Sound Linked to Taste
Have you ever had a great meal in a really loud restaurant? Probably not, says one study that found the volume of background noise can affect the taste of your food. Setting out to discover why airplane food always tastes so bland, researchers asked participants to eat foods like sweet cookies, salty chips and pancakes while listening to varying levels of white noise through headphones. The results showed that things do taste less sweet and salty to someone processing loud audio. Lead researcher Dr. Andy Woods of Unilever and the University of Manchester suggests, “We could ultimately work out the perfect soundtrack to enhance any meal.”
Beware of Tax-Season Scams
In recent years, the IRS has warned consumers about phishing scams that use its name, logo and website to obtain personal information from taxpayers. As tax time approaches this year, beware of any electronic correspondence that appears to be from the IRS or the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as neither sends emails regarding tax matters. The IRS warns taxpayers not to click on links that lead to third-party sites or respond to emails asking for personal information. For info on past scams, visit www.irs.gov.
New Dietary Guidelines
The USDA and Department of Health and Human Services have released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which offers the latest evidence-based guidance on nutrition in efforts to decrease obesity and chronic diseases. And like previous years, the guidelines advise Americans to reduce their intake of salt, sugar and fat, and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. New this year is the suggestion to increase seafood intake and eat less in general. Also included is concrete advice on eating better and increasing physical activity. Find the full document at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.
Timing the Best Deal
When it comes to getting the best deal, timing is everything. Last year, Lifehacker.com unveiled its first “Best Times to Buy” list, which it has since fine-tuned based on readers’ suggestions. Check out the 2011 edition and save yourself some green by taking advantage of sales and times of low demand.
In March, luggage, winter coats and sports gear, and boats are great buys. Halfway between buying seasons, stores are anxious to move their inventory and offer more affordable prices. Not too many people are looking to buy boats this time of year, so salesmen will be longing to make a deal, any deal. Plus, it’s the end of boat show season. As spring arrives, winter sports gear goes on sale, so take advantage and get some great prices.
April is a good time to purchase laptops, car accessories and parts, cookware, and vacuum cleaners. When new patio furniture hits sales floors in May, the old stuff must go, and generally does so at a discount. May and June are your months for cookware and dishware, as it’s prime wedding season and kitchen essentials will be on sale. Hit Fathers’ Day sales in June for tools and suits, even if you’re not a dad, but wait until after the Fourth of July to spring for that new grill—you’ll get a better deal.
Stores want to rid their floors of large outdoor toys and camping equipment as the season ends, making August the best time to buy. Shop back-to-school sales for clothes, linens and storage containers, and purchase holiday airfare in September, well before the prices skyrocket.
As fall turns to winter, you’ll see great deals on wedding dresses and home theater elements. Year-end is also a good time to get a fantastic price on off-color cars the dealers haven’t been able to get rid of.
For the full list of the best times to buy in 2011, visit lifehacker.com.
Your Seasonal Shopping List
FIRST QUARTER: gas grills, air conditioners, bicycles, sporting goods, digital cameras
SECOND QUARTER: TVs, houses, winter wear, laptops, cookware, vacuum cleaners
THIRD QUARTER: big appliances, furniture, “older” computers, camping equipment
FOURTH QUARTER: shrubs, bushes, cookware, toys and games, wedding dresses.
My Favorite Quotes
John F. Gilligan, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and president emeritus of Fayette Companies. He currently chairs the board for Quality Quest for Health of Illinois and is a past chairman of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, the Employers’ Association of Illinois and the Central Illinois Workforce Board. He is an educator, trainer, managerial consultant and author of numerous books and publications. He is presently working on a book entitled The American Culture: 1620-2020.
In the autumn of my life, I recall Isaac Asimov’s observation: Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes, albeit a little less humorous:
- The first wealth is health. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). This one always helps put things in perspective and prevents going to pot, even with a pot of money.
- Narcotics cannot still the tooth that nibbles at the soul. Emily Dickinson (1830-1882). So insightful and concise, and captures our postmodern malaise.
- In a similar vein, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) foresaw what we all got hooked on during the past 50 years: There is nothing more intoxicating than an idea that liberates…especially from social and religious constraints. I would only note that hate, rage and cruelty can be just as intoxicating. Or, as Dostoevsky stated it: It’s just as easy to get drunk on blood as on wine.
- In an age in which nothing seems to have value unless it can be quantified, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) reminds us: Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted. The value of a life, so it seems to me, defies quantification.
- My final quote, which I gleefully uttered throughout my formal education, is one that I am prohibited by my daughter, who is a teacher, from repeating to my grandchildren. It’s adapted from Mark Twain (1835-1910): Never let your education interfere with your learning. These days, it’s probably not the smartest quote to pass on to your kids.