Shared posts

18 Sep 07:40

Va. DMV cranking out birth certificates

Virginia is celebrating a baby boom of sorts. It's seeing a lot of birth certificates, above 50,000 this month.
22 Jul 19:21

​How To Build Your Own Altoids Tin Survival Kit

by Wes Siler on IndefinitelyWild, shared by Whitson Gordon to Lifehacker

​How To Build Your Own Altoids Tin Survival Kit

Tiny, light and infinitely transportable, this affordable little kit might save your life in an emergency. Here's how to build your own mini survival kit and how to use the stuff in it.


16 Sep 14:46

Café Reduces Waste, Serves Espresso Drinks In Ice Cream Cones

by Laura Northrup

espresso_pastriesIf you went out for your morning coffee today, whether you paid for it or got a freebie from McDonald’s, did you think to yourself, “this disposable paper cup is nice, but it’s so wasteful”? That is probably a common thought, but other than re-using a mug, what can you do about it? One cafe owner is blazing a path forward…with chocolate-dipped ice cream cones.

Ice cream cones? For coffee? Hot coffee? It seems like only a delicious, melty dream, but the café owner has the cones bade by a local confectioner. No venti pumpkin spice lattes in your cone: they’re only four ounces, enough for a tiny espresso-based beverage.

Of course, the cutting edge of caffeine isn’t cheap. While an espresso drink from Alfred Café only costs $3, the cone itself costs $5. Many customers are tourists visiting a nearby farmer’s market who are happy to pay for the novelty factor of a coffee cone, and surely there are people in Los Angeles who will happily pay $8 for a daily macchiato with extra crunch, but the cost and nutritional profile of a daily waffle cone mean that this should really only be a “sometimes” treat.

LA Cafe Serves Coffee in Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream Cones [ABC News] (Thanks, Sarah!)

16 Sep 06:56

School bus driver killed during safety drill

An Ohio school bus driver is being hailed as a hero after tossing a child out of the way of a rolling bus Tuesday morning before the vehicle rolled over the driver herself and she was killed.
15 Sep 11:53

Study sheds light on who is most likely to spank

The Adrian Peterson case has started a discussion about spanking.
16 Sep 07:20

Va. version of FDR's CCC seeking applicants

Virginia is looking for stewards of public lands under a program inspired by the Depression-era Civil Conservation Corps.
21 Jul 18:30

This Free Cookbook Shows You How to Eat Healthy and Well For $4 a Day

by Eric Ravenscraft

This Free Cookbook Shows You How to Eat Healthy and Well For $4 a Day

Eating good food that's both healthy and cheap seems to be an unattainable golden trifecta to most people. Student author Leanne Brown took up the challenge to find a way to eat well for $4 a day. The result is a a cookbook that you can download for free.


21 Jul 16:30

Simple Renovations Bring Affordable Improvements to Rental Bathrooms

by Mark Wilson

Simple Renovations Bring Affordable Improvements to Rental Bathrooms

If you live in a rental, your landlord may be reluctant to spend money on expensive upgrades, even if they're necessary. But a few simple, and cheap, steps are all it takes to make a huge improvement.


21 Jul 14:00

What are Your Rules for Lending Money to a Friend?

by Kristin Wong on Two Cents, shared by Whitson Gordon to Lifehacker

What are Your Rules for Lending Money to a Friend?

Some say you should never lend money to friends or family members. But in desperate times, it can be hard to say no. If you've ever lent money to someone close to you, we want to know, what are your rules?


21 Jul 12:00

Pack a "First Night" Box to Make Moving Easier

by Mihir Patkar

Pack a "First Night" Box to Make Moving Easier

Moving houses (or apartments) is exhausting. Make your life easier on the first night in your new place by packing a separate box of essential items.


21 Jul 11:30

The Easiest Way to Squeeze Lemons Without Seeds

by Mihir Patkar

YouTuber ssgrey might have stumbled upon the easiest way to squeeze lemon juice, and thankfully he's sharing it with us. You won't get any seeds with this method, and you don't need anything but a knife.


20 Jul 23:00

Watch Out For a Non-Solicit Clause in Your Employment Contract

by Dave Greenbaum

Watch Out For a Non-Solicit Clause in Your Employment Contract

Employers tend to find all sorts of ways of restricting your activities after you leave the company. Watch out for a non-solicit clause in your next employment contract.


20 Jul 18:00

​Why You Should Always Insist on a Written Job Offer

by Dave Greenbaum

​Why You Should Always Insist on a Written Job Offer

When you get that call or email offering a new job, your first instinct may be to say yes. You might want to reconsider and make sure all the details are in writing before you accept that offer.


19 Jul 22:00

Shop for Household Items at Electronics or Hardware Stores and Save

by Dave Greenbaum

Shop for Household Items at Electronics or Hardware Stores and Save

The next time you run out of toilet paper or need some coffee, your first instinct may be to go to the grocery store. Check out a non-traditional retailer for these things and you might save some money.


19 Jul 20:00

Carry a Different Credit Card Than Your Spouse While Travelling

by Dave Greenbaum

Carry a Different Credit Card Than Your Spouse While Travelling

Nothing can ruin a vacation like having your wallet or purse stolen. Minimize the hassle of being without a credit card by carrying different cards than your spouse.


19 Jul 15:00

Top 10 Ways to Hack Your Grill

by Melanie Pinola

Top 10 Ways to Hack Your Grill

Your grill: it's the quintessential outdoor cooking vessel, and yet it can be so much more . From cleaning your grill to upgrading its features, here are some of the best tips and hacks we've seen to maintain your grill and take it to the next level.


18 Jul 21:30

Make Your Own Tool Roll for Easy Storage and Transportation

by Thorin Klosowski

Make Your Own Tool Roll for Easy Storage and Transportation

Not everyone needs to carry around a big toolbox. If you need something a bit simpler, Instructables user nomuse shows off how to make your own roll that's easy to carry everywhere.


15 Sep 18:29

Report: Four Million Workers Had Wages Garnished In 2013

by Ashlee Kieler

For most Americans every penny counts when it comes to their paycheck, but for some workers nearly a quarter of their wages are taken to pay for past debts in a process known as garnishment. The prevalence of this type of pay seizure grew significantly in the last few years leaving more consumers struggling financially.

A new report [PDF], commissioned by ProPublica and compiled by payroll provider ADP, found that more than 1-in-10 (around 7%) of all employees between the ages of 35 and 44 had their wages garnished last year.

With debt associated with student loans, credit cards, and medical bills rising, experts say they have seen a shift in the types of debts being garnished.

Unpaid child support was the most frequently given reason for garnishing wages, accounting for 41.5% of all seizures. Around 35.4% were made for student loan and court-ordered consumer debt repayments on things like credit cards and medical bills. Additionally, 18.3% of garnishments were deducted for tax levies and 4.9% for bankruptcy.

When the statistic is expand beyond the 13 million employees in the study to the nation’s entire population it reveals that about 3% or 4 million workers had wages garnished for consumer debts.

Who’s Being Garnished?

Consumers aged 35 to 44 were far more likely to have wages seized for debts than those in other age groups.

Consumers aged 35 to 44 were far more likely to have wages seized for debts than those in other age groups.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the report found that wage seizures were most common among middle-aged, blue-collar workers and lower-income employees. Nearly 5% of American’s earning between $25,000 and $40,000 per year have a portion of their wages deducted to pay for consumer debt.

The analysis found that the manufacturing sector had the highest rate of companies that had to garnish employees’ wages (48%), compared to the education and health services sector, where only 23% of companies garnished workers’ wages

Blue-Collar workers were more likely to have wages garnished than those in other sectors of employment.

Blue-Collar workers were more likely to have wages garnished than those in other sectors of employment.

Varying Laws, Varying Impacts Of Garnishments
Laws regarding garnishment varies significantly from state to state, which means some regions were more affected by the wage deductions than others.

The Midwest recorded the highest rate of garnishments with more than 6% of employees, or one in 16, who earned $25,000 to $40,000 having had their wages seized for consumer debt in 2013.

The high figure in the Midwest, may be a result of the relatively creditor-friendly laws in some states. Missouri, for example, creditors are allowed to seize 25% of an employee’s after-tax paycheck and can continue to charge high interest rates even after judgement is awarded.

Garnishments varied significantly in each section of the United States because each state’s laws regarding pay seizures are different.

Kevin, of Springfield, MO, found his paycheck was 25% lighter after Capital One began garnishments for his $15,000 in credit card debt leftover from the recession. While the 58-year-old has paid more than $6,000 toward the debt through the garnishment, he still owes more than $10,000 because the high interest rate allowed in Missouri.

Other states, such as Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina, largely prohibit wage garnishment for consumer debts.

How Garnishments Start

Although state law governing the amount and frequency of garnishment varies, the process to commence deductions begins much the same way, with creditors filing suit against the debtor in local courts.

A review by ProPublica of court records in eight states found that the bulk of suits are filed by major credit card lenders, medical debt collectors, payday and installment loan lenders and debt buyers – those companies that purchase unpaid credit card bills.

While most creditors and collectors are represented by lawyers, debtors – who are usually in tough financial situations or unfamiliar with the court system – generally aren’t. That means the debtors often don’t show up and the creditor or collector asks for a default judgement which paves the way for pay seizures.

And once the judgement has been handed down, collectors and creditors have the ability to pursue garnishment for the life of the debt; meaning that even judgements from years ago can be pursued if the debt is still owed.

An associate circuit court judge in St. Louis tells ProPublica that the court system is designed to give debtors a chance to dispute allegations, but most don’t take the opportunity.

He says this is because most debtors don’t think they have a reason to attend since they owe the debt or they think that handling the case without an attorney is “beyond their sophistication.”

So most cases end with the debtor losing significant chunks of their paychecks each pay period.

A Last Resort
Still, collectors and creditors tell ProPublica that pursing a lawsuit against a debtor is always the last recourse used.

“Litigation is a very high-cost mechanism for trying to collect a debt,” Rob Foehl, general counsel at the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, tells ProPublica. “It’s really only a small percentage of outstanding debts that go through the process.”

ADP reports that employers can often assist workers in avoiding costly garnishments by offering financial counseling, budget education and preventative financial wellness training.

Additionally, consumer advocates tell ProPublica that more needs to be done to protect already vulnerable consumers.

“States and the federal government should look on reforming our wage garnishment laws with some urgency,” Carolyn Carter of the National Consumer Law Center tells ProPublica, calling the level of wage garnishment identified by the report “alarming.”

Unseen Toll: Wages of Millions Seized to Pay Past Debts [ProPublica]

15 Sep 17:18

We Have Seen The Future, And It Serves Strawberry Dr Pepper

by Laura Northrup

765-r3ygv-em-55Last year, we brought you news that Pepsi finally had its answer to the Coke Freestyle super-fountain, and it was called the Pepsi Touch Tower. Over a year later, these machines finally made their way out into the wild, and have been renamed the Pepsi Spire. There aren’t many in operation: only 76 in the United States as of this writing. We were fortunate enough to encounter one while grabbing a slice of pizza.

Sure, there are other videos of the Spire in action, but those are generally earlier versions, with a public relations staffer or the Pepsi CEO looking over a reporter’s shoulder (warning: auto-play video at that link). How are these machines working out in the wild?

I’ve used the Coke Freestyle before, and was mostly surprised at how small the Spire setup is. It really feels like a tablet with a spout underneath. That’s it. Unlike the Freestyle, there’s no built-in ice machine, which makes it more compact. On the other hand, you then need a separate ice machine for customers who prefer ice.

It was very simple to make a strawberry Dr Pepper, then later a beverage that was 1/3 raspberry Sierra Mist and 2/3 club soda. Here’s a terrible video of the process, but if you’ve ever used a touchscreen tablet, you’ll get the idea. Tap, tap, beverage. Yes, I needed at least one more hand to do this.

Pepsi Spire from Laura Northrup on Vimeo.

One possible problem with the Spire: it’s not set up like a traditional soda fountain. Yeah, that’s part of the appeal, but that leads to a problem I wouldn’t have anticipated. Customers are used to soda fountains with a row of spouts and an ice machine in the center. More importantly, there’s a big drain at the bottom, which the Spire in use at this pizzeria doesn’t have. If a customer doesn’t like their concoction, they’re in the habit of tossing it into the drain. If there’s no drain, then they’re just throwing the soda back on the counter.

That’s why there’s a handwritten note in this video that you won’t see in Pepsi’s own promos. It instructs customers to please toss their unwanted drinks into the ice machine.

Vanilla Mountain Dew, Strawberry Pepsi Made Possible By New Soda Fountains

15 Sep 15:22

Urban Outfitters Sorry You Were Offended By “Blood-Spattered” Kent State Sweatshirt

by Chris Morran

(via @paleofuture)

(via @paleofuture)

Last night, Urban Outfitters took a lot of heat for selling a “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt” on its website that looked like it was splattered in blood. To some, this seemed like a disturbing, reference to the infamous 1970 incident at the Ohio school in which National Guard members fired on unarmed protesters, killing four. But according to the retailer this is all a big misunderstanding.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Urban writes:

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

Around the same time as UO was apologizing, the leadership at Kent State were declaring their disgust.

“We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” reads a statement from the school. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

Urban has removed the shirt from its website, but at least one person claimed to be selling it on eBay, though that listing has since been removed.

15 Sep 14:23

Microsoft Buys Minecraft Maker For $2.5 Billion

by Chris Morran

xboxminecraftIt’s official — Microsoft has decided it wants to play a lot of Minecraft, and it’s willing to pay $2.5 billion for the right to do so. The company announced today that it reached a deal to purchase Swedish Minecraft developer Mojang.

Microsoft believes the deal will be completed by the end of the calendar year, putting Mojang and its 100 million or so downloads of Minecraft — and all the users that come with those downloads — under its umbrella.

The game was already one of the most popular computer and mobile games ever when a console version of Minecraft finally launched on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in 2012. Since then, Microsoft claims that players have spent a total of 2 billion hours on the game just on that console alone.

The game has subsequently been made available on the Xbox One as well as both the PlayStation 3 and 4 from Sony.

Some games owned by Microsoft, most notably the Halo series, are held back from competing platforms, but in spite of the Microsoft acquisition, the company says Minecraft will continue to be made available on all its current platforms.

One of the most important aspects of the Mojang acquisition is the loyalty of Minecraft users. Microsoft says that around 90% of paying Minecraft players on the PC have played the game within the past 12 months.

“‘Minecraft’ is one of the most popular franchises of all time,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “We are going to maintain ‘Minecraft’ and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future.”

10 Sep 16:50

Prince William County crime report - Washington Post

Prince William County crime report
Washington Post
These were among incidents reported by Prince William County police. For information, call 703-792-7245. BRISTOW AREA. THEFTS/BREAK-INS. Brigstock Ct., 12900 block, 2:30 p.m. July 26 to 10:15 p.m. Aug. 31. Cash and jewelry were stolen from a ...

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15 Sep 04:13

Venezuela's newest shortage: breast implants

Venezuela's chronic shortages have begun to encroach on a cultural cornerstone: the boob job.
15 Sep 13:46

Pet of the Week: Fuzz

Fuzz is a special dog looking for a special home.
14 Sep 08:50

Doves rescued from Va. shed up for adoption

Nearly 100 ring-necked doves rescued from a shed in Virginia are ready for adoption.
13 Sep 14:38

In Jamaica, Rastas ready for pot decriminalization

Taking a deep draw on a pipe that glows with burning marijuana, reggae luminary Bunny Wailer gives a satisfied grin through a haze of aromatic smoke in his concrete yard painted in the red, green, gold and black colors identified with his Rastafarian faith.
12 Sep 15:40

Alien-like giant water-living dinosaur unveiled

Picture the fearsome creatures of "Jurassic Park" crossed with the shark from "Jaws." Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck's.
12 Sep 16:49

Sprint CEO On Failed “Framily” Plans: It’s Hard To Sell A Talking Hamster

by Chris Morran

sprint-framily-hamsterIf you’ve watched TV in the last year, you’ve likely caught one of the many, overly quirky ads for Sprint’s former “Framily” plans. Between the francophile daughter, random goth hanger-on Gord-on, and a hamster patriarch voiced by Andrew Dice Clay, the company’s new CEO admits that it was all just a bit too much for what was otherwise a cruddy group data plan on a really slow network.

“Dealers said it was hard to sell,” explains Marcelo Claure, who recently took over the reins of the beleaguered wireless company. “We are marketing a hamster talking to people… That’s very hard to sell.”

Claure, the billionaire founder of Miami-based Brightstar Corp. (which was recently acquired by Sprint’s majority investor, Japanese telecom biggie Softbank), says he was initially advised that he should not shake things up at Sprint until after his first 100 days on the job. But the Framily nonsense was such an obvious target that he apparently felt compelled to shelve it.

“I couldn’t help myself,” Claure told investors, according to FierceWireless. “There wasn’t a compelling value proposition here. We were more expensive and coming out of a traumatic network experience.”

He says the focus now is on trying making customers see the value in choosing Sprint. Claure replaced the Framily plans in late August with the Sprint Family Share Pack that offers significantly more data for your dollar than you might get from other carriers.

Claure followed that up almost right away with a $60 unlimited data plan, and then announced this week that it would be offering a special $50/month unlimited plan only for iPhone customers.

And while all of Sprint’s new plans give you a ton of data for a decent amount of money, the company faces some major hurdles in convincing customers to switch.

First, recent tests have shown that Sprint’s data network is much slower than the LTE networks for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. There is little point to having an unlimited data plan if you’re unable to do enjoy data-heavy services (like streaming video) that require decent network speeds.

Additionally, while Sprint has effectively slashed the price on data by increasing the amount customers have access to each month without increasing rates, most smartphone users in the U.S. don’t use more than 2GB of data per month on their wireless accounts. It’s like a restaurant that serves very filling food, meaning most diners won’t finish what’s on their plates. There is no real additional value if the restaurant says you can get a free second helping.

Claure says Sprint is actively working to improve its LTE network, and we hope the company is indeed committed to catching up to the data speeds and coverage offered by its competition. An industry with so few players desperately needs companies willing to shake things up to challenge the market leaders.

12 Sep 18:21

In Manassas, learning goes digital - Inside NoVA

In Manassas, learning goes digital
Inside NoVA
A few days before school started, ninth and tenth graders at Osbourn High School were already having their first lesson: Hands-on instruction on how to use their new school-issued tablet computers. “Our goal is for all of the students to have their ...

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12 Sep 12:28

Ferguson video shows witness raising hands in air

Cellphone video that shows a witness raising his hands in the air immediately after the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer in Ferguson appears to support previous accounts and could bolster arguments that Michael Brown was surrendering when he was shot, legal experts said Friday.