I gave a short talk at W00tstock this year about animals in space.View
I gave a short talk at W00tstock this year about animals in space.View
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has followed up an earlier ban on smoking at most state park properties with this proposal, partly because the agency is worried that all those smokers pushed out of parks will come to the beach, reports the Associated Press.
The move would also serve to cut down on litter on the beaches and ensure consistent rules throughout the entire state parks system, an agency spokesman added.
According to the executive director of a nonprofit organization called SOLVE that collects trash on Oregon beaches, cigarette butts are the most prolific item.
“Most of the debris picked up by the volunteers consists of either small plastic items or cigarette butts, which both harm marine life in various ways,” she told the AP.
Those caught smoking could face a $110 fine under the proposed ban, though the department would rather educate visitors and save the heavy fines for the worst repeat offenders. Park rangers would be responsible for enforcing the ban, as they are for the February ban that only allows smoking inside vehicles or campsites when on state park property, or in specially designated areas in day-use parks.
Rangers have already started asking people to put out their cigarettes in state parks, but won’t start ticketing anyone until next year, the spokesperson adds.
Oregon moves to ban smoking along its Pacific coastline [Associated Press]
A dad of two (who might not be the smartest person alive per se, because that is a very difficult thing to determine) figured out how to make his children the overlords of all others with his Bunch O Balloons device on Kickstarter. It reached its $10,000 funding goal in under 12 hours, and hit $161,252 total as of this writing.
It seems so simple, it’s one of of those things you’ll be lamenting forever that you didn’t come up with first: Attach the stem of the gadget to your hose and turn on the water to fill the balloons. You then apparently give it just a “gentle shake” over a plastic tub, and pop, wurble gurgle, 37 filled and tied water balloons.
Even if a few break, that’s a lot less work than the old way — if this thing works as demonstrated, which of course, we can’t know at this point.
And if you’re thinking of the impact this surge in water balloon production could have on the environment, the plastic stems are recyclable and the balloons are made from biodegradable material.
Again, they tie themselves. Just don’t let these babies get into the wrong hands — I’m looking at you, kid with the bad attitude who always tries to sabotage the neighbors’ block party — or face certain drenching.
*Thanks for the tip, Jenny!
The original Yelp review has since been deleted, but not before the Internet saved this screengrab for posterity.
On the Yelp page for East Portland eatery EastBurn, someone named “Lee M.” wrote the following groaner (which has since been deleted):
“My friend and I picked up some hot girls here, but he got his pregnant. But she was Canadian so she went home and got a free abortion so it’s all cool now. You can get grilled cheeses here for $5.”
To which EastBurn owner Mike Bender replied:
“5 stars to you Lee M. for making an example of how this kind of disrespect toward women is shameful and not at all funny… As a thank you for spotlighting this kind of behavior, all proceeds through August from the sale of EastBurn’s Grilled Cheeses will go to the Portland Women’s Crisis Line.”
“It just seemed like a good thing to do,” Bender tells the Oregonian about his decision to donate the money to the crisis line. “We do a lot of benefits here and thought it was a good opportunity to give back…It’s especially pervasive in the restaurant industry [disrespect towards women] and it’s not cool.”
Time.com has an interesting interview with Mark Reitman, who teaches a $699 two-day course about how to operate a hot dog stand, or “the art of the cart,” at the Vienna Beef factory in Chicago.
Here’s what we learned in this mini-course — for more, check out Time’s interview.
1. The Hot Dog University has had over 800 students: Of those 800 students, 300 have opened restaurants and 500 have set up hot dog carts, according to Reitman
2. You can simmer a hot dog (but don’t boil it) or chargrill it: But “don’t just throw the dog on there,” he explains. Score the dog first and crosscut the ends so it doesn’t get too big and explode.
3. Ketchup is acceptable on a hot dog, with one exception: “It doesn’t belong on a Chicago-style hot dog because the tomatoes and relish already provide that sweetness.”
4. Speaking of which, there is a correct way to put the seven toppings on a Chicago-style dog (something you Chicagoans out there no doubt already know): A thin line of mustard on top, green relish, diced onions, two thinly-sliced tomato wedges on one side and two sport peppers on the others, a cold pickle spear down the middle and a dash of celery salt.
5. There is no place for meatless dogs in the hot dog university: That’s for one simple reason — “hot dogs are not health food, they’re comfort food.”
6. Grilled onions are used as an aromatic lure to bring in customers: The smell works like bait, whether you end up eating an onion or not. “Even if we don’t put the onions on the hot dogs, we do that whenever it gets slow to attract customers to the cart,” Reitman explains.
Meet the Man Behind Hot Dog University [Time.com]
On the federal government’s USA.gov portal where you can find information on pretty much everything, you can find this handy five-step letter-writing wizard. It can even help you find the corporate headquarters of the company you’re contacting if you don’t have the address handy. Here’s the end result, with details taken from our much longer and fancier model letter that we published earlier this week:
Would you rather flesh out your own message? The site also has this handy model letter, which breaks down and labels the basic required elements of a complaint letter. There’s a version that you can copy and paste and customize for your own needs as well.
The Internet has an endless appetite for two things. The first is people sharing more information than they had intended with companies that use that information to target advertising. The second is cat pictures. Yet what if there were a way to use cat pictures to teach us all a lesson about how much information we’re inadvertently sharing with the Internet?
Here’s the thing: smartphones have built-in cameras and global positioning system capabilities. When you send someone a digital photo, the GPS coordinates of where you took that picture are embedded in the image, waiting only for someone who cares about where you are to strip them out. It sounds like a minor thing, but it’s not: back in 2012, a reporter for Vice accidentally revealed where fugitive murder suspect and rich dude John McAfee was hiding by posting a simple iPhone snapshot.
If you wouldn’t post your home address on the Internet, make sure you aren’t uploading or sending geotagged photos. That’s where the site I Know Where Your Cat Lives comes in, combining education about online privacy with pictures of cats. IKWYCL takes public photos posted on sites like Flickr and Instagram that come with geographic data included and plots them on a map. A global map of cats.
The site explains its true purpose as follows:
This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all. This website doesn’t visualize all of the cats on the net, only the ones that allow you to track where their owners have been.
There are only about a million cats on the map, chosen from the pictures available online that are tagged with the word “cat” and the location where they were taken.
If your own cat appears on the map, you can remove it simply by editing the privacy settings on the account that you used to upload it, or removing the geographic information from the photo, then re-uploading it. The site will then conceal your cat’s identity within 30 days.
Purrrrrivacy…I hate myself for even thinking of that pun.
Oh, and the site happens to be running a Kickstarter campaign right now, just in case you want to support the project of educating cats about online privacy.
I Know Where Your Cat Lives [Official Site] (Thanks, Olivia!)
Walmart announced this week that it will be offering teachers across the country a 10% discount on classroom supplies purchased during its “Teacher Appreciation Week.”
That’s all well and good, but the discount will only be given in the form of a Walmart eGift card after making a purchase; meaning the savings won’t be realized until later and teachers will have to come back to Walmart to spend it.
Only certain school supply purchases made between July 25 and July 31 are eligible for the deal.
The savings process works like this:
Sure, it’s better than nothing, but it also seems like a lot of extra work for the teacher. And any teacher who’d hoped to spend those savings at a store other than Walmart is out of luck.
But then again, it’s probably a better option than the small personal loans to pay for classroom supplies that Consumerist reported on earlier this year.
Consumers who encounter issues with prepaid cards, such as gift cards, benefit cards, and general purpose reloadable cards, as well as, debt settlement services, credit repair services, and pawn and title loans now have an outlet to air their grievances.
The Bureau previously accepted complaints about credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, private student loans, auto and other consumer loans, credit reporting, debt collection, payday loans and money transfers.
The CFPB requests that companies named in complaints respond within 15 days and describe the steps they will take or have taken to remedy the situation. Companies are expected to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days.
The inclusion of prepaid card complaints comes as the cards have gained significant popularity for those who are unable to acquire banking accounts. An estimated 12 million consumers use the product that lacks the same protections as traditional debit or credit cards.
Consumers can submit prepaid card complaints regarding:
The addition of debt settlement and credit repair service complaints to the Bureau’s system comes less than two weeks after a Center for Responsible Lending report found that the programs often do more harm than good for consumers looking to get out of debt.
Consumers can now submit complaints about debt settlement and credit repair regarding:
Pawn and Title loans, which often include short terms and high interest rates, can leave consumers in a tough spot if they default.
The CFPB will collect complaints about:
Consumer complaints can be submitted to the CFPB online.
This is the second significant change to the Bureau’s consumer complaint database in the last week.
Last Wednesday, the CFPB announced a new proposal that would allow consumers the option of voicing the details of their grievances in a publicly viewable forum.
Currently when consumers submit a complaint to CFPB’s public-facing Consumer Complaint Database, they fill in basic information such as who they are, who the complaint is against, and when the issue occurred. There is also an opportunity to describe what happened and attach any related documents.The complaint is then forwarded to the company for a response and the consumer is given a tracking number to keep updated on the complaint status.
When viewing the database consumers can see only a fraction of the information provided. The data fields includes the name of the company, the company’s response and a vague issue description.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Beings Accepting Consumer Complaints on Prepaid Cards and Additional Nonbank Products [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau]
Regular readers of Consumerist likely know there’s a big difference between the “use-by” date and the “sell-by” date on food labels. But while most people take note of this information on highly perishable items like meat, eggs, and dairy, we often ignore those dry goods stashed in our pantries. And these unrefrigerated items are often allowed to sit around until we go to use them and realize, “Oh no… that went bad back when Bush — the first one — was president.”
Rather than wait for that discovery when you’re in the middle of a recipe, take a few minutes to check your shelves.
We’ve covered some of this ground in our recent Spoilage Wars series, but one never stops learning tips on how to properly store all the food we eat.
Without further ado, here’s how to not suck at cleaning out your pantry.
Unopened bread crumbs can last for two years in the fridge, or up to six months in a cool and dry place. Make sure to keep ‘em in an airtight container after opening.
These will be the freshest if used in two weeks, but they won’t be “bad” after that. Keep them in a dark, cool place, or freeze the beans for up to a month.
Pasta can last for a year in an airtight container.
If you store all-purpose flour in an airtight container and in a cool and dry location, it should last for 10 to 15 months.
Whole wheat flour can last for two months if refrigerated and in your freezer for six months.
Honey can last longer than most other items if kept at room temperature. As it gets older, the honey may crystalize, but it’s not spoiled. Soak the honey bottle in warm water and the contents will look like liquid honey again.
As we noted in one of the Spoilage Wars stories, there’s a caveat to buying honey in large containers: If the whole jug o’ sweet stuff crystalizes, you’re going to have to fill up a stock pot’s worth of hot water to return the to honey to its liquid form.
That depends on the condiment and whether or not it has been opened. This comprehensive list from StillTasty.com will give you info on just about everything you could want, but here are a few:
• Ketchup: Unopened, it should stay okay in your pantry for about a year. Once it’s opened, it’ll go six months in the fridge. The same figures go for BBQ Sauce, since most commercial sauces are heavily ketchup-based.
• Mustard: That unopened jar of mustard in your pantry can last about two years. An opened container of mustard could hold in the pantry for a month or two, but you’ll do better in the fridge, where it should still taste fine for about a year.
This can last for a year in the fridge, and pretty much forever if you freeze it. The experts say syrup in glass bottles helps to prevent mold, so watch out for interesting science-experiment-type growths if you have the plastic type.
It depends on the kind of nut and how you store it. They’ll last longer in the refrigerator or the freezer.The following sites have even more information on food storage:
Corn, canola and olive oil can stay in the pantry, sealed tight and away from heat, but more delicate and fancy oils — truffle oil, walnut oil, etc. — should be kept in the refrigerator to preserve the flavor. Depending on the oil, it can last for several years.
This just needs to pass a simple smell test. If it’s unopened, you’re good to go doe six months, but it will start to degrade once it’s exposed to air or heat. Read the bottle to see if refrigeration is recommended.
White rice in an airtight container can last practically forever. Just don’t store it in a container where bugs can get it.
Brown rice doesn’t last as long because of oils that can get nasty over time. Expect a shelf life of six months, or a year if frozen.
An unopened jar is good for a year — but really, who waits that long to eat salsa?
After you open the jar, you can refrigerate it for two weeks. And to avoid unwanted growths, spoon out your salsa rather into a bowl instead of dipping your chips — and fingers and god knows what else — into the jar.
Expiration dates on soda are something that never seemed to make sense, but beverages — adult and otherwise — can lose something over time.
Keep it in a cool dark place, but once it’s opened, stick it in the fridge.
You can keep this for several years, but the color may darken and the taste may change after a year.
To test if your spices are still virile, use your nose. If the smell is dull or not at all vibrant, it’s time for a new bottle.
To prolong the life of dried spices, keep them at room temperature and away from the oven or other sources of heat. That means you shouldn’t store them in the cabinet above your stove or even in a spice rack next to your stove.
Granulated sugar stays good pretty much forever if you keep it in an airtight container, but brown sugar is a different story.
It will harden when it dries out and is exposed to air for prolonged periods, so zip it up in a plastic bag and freeze it. When you defrost it, it will be soft again. Brown sugar is usually good for six months.
If you have an unopened container, it can last forever. The clock ticks down six months for opened packages.
Twelve years. Really, that’s what they say. Twelve years.
The flavor is actually supposed to get better with age. Keep it in a dark and cool place.
You can learn more about the shelf life of food here but keep in mind the authors of that site are less concerned with keeping your pantry in order and think more about preparing for a catastrophe like a zombie apocalypse or some other emergency that requires survival skills.
Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at email@example.com.
You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at NJ.com, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.
PREVIOUSLY ON HOW TO NOT SUCK:
How Long Should I Hold On To My Old Bills & Other Documents?
10 Tips For Getting Rid Of The Junk In Your Life
How To Not Suck At Picking A Father’s Day Gift
How To Not Suck At Booking A Vacation Rental
How To Not Suck At Making The Transition From School To The Real World
How To Not Suck At Spring Cleaning
16 Ways To Not Suck At Making Mother’s Day Special
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15 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Disability Insurance
15 Things People Of All Ages Need To Know About Long-Term Care Insurance
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How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 5: Spending Your Wedding Cash
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 4: The Honeymoon
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 3: The Costly Little Extras
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 2: The Stuff People Pay Too Much For
How To Not Suck At Planning Your Wedding, Part 1: The Most Expensive Steps
How To Not Suck… At Teaching Your Kids About Money
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How To Not Suck… At Saving For College
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How To Not Suck… At Saving For The Holidays
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How To Not Suck… At Getting Ready For Tax Season
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How To Not Suck… At Getting Out Of Debt
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Prince William County community calendar, July 24 to 30, 2014
Manassas farmers market, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursdays and 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays, Loy E. Harris Pavilion, 9201 Center St., and 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, Parking Lot B, West Street (next to the train station visitors center). 703-361-6599 or www ...
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