Monday, September 30, 2013

Twitter Alert, don’t click on these links...

If you get a direct message on Twitter - beware! 

According to Consumer Reports, there’s a new hack on the loose which appears in your direct messages, usually from someone you know. If you click the link, you’ll be directed to an annoying “work at home” ad and website. Don’t blame your Twitter buddy, they probably didn’t send it. While nobody is sure how sender accounts have been compromised, your best course of action for now is to avoid clicking links that don’t look right or with phrases such as “check this out.”

Think positive! What negative thoughts do to your brain...

If you’re the negative, skeptical type - you’re doing your brain a great disservice. 

According to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action: to shut off the outside world and limit the options you see around you. It’s a useful response in survival mode but falling into a pattern of negative thinking can paralyze productivity and leave you at a real disadvantage.

Positive thinking, on the other hand, can do wonders for your brain. Positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and literally open your mind, making it easier to find solutions and increase your odds of survival and success in everyday life.

You’ll probably have to pass the phone interview before meeting face-to-face.

Phone interviews are standard practice these days in the competitive job market - and they can make or break your chances of meeting face-to-face. 

Here are some ways to NOT mess it up from career adviser Andrew G. Rosen:

1. Print it out. Have a physical copy of your resume and the job description in front of you during the call. Have a bulleted list of items you want to cover during the conversation and cross them off as you go.

2. Have Web access. Open up the company’s website in your browser and have another window open for your search engine. Just be sure not to let them hear you typing.

3. Disable extra phone features. These noises can be a distraction and embarrassment, sabotaging your chances of moving the interview process forward. 

4. Make the call from home. You need minimal noise and someplace where you can speak at a reasonable volume.

5. No pets allowed. Nobody wants to hear from your dog, cat or bird.

6. Answer the phone with your name. This lets the person on the other line know exactly who you are and avoid an awkward start. 

7. Smile. When speaking on the phone, your voice actually loses about half of its energy. Make sure your enthusiasm gets across by overcompensating. 

8. Mute. This button can be your best friend. Practice using it. 

9. Be ready. Have everything you need and be prepared for a call five minutes early. Some hiring agents use this as a tactic to test candidates.

10. Say thanks… fast. Send a thank-you note an hour or two after the phone interview. This helps you close the loop and reiterate your interest in wanting to meet the interviewer in person. 

Feeling queasy lately? Why your phone may be making you sick...

Technology has come a long way in a very short time and we humans need time to adjust. 

Reports of digital motion sickness are rapidly rising as iOS 7 and other new displays are throwing us off a bit. As our gadgets get better at mimicking motion and dimension, our brains wind up disoriented. That’s because the inner ear senses movement while our bodies are still. 

Apple's new parallax display in the new operating system adds depth and a 3D effect which causes images to subtly pop out at us. The effect can be hard on the eyes as they try to converge focus at different depths. Users experiencing headaches or a queasy sensation should disable that feature which can be found in Settings, General, Accessibility and turn the “Reduce Motion” option on.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What beautiful blue eyes you have. Why you need to cover them up.

Attention all blue-eyed people: You NEED to wear sunglasses. 

People with blue eyes have a higher risk of developing melanoma of the eye than those with brown or darker eyes. Light green eyes are at risk too. Ocular melanoma is most common in adults and it’s really dangerous. If you’ve got blue or light eyes, you need to wear quality sunglasses year round. Look for UVA, UVB and HEV blocking lenses that are large enough to cover the eye and surrounding areas. Consider wearing a hat for added protection, especially if you’ve got fair skin.

When the pressure is on - don’t choke! Do this instead...

The next time you’re under a lot of pressure to perform, don’t choke - whistle instead. 

According to Dr. Guy Winch, author of “Emotional First Aid,” whistling is a very effective method to get us through a pressure situation. Dr. Winch says it works best when playing sports but can come in hand at other times too. 

Whistling requires just enough brainpower to distract the part of your mind that might otherwise overthink things. If you’re in a situation where whistling might seem inappropriate, try humming very softly instead. It’s a little less conspicuous and can help stave off that performance choke.

Is seaweed the new super snack?

The snacking industry is always fishing for new trends, and it seems seaweed is catching on. 

It’s cheap, and salty and can be easily dried and fashioned into chips and other snack shape. 16 new seaweed snacks have hit the shelves in just the first half of 2013. Because seaweed is rich in B12, iron and protein, these salty treats are being marketed as healthy snacks. So are seaweed snacks really better for us? Yes, but you probably can’t eat just one. While the calorie, salt and fat content on the label is a fraction of traditional chips, so is the serving size. Chip for chip, there’s not much difference.

True or false? It’s not how much water you drink - it’s WHEN you drink it.

Is it true we’re supposed to be drinking water on a schedule? 

Yes and no. There’s a popular water regiment circulating that claims to do wonders for your body. We’re all supposed to be drinking about 8 glasses of water a day, give or take a few. If you drink your water right, you could be tapping into some real health benefits. Here is the truth:

* 2 glasses of water right after you wake jump starts your internal organs. While that’s debatable it will help to get things moving and get your day off to a hydrated start. 

* Have another glass about 30 minutes before each meal. This is good advice. It helps digestion and will also curb your appetite a bit.

* Save a glass of water for bedtime. It’s not a cure-all for stroke and heart attack, but a lot of us tend to get dehydrated by the end of the day which does make our heart work harder.

There’s four glasses - you’ve only got four more to go. Go ahead and drink those whenever you like. While there’s no proven health benefits to a strict water regiment, there’s no debate that we need to stay well hydrated. If a schedule helps you accomplish that - it certainly can’t hurt. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Music has come a long way in history - and it’s got a long way to go. What it might sound like in the future...

Music has been around forever - but we keep finding new instruments. 

The piano, first known as the pianoforte, evolved from the harpsichord around 1700. The electric guitar didn’t hit the stage until the 1930’s. So what’s next? New instruments are perpetually in development. We already have robot guitars that tune themselves and cutting edge silent drums, a flexible membrane that changes pitch, no sticks required. 

Experts predict that future instruments may transcend what we think of as music and instruments today. New technology will allow artists to “move” their music, generating sound through location tracking data, turning their movements into song. And that technology won’t be limited to humans. We could theoretically hook it up to anything that moves, making your dog or even your vacuum cleaner future Grammy contenders. 

Happy Birthday! If today is your day, you’ve got a LOT of company.

Maternity wards are busy today. 

More U.S. birthdays are celebrated in September than any other month. While October 5th held the top birthday spot for several years in a row, data from Harvard University found September 16th most recently took the lead. Late September babies are no big surprise, as anyone can do the math. It seems that late December is peak season for procreating. 

If you’d like your baby to have the least common birthday, that will take some planning. February 29th has that honor and the next one is in 2016. 

Looking for something to do this weekend? Go to a museum - for free!

This is a perfect weekend to plan a trip to a museum - for free! 

This Saturday, September 28th, is Museum Day Live, an annual event sponsored by the Smithsonian, which encourages museums across the country waive admission and let you in for free. To participate, you’ll need to go to Smithsonian.com and click on the ticket. You’ll be able to search participating museums by location or state. 

There are a few restrictions. Museum Day Live asks that you only use one ticket per household, good for two people. You’ll also be on your own for parking and other special events and exhibits.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Are you really okay to drive? Check your phone. The breathalyzer app...

You may think you drink responsibly - but there’s a new app that will let you know for sure. 

The Breathometer, a device that plugs into your smartphone, will calculate your blood alcohol concentration within .01 accuracy. Just blow into the attachment, about the size of a car key, and the Breathometer will let you know if you’re overdoing it. Not a bad idea if you’re out with your friends and need to determine who is fit to get you all home.

The Breathometer is slated to hit the market this October and will sell for $49.

Are you throwing out perfectly good food? When labels mislead...

Most of us check food labels for dates to make sure it’s still good. 

But experts say Americans throw out billions of pounds of perfectly good food every year, thanks to confusing labels. “Sell-by” labels, intended for the retailers, wind up misleading a lot of us, according to the Harvard Food Law and Policy clinic. Many dates printed on the food we buy are actually meaningless when it comes to freshness. Even the “best-before” and “use-by” dates are misleading and encourage us to throw good food away before it’s time.

Food scientist Theodore Labuza agrees these labels are misleading. He says you can’t tie shelf life to a date. If the food looks rotten and smells bad, you should throw it away, but just because it's past the date on the package, it doesn't mean it's unsafe.

What book are you currently reading? What that question really means in a job interview.

Job interview questions can range from predictable to peculiar. 

They’re designed to get to know you in a short amount of time. Undercover Recruiter has looked at some typical questions - and the logic behind them:

* What would you title your autobiography? We want to know what you think of yourself.

* How does your family feel about you working long hours? We want to know if you're flexible.

* Why are manhole covers round? We're checking your deductive reasoning.

* If you were to get rid of one U.S. State, which would it be? We're checking your priorities.

* What do you expect to be doing five years from now? We need to know your ambitions.

* Why should I hire you? We hope you’re confident and qualified, not cocky.

* What are your weaknesses? Let's hope you’re aware of at least one.

* How would your friends describe you? We want to know if you're a people person.

* Why do you want to work here? We hope you did your research.

* What book are you currently reading? Yes, we're about to judge your intellectual curiosity.

Are the shorter days making you SAD? Take action now.

If you’re feeling a bit out of sorts lately, the shorter days could be to blame. 

Most of us feel better in the summer. The transition to fall and winter can throw our systems off a bit, making it harder to get out of bed, concentrate and function. Those are all symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and there are a few things we can do to keep it at bay:

* Let there be light: Get as much natural light as possible between 6 and 8 am. Early morning light helps us adjust and even helps on a cloudy day.

* Have a SAD breakfast: There’s a reason hot oatmeal feels right at this time of year. Cooked cereals and bran help to raise serotonin levels.

* Check your vitamins: It may be time to change them with the season. A vitamin with magnesium, B complex and a D supplement can provide you with some of what’s missing with summer.

* Step outside: It’s important to get plenty of fresh air through your transition. Make it part of your daily routine to get up and outside several times a day.

Seasonal affective disorder usually peaks in the late fall and winter, but being proactive now, at the start of the season, can help lessen those levels. Talk to your doctor now if you think you’ve suffered from seasonal depression in the past.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If you were invited to a “death dinner,” would you go? The morbid trend...

There’s a new trend in entertaining in some Baby Boomer social circles, death dinners. 

Sound morbid? They are. The idea is to confront the taboo topic and discuss some real-life issues among friends. Because a lot of Baby Boomers are dealing with the loss of their parents right now, death dinner guests are likely to have a lot in common. Making plans for their own demise and legacy, in good company, with others in the same boat can both lighten the mood and tackle some tough scenarios. 

End of life wishes, wills and funeral arrangements may not be suitable during your family meal, but they’re all fair game at the death dinner table. 

Figs are in season. Why you need to eat like the gods...

Add this to your grocery list: food of the gods. 

Figs are in season right now and we should all make like the gods and eat some. They’re super rich in antioxidants and one of the best sources of beta-carotene on the earth. People who eat figs regularly have much less heart disease than those who don’t. They’re even considered an aphrodisiac. 

Dried figs are okay, but treat yourself to the real deal. Fresh figs are savory sweet and juicy with a luxurious texture and supple skin. Choose those that are soft but not squishy, stems slightly bent. Ripe figs are fragile and won’t last long so be sure to enjoy them in a day or two. Have them straight up, for breakfast or dessert, toss some in a salad or pair them cheese or roasted meats.

You’re a big girl now. How to avoid little girl body language...

Do you wear high heels to work? 

Don’t make the mistake of crossing your legs while standing. A lot of women do this and it suggests they’re shy and insignificant. Sharon Sayler, author of “What Your Body Says,” has some moves that professional women should avoid if they’d like to be taken seriously.

* The fig leaf pose: Both men and women should avoid this one, hands clasped in front of them. It sends a message that you’re unimportant. Either let your arms hang naturally at your sides or hold something like a notebook.

* Tipping or tilting your head: A lot of women do this while listening. Unfortunately, it conveys that you may not understand. Keep your chin parallel to the ground and avoid excessive nodding.

* Coy eye contact: It may work wonders for you in a social situation but those flirty gestures with the chin dropped comes across as submissive and insecure in a professional environment. 

* Nervous habits: Playing with your hair, jewelry, phone or other fidgeting suggests that your nervous and make you less likely to be taken seriously. If you’re feeling antsy, concentrate on your breathing instead.

Madonna’s a genius! Andy Warhol, not so much. Iconic IQs...

Some of our favorite icons are super-smart. 

Here are some that fall into the genius IQ category, and a few that don’t:

* Natalie portman has a degree in psychology from Harvard and is fluent in five languages. IQ: 140

* Madonna: 140

* Shakira: 140

* Steve Martin majored in Philosophy at Cal State. IQ: about 142.

* Bill Gates seems smart. He is. IQ: 160.

* Dolph Lundgren was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. IQ score: 160.

* Quentin Tarantino could afford to drop out of high school. IQ: 160.

* Albert Einstein may seem like the smartest guy ever, but he’s tied with Franklin, Jefferson and Beethoven. IQs: 160.

* Benjamin Netanyahu and Charles Dickens have something in common. IQs:180.

* James Woods aced his SATs, got into MIT, then dropped out to pursue acting. IQ: 180. 

* At the bottom of the celebrity IQ list are Andy Warhol at 86 and Muhammad Ali at 78.

So who’s the smartest guy in the world? Kim Ung Yong, The Korean civil engineer began talking at four months of age, started physics courses at age four, and has an IQ of 210.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Could you be suffering from OCD? Diagnosing the disorder...

Are you just particular - or could you have OCD? 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects about 1% of U.S. adults and the International OCD Foundation has some symptoms that could suggest you’re one of them:

* Hand-washing: If you think about germs even after washing your hands, or have elaborate hand-washing routines such as needing to wash five times or get soap under each nail, you may have OCD.

* Overzealous cleaning: If you spend hours a day cleaning, it's almost certainly related to OCD. If you get anxious or fearful when you don’t clean, that’s another warning sign.

* Checking behavior: It’s normal to double check to be sure the oven or iron is off. Checking multiple times on a regular basis, or if those items have not been used, is not.

* Counting: It’s not unusual to count during everyday activities, such as climbing stairs. If it’s all the time, or if you feel uncomfortable or the need to repeat certain numbers, that could suggest OCD.

* Dwelling on relationships: Anyone can obsess after a recent breakup - but it may be a sign of OCD if thoughts like this get stuck in your head and snowball into excessive self-doubt or fears of being a bad person.

* Seeking advice: People with OCD often need constant reassurance to ease their doubts and fears. Constantly soliciting advice or opinions from friends is red flag.

Does your partner have bad taste in music? Why that could spell trouble...

If you’re hoping to find a good relationship - music matters. 

According to a study in the Psychology of Music, men and women with similar taste in music tend have better sex lives, tend to communicate much better and have longer lasting relationships. That’s because most of us develop specific musical preferences while growing up. Our taste can reflect our childhood, our emotional connections and even our values.

One study even broke down compatibility by music genre. Their findings suggest that devotion to country music makes both men and women less attractive to someone of the opposite sex who doesn’t like it. Men who love metal were found more attractive, while head banging women were not. Guys liked classical women, while women shied away from classical men. Both men and women who like jazz and blues tend to be more open to new experiences.

Don’t fall down! But if you do - do it right.

Most of us don’t plan to fall down - but about 9 million Americans do each year. 

There is a right and wrong way to do it. Hal Needham, a professional stuntman, has some tips on how to fall down like a pro and prevent serious injury:

* Save your wrists. Our natural instinct is to put our hands out to break our fall. Unfortunately, that’s not all you’ll break. The small bones in the hands, wrists and arms are the most vulnerable. 

Buckle your knees. If you know you’re going down, get as low to the ground as possible to reduce impact.

* Throw one arm across your chest. It doesn’t matter which one. This will force your body to the side which is better than straight forward or back. Rotate your chest in the same direction.

The next time you’re watching an action film, take note of how stuntmen and women take a fall. While they may have the advantage of preparing for it, you’ll see how your split-second reaction could make or break your fall.

Flu season is here. What NOT to touch...

It’s the start of flu season - and we NEED to start washing our hands. Just don’t touch the soap dispenser. 

Here is a reminder of what not to touch if you’d like to avoid picking up other people’s cold and flu germs.

* Soap dispensers in public places are crawling with germs. While it’s tough to wash your hands without touching one, be sure to use hot water for at least 15 to 20 seconds, scrubbing vigorously.

* Restaurant menus and condiments. They’re filthy and it’s best to use hand sanitizer after touching them.

* Stay clear of the germiest stores in the mall. Those are toy stores, gadget shops and makeup counters.

* The pharmacy is another obvious one. Use the drive-thru whenever possible.

* Public keypads and pens - don’t touch them. Your own pen with a stylus tip could be your best friend this season. Use it to write with and to touch keypads in public places.

If the new iOS 7 is killing your iPhone battery, check these settings.

Whether or not you like the new look on your iPhone, you probably don’t like the drain on your battery with the new iOS 7 operating system. 

There are a few things you can change in your settings to get some life back:

* Wi-Fi: Turn it off. While it’s inconvenient to switch it on when you need it, the auto setting is a battery killer. The same goes for the Bluetooth setting.

* Location Services: Several applications require it - but you’re battery will last longer when it’s off.

* Time Zone: It’s a setting that automatically changes with your location. Go to System Services to find it. While you’re there, turn off Location-based iAds and Diagnostics too.

* Push settings: These zap a lot of battery. You can change those to Manual under Settings.

* Brightness: Turn Auto-Brightness on, but at the same time drag the brightness slider down as low as you dare. This will save significant energy.

* iCloud: If you don’t need to back up to iCloud, turn it off under iCloud in the Settings menu. That will save battery AND storage space.

* Siri: Give her a break. She’s constantly nibbling at your battery.

If you’d like to make your family happy - do these three things.

How happy is your family? 

Bruce Feiler, author of “The Secrets of Happy Families,” has three things you could do today to make your family happier:

* The family dinner: It may be difficult in this day and age but it really does pay off. Eating dinner together has long been shown to unify families and reduce behavioral problems in children. Bruce reminds us, adults tend to dominate the conversation. Make sure to encourage the kids to talk for at least half the time.

* Tell family stories: Do your children know how you met or where how their grandparents got here? Storytelling bonds families together. In a recent study, children who knew details about their family had a stronger sense of control and family unity.

* Rearrange the furniture: Make sure your family room furniture stimulates conversation. Plush surfaces in a circular pattern encourage people to interact. A fresh, new arrangement can also add new appeal to get the whole family in there.

If you shop on Craigslist - there’s a scam you NEED to know about.

Craigslist can be a handy resource for finding some great deals - but beware of photos! 

Consumer advocacy expert David Bakke, of MoneyCrashers.com, says there is a dangerous feature on Craigslist that could harm you or your computer. Most items for sale on there have a photo. However, some of them have an option that says “Email me for a photo.” Do NOT click that option. In many cases, scammers use this tool to send you a virus. Clicking on the photo or link they send may open to a page that isn’t what it seems. Stick to the items that provide photos of what you’re in the market for.

There may not be one perfect food - but the banana comes pretty darn close.

Do yourself a favor and have a banana for breakfast. 

Let’s peel back some of the amazing benefits in that favorite yellow fruit:

* The natural sugars combined with fiber in a banana can provide an instant, sustained boost of energy.

* Bananas even cheer us up. They’ve got tryptophan which converts into serotonin, which makes us happy. The B6 in there can improve mood as well.

* The potassium in a banana helps regulate blood pressure and boosts brain power too.

* Feeling awful? Bananas can help relieve symptoms of hangover, morning sickness and heartburn.

* The list of banana benefits is a long one. They’re good for your kidneys, your digestive and cardiovascular system, your eyes, bones and muscles. They’re also one of the few fruits you don’t have to wash or cut. They’re travel friendly and ready to eat.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple season is here. The good, the bad and the rotten...

It seems like everything we love to eat could be bad for us - but apples? 

While it’s true than an apple a day could keep lots of bad stuff away, including Alzheimer’s colon cancer and gum disease, even apples have a down side.

Conventionally grown apples can be loaded with pesticides and they’re hard to wash off, especially the waxy variety. You’re best bet is to peel them, which is a shame because a lot of the good stuff is in the skin. Go with organic whenever possible.

Dried apples can pose a problem too, especially for those with allergies. Sulfur dioxide is usually added to them to preserve moistness and color which can provoke an allergic reaction for some people. Dried apples are also harder to digest and often loaded with sugar.

Struggling with a problem? How to dream up a solution...

If there’s a nagging issue in your life keeping you up at night - you might just be able to turn that around and dream up a solution. 

Dr. Deirdre Barrett, author of “The New Science of Dreaming,” says dreams are capable of breaking down preconceptions that block our abilities to solve problems in our waking lives. Our dreams run a lot of useful data through our brains at warp speed and there are usually some answers in there just waiting to be harnessed.

You’ll need to do a little prep at bedtime. Write down a few words about the problem you’re trying to solve just before you go to sleep. Now relax and calmly consider the factors as you drift off. When you wake up, write down every detail you can remember from your dreams, even if they seem unrelated. It could take more than a few nights to train your brain to dream up solutions. It’s best to start on a weekend, with an easier problem before you try to tackle the big ones.

If you're planting bulbs this fall, these tips will help ensure spring success.

If you're getting ready to plant your fall bulbs, there are lots of critters who can't wait to dig them up. 

After you dig your nice deep holes, sprinkle some baby powder in there to keep them away. 

When buying your bulbs make sure they're, big, fat and firm. Smaller bulbs might not flower in their first year. The holes should be about three times as deep as the bulb itself. If you're not sure which side of the bulb should be up just put it in sideways the stem will find its own way to the surface in the spring.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some of history’s greatest thinkers had some quirky routines. Their secrets revealed...

How did Ben Franklin start his day? In the buff. 

Mr. “early to bed, early to rise” spent an hour each morning reading and writing, in the nude. Here are some more quirky secrets to success:

• Beethoven started his day by making coffee - and counting. He insisted on using 60 beans per cup.

• French poet Victor Hugo liked eggs for breakfast, raw.

• Sigmund Freud had his barber trim his beard, every morning.

• Ernest Hemingway preferred to write standing up.

• Thomas Wolfe also wrote standing up, using the top of a refrigerator as his desktop. He was 6'6".

• German poet Friedrich Schiller claimed the smell of apples rotting in his desk drawer was the secret to stimulating his creativity.

• After dinner, Mark Twain would read the day's writing aloud to his family and ask for their feedback.

• Author Truman Capote couldn’t think unless he was lying down. He also couldn’t stand more than three cigarette butts in the ashtray.

• Stephen King writes every day of the year and aims for 2,000 words a day. It takes about five hours.

• Woody Allen gets in the shower, sometimes multiple times per day, to get his creative juices flowing. 

Playgrounds aren’t like they used to be. Why all the good stuff is gone...

What was your favorite feature on the playground as a kid? 

Chances are, it's not there anymore. Here are some playground classics now deemed too dangerous:

• See-saws: While you may spot a low-to-the-ground teeter-totter from time to time, the thrilling, splintered catapults of yore are long gone.

• Metal slide: Those towering, shimmering shoots are a thing of the past and have been replaced with lower, softer plastic models with curves or bumps to keep the speed down.

• Swing sets: They’re still there, but not nearly as tall. They’re also a lot harder to jump off of at peak altitude.

• The geometric dome: A favorite hazard for many, this fat lip tooth chipper is a rare relic.

• Merry-go-rounds ain't what they used to be.  Most can reach the necessary RPMs to hurl those with a weak grip onto the gravelly asphalt - which isn't there anymore either.

• Tether-ball: The thrill of jamming a finger or breaking a nose is gone from most modern playgrounds.

How are your conversation skills?

Do you struggle with small talk? 

Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” has some tips to get your started and enhance your conversation skills:

• Comment on a topic common to both of you at the moment: the food, the room, the occasion or yes, the weather. Just be sure to keep it upbeat. You don’t want your first impression to be a negative one. 

• Google it: Go ahead and see what’s trending before you enter a social situation. You’ll be better prepared to chime in on that hot topic. 

• Ask an easy question: “What’s keeping you busy these days?” opens up the dialog to work, family or fun.

• Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a single word.

• Be SLIGHTLY inappropriate. If you’re good at it, that can ease tension and spark interest and conversation.

For those of you who are a little TOO good at conversation, avoid your favorite topics. Most of us naturally dominate in our areas of expertise and can alienate or bore others with a monologue.

We’re not the only animals with a sense of humor. Wild laughter...

If you have a dog, you can probably tell when it’s laughing. 

Scientists say the excited, unique noise many dogs make when you’re playing or when you come home is actually a form of wild laughter. Dogs aren’t the only animals amused. Rats laugh too. They let out high-pitched squeals when they play with each other. Monkeys make a panting sound, similar to a human laugh, when they’re fooling around. Dolphins and whales have also been recorded yucking it up underwater when they’re having fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We’d rather not think about it, but how we react in an active-shooter scenario could save our lives...

Law enforcement strategy has changed for mass-shooting incidents, and so should yours. 

William F. McCarthy, president of Threat Research, an international security-management consulting firm, says the traditional response in the past was to attempt to contain the shooter and possibly negotiate. However, in a mass-shooting scenario, the shooter or terrorist is typically willing to die and negotiation is not an option. He says first responders are now trained to go directly after the shooters, temporarily bypassing injured victims. Your response could save your life:

• Be aware. Distracted people are the most vulnerable. Pay attention to anything out of the ordinary. 

• Take action. If something seems unusual and suspicious, move to a safer area with more people, visible security or exits. If you hear the sound of gunfire, and can safely exit in the opposite direction, do it.

• Take cover. If exiting isn’t an option, look for a nearby "safe room" with a substantial door that locks. Place any large items against the door. If no safe room is accessible, take cover behind a barrier such as a concrete wall, steel elevator, escalator or a large plant container.

• Turn off any noise and silence your cell phone.

• Call for help. Call 911 or another emergency number. If possible, report what’s happening. If not, just leave the line open and let them listen.

• Stay hidden. Any movement may place you in a shooter’s line of fire or crossfire with police. Stay put until police declare an end to the incident.

• Do not open doors until you are sure it is safe. Be suspicious of any requests to open your security perimeter -- these could be coming from the shooter.

• Help others. In today’s environment, the injured typically will not be tended to until the shooter is captured or killed. Do what you can within your zone of safety.

You can download or print a booklet on active-shooter preparedness from Homeland Security at www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/active_shooter_booklet.pdf

Do you use toothpicks? Why your dentist does not approve...

Put down the toothpick - it can ruin your teeth. 

Toothpick use can become habit forming and you could be doing a lot more harm than good with them. Overuse can not only damage tooth enamel, bonding or veneers, they can cause injury to the gums and even wear away the roots of the teeth, especially in elderly pickers. If you’ve just got to groom your teeth on the go, skip the toothpick and pack the floss instead.

Those new pyramid shaped tea bags are pretty neat. Why you shouldn’t use them...

Tea bag technology has been changing lately. 

Those new pyramid-shaped, silky bags are sturdier, attractive, and according to some critics, toxic. Sonya Lunder, of the Environmental Working Group, says those new tea bags are usually made from plastic or food-grade nylon. So what’s the problem? We’re soaking those sachets in hot water, leaching the plastics right into our cup. Those plastics don’t contain BPAs but they do have phthalates which are no good for us.

If you’re ready to switch back to paper tea-bags - not so fast. Sonya says that those aren’t much better and contain other potentially hazardous stuff. Habitual tea drinkers are better off using loose leaf tea in a metal ball or screen tea strainer.

Wear a scarf - for your heart. How it can help prevent heart attack...

As temperatures drop, the risk of heart attack rises. 

That’s because your body works hard to keep you warm and even a chilly fall morning can get it pumping a pose a problem for those with cardiovascular disease. A drop in temperature causes the blood vessels to tighten which increases pressure and risk of heart attack. While you may not be ready to drag out the parka, just wearing a scarf to keep your vulnerable neck warm will help to maintain body heat and blood pressure on chilly days.

Monday, September 16, 2013

There’s an alternative to water purifying filters. The herb that does the trick...

We could be seeing cilantro tea bags on the market soon. 

That’s because scientists have discovered that cilantro has the power to purify water. They’ve been experimenting on water near Mexico City and determined that the compounds in cilantro actually absorb the toxic heavy metals in contaminated water. Just one handful of cilantro is enough to purify a standard pitcher of water. Researchers say tea bags filled with cilantro could be an effective, inexpensive method of purifying drinking water in contaminated regions.

You finally landed that face-to-face interview. What to take with you...

If you’d like to ace that face-to-face job interview, you’d better pack for it. 

Being prepared speaks volumes beyond your job experience and the experts at GlassDoor recommend taking these items to every interview you land:

Directions and contact info: Print out directions to the location of your interview and write down the name and contact information of your interviewer. If something does go wrong on your way to the interview, you can let them know.

• Identification: Some companies ask for ID when you enter the building, better safe than sorry.

• Business card: Everyone should have one, they’re great for networking and interviewing. It’s a great way to open or close an interview.

• Notepad and pen: Not only do you come across as more interested if you take some notes, you won’t look foolish by asking to borrow the supplies.

• Resume: Don’t assume they have a paper copy. Always have a few extra copies on hand and offer one to anyone who may have input towards the decision.

• References: Available on request means now. You’ll look prepared if you have them neatly listed and readily available.

• Portfolio: Depending on the position, it’s a good idea to have examples of your work neatly organized in a folder, binder or to be viewed on a tablet.

• Questions: At the end of every interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Have a list ready to go. They can be about the rest of the hiring process, company culture, or something else. Just be sure they’re specific and sincere to show you’re really interested.

Which way does your handwriting slant? What that says about your personality...

You can gain a little insight to yourself, or others, simply by looking at some handwriting. 

Handwriting analysis is pretty accurate - and the basics are easy to spot.

• The slant: If your writing slants to the right, you’re open minded and like to socialize. To the left suggests you prefer to work alone and may have a rebellious streak. No slant at all indicates you’re a logical, straight shooter.

• The size: If your letters are little, you’re focused and probably shy. Large letters mirror your big personality. If your letters are average, so are you.

• Your S: The letter s is a favorite of handwriting analysts. If it’s rounded, you’re a people-pleaser who avoids confrontation. A pointy s is a sign of intellect and curiosity. If your cursive s is open at the bottom, you’re not following your heart and would probably be doing something else. A printed s suggests you’re the versatile type.

You NEED to stop snoring. The ugly side effects...

Snoring not only disrupts your sleep, and anyone near you - it makes you look old and ugly. 

That’s according to a recent study of sleep apnea and the effects of snoring. Researchers used face mapping technology and found that middle-aged snorers looked significantly older and generally less attractive before addressing their problem. After the participants used the CPAP mask treatment to reduce snoring and improve sleep, they not only felt better, their faces looked younger, with fewer wrinkles, less puffiness and a healthier glow.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

There are some cool features on Facebook you might find handy.

Facebook has several handy tools that a lot of us don’t take advantage of. 

Here’s a list of easy tricks to try:

• Post in the future: Never miss a birthday again with the scheduling tool. Go ahead and post a future comment in the status box. Before you hit “post” click the tiny clock icon below the status bar. That allows you to choose when you’d like it to go live, days, weeks or even years into the future, right down to the minute.

• Identify a phone number: Facebook is one of the few places you can do a reverse lookup of an unfamiliar phone number. Type the number into the search bar and If that number is associated with a Facebook friend, their name will appear.

• Download your life: Facebook gives you the opportunity to download everything you’ve ever posted. You’ll need to go to “account settings.” At the bottom of the menu, you’ll see “download a copy of your Facebook settings.” Click that and your Facebook archives file will be sent to your email.

I tried the archive out of curiosity and it was pretty cool.  The files arrive in your inbox separated by type.  Nice to have all the photos and albums available offline.

You may be prepared for nasty weather - but what about your important documents. Paper protection...

In the event of bad weather or some other unforeseen disaster, you’ll want to be sure your papers are protected. 

Consumer Reports has a checklist of documents you’ll want to be able to grab and go:

• adoption papers;

• auto-insurance cards;

• birth certificate(s);

• health-insurance cards;

• Homeowners or renters insurance;

• life-insurance documents;

• marriage certificate;

• mortgage or real-estate deeds;

• passports or green cards;

• power(s) of attorney;

• Social Security card(s);

• vehicle registrations and titles; and

• will and living will.

It’s a good idea to have copies of these in a safe deposit box or with your lawyer, just in case. However, most of them need to be the originals or certified replacements. Originals should always be kept in a waterproof, fireproof box.

Mediterranean diets aren’t all olive oil and red wine. How to do it right...

The Mediterranean diet is in - but a lot of us are doing it all wrong. 

While it’s true that some of the Mediterranean fare of Greece, France and Italy can enhance a healthy diet, too much of a good thing, especially olive oil and red wine, can ruin the benefits. Those are two staples in the healthy diet, but it’s important to enjoy those in moderation and work the other Mediterranean elements in, including whole fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of fish and lean protein, and just three to four ounces of that delicious whole grain bread or pasta.

A true Mediterranean diet goes beyond food. Healthy Mediterraneans tend to get more sun, which means more vitamin D, stay active on a regular basis, while enjoying life at a slower pace overall. An authentic Mediterranean meal takes a long time to eat - a midst family and friends with plenty of conversation.

Check your wardrobe. Things that make you look old...

You could probably look a lot younger, just by adjusting your wardrobe. 

Kim Johnson Gross, author of “What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life,” has a dozen fashion don’ts:

1. Sneakers: Outside of the gym, they just look sloppy and careless. The same goes for other “comfortable” shoes such as loafers, moccasins and low-heeled pumps. 

2. Baggy pants: This style screams old on anyone over 25. Overly tight looks bad too. Well-fitting clothes make you look slimmer and younger.

3. Boring colors: Skin tone gets duller with age. Black is harsh on aging women and brown makes men fade into the woodwork. Try shades of gray and blue instead.

4. Your glasses: Men and women should have some fun with glasses. It's a great way to update your look and make it more modern. Tell your optician what you're looking for, or bring a stylish friend with you.

5. Turtlenecks: You may think a ­turtleneck hides a sagging neck and chin, but it just draws attention to your jowls.

6. Stiff or one-tone hair: An overly styled helmet of hair looks old-­fashioned. Hair that's a solid block of color looks unnatural and harsh. Invest in highlights or even go grey more gracefully with some silver highlights to brighten things up. Men NEED grey at the temples and should treat thinning hair as a badge of honor. Lose the comb over and keep it neatly trimmed or shave the head.

7. Missing or bushy eyebrows: Women's eyebrows tend to disappear with age. You’ll need an eyebrow pencil - save the tweezers for rogue hairs popping out elsewhere. Men's are more likely to grow wild. Ask the barber to trim them, every time.

8. Deeply tanned skin: Leathery skin is out and now pale is the norm. A dark tan not only dates you, it increases wrinkles and your risk for skin cancer.­

9. Less-than-white teeth: Yellowing teeth add decades to your appearance. Everyone's teeth get yellower with age, but with so many teeth-whitening products available, there is no excuse to live with off-color teeth.

10. Nude or beige panty hose: They’re out of date. Young women can go with bare legs but older women should consider darker stocking or tights in the winter.

11. Poor-fitting bra: Get one that fits. You’re not the same size you used to be. 

12. Excess makeup. Thick foundation, heavy eyeliner, bright blusher and red lipstick all add years to your face.