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Her Fix-it Guide to Toilet Repair

Imagine your home without toilets. Yes, the thought itself is enough to make you cringe. The toilet is often the most used, or should we say the most ‘misused’ fixture in the home. The importance of the toilet can only be felt at the exact point in time when something goes wrong with it. Toilets generally are a fairly easy DIY project that can be successfully completed by anyone. With just a bit of work and the tips you will find in this article, you should be able to quickly fix your toilet.

The first step in fixing a toilet is to determine the problem with the toilet. Your toilet could either be a slow moving toilet, or it could be clogged, or it could even be a running toilet. A slow moving toilet implies that you have to flush the toilet quite a number of times and the water drains away quite slowly. Slow moving toilets are often the result of clogged sewage drain pipes, and are at risk of suddenly clogging completely and overflowing. No one likes to clean up the mess an overflowing toilet creates. A running toilet is one where once you flush it, the water does not want to stop flowing into the toilet bowl. A running toilet can use up a large amount of water over a fairly short period, so it is important to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Make no difference which problem you have, you can fix it yourself. If you happen to have a clogged or slow moving toilet, then the first thing you should do is turn off water supply to the toilet. You can do this can be by turning the knob on the shut off valve to the right until the water supply stops. The valve is normally placed a few inches above the floor on the left when facing the toilet.

Now determine which the problem you have. To do this, pour a bucket of water quickly into the bowl. If it flushes slowly, the toilet has developed a clog. Clear the clog affecting your toilet by first using a plunger. If this removes the clog, then you can turn the water back on to the toilet, if it does not clear the clog, then you should try using a plumber’s snake. This tool will allow you to clear most any clog.

Once you have the clog taken care of, then you should clear the mineral deposits that tend to develop in the small holes under the rim of the toilet. This will help your toilet flush much more effectively. These holes can be cleared with a stiff bristled brush, or you can use the bent end of a coat hanger to poke the holes clear. You might also want to make use of a small mirror to see the holes that are being cleared.

If your toilet is letting water into the bowl at all times, then you have a running toilet. First off, remove the toilet tank lid and sit aside out of your way. Some people like to place it in the bathtub. Next check the ball cock, which is the valve that the float is attached to. If water is coming out of the valve, you may need to replace it.

If that doesn’t seem to be the problem, then press down on the flap at the bottom of the toilet tank to see if the water stops running into the bowl. Over time, these flaps tend to warp out of shape and cause the tank to leak into the bowl. If this solves the problem, then replace the tank flap.

Whichever needs replacing, be certain to shut off the water supply to the toilet before you begin your repair.

How to Save Fuel Without a Driving Limit

With most good things, there is a catch. If you want to lose weight, you have to give up sugar. If you want to save money, you have to rent the smaller apartment. But when it comes to fuel savings, you may have found the exception to the rule! Because believe it or not, there is a way to save your gasoline and reduce fuel consumption without sacrificing an ounce of drive-time! You don’t have to limit your driving by driving less altogether just to save on gas. Continue reading to learn what you can do to save fuel without restricting the amount of time or distances you drive.

Factory Scheduled Maintenance

The simple trick to using less gas is not to drive less, but to drive smarter. And a smart driver (YOU) makes sure they are staying current with all their factory scheduled vehicle maintenance. This includes fluid changes like motor oil, coolant, windshield wiper, and power steering. But also includes services like tire balancing and rotation, brake pad inspections and replacements, cabin filter replacements, air filter replacements, comprehensive inspections, and more.

Aside from what your trusted mechanic can provide for your vehicle in terms of routine maintenance, there are many things you can do yourself to keep your ride in tip-top condition, allowing it to utilize fuel efficiently and perform for years to come.

DIY Car Care

Take initiative into your own hands with DIY car care. There are many duties you can implement on your own to continue vehicle maintenance in between regular scheduled mechanic visits. You can start by making sure your tires are always properly inflated. When they are not, your vehicle must work harder to assume the same level of performance, which uses more fuel. Also, be sure to periodically inspect the gas cap for damages. This can cause fuel to vaporize into the air.

Another way to use your fuel efficiently is to obey the speed limit and accelerate slowly. This also protects several components of your vehicle, allowing optimal performance and safety. Last, try emptying the trunk and backseat of unneeded materials. This can reduce the overall weight of your car, thus reducing the amount of gas it needs to operate.

Although there is no magical way to truly “drive more and use less“, with routine car care you can optimize your vehicle’s fuel economy, which essentially delivers the same financial gratification. Talk to your trusted automotive service technician about your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule. You may refer to your vehicle’s owners’ manual for additional information as well.

Rewarded With Discount Vehicle Insurance

In attracting more customers to sign up or perhaps increase their existing coverage, insurance providers have taken on to provide discount vehicle insurance. These discounts are often given out as treats or rewards to the insured for a spotless driving history in terms of vehicular accidents and offenses. If you haven’t made a claim for a certain period of time or have undergone an approved defensive driving course, you are eligible for such discounts.

In addition to safe drivers, insurers tend to also favor vehicles with good safety rating. Being well equipped with features such as air bags, anti-lock braking systems, as well as anti-theft mechanisms and global positioning systems, it shows that you are a responsible vehicle owner and have taken proper precautions to ensuring vehicle safety and security on and off the road.

Other factors for consideration are ages of the insured as well as the vehicle. The older they are, the higher the insurance premiums tend to get. If your vehicle is normally located in a crime-prone area or clocks in a higher than average mileage, these also affect the premiums and discounts.

Since most insurance providers also provide other forms of insurance such as life, home and many others, purchasing multiple insurance policies from the same insurer entitles you to further discounts. Some insurers provide discounts when combining various types of insurance with vehicle insurance. As most families own more than one vehicle, insuring them all from the same source results in further discount vehicle insurance. Certain regional or state laws allow some reductions for state residents or owners of specific types of vehicles. As a step forward to preserving the environment, owners of green vehicles are acknowledged for their contribution with discounts. These vehicles can be hybrid, electric or running on renewable energy and resources.

Perhaps in line with promoting better education, some insurers offer discounts to parents of well-achieving children. Good grades equal lower premiums which can translate into better presents or holiday trips. Insured owners who are also members of automobile organizations or affiliated with qualifying establishments are entitled to more savings.

Insurers are more than willing to offer discounts if you are looking into getting multiple insurance policies. Take the time to shop around and ask for clarification before signing up with any in particular.

Rectification Of Accounting Errors

Accountants prepare trial balance to check the correctness of accounts. If total of debit balances does not agree with the total of credit balances, it is a clear-cut indication that certain errors have been committed while recording the transactions in the books of original entry or subsidiary books. It is our utmost duty to locate these errors and rectify them, only then we should proceed for preparing final accounts. We also know that all types of errors are not revealed by trial balance as some of the errors do not effect the total of trial balance. So these cannot be located with the help of trial balance. An accountant should invest his energy to locate both types of errors and rectify them before preparing trading, profit and loss account and balance sheet. Because if these are prepared before rectification these will not give us the correct result and profit and loss disclosed by them, shall not be the actual profit or loss.

All errors of accounting procedure can be classified as follows:

1. Errors of Principle

When a transaction is recorded against the fundamental principles of accounting, it is an error of principle. For example, if revenue expenditure is treated as capital expenditure or vice versa.

2. Clerical Errors

These errors can again be sub-divided as follows:

(i) Errors of omission

When a transaction is either wholly or partially not recorded in the books, it is an error of omission. It may be with regard to omission to enter a transaction in the books of original entry or with regard to omission to post a transaction from the books of original entry to the account concerned in the ledger.

(ii) Errors of commission

When an entry is incorrectly recorded either wholly or partially-incorrect posting, calculation, casting or balancing. Some of the errors of commission effect the trial balance whereas others do not. Errors effecting the trial balance can be revealed by preparing a trial balance.

(iii) Compensating errors

Sometimes an error is counter-balanced by another error in such a way that it is not disclosed by the trial balance. Such errors are called compensating errors.

From the point of view of rectification of the errors, these can be divided into two groups :

(a) Errors affecting one account only, and

(b) Errors affecting two or more accounts.

Errors affecting one account

Errors which affect can be :

(a) Casting errors;

(b) error of posting;

(c) carry forward;

(d) balancing; and

(e) omission from trial balance.

Such errors should, first of all, be located and rectified. These are rectified either with the help of journal entry or by giving an explanatory note in the account concerned.


Stages of correction of accounting errors

All types of errors in accounts can be rectified at two stages:

(i) before the preparation of the final accounts; and

(ii) after the preparation of final accounts.

Errors rectified within the accounting period

The proper method of correction of an error is to pass journal entry in such a way that it corrects the mistake that has been committed and also gives effect to the entry that should have been passed. But while errors are being rectified before the preparation of final accounts, in certain cases the correction can’t be done with the help of journal entry because the errors have been such. Normally, the procedure of rectification, if being done, before the preparation of final accounts is as follows:

(a) Correction of errors affecting one side of one account Such errors do not let the trial balance agree as they effect only one side of one account so these can’t be corrected with the help of journal entry, if correction is required before the preparation of final accounts. So required amount is put on debit or credit side of the concerned account, as the case maybe. For example:

(i) Sales book under cast by Rs. 500 in the month of January. The error is only in sales account, in order to correct the sales account, we should record on the credit side of sales account ‘By under casting of. sales book for the month of January Rs. 500″.I’Explanation:As sales book was under cast by Rs. 500, it means all accounts other than sales account are correct, only credit balance of sales account is less by Rs. 500. So Rs. 500 have been credited in sales account.

(ii) Discount allowed to Marshall Rs. 50, not posted to discount account. It means that the amount of Rs. 50 which should have been debited in discount account has not been debited, so the debit side of discount account has been reduced by the same amount. We should debit Rs. 50 in discount account now, which was omitted previously and the discount account shall be corrected.

(iil) Goods sold to X wrongly debited in sales account. This error is effecting only sales account as the amount which should have been posted on the credit side has been wrongly placed on debit side of the same account. For rectifying it, we should put double the amount of transaction on the credit side of sales account by writing “By sales to X wrongly debited previously.”

(iv) Amount of Rs. 500 paid to Y, not debited to his personal account. This error of effecting the personal account of Y only and its debit side is less by Rs. 500 because of omission to post the amount paid. We shall now write on its debit side. “To cash (omitted to be posted) Rs. 500.

Correction of errors affecting two sides of two or more accounts

As these errors affect two or more accounts, rectification of such errors, if being done before the preparation of final accounts can often be done with the help of a journal entry. While correcting these errors the amount is debited in one account/accounts whereas similar amount is credited to some other account/ accounts.

Correction of errors in next accounting period

As stated earlier, that it is advisable to locate and rectify the errors before preparing the final accounts for the year. But in certain cases when after considerable search, the accountant fails to locate the errors and he is in a hurry to prepare the final accounts, of the business for filing the return for sales tax or income tax purposes, he transfers the amount of difference of trial balance to a newly opened ‘Suspense Account’. In the next accounting period, as and when the errors are located these are corrected with reference to suspense account. When all the errors are discovered and rectified the suspense account shall be closed automatically. We should not forget here that only those errors which effect the totals of trial balance can be corrected with the help of suspense account. Those errors which do not effect the trial balance can’t be corrected with the help of suspense account. For example, if it is found that debit total of trial balance was less by Rs. 500 for the reason that Wilson’s account was not debited with Rs. 500, the following rectifying entry is required to be passed.

Difference in trial balance

Trial balance is affected by only errors which are rectified with the help of the suspense account. Therefore, in order to calculate the difference in suspense account a table will be prepared. If the suspense account is debited in’ the rectification entry the amount will be put on the debit side of the table. On the other hand, if the suspense account is credited, the amount will be put on the credit side of the table. In the end, the balance is calculated and is reversed in the suspense account. If the credit side exceeds, the difference would be put on the debit side of the suspense account. Effect of Errors of Final Accounts

1. Errors effecting profit and loss account

It is important to note the effect that an en-or shall have on net profit of the firm. One point to remember here is that only those accounts which are transferred to trading and profit and loss account at the time of preparation of final accounts effect the net profit. It means that only mistakes in nominal accounts and goods account will effect the net profit. Error in the these accounts will either increase or decrease the net profit.

How the errors or their rectification effect the profit-following rules are helpful in understanding it :

(i) If because of an error a nominal account has been given some debit the profit will decrease or losses will increase, and when it is rectified the profits will increase and the losses will decrease. For example, machinery is overhauled for Rs. 10,000 but the amount debited to machinery repairs account -this error will reduce the profit. In rectifying entry the amount shall be transferred to machinery account from machinery repairs account, and it will increase the profits.

(il) If because of an error the amount is omitted from recording on the debit side of a nominal account-it results in increase of profits or decrease in losses. The rectification of this error shall have reverse effect, which means the profit will be reduced and losses will be increased. For example, rent paid to landlord but the amount has been debited to personal account of landlord-it will increase the profit as the expense on rent is reduced. When the error is rectified, we will post the necessary amount in rent account which will increase the expenditure on rent and so profits will be reduced.

(iil) Profit will increase or losses will decrease if a nominal account is wrongly credited. With the rectification of this error, the profits will decrease and losses will increase. For example, investments were sold and the amount was credited to sales account. This error will increase profits (or reduce losses) when the same error is rectified the amount shall be transferred from sales account to investments account due to which sales will be reduced which will result in decrease in profits (or increase in losses).

(iv) Profit will decrease or losses will increase if an account is omitted from posting in the credit side of a nominal or goods account. When the same will be rectified it will increase the profit or reduce the losses. For example, commission received is omitted to be posted to the credit of commission account. This error will decrease profits ( or increase losses) as an income is not credited to profit and loss account. When the error will be rectified, it will have reverse effect on profit and loss as an additional income will be credited to profit and loss account so the profit will increase ( or the losses will decrease). If due to any error the profit or losses are effected, it will have its effect on capital account also because profits are credited and losses are debited in the capital account and so the capital shall also increase or decrease. As capital is shown on the liabilities side of balance sheet so any error in nominal account will effect balance sheet as well. So we can say that an error in nominal account or goods account effects profit and loss account as well as balance sheet.

2. Errors effecting balance sheet only

If an error is committed in a real or personal account, it will effect assets, liabilities, debtors or creditors of the firm and as a result it will have its impact on balance sheet alone. because these items are shown in balance sheet only and balance sheet is prepared after the profit and loss account has been prepared. So if there is any error in cash account, bank account, asset or liability account it will effect only balance sheet.

Secret Reserves

How Secret reserve is created?

A secret reserve is created by the following methods:

1. By under valuation of assets much below their cost or market value, such as investment, stock in trade, etc.

2. By not writing up the value of an asset, the price of which has permanently gone up.

3. By creating excessive reserve for bad and doubtful debts or discount on sundry debtors.

4. By providing, excessive depreciation on fixed assets.

5. By writing down goodwill to a nominal value.

6. By omitting some of the assets altogether from balance sheet.

7. By changing capital expenditure to revenue account and thus showing the value of assets to be less than their actual value.

8. By overvaluing the liabilities.

9. By the inclusion of fictitious liabilities.

10. By showing contingent liabilities as actual liabilities.

Object of creating secret reserve

1. Secret reserves strengthen the financial position of a concern, losses can be made good without disclosing their occurrence to the shareholders and others. This helps the concern to remain financially strong in spite of a period of adversity.

2. It may best utilized for equalization of dividends, thereby maintaining the financial stability of the company.

3. The profits which would have been utilized for the payment of dividend remain in the business and increase the working capital of the company.

4. Secret reserve is created to withhold information of the progress of the company from trade competitors. If the true earning position of the company is shown it is possible that more rival companies may come into the field and compete with it, thus bringing down

its profits.

Objections to secret reserves

1. Balance sheet does not exhibit true and fair view of the financial affairs of the concern if secret reserve is created and maintained. At the same time, the profit and loss account also does not give the correct results since excessive provision for depreciation or reserve may be made for its creation.

2. Secret reserves may be utilized by the management to conceal their weakness in the term of mismanagement. It may conceal losses arising out of bad or careless management or even reckless speculation.

3. If fixed assets are undervalued for the purpose of creating secret reserve, and if there is a fire, the company will not be able to claim the full value of the assets because the insurance company will pay according to the book value of the asset destroyed or damaged and hence cause a loss to the company. .

4. By creating secret reserves, and thus lowering the dividend, the directors may indulge in speculation in the shares of the company.

5. The shareholders of the company suffer a loss due to less dividends on account of the creation of secret reserves.

6. Due to the creation of secret reserves, the value of shares in the market falls.

Health Celebrates Life – Gaining An Edge On Age

This special piece of content is devoted to youthful aging, meaning how to be as alert and able during the second half of life as during the first. There has never been a time like this in science, when so many brilliant minds are working to unravel the mysteries of why our biological clocks wind down and what can be done to slow that decline. In the following paragraphs I bring you a report from the front lines of Aging Research, with tips from the experts on what you can do today to put more in life in your future years. What better way for Health to celebrate its own Longevity than to start you on the Road to Rejuvenation!

Consider Two Established Numbers: The Life Span of our species, the maximum time any human can stay alive, has been estimated at 115 years. Our Life Expectancy, the average length of time Americans really live, is only 75 years. The distinction is important because people generally believe that life span has increased dramatically throughout history, when it hasn’t. Great Strides have been made in life expectancy, however. During the Roman Empire, life expectancy was a mere 22 years. But life span then was pretty much what it is today – somewhere around 115 years.

Life expectancy has continued to increase because we have eliminated or learned to treat so many fatal childhood ailments and because we now cope so much better with infectious diseases. But the ancients who made it past these roadblocks had as good a chance as we moderns of inching towards 115 – and as little chance of going beyond.

While scientists work feverishly to increase longevity, much of the public is ambivalent. To many, longer life means additional decrepitude. Dr. Roy Walford, Professor of Pathology at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine and a leading expert in dietary restriction, is well aware of this prejudice. “People are afraid of increasing life span because they think it means just adding old years onto old. But we’re talking about keeping people younger longer.” Indeed, the goal of longevity research is to extend youthfulness as well as life itself.

But it may not be turning out that way. That’s the view of Dr. Jacob Brody, an epidemiologist who is Dean of the School of Public Health at The University of Illinois in Chicago. Brody comes at you with scary statistics. “Today in Sweden,” he says, “Only 18 percent of all deaths occur in those under 65 years old. That will be true throughout the rest of the developed world by coming decade.” Good news? Not really, says Brody. “Dying will occur later and later, that will give people time to get nonfatal, age dependent diseases.” What we should strive for, according to Brody, is “Active Life Expectancy – years one lives free of any illness and at full function.” Right now, he claims, for every four months tacked onto human life expectancy, only one month will be lived independently at full function.

Brody points out that though we’ve added 25 years to the life expectancy of women in this century, the age of menopause hasn’t been affected. He suggests a two-pronged approach to postponing nonfatal, Age-dependent Conditions: Studying the effects of behavior change, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, against these conditions; and more basic research to answer questions such as, why do people’s eyes begin to deteriorate at age 40?

Aging is a basic mechanism that brings our species to its knees. If you don’t think this piece of content applies to you because you’re too young – well, if you’re old enough to read health articles, you’re probably already aging. Some scientists say we begin to age soon after puberty. Edward L/ Schneider, Director of the Buck Center for Research in Aging, a privately supported center has a more radical view. “Aging starts somewhere around conception,” he likes to say. Whenever it starts, aging is a problem for more than the elderly. Now for the good news, we’re starting to make headway.


Do Our Bodies Wear Out, Or Are Our Genes Preset To Self-Destruct?

While a breakthrough drug or therapy to extend life remains a far-off fantasy, scientists are making headway tracking down clues to another mystery: Why do we age? What is it that builds up, goes awry or is depleted, causing the changes in physiology that we interpret as aging?

It is unlikely that these researchers will stumble on some magical potion or secret of perpetual youth, but they may make discoveries that will allow our biological functions to run more efficiently and avoid breakdowns. Their findings may slow some aging processes.

Scientists from the Soviet Union to California are testing various theories, taking care to separate what is cause and what is merely effect. Some of the so-called causes of aging put forth by researchers today may turn out to be only superficial signs of a more important mechanism tomorrow. It would be silly, for instance, to say that gray hair causes aging. Someday, when more is known about the processes of senescence, the following ideas may be absurd

The Tired Refrigerator Hypothesis

Scientists prefer to call this the “stochastic” theory. A more dignified name, but essentially this hypothesis holds that our bodies are like any major appliance and they wear out. (A stochastic system is a random system, one that breaks down by chance, like an old refrigerator.) This very popular theory comes in many forms and is easy for the layperson to grasp: The body is like a Volkswagen; the clutch goes, the head gasket warps and eventually it dies in a pool of oil. There’s only one problem: Human beings are neither appliances nor automobiles. On the positive side, we have cells that replicate and refrigerators do not. On the negative side, sure, cars wear out, but we can intervene quite effectively to extend their maximum life spans, something we can’t do with humans. The average life expectancy of an automobile is somewhere around eight years or 100,000 miles. Yet my neighbor has a ’32 Ford in mint condition that runs like a top. All it takes is perfect maintenance. A 1932 Ford on the road today is equivalent to a 534-year-old human, since it has exceeded life expectancy for its species by more than seven rimes.

Clock Of Aging Theory

A much more intriguing, and more modern, concept is that there’s a genetic program somewhere in the body that dictates how fast (and in what manner) each of us will age and die. It has yet to be found, but some researchers speculate that this DNA clock might be contained in each cell, perhaps in a supergene, while others believe it resides in the brain. In fact, people have been aging and dying like clockwork for many millennia, so it’s not too farfetched to believe that a hard-wired mechanism controls this genetic process.

Error Catastrophe

This theory takes many forms, but it’s basically a cross between the stochastic and clock of aging concepts. The basic idea is that the genetic code that controls the production of the cells’ proteins goes awry. There are two ways of looking at this: Either wear and tear damages the genetic machinery and causes these errors (stochastic theory) or, for some reason, the “errors” are built in to the gentic code (the clock of aging theory).

The error catastrophe theory has been “pretty much demolished,” according to Dr. Robert N. Butler, Brookdale professor of geriatrics at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, as old cells now appear to do as well as young cells when it comes to protein production. It was a very useful theory for many years, however, as it spurred scientists to study the whole area of proteins and genetic error.

The Smudged Xerox Hypothesis

This one was dreamed up by the noted gerontologist Alex Comfort, better known for his book The Joy of Sex (Pocket Books, 1987). Think of it in this way: Take a page of Health magazine and photocopy it. Then photocopy your photocopy. Now make a photocopy of the second photocopy, and so on. By the 50th copy, you will have a blurry mess. Likewise with cells, says Comfort. Every time they replicate, the new copy of DNA gets more and more smudged. Comfort reportedly has since pulled away from this notion, which in fact is a variation on error catastrophe.

The Autoimmune Hypothesis

When the immune system rebels, responses may be as trivial as hay fever, as painful as rheumatoid arthritis or as deadly as lupus. In this theory, aging and death are part of one, big autoimmune disease, in which the immune system becomes confused and starts attacking the body’s own cells.

Suite Genes

A person’s fate depends on whole families, or “suites,” of genes, say some experts. “Unless all members are perfect, you won’t live as long or as well as you should,” says Joan Smith-Sonneborn, who chairs the program on aging and human development at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Smith-Sonneborn’s experiments show that there may be a way to clean up accumulated DNA damage in imperfect genes. Many years ago, she made a landmark discovery in aging research when she bombarded single-cell organisms called paramecia with ultraviolet light, then shoved them under black light. The dark was known to trigger an enzyme that repaired the DNA damage caused by sunlight. What Smith-Sonneborn discovered was that these paramecia lived 50 percent longer than untreated paramecia did.

Free Radicals

It’s the trendiest idea around, but in reality, the free-radical theory is simply an elegant variation on the stochastic theory. Namely, there are chemical agents called free radicals that wear down our bodies.

The Glycation Hypothesis

Another hot theory holds that blood sugar interacts with proteins manufactured by the body’s cells and distorts the genetic information. Furthering this notion is the fact that diabetics who have difficulty metabolizing sugars often contract age-related diseases such as cataracts and atherosclerosis while they are still relatively young. Edward J. Masoro of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio recently found that long-lived rats in dietary-restriction experiments have low blood glucose, thus bolstering the glycation (from the word glucose) hypothesis even more.

The Death Hormone

Let’s finish up with a fun theory. It goes something like this: There’s one part of us that lives forever – DNA, the master molecule of heredity. Human DNA doesn’t want to die, so it keeps the species alive as best it can and is passed from generation to generation.

Individuals, however, are expendable. Because a species must mutate or change to keep pace with a changing environment, and because this evolution is slow, it’s in that species’ best interests to turn over generations as quickly as possible so that favorable mutations will show up in the gene pool.

This is the thinking behind the rather wild theory that there is a “death hormone,” a substance, possibly secreted by the pituitary gland, which ages us and eventually kills us. For if we lived too long, we would hold up the process of evolution.


Alongside researchers working to untangle the mystery of why we age are practical-minded scientists concentrating on how to interfere with those processes under scrutiny. Two promising life-extenders involve food: on the one hand, eating more of certain substances to “clean up” cellular breakdown; on the other, eating less to prolong life.

The Starvation Principle

It’s the only method that actually increases life span (presently it stands at 115), and it has worked every time it has been tried in the past 60 years. It’s called dietary restriction, and it means dieting each day of one’s life. Oh yes, and there’s a catch: We don’t know yet whether it works on humans.

Take a mouse, as gerontologist Roy Walford of the University of California, Los Angeles, had done many times, and gave it about half the food a mouse usually eats. Then wait. By 36 months, a normally fed mouse will be dead, for that’s the maximum life span of the species. But the dieting mouse will keep on going… and going, until 54 months. We’re talking about increased life span, not just life expectancy. Normally mice in the best health under the best of conditions can’t break 36 months, but the under-fed rodents live on average, 50 percent longer.

Ronald W. Hart had the most ambitious study of dietary restriction. Leaving nothing to chance, he had nearly 200,000 lab animals in life-extending experiments at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson, Arkanas. Of these, 25,000 mice were living on a diet that’s about 60 percent the normal ration of lab chow – though it’s fortified to provide the same vitamins and minerals. About 95 percent of the restricted mice live 35 months or longer. Only 25 percent of the controlled mice make it that far. Said Hart, “We see no cancer in restricted mice [at the 35-month period].

“What’s interesting,” he continued, “is that any layperson can tell the difference between the restricted animals and those on the ‘buffet’ diet. The former are the happiest centenarians – in the mouse sense – I’ve ever seen. The ones on the buffet are either limping or dead.”

Why Does Caloric Restriction Work?

No one knows, though many theories exist. Some researchers maintain that it simply wards off disease because the organism takes in fewer toxins. Others suspect it reduces the number of free radicals or increases the number of enzymes and nutrients that scavenge on free radicals. Walford said it might influence biomarkers of aging in the immune system or increase the DNA repair capacity of cells.

The more immediate, and unanswered, question is whether dietary restriction increases life span in people. No one has yet done such a scientific study, but there is anecdotal evidence.

The Japanese island of Okinawa, for example, is a de facto dietary-restriction experiment in that Okinawans eat from 20 to 40 percent less food than other Japanese, a people not known for stuffing themselves. The result: Okinawa boats about 20 times the number of centenarians found in the rest of the world.

Extrapolating from the animal data, Walford believed we could increase our life span to 170 or 180 years if we ate like his lab animals. In fact, he found the evidence so compelling, he ate like a mouse himself. At 65, he took in a mere 1,650 calories per day, even though he regularly jog, swim and pump iron.

If you want to try this yourself, Walford recommended you first determine your “setpoint,” what you weigh when you’re neither overeating nor undereating. For most people, that’s what you weighed in your 20s, assuming you weren’t too fat or skinny. Once you’ve established that, lose weight very gradually, taking as long as four to six years to reduce it to 10 to 25 percent below setpoint (rapid weight loss is dangerous). Walford weighed 155 pounds from age 20 until 60. Next 5 years i.e. until 65, he shed 20 pounds and expected to break the 115-year barrier.

Incidentally, don’t expect to live to 180 by starting dietary restriction now, said Walford, because that life span is based on beginning the regimen shortly after weaning. In fact, Walford would recommend against putting children on the diet because it could retard their growth. However, even if begun after adolescence, one could still expect to boost life span to age 140 or thereabouts. (For more on dietary restriction, you can refer Walford’s The 120-Year Diet.)

Lean Dangers: Another pioneer in the field of dietary restriction, Edward J. Masoro, former chairperson of the department of physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, had misgivings about the technique. “I have no problem with Roy’s regimen,” he said, “but I don’t think the layman is in a position to set his own regimen. People can take the diet to extremes, and it could do great damage.”

On the other hand, Hart thought that a lifetime of dietary restriction is considerably safer than most short-term diets. “Roy’s diet is well thought-out and well balanced,” he said, “though it’s more severe than I think is necessary.”

Actually, an unexpected danger was revealed by Hart’s experiments at NCTR, where lab animals are monitored around the clock. At certain times during the day, the mice’s body temperatures drop several degrees, and, unable to shiver or otherwise respond to cold temperatures because their dieting robs them of the fuel their muscles need, the animals suddenly die. Does that mean dietary restriction should only be followed by Los Angelinos such as Walford (who favors sabbaticals in India or tropical jungles) and avoided by those in colder climes? Not really, said Hart: “One of the nice things about being human is that you can put on clothes.” He also notes that restricted animals survive heat stress better than normal rodents do.

Interestingly, the temperature-dropping aspect may turn out to be the most valuable piece of evidence ever uncovered on the subject. Perhaps, NCTR researchers are telling themselves, it isn’t the diet but the colder body temperature brought on by the diet that makes the mice beyond the 36-month limit. Indeed, this works for some animals – when their body temperatures cool down significantly, their life span increase.

Similarly, Hart’s mice often drop into a torpor state in their sleep, a condition akin to hibernation. If it’s torpor that turns them into frisky centenarians, maybe someday there will be a pill that will allow humans to cool down at night. Then there will be no more talk about diets – just a pill with your nightcap, a cold bedroom and a 180-year life span.

Free Radicals: Sharks in a Protoplasmic Sea

It was Denham Harman who first suspected the awful truth: Human beings rust. At least that’s the theory.

Back in 1950s, Harman, a chemist turned physician at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, discovered that radiation caused accelerated aging in lab animals and also created an excess of free radicals in cells. A free radical is an unstable part of a molecule with one or more free, unpaired electrons. A free radical must find another molecule to which to attach itself. Gerontologist Alex Comfort likened one to a convention delegate away from his wife. He called it “a highly reactive chemical agent that will combine with anything that’s around.”

That may be bad news for the cells. It is believed that free radicals trigger a chain reaction that “rusts” the body just as oxygen rusts out the rocker panels on an Oldsmobile. And what helps create free radicals? Here’s the bad news: oxygen. In fact, every breath you take ages you, because oxygen and the everyday process of oxidation involved in metabolism create free radicals and your ultimate destruction. Among other things, free radicals supposedly obfuscate genetic information in each cell.

Let’s stop for a warning. The free radical theory is the trendiest thing going in research today. But though you may have heard the theory presented as gospel, it has not been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Many respected researchers believe it, but it is just that – a belief.

Likely Cure. Free radicals are produced by everyday metabolism, but also by a host of other elements: some painkillers and anticancer drugs; burnt material, such as that found on grilled meats or toast; tobacco smoke; even sunlight. What combats them? Harman was aware that antioxidants were used in industry to prevent materials such as leather and rubber from degrading and to keep butter from turning rancid. Now the quest has begun for antioxidants that will keep us from turning rancid. Some likely prospects include vitamin B, C and E, beta carotene, glutathione, selenium, uric acid and food preservatives such as BHT, BHA and propyl gallate. One of the ironic things about the free radical theory is that it flies in the face of previously held beliefs about what constitutes healthy eating. The oft-reviled cereal preservatives BHT and BHA, may in fact preserve humans as well as cornflakes. And people who gave up butter for margarine years ago, in an attempt to avoid cholesterol buildup and heart disease, are now being told that polyunsaturated fats may increase free radical production. Thus the quandary: whether to butter and risk cardiac arrest, or switch to margarine and age every cell. (Refer another article “Ode to Cheez Whiz,” for other dilemmas.)

The most famous antioxidant is SOD, superoxide dismutase, a natural enzyme that neutralizes, or scavenges, free radicals. When SOD was discovered in 1969, it helped prove the existence of free radicals in human cells and boosted the credibility of Harman’s speculations. Further studies by Richard Cutler at the National Institute on Aging showed a positive link between the amount of SOD activity as it related to oxygen consumption in a particular species and its life span, at least in mammals. A gorilla, for instance, lives much longer than a mouse and has more SOD to protect against a given quantity of free radicals. Cutler then discovered that the same correlation held true for other antioxidants. The more vitamin E, beta carotene and so on that a mammal had, the longer it lived.

Vitamin E: The Natural Antioxidant

So what can one do? Eat several boxes of BHT-enhanced cereal a day? Go back to slathering corn with butter? What antioxidants keep a person fresh? The father of free radicals says to stick with the classics: vitamin E and C and beta carotene. Vitamin E is Harman’s favorite; he calls it “the natural antioxidant. It’s in all our membranes.” He cites a study of 5,000 women on the English island of Guernsey: Those with the highest blood levels of vitamin E had the lowest incidence of breast cancer. It’s also being tested against senile dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other age-related disorders. Harman’s says it’s hard to overdose on E.

Before you begin to rustproof yourself, consider some recent experiments in dietary restriction, the only proven method of boosting life span in mammals. Animals on a highly restricted diet increase their longevity dramatically, and free radical advocates have always assumed that low food consumption equaled fewer free radicals – a reasonable assumption. But studies by Masoro and others now show that food restriction does not reduce metabolic rate one whit. No one knows, in fact, why it works. The free radical connection, if any, has yet to be proven.

Finding The Cheapest Car Insurance In Today’s Economy

Have you been out shopping lately and noticed how the prices are going up on everything? From food to home repair, to the price of gas, it’s not easy to stay afloat in today’s economy. In this day and age it is almost imperative to own a car. The inconvenience of not having a car is extremely frustrating. Not only do you need a car but by law you need car insurance. So what is the best way to find insurance at the best price? It’s easier than you might think. It’s time to go online.

There are literally hundreds of different insurance companies online that want your business and in order to get your business, they are willing to offer competitive prices. Along with competitive prices, they also want to make it as easy and convenient for you to purchase their insurance. Let’s face it, the happier you are, the happier they are…to get your business. With a simple search and click of the mouse you will see which insurance agency is willing to give you the best deal. There will be several different quotes that pop up from different insurances and a place where you can compare policies.

Time is also of the essence in this day and age and there isn’t much of it you can waste. Instead of taking time to call insurance companies over the phone, which could take hours, you can get instant quotes, buy your policy, and be off to your next errand in minutes. So, if someone is in the market for car insurance, but doesn’t have a whole lot of time to make several phone calls, then this is the best option. All you need to do is fill out one insurance quote request form. Now that’s convenience! You’ll be asked to enter basic information such as, zip code, etc. and then you will be on your way toward a great deal.

Most likely the insurance companies that pop up with quotes will be companies that you have heard of. This is because the zip code that you entered will bring up local insurance companies for comparison. Soon it will ask you to enter a little more basic information. This information is usually about your car. Then they will ask you a little about yourself, such as, date of birth, driving and insurance history, and family status. It is so fast and easy. By the time you would have taken to find a phone book, and the time you probably would have had to hold for the next available representative you will have almost finished buying your new car insurance. To finish all you will need to do is decide what coverage limits you want and poof, there on your screen will be your new lower monthly premium. If you end up switching insurance companies then it’s no problem. Your new insurance company will most likely take care of it – all of it.

So the next time you need to buy car insurance, experience the easy and convenient way of buying it online. You may be surprised at the deal you find.

If You Want to Find Cheaper Car Insurance This is What You Need to Do

The hassle of having to go out of our way to find the perfect auto insurance has been haunting us for years. Now, with the advent advertising online we no longer need to take a days leave or postpone an important appointment. The internet has become our helping hand and our run-to tool for almost anything.

Car insurance companies old and new have finally embraced the idea of advertising online with a complete list of their insurance quotes, types of policies, and their various kinds of coverage included. Try going online. Type in “affordable car insurance”, and then you’ll realize how easy it is to find yourself a great deal on auto insurance.

There are many online car insurance providers in the United States that will offer you cheaper cover. By using the internet you can find lists of insurance rates and an easy way to compare each of them in just a few minutes. If you already have an existing policy the internet gives you the option to look into your policy details. Better yet, it allows you get certain claims and even file a claim online.

Another good thing that the internet has done to ease our busy lives is it has encouraged car insurance companies to introduce defensive driving lessons online and they subsequently offer certain discounts for those who have taken these lessons before. You can pay for these with your credit card and an ID is shown to you for printing. If not, they will send you an identification card through mail.

Applying for auto insurance through the web allows you to take your time in choosing the suitable policy and enables you to compare rates and therefore gives you the chance to find yourself an affordable and high quality car insurance policy. You can even schedule your car for a repair online.

If you get your insurance with a company that mainly operates online you can take advantage of all these benefits. It is important though that you find an insurer that has good customer support too. It is not always possible to resolve everything online and if you have a collision you may need to speak to someone online to get assistance.

Getting a policy online is by far the most convenient move anyone can make with regards to auto insurance. It’s high time you give it a try and save yourself some money on your car insurance,

Finding A Foundation Repair Contractor

Neglecting your home’s foundation can cause significant problems indeed. If you find cracks or even more serious problems in your home’s foundation, you need to have them repaired immediately. Finding the right foundation repair contractor is imperative to getting the job done right.

Do you know someone?

This isn’t the time to ask handyman “Jack of all trades” Uncle Ned to help you, because foundation repairs are generally pretty serious and need to be done right. Done wrong, you could worsen the damage and significantly impact your home’s value negatively, or even compromise your own safety. However, if you know someone who’s a licensed foundation repair contractor or you know of a foundation repair company, and you know they do good work, you can contact them for a quote. Alternatively, ask friends and family who are local and see who they have used. As long as they’re happy with the job done, you can be pretty sure you’ll be happy, too.

Begin your search online

If you don’t know anyone who can do the job for you, the next step is to go online and search for somebody. Simply doing a search on the words “foundation repair contractor” or “foundation repair company” along with your location should bring up a number of choices on the Internet. If you use the search engine Google, it’s a pretty good bet that the first few choices listed are going to be from reputable companies. This isn’t completely foolproof, but in general, the more popular a company is with customers, the higher its page rank is going to be.

Narrow down your choices

Take the first 5 to 10 companies on the list of companies you bring up and research each company along with the words “review” or “complaint. “This should highlight any major problems customers have had. You can also check the Better Business Bureau’s website at BBB. org to ferret out any complaints. There are also specific “consumer resource” sites online that you can check to find good local contractors in your area.

Interview several contractors

Before you hire a foundation repair contractor or foundation repair company, make sure you do a face-to-face interview with two or three of your top choices. They should be willing to come out to your house and make an initial assessment of damage (sometimes with a service fee charge, sometimes not), and give you a basic estimate of what it’s going to cost to fix in terms of time and money. Even though it may cost you a little bit for a service fee, it’s worth it to get two or three contractors out to talk with you face-to-face and give you a solid estimate before you sign a contract and they started on the work.

Make sure they offer a guarantee of their work — before it starts

Any good, licensed professional repair contractor or foundation repair company is going to offer a warranty for the work done, as long as you agree to the recommended job (for example, if you only want the large cracks in your foundation repaired with epoxy, and the contractor knows that this repair isn’t going to hold, he or she may do the repair, but won’t guarantee its results). Make sure you get the cost estimate, the expected time frame of completion, and the exact specifics of the job in writing before work starts.

Effect of Driver’s Age on Insurance Rates of Personal and Commercial Auto Insurance Policies

The insurance business world is one of the very few places where age can be used to distinguish between citizens based on their age. Insurers assess different charges for different people depending on their age. If you are a 16 year person and you feel that you are going to be getting a healthier premium than your 22 year old buddy because you are better committed than him or her then you are making a wrong analysis.

Insurers tabulate their insurance charges using ‘brackets’ or categories of consumers grouped together with certain common elements. These classes could differ based on a number of factors like age, marital status, gender, area, consumer credit rating etc. This essay is partial in its extent to the age element.

Young Operators Groups:

Below Age 18: This is the age category where insurance price is the at record high. People in this age group pay as much as 175% to 225% more than mature operators. Since no one below age 18 will get a CDL, any operator below the age of 18 driving a motor vehicle that has business coverage may be risking declination of coverage in the event of an insurance claim.

Age 18 Years to 20 Years: Individuals are still classified as young drivers, and they still have to pay greater prices than mature drivers, though their premiums are much less than the previous bracket. At age 18 individuals can possess their CDL. Most insurers that may consider them will not even look at there insurance submission for policies that require interstate setup coverage. Companies that allow them to be on a business policy will restrict their insurance coverage to intrastate activities.

Age 21 to 24: This is the last bracket in the classification of youthful drivers. Insurance premiums for private insurance begin to stabilize with most insurance companies, when compared with prices served to mature operators. Age 21 years is where many commercial insurance companies start to accept commercial auto insurance applicants with interstate bearing. All companies will put in special price extra charge for commercial operators under age 21 years, and some insurance companies may require a specific period of expertise like 12 to 24 months of experience to look into them for insurance coverage.

Mature Operators:

Age 25 years to 69 years: A large number of insurance companies impose very similar prices for this age category, although a small number of insurance carriers begin to charge small build up in their premiums beyond age 60 years. Age does not seem to be important for this class.

Old Drivers:

Over Age 70 Years: Unfortunately the insurance place is the once where the status of discounting senior citizens work in reverse. Senior citizens are surcharged in auto insurance. There are important studies made by insurance companies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration- NHTSA www.nhtsa.gov that suggest that individuals over age 70 years begin to lead to more traffic accidents. For that reason, insurance companies take certain measures to implement the right rate with the appropriate medical reports from them. Most business polices do not cover operators above age 71 or 72 years. On the individual insurance level, almost all companies stop selling newer polices for customers beyond 76 years of age, and other companies make the insurance price very excluding.

What else can be done to decrease the influence of age on premiums? There is not much that old and young drivers can do. Young operators and older operators are leading to more highway accidents, relatively speaking, and they must simply pay the price for that. Many insurance carriers accept good student discounts for younger student operators, and other companies may permit occasional operator status on their policy. For older drivers, making sure that you have the correct medical record that shows the physical and mental functionality of the old person to drive the car is wanted to give to the insurance representative. The absence of that note to be provided in timely manner may end in ceasing the policy which might be complex to replace with another company afterwards.