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Up to 40% of Online Clothing Purchases are Returned

By Kaye Nemec

Online shopping is popular for people who don’t have the time to shop in stores or who simply feel browsing through a mall is actually a waste of time. With websites like Ebates.com, which gives you cash back for all your purchases, and PayPal.com, which allows you to pay without using your credit card, it’s ridiculously easy to add a few items to your cart and hope you get what you paid for.

Unfortunately, online shopping results aren’t always what we hope for. In fact, 15 to 40% of all online clothing purchases are returned (depending on the source). One in four loose fitting clothing items like t-shirts are returned when they’re purchased online. Almost half of all form fitting clothing items purchased online are returned.

Twenty percent of computer software purchased online is returned and 15% of books purchased online are returned.

If companies don’t have “return to store” or “free return shipping” options then our great, upfront deals could turn into a total loss in the end. Of the returns made from online purchases, 59% receive refunds, 27% are exchanged for another item and 11% are given a store credit.

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Sources: Shine, The Business Link

May 6, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

The Meaning of Care Symbols on Clothes Tags

By Kaye Nemec

When it’s time to wash a new item of clothing, most people check the tag to see what the manufacturer recommends for washing and drying.

Sometimes instructions are easily spelled out, other times the consumer is given a set of symbols to interpret. With no explanation or key to reference, there is no way to know what these symbols mean. Before you take a gamble with your clothing purchases, use the chart below as a reference guide for the most common symbols. For an extensive list of care symbols visit Textileaffairs.com.

  Machine Wash Normal
  Machine Wash Cold
  Machine Wash Warm
  Hand Wash
  Do Not Wash
  Do Not Bleach
  Tumble Dry Normal
  Do Not Dry
  Iron Normal
  Do Not Iron
  Dry Clean
  Do Not Dry Clean

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Sources: Textile Affairs

April 27, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Motel 6 Charged $6.00 for Motel Rooms

By Kaye Nemec

In 1962 a couple of building contractors decided to open up a chain of motel rooms that would be available at extremely low rates. It took two years for their business plan to be developed and, in the end, they decided to market themselves as a “no-frills” motel chain, offering customers an alternative to the higher-end hotels that were becoming popular. The budget-saving strategies included black and white, coin operated TV’s in the rooms, basic room décor and no on-site restaurants. The low cost plan allowed them to charge only $6.00 per night for a room.

Today corporate policy still states that Motel 6 will always have the lowest rates of any national chain.

On a related note, Super 8 was opened in 1972 with rates starting at $8.88 per night.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Wikipedia (Super 8)

Photo: J. Stephen Conn

April 20, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Secret Uses for Olive Oil

By Kaye Nemec

A few weeks ago I accidentally bought waterproof mascara. For those of you familiar with waterproof eye make-up, you know that the term “waterproof” is not used lightly. It is also soap, face wash and wash cloth proof. Conveniently, make-up brands sell make-up remover to use along with their semi-permanent products. But, determined to get the mascara off of my eyes before sleeping with it on all night and running to Target in the morning, I searched for another option and what I landed upon was olive oil. After testing it out and getting a positive result, the doors to a world of uses for olive oil that I never knew existed were opened. Read below for some of the most practical uses.

  • Shaving lubricant
  • Polish – olive oil can be used as a substitute for furniture polish. Just dab a small amount of olive oil on a soft cloth and polish wood furniture as you normally would. Also use it to shine stainless steel and brass.
  • Moisturizer – olive oil makes a great skin moisturizer. Rub it into your hands, use it to moisturize cuticles etc. Using it to remove eye make-up also allows you to moisturize the soft skin around your eyes safely.
  • Frizz control – use a small dab of olive oil to tame unruly or frizzy hair (side note: dryer sheets also work well for this).
  • Snoring/Coughing – take a sip of olive oil to lubricate your throat. Do it before bed to help prevent snoring and do it if you have a scratch or tickle in your throat to prevent coughing.
  • Diaper rash cure – wipe a small amount of olive oil onto a baby’s bottom to help clear up diaper rash.

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Sources: Curbly, Yahoo Green

Photo: PackAge (cc)

April 13, 2011 at 2:00 am 6 comments

How to Chop Onions Without Crying

By Kyle Kurpinski

Plants, like all other living organisms, are composed of cells. When you eat a vegetable, or chop it with a knife, some of these cells are ruptured and their contents are released. Certain plants, like the onion, have developed defense mechanisms against this type of destructive action. When onion cells are destroyed, enzymes called alliinases initiate a series of chemical reactions resulting in the release of synpropanethial-S-oxide (also known as onion lachrymatory factor, or LF), a volatile gas that stings the eyes. To combat the stinging effect of the gas, the lachrymal gland at the corner of each eye produces tears to help wash the irritant away. For the plant, LF is an excellent natural deterrent against roaming herbivores, but for humans, it makes us look quite silly and emotional when preparing salad.

There are many ways to reduce or eliminate the “onion effect” during chopping, all of which involve minimizing your exposure to the noxious LF gas:

1) Chop under water. Copious amounts of water can help prevent LF gas from reaching the eyes. Try peeling the onion under running water and/or chopping the onion in a large water-filled bowl.

2) Chill or freeze the onion. The enzymes required to produce LF work well at room temperature, but are inhibited under colder conditions. By chilling the onion before cutting, you greatly reduce the activation of the chemical reactions.

3) Use a sharp blade. A sharper blade causes less damage to the onion cells, thereby releasing less chemicals.

4) Use a fan. Disperse the LF gas by aiming a small fan towards your cutting area and away from you.

5) Wear goggles. Protective eyewear can help prevent LF gas from reaching your eyes. You’ll need something that forms a seal around your eyes, however; standard glasses won’t do.

6) Do not chop the root. The root of the onion contains a greater concentration of the alliinases than the rest of the plant. By avoiding the root (or at least saving it for the end) you can reduce the amount of LF produced during chopping.

7) Chew gum. This one is a little weirder, and doesn’t seem to work as well for many people, but it’s still an option if you can’t do any of the above. Supposedly, vigorous chewing causes you to breathe more through your mouth, which disperses the LF gas and directs it away from your eyes and lachrymal glands.

8) Use a “better” onion. If you’re desperate for a truly tear-free onion, genetic engineering provides an alternative to freezing and gum chewing. In 2008, researchers at the New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research utilized gene-silencing technology to suppress a gene required for LF production. No more LF, no more sobbing over your chopping board.

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Source: Wikipedia – Onion, Wikipedia – Alliinase, e-How

Image: Wikipedia

April 11, 2011 at 2:00 am 14 comments

Why Aluminum Foil is Dull on One Side

By Kaye Nemec

Hopefully you’ve all read Chad’s previous posts about aluminum foil retainers or how to properly use aluminum foil in the microwave. The post about aluminum foil retainers is a life changer.

I learned something else recently that adds to the growing list of things you never knew you needed to know about aluminum foil.

There are two, distinct sides to standard aluminum foil – the shiny side and the dull side. During the last phase of the rolling process, two sheets of foil are put through the rollers. The rollers themselves are oiled and, therefore, the side of the foil that touches the roller comes out shinier than the other. There are rumors that one side of the foil reflects heat better than the other and that the reflection should be considered during cooking. However, the Reynolds Wrap website states, “Actually, it makes no difference which side of the aluminum foil you use—both sides do the same fine job of cooking, freezing and storing food.”

P.S. If you place a piece of aluminum foil underneath your ironing board cover the heat will reflect off of it which means you are ironing both sides of your garment at once!

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Sources: Reynolds Wrap, The Straight Dope, Life Hackery

Photo: Emillian Robert Vicol (cc)

April 6, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

March Madness Teams are Paid for Performance

By Kaye Nemec

For the most part NCAA tournaments are money making events – for the NCAA. But the Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament is actually the only NCAA tournament that gives all of its revenue back to the schools that participate. Although millions of dollars in revenue from the BCS Football Championship are given back to the schools and conferences involved, it is important to note that the BCS Football championship is not an NCAA event. In fact, it is the only NCAA sport that does not have an annual NCAA sanctioned championship event.

Back to basketball. The T.V. contract for March Madness brings in billions of dollars and that money is divided up among the participating schools as follows:

1/6 of the money is given to the schools based on how many different sports they play.

  • A division 1 school must play 14 sports in order to qualify for Div.1 status.
  • They are given one share of money for each sport starting with 14.

1/3 of the money is given based on how many scholarships each school awards.

  • 1 share for each of the first 50 scholarships.
  • 2 shares for each of the next 50.
  • 10 for each of the next 50.
  • 20 for all scholarships after the first 150.

½ of the total money is divided among each of the participating conferences based on how well they each did in the previous six tournaments.

  • 1 share for each team getting into the tournament.
  • 1 share for each win outside of the Final Four.

In the past five tournaments, $409 million dollars were awarded to participating teams and conferences. The U.S. Secretary of Education and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics is proposing a change in profit division to better reward academic accomplishment. Of the $409 million, 44 percent of that money was awarded to schools that are on track to graduate less than 50 percent of their players.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Knight Commission of Intercollegiate Athletics

Photo: Kevin H.

March 25, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Baby Proofing Your Home on a Budget

By Kaye Nemec

For those of you with babies approaching the age of movement, it is time to start opening up your eyes to all of the dangers hidden within your once perfectly safe home.

Stores like Babies ‘R Us, Buy Buy Baby and Target have shelves full of products designed to help protect your baby from sharp edges, hot surfaces, poisonous cleaners, toilet bowls etc. Buying all these products can be expensive. There are ways to help keep your budget in check by baby proofing with products you probably already have at home.

  1. Sharp Corners – Once you start looking for sharp corners in your house you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of foam corner cushions you need to buy. To protect fire place corners, coffee and end table corners, counter top corners, kitchen table corners, vanity corners etc. etc. use tennis balls.  Make a cut into them with a saw or very sharp knife and wedge them onto the corners.
  2. Cupboards – Your kitchen and bathrooms are full of cupboards that your little one will be curious about. The problem is, you need to keep him out while still being able to get in yourself. Store bought cupboard locks can be expensive and difficult to use (although you should still use them on cupboards with cleaning materials and medications).  To baby proof on your own use rubber coated hairbands. Just wrap one band around both handles of the cupboard. Bungee cords or the thick rubber bands often found around produce like lettuce and broccoli also work well.
  3. Doors – Trying to keep your little one from opening doors and getting into our out of rooms on his own? As you close the door, place a washcloth between the door and the door frame. Place it high enough so little baby arms can’t reach it. Even if your baby is able to turn the door knob, she won’t be able to pull open the door due to the washcloth wedged between it and the frame.
  4. Power Outlets – For a quick and easy way to cover up outlets use Duct tape or masking tape. Tape is easy for you to move if you need to access the outlet but difficult for your baby to figure out. This is also a great way to cover outlets when you are traveling and didn’t bring outlet plugs with you.
  5. Miscellaneous – Velcro certainly won’t work once your baby really starts using their muscles, but it can help at early movement stages to help keep some knick knacks and small objects in place. Try using Velcro to hold down remotes, telephones, household decorations etc.

Of course you should also move sharp and dangerous objects out of reach and use baby gates or barriers to shield off-limits areas. To make sure everything is completely baby proof, take a tour of your house on your hands and knees so you can see your home from your baby’s view. Look for objects that are easy to grab, easy to run into etc.

These DIY solutions are also great for friends and family who don’t have babies, but have occasional baby visitors.

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Special thanks to Daniella for suggesting this post!

Sources: Essortment.comFreeShipping.org

March 18, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

How to Cure Hiccups

By Kyle Kurpinski

A hiccup, or “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter,” is a rapid involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, which results in a large volume of air rushing abruptly into the lungs. This is typically accompanied by a “hic” sound as the airflow forces the vocal chords to suddenly close. The physiology of a hiccup is much like that of a knee jerk reflex (when a doctor taps your knee with that little hammer), but the hiccup reaction occurs within a few cranial nerves that extend between the neck/head and the chest. A bout of hiccups can be brought on by a number of different stimuli including prolonged laughing, eating too rapidly, various nervous system disorders, and even chemotherapy. But far more important than how or why we get the hiccups is how we can get rid of them.

I was astonished to discover just how many hiccup “cures” there are on the web. WikiHow has a particularly awesome article listing nearly 80 different methods for curing hiccups. My immediate reaction to this was, shouldn’t ONE be enough? Unfortunately, hiccups are not well understood and many of these home remedies may work for some people but not for others, so an extensive list of alternatives is not entirely unreasonable. What really astounded me, though, was the sheer variety of proposed treatments. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Drink a glass of water while upside down.
  • Cough or scream when you feel the next hiccup approaching. Repeat 3-4 times.
  • Suck on a lemon wedge topped with 4-5 drops of aromatic bitters.
  • Lean your head back and place a penny on your forehead. The hiccups will be gone after 1-3 more times.
  • Drink a half teaspoon of pickle juice every 7-10 seconds until the hiccups stop.
  • Alternate a spoonful of sugar with a sip of water until the hiccups are gone.

As a whole, these remedies have no unifying theme, and I while I haven’t personally tested all of them, I have to wonder if a placebo effect (or just a coincidental cessation) might have been the genesis of more than a few. I am also bothered by the use of the phrase “until the hiccups stop” in many of the treatments on the web. There are reported cases of hiccups (albeit rare ones) that lasted years. How much pickle juice might I expect to ingest before the costs begin to outweigh the potential benefits?

In my personal experience, the “cures” I tried never worked for me (including upside-down drinking and being startled by a friend), and I always resorted to the more apathetic method: waiting it out. That is, until recently. Several months ago, my girlfriend had a bout of hiccups and she decided to experiment with various improvised remedies. Most of her trials had no effect, but she eventually discovered a simple breathing pattern that eliminated her hiccups completely. Her method follows:

1) Take a deep breath through your nose. Fill your lungs as much as you can.
2) Hold the breath for 10 seconds.
3) Breathe out completely.
4) Repeat steps 1-3 once more.

The entire process takes less than 30 seconds, but I have used it at least five separate times now with amazing success (only one initial failure that was cured on a second attempt). While I can’t promise that it will work for everyone, it has worked for the few people I’ve shared it with so far, and it’s strikingly similar to some of the other “breathing methods” listed on the wikiHow site. In fact, a closer look at that article reveals something interesting: there are more than 10 methods devoted predominantly to breathing. Wikipedia provides some reasoning: a few researchers have theorized that hiccups may be an evolutionary remnant of amphibian breathing that is similar to gulping. More importantly, amphibian gulping is inhibited by high levels of CO2, and so are hiccups. When you consciously adjust your breathing using one of these remedies, not only are you taking more active control of your diaphragm, but you are also manipulating gas exchange in your lungs and blood. More simply, holding your breath is an easy way to increase physiological CO2.

There are also more than 15 methods listed on the wikiHow article that include some form of drinking. While these are far less likely to dramatically impact blood chemistry, they will alter your current breathing pattern, which may in turn help disrupt the involuntary reflex of your diaphragm during hiccuping. I can’t say for sure that the “pickle juice method” is complete nonsense, but I wonder if it might work just as well using plain water.

It’s hard to say exactly which methods will work for any one person, but at least a few of these cures appear to have some scientific rationale while many others seem rather arbitrary. Bottom line: next time you have the hiccups, I recommend trying any of the breathing or drinking methods before resorting to balancing a penny on your head. Good luck!

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Source: Wikipedia, wikiHow

Image: Cayusa (cc)

March 16, 2011 at 2:00 am 24 comments

Real Names of Celebrities

By Kaye Nemec

It appears as though no one is really who we think they are…

  • Lady Gaga – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
  • Pink – Alecia Beth Moore
  • Tiger Woods – Eldrick Woods
  • Alicia Keys – Alicia Augello Cook
  • Jamie Foxx – Eric Bishop
  • Portia Di Rossi – Amanda Rogers
  • Hulk Hogan – Terry Gene Bollea
  • Fergie – Stacey Ann Ferguson
  • Jay-Z – Shawn Carter
  • Elton John – Reginald Kenneth Dwight
  • Meat Loaf – Marvin Lee Aday
  • Larry King – Lawrence Ziegler
  • Chuck Norris – Carlos Ray Norris
  • Mr. T – Lawrence Tero
  • LL Cool J (“Ladies Love Cool James”) – James Todd Smith III
  • Stevie Wonder – Steveland Hardaway Judkins
  • Jon Stewart – Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz
  • Muhammad Ali – Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor, Jr
  • Woody Allen – Allen Stewart Konigsberg
  • Jennifer Aniston – Jennifer Linn Anastassakis
  • Tony Bennett – Anthony Dominick Benedetto
  • Judy Blume – Judy Sussman
  • Lil Bow Wow – Shad Gregory Moss
  • Garth Brooks – Troyal Garth Brooks
  • Julia Child – Julia Carolyn McWilliams
  • Eminem – Marshall Bruce Mathers III
  • Whoopi Goldberg – Caryn Elaine Johnson
  • Pee Wee Herman – Paul Reubenfeld
  • Liberace – Wladziu Lee Valentino
  • Ralph Lauren – Ralph Lipschitz
  • Katy Perry – Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson
  • Charlie Sheen – Carlos Irwin Estevez

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Sources: NBC Los Angeles , IMDb.com, MSN, Babynames.com

March 2, 2011 at 2:00 am 5 comments

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