If people had to pay the true cost of medical care, would they change how they use medical services? A recent report from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) suggests they would. Cosmetic surgery isn't included on most insurance plans. People have to pay out of pocket for all the nips and tucks they receive. And last year many people were still willing to pay to maintain the illusion of youth. People in the United States received almost 10 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures in 2009, a 147 percent increase since 1997. Surgical procedures increased 50 percent during that time, but non-surgical procedures increased by 231 percent.
Despite the huge increase in procedures since 1997, the Great Recession did have an effect, especially on more expensive surgeries, which decreased 17 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. Non-surgical procedures actually went up 1 percent. Fewer breast augmentations, liposuctions, eyelid surgeries, rhinoplasties (nose jobs), and abdominoplasties (tummy tucks) occurred. Botox injections, hyaluronic acid treatments, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels remained popular.
Some of the numbers raise eyebrows: Americans spent $10.5 billion on cosmetic procedures during last year when the economy fell apart. The most likely recipient of most procedures? A white woman between the ages of 35 and 50. Two percent of the people receiving treatments were under 18 years old. Popular treatments for the high-school set: laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, rhinoplasty, chemical peels, and Botox!
Never end up with two cartons of milk and no paper towels again. Like the grocery list on your refrigerator, ZipList lets you track what you need. But unlike that paper-based method, this free, web-based service lets you share your list with different people in different places-for instance, between family members or roommates. Household members can add items and check them off to avoid duplicate purchases, using email, SMS, an iPhone app, the website, or instant messenger. If your store is in ZipList's database, it will sort items by the store's layout. There's even an extensive recipe database from which you can add ingredients to your shopping list in a single click.
A helpful reader pointed out that since the last time I wrote about Buzz, Google has made further changes in how you disable the app from gmail. According to cNet, if you merely turn off Buzz, "all this does is remove active links, leaving your profile still publicly available, along with any public buzzes you might have made while trying Buzz out." Instead, follow Google's instructions: "If Google Buzz isn't for you, you can disable it in your Gmail settings. Click Settings at the top right of Gmail, and then click the Buzz tab. In the Buzz choices section, you'll see your options for disabling Google Buzz. Make sure to click Save changes when you've made your selection."
Do you like reading newspapers, magazines, and blogs online, but find the clutter of advertisements and links distracting? Readability (lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/) is a free tool that can help. You simply choose how you'd like your screen to look (for instance, like a newspaper or novel), including the size of the text and the width of your margins. Then drag the Readability button to your web browser's toolbar, and you're done! Whenever you're on a cluttered website, click on the Readability button in your browser and breathe deeply. The disorder will go away, and the text you want to read will be front and center.
If you want to learn facts-for example, names of the countries in Europe-a smart website (smart.fm) promises to tell you "what to study and when. Track your progress-hit your goals." The website is easy to use. I chose vocabulary practice for the verbal SAT. It offered a set of words with definitions and various types of quizzes to test mastery of the information. Smart.fm's sophistication sets it apart from other websites. Users can add goals of their own, mashing together information already on the website or adding their own. Cerego, the company that operates smart.fm, is headquartered in Tokyo. Native English speakers who are fluent in Japanese founded the website, so it is not surprising that many of its current units are for the purpose of learning that language.
Goodreads, the popular social networking and library cataloguing website for bibliophiles, has released a free iPhone app. Search for books and categorize them in custom virtual bookshelves. Catalog the books you've read, are currently reading, or plan to read in the future. Rate and review books, or start a virtual book club. Don't have an iPhone? You can do all this on the Goodreads website as well (goodreads.com).
About a year ago a debate occurred over whether the Swedish home store IKEA was a problem or a solution. Some Green advocates worried that IKEA's cheap furniture ultimately ended up in landfills. Much better, they said, to buy used furniture. Others worried that IKEA, usually located in outer ring suburbs where land is cheaper, encouraged people to drive long distances, wasting precious fuel. I've not seen as much of that chatter recently. But I have discovered a subset of people who do creative things with IKEA products. On the website IKEA hacker (ikeahacker.blogspot.com) creative folks show how they turn watering cans into lamps or bookcases into a child's play kitchen. Since IKEA is an international company, contributions come from readers around the world. Some of the "hacks" are goofy, others are clever.