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DENTON RECORD-CHRONICLE

2010 ISSUE 3

Shine on Eat your age Growing up doesn’t mean food can’t be fun!

10 ways to save big with energy tax credits, starting with those old windows


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Home, Health & More

September 17, 2010

Denton Record-Chronicle

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Denton Record-Chronicle

September 17, 2010

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H O M E , H E A LT H & M O R E Rhythm is needed for more than dancing A Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab is coming to Texas Health Denton It's a green thing Don't sweat it if a tankless water heater isn't in the family budget - instead think colorful no-VOC paints and faucets that save money Eat your age Growing up doesn’t mean food can’t be fun Shine On 10 ways to save big with energy tax credits, starting with those old windows A farewell to flabby arms If your underarms keep waving long after your hand has finished saying goodbye, these exercises are for you Let the games begin Kid’s stuff? Hardly. Playtime for adults heals mind, body and soul Appliance ECOnomics Heavy on function, light on the environment, the next generation of appliances takes the guesswork out of energy-efficient housework The Secret Garden Great gardens are rooted in an 'only the strong survive' mentality. Here's how to prepare for a harvest that will be worth the time, energy and money spent

Bookshelf Practical Green Remodeling: Down-to-Earth Solutions for Everyday Homes by Barry Katz (Taunton Press, 2010) $17.95

Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for Your Home and Garden by Sue Reed (New Society Publishers, 2010) $29.95

The Eco Lifestyle Handbook by Sarah Callard, Esme Floyd & Diane Millis (Carlton Books, 2010) $16.95

The Green Home: A Sunset Design Guide by Bridget Biscotti Bradley (Oxmoor House, 2010) $24.95

Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices by Mindy Pennybacker (St. Martin's Griffin, 2010) $16.99

Kennedy Green House: Designing an Eco-Healthy Home from the Foundation to the Furniture by Robin Wilson (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2010) $30


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September 17, 2010

Denton Record-Chronicle

Rhythm is needed for more than dancing Although dancing yields many of the same heart-healthy benefits as aerobic exercise, the heart itself performs rhythmic contractions that pump blood throughout your body. The normal heart is a beating muscle controlled by a wellchoreographed electrical conduction system that determines your heart rate and rhythm. But sometimes, your rhythm needs a little help. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton is adding a Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab. This lab will allow patients with abnormal heart rhythms - or arrhythmias- to receive the care they require, such as pacemakers and cardiac ablation services. But what is cardiac electrophysiology? It is the study of the rhythm of the heart, both normal and abnormal. Abnormalities in the heart’s electrical system may lead to conditions that can cause illness; some might even be life threatening. Normal wear and tear or loss of function of the sinus node, the heart’s natural pacemaker, can usually be treated with a pacemaker. Implanting these safety devices is a common procedure so it is likely you know someone who has one. When the sinus node doesn’t perform properly, other cells take over its function, causing a faster or slower heart rate. There are a variety of treatment options available and many of them

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electrophysiology study, performed by a specially-trained cardiologist called an electrophysiologist, this rhythm can be ablated (interrupted). Ablation options include a radiofrequency signal or cold/cryoablation. “All types of electrophysiology studies and ablations will be performed at Texas Health Denton. For many patients, these procedures can provide a permanent cure for arrhythmias without the need to continue taking prescribed medications,” said Haris Naseem, M.D., electrophysiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Denton. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), radiofrequency ablation has become the preferred method to treat tachycardia arrhythmias, which occurs when the heart beats too fast (more than 100 times per minute). During a radiofrequency ablation procedure, a physician guides a catheter into a vein through the groin and threads it to the heart. The catheter contains a small electrode, and when physicians identify the pathway that is causing the heartbeat irregularity, radiofrequency waves are used to destroy the abnormal pathway. Cutting-edge cryoablation, a process of using extreme cold to freeze selected cells, may also be used for specific patients experiencing atrial fibrillation—a rapid, chaotic heart rhythm. Success rates for cardiac ablation are high, above 90 percent, according to the AHA. And, because the procedure is minimally invasive, patients often return to normal activities within a few days. Today, the field of electrophysiology provides advanced options for the diagnosis and treatment of rhythm disorders. So, if you are having symptoms, palpitations, dizziness or loss of consciousness, seek a medical diagnosis and treatment. Then, with your doctor’s approval, you will be ready to rock and roll, salsa or two-step. However you like to dance the night away, at least your heart’s got rhythm! About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton is a 255-bed acute-care, full-service hospital serving North Texas and southern Oklahoma. The hospital’s services include emergency services, medical imaging, surgical services and women’s services. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Denton has nearly 1,000 employees and more than 300 physicians on the medical staff practicing in more than 43 specialties. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org/Denton.


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It’s a green thing Don’t sweat it if a tankless water heater isn’t in the family budget – instead think colorful no-VOC paints and faucets that save money BY TANIESHA ROBINSON CTW Features he pressure to lighten one’s carbon footprint seems to increase with every new batch of green products that hits the market. Yet, a major lifestyle shift isn’t required to be a bit friendlier to the environment. Armed with the right selection of habits, products and a few expert tips anyone can start living greener today. Here’s an energywise head start. “The mantra of the green living movement is reduce, reuse, recycle and … think in terms of your everyday life,” says Antoinette Nue, a green living consultant based in Decatur, Ga. “There are simple adjustments that you can make in terms of everyday living.” Energy-efficient appliances are a good start-

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ing point. While many may be more expensive than their power-guzzling counterparts, those with the Energy Star label should “recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time,” according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Nicole Sassaman, interior designer and remodeling specialist, advises green consumers to invest in top-quality appliances and more durable design elements. “I think people are using a lot more man-made products,” she says. “I’m also seeing a lot of reclaimed woods, especially in flooring.” Man-made materials like quartz stone and CaesarStone are great for countertops and cost about the same as granite. Though engineered, they’re mostly composed of the natural mineral quartz and can be recycled. Nue encourages consumers who are trying to create more energy-efficient spaces to look for products that are “cradle-to-cradle” in terms of being reborn from something else. “It’s not really enough to be recyclable,” she says. “If a product is recyclable, it can also be made from

Image courtesy of Danze

Wash up: Showerheads and toilets aren’t the only spots in a bathroom ready for an energywise makeover. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label on faucets of every style, including those that have polished chrome, brushed nickel and tumbled bronze exteriors.

Paint the town: Eco-friendly paint is getting more versatile with each season. Zero- and low-VOC paints are coming in brighter, bolder colors suitable for any room in the home. Consider these paint samples from of Benjamin Moore’s zero-VOC Natura line and Sherwin-Williams’ zero-VOC Harmony and low-VOC Duration lines.

recyclable materials.” Check and compare products to see which contain post-consumer materials that have already been used once or even multiple times. When shopping for green household and commercial products, Nue suggests checking for EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) label, which indicates that a scientific review team has screened all the product’s components for potential human health and environmental effects based on current EPA standards. Also, check for the common natural cleansing materials on the ingredients list, such as baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar. You can even make your own green cleansers, Nue says. Hot water and the common natural substances mentioned before are enough to tackle the common household chores. One of Nue’s favorite natural cleansers is grapefruit seed extract, which she describes as a powerful antifungal. A simple change like using an all-natural cleanser or switching to more energy-efficient appliances can make a difference. And small upgrades can bode well for energywise living without spending much more green. © CTW Features


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September 17, 2010

Denton Record-Chronicle

Eat Your Age Growing up doesn’t mean food can’t be fun. Here’s what seniors need to eat to get the most from life By Bev Bennett CTW FEATURES Eat more. You probably haven’t read those encouraging

words in a long time, maybe not since your teen years. Instead, as a senior you’re admonished to cut back on fat, calories and cholesterol, and it can be frustrating. Health experts are hearing from patients who don’t know what they can eat anymore. “One patient said if he followed everyone’s recommendations, he’d just be eating turkey and

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fish,” says Dr. Carole Gardner, a geriatrician and chief of the Elder Care Department at Kaiser Permanente Georgia, an Atlanta-area healthcare provider. However, that’s not the whole story. There’s also a positive message. Yes, consume more: more delicious fruits and vegetables, nutty-tasting whole grains, lowfat dairy products and mouthwatering salmon and tuna. By adding more of these healthful and flavorful foods to your diet, you’ll also increase your intake of fluids, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12, which are essential to your well-being as you age. Here’s what to add to your table. CALCIUM If you’re 70 or older you should increase your intake of this bone-protective mineral to 1,200 milligrams (up from 1,000 milligrams) every day. Milk is an excellent source, providing 275 to 300 milligrams per cup. Drink and/or use a total of four cups of milk a day in your cooking and you’re set. But if you were never fond of milk you may have a hard time reaching your goal through dairy alone. You’ll also find calcium in fortified orange juice. “Take a look at orange juice with [added] calcium and vitamin D. You’ll get more for your money,” says Ruth Frechman, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetics Association. You also may want talk to your healthcare provider about taking a calcium supplement. DIETARY FIBER Although you need slightly less fiber as a senior, certain medications, dehydration (see water) or dental problems can leave you short. Fortunately, fiber-rich foods, which prevent constipation, are readily available and inexpensive. Eat oatmeal for breakfast or choose cold cereals made from whole-grains, says registered dietitian Dee Sandquist. Add beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to your menus to reach the recommended daily intake of 30 grams for men age 51 and older and 21 grams for women in the same age group.


Denton Record-Chronicle OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS This healthy fat is very important as you age, says Frechman, who’s based in Burbank, Calif. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce your risk of arthritis and macular degeneration. Salmon is one of the best sources of omega3 fatty acids. The fish also delivers vitamin B12 and protein, giving you more nutrients for your dollar, according to Sandquist, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Sardines, tuna, walnuts and flaxseed also provide omega-3 fatty acids, Sandquist says. Canned bone-in sardines also are rich in calcium, as well. Eating fish, especially fatty varieties, at least twice a week, is the American Heart Association’s recommendation. Ask your physician whether you should take omega-3 supplements. VITAMIN D Spend any time in the sun and your body synthesizes vitamin D. Unfortunately that ability declines as you age, leaving you short of this essential vitamin that supports bone health and possibly reduces risk of certain cancers. Experts currently recommend getting 600 International Units, which is also 15 micrograms a day, if you’re 71 or older (400 IU if you’re 51 to 70). Salmon, mackerel, tuna and fortified milk and orange juice are your best food bets. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D from food alone may be difficult, say nutritionists, who suggest taking a vitamin D supplement. The vitamin is fat-soluble and should be taken with a fat-containing food, such as 1-percent milk or a salmon sandwich. “Don’t take it first thing in the morning if you haven’t eaten for a while,” Sandquist says. VITAMIN B12 This vitamin, necessary for the formation of red blood cells, is available in animal products, including meat, fish, milk and eggs. Some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B12. Although the vitamin B12 recommendation of 2.4 micrograms a day doesn’t increase when you reach your senior years, your body may be less able to absorb the nutrient from food, which could lead to a deficiency. Talk to your physician about whether you’re getting adequate vitamin B12, Gardner says. WATER Water is more than a thirst quencher. It helps regulate body temperature and remove body waste. As you age you may become less sensitive to thirst and dehydrate easily, Gardner says. Don’t wait until you’re parched to have a

September 17, 2010 beverage. Calorie-free water is ideal. Add a little zip to a plain glass of water with a lemon or lime slice, Sandquist says. Water doesn’t have to be your liquid of choice, but avoid drinks that are high in caffeine, sugar or alcohol. You also can hydrate by eating fluid-

Home, Health & More containing foods such as yogurt, grapes, apples and cucumbers, Gardner says. MyPyramid for Older Adults [see sidebar] recommends drinking at least eight servings of water or fluids a day. © CTW Features

MORE FOR LESS

Although older adults need as many or even more of some nutrients than they did in their 30s they have to get those nutrients from fewer calories, say nutrition experts. As a general guideline, trim back 10 percent of calories for every decade over age 50, says Sandquist. A 49-year-old woman can consume 2,000 calories a day, as long as she’s moderately active. That drops to 1,800 calories on her 51st birthday, according to recommendations from the government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Getting what your body needs while consuming fewer calories than you did decades ago can be challenging. Keep a food journal. Note when you’re eating high-fat, sugary snacks and substitute more nutritious options. And move more. Active women age 51 and up can indulge in 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day without gaining weight.

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Home, Health & More

September 17, 2010

Denton Record-Chronicle

Shine ways to save big with

energy tax credits, starting with those old windows

Getty Images

ON

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By Dawn Klingensmith CTW Features The sun is a welcomed guest in just about any room, but over time, it can cause trouble. Sunlight streaming through windows can overheat a room, raise cooling costs, bleach out furnishings and cause glare. Take care when piecing together a sun-drenched room so that its pleasures outweigh the potential problems and its energy costs don’t overburden family finances. Windows are notorious for throwing away hard-earned money by failing to create enough of a barrier between the elements that homeowners want to keep outside of the house and the amenities that they don’t want to let escape. Consider 2010 the year of the smarter-thanyou window. Energy-efficient windows, shades, insulation, screens and films are quickly becoming the norm, replacing predecessors that have long been slacking on the job. Some window accoutrements take the burden entirely off homeowners, simply needing to be programmed once and then opening, closing, tilting and shading based off the position of the sun. Homeowners who buy and install windows that will increase their existing primary residences’ energy efficiency by Dec. 31, 2010 will qualify for tax credits at 30 percent of the cost, up to a total credit of $1,500. (See the sidebar

for a complete list of the other residential products also eligible for the 2010 tax credit and the 2016 tax credit.) Marvin Windows and Doors’ Low EII and LoE-366 Glass lines both feature layers of metallic coating that is designed to reflect or absorb the sun’s warmth and reduce the damage of UV rays. Pella has windows made from pine, fiberglass and vinyl that also qualify for the tax credit. Beyond replacing actual windows, there are window fashions that can help save the budget, too. “Choose window treatments that help you manage light better – for example, a wide, white blind that you can tilt up to reflect light back outside,” says Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas, a maker of window fashions based in Upper Saddle River, N.J. Levolor’s Accordia Cellular Shades have Energy Shield technology that aims to increase a home’s efficiency by controlling light and blocking out the heat on summery days, and by capturing sunlight while blocking cold air to help heat a home on wintry days. Lutron offers motorized shades that can be adjusted as needed with a remote control. And some motorized window shades can be incorporated into a home’s automation system and programmed to open and close throughout the day, depending on the sun’s position. Insulated shades, like Hunter Douglas’ Duette Architella

honeycomb shades, can more than double the energy efficiency of a window. Updated screens, like GORE’s inLighten window screens, sharpen the view and bring 50 percent more light into the house. Windows that let in a lot of sunlight can be covered with clear film that blocks out a percentage of UV rays. Think of the film as sunscreen, and apply it before you “dress” the windows. Draperies should have a white lining to keep the room cooler. Keep rooms “light, bright and informal,” suggests interior designer Audrey Long of New Hope, Pa. “Stick with natural materials” to complement the sunlight that filters into a room, she says. Energy-efficient windows cut down on energy waste, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to forgo cozy afternoons curled up on the couch as the sun streams in. Many window treatments are designed to make the most of sunny rooms by offering UV or glare protection while letting in light and preserving the view. Hunter Douglas offers Silhouette window shades, described as a combination between horizontal blinds (the vanes are made of fabric) and sheers. When the vanes are open, the sheer panels block up to 88 percent of the sun’s UV rays. When closed, the shade blocks 99 percent, Morse says.


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mised through the years in a room with an outdated window. Choose glare-free frames and UV-protective glass for photos and wall art. Clear, UV-protective coatings are available for wood, Siegerman says. But again, many are for outdoor applications, and wood furniture often decreases in value when coatings or varnishes are applied. Periodic recoating is an important part of hardwood-floor maintenance, in part because the coating wards off sun damage – to a point. If you live in the same place long enough, you will probably pull up the corner of an area rug one day and find that the wood beneath it is darker than the rest of the flooring, which will have faded. If this is a concern, occasionally rearrange rugs and furniture to expose areas that were covered so the wood can blend with other parts of the floor as it wears and fades over time. © CTW Features

Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore & Co.

To make the most of a window’s effect on the aesthetic of a room, consider that the sun is a guest that literally bounces off the walls. This can do “funny things” to paint, says Robin Siegerman, owner of Toronto-based Sieguzi Interior Designs. “It can intensify the color, especially yellow – it can be overpowering. You should go a few shades lighter than you otherwise might.” Textiles are another important consideration because solar radiation breaks down dyes and makes fibers brittle. Consider drapery fabric and upholstery treated with a UV-protective coating woven into the fiber. Spray-on products also are available for indoor use and for patio furnishings. The amount of UV rays that a window can block also matters when it comes to photos, paintings and wood furniture and flooring. The integrity of these furnishings can be compro-

September 17, 2010

To serve and protect: Prevent sunlight from damaging fabrics, paint, floors and furnishings by using window panes or shades with UV and glare protection.

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HOME SWEET HOME Deadline: Dec. 31, 2010 Products eligible for tax credits at 30 percent of the cost, up to a total credit of $1,500. They must be “placed in service” in your existing primary residence from January 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2010: 1) Biomass stoves 2) HVAC (central air conditioning, electric heat pumps, furnaces and boilers, advanced main air-circulating fan) 3) Insulation 4) Roofing (metal roofs, asphalt roofs) 5) Non-solar water heaters (gas, oil, propane, electric heat pump) 6) Windows, doors and skylights (exterior– storm windows and doors) Deadline: Dec. 31, 2016 Products eligible for tax credits at 30 percent of the cost, with no upper limit; they must be “placed in service” by Dec. 31, 2016: 7) Geothermal heat pumps 8) Solar energy systems (solar water heating property, solar electric property) 9) Wind energy systems (residential small wind turbines) 10) Fuel cells (residential fuel cell systems) U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

© CTW Features


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September 17, 2010

Denton Record-Chronicle

A Farewell to Flabby Arms By Anna Sachse CTW FEATURES It’s no secret that aging causes the skin to stretch and sag, especially under the arms. But that doesn’t mean resigning yourself to a lifetime of long sleeves. Experts agree that some simple stretching and toning exercises, easily accomplished at the gym or at home, can tighten up triceps and get body confidence soaring. The underarm is such a trouble spot because we really don’t use it that much anymore, says Wendy Hernandez, associate fitness manager at Hollywood 24 Hour Fitness, Portland, Ore. “Since we don’t do a lot of physical labor the way we used to, we rarely make the overhead movements that work the triceps,” she says. “We tend to put all the work on our biceps and back, which is partially why we have so many back problems.” Ashley Borden, a celebrity fitness and lifestyle consultant based in Los Angeles, says that if the muscle can’t contract, it can’t be worked. For this reason, Borden suggests starting your underarm workout with a foam roller. Massaging your muscles with these dense, foam cylinders helps to loosen and open the fascia – the tight, interwoven fibers that surround muscle tissue – increasing blood flow to the area and releasing tension. For better body alignment,

improved circulation and a good stretch, Borden advises rolling forward and back five times along four different muscle groups down the body. Once the muscles are ready to work, Borden recommends working the bigger muscle groups first, and then focusing on the small burn. Start with three sets of 10 push-ups, either regular or on your knees, Borden says. Keeping the belly button in, tush tight and head in-line with the spine, slowly lower your torso to the ground until your elbows form a 90-degree angle; then raise back up. This move works your chest, shoulders and abs in addition to the triceps. Borden then narrows the burn with a move she calls “The Ear of Corn.” Lie on your back with knees bent, belly button in and eyes toward knees. Hold an 8- to 15-pound dumbbell with both hands as if an ear of corn. Lift the dumbbell above your head until arms are straight and then break with both elbows and, keeping upper arms straight, extend forearms back. Do three sets of 10-20. “Your back is significantly more stabilized in this exercise than with standing extensions or other triceps exercises,” Borden says. For more targeted moves, Hernandez recommends triceps kickbacks and pulldowns. When performing a kickback, kneel over a

bench with one arm supporting your body, back straight. Pick up a dumbbell and position your upper arm parallel to floor. Slowly extend your arm backward until it is straight, holding at the top. Slowly return and repeat, then continue with opposite arm. For toning, do two to three sets of 12-15 reps on each side, at 8 to 10 pounds. For a pulldown, face a high pulley and grasp the rope handles with an overhand grip. Position one foot in front of the other and bend slightly at the hip. Keeping shoulders down and elbows close to your body, slowly extend arms down and pull out slightly at the bottom, holding for a moment. Return until forearm is close to upper arm. Again, do two to three sets of 12-15 reps. As an alternative to triceps dips, try the reverse push-up with a chair. For this move, position yourself as you would for a dip, with your hands on the edge of a chair behind you, but keep your legs straight and crossed out in front of you. Keeping your elbows in, slowly lower and then return. Do two to three sets of 12-15 reps. All of these moves are easy to do in a gym. Modify them for the home or office with the help of dumbbells, milk jugs, water bottles or a resistance band, if necessary. © CTW Features

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Let the

Games

Begin Kid’s stuff? Hardly. Playtime for adults heals mind, body and soul By Jeff Schnaufer CTW FEATURES The Fortune 500 CEO was going through a grim time. His wife was slowly dying. The emotional toll of her illness pressed in upon him, threatening to drag him under. Then, one day, he found a way to ease his mind. “He went out and flew a model airplane,” recalls Dr. Stuart Brown. “He was able to deal better with the situation. Then he went out and did some painting. It gave him hope for his own life and the future.” Brown, who founded the nonprofit National Institute for Play in Carmel Valley, Calif., has collected many examples of how play transforms people’s lives. He believes the prevalence of depression, stress-related diseases, interpersonal violence, addictions, and other health and wellness problems can be linked to the prolonged deprivation of play. “Play is terribly important through the whole life cycle, particularly in childhood and senior adulthood,” Brown says. “Play is a survival drive of the human species. The side effect of a playful life is the ability to roll with the punches and soldier on.” “We all need to blow off steam. To be deprived of play is to become edgy and jittery,” says Dr. Scott G. Eberle of the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. and editor of The American Journal of Play. “But when the picture is clinical, and isolation adds to the trouble, play can be a remedy. For example, nursing homes have introduced video games for clients

whose mobility is limited and whose only stimulation, such as it is, may come in the form of watching television.” What form of play is right for you? That depends on your temperament and physical health, Brown says. Here, Brown, Eberle and several other experts suggest some playful activities for the 50-plus generation. BODY PLAY Find a physical activity that you enjoy, such as hiking, biking, spinning, dancing, or even wall climbing, Brown says. Choosing any hard physical activity that will gradually require 80 percent of maximum cardiac output has favorable effects on the hippocampus of the brain, where memory is stored. “If you get in good enough shape to sustain that for 30 to 40 minutes, you are going to have immediate and permanent new connections in your brain,” Brown says. Physically challenging video game systems like the Nintendo Wii are a playful way to exercise. Brown, who is 77, plays tennis on the courts and on the Wii with his son, while Eberle touts the benefits of the Wii and karaoke machines. PLAY TOGETHER “As you get older, I think you get more isolated and you cease to venture out because your friends have gotten married or passed on and the problem is loneliness and not being connected to society,” says Linda Carreon, 64, of Sherman Oaks, Calif.

To combat this, Carreon founded the social group Singles Over 50 Just Want To Have Fun, which has grown to 169 members in just a year and features a variety of playful activities, from hiking to walking to museum visits. If joining a social group is too intimidating, consider inviting a few friends or family over for a game night of bridge or poker. You might even want to host a casino night, like Nash does at ONEgeneration, complete with non-alcoholic beer. PLAY BACK Finally, think of the activities you enjoyed as a child. For those who loved getting dirty as a kid, the garden may be the place to play. If you loved singing, join a choir. If you loved animals, adopt a playful pet. “Even if they have lost playfulness in themselves, most people can recall moments that they had a joyful experience that was playful,” Brown says. “Hook into the state of play that you once knew was a part of your life.” At ONEgeneration, Nash says the nonprofit daycare center partners children with the elderly in playful activities such as puzzles, memory games and animal sounds bingo, which benefits cognitive thought and encourages children to play. The important thing to remember, Blatner says, is that whatever you choose to play, it does not have to be perfect. You can make mistakes. © CTW Features


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September 17, 2010

Denton Record-Chronicle

Appliance

ECOnomics

Heavy on function, light on the environment, the next generation of appliances takes the guesswork out of energy-efficient housework BY ANNA SACHSE CTW Features n today’s increasingly eco-conscious world, manufacturers are churning out “green” appliances faster than one of those newfangled high-speed trains. While that’s good news for the environment, all these options can get a little overwhelming for the consumer. Sure, the goal is to save energy and water, but homeowners and apartment dwellers alike also want their appliances to be efficient, reliable, affordable and look pretty darn slick. It’s a lot to ask, but, luckily, this isn’t a oneperson train. Here, actual green designers, architects and homeowners weigh in on some of newest, most practical and just plain interesting products in the three most applianceheavy rooms in the house. THE KITCHEN If a choice has to be made, ditch the refrigerator first – it’s on 24-7, making it the biggest energy vampire in the house. Models with the Energy Star label use at least 20-percent less energy than current non-qualified models, cutting energy bills by $165 over the lifetime of a refrigerator, says Maria Vargas, a spokeswoman for the Energy Star program. To optimize savings, purchase the smallest refrigerator that will work in a given space (ideally 16 to 20 cubic feet), skip the automatic ice-makers and opt for a top-mounted freezer, which uses 10- to 25-percent less energy than bottom-mounted or side-by-side versions. Amana has a new version of top-mounted freezers in stylish colors like Green Tea and Midnight Blue. The Whirlpool Latitude bottom freezer with French doors features the Measured Fill system, which dispenses the exact amount of water in cups, liters or ounces, an industry-first. As for dishwashers, ones made before 1994

Image courtesy of Viking

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cost an extra $40 a year on utility bills, compared to newer Energy Star models. Bosch is known for making stainless steel dishwashers that are not only energy and water efficient, but also elegant and remarkably quiet, which is what appealed to architect Matt Kirkpatrick, principal designer for Portland, Ore.-based Design for Occupancy. When he and his girlfriend, Katherine Bovee, recently built their own home, they selected the Bosch SHX55M05UC. “We have a compact house (704 square feet of living space),” Kirkpatrick says, “so if we had installed something noisier, it would have made our living room unusable every time we ran a load of dishes.” For a large family, try the new Asko XXL dishwashers instead – they boast a new fourrack-and-seven-basket configuration, and are still Energy Star-certified. Kirkpatrick and Bovee, however, went with Bosch again when selecting their cooktop, specifically the newer and more affordable NIT3065UC induction model, which is more energy efficient than both gas and electric – magnetic fields heat only the pot, so far less

energy is lost. The Kenmore Elite 30” 4280 is comparable in cost ($1,500 to $1,700), while Viking models ring in at $3,000-plus. THE BATHROOM Reducing water usage in the loo is key to avoiding flushing hard-earned dollars down the toilet – literally. New to the United States in 2009, the Caroma Profile Smart features a 1.28/.8 dual flush (press one button for solid waste and another button for liquid waste) and has a sink integrated into the top of the tank – every time it flushes, clean water is automatically cycled through the faucet for hand washing and then drains into the tank for the next flush. Kirkpatrick and Bovee selected this model for their tiny bathroom because it saved space and money by eliminating the need for an additional sink. Although toilet/sink combinations are commonplace in Europe, Australia and Japan, most Americans are only now becoming acquainted with them. But there are even more avant garde options.


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September 17, 2010

In a Sun-Mar Excel composting toilet, liquid waste is evaporated and carried back to the atmosphere through a vent system, while solid material is converted into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that is perfectly safe to use in flower beds. The whole process is odorless and reduces overall water use by up to 50 percent. “Plus, they can be installed anywhere, as they don’t require plumbing or a septic system,” says Susanna Schultz, events and outreach manager for Ecohaus, a home building supplier with locations in Seattle, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco. But if that’s a bit too green for the family bathroom, American Standard, Kohler and Toto also make cutting-edge commodes. “I like Toto’s new Aquia Wall-Hung Dual-Flush model because it’s both affordable and chic,” says Kirsten Flynn, principal designer for the Bay Area-based interior design firm, Sustainable Home. Or, consider the Brondell Simple Flush -– it attaches to an existing tank and converts it into a dual flush for less than $100.

matically dispensing the right amount for each load. Or, if getting the most wear and least tear out of those designer jeans is the goal, try one of Miele’s Energy Star machines. Their patented Honeycomb drum is designed to create a thin cushion of water that cradles clothes as it rotates, preventing friction and snagging so that fabrics can last up to four times longer. This technology has been available on select models since 2002, but was recently added to the entire range, says Paul McCormack, a spokesman for Miele. Energy efficiency among dryers is not significantly different, however, gas dryers are generally cheaper to run and create only about 40 percent as much carbon dioxide as electric dryers. The Maytag Performance Series MGDE200XW has a special cycle to preserve denim, and the futuristic GE Profile Harmony Series DPGT750GC features the CleanSpeak system. When the washer is opened to remove the load, it automatically presets the drying cycle and temperature for the dryer via a serial cable. But if space is an issue, the best bet might be a washer/dryer combo, such as the all new Energy Star-certified LG WM3987HW which runs on standard voltage electricity, doesn’t require venting and fits in a closet. Commonplace in Europe, washer/dryer combos are often hard to find in the United States. But now Clackamas, Ore.-based Splendide (known for making combos for RVs) has also

The Laundry Room When it comes to selecting a washing machine, look for machines with customizable cycles, water levels and temperatures, as well as the Energy Star, WaterSense and High Efficiency labels. In general, front-loading washers are more efficient and easier on clothes, although, some top-loaders, such as the Whirlpool Cabrio and Maytag Bravos series, also get high marks from Consumer Reports’ GreenerChoices.org, one of Flynn’s favorite resources for product recommendations. Among front-loaders, standouts include the GE Profile with Steam, which can pair with a SmartDispense pedestal that holds up to six months of detergent and fabric softener, auto-

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The Great Debate Debating whether it’s time for an old appliance to go? Hook it up to a P3 Kill A Watt energy monitor, which can quickly determine the efficiency of any 120 VAC machine, Schultz says. In the long term, replacing outdated appliances with green ones is both budget and environmentally-friendly – as long as the ousted appliances don’t end up in landfills. Call the Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity to find out if they’ll take old items, or log onto Earth911.com or EnergyStar.gov to find out how to recycle them. © CTW Features

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The secret garden Great gardens are rooted in an ‘only the strong survive’ mentality. Here’s how to prepare for a harvest that will be worth the time, energy and money spent By Jeff Schnaufer CTW Features Ever dream of being “that” neighbor? The one with a garden that’s the envy of the neighborhood, brimming with enough seasonal crops to feed the whole ZIP code and still having plenty for family meals. The one who seems to have magical dirt that can yield a small harvest on an even smaller budget. Here’s how to create an efficient garden out of any outdoor or indoor space and pinpoint which fruits and vegetables are worth the time, energy and money spent. Read on for tips about the most forgiving, most prolific, most versatile and, of course, most delicious varieties. Tomatoes “Tomatoes are the No. 1 garden crop in the United States for great reasons,” says Rhonda Massingham Hart, the Deer Park, Wash.based author of “The Dirt Cheap Green Thumb” (Storey Publishing, 2009). They are relatively easy to grow, beautiful, delicious, bountiful and loaded with nutrients – lycopene when cooked, vitamins A and C when raw.” Tomatoes can be used in everything from salads to shish kabobs, Hart says. Some, like Roma, are thick and meaty and just right for sauces, while others, like Red Currant, are sweet and tiny, just right for snacking. And while tomatoes can grow just about anywhere, including upside down, Hart says “they do best in deep, beautiful soil – rich in organic matter, well balanced in nutrients (including calcium, a deficiency of which can lead to the dreaded blossom end rot).” Soil should retain moisture yet drain well, Hart says, who prefers to grow her tomatoes in raised beds of generously amended organic soil.

Squash Just how easy is it to grow squash or zucchini? “The beginning gardener will buy a six pack, plant them all and their neighbors will slam their doors in her face because she tries to give it all away,” laughs Yvonne Savio, common ground garden program manager with the University of California Cooperative Extension program in Los Angeles County. Squash comes in several varieties, from yellow crookneck to the traditional green zucchini, and are “just naturally prolific,” Savio says. Plant three or four seeds every month beginning in April or May to “have one or two squash a week for the entire summer,” Savio says. And while zucchini can be used in everything from salads to ratatouille, the biggest yield comes from baking it into zucchini bread. Spinach “New Zealand spinach is a perennial spinach and ground cover and is best in the ground,” says Christopher Nyerges of Los Angeles, cofounder of the School of Self-Reliance and gardening author. “It is not difficult to grow, which is why I grow it. It is perennial, so I am able to collect some year round. I’ve been collecting from the same expanding patch for about 20 years. I use it as I would use regular spinach, in salads, soups and with eggs.” Asparagus “Asparagus is great because it is perennial,” Nyerges says. “Plant it in appropriate soil, good sun, proper irrigation and there will be asparagus shoots every spring for maybe 50 years from one patch.” To save a little time, energy and expenses, Nyerges suggests first deciding what will get eaten. Before planting, make a list of the vegetables and fruits that the family enjoys. “Then circle all those on that list that are ideal in the neighborhood,” Nyerges says. “Maybe a specific variety is [the best fit].” To determine the proper planting techniques, contact a local nursery for advice and buy a book on gardening.

It’s survival of the fittest in Nyerges’ garden. The fruits and vegetables that can survive with minimal care are the ones he keeps around; the more high-maintenance plants die off but that just makes for a stronger garden. “I then cultivate and work on the survivors,” he says, “having a garden that is very productive with very little work.” Fig Trees “They are really forgiving,” Savio says. “[Gardeners] can chop the heck out of a fig tree and it will still put out fruit. It has two fruiting cycles. That is the tree I encourage people to play with if they are just getting into the fruiting. A good tree not to get overwhelmed with doing it right or wrong.” Strawberries Strawberries are easy to grow, both in beds in the ground or in a variety of container types, from strawberry jars to hanging baskets, Hart says. “Some varieties, called Day Neutral varieties – Tri-Star is one example – will produce all summer long,” she says. “Others, called Everbearing types, will have one big flush in mid- to late-June, followed by a second late summer crop. And June bearers will splurge almost all of the berries in June for a single harvest – a best fit for those who intend to can or freeze.” © CTW Features


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