Healthy Lifestyle in a Modern World

During the recent years many people have started doing exercise, taking yoga classes and also following strict diet in many countries. The reasons behind these activities are many, like work-stress, people suffering from diabetes, people taking lots of fats in their food and due to the pollution and the ongoing urbanization. Most of the people living in the cities suffer from heavy pollution due to heavy intakes of carbon monoxide in their bodies. Due to this heavy intake there are many side effects involved in this process.

Most of the people are also addicted to smoking and alcohol, recent studies by an organization out of 100 people 60 percent drink significantly more than is healthy. Also in most of the countries even the percentage of the female population abusing alcohol is increasing. Due to this many of the doctors suggest people take regular exercises and also play sports in their leisure time. In the last ten years heart diseases has increased enormously from 35% to 70%. In recent years most of the children are born with diseases, a result of their parents poor health and lifestyle. So in these times it is necessary to follow some rules so that our health as well as our younger generations will be healthy.

Keeping healthy is nothing but keeping our body clean with healthy habits like taking regular exercise. First of all a regular jog of 2 km is enough for an individual of an average age. During the school days till college everyone is involved in one or other sport, but when people find a job they forget about health and they soon become busy in their work. One should consult their doctor every 3-4 months for a regular checkup’s. They should not be stressed – if they find stress they should take yoga classes every day, so that their blood pressure will be normal. Otherwise that would lead them to hyper blood pressure or hypo, which may lead to heart disease. Most of the corporate companies in USA as well as rest of the world are employing dietitians, physiotherapists, and also good doctors to take care of their employees.

The next thing I want to discuss is the diet because the intake food which we are taking is responsible for all the fats, carbohydrates,proteins and necessary enzymes which will be useful for the energy conversion or utilization in the human body. We should follow the diet very strictly by avoiding the junk food available in the market. A recent survey states that most of the people fall ill by consumption of junk food. A food with little fat is advisable because by taking more fat content the fat will be accumulated in the veins and arteries in the human body which result in high blood pressure which may lead to heart disease. In order to reduce the fats in the human body we should take less oil or cheese or butter in our food there by controlling the fats in the human body. Regular exercise will be helpful to control the fat in the human body.

By playing sports it will be a good exercise in the human body. Swimming is also a good sport. We should maintain our body weight according to our height. There we can reduce our health problems to most of the extent. I conclude my discussion to the above topic by saying that a regular exercise or yoga and a strict diet and playing sports and regular check ups we can keep our body healthy after all there is an old saying “Health is Wealth”.

Facts and Care for White Ink Tattoos

When you hear people talking about getting a white ink tattoo, they usually mean a design which is in all white ink with no other colours. These tats are typically more subtle than the blaringly loud designs you would get with black ink or coloured marks. A white ink tattoo will more often than not, look more like a scar/brand. It is a great way to get inked in a more private way. These marks are usually only really visible when you deliberately show it someone. It is the best of both worlds. You can have your very personal art, without getting any kind of negative attention at formal gatherings or at work.

Simplicity is key when it comes to white ink tattoos. Keep in mind that your tattoo artist will be working with ink which is a little bit trickier to see. Simplistic art has a solid shot at showing up more clearly than a complicated one. Trendy selections include shooting star tattoos, dragons, writing, key tattoos, Kanji symbols, hearts, and basic tribal patterns. These are so much easier to ink and way less likely to end up as a confusing and disappointing blur. All white tattoos will require to be inked over a few times to make sure the finished pattern is as noticeable as possible. Also, darker coloured skin tends to dampen the brightness of white ink.

With a typical tattoo, the design is usually stenciled in before shading begins. The outlines are done with a dark ink, usually black. This provides a very noticeable pattern the artist uses to keep on track. Tats without any dark ink tend to be a bit more blurred. It is more difficult to follow what you have inked when using only white ink. If a different coloured ink is used with the white, it can result in blended mess.

The ink used is completely different from base white inks which tint other colours. When used as the primary ink, you get a much thicker, top quality mixture which is created solely to stand out as much as it can.

White ink tattoos will lose a portion of their brightness and clarity if they are constantly in the sunshine. If you get this type of design, be sure to keep it out of the sun as much as possible. The easiest way to do this is to get inked in an area which you normally cover up. Your back or chest make for ideal areas. If you normally wear clothes with a bit more cover in the summer, you could also try using your shoulder or just below the ankle. (Keep in mind – any tattoo applied near a bone will hurt more than one that is put on muscle).

If a stencil is used on your white ink tattoo, the artist can either make the outline in your own blood or with purple dye. As a warning, your blood can sometimes tint the ink pink, and the purple can also mix. Your best bet is to have a pro do a simple design without a stencil. Ask your tattoo artist if he or she has much experience with white ink before you let them draw on your skin.

Sometimes people have some bad reactions to white ink. Reactions can also happen with black ink, but they are happen more often with white. Reactions include itching and swelling. In some cases the ink can also turn yellow if it mixes with sweat. As a prevention method, there is nothing wrong with asking for a small sample ink in the area you are aiming to have the full design. This way you be more confident that you will be left with a great tattoo instead of an ugly scar.

As with any ink, if you do not put in the effort to take special care of your new tattoo, you might end up with something that only barely resembles the art you wanted. Don’t scratch or touch the area. Always keep the gauze on for the minimum of 2 hours. Never ever cover up a new tattoo with plastic/saran wrap. Use only lukewarm water, mild liquid antibacterial soap, and your own hands to clean the area. Lightly dab with paper towel to dry it off. Do not put anything like sunscreen or Neosporin over the area. Lastly – take extra care to not let your new tattoo to get too much sunlight until it heals.

Just follow these steps and you will have the best chance of having a clear yet subtle design you can show of to your friends.

Which Costa Rican Car Company Is Best?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica? Which company should you choose?

There are so many rent-a-car companies to choose from in Costa Rica – from the large international firms to the smaller national agencies. Reviews on the internet invariably either damn or sing the praises of each company to the extent of being almost useless. So how do you choose the best place to hire a car for your trip?

Many tourists that rent vehicles in Costa Rica complain that they have been ripped off when they realize the extra cost of insurance they are obliged to pay or that they have been charged a dollar rate that reflected the currency rate and not the quoted rate. Understanding the insurance laws and charges that bind the Costa Rican car rental companies may help you to ask the right questions when you are reserving your vehicle and avoid a nasty shock upon arrival. If a company is not upfront about its additional costs; you may wish to consider whether it is a company that you choose to take your business to.

I have worked within the tourism industry in Costa Rica for the last six years and have lived here since 2000. I am familiar with the feelings that many visitors to the country experience when dealing with rent-a-car companies. These can range from delight to discomfort to outright fury; sometimes due to the inefficiency, or even dishonesty of the rental agency, but also due to the renter’s lack of understanding of the legally binding restrictions within which Costa Rican car rental firms must work. I hope that while this article won’t guarantee you trouble-free vehicle rental; it might make you a more knowledgeable customer.

Insurance needs, additional costs in rental and surcharges are considered in more detail below:

Insurance:

Basic insurance is mandatory. Costa Rican law is very clear on this and your rental car company cannot allow you to leave with their car without having agreed to pay it. Expect to pay somewhere between $9 and $20 per day on top of your car rental rate. An honest, car rental agency will make this very clear in their pricing. If it is not clear whether the insurance is included in the rental cost; ask for clarification and be aware of other potentially unstated costs.

Check whether your insurance policy covers you to drive in Costa Rica. Some policies include Collision Damage Waivers and will cover Central America. If you are covered, bring proof (in writing) for your vehicle rental company. If not, consider whether you would be safer to pay the extra cost of this additional coverage. This part is not mandatory.

Zero liability is offered by rent-a-car companies. You may wish to consider whether you would feel more at ease knowing that you would not be liable for any costs should something occur while you are renting their vehicle. You are not obliged to buy this supplemental insurance.

Additional Fees:

Many car rental companies will charge additional fees for a child/baby seat, an additional driver, luggage racks or cooler. You can expect to pay up to $8 daily for each of these extras. Although by shopping around, you can find companies that will offer some or all for a lower price, or even free.

With Costa Rican roads being notoriously poorly signposted and the whole country operating on an address system based on landmarks rather than road names or numbers, a GPS is essential for many car renters. You will usually pay between $8 and $15 a day for this service. It is fairly common practice to allow renters to use one of their cell phones for the duration, but if you wish to use it for your own calls; you’ll obviously be charged.

Surcharges:

Some rental car companies incorporate taxes and additional fees into their rental cost; others don’t. Make sure you know what you will be charged for on top of your rental fee. Airport fees can be charged at 13% of your rental cost which is a sizable fee to pay in addition to an agreed rental charge. You may also be charged a license plate charge, environmental fee and/or any other charge that the rental car company has to meet (or pocket).

Prices for the rental will be given in US dollars, but as the local currency is colones, you should understand that exchange rates change daily and what you are charged on your credit card on the day of payment may vary slightly from what you were quoted.

Criteria for Rating Car Rental Companies:

For this article, three (3) main points were considered for each company:

1) Value: Is the rental rate competitive?

2) Efficiency: How fast do they respond to the needs of the client?

3) Transparency: How clear is the information provided by the company?

You may have your own criteria, but based on complaints from previous customers on community websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc., the requirements of those clients seemed mainly based around these three basic areas.

The companies surveyed below are a mix of local and international firms. Each company was researched based on a week’s rental of a Daihutsu Bego with mandatory insurance.

Dollar Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Extras are at average prices.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within 24 hours.

Transparency

- The prices for rental vehicles are displayed on site but a side box contains a ‘Daily RA’ with dollar amount. This is the mandatory insurance.

- Reservation price is listed as ‘Base rate’ and doesn’t include insurance.

- Dollar has received mixed reviews in sites such as Trip Advisor.

- A toll-free number is available.

Vamos Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Only GPS and cell phone use are charged. All other extras such as child seats are free.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- The website clearly states prices and insurance.

- Toll-free number and live chat are provided.

Wild Rider:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Additional driver is free.

Efficiency

- Email inquiry returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Prices are displayed very clearly onsite and include insurance.

- The company has almost 100% positive reviews, but with a fleet of only 30 vehicles and one central office; it may be difficult to help clients who are in difficulty outside the capital.

- They cannot provide a vehicle for the Liberia airport, just San Jose.

Budget:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extra charges for baby seat, additional driver etc.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- No prices displayed with vehicles information.

- Budget has received mixed reviews.

- Surprisingly for a large company, it provides no live chat or toll-free number for clients in the USA.

Service Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD including mandatory insurance and taxes.

- Extras such as additional driver and child seat are charged, but at cheaper rates than most companies.

Efficiency

- The company has 5 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- Their rates are clearly shown on site.

- Service has received mainly positive reviews.

National Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are priced a little above average.

Efficiency

- They have 23 office locations, although some are Alamo.

Transparency

- Price estimates online do not include insurance or additional charges; however, they are displayed in the full quotation.

- They have received mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and a toll-free number are provided.

Economy Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $200+ USD, but it seems possible to reserve a vehicle without inclusion of any insurance.

- Extras are average in price.

Efficiency

- They have 12 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour, but email inquiring about insurance was not returned.

Transparency

- Website does not make mandatory insurance clear.

- Economy has numerous negative reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Hertz Costa Rica:

Value

- $400+ USD, but actual rental price is not made clear.

- Extras are pricey.

Efficiency

- 6 offices nationwide.

- No contact email.

- Telephone numbers are available for different offices around the country.

Transparency

- Very confusing quotation system. Two rates are offered for a vehicle and chosen dates. The cheaper option does not include mandatory insurance and it is in very small print under the final quotation price. The more expensive option includes non-mandatory insurance along with mandatory.

- Mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Adobe Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are at low prices.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- Online estimate includes insurance.

- Adobe has received mixed reviews.

- A toll-free number is provided.

Tricolor Car Rental:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- No charge for pick-up or airport fees.

- Extras aren’t listed or provided in quotation email, although cell phone price is given.

Efficiency

- 3 offices nationwide.

- Email returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Website is not very user friendly.

- Reviews are mixed.

- Toll-free number is provided.

Finalizing the Three Criteria:

Economy, at first, appear to be the cheapest company to rent from, but unfortunately this is due to their failure to declare all costs incurred by the renter, rather than a genuine, good deal. For real value, Dollar, Vamos, Wild Rider and Tricolor come out on top for competitive pricing for the basic rental fee, plus mandatory insurance. Vamos is noticed for being the only firm that does not charge for extras such as a child seat or surcharges. Adobe and Service have low cost extras, whereas Hertz has the most expensive rates for extras. Wild Rider does not charge for an additional driver.

Only Economy failed to respond to email inquiry. All other companies responded quickly and with clear answers to inquiries. Wild Rider, as the smallest firm, cannot offer nationwide service, but reviews suggest that they have met customer needs to date. All other companies can offer services from offices in locations outside of the capital city — increasing their ability to serve clients effectively.

Adobe, Wild Rider, Vamos and Service have websites that clearly show rental prices and insurance. Economy and Hertz somehow seems to be deliberately misleading on their websites. The other companies’ websites provide the required information – even if it can take some time in hunting it down.

Conclusion:

This brief survey would suggest that Vamos, Service, Tricolor and Wild Rider would be the best companies to begin your rental research, whereas Economy would be best to avoid.

Now you know as much as I do! The information here is supposed to be your starting point and not the end point. Hopefully, you will know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a rental vehicle to ensure that your dream vacation begins smoothly without any nasty shocks, like hefty extra charges when you land. Enjoy the drive!

Which Wood is Best For Outdoor Furniture – Teak Or Cedar?

If you are looking to landscape your backyard, reinvigorate your tired porch or patio, or even create a warm and welcoming living area out of that new deck, you may need some new furniture.  After all what good is having a great place to entertain if your guests don’t feel comfortable while they’re there?  When you need a few chairs to fill some space on the porch, or that plush, comfortable, deep seating sofa for the veranda, chances are that Teak or Cedar will be your best choice for this outdoor living furniture.  Which to choose will depend on a variety of factors however most importantly you will need to consider the look you are hoping to achieve, maintenance required, and the price you can expect to pay in order find the best fit. So read below and you’ll be lounging by your new poolside bar in a new sun lounger in no time at all!

The Look

One of the most important features of any new furniture is the appearance that it gives off.  Is your outdoor patio living space better suited for a rustic appeal or luxurious contemporary style?  Perhaps neither.  Maybe just a simple, yet warm, elegance speaks to you more.  But whether you’re looking to create a fun, relaxing environment with a pool side bar and some sun loungers or a simple conversational seating area you will have many choices with both Teak and Cedar.

Cedar usually has a very natural look, accenting your living area with soft red, light brown, and gray tones.  Lightweight and porous, cedar can easily accept a stain, sealer, or even paint, but most commonly is left in a raw finely sanded finish to preserve its natural look, feel, and smell.  Cedar is aromatic by nature which not only adds to the ambiance of a relaxing evening, but also helps preserve and protect the wood from insects and weather.

Teak is almost the polar opposite of cedar in terms of just about everything.  Teak is by nature a hardwood and as such, is more dense and heavy than cedar.  Grown exclusively in subtropical and tropical regions, and most commonly in the dense jungle of Indonesia and other Asian countries, teak is almost always imported and therefore is also more rare.  As a result of the exoticism associated with teak furniture it has achieved a perception of rarity and wealth and thus portrays a look of luxury and prestige.   Teak outdoor furniture is commonly purchased in one of two ways.  It can either be oiled, to achieve a darker “stained” look, or it can be left in its natural unfinished state where it will gracefully age and turn a soft patina gray color.  This color, unique to teak furniture, contributes to its exotic appeal.

Maintenance

Another very important factor to consider when deciding to purchase outdoor patio furniture is the level of maintenance that you wish to employ in living with your new furniture.  Luckily the maintenance factor, or lack of, is one of the main reasons that both teak wood and cedar wood are top choices of furniture manufacturers and consumers. 

Cedar, by nature is a very resilient wood whose properties help to resist weather of all climates but specifically heavily climates with heavy precipitation.  Snow, sleet, and rain are no concern for the long lasting properties of cedar, which will maintain its brilliance for many years.  This is one of the reasons why leaving cedar furniture in a sanded unfinished state is by far the most popular finish.  Like with many other woods though, some wish to finish their cedar furniture to achieve an altogether different look.  Several refinishing options are listed below in order of popularity.

  1. Stain - many prefer the finished look of a nice stain on their outdoor furniture.  The benefits of using a stain include being able to change the color of the furniture to virtually any color for which stain is available.  Stains are now offered in many shades through the dark to light color spectrum.  The stain may also provide a slight protection from the elements although with cedar it’s not really necessary and so mainly should just be used to alter the color.  The disadvantages of stain are that in order to maintain the original stained look, the stain needs to be reapplied every 2-3 years as the stain itself is not as resilient against the suns UV rays and weather elements as the wood is.
  2. Sealer – some prefer to “lock in” the natural look of their cedar furniture and so choose to use a high end sealer.  Sealers are made by many companies and are available at any hardware or big box store.  The sealer will prevent the cedar patio furniture from fading and will slow down the aging process.  Keep in mind though that this aging is often a desired affect of the cedar.  The downside to sealing the cedar furniture is consistent with the drawback to using a stain.  In order to maintain its effectiveness, it must be reapplied every 2-3 years which can be tedious and cumbersome.
  3. Paint – like any wood surface, cedar can be painted with a fine outdoor wood paint.  This is not as common as staining or sealing the furniture because paint will crack and chip, and also drastically alters the appearance of the furniture from its natural state.  Once the paint cracks and chips the entire painted surface must be completely sanded and repainted, sealed, or stained.

Teak is also a very weather resistant and ultra resilient wood due in part to its propensity to secrete a natural teak oil which helps to self condition it and protect against the harsh demands of a wet and/or humid climate.  Many shipbuilders choose teak as a main wood for the decks of their ships for this very reason.  Many sunken ships have been raised from the depths of the ocean only to show the teak beautifully preserved and in tact.  It’s this property that makes teak more commonly found in its natural unfinished state as there is no functional reason to apply any external finish to the surface.  Some customers however choose to apply additional amounts of this teak oil to achieve a darker more stained look.  While this will preserve the “new” look of the furniture it must be reapplied every 2-3 years to maintain this appearance and so can become burdensome.  Also by leaving the teak in its natural state, the often desired patina gray look is naturally achieved where it cannot be, if a teak oil or other finish is applied to the surface of the furniture.

Price

While price is often a concern for consumers, sometimes it is not such a factor for consumers of wood patio furniture.  As with everything else, price is a measure of perceived value.  The more valuable a product is perceived to be in the mind of the consumer, the more it will cost.  This reason alone is why both teak and cedar patio furniture are generally more expensive than other common outdoor furniture materials such as plastic, wicker, or rattan furniture.  Teak and cedar themselves have a price difference too though which can be quite significant depending on the individual furniture item.  Here’s why.

Cedar – because of its lightweight, proximity, ease to harvest and availability, cedar is the cheaper choice of the two wood furniture types.  While it will last a long time and is very durable, typically teak will last longer.

Teak – for all of the reasons opposite cedar, teak is the more valuable wood.  Simply not having the availability of cedar or other woods helps to create this elite, rare, sort of feeling that teak carries with it, which raises the price.  The purchase of teak furniture is often perceived as a sign of affluence or wealth because teak has a widely known reputation for commanding a higher price.  More expensive to harvest, more expensive to ship, and its long lasting appeal coupled with its novelty together contribute to its higher cost to produce which in turn creates a higher price for the consumer.

In summary, “better” or “best” can only be determined by the customer.  However taking appearance, maintenance, and price into consideration, teak and cedar can easily be compared and contrasted for similarities and differences.  Cedar, the more light weight, commonly used wood makes great patio furniture because of its ability to resist insects, rot, and weather elements (specifically rain, sleet, and snow) and also because it is relatively inexpensive to produce.  Teak, the hardwood of the two, is more exotic, rare, and will last longer.  Therefore, it commands a higher price, but also delivers a greater perceived value in terms of prestige, longevity, and maintenance free ownership experience.