to test-drive the EX on a junction of our increasingly busy freeway. The following review will be purely based on my impressions and observations. To tell you the truth, I remained breathless once my time was over. Having been in the Honda family for a long time, I have secretly made up my mind to upgrade to this year's model. All that is needed is the go-ahead from my spouse and kids. Aren't we all in this situation, guys! Truly, buying a car has become a family affair.

    Any way, on a typical overcast Fall afternoon in the great Central Valley of California, I set out to explore the 2003 Honda Accord. I was ready for the driving after going to lunch with a colleague of mine. It was unfortunate that the Vietnamese restaurant was not too far away from our office. So I promised myself to find out more about this new sedan.

    How does this Accord drive?

    All the additions to this year's model have made the sedan very responsive on the road. I am referring to the EX Sedan's 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission. It is my finding that the shifting is smooth and responsive. In the end, the sedan provides a superb performance. Some of the equipments you may find on this year's model are anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

    How about the interior of the new Accord?

    There is no doubt that the interior of the Honda Accord features a blend of driver-focused features and information-oriented technologies. All of this starts with a new seat design that will provide maximum comfort and support. After all, you will be on the seat for the longest time possible. Even after stopping the car at the end of my test-drive, I did not want to get off the seat. I had ample time to check a few other things inside the cabin. There is enough front shoulder, front leg, rear shoulder room. Ample visibility has become a staple of the Honda. It's a feature you can find in practically all of the company's vehicles. Here is a list of other features you can find in this year's model, the EX Sedan:

  • ~Increased front interior
  • ~Increased rear knee room
  • ~New, larger seats with added comfort
  • ~Upgraded audio systems
  • ~LED instrumentation on all models. (There is the new V6-powered Accord Coupe which is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission; Expect more power, improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions from the new 4-cylinder and V6 engines teaming with new automatic and manual transmissions; Some of the highlights of th powertrain include: a new 160-hp 2.4 liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine; a new 240-hp 3.0-liter V-6 engine; a new 5-speed automatic transmission which replaces 4-speed automatic)
  • ~Available dual-zone climate controls
  • ~Sliding center armrest
  • ~Additional and improved bottle and cup holders (That's a must in most of our new vehicles these days!)
  • ~A new multi-functional key which eliminates the need for a remote key fob
  • Safety, dependability, quality, durability and reliability

    For the first time on any Honda, the Accord offers a side curtain airbag system that is available on the EX V6 models. This year's model is true to its past record of safety and reliability. There are sensors in the front passenger seat that automatically disable the side bag in case a person leans into its deployment path. That's the Occupant Position Detection system for passenger seat side airbag.

  • ~Standard dual stage front air bags
  • ~Driver's and passenger's side airbags (See above)
  • ~Added rear headrests in outboard seating positions
  • ~LATCH child safety seat mounting system
  • The EX already has the next generation of Satellite-linked Honda DVD Navigation Systems which offer enhanced features and the "Touch by Voice" voice recognition system. This is a first on the Accord. Other features include a larger touch screen display, an expanded database covering virtually all U.S. roads and with seven million points of interest. Compare this with the one million points of interest that are currently available on the market. That's a huge head start! The new split screen design enhances the on-screen information with "3-D" route visualization for easier use.

    Final thoughts on the EX

    Short and tall people will enjoy this sedan. It has a great driving position. The display, instruments and controls a very accessible. Yes, the trunk of this sedan can hold lots of luggage. It will hold more than your grocery bags. If you are going on a trip, it will hold all your suitcases and other equipment. Keep in mind that the trunk has a glow-in-the-dark emergency release handle. If you are inclined or have to carry long items, there is a pass-through behind the armrest that lets you do just that.

    This year's model is a great investment in the family's safety and reliability on the road.

    Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:26 PM
    Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006 8:36 PM
    Cadillac Escalade: The Truck To Be Seen On
    Topic: Car/Auto_Reviews

    Go ahead, GM! Give them something to talk about for many months and years to come. Something huge, similar to a quiet revolution in the SUV industry is happening. Those who are riding the waves of these changes just continue to love every single minute of it. Go to Beach Boulevard, Bel-Air in Los Angeles and you'll see something strange happening. For that matter, go to any major cities of this country where their residents care about their public images and are in a high economic bracket. You will see that most of them are driving in high class. They are driving gas-guzzling SUVs. If this is only one of the reasons most people rebuke them, a large group of truck drivers who are your neighbors, parents, and colleagues love SUVs for their practicality and the sense of power and control they exude. Right now, there is one truck that offers more than those qualities. 2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT is the ultimate luxurious SUV that anybody who is anybody covets out there. Who would resist taking a few rides in such a luxurious truck? I seized the opportunity to test-drive it a few days ago. I have come out of this experience with lots of goodies to share with you.

    Stars, rap moguls, various sports athletes and ordinary consumers with a pretty nice pocketbook are driving large in the Escalade

    What is clear is that GM wants to lead in the richly profitable SUV market. Who would not like to align him/herself with a winner?

    It's the new sign of the times. It's everywhere you go. Most of the local dealers I have talked to can't seem to hold them for too long. The Cadillac folks know a few things about bringing these robust, rugged but slick vehicles to the market. Now, life has not been all rosy for that brand all along. For what seemed to be an eternity, the Cadillac brand was being bombarded by the various products from Japan and Korea. These engineers and all the ensemble had to generate something that would capture the fancy of not only the most coveted up and mobile young people but also their core consumers, the mature Cadillac die-hards. They hit the jackpot with the arrival of the SUVs. GM engineers decide to base the Escalade on the well-known chassis of the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. Besides the Chevrolet Avalanche which the Escalade is adapted from, Escalade is the only full-size truck on the market which can go from a full-size SUV to a full-size pickup with a protected eight-foot cargo box. There is no doubt that GM has built a great momentum in the truck market since the inception of this superluxurious truck. It is fitting that they want to take advantage of every opportunity to put the results of their creative juice on the market. I remain a firm believer in the body-on-frame ruggedness, utility and versatility of the truck.

    Tell me more about the 2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT
    The Escalade is seen as the company's flagship SUV

    Introduced to the Cadillac brand as a 2002 model, Escalade has quickly grabbed the hearts of the die-hard SUV fans. Young as well as mature drivers seem to give a thumbs up. With its edgy style found mostly on the Escalade SUV and CTS sedan, the 2003 Escalade EXT is a sure attention grabber on the roads of this country. That's what happened to me and my salesperson when I took it out for a spin around town. The sheer beauty and size of the truck command respect. I had no problem negotiating the ramps to the freeways. A 6.0L V-8 engine powers the beautiful beast. It sports a smooth shifting four-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission with tow/haul modes.

    What are some of the Escalade's features?
    Convert-a-cab allows owners to do whatever they need to.

    Let's say you have a large and long load to haul. The Escalade can meet your needs in a heart beat. This is where the convert-a-cab feature comes handy. It allows you to convert the truck to meet your needs as they arise. In this case, all you need to do is to make sure the split rear passenger seat is folded (the midgate can be folded down to allow longer and larger cargo). The 2003 Escalade is a very versatile truck. Bear in mind that the EXT's rear window can be removed and stored on the midgate. If you want, you can keep the midgate upright with the window removed to create an open air feel without the wind noise which is common in convertible vehicles.

    The bed and tailgate of the EXT are made of a combination of steel. This is where GM can be proud of its PRO-TEC composite and other materials. It's new but it's efficient and effective. The composite will resist dings and scratches. So you don't have to worry about hauling your materials.

    How does the EXT drive?

    It's as smooth as any car despite its size. Handling and performance are its hallmarks. I had more space sitting behind its wheel than I have on a Cessna. The EXT has great display and control graphics. For this year's model, they have been upgraded. You can find these upgrades in the following areas: analog speedometer, tach, odometer, fuel, water temp, oil pressure and a digital message center. Visibility is a big plus. It's so amazing to be able to see everything in the environs. There is no mention of the head, leg and hip room that exists on this truck. It has comfortable type of living room chair front bucket seats with armrests and deep center console capable of swallowing almost anything.

    If you want to decide on this vehicle, I would recommend that you test-drive it on a few occasions to better appreciate it. Then, make up your mind. Anybody who receives this truck as a gift will be blown off his/her feet. It's such a gorgeous and big SUV! GM makes them big and better!

    Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:26 PM
    Updated: Monday, 30 May 2005 7:14 PM
    Ford Mustang: The Most Recognizable of Ford Vehicles
    Mood:  celebratory
    Topic: Car/Auto_Reviews

    Ford Mustang is one of the most recognizable Ford vehicles on the roads these days. From the inception of this brand to the current 2003 Mustang, many designs, improvements and features have been added to Mustang. No wonder that the 2003 model comes equipped with all the goodies that any serious car enthusiast has come to expect on this venerable brand. I had the opportunity to test-drive this year's model and came out very impressed by its smoothness, performance and simplicity. The 2003 model's improvements can be observed in the stiffer accessory drive brackets and bearings that tend to reduce variability. In addition, the Mustang sports a retuned suspension which includes new shock absorbers. I did not suffer from the poor conditions of the road where I was test-driving the 4.6-liter V-8 Mustang.

    If you have driven any of the previous years' models of Mustang, you were perhaps annoyed by all the wind noise coming from the door handles and other areas. What this year's model has done is that it has the wind noise. With new shock absorbers and less noise on the road, you are set to focus your mind on the driving. The distraction is never needed when driving such an American classic brand.

    The GT model and the Standard Mustang

    While the standard Mustang engine is a 3.8-liter OHV V-6 which produces 190 horsepower at about 5,250 rpm and 220 foot-pounds or torque at 2,750 rpm, the GT models release way much more power. They have a standard 4-6-liter SOHC V-8 that produces 260 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 302 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Now if you want more power as is the case for many of my friends, you can choose the Mach 1 model which has a standard 4-valve, DOHC 4.6-liter V-8 producing more than 300 horsepower.

    Safety and other significant features in the Mustang

    Test-driving the Mustang was a breeze. It was very responsive to my demands for more power as I got on the freeway and decided to go with the flow of traffic. I did not have to keep my fingers crossed before any positive reaction took place. Sporting 16-inch, polished-aluminium wheels, unique striping with "Mustang Stampede" graphics, the 2003 model leads to the "joie de vivre or conduire." The handling was great. One of the few things that caught my attention was the head-impact safety feature. It encompasses a new A-pillar, headliners, sun visors and a revised D-ring seat belt attachment. Four passengers can seat comfortably in the Mustang.

    What are my impressions after all?

    I had no problem getting in and out of the car. Once inside, I had enough head, hip and shoulder room. The subcompact coupe had nice leather seats an leather-wrapped steering wheel. While on the freeway, I had time to check the stereo system. The AM/FM stereo is, of course, standard. However, the CD player is optional. The Remote Keyless Entry is standard.

    It's my opinion that the Mustang can only get better. It's a great car for anybody who wants to be perceived as being fit, sport-oriented and hip. This model will also appeal those who like driving irregular and uncommon vehicles. If you are looking for something that will distinguish you on the road, a Mustang is a must. It makes sense that this model is very popular among both sexes, young as well as more mature car enthusiasts.

    The 2003 Mustang is a great ride you won't regret at all.

    Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:25 PM
    Updated: Saturday, 23 October 2004 6:25 AM
    HealthCare Watch: Popular Medications News
    Mood:  d'oh
    Topic: Pharmaceuticals/Health

    A popular medication has been taken off the shelves of pharmacies and patients' cabinets. A new research shows it can cause stroke. Is Vioxx supposed to strike fear in us, consumers? Does it make use think about all the popular medications that are advertised in all media outlets these days? Will consumers have to suffer latent consequences in the future? Just name a few popular ones (they currently have no recalls on them): Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, Zoloft, Tegretol, Lipitor, Zestril etc. How can we cover ourselves? Read the following report submitted by a pharmacist. More than ever before, we buy medications online through names such as,, Prescriptionsonline, etc.

    The manufacturer of Vioxx has taken the drug off the market because of new evidence that it can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

    The chance that an individual will suffer a heart attack or stroke related to Vioxx is very small. The studies do not show an increased risk until after taking Vioxx regularly for over 18 months. Millions of doses of Vioxx have been taken over the last several years and the vast majority of these patients have not suffered any of these problems. Any increased risk is likely to go away very quickly after stopping Vioxx. People who have stopped taking Vioxx should not have lingering concerns.

    Pharmacists will no longer fill any prescription for Vioxx. People taking Vioxx should contact their prescriber to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and any appropriate alternative treatment. Vioxx is a prescription medicine used to relieve signs and symptoms of arthritis, acute pain, and painful menstrual cycles.

    There are other drugs that can be used instead. Vioxx is called a COX-2 selective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Other COX-2 selective NSAIDs on the market are Celebrex (celecoxib) and Bextra (valdecoxib). Vioxx is also related to the nonselective NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Nobody knows for sure if the drugs that are similar to Vioxx can cause the same problems, but the news about Vioxx should not cause patients on these other drugs to make any change right now. Some people who have an allergy to sulfa drugs need to be careful about switching to another drug.

    The biggest concern with all these drugs is stomach bleeding and also liver and kidney toxicity. If you need to use these drugs for longer than two weeks, you should be under professional care.

    The problem related to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes was confirmed while Merck was testing to see if their product, Vioxx, was effective for some different use. They were trying to see if it helped prevent the recurrence of colon polyps, which can proceed to cancer. This trial was called the APPROVe (Adenomatous Polyp Prevention on Vioxx) trial. During this trial researchers saw the increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and strokes, after 18 months of continuous treatment with Vioxx.

    If you think you or anyone you may know have had an adverse effect caused by Vioxx you can report it to the FDA at (click on "How to Report") or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    You can also get more information from Merck at and or 1-888-368-4699. To find out more about Vioxx from the FDA click on or call 1-888-463-6332.

    Keep in mind that all drugs can have some side effects, but they can be very beneficial and sometimes life-saving when used properly. Always discuss any medications or other products you are taking with your pharmacist and prescriber.

    Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:22 PM
    Updated: Tuesday, 16 November 2004 4:47 PM
    Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, California at a Crossroad!
    Mood:  cheeky
    Topic: Books/Book_Reviews

    It just seems right that the best contemporary intellectuals that the Golden State has recently produced are from the land. The same land that is the foundation of the $ multi-billion agriculture industry. Whether we are talking about David Masumoto [Epitaph For A Peach] or Victor D. Hanson, we are talking about men who grew up on the farm, left for a short while to study at some of our best institutions of higher learning and ended up returning to farm and think. Think they do! They are men who are familiar with what it takes to grow produce that will feed the rest of the nation and the world. It's fitting that these men use their mind to escape the rigors of daily farming labor. Growing up, they knew what it takes to be exposed to the sultry sun and heat of the Central Valley of California. There is one common point between them: They value hard work, education and family. These values have attracted me to their work. The characteristics of their works are hard work, sweat and ideas.

    I had the pleasure to read one of Victor D. Hanson's previous works titled, "Carnage and ure." It was released right before the September 11 attacks on our nation. All of us needed to hear this type of reassuring messages contained in the book. It was somewhat an avant-coureur, a precursor, a prophecy to the events that would follow 9-11. In that book, he looked at nine military battles between Western and non-Western armies. He states that the ural values of the West based mostly on consensual government, free enterprise, freedom of speech, individualism produce far superior forces.

    It makes sense that I was waiting for the release of this book, Mexifornia: A State of Becoming.

    Book Background: How To Understand The Author's Views and Ideas

    This humble, down-to-earth author is a professor of Classics at CSU, Fresno State. In fact, a colleague of his and he are the founders of the Classical Studies department at the university. Despite his new found fame, he has not let it get to his head. He knows that fame is futile. He used to grow grapes and other fruits on his Selma, CA farms. The discipline of working with his hands has been serving him very well these days. He writes a column for the National Review Online and contributes essays to major newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. What is worth remembering here is that he still lives on his family farm. Even though he does not farm any more (leasing the land to farmers), he remains close to the land. That's why his views on labor issues involving illegal immigrants in the fertile San Joaquin Valley are important.

    Author Speaks his mind: He says what others can only whisper about massive, uncontrolled illegal immigration in the U.S.

    Some critics may call him nativist, racist or conservative, others may see some old farmer's grandson who is trying to offer suggestions and solutions to one of the problems facing California. Illegal immigration is rampant. There does not seem to be any control in sight. The Classics professor would counterattack by saying he grew up with Mexicans and Americans of Mexican ancestry. He saw how his parents and grandparents hired and treated them. He himself provides them with employment on his farms. He knows very well about the situation of interdependent relationship. That's why he said in a column to the Los Angeles Times, "It isn't healthy for a citizenry to feel one thing and then say another---Nursing frustrations in private that one day will explode when tapped by demagogues of both right and left." Why is that the case? The author acknowledges that employers in agribusiness, construction, hotels, restaurants and manufacturing welcome cheap labor. He made the following comments about why illegal immigration continues. "...our own citizens find collecting entitlements more lucrative "work" than the backbreaking labor offered to illegal immigrants.

    What's clear in this book is that the author does not mince words. He offers his straight talk. That's what a farmer does. In addition, he is an intellectual who has risen beyond the confines of the classroom. He has become the face of the public professor. While revealing the causes of the California's problems in this book, he does not do it without compassion. He shows the plight of the Mexican workers and other immigrants. Writing about he knows, Victor Hanson writes about his experience with workers from Mexico. This is not a local problem. All the western states are impacted by illegal immigration. While it has downsides, in terms of contribution the state's economy, illegal immigration which farmers readily exploit through contractors offers some benefits to the rest of us. Who would pick up our fruits, peaches, nectarines in 100+ temperatures? Native-born Americans would not want to do this type of heavy-duty type of work. Illegal immigration will continue to flourish with that kind of mentality.

    It's not something new to the rest of the nation. Most Americans or people living in rich countries have always had poor people, countryside workers picking their fruit, mowing their lawns, baby-sitting their kids and busing tables.

    The author suggests that if we continue down the current path, we'll have a Mexifornia

    Who should be interested in this book?

    Everybody who has ever complained in silence about illegal immigration should take a look at it. It will provoke deep thoughts.

    What are some of the solutions the author proposes?

  • 1. Learn proper English
  • 2. Adopt American history and ure and form lasting ties with the nation
  • 3. Border patrol increase
  • 4. Assimilation
  • 5. Intermarriage, common multiracial ure instead of separate multiracial ure.
  • 6. Education and hard work
  • I would encourage everybody to buy this book. It's a very interesting book.

    Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:21 PM
    Updated: Monday, 30 May 2005 7:16 PM
    The Official Flower of California: California Real Estate & Mortgage
    Mood:  happy
    Topic: Real_Estate/Properties

    All over the state of California, the blooming season is abuzz. From the fertile lands of the San Joaquin Valley stretching from Oakland to Bakersfield, the blooming of the fruit trees attracts visitors from all over the world and nearby states. It's the time of the year when mother nature offers its beauty to all to appreciate. During the first weeks of February, depending on the right amount of rain and sunshine, we can enjoy this annual visual feast in the Central Valley of California.

    For those of us who enjoy going on wild flower hikes, we know what comfort we get from watching the wild flowers growing all over the roads leading to Yosemite and other mountain areas. We always keep our eyes open to spot the state's official flower, the California Poppy. Nowhere else can you find it than at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. I almost lost my breath the first time I went to this reserve located near Lancaster. Thanks to all the Winter rains in February, we can expect to see these wild, bright orange poppies springing all over the reserve this year. Now is the time for you to pay a visit to the reserve just like many other tourists and motorists who are appreciating this natural jewel. You will never regret being there. If you have friends visiting you from other states and kids, they will thank you very much for taking them to this unique spot in California.

    Poppies and other wild flowers at the reserve

    Just imagine driving by the rolling hillsides of green grass with wild, bright orange flowers interspersed among all over. At Antelope, it's a pure mat of poppies and other flowers you will see for all the 1,760 acres of the reserve. If you ask the park's officials and those who are familiar with the reserve, they will be able to tell you some of the flowers names. For example, I learned about the yellow Bigelow's Coreopsis and purple Red Stem Filaree. The reserve's volunteers are more than willing to help visitors out. As the 100th anniversary of the poppy's status as the state's flower is drawing near, many activities are being planned for the occasion.

    In front of these vast acres of natural beauty, one can't stop wondering about these Spring decors. Almost every year, Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve reminds us that Spring is right around the corner. The long days of Winter are far behind us. Soon these beautiful flowers will withered away by the heat of the Summer months. Everything will be browned out. It's time to get out and enjoy the weather.

    Are you interested in taking a trip to the area? Without any doubt, you will enjoy your trip to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Where else can you find more than 1,700 acres of California's land mass covered by the official flower?

    The golden poppy is on display in season each spring. What you may want to know about is that the park has eight miles of trails. So if you feel like working out, you will be able to do so right there. While you are there, make sure to drop by the visitor center which has natural history displays and watercolor paintings by Jane Pinheiro. Park officials will tell you more about this great lady who was a leader in the efforts to preserve the reserve.The State Reserve is established to protect and perpetuate outstanding displays of native wildflowers, particularly the California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica, the state flower. Other wildflowers share the desert grassland to produce a mosaic of color and fragrance each spring.

    How to get there

    Directions: The reserve is located 15 miles west of Highway 14 near the town of Lancaster. The visitor center is located on Lancaster Road (Avenue I.)


    I have traveled a lot, but I have never seen anything like that. Something so wild, yet so beautiful! Once in a while, it's worth taking the time to enjoy what's available to us, for free all around us. We don't have to pay a cent to enjoy this natural museum.

    Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:21 PM
    Updated: Saturday, 23 October 2004 6:28 AM
    Olympic Soccer-Soy Diet : Get Ready For the Summer Olympics in Greece & Soccer World Cup
    Topic: Food_Fruit_Fitness

    Summer Fruits and Vegetables: Why did your MOMMA say they're good for you?

    Add some good fats, soy products, Soccer,
    Exercise to control Cholesterol and manage weight

    First things first, eliminate or limit bad fats. They are the saturated fats and transfatty acids that you find mostly in animal-related foods such as meats, high-fat dairy products, tropical oils like palm, coconut and palm kernel. It's worth pointing out that some studies show that diets high in saturated fats increase the risk of heart disease, obesity and some types of cancer. Now this is why our surgeon general and other health professionals are leading a public battle against obesity. They fear the consequences of such a large epidemic. Some of the risks associated with obesity are well-known: stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

    Where do we find the transfatty acids? Health scientists say that they are created when food manufacturers saturate vegetable oils in a process called hydrogenation. They are found in deep-fried foods, baked goods, beef fat and dairy fat, hard stick margarine and shortening. Think about the white stuff in your twinkies (lard and sugar combo). Transfatty acids raise your cholesterol while diminishing your HDLs, the good blood particles.

    Where can I find the good fats?

    There are two sources: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The monounsaturated fats are like barriers that protect and lower your cholesterol and reduce the possibility of heart disease. Where can I find these goodies? They are found mostly in vegetable oils. These monounsaturated fats can be found in olive, peanut and canola oils. You can obtain these fats in olives, avocados, soy, unprocessed nut butters, walnuts and almonds. In all things, be moderate. Now, don't make too much use of them. While they are protecting the body from invading germs and diseases, they tend to be high in calories.

    Now how about the polyunsaturated fats?

    They are the omega-3s and omega-6s which are essential to optimum cardiac function, joint health, mood stability. The omega-3s are usually found in walnuts, flax see, all green, leafy vegetables, fish such as salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and sesame oils.

    Hey, keep this in mind: Not all fat is bad. There are good fat and bad fats.

    What's up with soy?

    Substitute high-fat meats with good-fat protein. Research has shown that consuming at least 25 grams of soy protein in place of animal protein lowered blood cholesterol levels by 5 to 10 percent. That means there will be a reduction in heart-attack risk. Adopt a cholesterol-cutting diet which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans if you want to avoid medication or reduce your doses.

    What are the health benefits of soy? Is it true it helps those who are going through their menopause?

    Research has shown that it does provide some relief of hot flashes and night sweats. Those who worry about hormone-replacement risks may want to take a second look at soy-based foods. According to an analysis of a research published in the annals of Internal Medicine (Nov. 2002), researchers from Columbia University and George Washington University encourage women who are bothered by hot flashes and night sweats to try soy or isoflavone-rich foods or supplements. Soy helps prevent osteoporosis too. It also helps prevent breast and prostate cancer.

    The bottom line is to adopt a cancer-prevention diet which is high in fruits, vegetables, greens, beans, lentils, soups, stews and some casseroles but low in fat.


    Less bad fat and more good fat:

    Eat fish. Play soccer and drink silk. use canola oil or olive oil when baking and cooking. Use walnut or olive oil on salads. Sprinkle flaxseed in yogurt or on cereal. Put avocados on tacos or sandwiches. Add olives to salads, sandwiches or casseroles. Enjoy peanut and almond butter. Eat nuts. Change to trans-free margarines. Eat mussles, smelt and squid. Limit gravy and sauces. Use non-meat sources of protein such as beans, garbanzos, soy products and lentils. Buy whole-wheat bread with nuts and seeds etc.

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  • Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 4:21 PM
    Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005 3:03 PM
    Monday, 4 October 2004
    Real Estate Appreciation Potential
    Topic: Real_Estate/Properties

    Inside U.S. Real Estate: Shopnowshop Wealth Realty Service

    Good Schools Add Quick Value To Real Estate:
    Can You Afford To Buy?

    Do better schools mean higher property values? Or are high property values the signs indicating that all the socioeconomic conditions are met to have a high-scoring, well-known school district? Do regular homebuyers take the location of their next residence seriously enough when it comes to house appreciation? Don?O say this to the new house hunters who just want to find a home to shelter their family? What?? clear is that economics-how much money one makes-is one of the major determinants of whether his/her kids will be able to attend a great scoring school? Just say neighborhood school and you?Il realize why poor parents or middle-class parents who correlate the high property value to the high-scoring school district. It makes sense they want to send their kids to these schools whose students score high on national standard tests. Those who can afford the high prices of luxury, high-end homes won?O hesitate to do so because they want their kids to have the best education possible. In other words, they may not look only at private schools with a reputation of high performance, they?Il also look at public schools located in great neighborhoods or counties. House buyers are willing to pay top dollars for a great education. As always, in Real Estate, the location matters a lot.

    It makes sense that developers as well as investors are looking for stable communities where their real estate properties can quick rise in value. Tell me which parents would not like their kids to the Clovis Unified School District? How about the Palo Alto, Emeryville school systems? In the Clovis case, good schools tend to attract new residents from the Bay Area, San Jose and San Francisco. They sell their high-valued residence and decide to come inland where they can afford mini-mansions with a lot of money left over for other home improvement projects, cars and trips. When you talk to most of them, they?Il tell you that the lure of the Clovis schools just zapped them and sealed their choice of relocation. In the Palo Alto case, the Silicon Valley boom brought on by highly educated men and women from all over the country and the world have long realized the value of a good education. So flushed with money and know-how, they set out to recreate or create a system that meets their kids?needs for the global market. A great sign of this focus is the number of cultures and languages these kids are learning in school. Nationally, the schools that located in these districts create value for property owners. Some of the things you may not see in such high-valued properties are large prisons, sewage treatment plants and other services or even undesirable groups of people unfortunately. Stupid, the economy is the new gatekeeper. Some upscale neighborhoods residents don?O even want to have mental health people living in a neighboring group home. In a current case pitting residents of a Hanford, CA group home against the city, neighbors complain and fear the loss of their housing appreciation. The Federal government and HUD are intervening in this case. In some other California communities, good people, decent church people are protesting the presence of group homes that may accept forensic clients. They don?O want them to drive the neighborhood down.

    Two new services ( and are helping buyers and investors figure out the best places where they should put their money if they want to see appreciation. In this hot real estate market, who does not want to see appreciation of their investment? These Ohio-based services are telling us that a great school is a good predictor that your house value will go up. If the predictions and realities go well with the Clovis school system?? model, the big neighbor, Fresno Unified School district may not be in such a good position. There has been talk of possible take over by the state. Any state take over may be felt in the immediate depreciation of the Fresno homes.

    It goes without saying that buyers will fight or pay even more to get the school district they want. They know they?Il get two things: Appreciation or good resale value and good schools for their children. School performance has become a major factor for many people moving into the Central Valley of California. Many of them have heard about Clovis schools as being superior to those in the surrounding districts. Others are barely discovering a gem in the Central Unified School District. They get more lots, room and amenities for their dollars when they choose to live in this district. The Central Unified District has also seen a surge of development according to the teachers at Central High East and West. The new students come from all over the state. I will never forget a new couple with a brand new baby in two. They got lost and flagged me to get some information about Clovis. They were from Oregon. The gentleman was a business leader who was considering relocating to the Central Valley. He had all the main information about Clovis, CA. He wanted to see the town before going back to Oregon. Word of mouth, perception, national media and economy are all the factors that are sending more and more residents to places with great schools. For those of us, Real Estate helpers, agents and connoisseurs who know about the various locations, we know where the true values reside. Shopnowshop Wealth Realty Service is in a position to point out the right livable community in which you?Il realize potential increases in house appreciation.

    So far, we must admit that Clovis Unified schools have managed to give a good product. It's measured by the different tests its students take and pass without any trouble. This fact also means that the city of Clovis must try to attract more businesses that create jobs for all these residents. No wonder that the city has retained the services of a company to help bring national businesses to the Clovis area.

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  • Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 9:54 AM
    Updated: Monday, 30 May 2005 7:20 PM

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