There are some very good reasons to have a landline in 2014 … in addition to your smartphone, of course. You’ve got much greater security on a landline.

If an emergency happens and you have to call 911, that call can be traced — which is not the case with a smartphone. Your address instantly pops up on the dispatcher’s screen.

That can save lives, especially if children need to place the call and are already dealing with a traumatic situation. Of course, if the person calling can’t speak for any reason, the traceability is also vital; simply put, landlines have a solid 911 connection.

The good news about the decline in landline usage is that bundling landlines with other features such as cable or Internet service has become highly affordable. With the right package, it’s basically free, so you might as well get that added security.

If you’re desperate for an Internet connection, you can depend on DSL in a pinch. It’s not going to be the Internet you’re used to, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Throwback Thursday every day

Depending on your age, you might remember the days of telephone conversations. Unfortunately, texting has pretty much put a stop to those.

But with a landline, you can enjoy a clearer connection, no dropped calls, no buzzing, and being “forced” not to multi-task (as much) as you often are on a smartphone. It’s actually an added convenience, and you’ll have no worries about whether you’ll get a good connection with a landline.

If the power goes out and your smartphone battery is low, you’re pretty much out of luck. But if you have a landline, that should still work, as some people discovered after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy had hit them.

If you need to reach someone on a landline, a power outage won’t stop you. This is extra security in a tight situation, especially if there are elders involved or you’re not with family when disaster strikes.

Tackling privacy issues

Landlines are more secure and private than mobile phones because there’s no risk of radio frequency interception. You may not know it, but mobile phones are highly vulnerable to eavesdropping.

Thieves can use simple devices such as other cell phones to listen in to your calls, find out when you’ll be out of town on vacation, and even steal credit card information if you share it during a business over the phone. Even the FBI is getting in on eavesdropping via cell phones, so you might want to be more careful with your private calls.



Odds are you love your dog and treat it just like a member of the family. As a good owner, you never leave your dog chained in the yard or home alone without access to fresh food and water.

Most likely you do all you can to ensure your dog is not simply cared for but happy and enjoying life. But there may be a few things you don’t realize are necessary to help ensure your dog’s good health. Consider the four tips below.

1. Just one mosquito

When spring arrives, any dog that ventures outside for even a short period of time is at risk for contracting heartworm. A single bite from a mosquito that’s carrying heartworm larvae will infect your dog.

The worms take up residence in your dog’s heart and other organs, and can ultimately cause organ failure and death. Often there are no immediate symptoms, so it’s essential that you have your dog tested for heartworm and placed on a monthly preventive medication

Prevention costs are far less than treatments necessary to try to save your dog after he or she gets infected. Visit the Humane Society‎ to learn more.

2. Diet requires healthy fats

Most dog owners are cautioned against feeding their dog any foods designed for cats, due to the high fat content in those products. But this doesn’t mean your dog shouldn’t have healthy fats in his or her diet.

According to Homes Alive Pet Centre, healthy sources of fat are important in your dog’s diet to help promote good heart health and contribute to healthy skin and coat. Food items such as raw broccoli and cauliflower are just two of the many great sources of healthy fats for your dog.

3. Non-core vaccinations

Your dog will receive certain vaccinations as a puppy, and others will be scheduled annually. However, there are some non-core vaccinations that aren’t automatically given to most dogs.

One you should specifically talk to your vet about is the leptospirosis vaccine. Your dog can become infected simply by sniffing the urine of a carrier animal, such as a raccoon or skunk. If infected, your dog may suffer liver or kidney failure and potential death. Click this page about leptospirosis for more information.

4. Leave your dog at home

Many dog owners are so attached to their pets that they want to take them everywhere. This practice has been responsible for the death of many dogs every year.

What might seem like a quick trip to the store on a nice 78-degree day with your dog can be a death sentence for the animal.

Never leave your dog locked in your car. On a 78-degree day, temperatures inside a car can reach up to 120 degrees in a matter of a handful of minutes. Read more at the PETA website.

These are solid tips for helping your dog to live a happy and healthy life. You should always feel free to call your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Be assured you are doing all you can for your dog, and you and your pet should have many happy years together.

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Home improvements are important, and not just for those who wish to fix issues with their homes. Improvements must sometimes be done in order to sell your home as well.

There are many ways to improve the quality of your home. There are also ways to waste money with home improvements that add no value to your property.

Below are four choices that can turn your home into a money pit, and make it more difficult to move on the market.

1. Swimming pool

Although swimming pools are nice, they are often a great waste of money when you try to sell your home. Many buyers not only look at the luxury of having a pool; they also consider the fact that pools require a large amount of money per year for upkeep.

The truth is, your home value will increase, but not enough to make up for the maintenance costs of owning a pool. Think wisely and opt out of installing a pool.

2. Home offices

Contrary to what you may believe, home offices can also decrease the value of your home. Many potential buyers will want to turn the extra room into a bedroom anyway.

While decorating and renovating a room into an office, you can expect to pay out of pocket for office furniture, re-routed Internet connections, cable cords, and many other office details. After all’s said and done, the office will cost more than its increase in value. It may actually turn out to be a waste of money.

3. Sunroom

A sunroom sounds very nice, especially if you live in an area that gets plenty of sunshine. But even though they don’t seem like much work and materials, sunrooms actually cost much more than they seem.

Even a simple small room will cost several thousand to construct. By the time buyers notice the extra option, they will have seen several others of the same caliber but at a lower price. This is usually not worth the time or money.

4. Plumbing upgrades or new roofing

Let’s face it: Buyers are already expecting a nice roof and exceptional plumbing. Redoing the plumbing and roofing the house, just to highlight the effort, will not raise the value of your home.

Pay more attention to smaller details, such as blinds and carpets, if you really want to get people’s attention. The basics are, well, just the basics, and they are necessary regardless.

The things that get noticed

Smart residents have gotten hold of some very important information when it comes to renovations. To make the best of their mortgage and really get their homes noticed on the market, they are often paying attention to small details. These can really catch a buyer’s attention and put the house in the spotlight.

When it comes time to sell your home, consider certain details that really work. Think from the buyer’s point of view to understand what’s important on the housing market. You may be surprised by what the public really desires in modern real estate.


Have you ever wondered if your family is linked to royalty? Perhaps you’ve imagined you’re related to a Founding Father.

That might sound far-fetched if you haven’t been keeping up to date on the latest genealogical technologies; but the truth is that with a little bit of research, you’ll find out a lot more than you ever imagined. That’s because DNA testing has combined with sophisticated technological advances to create some of the most powerful and precise genealogical tools imaginable.

With a simple (and relatively inexpensive) test, distant cousins can be identified not only over the past 100 years, but for the past thousand or more. Not convinced? Elizabeth Alexander, a Yale poet whose Jamaican family settled in New York, found that she could trace her lineage back 37 generations.

Among her more notable kin are her 23rd great-grandmother Joan, princess of England and her 24th great-grandparent, King John I of England. She’s even related to Charlemagne, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

If you’re curious about your family’s history, you’ll find it could be a very interesting journey.

Where to start

Begin with what you know. Collect all your family records, including photographs. These will make your genealogy a rich story that can be archived and passed to your children.

Talk to elderly relatives and get information from them. If you have a family Bible, take it out and look for information in the frontispiece. If you haven’t already looked at how to preserve these treasures properly, now’s the time to do a bit of online research.

After you’ve collected some general information about your family, you can get serious and consider the next step: DNA.

DNA testing

The test is not difficult or expensive. You simply have to swab the inside of your mouth. After collection, the sample is mailed to a lab for testing.

You’ll want to talk to a professional about which test exactly to order. If you’re a male, you might want a Y-DNA test, because that will explore your patriarchal line. Women interested in their maternal line might choose a mtDNA test.

Once you have the results, you’re ready for next frontier in genealogical technology.

The Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool

In the past, scientists working with DNA were previously only able to identify a family’s roots to a radius of about a four hundred miles. This could place your family in a total one or perhaps two countries.

So if your family immigrated, a researcher might be able to trace a move from one or two countries. The Geographic Population Structure tool has changed all that. It can locate your ancestral roots from more than 1,000 years ago.

How is this possible? As data has accumulated, scientists have developed more complete and accurate information about where DNA was “mixed” or altered. An “admixture” is when one population begins to settle and have children with another group.

An example of an admixture occurred when the Vikings invaded Britain and Europe in the 11th Century. Mny Vikings married and had children with local Anglo-Saxons, which changed the gene pool. With the GPS tool, genealogists can trace your DNA to specific eras in history when an admixture occurred.

Your greatest gift

One of the greatest presents you can leave to your children and relatives is the legacy of your family history. We all have a special place in the historical record. Most of us don’t yet realize how special our families are.

So if you’re interested in exploring the past, keep in mind that technology has opened many interesting doors. All you have to do is knock.


In our daily lives, humans crave comfort: We work diligently to furnish our lives with modern amenities, from cutting-edge gadgets to new cars.

But when it comes to the deeper recesses of our imagination, many of us have an unquenchable bloodthirst. Give us assassination plots, jump scares, and death-by-hatchet any day … at least that seems to be the case in the U.K., according to a new study conducted by Public Lending Right, a program that collects borrowing data from libraries.

Published by The Guardian, the study reveals that in 2010, more than two-thirds of the hundred most checked-out novels fell into the crime and thriller genre. Such was the case with single title in the top 10.

What’s the explanation for the mounting trend of people reading these morbid tales? Are we all gore-loving serial killers in disguise?

The psychology of fear

According to “Social Learning of Fear,” an article published in Nature Neuroscience, fear is an essential tool in the emotional toolkit of mankind. Each time fear is invoked, it conditions us a little bit more to navigate the world safely.

By seeking out situations that trigger a fearful response in an environment that’s known to be safe — for example, curled up on the sofa with a cup of cocoa and a bloodcurdling book about a stalker — people enjoy a kind of productive fear.

In other words, we can feel as if we are honing our emergency response instincts without actually having to get caught up by an international drug cartel or falling into the clutches of a slasher. Exploration of fear-inducing hypothetical threats allows people to project themselves into new situations and plan for dangerous circumstances … however unlikely they may be.

For the same reason that we tend to be drawn to sensational, alarming news headlines, we also like to read titillating works of hair-curling suspense and terror.

The landscape of the genre

Crime and suspense books run the gamut. James Patterson, popular murder mystery author known best for his police-detective-cum-forensic-psychologist Alex Cross, tops Public Lending Right’s list. The genre also spans a range of subjects and tones, from gory thrillers penned by Patricia Cornwell to the fast-paced, plot-driven suspense of John J. Davis.

The genre’s range is expanding further as barriers to publication disappear. The newly born Wild West of self-publishing has lifted the velvet ropes to a new breed of writer — one that’s held back neither by the brand identities of publishing companies, nor the personal preferences of an editor.

As a result, new and intriguing styles are emerging as their own genres, ones that perhaps wouldn’t have had room to breathe in the arena of traditional book publishing: consider thriller-meets-chick-lit, crime crossed with comedy, fiction that courts controversy and steps on the toes of taboos, and even mockumentary-style horror.

With these fresh approaches expanding the options for reading, the future landscape and trends of thrillers is uncertain. Until the next Public Lending Right list is released, fans may have to remain in a familiar state: suspense.


Even though e-degrees, much like online dating, are losing the stigma, that still doesn’t mean students are making the most of this option. While it’s certainly not any easier than a traditional education, it does allow for more flexibility. Take advantage of it. This is the time when you can travel, study from anywhere in the world, start a family or move with your partner so that he or she can advance their career.

You have a great tool at your disposal, and all you need is a good Wi-Fi connection to earn a degree (and, of course, the drive, skills and intelligence to earn a degree in the first place). Even minute you spare avoiding a commute to campus and the luxury to attend class on your own time is golden. Here’s how to optimize an online degree program so that you complete it without missing out on anything.

Timing is everything

You need to be a master of time management to even consider an online degree, but don’t let that skill get rusty. If you’re a morning person, prioritize your schooling so you can drop the kids off at school, attend that yoga retreat that starts at 8am each day (there’s no rule against going to school while in the tropics and getting your yoga training at the same time), or get in that morning run after attending class. This is your time.

Always keep the end goal in mind, and unless you have commitments to family, earn your degree in the same amount of time (or less) that it would take at a traditional campus. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of endlessly putting off classes or taking it easy. While university, digital or not, is a time to grow and network, it should have a shelf life.

Balancing student life

Multi-tasking is a revered skill for many employers, even though numerous studies have been showing that it’s not as effective as people think. Human brains just aren’t wired to juggle, and something, if not everything, is going to suffer. Adopt a triage approach to life as a student, putting 100 percent into each task at a time until it’s complete.

This is going to include classes, family time, vacations, hobbies, and work. It’s not going to be easy, especially when it’s so tempting to put class at the bottom of the list. However, if you’re a good match for an online degree, you have the right attitude to make it work.


With urgent care full and doctors’ appointment calendars filled up for weeks, patients are looking for new ways to get the health information they need. Medical advice is shared online every second between patients and doctors. doctoronline

Professional health advice is valuable information, but online connections need to be thoroughly researched before you commit to a treatment or specific caregiver’s advice.

Information is power

Patients can start gathering online health advice at their personal physician’s website. Medical groups often have sites that include blogs and questionnaires written by their member physicians.

Perform a search for hypertension on the iCliniq website, for example, to see common symptoms listed or to answer personal questions through a survey. If you have a concern about an ailment, an appointment can be made automatically through the website.

Patients who catch issues and ailments early are often healthier in the long term in contrast with others that neglect their care.

Verifying the professional

If a patient wants to venture further into the online world of medical advice, look for specific article features. Any reputable doctor adds his or her full name, linked biography, and even a photo alongside the advice.

If some advice appears questionable, research the doctor’s credentials online at the American Board of Medical Specialties or American Board of Physician Specialties. Each doctor should have basic information listed prominently on these sites to be certified by certain states.

Virtual house calls

Doctors are going even further for their patients. If a patient has an issue but cannot make it to an urgent care facility, he or she can go online to chat or email with a doctor.

These virtual house calls are typically performed by doctors within the patient’s medical group or network. Symptoms and ailments are discussed, which possibly culminates in a prescription or another appointment at a physical office.

Patients’ lives can easily be saved or enhanced with practically instant access to medical advice.

Updating patients in real time

Conditions in the medical arena are constantly shifting. New, important information is released about diseases and research each day.

Savvy doctors are using the Internet to share their news through social media. From Facebook to Twitter, patients can hear the latest on hypertension or strokes directly from their doctors. They can even comment or ask questions through social media sites.

Recalled medicines, for example, can be pulled faster from patients with instant information on social updates.

Traditional visits remain a must

Although the virtual world holds many solutions for all patients, there’s no substitute for a traditional office visit. Doctors must physically check the body for visual clues about ailments and vital signs.

Between yearly physicals, however, patients can learn more about their health and potential risks. The information encourages more visits to the doctor to find or treat a chronic condition.

From medical group websites to well-known doctors blogging on news sites, patients have hundreds of outlets where they can find the health information they need. Think carefully about the site and its experts before trying a new diet or supplement, though; always rely on reputable doctors to stay healthy.


With people live-Tweeting their wedding vows and just about everyone being ordained as an online officiant capable of marrying their friends, you’d think someone would come up with a way to make weddings more affordable.

Instead, they’re getting more expensive every year, and some people are blaming Pinterest for encouraging stressful, fairy-tale weddings. Try to remember that the actual act of getting married is itself very cheap: It requires only an officiant, a little paperwork, and a permit.

That’s a marriage. A wedding can be just as affordable or expensive as you choose. If you want to have a party but aren’t keen on a backyard barbecue style, you’re going to need a stunning venue that holds all your guests and for a fair price.

Start looking beyond the ballrooms of the nearby hotels, because not only are they often overpriced, but they don’t make it very easy for you to customize the event. A one-of-a-kind romance deserves a one-of-a-kind venue.

Let those creative juices flow

If possible, have your own catering and bartending done. As long as it’s legal (with liquor licenses and such) you can save some serious cash by hand-picking your menu and/or having a more affordable caterer step in.

Check whether the venues charge for cake cutting and other add-ons, and make sure you tally up the final bill. There’s nothing wrong with a dry wedding, or only beer and wine; or having just an hour or two of open bar.

Decorating a venue can be just as costly as the rental fee. The best way to get around this is to choose a gorgeous venue that needs no further decoration.

This might include an outdoor wedding reception, a historic or rustic building, or one that already boasts a décor that you like. Don’t forget that someone’s going to have to stick around to clean up, so the less decorating and party mess, the better.

’Tis the season

If you want to get married in June, you might have to pony up some extra cash because you’ll have plenty of competition. Rather like traveling to a tropical location in the off season, you might be able to get a better deal if you get hitched during a less busy time of the year.

As an added bonus, more of your friends and family are apt to make it, because they won’t have other weddings to attend. However, keep the most important thing in mind: It’s not where you get married, but to whom. (Once that’s settled, where can be pretty important.)


Hitting up the club was great when you were a newly minted 21-year-old, flush with student loan cash and more than happy to pay both a cover charge and for overpriced cocktails. houseparty

However, times have changed, and so have you. Now you have a hard time paying something just to walk through a door, and since when does a martini cost $15?

Reality has set in, and you’re watching your cash flow, but that doesn’t mean the party has to stop.

Trying to perfect the art of the house party has probably been a goal since alcohol was discovered. You might be a little gun-shy after those legendary college parties of yore, but an adult party doesn’t have to wind up with overnight guests crashed on the floor and red paper cups littering the yard.

With the right elements, such as a portable bar or a DJ on call, you can bring all the trappings of a great club right into your living room.

The elements of a great house party

It all starts with the guest list. Don’t assume that all your circles will mesh. In 2014, everyone is more frugal minded and leaning more toward quality than quantity.

Plus, if social media platforms (or those Match.com commercials) are to be believed, people are more interested in putting the social back into reality … but only if it’s worth it. Invite the right mix of guests, give them a week’s notice, and plan your party around them.

The elements of a great party also include entertainment, whether it’s a DJ or custom playlist, activities, and food. In some instances, you can probably gather the right group and not have to arrange board games or ice breakers to get the party rolling.

At other times, busting out a few drinking games may be necessary. Cater your food to the guests’ preferences, whether it’s a pizza from a favorite local diner or handmade apps to show off your Paleo baking skills.

We’re all in this together

If you’re short on funds, and many of us are, there’s always the potluck approach. Whether you ask guests to bring a bottle, a dish, or both, it’s a reasonable way to get everyone involved.

People are more prone to show up in a timely manner if they’re in charge of the dessert. Who needs bottle service at an overpriced lounge when you can DIY at home for a fraction of the price?

Enjoy a more intimate party, save cash, and get the best perks because you’re the host: leftovers and no need for a cab ride home!



It’s so easy to say you like a recipe, an outfit, or a TV show, so why is it so difficult to tell people you appreciate them? Perhaps you worry that you’re getting too personal or you’re afraid you’ll make the other person uncomfortable.

This can be true if you admire someone you’re not close to (you don’t want to overstep boundaries), just as much as with people you’re very close to. However, telling a foster parent he or she is appreciated can make the person’s entire week.

How do you get started? It’s always best to speak from the heart, but it can be so difficult to put those feelings into words. The simplest approach is, “I really admire all you do as a foster parent.”

That’s to the point, easy, and works in every situation. However, you may want to offer some specific details.

Ideas to get started

Maybe you recently attended a foster care organization’s fundraiser or just found out that a co-worker has become a foster parent. No matter what sparked your interest, you’re now aware of these incredible families and want to show your appreciation.

“I’m so impressed that you’re a foster parent; that must be incredibly rewarding,” is a way to dig a little deeper. If you know the person a little better and have known for a while that he or she fosters children, but you’ve never broached the subject, it’s not too late.

“I’d love to know more about your experience as a foster parent,” can open up dialogue. Many foster parents don’t talk openly about fostering because they’re afraid others might not be interested, but you’ll be amazed by the stories you’ll hear.

They might even inspire you to get more involved.

Appreciation without words

Maybe you’re not comfortable openly praising foster parents, but you still want to let them know you admire what they do. Luckily for you, May is National Foster Care Month, which offers a prime excuse for showing foster parents you noticed and care.

A bouquet of flowers, box of candies, or tickets to a movie are all fine gifts for friends, colleagues, and others in your circle.

Sometimes a favor as seemingly simple as offering to babysit for date night or picking up the kids from school (depending on your relationship with the foster parent), can say more than any token or kind word. Actions really do speak loudest, after all.

What are yours saying, and are you ready to instill a little more appreciation into them?


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