Which Waist Cincher Is Best – 4 Tips to Choose the Right One

Waist cinchers are considered to be very amazing products for narrowing down the waist. Considering the fact that each woman is unique, it is not an easy job to know which waist cincher is best. This is even more difficult considering the fact that there are cinchers available in many varied designs. The perfect model is one which can be a perfect match for your lifestyle and most importantly, is able to adjust to the contours of your body. Read on to get 4 easy tips which can help you to choose the best waist cincher for yourself.

Go for one with the best waist compression

One of the greatest benefits of wearing cinchers is the ability to get a narrower waist. In the majority of cases, you can find cinchers which are lines with boning (metal strips) and plastic. The primary reason for which this outfit has been designed by manufacturers is to provide women with support. When shut the boning generally serves to reinforce the shape of the dress that you wear. It is also able to compress your body into the shape that you want. It can restructure your body minimally and compress your skin, body fluids and fat constantly in order to make the midsection slimmer in appearance.

Choose one with proper support

Postural support is another major advantage of wearing these cinchers. It can restrict your movement to a specific degree. The bending is done in such a way which retains the firmness of the garment. When you wear a well-structured and metal boned waist cincher, you find it impossible to slouch and have a bad posture. Women who use these outfits on a daily basis find that they get additional support to their posture due to their usage. This extra amount of support can help reduce back problems and offer enough assistance at the time of walking and performing daily activities.

Get one with custom measurements

Many women suffer from aches and pains, which are part of the various disadvantages that are experienced, when they wear the wrong types of waist cinchers. A cincher of an ill-fitting variety can always result in damage. It can lead to an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience even after you wear it for a few minutes. Due to this reason, it is extremely essential for women to wear cinchers that come with custom measurements. These types of cinchers always make the waists narrower than is expected. Well-designed or decorative cinchers are fabricated always for cosmetic purposes.

Select one which is not too tight-fitting

One of the main disadvantages of wearing waist cinchers is chafing. This is actually due to the fact that cinchers are very tight-fitting in form. When you wear cinchers directly over the skin, it may lead to irritation. Even using those made of the softest material can cause chafing. Wearing a thin shirt or a camisole to act as a barrier between the cincher and the bare skin can help you to easily get rid of this issue.

Don’t use foil in the microwave – and other household myths

Many widely held beliefs about home safety and savvy are more fiction than fact.

Myth: Standing in front of the microwave oven while it’s on will give you cancer.

Fact: Federal regulations have established strict limits on the amount of energy that can be emitted by microwave ovens. These standards are much lower than the level at which any adverse health effects are believed possible. Even if an oven leaks, you may feel some warmth but you will not be at risk for cancer, says Sharon Franke, the Institute’s expert on microwave cookery and food appliances. Unlike X rays and ultraviolet light, microwave energy is non ionizing, meaning it can’t damage genes or cells.

Myth: When wrapping foods in aluminum foil, the shiny side of the foil should face outside.

Fact: It doesn’t matter which side of the foil you use when you’re cooking, freezing, or storing foods. While there’s a slight difference in how much light is reflected off the two sides, it has no effect on the food you’re covering, says Franke. So why is one side shinier? It has to do with the manufacturing process.

Myth: Using antiperspirants containing aluminum and cooking with aluminum pots can give you Alzheimer’s disease.

Fact: There is no scientific evidence that aluminum from pots, pans or antiperspirants causes Alzheimer’s, explains Sandra Kuzmich, Ph.D., director of the Institute’s Chemistry Department. While some studies have found increased concentrations of aluminum in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients, it is not known if this is a cause or effect of the disease, or whether there is any relationship at all. Because aluminum is found in the air, water, and soil, it’s present in most foods we eat. It’s also found in many over-the-counter medicines, including antacids and buffered aspirin: According to the Food and Drug Administration, the amount you absorb through everyday items is extremely small–and safe.

Myth: Toothpaste is a good substitute for silver polish.

Fact: Your regular toothpaste (not the gel kind) can be used in a pinch, says Carolyn Forte, director of the Home Care Department. But because it’s more abrasive than silver polish, repeated use can leave fine scratches. For on-the-spot emergency polishing, rub a little on with your finger, then rinse well with hot water and dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Myth: Never put aluminum foil in the microwave.

Fact: “Older ovens–those made twenty or more years ago–couldn’t handle foil because of a problem with energy reflection and would become damaged,” says Franke. “But you can use foil safely in newer models.” For instance, small pieces can be folded around corners of foods like brownies and lasagna to keep them from overcooking. Note that you should keep the aluminum foil smooth and at least one inch away from oven walls; pieces that have jagged edges may cause some sparking. Other metals, such as wire twist ties, should never be used in the microwave.

Myth: Rechargeable batteries will last forever.

Fact: There is a limit to how many times you can replenish rechargeable batteries because the chemicals inside will eventually wear out, explains John M. Sun, director of the Institute’s Engineering Department. The life expectancy of nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, for instance, is determined by an estimated number of charge cycles. So each time you remove your cordless phone and put it back on the base, you’re using up one of the cycles. To make the battery last longer, don’t put the phone back on the base after each call. Instead, wait until the end of the day.

Myth: Don’t use plastic wrap in the microwave; toxic substances in the plastic can get into your food.

Fact: Under very high temperatures (300 [degrees] F. or higher), plastic wrap can melt into food. However, it’s highly unlikely that food will ever get that hot unless you’re cooking–not just reheating–something that contains large amounts of sugar or fat, says Franke. Even if you do eat heated plastic particles, experts say there’s no scientific evidence they will make you ill. But to be extra safe, advises Franke, put food in a microwave safe bowl, then cover with plastic wrap.

Myth: Moths eat only wool, so you don’t have to worry about other fabrics.

Fact: First, it isn’t the adult moth hut the larva or worm that hatches from the moth egg that causes the damage to your clothes, explains Associate Textiles Director Nancy V07ar. Second, larvae will attack even synthetic fabrics to get to food stains. So make sure all your clothes are clean before you store them.

Myth: If a stain has ruined a garment, just dye it a different color.

Fact: “Before you dye your clothes you must remove the stain,” says Vozar. If you don’t, the dye will color the stained area differently from the rest of the fabric and you’ll still see the spot.

Know your fire extinguisher

The smoke detector starts blaring, and as you rush to find your children, you spot the blaze. It’s small; maybe you can just put it out. Quick: Do you have a fire extinguisher? Where is it? Do you know how to work it? If you can’t find and use it in moments, the fire is likely to get out of control.

More than 70 percent of all Americans own a fire extinguisher, but only a fraction actually know how to use it. “Our message is advance planning, so you’re not trapped making a quick decision under stress,” says Meri-K Appy, assistant vice president for public education at the National Fire Protection Association. Her instructions, below, could save your life.

Q: How do I decide when to use a fire extinguisher or when to call the fire department?

A: The only time you should try fighting a blaze is when you have a clear exit behind you and the fire is small, self-contained, and not spreading rapidly. I advise people not to attempt it if the fire is bigger than a wastebasket, but the truth is you should never fight a fire if you’re not confident. I remember hearing a firefighter from Omaha suggest that you take the hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck test. If it’s standing up, just get out.

Q: If I put out a fire with my extinguisher, should I still call the fire department?

A: Always. Fires can reignite as long as three elements are still present-fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source. People often won’t even notice that there are still embers smoldering, but with sufficient oxygen, fires can rekindle.

Q: What do I need to know before buying a fire extinguisher?

A: First, make sure the brand you’re buying has been tested and is labeled by an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. After that, we recommend you buy the largest unit you can lift and handle.

Q: I’ve noticed combination letter-number designations on fire extinguisher labels. What do they mean?

A: The letters tell you what kind of fire the extinguisher is intended to fight. We recommend a combination extinguisher, with an ABC classification. The numbers you see, which appear in front of the letters, indicate what size fire the unit is intended to extinguish. The higher the number, the larger the fire it can handle. No sizes are assigned to C extinguishers; A models range from one to 40, and B from one to 640. For home use, your best bet is a unit labeled 2A:10B:C. [Cost around$30.] This is a good size because it’s big enough to hold a reasonable amount of extinguishing agent.

Q: What’s the best place to keep it?

A: In plain view, next to an exit. The last thing you want to do is somehow get yourself caught in a position where there’s a fire between you and an exit. We recommend that you keep an extinguisher on each level of your house. You should not have to walk more than 40 feet to reach a working unit.

Q: Is there an instance in which a fire extinguisher isn’t best choice for fighting a fire?

A: You can use an extinguisher to put out a grease fire on the stove, but it isn’t the best choice because the pressure from the extinguisher can cause the grease to splatter. Instead, put on an oven mitt, carefully slide a cover over the pan, and turn off the burner. Then hold the lid tightly in place until the pan has cooled completely. Don’t peek inside; that’ll let in more oxygen and can reignite your grease.

Never throw water on a grease fire. Don’t pour baking soda on it either; in the urgency of the moment, you might grab baking powder instead, which can cause the fire to spread.

Q: How long is a fire extinguisher good for?

A: Some models have a color-coded dial pressure gauge that tells you whether you’re in the fully charged range. Others have a pressure-check pin; if the pin doesn’t pop out when you push it in, the pressure inside is too low. Some units, especially small ones, are designed to be thrown away after use, or when the pressure drops too low. But if the unit is rechargeable, bring it to a service center  or to your local fire department if it offers servicing. Be sure to bring it in after each use as well.

Buyer’s guide: fax machines

Just 7 years ago the average price paid for a home fax machine was $600. Today, you can purchase one for half that, and the machines are becoming almost as common in the kitchen as they are in the office. Most new models have eliminated old annoyances (no more disconnecting if you accidentally answer a “fax call” from another phone in the house). Even the less expensive thermal (rolled) paper models double as copiers and now commonly boast deluxe functions, such as automatic paper cutters and built-in answering machines. The more expensive plain-paper machines, preferred by some because printouts don’t roll up or fade over time, have dropped in price from over $1,000 to under $500.

How We Chose

We examined 18 thermal (rolled) paper and plain-paper fax machines, ranging in price from around $250 to $750. Our engineers faxed and copied pages that displayed a variety of images, including typed and handwritten works, geometric shapes, and magazine photographs. Each printout was judged for charity, sharpness, and legibility. Those with added capabilities (answering machines, computer printers, scanners) were subjected to additional tests.

Features to Look for

  • AUTO-REMOTE ACTIVATION: Automatically senses and receives an incoming fax, even if you inadvertently answer the phone from elsewhere in the house when a fax is trying to come through. Machines without this feature require you to quickly punch in a code to keep from being disconnected.
  • BUILT-IN ANSWERING MACHINE: Provides a simpler and more foolproof setup process than hooking up the fax to a separate answering machine. Current models have digital (tapeless) designs that operate quickly and silently.
  • COPIER: Makes photocopies of an original document. This feature is found on all fax machines.
  • DISTINCTIVE-RING DETECTION: Lets you program the fax machine to answer only calls with a special ring–if your phone company offers an optional service that assigns a second number on your existing line with a different-sounding ring. This service is cheaper than getting a second phone line just for faxing.
  • ENLARGED/REDUCED COPY: Can shrink or enlarge the original document when copying.
  • MEMORY DIAL: Lets you store frequently called numbers for quick retrieval.
  • MULTICOPY CAPABILITY: Allows you to make several copies of the original in just one step.
  • OUT-OF-PAPER MEMORY: Stores information when unable to print; memorized faxes will automatically print when paper or ink is refilled. The number of pages stored may vary, depending on the mix of text and graphics.
  • PAPER ANTICURL: Designed to reduce the curling tendency of rolled paper.
  • PAPER CUTTER: Automatically cuts rolled paper to the right length after each page is printed.
  • PRESCAN: Quickly “reads” and stores each page into memory, then faxes at an accelerated speed.
  • SHEET FEEDER: Automatically feeds a stack of sheets, one page at a time, into the sending or copying section of the machine.

Eight low-cost power pedals from Korg and Zoom (Part 2)

ZOOM BOXES

Korg’s prices are impressively low, but those of the new Zoom pedals are unreal. The company’s popular 505 Guitar pedal offered impressive multi-effector power for a mere $150, but the four new Zoom boxes–the 507 Reverb, the 508 Delay, the 509 Dual Power Modulator, and the 510 Dual Power Driver–list for an astonishing $120. Each lets users store 24 programs and includes a reliable chromatic tuner. Wow.

All the Zoom pedals have a pair of foot switches for shuttling up and down between programs; stepping on both calls up a by-pass/tuner mode. These large switches are easy to operate, but the all-plastic housings feel cheap. Most edits are made via comfy, thumb-sized switches on the sides of the units. (The Zoom boxes are most easily programmed while cradled in your hand like video-game controls.) All models have a large, two-character LED that displays the program number or the value of the parameter selected in edit mode. They’re easy to read, but some of the two-letter abbreviations are confusing. Edits are stored in six banks of four programs each, and you can specify whether the foot pedals advance you through all 24 programs or simply cycle around a chosen bank of four. Either way, the thumb-sized increment/ decrement switches escort you directly from bank to bank.

All Zoom pedals have stereo outputs (via a 1/4″ TRS jack) and a single controller-in jack for connecting an optional expression pedal or footswitch. The typical sample rate of the Zoom effects is 31.25kHz, which offers more than enough resolution for electric guitar. A single,

9-volt alkaline battery runs each pedal for about four hours. Many of these features would be remarkable in any stompbox, let alone ones this inexpensive. But be forewarned that certain aspects of the operating system are less lovable. For example, the edit buttons have secondary functions when you hold them down for more than a second–such as a store key that toggles between two effect-loading modes if you tarry too long on the button–and most of these are not notated on the devices. Another irksome trait is the lack of a standardized numerical scale for the effects parameters.

On the Dual Power Driver, for instance, the maximum settings for pre-gain, gain, tone, and noise reduction are 16, 30, 15, and 9, respectively. You often don’t know where you stand unless you scroll up to the maximum setting. Zoom’s manuals are decent, despite some amusingly strained translations from the original Japanese.

  • 507 REVERB

Given its rock-bottom price, the 507 reverb guitar pedal is surprisingly rich and musical. Its 16 hall, room, and plate simulations are nicely voiced for guitar and betray relatively little of the gunkiness typical of digital micro-reverbs. Four additional programs combine the reverbs with up to one second of digital delay. You can specify the delay time in 10ms increments, the amount of regeneration, and the reverb/delay balance.

The delays sound nice, but you can’t adjust their color–the 507’s single tone control only works when you use reverb without delay. You can add a not-too-bad chorusing sound to any patch, choosing between nine preset settings of varying depth. Several have a flange-type resonance, although you can’t adjust the depth or feedback amounts. Chorusing can occur before or after the reverb, and each of the three effects can be switched off in edit mode. You can also toggle the chorus on and off via an external footswitch, or use an expression pedal to regulate the overall wet/dry mix. There is no tap-tempo function. Players who like digital reverb may be pleasantly surprised by the 507’s guitar-friendly color. Even players who avoid reverb effects may be swayed, as the 507’s heavier settings have a pleasantly tanky quality; the reverb doesn’t sound like a tube or spring device, but it captures a bit of that brash plash. By any reckoning, the 507 Reverb is more than just a bargain box.

  • 508 DELAY

The 508 Delay is another big price/performance winner. It offers eight flavors of echo (including straightforward monaural and stereo delays, plus 2-, 4-, and 6-stage multi-taps) and a whopping four seconds of delay time. The delay tones are more than acceptable, and you can set their times to the millisecond–an unprecedented feature in this price range.

The sole tone control is a high-cut circuit, but it succeeds at evoking treble-shy analog flavors. You can also give the delays a slight treble boost, a useful option for hard-edged doubling effects. Another hip extra is an optional “seamless mode” that lets your delays decay naturally even after you’ve switched programs. Connecting an expression pedal lets you regulate the wet/dry mix in real time. Sweet.

An external footswitch lets you set delay times via foot-tap. You can also enter tap-tempo settings from within edit mode without an external switch. This may not help much onstage, but it will certainly come in handy in the studio. In sample-and-hold mode, you can start and end recording via a footswitch–a nice extra, but don’t expect the surgical precision of higher-priced sampler/loopers.

The 508 isn’t the fattest-sounding delay pedal on the market, but its tone is quite pleasant. And if programmability is a priority, this might be the best guitar delay pedal and near impossible to beat.

  • 509 DUAL POWER MODULATOR

The 509 Dual Power Modulator contains two separate multi-effectors that can be connected in series or parallel. Each offers chorusing, flanging, phasing, rotary-speaker simulation, remolo/pan, doubling, EQ, step modulation (a signature Zoom effect that uses an abruptly shifting waveform to generate uniquely burbling effects), plus semi-intelligent dual-voice pitch shifting (another first in this price range). Adding an expression pedal lets you control overall volume, regulate the wet/dry mix, and even attain Whammy Pedal-style pitch shifts. Sound incredible for a box that might go out the door for less than $100? Yes–until you plug it in.

Zoom has crammed an unbelievable number of features into an inexpensive box, but few of the sounds are truly suitable for professional applications. The best of the lot are the phasing and flanging tones, which boast a touch of tactile, tape-like warmth. Despite some clever features, such as a “detector in” jack that lets you get reasonably reliable pitch tracking–even if you connect the 509 after a distortion pedal (provided you use a splitter box to siphon off a clean signal from a pre-distortion stage)—this box is tough to recommend except as a budget, entry-level device.

  • 510 DUAL POWER DRIVER

The 510 Dual Power Driver is another two-stage processor. Its “pre-drive” section offers a choice between four flavors of preamp-style distortion, compression (with adjustable sensitivity), octave bass, auto wah, and pedal wah (expression pedal required). The main drive section features eight additional distortion modes that run the usual overdrive-to-fuzzball gamut. The two distortion stages can be arrayed in series or parallel, and you can use an external footswitch to toggle stage 1 on and off to get two tones from a single program.

Zoom distortion is a world unto itself. Players seeking naturalistic amp overdrive tend to shun it, while those in search of extravagant, overstated effects often swear by it. The 510 tones are a bit more dynamic than those on some other Zoom devices, but they still will not appease players who rely on the guitar volume pot to regulate overdrive. To my ear, the torqued-out fuzz, grunge, and metal tones are more satisfying than the subtler overdrive colors.

Zoom adds an interesting new wrinkle with an “auto parallel” circuit, which lets your playing dynamics determine the relative strength of the two distortion stages. It’s definitely a dynamic effect, but its feel bears little resemblance to that of amp distortion. Some players could probably attain expressive results in auto-parallel mode, but I confess I’m not one of them. Connecting an expression pedal yields an acceptable wah tone. Using the pedal to regulate drive amount or the balance of the two drive modules is more impressive, and the octave bass effect is terrific.

There are high and low EQ controls, but no adjustable midrange–a curious omission, since that’s where so much of a distortions character resides. The adjustable noise reduction works fine, but the merely serviceable amp simulator is strictly on/off. The 510 is a delight for those who gravitate towards lurid, processed-sounding distortion tones.

Eight low-cost power pedals from Korg and Zoom (Part 1)

Digital processing gets cheaper and cheaper. Guitarists love stompboxes. Such facts of life are abundantly clear to instrument manufacturers, who have bombarded the market with low-priced digital pedals that harness multi-processing power in humable pedalboard and stompbox housings. Korg and Zoom have each introduced four new pedals at prices designed to compete with such popular faves as ART’s Xtreme Plus ad FX-1 Multi-Effects, DigiTech’s Whammy/Wah and Modulator pedals, and DOD’s mini-pedalboards.

The key advantages of digital stompboxes are their affordability, range of sounds, and ability to store programs. However, they are generally less intuitive to use than analog stompboxes, and because the knobs don’t move as you change programs, you can rarely discern your current settings at a glance. Every one of the ingenious and ambitious devices covered here offers extraordinary bang for the buck. But in pursuit of competitive pricing, each makes its own compromises in sound, programmability, and hardware.

KORG PEDALS

Each of Korg‘s digital boxes—the 104ds Hyper Distortion, the 105od Classic Overdrive, the 301dl Dynamic Echo, and the 411fx Super Multi FX–boast roadworthy, all-metal housings and rugged jacks and pots. They require four AA batteries that power the pedal for up to 15 hours. Except for the 10-program Super Multi FX, each can store two programs in memory, with a two-tone LED indicating which program is engaged.

There is no numerical info about your current settings, but the program LED blinks whenever you rotate an edit knob past its stored value. The Hyper Distortion and Classic Overdrive have monaural, 1/4″ inputs and outputs; the Dynamic Echo and Super Multi FX output in stereo through a single 1/4″ TRS jack. Each pedal has an input gain switch optimized for low- and high-output pickups.

With their four simple knobs,the Korg pedals have a classic stompbox look all except the Classic Overdrive have a “shift” toggle that changes the function of each knob, for a total of eight adjustable parameters. It’s easy at first to screw up your sound by reaching for a knob checking how one toggle is set, but, on the whole, it’s an elegant compromise between programming depth and visual simplicity. Korg’s sketchy manuals could benefit from more applications info.

  • 104ds HYPER DISTORTION

The Hyper Distortion is the answer to the question “What is the best distortion pedal?”. As its name suggests, the Hyper Distortion ($190) is less about naturalistic overdrive than hot, Marshall-flavored hues. The box’s signature color is an interesting “cabinet resonance” simulator. Adjustable size and depth controls conjure the strongly flavored, frequency-canceled character of a multi-speaker, closed-back cabinet. The EQ section includes a sweepable midrange control that delivers aggressive, spiky contours, and a line-select switch engages a decent amp-simulating filter for direct recording. The Hyper Distortion isn’t a particularly dynamic pedal. It never cleans up much, even if you back off your guitar volume and opt for minimal gain settings. Nor is it especially loud–it doesn’t firebomb your preamp the way some super-gain pedals do. But while so many other gain pedals focus on evoking hard preamp buzz, the Hyper Distortion succeeds at imitating power amp and speaker cabinet coloration. In some senses, it occupies a midpoint between conventional fuzzes and Sans-Amp-style amp simulators. The Hyper Distortion is a uniquely voiced distortion pedal with some strong and distinctive flavors.

  • 105od CLASSIC OVERDRIVE

The Classic Overdrive ($190) is one of the best overdrive pedals and the simplest of the new Korg pedals. There is no function-shift toggle–the switch engages a gain-goosing boost mode. Even though the EQ section consists solely of an overall tone control and a contour knob (which emphasizes different midrange frequencies), the Classic Overdrive has a large repertoire of timbres and plenty of low-end impact. It’s aggressive enough to add craggy, ultra-present edges, transparent enough to preserve pickup character, and responds fairly organically to playing dynamics. The Classic Overdrive excels at tough, real-life tones–especially ones with overheated lows and toothy mids.

  • 301dl DYNAMIC ECHO

The Dynamic Echo ($200) is an ingenious pedal packed with extraordinary features. There’s nothing surprising about its one second of delay time and time/feedback/level controls. But the Dynamic Echo lets you tweak the color of its delays like no other stompbox. Not only does it include a high-frequency damping circuit for approximating warm analog fuzziness, it also offers low-frequency damping–which can replicate the classic reggae/dub effect of increasingly crisp and desiccated echoes that evoke leaves drying up and blowing away. Furthermore, there’s a Hi Fi/Lo Fi pot that can make the delays sound crappy in the best possible sense of the term, a predelay knob that allows you to dictate the onset of the first delay independently of the main delay time, and an adjustable ducking control that lowers the delayed signal as you play louder. (Your parts remain distinct, but ambient echoes blossom in the pauses between phrases.) The Dynamic Echo truly lives up to its name. It’s one of the coolest delay devices around–and required listening for anyone en-amored of funky/trashy, bottom-feeder tones. The only features the pedal misses are a tap-tempo function and the ability to set exact delay times by means other than one’s ears.

  • 411fx SUPER MULTI FX

The Super Multi FX ($200) is no less ingenious, but it suffers from the same power/price compromises as rival “do-it-all-for-cheap” boxes. It delivers up to four simultaneous effects (one each from the drive/compression, EQ, modulation, and ambience menus), plus adjustable noise reduction. The overdrive settings include five flavors of distortion and three presets designed for direct recording. The EQ section offers high and low shelving and sweepable midrange frequencies. Modulation effects include chorusing, flanging, phasing, tremolo/pan, vibrato, rotary speaker simulator, auto wah, and passive pitch shift. The ambience section offers seven simple echo programs with preset times ranging from 30 to 740 milliseconds, a 640ms ping-pong delay, and a room/hall reverb pair. (You can’t use reverb and modulation effects simultaneously.)

Unlike the other Korg boxes, which can only remember two programs, the Super Multi FX can store five banks of two sounds each, as well as six pairs of factory presets. The layout is simple. There are separate knobs for bank, effect group, and effect preset. A fourth knob regulates a single adjustable parameter for each effect (compression sensitivity, distortion drive, modulation speed, and ambience effect level). This stripped-down editing system works surprisingly well. You cant, say, set specific delay times and feedback amounts, but successive delay presets provide greater values for each parameter, so you can get the usual doubling/slapback/Alpine-yodel gradations. Another clever work around is an “auto rotary” effect that speeds up and slows down according to your playing dynamics. It’s not like playing a rotary simulator with fast/slow/ brake controls, but it’s a wily shorthand version of a Leslie’s ever-shifting rates. But for all the Super Multi FX’s ambition and intelligence, its sounds are merely okay. I was impressed by how much Korg crammed into a tiny, budget-priced package, but I wasn’t knocked out by any specific tones. But for those seeking a highly portable processor for non-critical applications, this box is hard to beat.

Even with air conditioning you need a whole-house fan

When I installed central air conditioning a few years ago, I could hardly wait to get rid of my 20-inch window fan. At that time, air conditioning cost less than a dollar a day, and the fan was nothing more than a nuisance.

But by last summer, my air-conditioning costs had nearly quadrupled. I began thinking about that slightly ugly and somewhat noisy fan, remembering how I had managed to cool my house with it on moderately hot days at a negligible operating cost. Right now, similar window fans cost up to $180. But for a little more money I found a better way to cut the cost of keeping cool: a whole-house fan.

I installed a fan in the ceiling of my central hallway, and began trial-and-error experiments with the airflow in my house (see drawing). After I developed a good ventilation scheme, I was able to get along without central air conditioning for all but a few days last summer. Depending on your house and climate, you too may be able to take care of most or all of your cooling needs this way. Whole-house fans are designed for easy installation and operation. Here’s how they work:

Ceiling exhaust fans draw air up through the house and push it out through attic gables or eave openings. For the fan to operate properly, you must open some windows, and perhaps exterior doors. Obviously, all hall doors must be ajar. Deciding which windows to open and fine-tuning your plan may take some time, but it will pay off in efficiency and comfort. One word of caution: You may be tempted to open doors and windows in a cool basement, but it’s more effective to bring air in through first-floor windows. And if you live in an area where radon is a concern, it’s especially important to circulate fresh outside air.

Early in the morning, when the house is cool, close your windows and doors. Keep blinds and shades drawn, to reflect sunlight. It takes time for heat to penetrate the walls and ceilings of your house. Outdoors, it’s usually warmest about 3 p.m., but the indoor peak generally occurs between 5 and 6 p.m. Wait until the outside temperature in the shade falls below the indoor temperature, then open your windows and turn on your fan.

As the fan pulls cool air into your house, it dramatically lowers the air temperature in the attic, which can reach 150 degrees F or so without air movement. The fan provides almost instantaneous relief because moving air feels about seven degrees cooler than static air. Makers of whole-house fans say–and I found it to be true–that the fans have limited usefulness when the outdoor temperature rises above 85 degrees F. That’s because most people are comfortable with air temperatures of 78 degrees or less.

Last summer I resorted to my central air only on the few days when temperatures reached the 90s and low 100s and humidity was high. Even then, I first ran the fan at full speed to purge hot air from the attic before starting the air conditioner. As soon as the outside temperature dropped in the evening, I switched back to the fan.

It’s difficult to compare last summer’s cooling costs with those of earlier years, because the weather was unusual in my area–with wide hot-cool swings and a shorter-than-normal hot spell. But I do know that when I run the ceiling fan, I am paying for only 1/3 horsepower. The air conditioner, combined with its fan and the furnace blower, is rated at three horsepower. So the fan’s operating cost is about 1/10 that of air conditioning. I expect to recover its cost in power savings within a couple of years.

My 30-inch variable-speed fan from Sears cost about $280. Smaller whole-house fans are available for as little as $100. The fan blades are direct- or belt-driven, with diameters of 20 to 42 inches. The motors are about 1/4 to 3/4 hp. Some are single-speed; others have two speeds or variable speeds. The fans can move anywhere from 3,000 to 17,000 cubic feet of air per minute.

The most popular fans are 24- and30-inch units, used in 1,200- and 1,700-square-foot houses, respectively. Airflow for these fans is 3,600 to 5,700 cubic feet per minute. Check fan specifications to find out which size you’ll need. When in doubt, choose the larger, higher-volume fan.

You can use a whole-house fan in a two-story house, too, but you should choose a fan based on the total square footage of both floors. Ideally, the fan should be centrally located in the upstairs hallway. One maker has this two-story tip: Keep the upstairs windows closed until evening, pulling all the air through the lower windows. When you retire, close the downstairs windows and open the others.

You may want to add accessories to your fan. I spent about $60 for a thermostat, an insulated winter cover, and a “firestat’–a safety device that shuts off the fan at 204 degrees F. In a fire, a running fan could act like a blast furnace. The fire stat also has a kill switch to shut down the fan when you are working around it. Never work near a powered fan.

My unit also has an automatic temperature control that shuts down the fan when the house cools to a selected temperature, but the fan must be manually started. The reason? To make you remember to open enough doors and windows to provide the minimum air intake specified for your fan. If you don’t furnish an adequate air supply, your fan may draw gases from the flues of fireplaces, furnaces, or water heaters inside your house.

Tasty tomatoes: 8 fresh recipes to give you a big bite of summer

2 easy tomato dishes

  • TOMATO SALAD WITH BASIL DRESSING

Process together 1/2 packed cup basil leaves, 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper in a food processor until mixed well. With processor on, slowly pour in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; process until smooth. Divide 2 sliced yellow tomatoes, 2 sliced red tomatoes, and 2 cups cherry or pear tomatoes among 4 plates; drizzle with dressing. Makes 4 servings. Each serving: 160 cal., 14 g fat, 2 g protein, 9 g carb.

  • PARMESAN-BASIL-GRILLED TOMATOES

Cut 4 large beefsteak tomatoes in half horizontally; brush both halves with olive oil. Grill tomatoes, skin side down, over high heat with grill lid closed, 2 minutes. Turn and grill 2 minutes with lid closed. Turn again, then sprinkle with 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, and 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan; cook with grill lid closed until cheese begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Makes 8 servings. Each serving: 72 cal., 5 g fat, 3 g protein, 3 g carb.

  • GRILLED BEEFSTEAK-TOMATO-AND-BRIE SANDWICHES

Spread 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard on one side of each of 4 thick slices of white bread; remove rind of 6 oz. softened Brie and spread half on each of 2 of the slices. Top cheese with sliced tomato and cover with remaining bread. Melt 1 tsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat and place sandwiches in skillet; cook 2 minutes. Add another tsp. butter to skillet; turn sandwiches and cook 2 more minutes. Makes 2 sandwiches. Each sandwich: 622 cal., 41 g fat, 26 g protein, 40 g carb.

  • TOMATO-MOZZARELLA TART

Roll 1 sheet of puff pastry into a 14 in. square, fit into a 9 in. pie plate, trim the corners, and tuck the edges under to form a crust; prick the bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Top pastry with foil and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice and bake at 400[degrees] for 10 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake 8 more minutes. Layer pastry with, in the following order, 6 oz. thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, 3 Tbs. pesto, 1 thinly sliced large red tomato, 3 Tbs. pesto, 6 oz. thinly sliced mozzarella, 3 Tbs. pesto, and 1 thinly sliced large yellow tomato; then dot top with 3 Tbs. pesto. Cut into wedges. Makes 6 servings. Each serving: 481 cal., 35 g fat, 30cj protein, 13 g carb.

Tomato Sipper

Process 7 large tomatoes, 1 seeded jalapeno, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 4 chopped scallions, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, 1 tsp. ground cumin and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor until smooth. Press through a strainer; discard solids. Chill and serve as is or with 2 Tbs. vodka stirred into each 8 oz. glass. Makes 6 cups. Each 1 cup serving (without vodka): 90 cal., 1 g fat, 4 g protein, 20 g carb.

TOMATO TIPS

  • Buy tomatoes at a farmer’s market if at all possible. Even during the peak summer season, the ones offered by many supermarkets are the same low-on-taste tomatoes that are sold during the winter.
  • Choose firm tomatoes that are heavy for their size and avoid any with soft spots. Select tomatoes that are ripe (bright red all over) or slightly under-ripe (a few streaks of green). Let them ripen at room temperature for a few days.
  • Never refrigerate tomatoes. Cold temperatures cause tomatoes to stop ripening and give them a mealy texture.
  • Plum tomatoes are less juicy than other varieties and are good for sauces. Juicy beefsteak tomatoes are good all-purpose tomatoes to eat on their own or to add to soups or salads. Cherry tomatoes are good in salads or quickly sauteed in olive oil and served as a side dish. Grape tomatoes are sweeter than cherry tomatoes, but you can use them the same way.

2 simple sauces

  • Tomato-dill vinaigrette

Whisk together 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar, 1 pressed garlic clove, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper in a large bowl. Stir in 2 peeled, seeded, and diced yellow tomatoes and 2 Tbs. chopped dill. Serve over grilled chicken or use as a dressing for pasta salad. Makes 1 3/4 clips. Each 2 Tbs. serving: 73 cat., 8 g fat, 0 g protein, 1 g carb.

  • Fresh tomato sauce

Combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 4 pressed garlic cloves, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Quarter 10 plum tomatoes and add to a food processor with 10 basil leaves; process until chunky. Add tomato mixture to olive-oil mixture. Makes 5 cups sauce, enough to coat 1 lb. pasta. Each 1/2 cup serving: 74 cal., 6 g fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carb.

Pesto Pronto

Spoon this easy-to-make sauce over sliced tomatoes, or toss with hot pasta and chopped fresh tomatoes. Process together 2 cups basil leaves, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 2 tsp. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor until mixed well. With food processor on, slowly pour in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; process until smooth. Makes 1 cup. Each Tbs.: 100 cal., 10 g fat, 2 g protein, 1 g carb.

Fast friend in the kitchen

It might be a note on the refrigerator, or a phone call from Mom or Dad. “We’re going to be late tonight. Can you start fixing dinner?” Or maybe it’s just your regular night to cook. Or maybe you’ve just come home from school and you have to have something to eat.

These days, when everyone in the family’s busy, a lot of teenagers share the shopping and cooking with the grownups. And for adults and teens alike, the microwave has become their fast friend in the kitchen for snacks and meals. It’s quick defroster, it reheats leftovers without giving them that warmed-over taste, it makes cooking quick and easy, and it eliminates a lot of dish washing.

Ready When You Are

The food industry knows a good thing when they see one, and they’re turning out a lengthening list of ingenious products designed for the microwave. Technology has raised microwave popcorn to the top of the home snack popularity list, and brought microwave individual pizzas close behind. And that’s just the beginning. Supermarket freezers and shelves are filled now with breakfast items, baked goods, entrees, soups, side dishes, vegetables, desserts, and more, all microwaveable.

Before you buy or use them, though it’s a good idea to read the ingredient list on the package. Some products are more nutritionally sound than others. Microwave pastries, for instance, can have just as much high-calorie fat and sugar as any other kind. The vegetable oil on the butter-flavored popcorn may be palm or coconut oil, both more saturated than butter. (Those “sat-fats” can clog your arteries, you recall.) Even some diet entrees may have more fat and calories than you might expect.

You don’t have to eat just what the manufacturers give you, you know. You can make your own snacks and specialties, to suit your own taste. With a microwave, it’s quick and easy.

What a Friend Can Do

The microwave has a lot of special virtues. If you eat different food from the rest of the family–vegetarian meals, for example, or a weight-control diet–it’s easy to make a separate meal that’s meatless or low in fat and calories.

Microwave cooking’s good for nutrition because it uses less liquid and less fat. This is especially true with vegetables. Cooked in a minimum of liquid, they don’t lose water-soluble vitamins, and they have better flavor. The microwave has made baked potatoes easy, because it cooks them in minutes. (A standard oven takes almost an hour.) You can even cook fresh corn on the cob right in its husk, instead of shucking the corn and boiling up a big pot of water. And the husk and corn silk are easier to peel off after cooking.

Cooked fruit for breakfast or dessert–a baked apple, for example, or a poached pear–is easy, quick, delicious, and low in calories.

Chicken and fish can be cooked fast and with fine flavor. And crusty oven-baked fish or chicken in the microwave is quick and tasty, without the excess calories that come with frying in deep fat.

A microwave isn’t practical for quantity cooking, though. The more food you put in, the longer it takes. For a big turkey or a dozen baked potatoes, the regular oven is best, and boiling pasta in a big pot of water is better on top of the stove.

But what the microwave does for small amounts of food is wonderful.

Three Squares a Day

Take a look at breakfast, for instance. Think about old-fashioned oatmeal on a chilly morning, hearty and warming, topped with a bit of brown sugar and milk. In the microwave, it’s ready in just minutes.

Or bacon, for a special weekend breakfast, with cold fruit juice and hot muffins. Bacon’s much better in a microwave. Put the strips of bacon on a plate lined with white paper towers, covered with another towel, and they come out crisp, flat, and grease free. And no frying pan to clean, either.

How about a pita bread sandwich for lunch? Cut a pita pocket in two, and line each half with a slice of low-fat cheese. Add two or three cherry tomatoes, cut in half, a few strips of green pepper and avocado. Set on a plate and cook at full power for one minute, or until the cheese melts.

5 ideas for frozen peas

Few frozen foods can stand toe-to-toe with their fresh counterparts, but peas can: Freezing them just after picking locks in their sweet flavor and nutrients like vitamins A and C. Quick-thaw peas by placing them in a strainer and rinsing them with warm water.

1 CRIS-PEA FRITTERS In food processor, pulse 2 c. peas, 1/4 c. dried bread crumbs, 1 tsp. grated lemon peel, 1 Tbsp, fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. curry powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper until smooth. By heaping tablespoons, shape into 2-in.-wide patties; coat with 1/4 c. dried bread crumbs. Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in 12-in. skillet on medium. Cook patties 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 10 fritters.

2 SAVORY SPICED BEEF In 12-in. skillet, sprinkle 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef with 1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium-high 5 to 7 minutes or until browned, breaking up with spoon. With slotted spoon, transfer to bowl. To skillet, add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; cook 30 seconds. Add 2 c. peas and 1/4 c. water; heat through. Stir in beef and 1/2 c. fresh mint, chopped. Cook 1 minute. Serve with rice. Serves 4.

3 BACON PEA SOUP In 4-qt. saucepan, cook 3 slices bacon, chopped, on medium until crisp, stirring; with slotted spoon, transfer to plate. Drain all but 1 Tbsp. fat from pan; add 1 shallot, sliced; 1 tsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger; 1/8 tsp, salt; and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add 3 c. peas and 2 c. lower-sodium chicken broth. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Puree in blender until smooth. Garnish with bacon. Makes 4 c.

4 SALMON WITH PEA PUREE Spray 2-qt. saucepan with cooking spray. Cook 1 c. sliced leeks on medium 2 minutes, stirring. Add 1 1/2 c. peas, 1/2 c. white wine, and 1/4 c, water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium: simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until reduced by half Meanwhile, spray 12-in. nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat on medium 1 minute. Sprinkle 4 (6-oz.) skinless salmon fillets with 1/4 tsp. salt; cook 10 minutes or until just opaque in center, turning once. While fish cooks, puree pea mixture in blender with 1/4 c. half-and-half, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Serve with salmon. Serves 4.

5 RICE PEA -LAF In 4-qt. saucepot, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil on medium. Add 1/2 sm. onion, finely chopped; 1/2 tsp. ground cumin; and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook 2 minutes. Add 1 c. long-grain white rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring. Stir in 1 1/2 c. water; heat to boiling on high. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat; add 1 c. peas. Let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Serves 4.

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