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Hispanic Heritage Month 2009:

Sept. 15 – Oct. 15

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

46.9 million
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2008, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 15 percent of the nation’s total population. In addition, there are approximately 4 million residents of Puerto Rico.
Source: Population estimates and

More than 1
. . . of every two people added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, was Hispanic. There were 1.5 million Hispanics added to the population during the period.
Source: Population estimates

Percentage increase in the Hispanic population between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, making Hispanics the fastest-growing minority group.
Source: Population estimates

132.8 million
The projected Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 30 percent of the nation’s population by that date.
Source: Population projections

22.4 million
The nation’s Hispanic population during the 1990 Census — less than half the current total.
Source: The Hispanic Population: 2000

Ranking of the size of the U.S. Hispanic population worldwide, as of 2008. Only Mexico (110 million) had a larger Hispanic population than the United States (46.9 million).
Source: International Data Base and population estimates

The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in the United States who were of Mexican background in 2007. Another 9 percent were of Puerto Rican background, with 3.5 percent Cuban, 3.1 percent Salvadoran and 2.7 percent Dominican. The remainder were of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origin.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

About 45 percent of the nation’s Dominicans lived in New York City in 2007 and about half of the nation’s Cubans in Miami-Dade County, Fla.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

Percentage of children younger than 5 who were Hispanic in 2008. All in all, Hispanics comprised 22 percent of children younger than 18.
Source: Population estimates

27.7 years
Median age of the Hispanic population in 2008. This compared with 36.8 years for the population as a whole.
Source: Population estimates

Number of Hispanic males in 2008 per every 100 Hispanic females. This was in sharp contrast to the overall population, which had 97 males per every 100 females.
Source: Population estimates
States and Counties

The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lived in California or Texas in 2008. California was home to 13.5 million Hispanics, and Texas was home to 8.9 million.
Source: Population estimates

The number of states with at least a half-million Hispanic residents — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
Source: Population estimates

The percentage of New Mexico’s population that was Hispanic in 2008, the highest of any state. Hispanics also made up at least one fifth of the population in California and Texas, at 37 percent each, Arizona (30 percent), Nevada (26 percent), Florida (21 percent) and Colorado (20 percent). New Mexico had 891,000 Hispanics.
Source: Population estimates

The Carolinas
The states with the highest percentage increases in Hispanic population between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008. South Carolina’s increase was 7.7 percent and North Carolina’s was 7.4 percent.
Source: Population estimates

4.7 million
The Hispanic population of Los Angeles County, Calif., in 2008 — the largest of any county in the nation. Los Angeles County also had the biggest numerical increase in the Hispanic population (67,000) since July 2007.
Source: Population estimates

Proportion of the population of Starr County, Texas, that was Hispanic as of 2008, which led the nation. All of the top 10 counties in this category were in Texas.
Source: Population estimates

Number of the nation’s 3,142 counties that are majority-Hispanic.
Source: Population estimates

Percent increase in the Hispanic population in Luzerne County, Pa., from July 1, 2007, to July 1, 2008. Among all counties with 2007 Hispanic populations of at least 10,000, Luzerne topped the nation in this category. Luzerne’s county seat is Wilkes-Barre.
Source: Population estimates

The increase in California’s Hispanic population between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, which led all states. Texas (305,000) and Florida (111,000) also recorded large increases.
Source: Population estimates

Number of states in which Hispanics are the largest minority group. These states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Source: Population estimates

Source for statements in this section: Hispanic-owned Firms: 2002

1.6 million
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002.

* Nearly 43 percent of Hispanic-owned firms operated in construction; administrative and support, and waste management and remediation services; and other services, such as personal services, and repair and maintenance. Retail and wholesale trade accounted for nearly 36 percent of Hispanic-owned business revenue.
* Counties with the highest number of Hispanic-owned firms were Los Angeles County (188,422); Miami-Dade County (163,187); and Harris County, Texas (61,934).

The rate of growth of Hispanic-owned businesses between 1997 and 2002 (31 percent) compared with the national average (10 percent) for all businesses.

$222 billion
Revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, up 19 percent from 1997.

. . . of all Hispanic-owned firms were owned by people of Mexican origin (Mexican, Mexican-American or Chicano).

Number of Hispanic-owned firms with receipts of $1 million or more.
Families and Children

10.4 million
The number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2008. Of these households, 62 percent included children younger than 18.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements

The percentage of Hispanic family households consisting of a married couple.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements

The percentage of Hispanic family households consisting of a married couple with children younger than 18.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements

Percentage of Hispanic children living with two parents.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements

Spanish Language

35 million
The number of U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2007. Those who hablan espaƱol constituted 12 percent of U.S. residents. More than half of these Spanish speakers spoke English “very well.”
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

Number of states where at least one-in-five residents spoke Spanish at home in 2007 — Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

Percentage of Hispanics 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2007.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey
Income, Poverty and Health Insurance

The median income of Hispanic households in 2007, statistically unchanged from the previous year after adjusting for inflation.
Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007

The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2007, up from 20.6 percent in 2006.
Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007

The percentage of Hispanics who lacked health insurance in 2007, down from 34.1 percent in 2006.
Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007


The percentage of Hispanic 4-year-olds enrolled in nursery school in 2007, up from 43 percent in 1997 and 21 percent in 1987.
Source: School Enrollment – Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 2007

The percentage of Hispanics 25 and older who had at least a high school education in 2008.
Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008

The percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2008.
Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008

3.6 million
The number of Hispanics 18 and older who had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2008.
Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008

1 million
Number of Hispanics 25 and older with advanced degrees in 2008 (e.g., master’s, professional, doctorate).
Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008

Percentage of full-time college students (both undergraduate and graduate students) in October 2007 who were Hispanic, up from 10 percent in 2006.
Source: School Enrollment – Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 2007

Percentage of elementary and high school students combined who were Hispanic.
Source: School Enrollment – Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 2007


The number of Hispanic surnames ranked among the 15 most common in 2000. It was the first time that a Hispanic surname reached the top 15 during a census. Garcia was the most frequent Hispanic surname, occurring 858,289 times and placing eighth on the list — up from 18th in 1990. Rodriguez (ninth), Martinez (11th) and Hernandez (15th) were the next most common Hispanic surnames.
Source: Census 2000 Genealogy

Percentage of Hispanics 16 and older who were in the civilian labor force in 2007.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

The percentage of Hispanics 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations in 2007. The same percentage worked in production, transportation and material moving occupations. Another 16 percent worked in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations. Approximately 24 percent of Hispanics 16 or older worked in service occupations; 21 percent in sales and office occupations; and 2 percent in farming, fishing and forestry occupations.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

Number of Hispanic chief executives. In addition, 50,866 physicians and surgeons; 48,720 postsecondary teachers; 38,532 lawyers; and 2,726 news analysts, reporters and correspondents are Hispanic.
Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010, Table 603

9.7 million
The number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2008 presidential election, about 2 million more than voted in 2004. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting — 50 percent — represented a statistical increase from 2004 (47 percent).
Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008

Serving our Country

1.1 million`
The number of Hispanic veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey Stumble It!

Unmarried and Single Americans Week

Sept. 20-26, 2009

“National Singles Week” was started by the Buckeye Singles Council in Ohio in the 1980s to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society. The week is now widely observed during the third full week of September (Sept. 20-26 in 2009) as “Unmarried and Single Americans Week,” an acknowledgment that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they are parents, have partners or are widowed. In this edition of Facts for Features, unmarried people include those who were never married, widowed, or divorced, unless otherwise noted.
Single Life

95.9 million
Number of unmarried Americans 18 and older in 2008. This group comprised 43 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older.

Percentage of unmarried Americans 18 and older who were women.

Percentage of unmarried Americans 18 and older who had never been married. Another 24 percent were divorced, and 15 percent were widowed.

15.8 million
Number of unmarried Americans 65 and older. These older Americans comprised 16 percent of all unmarried and single people 18 and older.

Number of unmarried men 18 and older for every 100 unmarried women in the United States.

52.9 million
Number of households maintained by unmarried men or women. These households comprised 45 percent of households nationwide.

32.2 million
Number of people who lived alone. They comprised 28 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 1970.

Source for statements in this section: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2008


Percentage of women age 15 to 50 with a birth in the last 12 months, as of 2006, who either were widowed, divorced or never married. About 199,000 were living with an unmarried partner. Source: Fertility of American Women: 2006

11.6 million
Number of single parents living with their children in 2008. Of these, 9.8 million were single mothers.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2008

Percentage of opposite-sex, unmarried-partner households that included at least one biological child of either partner.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2008

Number of unmarried grandparents who were caregivers for their grandchildren in 2007. They comprised about three in 10 grandparents who were responsible for their grandchildren. Source: 2007 American Community Survey

Unmarried Couples

6.2 million
Number of unmarried-partner households in 2007. These included 5.5 million of the opposite sex.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey

The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and generated $489 million in revenues. Source: 2002 Economic Census


Percentage of voters in the 2008 presidential election who were unmarried. Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008


Percentage of unmarried people 25 and older in 2008 who were high school graduates. Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008

Percentage of unmarried people 25 and older in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree or more education. Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008
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How to Avoid Car Accidents

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Car accidents happen all the time. Someone's car is totalled once every 5 seconds. Avoiding accidents can save you a lot of time and money. This means learning defensive driving. But what exactly is defensive driving?


  1. Slow down. Obey the speed limit even if every other car is surpassing it. Remember that police officers often stay hidden from view while looking for speeders. If you're caught driving too fast, they won't hesitate to give you a ticket.
  2. Let others pass you. Defensive driving means letting others go ahead-not defending your position in traffic. Avoid the urge to be a vigilante ("Oh yeah? Let me show you what it's like to be cut off like that!") Accept the fact that someone is always going to think they're in more of a hurry than you. These are the drivers you want to move far away from, not to 'teach them a lesson.'
  3. Try to avoid driving in bad weather. Always keep your windshield wipers going in the rain or snow. Defrost your windshield to keep it from fogging up. Turn on your headlights to help others to see you--this is also the law in some states. If possible, try to avoid driving in the snow at all, especially if your car is rear wheel drive. If you must go out in the snow, drive extra slow, use the brakes and gas pedal gently, and maintain an increased stopping distance.
  4. Never get into a car with a drunk driver. It is always best to have a "designated driver". Never drive after you have had alcoholic beverages. Even one beer can alter your ability to drive safely.
  5. Wear a seatbelt. This is a must. By law in many countries, all cars must have a safety restraint. Buckling up only takes a second and can save your life in an accident. Children should always be in a booster seat or car seat until they are tall enough and heavy enough to sit by themselves. This generally includes children age eight and under. Never put a child in a car or booster seat in the front passenger seat or other seat with airbags. Children should generally be 12 and older when sitting in the front passenger seat.
  6. Keep your car and its accessories in good condition. Keep the tires properly inflated, the brakes adjusted, and the windshields and windows clean. Replace windshield wiper blades when they begin to streak, and all make sure all the lights are working properly.
  7. Use your signals properly. Always use your signal, even if you think no one is there. When changing lanes on the freeway, don't signal as an afterthought or during the lane change. Signal at least a couple of seconds in advance so others know what you're going to do before you do it. (Ever notice how most of the skid marks along the highway are just before an exit ramp? - this is where you have to be the most careful.)
  8. Don't tailgate. No matter how slowly traffic is moving, keep at least two seconds of following distance between you and the car ahead. Any less and you won't be able to stop in time if the driver ahead slams on the brakes.
  9. Keep your eyes moving. Don't get in the habit of staring at the back of the car ahead of you. Periodically shift your eyes to the side-view mirrors, the rear-view mirror, and ahead to where you'll be in 10-15 seconds. Doing this, you can spot a potentially dangerous situation before it happens.
  10. Dim your lights when driving at night, when another car is approaching, or when you are following behind a vehicle. Your lights can temporarily blind another driver.
  11. Avoid distractions when you are driving. Pull over if you need to talk on the phone, read directions, or eat a snack. It only takes a second or two of distraction to get into trouble.


  • Drive at or below the speed limit to avoid more dangerous accidents.
  • Drive on the right lane of the road whenever possible.
  • "Move to the RIGHT for sirens and lights!" Emergency vehicles can appear in your rear view mirror suddenly. Memorize and abide by the handy rhyme, for everyone's benefit!
  • Always keep your headlights on, even in the day.
  • If you have a elderly relative who is driving and should not because of their eyesight or hearing than do not drive with them! Insist that they stop driving or re-take their drivers test.
  • Never stand behind a car with its engine running. The driver might not see you or make a mistake.
  • Don't Text and Drive!


  • Always wear your seatbelt. Make all passengers wear their seatbelts. Pets should be in the back of the car not in front seat with you.
  • Never drive after drinking alcohol or when you are tired.
  • Never ride in a car with a drunk person behind the wheel.
  • Never ride on the roof of any car. If you fall you will be killed.
  • You will receive tickets in most areas if caught without wearing a seatbelt.
  • Do not run red lights or stop signs.
  • Be mindful of any emergency vehicle approaching from any direction and give way if the vehicle emergency lights are flashing and siren is sounding.
  • Approaching emergency vehicles (primarily Fire Department vehicles and ambulances) can override the normal pattern of traffic signals in some circumstances. Both the emergency vehicle and the traffic signal must be equipped with the appropriate devices, and only some cities and certain intersections have such devices installed. One of the most common is the "Opticom" system, basically recognized as a very fast-flashing white strobe light mounted at or near the top of the emergency vehicle (not the "wig-wag" flashing high-beam headlights). A small receiving unit mounted on the traffic signal pole receives the "strobe code" and turns traffic lights green for the approaching emergency vehicle and red in all other directions. Such systems have been shown to reduce traffic accidents and injuries/fatalities involving emergency vehicles while improving response times to life-threatening emergencies. Emergency vehicles can only take control of intersection traffic lights if they are traveling in an emergency response mode - with all emergency lights activated and siren sounding. Once the emergency vehicle travels through the intersection, the traffic signal returns to it's normal pattern.

Things You'll Need

  • A driver's license or permit.
  • Quick reflexes
  • Good judgment
  • Cell Phone

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Avoid Car Accidents. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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11 'fallback' jobs

11 'fallback' jobs from

1. Emergency medical technician
2. Police officer
3. Phlebotomist
4. HVAC technician
5. Drafter/CADD operator
6. Medical assistant
7. Truck driver
8. Dental assistant
9. Massage therapist
10. Medical records and health information technician
11. Nuclear medicine technologist

1. Emergency medical technician
Job description: Emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, and paramedics respond to everything from heart attacks to auto accidents and violent crime scenes to care for patients and transport them to hospitals. The work can be stressful and difficult, but EMTs have the opportunity to save lives every day.

Training required: There are three basic levels of training, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. EMT-Basic courses are generally 100 to 120 hours in length and feature classroom and hands-on training. Graduates of approved programs must pass a written and practical examination administered by the state certifying agency or the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Cost of training: Costs can vary significantly -- generally from $800 to $1,200 or more -- depending on the college and training facility.

Expected salary: As of May 2006, the median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics were $27,070. The middle 50 percent earned between $21,290 and $35,210.

Job availability and outlook: From now until 2016, employment in the field is expected to grow by 19 percent, which is higher than average.
2. Police officer
Job description: Police officers help protect lives and property and apprehend individuals who break the law. Television sometimes portrays police officers as having action-packed jobs, but most of their time is spent writing reports and maintaining records of incidents they encounter. Nevertheless, the job has its dangers and can be stressful.

Training required: In general, departments call for a minimum age of 20 years and require a certain level of physical fitness, a high school education and sometimes one or two years of college level coursework. Police academies are typically 12 to 14 weeks long and include classroom instruction and training in patrol, traffic control, the use of firearms, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.

Cost of training: Candidates must selected to attend a police academy, and then their training is either free, funded or subsidized by municipalities. Many agencies also pay part or all of college tuition toward degrees in criminal justice or police science.

Expected salary: As of May 2006, the median annual earnings of sheriff's patrol officers nationwide were $47,460 and the middle 50 percent earned between $35,600 and $59,880.

Job outlook: The need for police officers is expected to grow 11 percent from now until 2016.
3. Phlebotomist
Job description: Phlebotomists work in hospitals, doctors' offices, clinics and blood banks to draw blood from patients. They collect blood by performing venipuncture or finger sticks.

Training required: A formal training program typically entails 200 hours of training over the course of four to eight months. Not all states require phlebotomists to be certified, but there are entry-level certifications (Certified Phlebotomy Technician) awarded by the American Society of Clinical Pathology, American Medical Technologies and the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians.

Cost of training: The full cost of tuition to attain the certification of Certified Phlebotomy Technician typically runs between $2,000 and $2,500.

Expected salary: According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, median hourly wage of phlebotomists in 2005 was $12.15 in private clinics.

Job availability and outlook: Employment of clinical lab workers -- including phlebotomists -- is expected to grow by 14 percent from now through 2016 due to new tests and an aging population.

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How to Be Happy

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

So happiness - isn't that the thing that all of us strive to find and keep? Nobody is happy all of the time, but some people are definitely more fulfilled than others. Studies on what makes people happy reveal that it doesn't have much to do with material goods or high achievement; it seems to whittle down to your outlook on life, and the quality of your relationships with the people around you.


  1. Be optimistic. In the 1970s, researchers followed people who'd won the lottery and found that a year after they'd hit the jackpot, they were no happier than the people who didn't. They called it hedonic adaptation, which suggests that we each have a baseline level of happiness. No matter what happens, good or bad, the effect on our happiness is only temporary and we tend to rebound to our baseline level. Some people have a higher baseline happiness level than others, and that can be attributed in part to genetics, but it's also largely influenced by how you think.[1] So while the remainder of this article will help boost your happiness, only improving your attitude towards life will increase your happiness permanently. Here are some excellent starting points for doing that:

  2. Follow your gut. In one study, two groups of people were asked to pick out a poster to take home. One group was asked to analyze their decision carefully, weighing the pros and cons, and the other group was told to listen to their gut. Two weeks later, the group that followed their gut was happier with their posters than the group that analyzed their decisions.[2] Now, some of our decisions are more crucial than picking out posters, but by the time you're poring over your choice, the options you're weighing are probably very similar, and the difference will only temporarily affect your happiness. So next time you have a decision to make, and you're down to two or three options, just pick the one that feels right, and go with it.

  3. Make enough money to meet your basic needs: food, shelter, and clothing. In the US, that magic number is $40,000 a year. Any money you make beyond that will have negligible effects on your happiness. Remember the lottery winners mentioned earlier? Oodles of money didn't make them any happier, and it won't make you any happier. Once you make enough money to support your basic needs, your happiness is not significantly affected by how much money you make, but by your level of optimism.[3]
    • Your comfort may increase with your salary, but comfort isn't what makes people happy. It makes people bored. That's why it's important to push beyond your comfort zone to fuel your growth as a person.
    • Don't assume you're the exception, as in "Sure they didn't use their lottery money wisely, but if I won it, I'm spend it differently, and it'd definitely make me happier." Part of the reason many people are unhappy is because they don't think research-based advice about happiness applies to them, and they continue chasing more money and achievement and material goods in vain.[4]

  4. Stay close to friends and family. Or move to where other members are- so you can see them more. We live in a mobile society, where people follow jobs around the country and sometimes around the world. We do this because we think increases in salary will make us happier, but the fact is that our relationships with our friends and family have a far greater impact on our happiness than our jobs do. So next time you think about relocating, consider moving back to your childhood area of the country to spend time with your siblings and aging parents, before it is too late. [5]
  5. Stop expecting your job to make you happy. Many people expect the right job or the right career to dramatically change their level of happiness, but happiness research makes it clear that your level of optimism and the quality of your relationships eclipse the satisfaction you gain from your job.[6] If you have a positive outlook, you'll make the best of any job, and if you have good relationships with people, you won't depend on your job to give your life a greater sense of meaning. You'll find it in your interactions with the people you care about. Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't aspire towards a job that'll make you happier; it means you should understand that the capacity of your job to make you happy is quite small in comparison to your outlook on life and your relationships with people.
  6. Engage in making the little moments special: Research indicates that when you smile, whether you feel happy or not, your mood will be elevated. When we smile at others, we pass on our mood to to the people we smile at. With this in mind, it is important to consider the implications for happiness that the very act of smiling at another in passing has on not only our psyche, but that of the larger good. More importantly, when we smile at another, it shouldn't be with the expectation of having a smile in return. Sometimes the people we are smiling at who don't return the gesture may be the ones who need the smile the most. Just the act of doing something positive -- sharing a smile -- is enough to send our endorphins in the right direction, regardless of the response.
  7. Keep yourself preoccupied with healthy people, healthy places, and healthy activities. Healthy environments include the local gym, the library and book stores, museums and cultural places. Making good decisions for oneself has significant implications for the eventual outcome of happiness.
  8. Consider an anti-depressant: If you are seriously ill and have been thinking about taking your own life or have been seriously depressed for some time, an anti-depressant might be beneficial in returning your life to a healthy balance. Anti-depressants could also be taken in conjunction with herbal medicines, although medical advice should be sought in these cases. Saint John's Wort is an herbal medicine that might help alleviate some symptoms, but should be used cautiously, due to potential adverse impacts. B-100 vitamins are another natural way to elevate the mood, and should be considered as a daily supplement for better overall health.
  9. See the best in others: When we strive to look at the best in others, we end up seeing the best in ourselves. Shortcomings in others can be met with compassion and understanding, which removes any resentment or disdain that might otherwise surface. When we look at others with a healthy sense of acceptance, love, and compassion, we find that our moods naturally elevate to a higher level of happiness. Author of "Wealth" Kirby Thibeault suggests that we see what we feel and think. When we see the beauty in all others, the beauty within ourselves becomes more apparent.


Now you know how to be happy,this video will show you how to make others happy.


  • Just because something seems to make other people happy doesn't mean that it really does. People are very good at pretending they're happy, especially when they've invested so much into the things that are supposed to make them happy; it's hard to admit that you've been placing all your eggs in the wrong basket.
  • Sport. It makes you healthy and boosts your self-esteem. It also gives you endorphins (hormones of happiness).
  • Hobby. Have a hobby. This could be everything from playing a guitar to collecting stamps.
  • Self-actualization, goal, meaning. Have goals in life, evolve as a personality, have a purpose.
  • Helping someone else is a good way to feel better. It reminds you that things could be worse, and it gives you something to take satisfaction and pride in. Look for opportunities to make someone else's life better, and you end up making your own better at the same time.
  • Happiness can be effected by nutrition or sickness. Make sure you're getting all the essential vitamins and minerals and eating a well balanced diet. Also, make sure you're getting the correct amount of sleep.
  • Be brave. Even if others might think you're crazy to give up that high paying job, the hot bf/gf for the less hot one ... give up the stuff you have that you don't really want, and go for the things you do want.
  • Be prepared for a new effort to take a while to pay off. You may think 'hey, I did this to be happy, but it hurts!' (exercise, new job, moving, etc.). Change takes time to manifest itself in long term gain. Be patient, knowing if nothing else, you're going to have good stories out of it, stories you can use making new friends.


  • Happy people aren't happy all the time. Everyone has times when they feel sad, frustrated, guilty, angry and so on. Happy people are just better at bouncing back to a state of contentedness. We may all feel negative at some moment in our lives, but try to bounce back and live in the moment, and be content with everything you do.
  • Large amounts of alcohol can cause sickness, coma, or, in some cases, death. Long term use of alcohol can be detrimental to the liver.
  • Problems with blood sugar can cause inner frustration and unhappiness. A healthy diet will absolutely contribute to overall mental well being, which allows one to feel happy more often.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations


  2. The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson





Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Be Happy. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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How to Take Sharp Photographs

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Perfectly sharp images are what many photographers want and strive for. A blurry shot will look mediocre compared to one that is sharp, no matter how spectacular the subject matter is. Fret not. It's easy to get up and start taking pictures; it doesn't take much work to get those clear, sharp photographs you've been hoping for, either. It takes just a little familiarity with some technical trivia.


  1. Avoid camera shake. Watch your shutter speed. As a general rule, you should not allow this to fall to a speed slower than the reciprocal of your 35mm equivalent focal length. However, if you're using digital (or are willing to use your film up a bit quicker), you can try taking several shots in succession and hopefully one will have a satisfying level of sharpness.
    • Turn on vibration reduction (also called "image stabilization", depending on the manufacturer), if you have it. When VR/IS is on, the lens element(s) or image sensor move so that the image stays in place when projected onto the sensor. As a result, camera motion is less likely to affect the sharpness of your photographs. Turn it on whenever the lighting conditions makes getting a sharp picture difficult. Keep it off when you're shooting on a tripod; it isn't needed and actually makes your photographs less sharp.
    • Use a shorter lens (or zoom out) and get closer. Remember that, according to the reciprocal rule of photography, reducing your focal length will give you less camera shake at any given shutter speed. Additionally, when you're using a variable-aperture zoom, you can often use a larger aperture with shorter focal lengths. Furthermore, getting closer might force you to be more creative when framing the picture.
    • Use a tripod or a monopod as a last resort. If you're using an SLR and find yourself with so little light that you have no choice but to use long exposures, you might want to invest in a remote release cable. If your camera has a mirror lock-up (also called exposure delay mode), use it; this will stop the vibration from the mirror from affecting your images. Check your camera's manual to see what it's called. Mirror lock-up has two definitions; the other definition refers to when the mirrors and shutters move out of the way after you click the shutter button so that you can clean the image sensor without the sensor being active. If your camera doesn't have mirror lock-up, you can use the self timer.

  2. Set your aperture wisely. Most lenses are sharpest two or three stops faster than the minimum aperture (usually around f/8 or f/11).
    • Don't shoot your lens at its widest aperture unless that's the effect you're looking for if you can avoid it. Nearly all camera lenses are noticeably softer wide-open than they are stopped down a little. What's more, on fast lenses (and especially on telephotos, which magnify any defocus there is), your depth of field will be so shallow that even the tiniest movement after the focus is locked will cause the subject to be out of focus.
    • Don't shoot at your smallest aperture either. All lenses are inherently softer at smaller apertures due to diffraction effects. If you don't need the depth of field, then don't stop down below f/8 or so on modern digital SLRs.[1] Using smaller apertures will force longer shutter speeds, too, which will increase the risk of camera shake causing your photos to be unsharp.(With that said, if it's a choice between necessary depth of field and diffraction, then you might choose to err on the side of diffraction over defocus. Diffraction is a relatively simple phenomenon compared to defocus, and it might be easier to correct later on in software. Defocus is not; it'll differ on the same lens depending on aperture and subject distance, and varies again from lens to lens.) If you need to stop down because you want a longer exposure, purchase an ND filter.

  3. Watch out for focus misses. This can be caused by either human error (you) or camera error.
    • Use your focusing aids, if you're focusing manually. Go through your camera's manual to find out how to focus manually with a focus aid. Some autofocus cameras will give you an audible or visible focus confirmation when the subject is in focus; use it. Otherwise, if you find yourself focusing manually on autofocus cameras, you may want to install a manual focusing screen for it, like the Haoda Screen.
    • Make sure your autofocus is not missing. Some combinations of lenses and cameras do this, for reasons probably best known to the people who make them. Try it out; if you get consistent focus misses on a known good lens then you should return your camera for servicing.
    • Use your AF lock. If your subject doesn't fall under an autofocus point, select the AF point nearest to your subject, move the point over the subject, lock autofocus, and reframe. Keep in mind, however, that locking the autofocus also locks the auto-exposure. If so, you may have to use exposure compensation.
    • Get your rangefinder calibrated, if you're using a rangefinder camera. These often fall out of calibration after a while.

  4. Watch your ISO speed on digital cameras. Most digital cameras apply more noise reduction at higher ISO speeds; sometimes this smears subtle textures and makes pictures look less sharp than they are. Turn off noise reduction if it affects the sharpness of your pictures. Don't shoot at high ISO speeds in daylight. If you have a top-end DSLR (like the Nikon D3 or Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III), you don't have to worry about the ISO speed.
  5. Use the Continuous Shooting mode. The camera will move slightly as your finger overcomes the resistance of pressing the shutter button. Also, if you have a DSLR camera, the movement of the mirrors in the body will add to camera shake. You can avoid some of this by using the Continuous Shooting mode available on your camera. This mode will take images as long as the shutter button is held down. In addition to avoiding camera shake from the initial button press, you will also have a choice of which image is best.
  6. Use your "Unsharp Mask" plugin in Photoshop, GIMP, or your favourite image editor. This won't make up for poor focus, camera shake or the spherical aberration that often comes with shooting lenses wide open (these are all way too complex phenomena to correct this way), but it will give it a bit of a sharpness "kick". Use a small radius (perhaps a pixel or less) and a large amount. If you're clever with layer masks, do this selectively so that only the parts that merit your viewer's attention are extra-sharp (hint: gaussian blur your layer mask with a very large radius).


  • If you must buy a new lens, and this article rightly assumes that most lenses are sharp enough when used properly, then consider going for a prime lens (lens with a fixed focal length, meaning you cannot zoom). Lenses like 50mm f/1.8 on a cropped sensor camera are popular, cheap, sharp, and great for portraits. Normal lenses (50mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera) are useful in a wide range of situations. On the cheaper Nikon and Canon DSLRs, a normal lens has a focal length of about 35mm. Primes tend to be sharper, cheaper, and faster (you can use a faster shutter speed). But don't buy another lens to make your pictures sharper unless you've played with all the things mentioned.
  • Many web browsers display images at 100% resolution, so you can open an image with your web browser if you want to view it at 100%.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. You may want to refer to Ken Rockwell's page on selecting the sharpest aperture, especially if you do need that extra depth of field.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Take Sharp Photographs. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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tax credits available for child care

Many parents who work or are looking for work must arrange for care of their children under 13 years of age during the school vacation.

Here are five facts the IRS wants you to know about a tax credit available for child care expenses. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is available for expenses incurred during the lazy hazy days of summer and throughout the rest of the year.

1) The cost of day camp can count as an expense towards the child and dependent care credit.

2) Expenses for overnight camps do not qualify.

3) If your childcare provider is a sitter at your home or a daycare facility outside the home, you'll get some tax benefit if you qualify for the credit.

4) The actual credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your income.

5) You may use up to $3,000 of the unreimbursed expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.

For more information, including rules for claiming this credit for your spouse or a dependent age 13 or over who is not able to care for himself or herself, check out IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. This publication is available on the IRS Web site, or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Testing Well Water?

Well Water Should be Tested Annually to Reduce Health Risks to Children

Private well water should be tested yearly, and in some cases more often, according to new guidance offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, took a lead role in working with the AAP to develop these recommendations and draft a new AAP policy statement about the things parents should do if their children drink well water. The recommendations call for annual well testing, especially for nitrate and microorganisms such as coliform bacteria, which can indicate that sewage has contaminated the well. The recommendations point out circumstances when additional testing should occur, including testing when there is a new infant in the house or if the well is subjected to structural damage.

"Children are especially vulnerable to waterborne illnesses that may come from contaminated wells," said Walter J. Rogan, M.D., an epidemiologist at NIEHS and lead author on the policy statement and technical report that appears in the June issue of Pediatrics. The new policy statement, "Drinking Water from Private Wells and Risks to Children," offers recommendations for inspection, testing and remediation of wells providing drinking water for children.

"With few exceptions, well owners are responsible for their own wells," said Rogan. Private wells are not subject to federal regulations and are only minimally regulated by states. With proper care, well water is safe; however, wells can become contaminated by chemicals or pathogenic organisms.

Nitrate, which comes from sewage or fertilizer, is the most common contaminant in wells. The presence of nitrates can be a problem particularly for infants under three months who can not metabolize nitrate. Water with a nitrate concentration of more than 10 milligrams per liter should not be used to prepare infant formula or given to a child younger than one year. The policy statement suggests using bottled water for infants when nitrate contamination is detected, or when the source of drinking water is not known.

The policy statement and accompanying technical report point out that water contamination is inherently local, and that families with wells need to keep in contact with state and local health experts to determine what should be tested in their community. For example, some parts of the country may have arsenic, radon, salt intrusion or agricultural runoff that may get into the water supply.

"As people move out of urban and suburban areas into areas that are not reached by municipal water supplies, it is more important than ever that people know who to contact in their local health department to get information about local groundwater conditions," said N. Beth Ragan of NIEHS, who served as consultant on these reports. A compilation of state by state telephone and Web-based resources of local experts is included in the technical report. Approximately one-sixth of U.S. households now get their drinking water from private wells.

NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., says she is pleased that NIEHS researchers took the lead in writing this statement, and continue their longstanding liaisons with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop state-of-the-science technical reports that can have a direct impact on public health.

"This statement will be extremely useful to many audiences — especially pediatricians," Birnbaum said. "Pediatricians needed a one-stop shopping document that they can share with parents who have concerns about their children’s sources of drinking water."

The NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit our Web site at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26

On this day in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Population Distribution

41.2 million
Number of people who have some level of disability. They represent 15 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population 5 and older.

By age —

  • 6 percent of children 5 to 15 have disabilities.
  • 12 percent of people 16 to 64 have disabilities.
  • 41 percent of adults 65 and older have disabilities.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey <>

Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 14 percent of males.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey <>

Using or Needing Assistance

11 million
Number of disabled people 6 and older who need personal assistance with everyday activities. This group amounts to 4 percent of people in this age category. These activities include such tasks as getting around inside the home, taking a bath or shower, preparing meals and performing light housework.

3.3 million
Number of people 15 and older who use a wheelchair. Another 10.2 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or walker.

Specific Disabilities

1.8 million
Number of people 15 and older who report being unable to see printed words at all or were blind.

1 million
Number of people 15 and older who reported deafness or being unable to hear conversations at all.

2.5 million
Number of people 15 and older who have some difficulty having their speech understood by others. Of this number, 431,000 were unable to have their speech understood at all.

16.1 million
Number of people with limitations in cognitive functioning, or who have a mental or emotional illness that interferes with daily activities, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and mental retardation. This group comprises 7 percent of the population 15 and older. This included 8.4 million with one or more problems that interfere with daily activities, such as frequently being depressed or anxious, trouble getting along with others, trouble concentrating and trouble coping with stress.

On the Job

13.3 million
Number of 16- to 64-year-olds who reported a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed. They comprise 7 percent of the population this age.

Percentage of people 21 to 64 having some type of disability who were employed in the past year. The rate ranged from 75 percent of those with a nonsevere disability to 31 percent with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the employment rate is 84 percent for the same period.

Percent of people 21 to 64 with difficulty hearing that were employed. The corresponding percentage for those with difficulty seeing was 41 percent.

Percentage of people 21 to 64 with a nonsevere disability who work full time. This compares with 63 percent without a disability and 16 percent with a severe disability.

Income and Poverty

Median monthly earnings for people 21 to 64 with a nonsevere disability. This compares with $2,539 for those with no disability and $1,458 for those with a severe disability.

Median monthly earnings for people 21 to 64 with difficulty hearing. The corresponding figure for those with difficulty seeing was $1,932.

The poverty rate for people 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability. This compares with 27 percent for those with a severe disability and 9 percent of those without a disability.

Serving Our Nation

$28.2 billion
Amount of compensation veterans received for service-connected disabilities in fiscal year 2007.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009, Table 505 <>.


Percent of transit buses that were ADA lift- or ramp-equipped, as of 2006. This represents an increase from 61.7 percent in 1995.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009, Table 1075 <>.

Unless otherwise indicated, all the data are from the Americans with Disabilities: 2005 report at

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The 4th of July

The Fourth of July 2009

On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.

2.5 million
In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970

307 million
The nation’s population on this July Fourth.
Source: Population clock <>

Fourth of July Cookouts

More than 1 in 4
The chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.3 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2009. This represents more than one-fourth of the nation’s total. North Carolina (9.4 million) and Minnesota (7.3 million) were the runners-up.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

6.8 billion pounds
Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2007. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.7 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.1 billion pounds).
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

Number of states in which the revenue from broiler chickens was $1 billion or greater between December 2006 and November 2007. There is a good chance that one of these states — Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas — is the source of your barbecued chicken.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

About 4 in 10
The odds that your side dish of baked beans originated from North Dakota, which produced 39 percent of the nation’s dry, edible beans in 2008. Another popular Fourth of July side dish is corn on the cob. Florida, California, Georgia and New York together accounted for 61 percent of the sweet corn produced nationally in 2008.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

Please Pass the Potato Salad
Potato salad and potato chips are popular food items at Fourth of July barbecues. Half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2008.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

More than three-fourths
Amount of the nation’s head lettuce production in 2008 that came from California. This lettuce may end up in your salad or on your burger.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

More than 7 in 10
The chances that the fresh tomatoes in your salad came from California or Florida, which combined accounted for 71 percent of U.S. tomato production last year. The ketchup on your burger or hot dog probably came from California, which accounted for 96 percent of forecasted processed tomato production in 2008.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

The state that led the nation in watermelon production last year (861 million pounds). Other leading producers of this popular fruit included California, Texas and Georgia, each with more than 500 million pounds.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

78 million
Number of Americans who said they have taken part in a barbecue during the previous year. It’s probably safe to assume a lot of these events took place on Independence Day.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009, Table 1200 <>


$193 million
The value of fireworks imported from China in 2008, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($202 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $28.1 million in 2008, with Australia purchasing more than any other country ($5.8 million).
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <>

$17.3 billion
The value of U.S. manufacturers’ shipments of fireworks in 2002.
Source: 2002 Economic Census <>


$3.4 million
In 2008, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($3.0 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <>

Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2008. Belgium was the leading customer, purchasing $186,400 worth.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <>

$349.2 million
Annual dollar value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers, according to the latest published economic census data.
Source: 2002 Economic Census <>

Patriotic-Sounding Names

Number of places nationwide with “liberty” in their name. The most populous one as of July 1, 2007, is Liberty, Mo. (29,993). Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

  • Thirty-one places have “eagle” in their name — after the majestic bird that serves as our national symbol. (Places include cities, towns, villages and census-designated places.) The most populous such place is Eagle Pass, Texas, with 26,285 residents.
  • Eleven places have “independence” in their name. The most populous of these is Independence, Mo., with 110,704 residents.
  • Five places adopted the name “freedom.” Freedom, Calif., with 6,000 residents, has the largest population among these.
  • There is one place named “patriot” — Patriot, Ind., with a population of 190.
  • And what could be more fitting than spending the Fourth of July in a place called “America”? There are five such places in the country, with the most populous being American Fork, Utah, population 26,472.
Source: Population estimates <> and
American FactFinder <>

Back-to-School 300x250

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FREE Weekends at National Parks

The 147 National Park Service sites across the country that charge fees for entry will waive these entrance fees during the weekends of June 20-21, July 18-19, and August 15-16, 2009, Salazar said.
Meanwhile, many park partners including tour operators, hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and other vendors will offer additional discounts and special promotions on those dates. More information on the fees and discounts can be found at .

Visiting Ohio for the first time as Secretary, Salazar also highlighted the $23 million the department is investing in the Buckeye State under President Obama’s economic recovery plan. This includes more than $7 million at Cuyahoga Valley National Park to repair the park’s historic railroad and tackle deferred maintenance projects that have been on the shelf for years.

“The investment we are making in Ohio will create jobs,” he said. “For example, here at Cuyahoga, we are improving a park that already attracts two and a half million people a year, pumps $38 million annually into the local economy and supports 1,000 jobs.”

Most Americans live less than a day’s drive from a park, the Secretary noted. Nationwide, parks last year attracted more than 275 million recreation visits. Spending by non-local visitor provided $10.6 billion for local economies, supporting more than 213,000 jobs, not counting National Park Service jobs.

“Tourism income helps America’s economic recovery,” Salazar said. “National park sites in the Great Lakes states, for example, attract 8 million recreation visits a year that bring $211 million into the local economies. Spending by visitors from out of the area supports 4,400 local jobs. So these areas need to maintain and expand this vital tourism.”

The entrance fees being waived at the 147 sites that usually charge for admission range from $3 to $25. The 244 other parks do not charge entrance fees. The waiver does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors—such as fees charged for camping, reservations, tours and use of concessions.

The National Park Service website provides information to help the public plan their park adventures at
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Getting Robocalls Promising to Lower Their Credit Card Interest Rate

BBB warns Consumers of Robocalls Promising to Lower Their Credit Card Interest Rate

Not only are the calls a nuisance and violate U.S. and Canadian Do-Not-Call laws, but some companies behind the calls are ripping off consumers by charging large up-front fees to negotiate lower interest rates with credit card companies—something consumers can do on their own for free.

According to figures cited by the White House in January, credit-card debt increased 25 percent in the past 10 years, totaling $963 billion – with per household credit card debt at nearly $9,000 now. Knowing that so many families are drowning in debt, telemarketers offering suspect financial assistance are taking full advantage of the situation. Consumers have reported receiving calls as early as three in the morning and on both their cell and home phones even when they have registered the numbers with federal Do-Not-Call lists. Consumers also tell BBB that, despite their requests to the telemarketers to stop calling, the calls continue to come.

“Similar to telemarketing calls claiming your auto warranty is expiring, calls offering to lower credit card interest rates also seem to have complete disregard for federal laws,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “These telemarketers are not forthcoming about the company they’re calling on behalf of, but BBB has identified some offenders by working with consumers who, unfortunately, paid for assistance in reducing their interest rate.”

“Cell phone spam may not be the biggest problem we have to deal with, but we got the FTC to shut down the car-warranty robocalls and now it’s time they shut down the other robocallers as well,” Schumer said. “These calls cost consumers hundreds in wasted cell phone minutes or much, much more if they get caught in the trap being laid by these unscrupulous companies. The perpetrators behind the credit card interest rate calls have also found a way around the Do Not Call List. The FTC has to track them down and then shut them down to put an end to this nuisance once and for all.”

BBB has received numerous complaints about two Orlando-based companies, CSTR Solutions, Inc. and Genesis Capital Management, and one Tacoma-based company, Mutual Consolidated Savings. All are behind at least some of the robocalls and are promising to save people anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000 by negotiating lower interest rates with credit card companies.

Robocalls generally begin with recorded messages that include statements like: “There are no problems currently with your account, however it is urgent that you contact us concerning your eligibility for lowering your interest rates to as little as 6 point 9 per cent.” or, “This is our final attempt to reach you since you've not responded to our other calls to discuss your credit card debt.” The automated message invariably does not include the name of the company, but may claim to be with Card Services or Card Holder Services. Complainants note to BBB that they now believe the calls were designed to deceive them into thinking their credit card company was contacting them.

After the initial recorded message, consumers must dial another number to be connected to a live person. The live “operator” usually starts the sales pitch by asking for the consumer’s credit card number and whether the consumer is interested in lowering their interest rates. From there, callers begin closing the sale, asking if the consumer is willing to pay – usually from $700 to $1,000 - to have their firm contact the credit card company and negotiate lower rates.

“The ‘negotiation’ undertaken by these companies can be as simple as calling the customer service number listed on the back of the consumer’s credit card and asking a customer service representative to lower the interest rate,” added Cox. “Consumers are fully capable of talking to credit card companies on their own, for free, and getting similar results. Consumers simply don’t need to pay any company a thousand dollars to negotiate lower rates on their behalf.”

According to BBB complaints, companies are failing to uphold money-back guarantees and not refunding money in cases where they are unsuccessful in lowering rates.

BBB offers the following advice for consumers who receive robocalls from companies offering to lower their interest rate:

• Never give personal information, including Social Security, bank or credit card numbers, over the phone to an unknown telemarketer. Always research the company first by reviewing its Reliability Report at

• When considering any company offering any type of financial assistance, insist on getting a contract in which all terms and conditions are clearly explained before signing up or providing credit card or other payment information.

• U.S. consumers can place their home phone number on the federal Do Not Call list by visiting If the consumer’s number is already on the list but continues to receive telemarketing calls—or is receiving robocalls on a cell phone—he or she can use the same Web site to report the incident to the FTC. Canadian consumers can learn more at

For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Alison Southwick at 703-247-9376.

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How to Grill Steak

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Nothing beats a perfectly done steak grilled straight from your backyard. The key to making the best steaks in the world is how you cook it. The steaks should be perfectly seasoned to fit your discriminating taste.


  1. Choose a nice cut of steak from the butcher or local supermarket; cuts from the tenderloin or rib are best. Excellent cuts include T-bone, rib eye, club, porterhouse, N.Y. Strip, Chateaubriand, and filet mignon. Choose the best grade you can afford: In the USA, that is: Prime (best), Choice (very good), Select (average). Prime grade can be difficult to find, so call several butchers to locate. Be prepared to pay at least USD$15 to USD$25 per pound for Prime. Aged Prime is superior, but aged meats aren't for everyone.
  2. Remove steak from refrigerator about 90 minutes before cooking. The steak should be at room temperature before it touches the grill.
  3. Peel a clove of garlic and crush lightly to release juices.
  4. Rub crushed garlic clove onto all sides of the steak.
  5. Coat each side of the steak with fresh ground black pepper and salt. Gently press spices into the flesh.
  6. For inexpensive cuts, squeeze the juice of half a lemon or lime on both sides of the steak. It may also be necessary to brush some corn or vegetable oil on the steak to prevent it from sticking to the grill. This will help tenderize the tougher steaks.
  7. A marinade can help less tender cuts, such as flank. It can improve the taste and tenderize select grade steaks as well.
  8. Do not marinate aged choice or prime beef, or you will ruin the steak!
  9. Preheat gas grill on high for 10 to 20 minutes. If you pay close attention, you will not overcook your steak. Be prepared to douse flare-ups with water.
  10. Grill steak on high for four minutes with lid closed. The key to a great steak is very high heat, so make sure your grill is on the highest setting possible.
  11. Flip steak using tongs or spatula, do not use a fork as you will lose juices.
  12. Grill on high for another four minutes with lid closed. Your steak will be about medium rare, depending on thickness.
  13. Remove steak from grill and immediately place on a warmed platter.
  14. Allow steak to rest for a full five minutes before cutting. This allows the juices and full flavors to develop.


In this video from the Summer Kitchen, learn how to prepare a delicious Tuscan T-bone steak: an easy recipe you can make on the grill.

Alternate Method

  1. Use these ingredients instead: Fresh ground pepper, salt, lime, beer, flank or skirt steak, and chili powder. Feel free to add more spices depending on your preference and taste.
  2. Transfer beer into a bowl (big enough to contain the steak and marinade so that the marinade covers enough of the meat to tenderize it) and season it with chili powder.
  3. Get half of the lime, squeeze some to the marinade sauce.
  4. Soak the beef in the marinade for around 30 minutes inside a refrigerator.
  5. Before setting it off to be grilled, give the steak a good rubbing of fresh ground pepper and salt.
  6. Let the steak sit in a prepared sauce some 20 minutes or even as long as 6 hours. This would ensure that all the good flavors of the ingredients would be absorbed by the meat.


  • Keep some freshly prepared marinade on the side if you're going to apply while cooking - Never allow marinade that has come in contact with raw meat to be applied during cooking - it not only increases unhealthy bacteria, but also tends to destroy the flavor of a good cut of meat.
  • If you have a small brush, apply the extra marinade from dish to steak while cooking or brush your steak with your favorite HP or Teriyaki sauce while cooking.
  • How do you know when your steak is done? Here are some tips using a 1" cut of meat as an example...
    • Rare (all red in the middle) 120-125 degrees, feels roughly like the flesh between the thumb and the forefinger of a relaxed hand
    • Medium Rare (all pink in the middle - but only the middle!) 125-140 degrees
    • Medium / Medium Well (some pink in the middle/mostly gray) 145-155 degrees, feels roughly like the flesh between the thumb and the forefinger of a straightened hand
    • Well Done (no pink), >160 degrees, feels roughly like the flesh between the thumb and the forefinger of a clenched hand

  • Fool-proof method for getting perfect medium steaks: Leave the steak to cook on one side (do not touch!). When you see blood rising on the upper side turn over and cook the other side for almost as long as the first side.
  • In a shallow dish, mix the following:
    • 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup of soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
    • freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard or chili sauce
    • spices (i.e. 1 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp cilantro)
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar and beer to taste
    Marinate the steak for at least 3 hours to a full 24 hours. Note: do not do this for tender cuts like rib eye.


  • Do not overcook steak.
  • Optionally preheat for 5 minutes on high, all burners. Open grill and leave all burners on high! Add steak. Close grill lid. Cook on first side, depending on steak thickness and desired style (med rare, med, well) for 4 minutes, flip, and cook on the other side for 4 minutes.
  • Never, ever poke holes in your steak. It will lose valuable juices.

Things You'll Need

  • Steak - 100% Canadian "AAA" Beef if available, or USDA Prime or Choice U.S. beef or well trimmed Black Angus
  • Garlic Clove
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Soy sauce or Teriyaki sauce
  • A Lemon or Lime
  • Dijon mustard or Chili sauce
  • Spices: Cumin, Cilantro, Salt, and Pepper
  • Brown sugar
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Black Pepper

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Grill Steak. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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How to Barbecue Safely

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Barbecued food is delicious and a key part of an outdoor lifestyle. And just like any form of cooking, it is important to follow good food preparation practices. This article provides some pointers on safe barbecuing.


Barbecue Food
  1. Keep food cool. It is important to keep the food refrigerated until you cook it. This means that it is better to barbecue in batches rather than leaving meat and other barbecue foods sitting out waiting in the open, uncooked. Bring each new batch for cooking direct from the fridge to the barbecue every time it is ready to be cooked.
  2. Cover food. Cover the cooked food to keep the insects landing on it.
  3. Cook thoroughly. Ensure that all meats are cooked through. In particular, ensure that pork and chicken are properly cooked. It can be a little deceptive sometimes to see a charred outer casing of the meat, only to have uncooked flesh inside. Follow the cooking times suggested for each meat type.
  4. Keep foods separated during preparation. It is important that you keep raw foods and cooked foods apart from each other. In particular, raw poultry, raw pork and raw eggs should be handled very carefully on separate boards or workspaces and kept on separate dishes in readiness for cooking. Always clean preparation areas and items thoroughly before using with other food.

Barbecue Area
  1. Be well lit. At night time, don't barbecue in the dark. It is important to be able to see what you are doing. Keep the area well lit; if necessary, bring out a cord and floodlight, making sure to hang up or tape down the cord so that nobody trips over it as they walk around. The light will ensure that you do not burn items, that you can tell when they are adequately cooked and that you do not burn yourself by misjudging where to place your hands and utensils.
  2. Keep the barbecue area safe. If you have small children or children are coming as guests, ensure that they cannot reach the barbecue area, or if they can, that there is always somewhere there to supervise and tell the children to move away.
  3. Keep pets away. Pets near the barbecue can be a hazard. You may trip over them and an over-enthusiastic pet might try to grab a free meal of the the grill and get burnt in the process.

  1. Stay with a cooking barbecue. During ignition and cooking, always remain with a barbecue. If you need to leave it, have a guest watch over it in your absence. A barbecue should never be left unattended; fat may catch on fire and spark outwards, a child might wander over and touch the hot elements or the food may burn.
  2. Get the tools right. The right tools are barbecue tools. They have longer handles, longer tongs or tines and they enable you to move the food about with the least potential for harm to either yourself or the food by ensuring better grip and dexterity. Don't be stingy on this; the results of owning good barbecue tools will definitely outweigh any costs.

  1. Use only the appropriate fuel. Use the fuel that is recommended by the manufacturer only. If you try to substitute with another type of fuel, you may risk damaging the barbecue or causing a fire or melt down of the barbecue.
  2. Clean regularly. A clean barbecue will function better and is healthier for you. An unclean barbecue will increase the potential for carcinogenic build-up to enter your food. Always clean after a barbecue and it'll be easier and you'll be less tempted to barbecue over the burnt on bits that way!


This video will show you some tips on barbecuing safely.


  • If you have vegetarian guests, it is helpful to use a different part of the barbecue to prepare their food and to avoid contact with meat items. Many barbecues come with special vegetable compartments nowadays, like the one shown in the photograph heading this article. Another great alternative is to purchase a Japanese hibachi barbecue just for the vegetarian items and to located this on a table next to the main barbecue. These are cheap and very easy to use and you can easily cook both foods at the same time, or ask the veggie guests to help out with their good.


  • It is prudent to keep a fire blanket or fire extinguisher in close proximity to a barbecue; alert any guests helping out as to its whereabouts should the unthinkable happen.
  • Always read the manufacturer's instructions before using a barbecue. They are provided for a reason and the safety precautions are important.

Things You'll Need

  • Barbecue
  • Good, safe, well-lit location for barbecue
  • Appropriate barbecue tools

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Barbecue Safely. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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