Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lynnwood auto repair shop charged with insurance fraud

A Snohomish County auto repair shop has been charged with insurance fraud after charging for repairs it didn't do and parts that it never installed.

Northwestern Collision, of Lynnwood, was charged Dec. 14 in Snohomish County Superior Court. Arraignment is set for Jan. 9.

In 2009, Farmers Insurance investigators inspected 11 vehicles that had been repaired by the shop between 2007 and 2009. Of the 11, 10 "had substantial and specific" deviations from the repair estimates that Farmers had agreed to.

Among the problems: parts missing and not replaced, repairs not performed, and repairing items that were supposed to be replaced.

On Dec. 8, 2010, officers from the state insurance commissioner's Special Investigations Unit, the State Patrol and the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office served a warrant at the company's Lynnwood office. They gathered up paper files on 10 of the 11 vehicles.

The records indicated that in some cases, new parts that were supposed to be installed were instead returned to the parts dealer.

The insurer was overcharged nearly $11,000, and had to buy one customer's car, which had been rendered unsafe to drive, for another $15,446.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cease and desist order issued to TracGuard Services

The Washington state insurance commissioner's office has told a Florida-based vehicle service contract provider to stop selling unauthorized contracts in Washington state.

TracGuard Services LLC, Jose L. Terry and Alberto Tudela, all of North Miami, have been ordered "to immediately cease and desist from engaging in or transacting the unauthorized business of insurance" in Washington.

Neither the company nor the two men are authorized to solicit or transact insurance in the state. They have not registered as a motor vechicle service contract provider in Washington.

The three have been ordered to notify all Washington residents who have purchased a service contract from them. It also warns that, pursuant to Washington state law, unauthorized insurers "shall remain personally liable for performance of the contract."

Cease and desist order issued to Mill Creek man

A Mill Creek man and company have been ordered to stop selling unauthorized vehicle service contracts.

The order names Scott L. Stevens and, Inc., both of Mill Creek, Wash. In August of 2010, they sold a consumer a vehicle service contract offered by Genuine Warranty Solutions, Inc.

The problem: Genuine Warranty Solutions, Inc. is not a registered vehicle service contract provider in Washington.

The Dec. 19 order took effect immediately. Stevens and the company have the right to appeal the order.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ground meat treats: Zucchini and onion meatloaf

A cousin of the meatball (), the meatloaf is a traditional German dish. The recipe below is for a meal that feeds 4-8 people. The ground beef used has little fat, and thus a relatively low omega-6 content. Most of the fat comes from the 1 lb of ground grass-fed lamb in the recipe, which has a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than the regular (i.e., non-grass-fed) ground beef. The egg acts as a binder. Leave the potato out if you want to decrease the carbohydrate content; it does not add much (nutrient numbers are provided at the end of the post).

- Prepare some dry seasoning powder by mixing salt, parsley flakes, garlic powder, chili powder, and a small amount of cayenne pepper.
- Grate one zucchini squash and one peeled potato. Cut half an onion into small pieces of similar size.
- Mix 2 lb of very lean ground beef (96/4) with 1 lb of ground grass-fed lamb.
- Add the dry seasoning, zucchini, potato, onion and a whole egg to the ground meat mix.
- Vigorously mix by hand until you get a homogeneous look.
- Place the mix into a buttered casserole dish with the shape of a loaf.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake the meatloaf for about 1 hour and a half.

It is a good idea to place the casserole dish within a tray, as in the photo above. The meatloaf will give off some of its juices as it bakes, which may overflow from the casserole dish and make a mess in your oven. Below is a slice of meatloaf served with a side of vegetables. The green spots in the meatloaf are the baked zucchini squash pieces.

A thick slice like the one on the photo above will have about 52 g of protein, 15 g of fat, and 6 g of carbohydrates (mostly from the potato). That'll be about 1/5 of the whole meatloaf; the slice will weigh a little less then 1/2 lb (approximately 200 g). The fat will be primairly saturated and monounsaturated (both healthy), with a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. The slice of meatloaf will also be a good source of vitamins B12 and B6, niacin, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Public notices and hearings: Change of incorporation, proposed acquisition, etc.

Notices and upcoming hearings from our public notices web page:

Proposed acquisition: Humana is proposing to become the sole owner of Arcadian Management Services and its affiliates. We've completed our review of the application for acquisition of control. No hearing's been scheduled yet, but will be soon.

Incorporation change: The Safeco Companies have requested approval to have New Hampshire be their state of incorporation. The companies, which were acquired by Boston-based Liberty Mutual in 2008, say the change would not affect any Washington policyholders, and that there would be no interruption in coverage. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2012 at 10 a.m. in our Tumwater office, which is at 5000 Capitol Blvd. Annual reports and other documents re: the request are posted here.

Change in port of entry/redomestication: Industrial Alliance Pacific Insurance and Financial Services have filed documents to change their port of entry/redomestication to Texas. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2012 at 1 p.m. at our Tumwater office, which is at 5000 Capitol Blvd. Documents re: the request are posted here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reindeer Cam!

Attention everyone with kids! There is a website called Reindeer Cam that has a 24-hour live video feed on Santa's reindeer! Santa shows up to feed the reindeer at 10am and 5pm EST. We were eagerly awaiting the show this morning and they are right on time, but he only hangs around for about 5 minutes to add new hay and fresh food so you have to be there at the hour on the dot! 

We have checked in periodically all morning to see what the reindeer are doing. It is SO much fun for them {and me} to see! The sleigh was out and getting ready to go last time we checked. Head over to right now to view! 

p.s. Here is a great quote that I came across - it's just perfect for the lead up to Christmas:
"The easiest way to get what you want, is to want what you have."
- Eric Dane

Public Health in the 21st Century

At the beginning of the 21st century, key public health issues and challenges have taken center stage on the global scene.  Ranging from arsenic in drinking water to asthma among children and adults; from the re-emergence of cholera, to increasing rates of various forms of cancer; from HIV and AIDS to MDR-TB, malaria; from the crises faced by displaced or refugee populations to the new challenges that have emerged for reproductive health and rights; from the experience of public health emergencies as the result of disasters such as tsunamis, and catastrophic storms to the growing specter of potential global pandemics such as those linked to H5N1.  The expansion of serious public health problems, increasingly taking shape on a global scale, has been one of the defining features of recent history.

Like most aspects of contemporary life, this range of key public health problems has been increasingly impacted by processes associated with globalization.  The issues that confront us have been, and are, being shaped by evolving processes such as the growth of inequalities between the rich and the poor, the globalization of trade and commerce, new patterns of travel and migration, as well as a significant reduction in available resources for the development and sustainability of public health infrastructures.

The social, cultural, economic and political transformations associated with globalization have increasingly intersected with the growing range of environmental threats produced by industrialization, epidemics of newly-emerging infectious diseases, and the rapid increase of chronic diseases linked to changing lifestyles.

The new public health challenges of the 21st century have taken place within the context of a rapidly changing political and institutional landscape. In recent decades the field that was initially described as international health involving sovereign states has increasingly been re-conceptualized as global health within the global system. 

This change represents far more than a simple shift in language.  It stems from a fundamental transformation in the nature of health threats and in the kinds of solutions that must be posed to them.  It recognizes that many of the most serious health threats facing the world community today reach beyond the sovereign borders of nation-states and require the attention not only of governments but also of a range of non-state institutions and actors.

The Routledge International Handbook on Global Public Health, edited by Richard Parker and Marni Sommer, addresses both the emerging issues and conceptualizations of the notion of global health, expanding upon and highlighting critical priorities in this rapidly evolving field.  This comprehensive handbook is intended to provide an overview for students, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers working in or concerned with public health around the globe.

The book includes ten sections, ranging from Structural Inequalities and Global Public Health, to Ecological Transformation and Environmental Health in the Global System, Global Access to Essential Medicines, Global Mental Health, and Health Systems, Health Capacity and the Politics of Global Health, and brings together leading authors from across the world to reflect on past, present, and future approaches to understanding and promoting global public health. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Judge issues insurance fraud the form of a poem

And now for something completely different:

A Pennsylvania judge has issued a ruling in an insurance fraud case. What's unusual is that the judge issued his ruling in the form of a poem. From the Associated Press:
Justice J. Michael Eakin, writing for a 4-2 majority, concluded in six-line stanzas that a man's attempt to deposit a forged check appearing to be from State Farm didn't constitute insurance fraud.
"Sentenced on the other crimes, he surely won't go free, but we find he can't be guilty of this final felony," Eakin wrote. "Convictions for the forgery and theft are approbated — the sentence for insurance fraud, however, is vacated. The case must be remanded for resentencing, we find, so the trial judge may impose the result he originally had in mind."
A 3-page dissent by another judge, AP writer Marc Levy noted, did not rhyme.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's nearly time...!

Image via Pinterest

Are you ready? Still have shopping to do? My gifts are wrapped and I'm counting down the days until we can get Big Squish's face on the video camera on Christmas morning! 
Best. Moment. Ever.
{My guess is Munchkin will care for little other than eating some wrapping paper}

GEICO fined $100,000 for overcharging customers in WA; company will also refund $7.5 million

A Maryland-based insurance company has been fined $100,000 after overcharging thousands of its Washington state customers.
The insurer, GEICO, is also refunding $7.5 million – plus 8 percent interest -- to the 25,267 affected auto insurance consumers by the end of the year.

“A computer database error caused the problem, which the company reported to us promptly,” said Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “GEICO has also agreed to a two-year compliance plan that includes multiple audits.”

An additional $50,000 fine was suspended, on the condition that the company abides by the terms of the compliance plan.

The refunds, many of which have already been paid, will average roughly $300. The company has been contacting active and former customers affected by the issue and expects to have all refunds paid by the end of the year.

On May 26, 2011, GEICO representatives self-reported the computer error, which resulted in 7 percent of the company’s Washington customers being overcharged for insurance between Aug. 24, 2009 and June 2011.

Fines collected by the insurance commissioner’s office do not go to the agency. The money is deposited in the state’s general fund to pay for other state services.

The complete order is posted at:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Miu Miu Jeweled Heels: DIY

Guess WHAT. You know my Miu Miu jeweled wedding shoes? They are the ones above for any newcomers here. Well, a blog that I adore - Honestly WTF - posted a DIY for them today! Head over to check out the instructions {and plan on staying around for a good few hours if you have never visited. She has *incredible* do-it-yourself tutorials!!} Here is the before and after. 

Images courtesy of Honestly WTF

Amazing, right?! Super simple and very inexpensive to do. You'd be crazy not to with all of the holiday parties coming up! Here is a close up of mine if you want to try to replicate exactly.

Three cheers for glamming up what's happening south of your ankles! 

Happy Holidays From NCTOH Organizers!

From NCTOH Organizers

Julia's Top Ten List for Finals, by blogger of the month Julia Rubin-Smith

As November blogger (and December blogger ninja) Ross Green mentioned in his last post, Caroline House is a place where many of us spend a lot of time, especially during exams. For the most part there is a routine to what goes on here, with few surprises (unlike the study room in the student center on the main campus, where a stray cat once climbed onto my laptop keyboard and started inadvertently typing a nonsensical email to my mother). Here are 10 things you can count on seeing here every day:

1) Security guards. Caroline house has security guards on duty around the clock. In fact, it seems that every 15 minutes there is a new one! This serves two purposes: one, keeps them alert. Two, when your dad comes to visit, and tries to marry you off to one of them, the embarrassment will be fleeting. (Hi Adie’s dad!) 

2) Israelis. For those of you who don’t know, Caroline House is the student center for the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences, which includes MSIH as well as the Israeli medical and health sciences students. Israelis who study in Caroline House can be counted on to be there between noon and 7pm, and to be speaking in their “outdoor” voices. The chatter is punctuated by a wide variety of jaunty cell phone ring tones, adding some much needed music to our days.

A typical study table layout. Please don't judge us -
we're very busy, and the Indian restaurant delivers!
3) Junior Israelis. A number of Israeli students tutor local children in math and English. The layout of Caroline house is conducive to tutoring small groups so they congregate here between the hours of 3 and 5pm. I’ll let you imagine what that does to the activity level in the study room.

4) Free dinners. After a few days of studying at Caroline, we noticed an unexplained influx of med students at 6:55pm every day. Turns out, the snack bar upstairs closes for the day at 7pm, at which point the friendly attendant gives away leftover sandwiches, pastries, and soup to beggars 
med students. A great way to save money, though not great for our waistlines!

5) Sweatpants. These are mandatory study accessories for MSIH students. Really, they’re the height of fashion. Some of us have even started sporting BGU sweatshirts, which really round out the outfit. 

6) Sleeping med students. Many of us spend the majority of our days here during exams. We all cope with this in different ways, from bringing our own kum kums (electric tea kettles) to taking cat naps on the couches (and in some cases on plastic chairs). You can also frequently find sleeping med students in the classrooms (during breaks, of course), but that’s a subject for another time.

7) Fantastic parking jobs. See picture. No need for further explanation, I think.

Why would you park there?
8) Sun patches. Now that it’s winter (though it was a balmy 76 degrees today), the sun sets around 4:30pm. I usually go outside for a “sun break” around 3, at which point there is generally one patch of sun on the grass to stand in. On weekends I have this sun patch gloriously to myself. On weekdays the sun patch is completely filled with Israeli students, all standing together and packed tightly as sardines. I don’t know how they do it, but not a single one is ever pushed off the patch and into the shade.

9) Mess. We are slobs. Period. But hey, at least we clean up after ourselves when we leave!

10) Chocolate. Someone ALWAYS brings chocolate. Honestly, I don’t know how we would get through exams without it. Sometimes, when it is not obvious where the chocolate is, an email will go out asking who brought it today. We’re never disappointed! -blogger of the month Julia Rubin-Smith

Monday, December 19, 2011

Protein powders before fasted weight training? Here is a more natural and cheaper alternative

The idea that protein powders should be consumed prior to weight training has been around for a while, and is very popular among bodybuilders. Something like 10 grams or so of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is frequently recommended. More recently, with the increase in popularity of intermittent fasting, it has been strongly recommended prior to “fasted weight training”. The quotation marks here are because, obviously, if you are consuming anything that contains calories prior to weight training, the weight training is NOT being done in a fasted state.


Most of the evidence available suggests that intermittent fasting is generally healthy. In fact, being able to fast for 16 hours or more, particularly without craving sweet foods, is actually a sign of a healthy glucose metabolism; which may complicate a cause-and-effect analysis between intermittent fasting and general health. The opposite, craving sweet foods every few hours, is generally a bad sign.

One key aspect of intermittent fasting that needs to be highlighted is that it is also arguably a form of liberation ().

Now, doing weight training in the fasted state may or may not lead to muscle loss. It probably doesn’t, even after a 24-hour fast, for those who fast and replenish their glycogen stores on a regular basis ().

However, weight training in a fasted state frequently induces an exaggerated epinephrine-norepinephrine (i.e., adrenaline-noradrenaline) response, likely due to depletion of liver glycogen beyond a certain threshold (the threshold varies for different people). The same is true for prolonged or particularly intense weight training sessions, even if they are not done in the fasted state. The body wants to crank up consumption of fat and ketones, so that liver glycogen is spared to ensure that it can provide the brain with its glucose needs.

Exaggerated epinephrine-norepinephrine responses tend to cause a few sensations that are not very pleasant. One of the first noticeable ones is orthostatic hypotension; i.e., feeling dizzy when going from a sitting to a standing position. Other related feelings are light-headedness, and a “pins and needles” sensation in the limbs (typically the arms and hands). Many believe that they are having a heart attack whey they have this “pins and needles” sensation, which can progress to a stage that makes it impossible to continue exercising.

Breaking the fast prior to weight training with dietary fat or carbohydrates is problematic, because those nutrients tend to blunt the dramatic rise in growth hormone that is typically experienced in response to weight training (). This is not good because the growth hormone response is probably one of the main reasons why weight training can be so healthy ().

Dietary protein, however, does not seem to significantly blunt the growth hormone response to weight training; even though it doesn't seem to increase it either (). Dietary protein seems to also suppress the exaggerated epinephrine-norepinephrine response to fasted weight training. And, on top of all that, it appears to suppress muscle loss, which may well be due to a moderate increase in circulating insulin ().

So everything points at the possibility that the ingestion of some protein, without carbohydrates or fat, is a good idea prior to fasted weight training. Not too much protein though, because insulin beyond a certain threshold is also likely to suppress the growth hormone response.

Does the protein have to be in the form of a protein powder? No.

Supplements are made from food, and this is true of protein powders as well. If you hard-boil a couple of large eggs, and eat only the whites prior to weight training, you will be getting about 8-10 grams of one of the highest quality protein "supplements" you can possibly get. Included are BCAAs. You will get a few extra nutrients with that too, but virtually no fat or carbohydrates.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Social media, liability and insurance

Social media and insurance? Hard to imagine those words together, but the new report by the Insurance Information Institute is pretty interesting reading.

Most of us rely on social media more and more these days - whether for work or to keep with friends and family. But we probably never think about the insurance impact (ie. liability issues).

Find out if you or your business could be at risk - here's the report.

Top 5!

I have a little guest post over on one of my favorite decor blogs today with Amber of Amber Interior Design. She asked me to share my Top 5 Kitchens of all time. FUN!! Head on over to see my picks, but be warned there is no shortage of lacquer or color. Here's a sneak peek...

In the Top 5 Spirit and the countdown to Christmas officially underway, I decided to compile my Top 5 Entry Ways as well just for you! 

Number 5 :: This one might surprise some of you who follow my blog regularly, as the entry above is - at least to me - quite sparse and minimalistic which is typically not my style. I love the feeling it gives me, though I can't quite put a finger on what that is exactly!

Number 4 :: This one is also quite traditional which again, is typically not my style, however the mix of graphic black and white chevron with classic stripes on a traditional chair, plus the lovely little vignette behind it, and then the mixture of artwork and varying frames - it just sucks me right in! Not to mention the kitchen in the background with 50s checkerboard tile... what an awesome mix.

Number 3 :: Oh blue velvet. You'll get me every time. Throw in some Gracie wallpaper and I'm a goner. 

Number 2 :: This entrance hall in a Brooklyn apartment was my favorite for many many moons. Hot pink is the color of my blood, so I just adore these walls. Couple that shade with bold black and white and a statement is officially made. The ornate antique French table along with all of the other details in the space make me melt.

Number 1 :: And my all time favorite entrance hall, of course, is lacquered to high heaven and back. I can't imagine anyone walking into that front door and not saying wow as their jaw hits the floor. Now that's my kind of decorating. Not safe. Not expected. Electric blue lacquer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011, by November Blogger of the month Ross Green

Guess who is back! I guess I’ve had such an eventful last few weeks that I decided to write one more post and sum up what’s been going on in my life lately. As I’m sure you can guess, we are currently in the middle of exam time! At this point we only have two more left, which means that I leave for Spain a week from today! If I haven’t mentioned, Nicole Magpayo and I are spending our Winter/Hanukah/Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/Hanukkah break in Spain, traveling to both Barcelona and Madrid. I have never been there before, but everything that I’ve heard makes this country sound really unique and fun so I can’t wait!

Lately, our entire class has been quite stressed out with exams. The Caroline House has a downstairs study area, which seems to be the place of interest for everyone to study (including the Israeli’s who spend most of their time there eating lunch, talking on the phone to someone who is apparently hard of hearing because they are always speaking as loud as possible, or updating their Facebook so that all of their friends know that they got up to take a bathroom break 5 minutes ago). It has been pretty nice otherwise though, because it’s a social, yet studious, environment for us to go to and help each other out.

A cool fountain near my apartment.
I have been spending most of my time studying at home in my apartment though. It’s a nice and quiet environment that I’ve made into my personal little library. I have a kumkum (electric water kettle) with lots of coffee and food right next to me in my kitchen so that I can spend the entire day studying without any distractions (sounds crappy, but it is finals time). Other than that, my days have been pretty simple… Wake up with some coffee and reading, make some food, study more, go for a run, and then study till I get too tired to keep my eyes open. My nightly runs have been pretty nice though. It’s been a way to take a break and clear my mind, while getting outside into the fresh air. Also, I’ve been preparing for my Spain trip (and life in general) by listening to Pimsleur to learn Spanish. It’s been pretty great, and I already think that I’m fluent in Spanish (not really, but I know how to say “Excuse me Miss, do you understand English?)! Pretty good, right?!

I must say also, that there has been a feeling in the air that I was not expecting in Medical School, but I really like. When I used to think about Medical School the image that came into my mind was living in a library, and everyone keeping their notes and study material to themselves so that they succeed above everyone else. I’ve also always heard the “horror story” about the one guy that rips pages out of library books, and gives people wrong information, to reduce the competition. The complete opposite atmosphere is felt here at MSIH! We have an online group where everyone shares helpful links, YouTube videos that they find that explain something really well, or any other study material so that everyone is able to do their best on exams! That really says a lot about the people here, and how everyone not only cares about numero uno, but the rest of their peers. On that note, good luck everyone! Let’s be THAT class, and ALL pass these next two exams!

Adam and David in their new
paratrooper uniforms
This Tuesday night (after our Cellular and Molecular Biology exam) we decided to take the night off to celebrate Nicole’s birthday. We all needed to blow off some steam after the marathon we had the couple of weeks prior, so why not celebrate! After having dinner and some drinks we all went out to the Einstein to dance and just let loose! It was a fairly early night (it’s still finals time) but to take the night off and enjoy some time with the rest of our classmates was exactly what I (and I’m sure everyone else) needed.

Other than that, things have been pretty simple. On a side note outside of the MSIH bubble, my two best friends from home have started their basic training for the Israeli Paratroopers. I was worried that once they started the army I wouldn’t be able to see them anymore, but luckily their base is really close to Be’er Sheva, so even though they don’t spend all of their weekends off with me here, they still have been coming down to spend Saturday night at my apartment so that they can get up and go right to their base.

Ok, back to studying. This time I can say that this is my last post, so I hope you enjoyed reading a little into my life here in Be’er Sheva. I can say, I enjoyed writing, so I hope you enjoyed reading! - Ross Green

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Sign of the Times

Every now and then, I venture out to go shopping at mainstream chain clothing stores.  Although I find it onerous, there are certain things I can't get at thrift stores.  For example, I can never find nice jeans.

The last time I set foot in these stores was about two years ago.  It was tough to find pants my size at that time-- many stores simply didn't sell pants with a 30 inch waist.  This year, it was even harder, since some of the stores that formerly carried 30W pants no longer did.  I managed to find my usual 30W 30L size in two stores, but I had a bizarre experience in both cases.   I put them on, and they were falling off my waist.  Since my waist size hasn't changed in two years, and my old 30W 30L pants of the same brand still fit the same as they did when I bought them two years ago, I have to conclude that both stores have changed their definition of "30 inches".  My new size is 28W 30L, which is tough to find these days.
Read more »

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Love It or Hate It?

Some may mistake her for a walking Christmas tree, but if you can mix sequins like this and pull it off {brilliantly} as she does, you have my vote. 

p.s. I am *mega* excited... Facebook followers AND Blog followers are both nearly at the 1000 mark! 996 on FB at last check and 972 here on el bloggo. What GREAT Christmas gifts! THANK YOU GUYS!!!

Number of uninsured in WA hits 1 million

We posted a report this morning detailing our estimates of the number of Washingtonians with no health insurance, the amount of uncompensated care, and how those numbers are trending.

The upshot: We calculate that:
  • The number of uninsured has reached 1 million, or 14.5 percent of the state's population.
  • Uncompensated care (bad debt and charity care at hospitals, clinics, etc.) is nearly $1 billion.
  • And that both numbers are likely to continue to rise until 2014, when the major provisions of federal health care reform are slated to take effect.
  • The percentage of residents without health coverage worsened in 31 of 39 counties.
  • In several counties, more than 1 in 5 residents has no health coverage.
“This is a grim milestone for the state, and we believe the situation will remain bleak for two more years,” said Kreidler. “But it’s important for people to know that there is hope is on the horizon.”

Counties with a particularly high percentage of uninsured residents include: Adams, Grant, Okanogan, Franklin and Yakima. But the problem also worsened in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties.

The good news: Assuming that federal health care reform takes effect as planned, more than 800,000 uninsured Washingtonians will be eligible in 2014 for expanded Medicaid eligibility or subsidies to help low- and middle-income families pay for health coverage.

This is the third report on the uninsured our office has put out since 2006.

The deadline to submit abstracts for NCTOH has been extended to Sunday, December 18th!

The deadline to submit abstracts for NCTOH has been extended to Sunday! The abstract submission process is designed to develop sessions where attendees will learn about the latest tobacco control research, strategies and developments. The focus is on best evidence-based approaches, programs and products, and how they can be effectively implemented and replicated. Papers addressing 12 different program areas are being collected until 11:59pm (PST) December 18thSubmit yours today!

You still have time to sign-up to review abstracts. The reviewer volunteer site will close on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:59pm (PST)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Condomize at ICASA: Using coffee flavored condoms?

Patrick Byam, 
Program Manager, Yale Global Health Leadership Institute 

I just returned from attending the 16th International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STDs in Africa (ICASA) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from December 4-8th, 2011. One of the highlights of the conference was a listening to a passionate and controversial speech given by a fellow Canadian and HIV/AIDS activist Stephen Lewis during one of the plenary sessions. Lewis lambasted the Global Fund for cancelling Round Eleven of funding thereby undermining the monies for enumerable HIV/AIDS programs across Africa (Click here to read more on Mr. Lewis' Yale visit). And, he further antagonized the AIDS community for waiting five years to implement the new “Treatment as Prevention” protocol. Lewis invigorated the audience in a call to action to change the status quo of AIDS funding and to speed the scale-up of new and effective AIDS treatment and prevention methods. 

Another inspirational speaker was Dr. Tedros Adhanhom Gebreyesus, the Ethiopia Federal Minister of Health, who spoke on how vertical funding for HIV/AIDS was used for broader health system strengthening efforts. This topic resonated with me and my current work on the Ethiopian Millennium Rural Initiative (EMRI), the project on which I presented two posters on at the conference. It highlighted how efforts to strengthen the primary health care system of Ethiopia can simultaneously improve HIV/AIDS services while also impacting maternal and child health, malaria, TB and other pressing challenges facing Ethiopian communities. This was the approach of the EMRI program and it was exciting to see the alignment of the project with the Dr. Tedros’s vision for Ethiopia.

One fascinating aspect of the conference was the promotion of condom use. The slogan: Condomize! was used as a public health campaign to encourage condom-use. One non-governmental organization called DKT, had a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony during which they promoted the use of coffee flavored condoms, which I found quite clever! It made for a memorable AIDS prevention campaign and ICASA conference.

How I Wore It :: Fall Baby Shower

The bump is growing! I had a baby shower this past weekend and went with one of my staple maternity dresses from Isabella Oliver. Not the cheapest of maternity clothes, but I wear the dresses I have from them ALL the time. This is hands down my favorite maternity store on the planet!

Dress - Isabella Oliver :: Tights - Gap Maternity :: Jacket - D&G :: Bag - Prada :: Sunglasses - Prada Men :: Booties - House of Harlow

Hope you all had a great weekend! ps....13 days until Christmas WHAT.

Finding your sweet spot for muscle gain with HCE

In order to achieve muscle gain, one has to repeatedly hit the “supercompensation” window, which is a fleeting period of time occurring at some point in the muscle recovery phase after an intense anaerobic exercise session. The figure below, from Vladimir Zatsiorsky’s and William Kraemer’s outstanding book Science and Practice of Strength Training () provides an illustration of the supercompensation idea. Supercompensation is covered in more detail in a previous post ().

Trying to hit the supercompensation window is a common denominator among HealthCorrelator for Excel (HCE) users who employ the software () to maximize muscle gain. (That is, among those who know and subscribe to the theory of supercompensation.) This post outlines what I believe is a good way of doing that while avoiding some pitfalls. The data used in the example that follows has been created by me, and is based on a real case. I disguised the data, simplified it, added error etc. to make the underlying method relatively easy to understand, and so that the data cannot be traced back to its “real case” user (for privacy).

Let us assume that John Doe is an intermediate weight training practitioner. That is, he has already gone through the beginning stage where most gains come from neural adaptation. For him, new gains in strength are a reflection of gains in muscle mass. The table below summarizes the data John obtained when he decided to vary the following variables in order to see what effects they have on his ability to increase the weight with which he conducted the deadlift () in successive exercise sessions:
    - Number of rest days in between exercise sessions (“Days of rest”).
    - The amount of weight he used in each deadlift session (“Deadlift weight”).
    - The amount of weight he was able to add to the bar each session (“Delta weight”).
    - The number of deadlift sets and reps (“Deadlift sets” and “Deadlift reps”, respectively).
    - The total exercise volume in each session (“Deadlift volume”). This was calculated as follows: “Deadlift weight” x “Deadlift sets” x “Deadlift reps”.

John’s ability to increase the weight with which he conducted the deadlift in each session is measured as “Delta weight”. That was his main variable of interest. This may not look like an ideal choice at first glance, as arguably “Deadlift volume” is a better measure of total effort and thus actual muscle gain. The reality is that this does not matter much in his case, because: John had long rest periods within sets, of around 5 minutes; and he made sure to increase the weight in each successive session as soon as he felt he could, and by as much as he could, thus never doing more than 24 reps. If you think that the number of reps employed by John is too high, take a look at a post in which I talk about Doug Miller and his ideas on weight training ().

Below are three figures, with outputs from HCE: a table showing the coefficients of association between “Delta weight” and the other variables, and two graphs showing the variation of “Delta weight” against “Deadlift volume” and “Days of rest”. As you can see, nothing seems to be influencing “Delta weight” strongly enough to reach the 0.6 level that I recommend as the threshold for a “real effect” to be used in HCE analyses. There are two possibilities here: it is what it looks it is, that is, none of the variables influence “Delta weight”; or there are effects, but they do not show up in the associations table (as associations equal to or greater than 0.6) because of nonlinearity.

The graph of “Delta weight” against “Deadlift volume” is all over the place, suggesting a lack of association. This is true for the other variables as well, except “Days of rest”; the last graph above. That graph, of “Delta weight” against “Days of rest”, suggests the existence of a nonlinear association with the shape of an inverted J curve. This type of association is fairly common. In this case, it seems that “Delta weight” is maximized in the 6-7 range of “Days of rest”. Still, even varying things almost randomly, John achieved a solid gain over the time period. That was a 33 percent gain from the baseline “Deadlift weight”, a gain calculated as: (285-215)/215.

HCE, unlike WarpPLS (), does not take nonlinear relationships into consideration in the estimation of coefficients of association. In order to discover nonlinear associations, users have to inspect the graphs generated by HCE, as John did. Based on his inspection, John decided to changes things a bit, now working out on the right side of the J curve, with 6 or more “Days of rest”. That was difficult for John at first, as he was addicted to exercising at a much higher frequency; but after a while he became a “minimalist”, even trying very long rest periods.

Below are four figures. The first is a table summarizing the data John obtained for his second trial. The other three are outputs from HCE, analogous to those obtained in the first trial: a table showing the coefficients of association between “Delta weight” and the other variables, two graphs (side-by-side) showing “Delta weight” against “Deadlift sets” and “Deadlift reps”, and one graph of “Delta weight” against “Days of rest”. As you can see, “Days of rest” now influences “Delta weight” very strongly. The corresponding association is a very high -0.981! The negative sign means that “Delta weight” decreases as “Days of rest” increase. This does NOT mean that rest is not important; remember, John is now operating on the right side of the J curve, with 6 or more “Days of rest”.

The last graph above suggests that taking 12 or more “Days of rest” shifted things toward the end of the supercompensation window, in fact placing John almost outside of that window at 13 “Days of rest”. Even so, there was no loss of strength, and thus probably no muscle loss. Loss of strength would be suggested by a negative “Delta weight”, which did not occur (the “Delta weight” went down to zero, at 13 “Days of rest”). The two graphs shown side-by-side suggest that 2 “Deadlift sets” seem to work just as well for John as 3 or 4, and that “Deadlift reps” in the 18-24 range also work well for John.

In this second trial, John achieved a better gain over a similar time period than in the first trial. That was a 36 percent gain from the baseline “Deadlift weight”, a gain calculated as: (355-260)/260. John started with a lower baseline than in the end of the first trial period, probably due to detraining, but achieved a final “Deadlift weight” that was likely very close to his maximum potential (at the reps used). Because of this, the 36 percent gain in the period is a lot more impressive than it looks, as it happened toward the end of a saturation curve (e.g., the far right end of a logarithmic curve).

One important thing to keep in mind is that if an HCE user identifies a nonlinear relationship of the J-curve type by inspecting the graphs like John did, in further analyses the focus should be on the right or left side of the curve by either: splitting the dataset into two, and running a separate analysis for each new dataset; or running a new trial, now sticking with a range of variation on the right or left side of the curve, as John did. The reason is that nonlinear relationships tend to distort the linear coefficients calculated by HCE, hiding a real relationship between two variables.

This is a very simplified example. Most serious bodybuilders will measure variations in a number of variables at the same time, for a number of different exercise types and formats, and for longer periods. That is, their “HealthData” sheet in HCE will be a lot more complex. They will also have multiple instances of HCE running on their computer. HCE is a collection of sheets and code that can be copied, and saved with different names. The default is “HCE_1_0.xls” or “HCE_1_0.xlsm”, depending on which version you are using. Each new instance of HCE may contain a different dataset for analysis, stored in the “HealthData” sheet.

It is strongly recommended that you keep your data in a separate set of sheets, as a backup. That is, do not store all your data in the “HealthData” sheets in different HCE instances. Also, when you copy your data into the “HealthData” sheet in HCE, copy only the values and formats, and NOT the formulas. If you copy the formulas, you may end up having some problems, as some of the cells in the “HealthData” sheet will not be storing values. I also recommend storing values for other types variables, particularly perception-based variables.

Examples of perception-based variables are: “Perceived stress”, “Perceived delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)”, and “Perceived non-DOMS pain”. These can be answered on Likert-type scales, such as scales going from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree) in response to self-prepared question-statements like “I feel stressed out” (for “Perceived stress”). If you find that a variable like “Perceived non-DOMS pain” is associated with working out at a particular volume range, that may help you avoid serious injury in the future, as non-DOMS pain is not a very good sign (). You also may find that working out in the volume range that is associated with non-DOMS pain adds nothing in terms of muscle gain.

Generally speaking, I think that many people will find out that their sweet spot for muscle gain involves less frequent exercise at lower volumes than they think. Still, each individual is unique; there is no one quite like John. The relationship between “Delta weight” and “Days of rest” varies from person to person based on age; older folks generally require more rest. It also varies based on whether the person is dieting or not; less food intake leads to longer recovery periods. Women will probably see visible lower-body muscle gain, but very little visible upper-body muscle gain (in the absence of steroid use), even as they experience upper-body strength gains. Other variables of interest for both men and women may be body weight, body fat percentage, and perceived muscle tone.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Card Etiquette. Pay Attention People.

I wrote this exact same post last year, and was shocked by the number of people who had no idea what was actually proper as far as name order. READ ASAP! This goes for ALL paper - cards, announcements, invitations, EVERYTHING. Next year I'll try to remember to post this in early November to catch people before they start...

I am a massive proponent of common courtesy, good manners, and proper etiquette. We all know to put our napkin in our lap and chew with our lips closed. We all know that it is polite to say yes ma'am and yes sir. And we all know that it is important to write prompt, hand-written thank you notes. Why then, I must ask, is proper etiquette in the paper realm so lacking?

One of the best things about winter that I look forward to more than anything {well, it is a close second behind snuggling up by a fire} is opening Christmas cards. There is something so wonderful and special about seeing everyone's families, recent news, and life updates. I just love them! BUT a little {BIG} grey cloud overshadows my moment when I read the order of the names and they are incorrectly written.

I know that it is the thought that really counts, so some of you might be thinking I am crazy or flat out rude to be pointing this out. If you are of that mindset then do not ever buy any of Miss Manner's books as she will promptly whip you into shape. Others might not even have the faintest idea what I am talking about. Why is name order a big deal or even on my radar for that matter? If you are one who knows what the appropriate etiquette is, improper name order is as glaringly obvious and inappropriate as not doing any of those first things I listed: smacking your food. Elbows on the table. Not saying please and thank you. Major no-no's people!! This is the paper equivalent.

I honestly cannot tell you how many thank you emails I received after posting this last year, saying, YES! Finally! Maybe my friends will pay attention for crying out loud and I don't have to cringe every time I open a holiday card/invitation/birth announcement/etc! FYI, this has nothing to do with, well, my husband is the head of the house so his name always goes first. Baloney. It reflects poorly on you as the wife for not knowing how to properly order the names!

I will elaborate further with the official rule to get everyone on the same page. Ok here we go:


Read it again.

When using first names, 




The reasoning is that the husband's first name is never separated from his last name, even if last names are not included in the wording. Jane and John Smith is correct. NOT John and Jane. NOT John and Jane Smith. John did not marry Jane Smith. Jane married John Smith.

Crane's Blue Book of Social StationeryMiss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, and Crane's Wedding Blue Book and everything Martha Stewart ever publishes on this topic all verify this longstanding etiquette rule. So why does hardly anyone seem to know about it these days?!

Now that I have presented this loud and clear, I want everyone to understand there shall be no more of this: Merry Christmas! Love, Biz, Sheridan, Big Squish and Miss Munchkin. Nonsense. Furthermore, if you have children, this is officially the correct format below, however, if you list all names on the same line it is technically still deemed appropriate as long as the wife's name is ALWAYS first.

Merry Christmas!
Lots of love,
Sheridan and Biz French
Squish and Munch

Now go forth and have proper etiquette, and if anyone you have doing your Christmas cards tells you otherwise, find a new stationer ASAP! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

60 Minutes Report on the Flavorist Industry

A reader sent me a link to a recent CBS documentary titled "Tweaking Tastes and Creating Cravings", reported by Morley Safer.

Safer describes the "flavorist" industry, entirely dedicated to crafting irresistible odors for the purpose of selling processed and restaurant food.  They focused on the company Givaudin.  Dr. David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, makes an appearance near the end.

Here are a few notable quotes:

Read more »

Gearing Up!

I don't know about you all but I am really, really excited about the upcoming holiday season starting...or perhaps it is already in full swing! Long walks with the B.O.B. on crisp weekend mornings... never getting sick of how gorgeous Christmas lights are, even in your own living room... and nothing makes me happier than snuggling up with Biz and my little babies on the sofa, full cup of peppermint hot chocolate in hand, everyone in their jammies. Perfect! 

By the way, how are you all doing on your Christmas shopping? Anyone actually have wrapping done yet? {Don't tell me if you do or we are no longer friends} 

Here are a few gift guides that have featured SF goodies, and one I did for a sweet friend of mine. Take a look for great inspiration. Happy weekend! Stay warm!

A $200,000 patio cover? Spokane man charged with insurance fraud

A Spokane man has been charged with insurance fraud and attempted theft after a snow-damaged patio cover worth about $4,000 mushroomed into a nearly $200,000 claim.

Keith R. Scribner, 47, was arraigned Monday in Spokane County Superior Court on one count of insurance fraud and one count of attempted theft.

In late July 2009, Scribner's mother, Marilyn Warsinske, filed a claim with Liberty Mutual insurance. She said a patio roof at a home she'd purchased had collapsed due to the weight of snow some 6 months earlier. The policy covered "like kind and quality" replacement. Her son, she told the company, would handle the claim.

Scribner told the insurance company that patio cover was an extensive structure, spanning the entire length of the patio and wrapping around the home's chimney. Claims officials, inspecting the site, wondered why was there no flashing or holes in the masonry. Scribner said that house painters must have made repairs.

He sent the insurance company three bids to replace the cover based on his description. The bids ranged from $195,586 to $213,815.

Claims officials asked Scribner for any photos of the roof prior to the damage or after it collapsed. Perhaps some were taken during a home appraisal prior to the purchase, they suggested. Scribner said there were no photos and was no appraisal.

But a claims handler discovered an aerial photo of the home on a real estate website. It showed a much smaller patio cover than Scribner claimed.

The company launched a fraud investigation and notified Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's anti-fraud Special Investigations Unit.

As it turned out, there had been a home appraisal, the investigators discovered. In fact, Keith Scribner met with the appraiser. And the appraisal included photos of the patio cover. A real estate agent interviewed by investigators described the cover as being "small and nothing special or significant."

The home's previous owner also provided photographs of the structure. It was originally canvas. When that because troublesome to remove each year, the homeowner bought a polycarbonate cover. Cost: About $300.

An architect told a state fraud investigator that he'd met with Scribner in 2008 -- months before the snow collapse -- to discuss plans to replace the deck cover with new, larger one.

A local company, provided with measurements and photographs of the original structure, drew up replacement bids at the request of a state fraud investigator. The bids: $3,913 and $4,782.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Looking for something super fun to do this evening? Swing by for a night of great food and amazing shopping {we're talking sweets, treats, stationery, jewelry, wrapping paper, puppy goodies, personalized melamine plates, clothes, paintings, flowers, cooking lessons and more... and you didn't hear it from me but there might even be some fortune telling....!} Definitely stop by if you're in the area, and if not tonight, swing by Friday or Saturday! 

Can't wait to see y'all!

Insurance problem? We can help

We're the state agency that regulates insurance in Washington state. If you're a Washingtonian, we're happy to help answer insurance questions and help try to solve problems with insurers/agents/etc.

What can you expect? If you file a complaint, for example, we will:

■ Contact the insurance company regarding your concerns, review their response, and share the results of our review with you.

■ Research and complete your complaint within 60 days.

■ Suggest steps you might take to resolve your issue.

■ Make your complaint a part of the company's public record.

■ Require the company to address your concerns and follow Washington state insurance laws and regulations.

And we get results. We get millions of dollars a year in delayed or denied claims paid to Washington consumers.

For a complete list of our customer service standards -- as well as links to easily file a complaint online -- please see our complaint help web page. You can also call our Insurance Consumer Hotline toll-free at 1-800-562-6900.

We'll try our best to help.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Little Miss Munchkin's Big Girl Cake

Sweet baby Munch turns 1 in about a month {oh the tears}, so I am currently thinking about what cake she should have at her big bash. I want to make it, so I can't get all fondant fancy as I haven't the faintest clue how to do that. Even so, I LOVE this sort of look and design - girly but not too little girly or over-the-top. Quite sophisticated, actually, just like the Little Miss! 

Which is your favorite? Do you have any other ideas along these lines? And while we're on the topic, who do you think is the most talented baker in the DFW area?