The facts about distracted driving can’t be disputed, but if that’s the case then why are so many people texting, talking, eating, and applying makeup behind the wheel? It’s human nature to believe you’re the exception to the rule, or that your “skills” trump others. Most of the time that tendency is harmless, but when it comes to distracted driving it can be deadly for anyone on the road. There’s a reason law firms specialize in distracted driving, but you never want to “need” these professionals on your side.

How do people convince themselves that they’re “good” at texting and driving, while everyone else on the road is terrible at it? Here are a few of the most common falsities and lies people tell themselves when they can’t resist checking that Facebook notification:

1. It’ll just take a second

True, everyone functions and reads at different rates. However, government researchers with Distraction.gov report that the average person can drive the length of a football field just to check a short text. Going 55+ mph on a highway with other drivers, nobody is skilled enough to drive across a football field blind.

2. I’m at a stop sign/red light

You (probably) won’t hit anyone when you have the brakes on, but it can cause traffic issues nonetheless. Everyone has been behind a person who refuses to go when the light turns green. Plus, according to Health, there are numerous ways stress can impact the body and you don’t want to get an infuriating email when you’re a couple of seconds away from driving.

3. People with stick shifts drive with just one hand

That’s an easy excuse for using one hand to text, eat, brush your hair, flip through radio stations non-stop and the like. However, drivers with stick shifts are actually more in “drive mode” because both hands are truly required. Being in an automatic can put a driver on “auto pilot”. You may not actually need to keep your hands at 10 and 2 the entire time you’re on the road, but it gives you the most control and ensures you’re mentally present.

4. I have great reflexes

People overestimate their reflexes and defensive driving skills like they overestimate how attractive they are when they’re drunk. Even if your reflexes are better than average, that can change daily due to stress and other factors.

Driving isn’t easy and you’re not the only one on the road, so take it seriously.


There really isn’t a more authentic place to spend Halloween than on the east coast. Not only is it steeped in the nation’s history, but it’s also home to some of the nation’s most beautiful fall foliage. While the golden leaves are softly falling in Central Park, the rest of the city is happily gearing up for Halloween with a delightful mish-mash of spooky festivities.

Village Halloween Parade

Every year, Sixth Avenue in Manhattan yields to the magic that is Halloween and fills with masterful puppetry by some of the best professionals in the business. While the stunning works of creative prowess highlight this parade, what makes it unique is anyone can join the parade–so long as you’re in costume. Each year has a different theme, and as the puppets parade down Sixth Avenue, they’re followed by anyone and everyone off the streets who want to join in on the “most wildly creative public participatory event” in the world. Manhattan gets decidedly crowded, so if you’re coming from outside the city, it’s probably a good idea to skip the dicey traffic and check out the bus schedules instead.

Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

New Yorkers love their dogs, so it’s only natural that they get the canine counterparts involved on the big day. With over $4,000 in prizes up for grabs, these costumes get elaborate pretty quickly. You won’t find Dachshunds in hot dog costumes at this parade–not if you want to win a prize like a new iPad for the “Best in Show”. If you don’t have a dog, various rescues are present to help you find the new member of your family.

Blackout Haunted House

The Blackout Haunted House at the Vortex Theater scares the pants off you in a slightly sadistic twist: you have to go through the haunted house alone. Yep, no partner to grab onto as you creep through darkened rooms and wait for someone to jump out at you. When you enter, you’ll be given a protective mask and a flashlight before you’re shuttled through to have every ounce of bravery scared out of you. Beware as this isn’t for the young; you have to be at least 18 to enter. Simulated situations can get a little…R rated, and there is some pretty terrifying physical contact throughout. If it gets to be a bit much, you’ll be given a safe word, and someone non-scary will appear and escort you to safety.

Get Spooked by Some Real Ghosts

If simulated horror isn’t your thing, go for the real deal at some of NYC’s most haunted locales. Many of these offer tours, and some even capitalize on their paranormal activities with ghost tours. Go to the Billop House, built in the 1680s, where British loyalist Christopher Billop murdered a female servant because he believed she was spying for the Patriots. Spectral sightings of both Billops and the murdered woman have been sighted, as have glimpses of patrolling Redcoats.

As if NYC isn’t magical enough, they pull out all the stops for the month of October. From raucous parties to their haunted houses, you’ll find it all somewhere in the city.

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Not in the mood? Sometimes it happens but you don’t really want to tell your significant other the thought of a pint of ice cream and binge watching Netflix sounds more appealing than getting frisky. It’s crucial to have a log of excuses ready to go. However, you need to get creative because using classics like “I’ve got a headache” screams of falsity and your SO might end up offering you a painkiller instead of respecting your need to finish the last season of Breaking Bad (again).

Of course, the options for your excuses will sometimes be dictated by your gender. If you play your cards right, you might be able to swing a raincheck on top of a little pampering. You can always customize your excuses for your own situation and preferences, but here are a few samples to get started. Who knew putting something off could be so simple?

1. Sprained muscles

When you sprain or strain a muscle, people have to take your word for it. There’s no tangible or physical evidence, and it also shows proof that you were working hard for that ripped body (perhaps a little too hard). It earns you sympathy points, “heals” quickly and makes you look like a badass.

2. You’re coming down with something

The early stages of the flu or cold can be tough to spot, but you feel them immensely. However, there’s very much truth to 24 hour bugs and many times your body can fight off an illness before it takes over. This buys you a day, plus it also shows that you care too much about your SO to want to give him or her your illness.

3. Ply them with food

Food hangover, anyone? If you’re in the mood to splurge, you can always whip up (or pick up) a delectable meal and encourage a little gluttony. Few people are in the mood when a food baby is present, and you’ll shine because you treated them to an indulgent meal. Just be careful with any wine or cocktails, since those are an aphrodisiac.

4. Hearing the kids

Obviously this one will only work if you have kids at home, but wanting to prevent them from the traumatizing ordeal of hearing their mom or dad getting it on is a very valid excuse. You can also be worried that one of them is getting ill, which means you need to play doting parent for the night.


Heat shrink is one of those tried-and-true products fixing everything that withstands high heat, from metal to thick plastics. In fact, this video shows a savvy consumer fixing his vehicle’s air intake with heat shrink, showing that even cars have a temporary solution with heat shrink. However, there are many safety concerns regarding heat shrink, making it critical to use this material only for specific projects.

Choose the Right Size

Heat shrink usually comes in cylindrical shapes with varying diameters and material thicknesses. Consider your project’s size and match it to the heat shrink’s diameter. The heat shrink should be wider than your item, allowing it to easily slide on. It should also have a suitable thickness to avoid cracking or splitting during the heating process. If you have a particularly sharp or heavy-duty item to fix, use thicker heat shrink. For basic wire insulation projects, thin heat shrink is more than adequate. It should last longer than any other connection strategy, such as duct or electrical tape.

Heat Tools

The choice of heat tools is considerable, but most people use the traditional heat gun for the best results. It’s possible to use a torch for experienced technicians. A torch gives off an actual flame, however, making it crucial to keep the flame off the heat shrink to avoid melting it improperly. Other savvy heat shrink enthusiasts place their item in an oven to activate the material evenly across its surface. Whatever your heat tool selection is, follow all safety precautions to keep yourself safe from harm. Burns are a risk of this repair tactic.

The Heating Process

For torches and heat guns, activate the tool and move it carefully toward your item. The heat shrink should already be placed on the right area to cover permanently. This also applies to oven heating strategies. Wear a glove on your free hand to avoid any accidental burns. Carefully turn your item as the heat shrink slowly adheres to the surface. Ideally, you want the material to conform around the item uniformly. Pull the tool away from the heat shrink if it appears to warp. Although you’re heating it, the heat shrink shouldn’t have any damage to its outer surface.

Check for Damage

Heat shrink may seem to adhere quickly to the item’s surface. Once you see a lapse in shrinking action, turn the tool off. Inspect the item for any damage. Heat shrink that has been excessively heated could develop low areas and warping. Any accidental cuts into the heat shrink prior to installation will be amplified, allowing the item to spill out of these bulging holes. If you see any significant damage, cut the heat shrink off and try again. Adhering this material to your items is an art so repeating the process isn’t unheard of for amateur users.

Even if you follow all the instructions, use your best judgment when using heat shrink. This seemingly perfect repair strategy does use excessive heat to work, requiring a sharp eye and hand to safely activate the material.


Moving can be a hectic time in your life with all of the details to keep track of and loose ends to tie up before you depart to your new place. No matter whether you’re moving across Cook County or across the country, you’ll have plenty of work or do to ensure that everything goes smoothly. As you prepare for your move, staying organized will help save you time, money and frustration as you travel to your new home.

Deciding What to Pack, Toss and Sell

Before you pack anything or tell your Chicago movers what’s coming along, you’ll want to take some time to sort through your belongings and decide what to pack, toss, sell or donate. Getting rid of things you no longer use, need or love will help free up space in your new dwelling and reduce the amount of time that it takes to pack and unpack. According to this article on MSN Real Estate news, carving out blocks of two to three hours weekly for about two months before your move will give you plenty of time to sort through your belongings. This way, you won’t have to cut out all the clutter in a single weekend. However, if you have to move on short notice, a marathon session will still help reduce the amount of belongings you’ll be paying to move or put into storage.

Labeling Your Boxes

Once you’ve determined what’s coming along with you to your new place, you’ll want to keep track of what’s in each box. Otherwise, you have a pile of mysteries arrive at your destination. Label each box in a way that makes sense to you, that’s easy to read and that is simple for the moving crew to place into the right spot in your new home. An organized scheme such as “MBR #1.” “Kitchen #2″ and “LR #3″ could signify the first box to open in the master bedroom, the second box to open in the kitchen and the third box to open in the living room. This blog suggests maintaining a master planner that lists in more detail what’s in each box. Your MBR #1 box might contain the alarm clock, sheets, blankets and pillows you’ll need for your first night while LR #3 might have decorations that can wait a few days before being opened.

Unpacking and Organizing

Once the movers have transported and unloaded all of your boxes at your new home, you’ll begin the process of unpacking and organizing each room. According to this blog on Unclutterer, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up each room with the essentials for everyday living. Toilet paper and a shower curtain for the bathroom, dishes and utensils for the kitchen and a comfortable place to sleep your first night will help you ease into the process of unpacking your things.



Everyone deserves to live like JayBey every now and then, however bottle service (of course) comes at a premium price. Don’t get lulled into thinking you’ve found a one of a kind bargain bottle service. That’s a huge red flag that either that particular club is no longer on anyone’s radar or you’re going to get stuck paying a prime price for bottom shelf liquor. Hold yourself (and your part) to a higher standard and splurge when it matters.

While it’s tempting to live the A-list lifestyle every weekend, bottle service is best kept for the choicest of occasions. This is especially true in areas like LA or New York. Bottle service in smaller cities is a shadow of the real deal (who needs bottle service in Denver?), so choose your splurges wisely. Here are a few instances when bottle service isn’t a luxury, but nearly a requirement.

1. Bachelor/bachelorette parties

Hopefully the betrothed will only get hitched once in their lifetime, so this is worth celebrating. Skip the shady strip clubs and instead treat the future newlyweds to a night out they’ll truly remember. Anything that happens just once is worth going all out.

2. Divorce parties

On the other end of the spectrum, if someone does get divorced this is really something that should only happen once. Help them remember how fantastic the single life can be by showing them what a night out can drum up. Re-entering the single life can be a tough transition, but not when you’re at the helm.

3. Milestone birthdays

This can include the big 2-1 as well as entering any new decade. These handfuls of milestones don’t happen on the regular, which means you can certainly spend a little extra to ring in another 10 years. Once you’re an adult, birthdays don’t often matter as much, so be sure to celebrate the ones that do.

4. Bon voyage parties

If someone is leaving town for good (or just settled in a new metro), it’s time to bring out the big guns. However, bon voyage parties are getting a little overplayed. This isn’t for someone who just took a six-month gig abroad. Save it for the ones that are more permanent.

5. When you’ve made a huge accomplishment

Maybe your novel just got picked up by a publisher or you actually placed in a marathon. You know when the big stuff matters, so celebrate it in style.


You’ve probably heard “kids” as young as college freshmen complain about “getting old” but the reality is that it’s not all gloom and doom like in the old days. In fact, with advances in technology, people are living longer (and healthier) than ever. Plus, even when the aches and pains of true old age do inevitably show up, there are a number of gadgets to make them a minor inconvenience at worst. The simple truth is that getting old isn’t all that bad, no matter how old you are.

Consider all the options for mobility whether you prefer a rollator built for the great outdoors or a cool walking stick handcrafted from Amish country. Wheelchairs, walkers of all types and other mobility aids make getting around a breeze. Add segues into the mix and you have a smorgasbord of options that make “mall walking” a lot more enjoyable than it used to be.

Multiple careers

Gone are the days when you were stuck with one career until you retired at the golden age of 65 with gold watch in hand. These days, people are choosing a variety of career choices and it’s fairly common to start a new career mid-life, go back to school or finally start that business. The idea of retirement has shifted with more people choosing to keep working in some capacity out of desire, not necessarily necessity.

Pursuing an advanced degree or a “degree for fun” in your golden years is also becoming more common. Who doesn’t want to be the eccentric “old guy” or gal in class teaching the young ones a thing or two? Maybe you missed out on your passion degree when you were 18, so why not go back for a do-over now? You’re older, wiser, and hopefully have better study habits than you did the first time around.

Going abroad

As a more nomadic generation than previous ones, there are also more people embracing the ex-pat lifestyle in retirement. Another option is service-oriented projects such as Peace Corps in middle age and beyond. Unfortunately, most young people don’t have the financial resources to travel abroad extensively, but that changes after working for a few years (or decades). Your later years might be the perfect time for international travel.

There are no rules that say you have to be dull and boring in retirement. Make the most of it with the resources and technology to help.


Most of 2014 has been kind to Houston real estate: Prices for residential homes in Houston hit an all-time high in April. This is partially due to the fact that there are fewer numbers of homes available, and bidding wars are constantly being played out.

The average price for a single-family home as of April stood at $270,505. The median price point has seen an increase by around 5.4 percent from last year to stand at $195,00. Single-family home sales are also on the rise. The current home supply stands at around 2.6 months, which is the lowest it has been since April of 2013.

Because of the dip in housing inventory, Houston is now facing the beginnings of a sales slowdown. That being said, the sales activity for premium homes, in the category of $500,00 and more, is on the rise. This has driven average sales prices to an all-time high.

If you are planning to invest in Houston’s real estate, here are four good reasons to do so:

1. Increase in apartment development: With a constant demand for residential homes, several builders are going on a binge-building spree. Multifamily apartment projects are going up across the city. Besides development downtown, there are several projects coming up in the suburbs as well. Because of the current high prices of homes, there is a lot of demand for rental properties, especially among young professionals.

2. Boost in retail development: Retail has long since taken a back seat in Houston. Now with realty development on the rise, retail seems to be taking off in a big way. With several new rooftops being added to the real estate scenario, retail development is at an all-time high. Commercial rentals are seeing an increase this year. The fear that online sales will relegate the retail store to the background has long since proven false.

3. Increase in hotel construction: With citywide hotel occupancy rising on a monthly basis, there has been a spate of hotel projects taking off. More hotels encourage more visitors. More hotels also mean more convention spaces, encouraging commerce in the city. Large names like JW Marriott and Hyatt Regency will soon open their doors in the city. This will enhance the economy of the region and put prices in a good place.

4. Ideal single-family market: This year will see a 10 percent increase in residential construction in the city. New players are poised to enter Houston, and residential land is seeing a massive demand. A little-known fact about Houston real estate is that it has the best home building market in the country; it has more single-family building permits than any other city in the nation. This trend is sure to continue in the next two years.

Real estate in Houston has gone through several ups and downs over the past few years. It is finally reaching a stage where it seems to have stabilized, and a sense of balance is being achieved between demand and supply. Now is perhaps the best time to invest in real estate here.


One of the worst things about being an adult is paying those pesky bills and even with all the technology to keep you on track, it’s still easy to goof up sometimes. Well before the water shuts off or you come home to a totally dark house, there are red flags ignored that are telling you something’s amiss. If you don’t trust your gut, you might find yourself needlessly paying extra fees. Can you learn from the mistakes of others, or do you need to learn the hard way?

Today’s bill pay technology is designed to make life easy for even the most forgetful of folks. However, sometimes stubbornness still wins out. Here are a few signs that you didn’t pay your bill, but you may still be able to make that grace period before your service gets shut off. Can you beat the clock?

1. You’re inexplicably flush with cash

If you have a steady paycheck and you seem a little richer than other times of the year, watch out. This is a huge red flag that maybe you’re not as wealthy as you think. Forgetting about that $100 cell phone bill or other big ticket item can make you feel like royalty (at least until the “free ride” runs out).

2. You just feel like you’ve forgotten something

Call it your gut or just instinct, but your subconscious is doing all it can to keep you on the right track. It might not be strong enough to persuade you to actually put a reminder on your calendar, Post-It note or however else you try to remember things, but that nagging feeling is there for a reason. Believe it.

3. You’re on vacation

It’s easy to forget to pay your water bill when you’re not home for long stretches, especially if you still have hard copy bills instead of e-bills. To really make the most of your vacation, pay monthly bills in advance so you don’t have a pile of them waiting for you when you get home. Many people over-spend on vacation, so this is setting you up for an easy return.

Of course, the best way to pay your bills is to enroll in auto pay using an account that’s only for bills and nothing else. This can help keep you in the black year-round, avoid fees and inconveniences, and helps streamline your budgeting.


Each summer brings that time that parents dread: back to school shopping. If your child’s school has a uniform requirement, then you have less reason to worry about whether or not your child’s clothing will get him or her in trouble at school or attract unwanted attention from peers. Today’s kids often try to emulate rock stars and other famous idols, but they will need your guidance to make the right clothing choices.

School Dress Codes

Schools without uniforms still have a dress code, explains this article on The Huffington Post. Sagging pants, crop tops, vulgar or racist slogans, short skirts or shorts, see-through or mesh shirts and exposed bra straps are just some of the clothing types that are banned in many school environments. While some parents and students feel that clothing is related to their freedom of expression and rights as an individual, teachers, administrators and others feel that these types of clothing detract from the desired professional and educational environment and can instigate problems like sexism and bullying on school grounds.

What Kids Want

In today’s evolving fashion environment, something that was once considered acceptable could be banned during the first weeks of the school year. Parents and students must work together to create a fashion that suits the individual while still following the rules. If your kids want blue hair or strappy tops, checking the dress code first can save you from a lot of headaches. In some cases, these are best left to summers, school breaks and weekends. Even so, many people feel that school dress codes go too far, explains this article on CBS news. From banning leggings or requiring they only be worn with long tops to prohibiting the wearing of flags on clothing, most schools argue that dress codes are enacted with student safety in mind. Parents and students who disagree often speak up at school board meetings where such issues are decided.

What’s In Vs. What’s Allowed

Even as schools enact dress codes, this article on NBC News suggests that policies are inconsistent, such as cheerleaders still sporting short skirts and sleeveless tops. Parents and students must work together to weigh what’s in versus what’s allowed at school lest they run the risk of suspension, expulsion or jail time. Some parents may not even realize that what their child wants to wear is may actually be suggestive of gang involvement or other illegal activities. By coming together as a school community, agreement can usually be reached in a way that allows students to express themselves without causing a disruption in the educational environment.

Helping Your Children Select Clothing that Suits Them

If your child can’t find the right clothes, consider creating them yourself. At Live Ur Story, students can create apparel that fits their personalities and meshes with school dress codes. Parents can help with design, colors and sizing.


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