Mixing Helpfulness and Humor Since 2005

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Widget Tip of the Day

For those of you who have been jealous of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger"'s Widgets, well even those of you who haven't become Mac users yet can enjoy them. Even if you have no idea what I'm talking about you still might want to read on, they're pretty cool. They have a super generic name because they can be practically anything. They are basically little mini applications that do one very specific task, such as tell you the weather at the touch of a button. (Read our previous Widget Tip of the Day for more ideas on what Widgets can do.) If you haven't coughed up the $130 to upgrade to "Tiger" or have Windows you can still have widgets, and you can have them for free thanks to Yahoo! Just this last week Yahoo! bought Konfabulator, (which is the original Widget environment, Apple totally stole the idea from these guys) and well Konfabulator used to cost like $20 but thanks to the magic of Yahoo! it's totally free! Check out http://widgets.yahoo.com for the complete rundown. (Just a side note, Tiger Widget's don't work in Konfabulator and you have to have Konfabulator to use Konfabulator widgets).

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Moving Tips of the Day

  1. Leave clothes on the hanger rather than packing them up in a suitcase. This will save an unneccessary waste of time.
  2. Begin packing days or weeks in advance. Clearly label every box to make it easier to unpack.
  3. When you switch residence it is always a good idea to do a walk-through of your old place after you move everything out. Even when you are "absolutely sure" you got everything out of every cabinet it is possible that you may have left something behind.
  4. Keep all the clothes in your dresser drawers and just pull the drawers out instead of putting your clothes in a box.
  5. Be careful when you move heavy furniture and make sure all small animals are clearly out of the way. You'd hate to have your happy moving day turn into a tragic event. (Don't worry guys, that happened to a friend...Sarah's cat is OKAY...)
  6. Employ the help of your male friends and family to move all the heavy furniture and then buy them lunch afterwards. It's cheaper than hiring movers.
  7. If you know you may be moving again soon or know someone else that is, save the boxes and fold them up to store in your garage or closet. This will save you or your friends from the dreaded box hunt.
-Lalah DeSha

Friday, July 29, 2005

Money Tip of the Day

Lately, money, saving money, being responsible with money, and in general doing what God wants us to with money have all been themes. Couple this with the fact that we've been experiencing a heat wave. One easy way to save money is to replace your manual thermostat with a programable one. Even if you don't own your home, you're still paying the energy bills, although you may want to try requesting this of your landlord rather than spending the money yourself. Yes, there is an initial cost of less than $100, but it can save you up to 33% on your energy bills during the summer and winter.

Here's a bonus tip with this one: When replacing this small electrical device, you are going to have to cut the power from the circuit breakers, lest you shock yourself. In doing this, things can go wrong. For me, one of the circuit breakers failed completely causing me to be without air conditioning for the weekend. So, my suggestion...do any electrical re-wiring during the week so that someone can be called immediately if something goes wrong!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Flowers Tip of the Day

Recently I've been VERY impressed with the quality of the floral section at your local Kroger! Specifically, I'm referring to the Kroger on Boston Road. If you need flowers, start there first. You will be shocked an appalled at the selection, and the friendly staff who can help you wrap and arrange whatever flowers you pick out. (Just don't forget your Kroger plus card!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Freedom Tip of the Day

The press has basically ignored this story since the whole ten-commandments-in-the-courthouse ruling happened to hit the same week, but I'll fill you in. (Sidenote: Good luck reading the ten commandments in your own house if the government is forcing you to sell your home to a private developer. Forget silly wall plaques for a minute and ponder that one.)

Here's the story: In New London, Connecticut, a pharmaceutical company planned a new facility that would likely bring some needed jobs to the town. In order to capitalize on possible economic growth, a private planning company started buying up land. Fifteen (give or take) individuals, fond of their properties, did not sell. The private developer initiated the help of the local government to forcibly take the property under "eminent domain" (the government can intervene and buy property from the less-than-willing in order to put it to public use, usually a hospital or highway or the redevelopment of a blighted neighborhood). They went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the 5-4 vote on June 23rd, 2005 gave the go-ahead to bulldoze the dissenting families' (non-blighted) houses. Here's the hitch: this is a private developer. The law specifically states that it is not permissible for one private entity to be forced to sell their property to another private entity. However, they presented the idea that their strip mall/office complex & marina would make more tax money than taxing the people who currently lived there. Ta-da! Public use. If A can make more money than B, A wins. Screw the fact that B has lived in her house for eighty years. A can raze it & replace it with a hot dog stand for the "public".

So the Supreme Court has basically said that any rich jerk who can make a buck off your grandma's house has permission to call in government help to force her to sell. Luckily, Kentucky is one of the few states that only allows the "eminent domain" argument if the area is blighted (beyond repair/hazardous). Here's my freedom-protection tip: never buy a home in a state where anyone with more money than you can help themselves to your house. Bonus tip: Don't count on Supreme Court Justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg or Breyer to protect your rights unless you're a corporation. And if this ruling REALLY annoys you, check out www.freestarmedia.com for the greatest revenge tactic ever. I SO wish this was my idea.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mastercharge Tip of the Day

First things first, re: the subject of this tip. I love how old people call credit cards "Master Charge" when there really isn't even a company called "Master Charge." It's a Master Card that you use to charge. I also love how when a clerk asks "cash, check or charge," they'll say, "Oh, I'll pay for it" if they're using cash. (As if they're stealing it using the credit card). :-) Anywho, here's my tip. This is based on a true occurrence a few weeks ago. I received my new credit card (my old one was close to expiring). The company I was using was bought out by a new company, Emerge, and when I went to pay my bill, I was redirected to a "new site!" (Shady.) My tip is this. If you get REDIRECTED to a new site to pay ANY bill and the following text shows up, DO NOT TRUST THE COMPANY:

Although the emergecard.com website is secure, we recommend that you not send sensitive personal identification information such as your Social Security number, complete account number or mother's maiden name via Internet email.

If you would like to contact customer service via email regarding your account, please include the following:


Name (as it appears on your credit card)

Last four digits of your Social Security number

Last four digits of your account number

Date of birth

Zip code

Home phone

Business phone

Concern or question


Does anyone else find it disconcerting that they'd ask you to EMAIL that information? Turns out this company is legit, but they also have no Verisign or Trust-E approval, both things you check before entering secure data.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Naming Tip of the Day

I'm a huge fan of naming pets human names, and then adding multiple middle or last names. For example, we have a cat (in PA) named George Marshall. He's not named for anyone, he just is George Marshall. I love that name. It suits him. Our dog is a slight variant from my rule, "Shadow Montel Williams." Other great names for pets could include "Percy Elizabeth," "Henry Adams," "Doc Binkley," "Skip Lichty," "Sue Williams," etc. It's a real hoot! Other fun things to do are to name a dog "Sit," so you'd be like, "Come here, Sit!" and the dog would be utterly confused.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

iTunes Tip of the Day

This is an extra geeky tip, but a handy one. For those of you who have realized that the iPod make a perfect device for listening to all sorts of audio and not just songs this could be a real headache saver. Say you have something that is long format, such as an audio book (ie. Book on CD you borrowed from the library). You may not be able to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but fast-forwarding back to the part you left off can be a pain, well if you make your audio file bookmarkable iTunes and your iPod will keep track of where you left off. To make a track bookmarkable, make sure you imported it or converted it to an AAC file, then locate the file (Command-R on Mac, Ctrl-R on Window) and rename it with .m4b at the end (It should already have .m4a or .m4p) The "b" in .m4b stands for, you guessed it, bookmarkable.

If you need more detailed instructions check out this hint or if you plan on doing this a lot, make it easy on yourself and download this script.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Housekeeping Tip of the Day

Always keep several get well cards on the mantle...so if unexpected guests arrive, they will think you've been sick and unable to clean.

-Robert B. (Steph's co-worker)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cop Patrol Tip of the Day

Some of us are more used to seeing red and blue lights in our rearview mirror then others. But either way, there are several things you can do to keep from getting pulled over. And since we have to come up with 365 tips every year, we're only going to share one of those things with you today.

Cops are out there, everywhere, looking for someone to pullover. So to keep that person from being you, make sure there is someone going faster then you are. I know it sounds simple, but its really profound. I like to say that people who are driving faster then you are on "cop patrol". Let them drive one or two miles an hour faster than you. So, a quarter mile up the road the cop will catch them speeding, so by the time you get to the cop, he'll already be preoccupied. Now obviously this will only work for a few minutes because that person will eventually get away from you (they are going faster afterall), so just look for the next person who's going to be cop patrol and keep that going all the way to New Mexico (um, or Atlanta, whatever the case may be).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bravado Preservation tip of the day

Ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, and found yourself inching past another driver while in the right lane? If you have, you know what can happen next. It becomes a game. The other driver guns it to pass you because he (or she, to be fair) can't stand to be second place; this road-rage chicken derby can persist for miles if you don't make conscious effort to stop it.

So this tip is an admission and a question. My admission is that I often slow down when this happens and let the poor emasculated whelp who is desperately trying to pass me have his way. My tip is that, by doing this, I give said whelp a burst of self-esteem. He who believes the speed of his car is an indicator of his anatomy will never guess that he's just been allowed a pity pass as he sneers at me through his rearview mirror. Who knows? Maybe by the time he and his chrome-tipped dual-exhaust get home, he'll be so pleased at having 'won the race' that he'll be nice to his mother or start volunteering at a nursing home. Stranger things have happened. My question is: Am I the only woman who allows the "pity pass", or is this a pretty standard act of charity? I'm curious.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Gas Tip O Da Day

If you find yourself traveling late at night in a rural area and suddenly the fuel light glaring on the dash board and you think "Hmm, bet nothing is open around here and I am not quite to my destination. What should I do?" Even if the lights are off, and you're in the middle of nowhere, you might think that all hope is lost and you're going to be napping in your car that night. Well, keep in mind that if you have a credit card, you can successfully use the pump even when the gas station is closed assuming the gas station has the pay at the pump capabilities. It is brilliant!

[Thanks to Clucker's for posting signs about this little feature]

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Motoring Tip of the Day

This tip actually hails from our dear friend, Dark Scrivener. When purchasing a new car, it's best to perform a few key functions during the car's break-in period. This can help to improve the longevity of your car. First, obviously, within the first 500 miles, drive the car sensibly, much like your grandma would drive it. I know, I know, you really want to "see what she's made of" but it's important. The second, which applies especially to manual transmissions, is to try to keep your RPMs below 3,000 RPM (again for the first 500 miles.) The Dark Scrivener also suggests getting an oil change at 500 miles. Why? Because brand new engines can have some metal shavings (BTW, that animation freaks me out) in them, and changing the oil can greatly reduce early damage. He also suggests another oil change at 1,500 miles, and then you'll be good to go. This may seem excessive, but we are talking about prolonging the life of your car. As a disclaimer, we recommend you consult your car's manual before driving to see what the factory recommends for your model.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Driving Tip of the Day

With the middle of summer here, everyone is due at least one small road trip. To help you on your jorney, this week at Tip O Day Day, we will present a full set of car travel tips all from different members to our Crack Writing Team™!

No matter where we are we always find ourselves saying things like, "Man, people in (insert wherever you are) need to learn how to drive!" In Elizabethtown, I swear it's true. My tip? Make sure you bring your nightvision goggles should you choose to turn left on a dark road in E-town...apparently, they don't know where to find the switch that turns on the lights in their cars! Caution, not following this advice could land your car looking something like this.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Typesetting Tip of the Day



Designers know that the "edgy, roughed up look" is quite in right now, but creating this look takes WAY more time to execute. One thing I discovered is that it's pretty easy to obtain this look for type by altering the size of individual letters. For example, you have the word, "Designer." Make all the type 32 point. Then make the "D" 20 point, the "e" 38 point, the "s" 22 point, and so forth. Be very random with it. Don't worry about kerning/tracking, just play with point-size and you'll get some cool effects.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

iPhoto Tip of the Day

If you're running Tiger on your Mac, there's a new time-saving feature I just discovered! Lots of people send photos via email, and the process of importing them to iPhoto used to consist of saving to desktop, dragging to iPhoto and deleting them from the desktop. The new Mail program in Tiger actually has an option if you click on your attachments to "Import to iPhoto." It does it for you, and you can just delete the email when it's done!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sweetea Tip of the Day

I labored for years to find the perfect sweet tea brew. And I think I found it. Most females know you don't have to follow a recipe to the milliliter when cooking or baking, but those of us guys need to have things measured to the exact granule. So, here's the ratio that seems to work well for me. I'll be VERY specific with my recipe. Begin by bringing a medium saucepan full of water to a good hearty boil. Remove from heat, and add 3 LARGE Lipton tea bags (not the little guys, guys). Allow to steep for 5-7 minutes. In the meantime, add 1.5 cups of white granulated sugar to a 1-gallon pitcher. Squeeze the teabags individually to suckle the last of the tea flavor out of the bags. Pour the hot tea onto the sugar immediately. Stir the tea and sugar while its still hot and after the sugar is dissolved, fill the rest of the pitcher with cold tap water. (Or tap and ice if you're serving immediately.) If you like your tea a little stronger, add slightly less water, and if you like it weaker, oh well, too bad. This recipe has made many good brews for me recently. And it's important to get it to a science.

[For another sweet tea recipe check out Christine's illustrated step-by-step guide]

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Parenting Tip of the Day

Sure, its cool to be popular, but some sheep just take that way too far. I remember growing up and asking to do something, because "everyone else is doing it". Mom would counter with "if everyone jumped off a bridge would you do it too?" (This was before the days of bungie jumping.) Well, obviously Turkish sheep need to improve their parenting skills, cause 1,500 sheep jumped off a cliff just because the cool guy and everyone else was doing it. Luckily not all of the sheep died. It turns out that it takes about 450 sheep to create the proper amount of padding to cushion the fall for the others. Wow, that would make a big pillow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Oral Tip of the Day

1 out of 1 dental assistants I've seen in the last 2 years have said, "using toothpaste with tartar control is known to cause sensitive teeth." So it may actually be more beneficial to floss and brush twice daily with non-tartar control toothpaste!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sonny's Tip of the Day

It is a great day for Nicholasville, KY (aka. "Our Town"). They are getting their first Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q. It's a great place to get ribs and other tasty goodness. One such item as their patented bucket of sweet tea. Now Sonny's is from Florida, and that's way farther south then Kentucky and they're a bit better at making their sweet tea then Applebee's. So you gotta be prepared for some sugary goodness. The problem comes when you haven't eaten since the night before and you're really thirsty. You have to resist the urge to drink 64 ounces on an empty stomach. If you don't heed this advice you could find yourself making a weird "Hacuspufffl" sound. Which can only be described as a hick-up/burp/sneeze/I-threw-up-a-little-bit-in-my-mouth combination. So resist the urge, just take a little sip of their delicious sweet tea and then wait for your ribs, your stomach will thank you for it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Boredom Tip of the Day

When you're stuck somewhere with nothing to do, watching the clock tick can drive you crazy. Instead of going insane, go through your pockets for spare change. Then look at the dates on all the coins and take a trip down memory lane remembering what you were doing each year. If you've just been to the bank, you may be stuck with shiny new 2005 quarters, which dampens the fun of the game a little, but it still works. Here's my pocket change for today:

2005: Got the promotion I'd been after since 2001
2002: Gave up commuting and moved to the "city"
2002: Lived in an apartment below a drunken college freshman who played "The Joker" over and over alone in his living room at 3 am. I still hate that song.
2001: Lived in a different apartment next to drug dealers who once puked on my car and ultimately all went to jail (for the drugs, not the puking).
2000: Was bridesmaid in a wedding in my hometown and secretly photographed all the primping and giggling and decorating of three generations of daughters the day-of. Made a black-and-white album of it all for the bride, who cried when she opened it. Score!
2000: Painted ridiculously large cardboard vegetables for a Veggietales VBS week
2000: Seriously contemplated getting a job stocking the fruit stand near my apartment instead of working in my chosen career field
2000: Had many, many three-hour dinner meetings where little was accomplished and much tomfoolery was had by all.
1998: Huge snowstorm canceled classes for a week and I, with a dormful of crazies, watched 2 a.m. snowball fights on the front lawn. The cops pulled up at one point and everyone stopped mid-pitch for the reprimand, but they got out of the cruiser, sauntered slowly toward the guilty parties, and then started pelting snowballs of their own. Ah, memories.
1986: Won two awards in school: one for my ability to hula-hoop and one for the class spelling bee.
1979: only stage of my life when I wore dresses without complaint
1977 & 71: Bonus! Not born yet. When you're still finding change in your pockets older than you, you have no excuse for feeling like you're stuck where you are and have missed all your chances.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Granulated Tip of the Day

If you run out of granulated sugar, you can simply substitute packed, light brown sugar at a 1:1 ratio! For those of you who don't have a degree in chemistry or physics, that means 1 cup of one equals 1 cup of the other.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Cow Tip of the Day

Animals like to eat things, that is a fact of life. And well we think we have a pretty good idea of what they like to eat, but possibly the things we think we know that they like to eat is just the beginning of the iceburg. We might think cows traditionally eat grass, so my metal, plastic and silicone iPod should be safe. It however, is a newly acquired taste for cows. They think iPods are tasty. I guess some trends are so hot that even bovines want to get in on the action.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Marriagability Tip of the Day

Once upon a time, in a land not so very far from here, I went to a party. A gaggle of women were throwing a surprise party for a bachelor friend, which gave them (us, I guess) ample license to invade his house early and critique his decor. This young man had a living room of garage sale furniture. It certainly wasn't pretty, but you could sit, you could watch T.V., you could put drinks on the coffee table with nary a concern for coasters and there weren't any neon beer signs on the wall, so what's the big deal?

These ladies all had the same comment to make: "He needs a wife." Now, the strange part is that this guy had a neighbor a few doors down (also a bachelor) with similar decor, and I had been in his house a few a months prior when someone else said exactly the same thing: "He needs a wife." Kids, that is stupid. The ability to decorate is not interuteran. There is no gender-specific DNA that affords married women artistic superpowers (although I hear they do get capes).

Here's my tip: if you, a male or female bachelor, live in one of those khaki-colored homes with that itchy brown aztec-printed couch, faux wood entertainment center, crooked halogen lamp in the corner, and knicked coffee table complete with water-stained wood veneer, do not accept the shame that some will try to give you. Hold your head high. Your home is not ugly because you have no wife; it is ugly because you bought bad furniture. If you don't like it, fix it. If it doesn't bother you, keep it. If wives were really the ultimate decorating solution, they'd be for sale at Home Depot with the cinderblocks and grills.

There, now. Feel better? Take up thy yaffa block end table and walk!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Key Tip of the Day

If you have any history of getting locked out of a house sitting charge's house, and you're about to housesit for her again, and you know she won't be reachable by mobile (let's say, she's in Africa):

  1. Double check to make sure the owner of the house has confirmed that their duplicate key works before giving it to you;
  2. Make sure you arrive at the house during daylight, or at least during hours when most people are awake in case you run into a problem;
  3. Carry a flashlight so you can search under every mat and rock for another spare and check every window (but scare the neighbors minimally) when the dupe key, in fact, does not work and there isn't a hidden spare.
  4. Don't wiggle the key and turn it too much, lest it break off in the lock;
  5. If there is key breakage, come back in the morning...there's no use in attempting to fix this in the dark. A paperclip works well to pry out the broken-off portion of the errant key. A paperclip lives right beside my superglue in the console of my Honda.
  6. Get the list of people with spare keys ahead of time (this list is not helpful when locked inside, on the kitchen table). This helps you avoid having to call your ex's mom at 7:00am to find out the name and address of the house sitting charge's nice neighbor in the bedroom slippers who has the spare key (it's funny who knows these little details--it never fails, it's always an embarrassing phone call to make).
  7. If all else fails, Pop-A-Lock's rates drop after 7am. Their number is 253-OPEN;
  8. Once you have a key that works, make sure all doors are left unlocked when you're coming in and out of the house for plant-watering, etc., (be careful with those tricky doors that lock themselves) or tuck the key in a pocket.
  9. And finally (drumroll), go make a duplicate of the key that works. Verify that the new dupe works before returning the working spare to the sweet housecoat/slipper lady down the street.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Itch Tip of the Day

If you happen to be wearing a cast, and you have an itch, take the pen cap off before you scratch, lest the cap come off and get stuck where you can't find it!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mouse Hunt Tip of the Day

Most of us do not want to keep wild mice as pets...in fact, we probably don't really want them in our houses/apartments or what have you. It has been my experience that unless you want one of these little furry critters to make a nice home of your home, you should not store the cat/dog/other animal food underneith the sink, or in any other low cabinet. In addition, when these little fuzzy guys see a clear liquid in a plastic bottle, they tend to go for that as well. So, unless you wish to have a well fed, alcoholic mouse in your house, store these items in a higher or more secure place...the cat can't catch what he can't find! Force these little guys out into the open.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Fireworks Tip of the Day

For those of you who are extremely cheap, lazy or not quite 18 yet, you might be looking for additional sparkler alternatives. Well a piece of steel wool on a coat hanger can provide some entertainment.

First step is to take a metal coat hanger, kind of bend it in an "L" shape, with a hook on top and the bottom of the L just long enough for a handle. Take the steel wool and hook it on the end. Ligh it on fire, hold the handle by your waist and twirl it. Try different styles of steel wool for more sparkily results!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

3D Tip of the Day

This is for the vector-friendly designer dorks in the audience. To make a quick button with some depth, draw a circle with a thick stroke. Apply a linear (not radial; it's tempting, but don't do it) gradient diagonally to the fill, then do the same with the stroke, just in the opposite direction. Voila! Nice, clean button with illusory depth. You are so crafty.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Cleaning Tip of the Day

If you ever go on vacation, or on a buisness trip, or some other such venture, it can be difficult to find a way to do the wash...or expensive. What if you find that you are able to exersize more days than you first thought, but you didn't pack enough clothes? What I find is that most running/exersize clothes are pretty durable. They have to be. You work out in them, and they get soaked, especially during the summer months. Why not just jump into the shower in them? They can't really get any wetter, but they will smell better! Then, you can either get a good second use out of them, or if you're just packing to go home, they won't stink up the rest of your clothes!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Honey Tip of the Day

Ever notice that your kitchen's own honey bear (no wait, this kind) always reads, "Do not feed to infants under the age of one year old?" It's true. I asked myself,

"Self, why does this matter?"
We speculated everything from choking hazard to allergies to local pollen. But according to a reliable web source, the reason babies can't eat honey is because honey can naturally contain bacteria that adults can easily process, but may cause infant botulism. I don't think it's fatal in most cases, but doesn't sound like fun either. So, if you got little noofers (a note from the editor: Jay, I think you meant "ankle biters") running around, keep 'em away from the honey bear!