Posts filed under ‘ProTips’

How to Buy the Right Shoes for Your Feet

Considering how much time you spend wearing shoes, how much time have you spent understanding what’s unique about your feet?

Unless you’re an avid runner or maybe work at a shoe store, you probably don’t know how to buy shoes that compliment your feet and the way you use them. It can be hard enough to find a shoe that looks good, fits on your foot and feels comfortable, but it takes even more to find a pair that fits your arch and the angle of your ankles. But there is a way.

Even if you don’t run, you can still benefit from buying the right running (or walking) shoes — especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet at work or at play.

For example, the only “running” I do is running errands, but I often wear running shoes because they’re comfortable and lightweight. With the right shoes, there is less stress on your feet, ankles, knees and hips.

When you walk, the heel of your foot will touch the ground first and as you roll your foot forward, your weight will be transferred to the front of your foot. Depending on the angle of your foot, you may be putting more weight on the inside or outside of your foot. Doing that hundreds or thousands of times a day can lead to pain and discomfort in your feet and other parts of your body.

If your hips, knees or ankles produce external rotation, you will be more likely to angle your feet as you walk (known as pronation of the foot). Your shoes can compensate for natural irregularities or make them worse and that’s why it’s important to get the right shoes.

Good shoe stores will help determine your arch type and level of pronation. Once you know your arch type and pronation, there are different shoes that will suit you. A local running shop is a good place to start, they’re generally the most knowledgeable retailers of shoes. Some websites with good fitting advice are: Road Runner Sports, Zappos, Dick’s and New Balance.

One way to determine your arch type is by standing (to put weight on your feet), then sliding your index finger under your arch. If you get your finger up to 1/2 an inch under your foot then you’ve got a low arch. 1/2 inch to 1 inch is a medium arch. More than an inch is a high arch.

The other way to determine arch type is the paper bag test. You wet your feet and stand on a paper bag. Looking at your wet footprint and the size of the gap left by your arch, you can tell if you have a low, medium or high arch. This way is pretty common, but it’s a bit more subjective than the index finger method.

To determine your pronation (ankle roll), you’ll need the help of a friend. They will stand behind you to see how your ankles behave as you walk. If your ankles stay very straight, then you have neutral pronation. If they roll slightly inward or outward then you’re considered an under-pronator. If they roll inward excessively, then you’re an over-pronator.

Another way to determine pronation is to put a used pair of your running shoes on a flat surface and see if the shoes tilt inward towards each other, or tilt outward, away from each other.

Shoes are divided into three categories for different feet type: stability, motion control and neutral. Stability shoes are for under-pronators. Motion control shoes are for severe over-pronators and perhaps obviously, neutral shoes are for neutral pronation.

Most online retailers categorize shoes into these groups. A good shoe store will be able to tell you which shoes are your type as well.

The other approach to running footwear is: barefoot. There is a popular book on running called Born to Run which suggests that we are literally born to run in our bare feet and the best runners in the world come from tribes of barefoot runners who run well into old age without injury.

For now, I think I’ll stick with my runners.

Thanks to Kristen for suggesting this secret!

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Foot type), New Balance (Running Gait), Zappos, Dick’s

Photo: Jason Alley (cc)

June 7, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Exhaust Fans Help Cool Your Home During Summer

The upper floor of your home is likely the warmest place in your home. It’s not usually a big deal in the winter, but it can be very uncomfortable in the summer. It happens because hot air rises.

The ceiling of your upper floor also has the most insulation of any place in your home. It’s there because hot air rises — in the winter, you don’t want to lose that heat. It’s the same reason you put a hat on your head in the winter.

In the summer, that thick insulation in your attic is doing the same thing it does in the winter, trapping that heat on your upper floor. If you have a central heating/cooling system, it should suck hot air from the upper floor and mix it with cooler air. But, it’s not always running and it can’t always keep up with the hot air that is produced inside your home, from people, electronics and appliances.

A good solution is to run the ceiling exhaust fan in a central bathroom on the upper floor during the hottest hours of the day. To help, you can get an automatic timer control light switch; these can be used to run the fan and have it automatically shutoff after a certain amount of time — this might also be useful after somebody uses the toilet.

In some regions, it is even part of the building code that an on/off switch for the upper floor hallway bathroom fan is placed next to the thermostat on the main floor. It’s there so you can turn on the exhaust fan when you turn on the air conditioner (there is also a switch in the bathroom to control it from there). This is not a widespread building code, but it’s worth having a look beside your thermostat. If you’ve got a light switch there that doesn’t do anything, try it again and listen for the hallway fan.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: MSU, About.com

June 2, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Inactive Cell Phones Can Still Call 911

Over half of 911 calls originate from cell phones. This number will only increase as traditional phone service declines and cell phone adoption rates continue to rise.

In the US and Canada, wireless phone operators are required by law to connect all calls to 911 services, whether the customer account is active, past due or even canceled.

Even if you don’t need a wireless phone for your social life, it may be a good idea to keep an old phone in your glove box in case of an emergency. There is even an organization called AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org where you can donate an old phone or request a free phone for this exact purpose.

If you have a disabled phone without a service contract and want to use it for 911 service, you may want to test it. DO NOT just dial 911 to test it, they will likely send help, even if you say it was just a test. The proper way to test 911 service is to call the non-emergency number for your local public safety answering point (PSAP) office and schedule a 911 test. That way, they will be expecting your call and know for sure that it is a test. In the US, there is a list of non-emergency contact numbers for PSAPs listed here.

When you call 911, you should be aware that your location will also be transmitted to the operator.

Some cell phones have built in GPS receivers, allowing them to receive radio signals from space and accurately determine a very precise location on earth. But, GPS is rarely available when indoors and obviously many calls originate indoors. Calls to 911 may not use GPS location data, because the phone does not support it or because a GPS signal cannot be found (typical when indoors).

When GPS is not available, the wireless provider can get a fairly accurate location of the phone by analyzing it’s signal and the location of the towers that are receiving it. Current regulations require that a phone carrier can pinpoint a cell phone within 300-600 meters, depending on the technology the phone is using. By 2012, phone carriers should be able to pinpoint you location within 50-300 meters.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: 911 Wireless Service, FCC

May 25, 2010 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Increase Your Income With Your Credit Card

There are two ways to get rich(er): spend less money and earn more money. Both can be tough, but here’s an easy way to start earning more money immediately.

Credit cards are a real life game and depending on how you play, you can win or lose real money.

When you lose, your credit card issuer wins big. When you win, your card issuer still wins, just not as much as when you lose. So, if you’re going to use a credit card, then you better be winning.

Some people have lost and decided not to play the game anymore, they cut up their credit cards and swear off credit forever. Depending on your lifestyle this may or may not work. In many cases, you need a credit card to rent cars, reserve hotel rooms, book flights and buy online.

Credit card issuers make it easy for you to lose the game. When you apply for their card, they ask you what your income is. Once they know they can trust you, they increase your credit limit beyond what they know you can afford to pay back each month. If you take the bait, they start lining their pockets with your hard earned money. If you carry a balance, you instantly lose the game — if you want to be a winner, be sure you pay your bill in full every month.

That’s the first step to winning. The second step is to switch your card to a high dividend credit (or debit) card. Dividend cards pay you a cash reward for using your card, usually 2-5% of how much you spend. This might not sound like a lot, but many people can make over $1000 per year with this. (more…)

May 24, 2010 at 5:00 am 14 comments

Punctuation is Not Allowed in Mailing Addresses

Whether it’s a personal or business letter, every piece of mail I receive has the address formatted differently. Some even have the return and destination addresses formatted differently.

Since the post office has very strict requirements for addressing a letter, they should all be exactly the same. The post office guidelines are recommended for fastest delivery and I’ve compiled a list of rules that are the most surprising or commonly abused.

Since most of my readers are in North America, I’ve compared the requirements from the US Postal Service and Canada Post — they’re very similar and they contain good practices that are applicable to sending mail in most places.

Mail is typically sorted by a machine, but if the machine can’t determine the address then it will be dropped in a bin for a human to sort it. Most of the requirements are design to make it easy for the machine to understand where you’re trying to send your letter.

No Punctuation Allowed

One rule that will surprise most people: no punctuation is allowed. I know your third grade teacher said you should put a comma between the city and the state, and maybe she was right at the time, but that’s not right anymore. Don’t use periods either, using punctuation will only slow the mail down. It’s going to be a tough habit to break, I know. There is one exception, and that is when the name of the City, Street or Town contains punctuation, such as an apostrophe (for example: St John’s). (more…)

May 4, 2010 at 12:17 am 8 comments

How Ballparks Stripe Their Grass

In North America, professional baseball fields are the highest form of manicured lawns. Elsewhere, professional football pitches and cricket fields are admired.

Achieving the striped affect is pretty straight forward. The grass appears lighter and darker because the blades of grass are bent in opposite directions. The lighter looking grass reflects more light because of the angle of its blades and the darker ones reflect less light because of their angle.

To bend grass in opposite directions, start by cutting the lawn in opposite directions. The back and forth method is the simplest example.

Most people cut their lawn like that anyway, but the stripes aren’t as dramatic as the professional fields. To improve the contrast, be sure to set your mower at its highest setting. Longer blades of grass bend better and will have a more dramatic look. In fact, longer grass makes for greener grass too — it protects the roots from drying out and turning yellow.

But, here’s the professional stripe trick, after cutting at least two different directions, roll the grass with a lawn roller. Roll the lawn in the same direction that you mowed, this bends the grass better, which intensifies the affect.

Lawn rollers can be bought or rented at many home and garden stores.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Source: Scotts

Photo: pamhule (cc)

April 29, 2010 at 12:01 am 3 comments

Keeping Secrets Safe at Home

You probably have things in your home that you want to keep safe: cash, checks, credit cards, jewelry, computer data, documents and other valuables.

In case of fire or theft, the best place to put them is in a fireproof safe. This might sound like overkill, but affordable models start around $30.

Safes are an obvious place to put valuables, so you want a bolt-down model — thieves don’t usually have time to open a safe during a robbery but they’ll want to take it with them and open it later.

If you’re looking for a less obvious hiding place, there are many options. You can buy “diversion safes” that look like everyday objects such as: canned food, bleach, candles, books, clocks and many other items.

If you’re going to use one of these safes then you should store it with other similar items; it doesn’t work well if there is a can of fruit in your sock drawer.

The fake bleach container and candle are both good since there are many places you might find those in your house. The bleach container could make a good hiding spot for the spare key in your garage.

The other thing about these “safes” is that they’re not always that safe. For example, they’re not fireproof and they’re very easy to get into, but they can be useful for storing a bit of spare cash when thin-mint go on sale.

If you don’t want to buy a diversion safe, you can make your own. Pringles cans work well.

Sometimes, it just comes down to location. Reader’s Digest interviewed a number of convicted burglars to find out their secrets to successful home robberies and among other things, the robbers revealed that they rarely ever go into kids rooms. Simply putting stuff in your kids rooms may be secure enough, although you may never find it again either.

The same interviews revealed that robbers don’t go near your house if they see a flickering TV or hear a radio because that’s a sure sign that somebody is home. You can buy a small device that emulates a flickering TV and it’s much cheaper to buy and operate on a timer than a real TV.

Although these hiding places would be great for an Easter egg hunt, they shouldn’t be used for really valuable items. The best place for that stuff is in a proper safe, safety deposit box or federally insured instrument such as a bank account.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, FakeTV.com

April 28, 2010 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

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