Tag Archives: Did You Know

Don’t Let Your Personal Data End up on the Dark Web

By StatePoint

Consumers today give out personal information all the time — from shopping online to signing up for special promotional offers to filling out job applications.

However, there are millions of identity theft victims each year, and when your information is stolen by a cyber-criminal, it will likely be sold on the dark web. Your social security number, for example, could be sold for as little as $1, according to Experian, one of the nation’s three credit bureaus. The end result is that criminals can open a credit card account in your name, steal your tax return, try to hack into your financial accounts and conduct other malicious activities.

The Dark What?

The dark web is a mystery to many. Only one in four people know what it is and what it’s used for, according to the Experian Cybersecurity Survey. It essentially allows criminals to conduct illegal activities in the deepest pockets of the Internet, undetected.

For identity thieves, the dark web is a marketplace for personal information, including phone numbers, email addresses, account passwords and social security numbers that can be used to commit identity theft and fraud.

While it’s doubtful that your local dry cleaner or gym will be targeted by an identity thief, any database is attractive to a cyber-criminal. Companies can also be victims of rogue employees, and smaller operations have less security. It’s best to err on the side of caution when giving out personal information.

Better Manage Personal Data

“Having your personal information exposed can be a threat to your identity and financial future, but there are ways to take control,” says Brian Stack, vice president of Dark Web Intelligence at Experian. “In a digital world, all of us are at some risk for identity theft and fraud. One step to get peace of mind is enrolling in an identity theft protection product so you are notified if credit is opened in your name or your personal data is on the dark web.”

To proactively protect your identity, take the following key steps:

• Only provide personal information when it’s required.

• Change online account passwords periodically and use a unique password for each account.

• Never access the Internet with unsecured public Wi-Fi. Only use secured public Wi-Fi with a password for browsing — don’t shop or access accounts, including social media and email.

• To log into accounts, enable authentication questions as well as two-factor authentication when available (and don’t use real answers such as your mother’s actual maiden name).

• Several times per year, check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus for possible fraudulent accounts.

Wondering if there’s already cause for concern? Experian offers a free Dark Web Triple Scan that searches thousands of dark web pages, networks and forums for your phone number, email address and social security number. This scan will inform you if any of this information is on the dark web. Learn more at experian.com/triplescan.

Your daily routine doesn’t have to lead to a darkened outlook. Taking proactive steps can help you stay vigilant and offer you better protection.


Easy Ways to Boost Your Family’s Veggie Intake

By StatePoint

Nutritious, delicious and low-calorie, vegetables should be the star player of all your meals. But sometimes providing veggies for your family can be time consuming and costly. Luckily, there are a number of simple ways to boost your veggie intake, and it all starts in your grocery store’s freezer aisle.


  • Go frozen: Frozen vegetables are often one of the most affordable options and the quickest to prepare, reducing time spent slicing and dicing on busy weeknights. What’s more, by opting for frozen veggies, your family will likely reduce its food waste. Frozen vegetables are easy to store for long periods of time, and recent studies have found that freezing actually helps lock nutrients in.


  • Swap it out: Little ones and even some adults can be resistant to certain vegetables at first. But there are ways to incorporate them into family meals with no one the wiser. Consider cooking with vegetables that offer the look, feel and taste of traditional starches such as rice, pasta and potatoes. For example, Green Giant’s frozen Veggie Swap-Ins line, which includes Green Giant Riced Veggies, Green Giant Veggie Spirals and Green Giant Mashed Cauliflower are easy go-to items in any kitchen for quick family meals. Indeed, 52 percent of American consumers who noted they had purchased Green Giant Swap-Ins products within three months of taking the survey, said they have introduced the product into their kids’ meals without their kids knowing they weren’t traditional potatoes, rice and/or pasta, and 49 percent admit to swapping these items for potatoes, rice and pasta 1-2 times per week.


  • Be mindful: Dining out can be especially tricky territory for those looking to eat more vegetables. Be mindful of what you order. Read the menu carefully and ask questions. Many restaurants are happy to make substitutions to accommodate your preferences. For example, see if you can replace a side of fries with a garden salad or sautéed seasonal vegetables like green beans.


  • Get creative: Whether you’re hosting a barbecue, attending a potluck or simply making your family dinner, consider reducing calories in salads and sides by upping your vegetable intake in these dishes. Make an Italian pasta salad out of zucchini or carrot spirals. Swap out traditional rice with riced cauliflower to make a simple pilaf. Create a tasty alternative to traditional potato tots with such products as Green Giant Veggie Tots. The possibilities are endless.


Are you looking to simplify your family’s clean-eating routine and increase your vegetable intake? With a few tips and tricks, you can incorporate broccoli, beets, squash and more into your family’s diet while saving time and money in the process.

Plastics in Water, From Your Cup to the Oceans: What to Know

By StatePoint


You may not realize it, but there’s a lot of plastics in water — both in the water you drink, as well as in rivers, lakes and oceans.


Know the Problem


According to recent investigations by Orb Media, 90 percent of bottled water and 83 percent of tap water is contaminated with microplastics. These small pieces of plastic can’t always be seen by the naked eye, but they’re harmful to human health.


What’s more, according to the United Nations Environment Program, only one in five single-use plastic water bottles is recycled, meaning 80 percent end up in the environment, contributing to the 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of earth’s oceans. Each year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter oceans, adding to the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate marine environments, according to Ocean Conservancy.


You can take action to protect your health and the environment from harmful plastics. Here’s how:


Filter Your Water


Start by ensuring that the water you and your family drinks is both healthy and safe. Using a water filtration system can help eliminate harmful microplastics present in your drinking water and minimize the need for single-use plastic bottles and pollution. Note: Not all water filters remove microplastics, so knowing which filters address this issue is important as you make a decision.


Water filtration products from LifeStraw, for example, remove chemicals, bacteria, odors, bad taste and 99.999 percent of microplastics from contaminated water, enabling access to safe drinking water on-demand nearly anywhere. This is higher protection than the standard carbon-based filters that are available on the market.


The brand offers several designs, including portable models suitable for travelers, kids, groups, natural disaster victims and anyone seeking an easy way to make their water safer, and are available for purchase at LifeStraw.com, sporting goods stores as well as Walmart, Target and Amazon . The lifespan of most LifeStraw filters is equal to 8,000 single-use plastic water bottles, and for every product purchased, a child in need receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.


Shop Responsibly


Another way to effect change?


Make sure the brands you support are engaging in responsible business practices to reduce waste.


Avoid single use-plastic water bottles when possible and avoid products with high levels of plastic packaging. Try re-usable storage bags or items made of compostable material. Shop with brands that support cleanups, like United by Blue, a sustainable apparel brand that removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product purchased. Or check out groups that post responsible, plastic-free buying guides like 5 Gyres.


To improve your family’s wellness and protect the planet, think water. Avoid consuming microplastics, invest in filtration, and prevent more plastic from contaminating our oceans and environment by shopping responsibly and supporting brands that share these values.

Is What You Learned in History Class Wrong?

By StatePoint

If you think your history lessons in school were completely factual, you may be mistaken.

“Much of what you know about history may be limited or even wrong,” says Marc Wilson, author of “Kidnapped by Columbus,” a new historical novel. “All too often, legends, poems and myths are emphasized in favor of more complex truths. History is usually written by the victors, not the victims.”

What that in mind, here are four historical facts that may surprise you.

Columbus a Kidnapper

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue,” says the famous poem that most Americans know. But Columbus never landed on or even saw North America, and when he sailed in the Caribbean and along the coast of Central and South America, he kidnapped natives to act as guides in his search for gold and the Garden of Eden.

At the end of his first voyage, he kidnapped six natives from the island of Hispaniola and took the “Indians” to Spain to prove that he’d reached India. Native Americans have been mislabeled as “Indians” ever since.

“While many around the world hail Columbus as a hero, even honoring him with a U.S. federal holiday and naming cities after him, his actions led to the exploitation and deaths of millions of people. He was a great sailor and explorer, but he traded in slaves and brought devastating diseases to the New World. He opened the door for Cortez to conquer the Aztec Empire, and for Pizarro to conquer the Inca Empire,” Wilson adds.

Washington’s Cherry Tree

As the myth goes, young George Washington couldn’t tell a lie and confessed to his father that he damaged his cherry tree. However, one of his biographers, Mason Locke Weems, had no such problems with the truth and invented this whopper in the fifth edition of his Washington biography, entitled “The Life of Washington” in 1806.

And Washington never wore wooden dentures, either. He had different dentures made from gold, ivory and even lead.

Napoleon: Not Short

Napoleon wasn’t actually short. At the end of his life he was measured at 5 feet 2 inches — which sounds short until you learn this was in French inches, which are longer than British inches. In today’s inches, the fiery tyrant actually stood around 5 feet, 7 inches, which was slightly taller than the average European man of his day. He also employed tall soldiers in his personal guard, which made him seem shorter by comparison.

Jackie Robinson: Not First

Jackie Robinson was not the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues. While he was the first in the modern era, breaking into the National League in 1947, way back in 1884, Moses Fleetwood Walker played for the Toledo Blue Stockings as catcher. The team was part of the American Association, one of three major leagues of its day. Baseball maintained segregation for many decades after this and Robinson became the first player to end this segregation in April, 1947.

So, how can those interested in history go about arriving at the truth? From, historical novels to primary source materials, reading beyond the textbook can give you a more complete and accurate history.

Getting Girls Interested in STEAM Subjects

By StatePoint

Science, art and math are becoming increasingly important school subjects to embrace. Here are five ways to ensure your girls get interested and stay interested in these critical subjects through the years.

  1. Get involved early. Setting a foundation of math, science and the arts is essential to getting young children, especially girls, interested in continued learning. Encourage them from a young age to participate in hands-on science, arts and math activities, and those with an interest or aptitude in these subjects will continue to pursue these paths as they learn and grow.
  2. Find practical applications. Science, art and math are an integral part of everyday life. Finding the practical applications as you go about your day, demonstrates for children of all ages how important these subjects really are in life. Use the weather report as an opportunity to discuss meteorology. Bake with your daughter and work on figuring out measurements for doubling recipes. On the road? Have your daughter calculate the distance from your current location to your destination, as well as the amount of gasoline you’ll need to get there. Seeing math, science, and art in the world will help keep kids engaged.
  3. Provide intuitive tools. Intuitive learning tools can foster a better understanding of a subject and make learning easier, encouraging students to continue their studies with enthusiasm. For example, Casio’s fx-CG50 PRIZM Graphing Calculator will support students and educators of math through middle school and high school, and into college. With Natural Textbook Display and an intuitive icon-based menu, students will find the calculator easy-to-use. Plus, its brand new 3D Graph Drawing and improved catalog function allows for greater engagement and real-life application in the mathematics classroom.
  4. Encourage group and club participation. From outdoor education clubs that focus on environmental science to math competition leagues, support and encourage girls and young women to join special groups that focus on math, science and art — both in and out of school. For example, robotics clubs have been growing in communities across the nation and foster an understanding of key math and science functions.
  5. Make it fun. Get girls interested in science, math and the arts by making it fun and enjoyable. Kids won’t even realize they are learning if they are having a good time while doing so. For example, music students can try out the LK-265 keyboard from Casio, which includes a Dance Music Mode, letting musicians create and remix electronic dance music quickly and easily. Select from 50 styles of EDM, and use the lower keys to choose different variations of drum beats, bass lines, and synth parts. Its lighted keys show you how to play your favorite songs which users can download from MIDI files. Or, connect your device’s headphone output to the LK-265’s audio input, and explore an endless library of music.

By starting early and making it fun to integrate these key subjects into their daily lives, you can help girls develop a lifelong love of science, art and math, which can help them in school and, later, in the workplace.


Underage Consumers Are Affected by Phone Addiction

By Joel Chavez

Many teenagers are becoming addicted to their cell phones because they were exposed to a one at a very early age. Due to the phone addiction problem today many kids aren’t well versed in outdoor activities. Apple has announced that they will be partnering with experts to stop Smartphone addiction for children.

Kids are now being recognized for phone addiction. According to research, many teenagers aren’t very social with their peers because at least 50% of teenagers feel addicted to their phone and prefer to stay socialize by phone. Many children with an addiction to their phone have had their eyesight, sleep, and posture affected due to an early start of watching the screens of the electronic devices.

Children are learning how to use cell phones and are receiving their own at a younger age than ever before. Since teenagers have grown up in an era where cell phone use has been ingrained in them at such a vulnerable age, they are very susceptible to developing an addiction to their Smartphones and social media. Many children that are addicted to their phones spend less time playing outside with friends and attending after-school activities.

Apple has announced that they are working on new ways on protecting from Smartphone addiction. Apple started a panel with experts that will partner with other experts for further research and offering parents new tools and options. A spokesperson from Apple quoted “If there are grown-up apps that allow you to remotely start your car, watch for potential house break-ins and pick-out a great Cabernet, why can’t there be more functional apps to manage or monitor your kid’s device usage?”

According to Michael Bociurkiw, a reporter from CNN quoted, “I drew a gasp from the audience with some pretty scary research findings on children who utilize tablets at an early age. Two-year-olds using tablets are having problems concentrating; showing empathy and even have difficulty reading facial expressions. Depression and obesity are also being attributed to immersion in screens. Surprisingly the situation is especially acute among low-income families, where more than half of toddlers aged two are using Smartphones and tablets.”


Time to Take Charge: Tips for Women to Advance Their Careers

By StatePoint

As more women feel emboldened to raise their voices and fight for workplace issues that matter most to them — from equal pay and development opportunities to sexual harassment on the job — it’s important to both reflect on progress made and recognize there are many more milestones to be attained.


Only one-third of women feel they have as many or more opportunities than men at their current companies, according to a recent survey by Randstad US. And, 58 percent cited the lack of promotion to leadership roles as a top reason for gender inequality in the workplace.


If you are a working woman looking to advance, expand your responsibilities, or launch a new career, here are four tips that can help you achieve success.


  • Pursue mentorship opportunities. Having a mentor can create lasting value when working to become a leader. Mentors can be your support system, whether it’s providing encouragement to pursue growth opportunities or identifying blind spots and areas of improvement. Coming from experience, mentors can bring a wealth of knowledge to move you in the right direction.


  • Embrace failures. In your professional life, there will be successes and failures, good days and bad. Don’t allow one negative interaction or misstep to ruin your day, and don’t let fear prevent you from moving forward. However, you should briefly reflect to learn from failures: What made you miss that project deadline? Why did a presentation fall flat? Use these moments as opportunities to develop short- and long-term goals to overcome any potential barriers.


  • Step outside your comfort zone. Taking risks can lead to great rewards. While certain scenarios, such as initiating a conversation with your boss, can be daunting, it can also lead to stronger trust and a better relationship. In uneasy moments, such as public speaking, you have the opportunity to build self-esteem and strengthen underused skills. Every uncomfortable situation elicits something gained.


  • Own your professional growth. Ask your manager to assign you to projects in which you’ll have the opportunity to learn something new — whether it’s on your own through research, or through interaction with other team members and departments. Go beyond what’s asked of you by taking online courses and reading books (hint: your mentor can likely give you some recommendations). Lastly, make it apparent to your manager and colleagues that you are willing to contribute or lend a hand when needed. The bottom line: own your development. Don’t leave it in the hands of your employer.


If you’re a working woman, more tips and advice can be found at randstadusa.com.


“Invest in a plan and know where you want to go. Take steps toward people who will help you on your journey,” says Kristin Kelley, chief marketing officer, Randstad North America. “Meet as many people of influence as you can and stay top of mind with them. Ask for help when you need it — whether it be from managers, peers, sponsors or mentors — and drive those personal connections.”

Did You Know? All about Easter

Courtesy of Wilstar


This Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The date of celebration varies from March to April, and depends on the date of the March equinox. Christians worldwide gather for this major holiday for the religion to feast, attend church services, and hunt Easter eggs. Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent, which is a 40-day period of fasting and reflection. It follows Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

The story of Easter makes up a fundamental aspect of Christian theology. While Good Friday marks Jesus’ crucifixion, Easter Sunday is a day for Christians to celebrate his resurrection. Following Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, he was buried in a tomb. While the next part of the story varies according to different accounts, most follow the theme of female followers of Jesus going to visit the tomb and finding the stone rolled away from the opening with Jesus’s body missing. Jesus went on to appear to his followers several times before his ascension into heaven. The resurrection of Christ is an important part of Christian belief because of its association with salvation.

Christians started celebrating the tradition of Easter with a feast soon after the time period of the resurrection, which is believed to have occurred around 33 AD. The time of year was chosen for the celebration since Jesus celebrated the Passover shortly before his crucifixion and so the time is believed to be around the time of Jesus’ actual crucifixion. In medieval celebrations, congregations would walk in a procession after mass, following a priest holding a crucifix or candle.

Many Christians begin the celebration with an Easter Vigil the night before, sometimes called Easter Eve or Holy Saturday. Church services on Sunday typically follow regular church service tradition with a sermon or songs concerning the Easter story. Some churches hold mass or other services at sunrise. Other common Easter traditions include the Easter Egg Hunt and floral decorations.

The Easter egg hunt is a tradition that originated with pagan spring festivals that celebrated fertility. Like many pagan traditions, Christians intertwined the practice with religious significance. Easter egg hunts feature eggs hidden by the mythical Easter bunny, which may contain candy or other prizes. Hard-boiled eggs may also be used. The children will go looking for eggs to put in their Easter egg basket. On the day before Easter, many families decorate hard-boiled eggs with paint to use for the hunt. Eggs are also part of the tradition because of the ban on eggs during Lent in Medieval Europe, meaning they were often included in the Sunday feast.

Churches are often decorated with flowers. A significant theme for Easter is rebirth, which flowers can emulate and symbolize. Traditional Easter flowers include Easter Lilies, which are believed to have grown in the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of Jesus’ arrest. Other Easter flowers include daffodils, narcissuses, and red tulips, which symbolize Jesus’ shed blood.

In pagan celebrations, Easter was typically a celebration of fertility, and many cultures associated the celebration with the Germanic goddess of fertility, Eostre, which is where the holiday’s name came from. Some cultures called the holiday Ishtar, which celebrates the resurrection of the Tammuz, another pagan god.

The Easter Bunny is a result of folkloric tradition. Their association with the holiday comes from their ability to procreate, making them symbols of fertility. German settlers brought the Easter Bunny tradition to America in the 1700s.


What to Know About Your Drinking Water

By StatePoint

Having clean, uncontaminated water to drink at home and on-the-go is one of the most essential components to keeping your family safe and healthy.

Unfortunately, safe water is not necessarily a given. A recent study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that in 2015, nearly 21 million people relied on community water systems that violated health-based quality standards. What’s more, the risks to your tap water are heightened during special circumstances like natural disasters and other emergencies.

To help ensure you are hydrating healthfully all the time — at home, in your community, on trips or in emergencies – consider investing in an easy-to-maintain water filtration device that can be used anywhere in order to improve water quality.

One example is LifeStraw, first introduced for people in developing countries without access to safe water and for victims following natural disasters. The company now makes a range of water filters and purifiers designed for uses like emergency preparedness, outdoor recreation, travel and everyday hydration. The refillable LifeStraw Go 2-Stage water bottle features a built-in filter, and removes 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria (including E. coli and salmonella), 99.999 percent of protozoa while also reducing chlorine organic chemical matter and bad taste. Suitable for kids, the LifeStraw Play model, a 10-oz water bottle designed for everyday use, incorporates the same technology with a sturdy kid-friendly leak-proof design. LifeStraw is available online and at your local Walmart, Target and Sam’s Club.

What’s great is this is also a company that gives back — for every LifeStraw product purchased, a school child in a community in need receives safe water for an entire school year. So far, the program has supported more than one million school children.

Keep in mind that access to clean water is a persistent and global issue. By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water, according to the United Nations. This highlights the growing need to take precautions both at home and when you travel, and to invest in products that give back.

To do everything you can to keep your family healthy and safe, start by taking steps to improve the water you drink.

Buying Tires for Your Car? What to Consider

Courtesy: Statepoint

By StatePoint

Purchasing new tires for your car can be frustrating: an average of two hours is spent researching tires and 89 percent of all consumers experience some sort of buyer’s remorse, according to a consumer study by Cooper Tires.

To help, the experts at Cooper Tires are offering easy ways to identify when you need new tires, as well as tips on what to consider in the tire buying process.

The Penny Test

Tire tread should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep. Check by inserting a U.S. penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there’s at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point, it’s time to replace your tires.

Even before tread is worn, regularly inspect tires for cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, bulges and uneven wear patterns. Also, replace all tires, (including full-size spares) that are 10 or more years older than their date of manufacture, or follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

Know the Right Size

Like with shoes, buying the proper tire size is critical. Consult the information placard found on the driver’s side doorjamb, glove box, fuel door or vehicle manufacturer’s manual, which also contains technical specifications relating to your tire, including load carrying capacity, speed rating and recommended inflation pressures. For maximum safety and performance, follow these recommendations carefully.

If you don’t have this information handy, consult a tire professional to have all your questions answered, and check out the three-step tire guide from Cooper Tires, which can help you narrow down the choices by car/minivan, SUV/CUV or truck. You can find this guide at us.coopertire.com.

Other Considerations

There are many factors to consider when selecting tires to fit your needs, including the following:

• Do you need dedicated winter tires, dedicated summer tires or all-season tires? Think about where you travel over the course of the year.

• Do you have a long commute or take long road trips? Consider expected mileage, ride comfort, fuel efficiency and if the tires are quiet.

• Do you have a sports car or do a lot of spirited driving? You may need tires that focus on handling and are developed for high-performance cars.

• Do you drive in rain? Consider the tires’ wet braking distance.

• Do you drive off-road? If you spend a significant amount of time on mud tackling adventures, dedicated off-road tires may be your best bet.

At the Store

Be sure to ask what services are included in the quoted price. And remember, if your selected tires are not immediately available, you can often have them ordered. It may be helpful to call ahead if you know what you need. To find a retailer near you, visit us.coopertire.com/find-a-store.

Final Thoughts

Not all tire damage that can lead to tire failure is outwardly visible. Used tires, should be considered dangerous. Buy and install only new tires. Whenever possible, replace all tires at the same time. However, if you can only purchase two, the new pair should always be installed on the rear axle.

Your tires are the only parts of your car that connect to the road. Select tires carefully, then properly maintain and inspect them over time.

Stuck in the Middle

What You Need to Know About Caregiving

By StatePoint

As the population ages, more people (particularly women) will be “sandwiched” in between taking care of their parents or other family members in need, and their children.

Take telenurse and nurse educator Kathie Wells, RN, BSN, CCM. At age 55, she is juggling full-time work, while raising school-age kids and caring for her husband Robert, 64, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2002.

As a nurse, Wells understood the onset and progression of PD, which often includes motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity and balance issues. But her husband’s disease progressed in a surprising way when he began to see and believe things that weren’t real.

PD is a neurodegenerative brain disorder often involving both motor and non-motor symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. When those symptoms appear, it may be Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP) and it occurs in more than half the people with Parkinson’s during the course of their disease. Yet, only 10 to 20 percent of patients will proactively report their hallucinations and delusions to their doctor.

When Wells’ husband began to experience delusions, she found his behavior frustrating and alarming. For example, Robert would spend hours in the yard digging up garden stones, convinced he’d found valuable “treasure.” Neighbors remarked on Robert’s behavior and his children wouldn’t invite friends over to avoid them seeing their dad relentlessly digging. Robert’s delusions combined with his other PD motor symptoms were hard for Wells to manage. She struggled to get enough sleep caring for Robert, and their children were hesitant to go out in public with their father because he shared his treasure hunting stories with strangers all the time.

While there’s currently no cure for PD, there are different treatment options to address both motor and non-motor symptoms. Wells says it was a relief when her husband’s neurologist suggested an FDA-approved medication indicated for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with PDP.

Wells recommends the following to caregivers of people with Parkinson’s.

  • Consider talking to a professional, as caregivers are more likely to experience relationships or social life suffering and emotional stress than non-caregivers. Likewise, caregiving can take a toll on physical health. Take time to sleep, de-stress, eat well and exercise.
  • Seek logistical and emotional help from family, friends, support groups and advocacy groups, who often have free resources available. For example, the Parkinson’s Foundation has advice for caregivers and a helpline staffed by nurses, social workers and therapists.
  • Even if you understand your loved one’s condition, report new symptoms or concerns to a healthcare provider as they arise. “I now know that delusions along with hallucinations are telltale signs of Parkinson’s disease psychosis, however, I didn’t recognize those symptoms immediately,” says Wells.

For more information visit http://www.moretoparkinsons.com.

Remember that you’re not alone. Support exists to help you manage the struggles associated with caring for loved ones.

Your Guide to Reducing the Prom Price Tag

By StatePoint

Prom is a time-honored tradition and a rite of passage for teens. Originally inspired by graduation celebrations and debutante balls, prom today is now an extravagant, defining moment in a teen’s life, bearing little resemblance to promenades of the past — especially when it comes to cost.

All of this indulgence unfortunately comes with a price tag, and prom expenses can put a large dent in your wallet. Teens are spending nearly $640 on prom hair and makeup, outfits, tickets and rides, according to Yahoo Style’s “2017 Prom Across America” survey — and that doesn’t take into consideration any pre-prom expenses, such as the promposal, which, according to Visa’s annual prom spending survey, adds another $324!

The Promposal

In recent years, teens have upped the ante, finding elaborate — and often public — ways to ask someone to prom.

What are some popular promposal tactics? Spelling “prom” with pastries, creating giant duct tape posters, decorating lockers and bedrooms, and popping the question on the jumbotron at a sporting event.

Fashion First

When proms first became common, teens were encouraged to wear their “Sunday best” — implying a nice dress or suit they already owned. Not so anymore. For girls, prom is all about the dress, and finding the perfect one at the right price is no easy task. “Seventeen Magazine” reported that girls spend $231 on average for a dress, $45 on shoes, $23 on a handbag, $32 on jewelry and $118 on hair, nails and makeup.

While guys typically spend less on prom clothing and accessories, they’re still shelling out for a tuxedo, corsage and other accessories.

Cut Costs, Save for College

The steep prom price tag is leading teens to look at alternatives, such as ditching typical outfits and making their own. One example is Duck Tape formal wear. Over the last 17 years, the Duck brand Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest has attracted more than 7,000 entrants and awarded more than half a million dollars in scholarships to teens who crafted their Duck Tape prom attire.

Now in its 18th year, the contest will once again help offset the skyrocketing costs of college by helping teens save on prom and by awarding creative makers for their unique promwear designs, offering two individual $10,000 Grand Prizes: one in the Dress Category and one in the Tux Category, totaling $20,000. For more information, visit stuckatprom.com.

Other ways to cut the prom price tag? Hair, makeup and other accessories can cost more than $200, so skip the salon and opt for online tutorials for hair and makeup inspiration. Also, DIYing accessories, such as jewelry, a clutch or flowers (i.e. Duck Tape roses), can add a personal touch, and keep money in your wallet.

Setting a budget and looking for opportunities to save money can help ensure prom is an amazing night that doesn’t break the bank.


How the Average Citizen Can Help Bring About Friendlier Politics

By StatePoint

At a divisive moment in our nation’s history, you may be wondering how average citizens can help bring about friendlier politics.

Experts suggest that it starts with finding common ground among those whose opinions differ from you. Ira Shapiro, a former ambassador who has held senior positions in the U.S. Senate, recently authored “Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?” in order to explore the state of U.S. politics and its future.

Of the U.S. Senate, his area of expertise, he says, “America is deeply divided. But the men and women of the Senate should not mirror — or worse, inflame — the nation’s divisions. Their job is to overcome them, finding common ground to take collective action in the national interest.”

Citizens can apply this principle in a number of ways:

• Get involved. Attend city council meetings and town hall meetings. Join the PTA. But don’t just show up — make your voice heard. Make friends on all sides of the issue. Be a coalition builder. Discover where your beliefs overlap with others before debating about the issues on which you disagree.

• Get in touch. From petitions to postcards to calls and texts, there are numerous ways to get in touch with your elected officials at every level of government. Encourage your representatives to work constructively with their colleagues in an effort to de-polarize politics and ultimately be more effective at their jobs.

• Speak out. Organize or attend a rally. Raise money for a political cause that mattes to you. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Take advantage of the channels available to you.

“The best remedy of all, on both the national and local levels, is to support candidates who are problem solvers and consensus builders, not partisan warriors. Look for the candidates who put the country, or the community, first — above party allegiance or personal aggrandizement,” stresses Shapiro, who also serves as a trade law and global policy consultant. More thoughts from Shapiro are available on his consultancy’s website at http://www.shapiroglobal.com.

Shapiro believes that the Senate is in trouble, but it can be saved. Likewise, everyone, including average citizens, can be a champion for a climate of healthier politics, whether it’s around the dinner table, on a social media thread or at a city council meeting.

More Students are Going to Grad School: How are They Paying for It?

By StatePoint

Career aspirations are driving more students to graduate school these days, and nearly two thirds believe an advanced degree is the new minimum standard level of education for any professional occupation.

According to “How America Pays for Graduate School,” the new national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, an independent global market research company, nearly all grad students (95 percent) said an advanced degree is necessary to enter, advance, accelerate or remain competitive in their chosen career.

Cost is less of a factor in the enrollment decision than it is at the undergraduate level, as more than eight in 10 surveyed based their enrollment decision on a school’s academic offerings, prestige, location, campus culture, or other personal consideration. However, eight in 10 grad students said they took more responsibility for paying-for-school decisions than they had for their undergraduate studies.

“It is human nature to plan for what you value, and that includes graduate school. Today’s students see graduate school as their ticket to a successful and prosperous career, and most have a plan to pay for their advanced degree before they enroll,” says Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “That planning pays off: the overwhelming majority are confident in the financial decisions they’ve made about how to pay for their graduate education.”

How much did they pay? Students spent an average of $24,812 on grad school in academic year 2016-17, and more than three-fourths of them (77 percent) paid for it, at least in part, by borrowing. Funds borrowed by students covered more than half of the cost (53 percent), while money students earned, including income and savings, paid for 24 percent. Grants, fellowships, scholarships, and tuition waivers accounted for 15 percent, while eight percent of grad school costs came from funds borrowed or contributed by parents or others.

The study also reveals that scholarships and grants are less available for grad students than for undergrads, accounting for just 15 percent of grad school costs. In response, Sallie Mae announced a new Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students that will award four $20,000 scholarships in 2018. Students may apply by Feb. 14 by visiting SallieMae.com/BridgingtheDreamGrad.

To view the complete report, visit SallieMae.com/HowAmericaPaysGrad and join the conversation using #HowGradsPay.

As a graduate degree continues to become the educational norm, students will continue to plan and find creative ways to meet the cost.

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Stroller

By StatePoint

A stroller is one of the most essential pieces of baby gear, typically needed right from the start and used for several years. However, with so many stroller varieties available and a wide range of features to consider, it can be hard to figure out which one is right for your family.

Erin Varano, brand marketing director at trusted baby and children gear manufacturer Graco, offers these five key questions to consider when buying a stroller:

Does the Stroller Meet Safety Standards? Look for a stroller that has been certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) to ensure it meets current safety standards. Also, do your research beforehand to make sure it hasn’t been recalled. Avoid this question by buying from a reputable retailer.

Does the Stroller Have an Adjustable Seat? Newborns need seats that recline to a near flat position until they have head control and can sit up on their own. Even for older babies or toddlers, a reclining seat is a plus for comfort. Make sure to check that the seat’s recline mechanism is easy-to-use and firmly locks into the recline position.

How Versatile is the Stroller? Single strollers with the ability to convert to a double are useful as well as practical. Look for a stroller that can grow with your family, such as the Graco Uno2Duo Stroller and Travel System. This new stroller is out-of-the-box ready for one child, but simply extends to accommodate two children.

“We designed this stroller with a 5-inch extension so that it can easily transition from a single stroller to a double,” says Varano. “The extension adds room for a second seat and offers a platform for toddlers to ride along. A second seat or infant car seat gives parents added functionality with a total of 22 ways to ride.”

As an added benefit, the stroller features a multi-position reclining main seat that can convert to an infant bassinet or pram. This stroller is now exclusively available at Babies“R”Us.

Can the Stroller Accommodate Your Car Seat? An infant car seat and a stroller that come together are called a travel system. Buying a travel system is the simplest way to ensure stroller and infant car seat compatibility. However, if they don’t come together, you can often buy an adapter that connects them. Keep this in mind as you choose these items.

Is the Stroller Easy to Maneuver? Look for front wheels that swivel. This swivel action will make it easier to turn. Again, head to a store to test this feature out in person. You should be able to easily push the stroller in a straight line using one hand. Brakes also play a part in maneuverability. You want brakes that are easy to operate even if you are wearing open-toed shoes.

Finding the right stroller for your family requires research and testing. Investing the time beforehand and keeping key features top-of-mind during your search will make the process less overwhelming and hopefully lead you to your perfect stroller match.

Fun Ways Your Family Can Get Fit Together

By StatePoint

Is your fitness routine stuck in a rut? Searching for ways to spend more time with your family?

Why not combine these goals? There are a variety of ways to lead an active lifestyle that are suitable for the whole family and can include children of all ages.

Let these four creative ideas help you turn each day into an opportunity to get fit and have fun as a family, without stepping foot into the gym. As with any workout, it’s important to have the proper gear, and that starts with footwear. So, each exercise below has a suggestion of what to look for when it comes to choosing the right shoe.

• Participate in a charity run/walk: Whether you’re a seasoned runner or have just signed up to run your first 5K, many fundraising races accommodate the entire family. For younger children, look for events that allow jogging strollers or that host a Fun Run. Events that show the importance of communities working together for a larger cause can provide a bonus to the fun.

Shoe to try: Nike, Adidas and Converse all have a variety of “updated classic” styles available in men, women and children’s sizing, so that every family member can find a pair that reflects their personalities, while also providing necessary support for race day.

• Outdoor activities: Heading outdoors to go camping or hiking burns calories, while providing incredible views and memories.

Shoe to try: Built to go off-roading, ASICS hiking shoes features reversed lugs on the outsole to ensure a dependable grip both uphill and downhill.

• HIIT: High-Intensity interval training is being incorporated into a lot of workouts these days. HIIT workouts alternate a quick, intense period of exercise, such as running or cycling, followed by a short, active recovery.

Shoe to try: A lightweight cross training shoes with a stable base — such as a Nike Flex Trainer — are a good selection when it comes to HIIT workouts.

• Bodyweight training: The benefits of bodyweight training are seemingly endless. From pushups to squats, these exercises require no additional equipment and can be done anywhere and performed with many modifications. Get creative with your family by doing a circuit of your favorite bodyweight exercises in the park.

Shoe to try: A shoe with a mesh and synthetic upper material is designed to keep feet cool. Find this feature in a style, such as the New Balance, which also have special midsoles to ensure comfort from start to finish.

New footwear is a great way for each family member to show his or her style, while getting motivated to meet fitness goals. Once you’ve got the plan in place, get into a fitness routine that works for your family and stick with it. For a one-stop-shopping experience, visit the Athletic Shop at Rack Room Shoes in stores or online.

To help ensure that everyone meets their fitness goals, consider combining fun family quality time with your workouts.


How to Be More Creative in the New Year

By StatePoint

Those with creative or artistic aspirations know that consistently staying motivated and inspired is easier said than done.

Whether you’re a songwriter, a poet or a visual artist, these tried-and-true habits and new tools can help you to create your best work in the new year.

Me Time

A little bit of me-time goes a long way. Carve out some space each week for your own pursuits beyond the time spent working on projects. Learn where and when you do your best thinking, brainstorming and reflection. Is it on a morning walk through the park? Do you need complete silence? Don’t be afraid to request some solitude from loved ones. This may also be a good opportunity to disconnect from your devices for a bit. Leave your phone off or at home so you aren’t tempted to distract yourself.

Innovative Tools

New technology can actually inspire you to be more creative, revolutionizing the way you plan, design and write by hand. For example, many creative people are turning to devices called eWriters, electronic tablets which combine the functionality of notepads, sketchbooks, memo books and more, and which offer unique features you don’t get with traditional pen and paper.

For example, Blackboard by Boogie Board is the first ever writing tool featuring Liquid Crystal Paper for a comfortable, natural inkless pen on paper-like writing (and erasing) experience with no lag or delay. Its transparent writing surface allows users to write on any document, photo, map or digital screen, and several templates are included, such as lines, grids and more, which is ideal for collaborative editing. A free app makes saving, organizing, searching and sharing work, doodles and edits easy. And because it works on a replaceable five-year battery, users don’t have to worry about chargers or outlets, making it a convenient tool to use wherever inspiration strikes.

Set up a Work Space

While you should be prepared to create wherever the spirit moves you, having a dedicated workspace at home is a good idea. Be sure it’s comfortable, away from distractions and brightly lit. Make it a space you want to spend time. Add flowers or plants, artwork and other items that inspire you.

Get Inspired

Who do you most admire? You may get inspired by learning more about your greatest artistic heroes. Read their biographies to learn what made them tick and how they spent their days.

This New Year, resolve to adopt new habits. Innovating the ways that you work can help you to be more creative.

How to Protect Your Expensive New Smartphone

By StatePoint

The latest smartphones have some cool new features, but they come with hefty price tags, and such devices are not necessarily built-to-last. The new iPhone X, for example, recently hit the market at a $1,000 starting price and experts say it’s extremely fragile.

With its all-glass design, you may be wondering if it’s worth the investment. Recent tests conducted by SquareTrade using scientific robots to drop, bend, tumble, and dunk devices, revealed the iPhone X to be one of the most breakable iPhone models ever made, shattering on its first face down drop.

“Without taking a few key precautions, consumers are likely going to spend more than the $1,000 they’ve already invested in their phone over their devices’ lifetime,” says Jason Siciliano, vice president global creative director at SquareTrade.

To protect your investment, whether you have an iPhone X or any another mobile device, Siciliano recommends the following.

Cover Up

Your new phone may have a sleek design you want to show off, but not using a case is a big mistake. With so many designs on the market, as well as opportunities to customize, there is no reason these days not to better protect your phone. The breakability tests conducted by SquareTrade revealed damage that went beyond cosmetic issues, compromising the device’s operability in a number of ways. Consider what your hobbies include, and find a case durable enough to withstand your lifestyle. A screen protector is also a great idea, guarding against scratches and residue.

Get Covered

With potential repair costs on the rise, protection plans are becoming more important than ever. For example, the iPhone X has a thinner, costlier OLED screen that’s more expensive to replace, a smaller logic board, multiple cables, and a split battery that’s more difficult to remove. All of which may be why Apple is charging $279 for front screen replacement and $549 for other repairs.

Accidents are often beyond one’s control. So, don’t have a false sense of security regarding drops and spills. However, protection plans can be affordable. For example, those offered by SquareTrade cover old or new devices, for both accidents and common malfunctions such as battery failure and charging port failure. Phones can be repaired at-home, at local repair shops or by mail. And if you have an Apple device, you can simply have your Genius Bar bill reimbursed. For more information on protection plans for today’s most popular smartphones, visit squaretrade.com.

Being a savvy consumer goes beyond making the latest tech purchase. It also means making your purchase last. Take smart steps to protect your smartphone.

Tablets and Kids: What to Know

By StatePoint

If you’ve handed over your tablet to your children more than once, it may be time to consider getting them their own device. There are a lot of great children’s tablets that offer so much more than passive games and videos.

“Tablets can be a great source of learning if the content is relevant, engaging and age-appropriate,” said Dr. Clement Chau, director of learning for LeapFrog.

Before you take the plunge, here are some things to keep in mind.


Kids are not necessarily known for their delicate handling of breakable objects. So, look for kid-friendly products that are durable, and built specifically for kids’ hands.


Seek out tablets pre-loaded with fun and useful age-appropriate content that blends education and fun. For example, those from LeapFrog, a leader in innovative learning toys, offer well-rounded curricula important to children’s development. The new LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition and LeapPad Ultimate feature preloaded content teaching core skills like mathematics, reading and science, as well as music, puzzles, logic and creativity to help prepare children for preschool and beyond. Both tablets offer access to a learning library of more than 1,000 apps, eBooks and videos and feature built-in technology that assess kids’ progress to personalize lessons. Additionally, LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition comes with a free trial of LeapFrog Academy, an interactive learning program for 3-6-year-olds that guides kids on learning adventures they can play on the go.


Remember, a tablet is not just a toy, it’s two-way access to the world at-large. But you can keep kids safe with a few precautions. Look for tablets that are kid-safe right of the box, with features like kid-friendly web browsers that provide access to pre-selected websites. Then, take advantage of parental controls to manage features.


If you find that your child becomes inseparable from his or her new tablet, consider setting rules like no tablets at the dinner table or for one hour before bedtime, and use built-in parental controls to set time limits. Even when devices are strictly being used for educational fun, it’s still important to limit screen time and strike some balance.

As tablets continue to top children’s wish lists, parents should do their research. With the right devices, apps and safety features, tablets can provide opportunities to engage kids’ creativity and knowledge.

The Names of the Christmas Elves

Photo courtesy: Google Images


In the pagan times of Scandinavia, people believed that house gnomes guarded their homes against evil. Although these gnomes mostly were benevolent, they quickly could turn nasty when not properly treated, so it is told. Throughout the centuries, they were either loved or loathed. Some people even believed them to be trolls and cannibals. The perception of gnomes largely depended on whether a person was naughty, or nice.

When Christmas became popular again as a festive season in the middle-1800s, Scandinavian writers such as Thile, Toplius, Rydberg sketched the gnomes’ true role in modern life: fairies that are somewhat mischievous, but the true friends and helpers of Father Christmas (Santa Claus). They are the Christmas elves. Artists such as Hansen and Nystrm completed the picture of elves for us.

Living in Lapland

At one stage it was thought that the elves live in (Santa’s) village in North Pole. However, in 1925 it was discovered that there are no reindeer in the North Pole but there are lots in Lapland, Finland. Nobody has actually seen their village because the passage to it is a secret that is known only to Father Christmas and the elves. We know that it is somewhere on the Korvatunturi mountain in the Savukoski county of Lapland, Finland, which is on the Finnish-Russian border.

On January 6 the elves light up their torches and come down from their secret village in the mountain to play in a secret field to celebrate the last day of Christmas.

The names of the elves

The elves are the children of Gryla and Leppaludi, their father and mother. Some people say that there are 13 elves, some say 9, some 6. They are very clever and help Father Christmas to design the toys that children and grownups order by post, email or textingl. We know at least 6 of the duties they have, including looking after the reindeer. Here it is with their Westernised names:

Bushy Evergreen is the inventor of the magic toymaking machine.

Shinny Upatree is Father Christmas’s (Santa’s) oldest friend and cofounder of the secret village in Lapland.

Wunorse Openslae designed Father Christmas’s sleigh and maintains it for top performance. (It is believed that the reindeer reach speeds faster than Christmas tree lights.) He also cares for the reindeer.

Pepper Minstix is the guardian of the secret of the location of Father Christmas’s village.

Sugarplum Mary is Head of the Sweet Treats, and assistant to Father Christmas’s wife, Mrs Claus, also known as Mary Christmas.

Alabaster Snowball is very important. He is the Administrator of the Naughty & Nice list.