Mixing Helpfulness and Humor Since 2005

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Evil Scuba-ers Tip of the Day

Do you know someone who suddenly took up an interest in scuba with little or no warning? Be careful! They could be terrorists!

Here are some signs the FBI says to look out for:
- Desire to learn how to swim in murky water
- How to swim up pipes
- How to be towed while in the water
- Pays for lessons in cash
- Declines to give personal information
- Writes amusing quotes in a little notebook

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Flight Tip of the Day

The simplest way to put it, is just get a direct flight whenever you can. Even when it may be be the most convenient flight times. You never know when an aiport's radar will go down. Or when there is really bad weather at another airport you're flying to. Looking on the bright side, getting delayed by hours on end allows you to become familiar with every restaurant in the terminal.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

German Living Tip of the Day Part 5

If you ever heard "did you lock the door?" as a question growing up, be prepared not to hear that at all when you go to Germany. You don't have to lock your doors over here. Why? Because they lock automatically behind you. So, a better question to ask is "do you have the keys?" before you finish closing the door behind you. That's true for an inner and an outer door! And, for most of them, there is not a way to leave them unlocked behind you! So, an even better idea, hide a spare set outside so you never get locked out!

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

German Living Tip of the Day Part 4

So, you're in Germany and you don't want to be spotted as an American right away. There are a few simple things you can do. First, your shoes are a dead give away. Ditch the brand name. The simpler the better, no running shoes. In fact, those shoes that would just slip on your feet with the elastic on the side, perhaps a checkered pattern on them, those are quite the trend over here. Second, the crazier the hair color the better. I've seen women walking down the street each with a stroller, and each with different, unnatural hair highlights. How you dress is important. Definitely dress like you're not trying to fit in. Guys, sagging the pants will not work, that's an obvious American thing. Carry Euros, because like I said, the credit cards aren't excepted everywhere because Germans don't use them. Of course, as soon as you go to order, the jig will be up (at least between you and your waitress). Oh, and make sure to stare at people as they walk by. It's a cultural thing...Germans like to stare. And, if they say something quick to you that seems like a greeting, say "Tag", it's short for Gutentag, or good day, but it's just day, like we use 'morning' when we say good morning. It's slang and short, so you'll totally fit in!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

German Living Tip of the Day Part 3

If you're ever in Germany, living or visiting, and you LOVE 80's music, well, you can simply turn on your radio. You're bound to find some. However, I've discovered an even cooler way to enjoy that retro rock. Look for a banner with the current dates outside any town. That's the indication that a giant "block party" for lack of a better term is going on close by. The Kuzel festival took place June 8-10. They had three different cover bands all playing music from or around the 80's. Folks, I've now seen it all...Germans head banging to a cover band version of Johny Cash's "Ring of Fire"! It's definitely German culture at its, uh, best? No really, it's fantastic. Baumholder is scheduled to hold theirs at the end of June. I hope it's a similar experience...Cinnimon roasted nuts, slushies, cotton candy, bratwurst, some Italian foods, those crazy cover bands, and of course, the beer flows like water well into the wee hours of the morning. Oh, and remember, in Europe, when they mark the date, 8.06.2007 actually means June 8, not August 6.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

German Living Tip of the Day Part 2

I mentioned in part 1 that Germans can be backwards sometimes. First off, they don't have air conditioning, and it DOES get hot in the summer. Second, since they don't have air conditioning, residents are keen on opening their windows to help cool off. For me, as an American, this causes a problem because they don't put screens on the windows! So, if I want to be cool, I get to live with a house of bugs! Yes, the windows are ultra cool and open in two different directions, sideways and from the top, but I guess they don't make a screen for that! Or, if they do, I just haven't seen any in the neighborhoods around here. Oh, and if I wanted to buy one somewhere, I'd have to take cash because many German stores do not accept credit cards. But, it'd be cheaper for me because Americans can get VAT forms to exempt them from that hefty 19% German tax. FYI, you can get a VAT form for any European country, you just have to find out how to do it, and the lack of tax will be just like an instant discount! In fact, in some Italian stores, just showing your passport gets you the discount.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

German Living Tip of the Day Part 1

I know in Kentucky (and Colorado Springs), it can be difficult to recycle if you live in certain counties. In fact, in some places, they charge a fee. If you ask me, this is one of the things that Germans, as backwards as they may be sometimes, got right. They only charge a fee if you don't recycle. It must be pretty hefty too because our German landlords make us get rid of our trash on the army post because they worry that they'll be paying a fine if we incompetent, wasteful and careless Americans forget to recycle something. Yup, that's right, they charge a fine for not recycling. I'm sure it pays for any costs that go into recycling too.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Window Tip of the Day

When in a foreign country, check the windows, they may open various ways. This allows for venting or opening the window. In Germany, handle up will vent the window. Handle to the side will open the window and handle down will keep it closed. There are no screens, so be wary of bugs.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Over-the-Hump (that's what she said) Tip of the Day

Well, we're just over the hump (that's what she said) and I'm sure all of us could use a quick pick-me up (that's what she said). So we thought we'd give you something good (that's what she said) so you can make it all week (that's what she said.) If you're offended by approximately PG-13 humor, don't watch this video. Then again, it was aired by NBC, so it can't be that bad (that's what she said.)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chigger Myth of the Day

If you're a displaced Yankee who moved to the South after adulthood, you may be confused by a few things 'round here such as 1. Confederate flags (even though they LOST the Civil War), 2. people who sit in lawn furniture in their garage (who DOES that?) and 3. CHIGGERS. What the eff are chiggers?

When I first heard as a freshman in college that those tiny itchy bumps around my sock line were flesh-penetrating, egg-laying parasites, I did EXACTLY what the "more experienced Southerners" told me to: put bright red nail polish on each bump to suffocate those heinous vermin.

But what I found out was that Southerners are ignorant not only of what side won the war, they're also ignorant of what chiggers really are, and how they work. My skepticism of chiggers piqued when an anonymous friend "nail-polished" their entire, er... sanitary area, after getting chiggered, because who wants parasites that close to the moneymaker?

Well, according to a very informative article in Wikipedia, chiggers are known as "Harvest Mites" and do not, in fact, burrow deep within the skin. While this may come as a relief, they still have a rather disgusting practice which involves crawling onto your skin, injecting it with enzymes and chewing up tiny bits of skin. Ew! This leaves the characteristic red, itchy bump. But, contrary to popular belief, they do NOT burrow, and after chewing up your skin, they're gone. PTL!

So, thought I, the whole "nail polish" gimmick was just to make an idiot out of innocent believers. But, the nail polish DOES serve a purpose. Because it prevents air contact with the skin, the nail polish enables the chigger mini-infection to be less irritated and probably heal up quicker. Who knew!?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rose Tip of the Day

Those of our readers with green thumbs may find this tip very sophomoric, but nonetheless, our less-savvy readers like myself could potentially benefit.

During a recent visit from my relatives, my Grammy gave me a few tips for how to care for the rose bush in the front of my yard, and I learned a few others as well. I found, through testing this knowledge, that these tips were scientifically correct, as you'll see from the before and after photos.

Pruning
Most healthy plants need a little help shedding their dead parts. (Gross.) If you properly prune your roses, they will continue to blossom until frost -- magically! To prune, simply wait until the flower has blossomed, and then just below the flower, snip off the dead bud. If an entire branch looks dead, or eaten by insects, the whole thing can be pruned off. Pruning helps the plant focus its energy on new buds and strong branches, rather than repairing dying or wilted branches.

Watering
This was a surprise to me. Roses like to be watered deeply and infrequently. Basically, watering them deeply helps them form long, strong roots, rather than shallow ones that remain near the surface to look for water.

Before and After
Ok, so check it out. At the start of the season, I had a rose bush pretty similar to my neighbors. My neighbor did, well, nothing with hers. And I follow Grammy's tips. Here's the difference.

Hers on top, mine on bottom (that's what she said):

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Office Tip of the Day

We're not sure if this is legal, but we love it. A YouTube member has painstakingly edited versions of each episode of NBC's "The Office" into YouTube legit 10-minute versions. So if you missed some episodes, you can easily catch up by watching these clips.

And, a bonus clip (not by the same contributor):

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

iChat Tip of the Weekend

If you're an iChat user with a lot of buddies, you may notice that your buddy list quickly occupies a lot of your screen's real estate. If you're looking to make your buddy window a bit more svelte, make your buddy list the active window, then go to View and uncheck "Show Buddy Pictures." You'll be surprised at how much you really don't care what your friends' buddy icons are.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Pet Tip of the Day

Looking for a great pet? Get yourself a fennec fox! (The prior statement has not been evaluated by the FDA). These little bundles of joy remind me of a cat mixed with a dog. What do you think? Perfect playmate for Cheddar? They're called fennec foxes. And you thought your ears were big.



Listen to the cute noise it makes here:







[Ed note: Speaking of pets remember today is Cow Appreciation Day at Chik-fil-a]

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tailoring Tip of the Day

As many of you know, mens' dress shirts are sized by a neck measurement. This works great for your neck, but if you're one of the rare Americans who isn't obese, a shirt that fits around your neck will probably be heinously large around your mid-section. Some shirt manufacturers offer an "athletic fit," but often this fit is hard to come by. In the event that you're stuck wearing a too-baggy-in-the-midsection shirt, follow this video tutorial for how to effortlessly tailor your own shirts, brought to you by Consumerist.com, via Fowler.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oxy Tip of the Day

OxyMagic/Deep/Clean/_____ works like magic to get blood out of a variety of materials.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Silica Tip of the Day

Don't throw away those silica gel packs that come in things like new luggage and toiletry bags. (Also don't eat them, but that's another story.) Instead stick them in places you don't want to get all moist and subsequently moldy. Those place abound in the hot summer months, or use them in places that are always prone to mold, such as that toiletry bag it came it. It's like antiperspirant for your stuff.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Microwave Cleaning Tip of the Day

An easy way to clean your microwave is to put water into a bowl and put it in for several minutes. This water will evaporate, making the caked-on food particles easier to remove.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Google Tip of the Day

Refuse to pay $1.79 to call 411? Google has a great little solution for you. Call 1-800-GOOG-411 and they'll give you the 411 on whatever business you're looking for info on. If you are trying to get to that business just say "map it" and you'll get a Text Message with the Map. Now instead of being screwed by your cell phone company for $1.79, you'll just get screwed by 25¢.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Eating Tip of the Day



Do not try to pass a piece of meat in between a knife and fork, instead stab the meat with your fork to hand to the person across the table, otherwise gravity may pull it down and it will fall into your neighbors wine.
-Elissa

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Panera Tip of the Day

When meeting friends and picking a place to eat, make sure you clarify which restaurant. If you're sitting at the Panera in Regency Center and call your friend who is at the Panera in Palomar, make sure that friend does not try to go to the Panera in Brannon Crossing to meet you. This will result in less time to chat and frustration

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Shoe Tip of the Day

Grandma's wisdom says that you can stick newspaper in your wet shoes to help them dry fast. Who knew? It may also be deduced that paper towels probably work too, if you're not done reading the comics section yet.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Anti-SPAM Tip of the Day

Just got an email from what appeared to be an online greeting card company. They have me click on a link to view the card, and then when I get there, they claim "We are currently testing a new browser feature. If you are not able to view this ecard, please click here" Well that link is to an .exe file. Hum, fishy. This message is SPAM which is trying to install a some sort of malware on my computer. Here are some signs that gave it away:
  • It said "Your class mate has sent you a greeting ecard". "Classmate" should we one word. Also it never gives the person's name who supposedly sent me this card.
  • It says the email is from "greet2k.Com", but the actual email address is vcp@muenster.de
  • It links to http://24.173.200.210, which is just a random IP address, a real card company would have you link to their actual website address.
  • It wants me to download an ".exe" which in the Windows world is a program. Programs can do all sorts of nasty stuff if they're designed too
Luckily, I'm on a Mac, so even if I downloaded an ".exe" it wouldn't do anything!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Summer Tip of the Day

If you are a teacher/student and choose not to work in the summer, here are some productive things you can do to occupy your time:
  • Clean the Microwave
  • Scrape paint off the front door
  • Exercise
  • Knit a dish rag
  • Paint your bathroom
And here are some fun things you can do:
  • Meet friends for lunch
  • Read a book
  • Shopping
  • Watch a movie
  • Take a trip

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Computer-on-the-Cheap Tip of the Day

If your budget is too limited for the high-end models, but you still need a computer for a very specific purpose, Popular Science has step-by-step instructions on how to build your own for only $72.

I was gonna save up for a couple months to build my next computer, but now I learn that I'm already there!


While you're at it, you can build your own lightsaber for only $11.20!

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