Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Those Newfangled TVs

Whether you're deciding on a big fat DLP television or looking for a skinner plasma or LCD model, it pays to do some physical research in addition to checking out internet sites and reviews. For one, each has its own quirks regarding viewing from the side. It's best to check out a few models at the store for that. You don't want a screen that goes totally black when you're looking at it from the side (some LCDs and DLPs). Others lose their color tones from the side, too (some DLPs). You probably want one that's already HD-ready, instead of HD "compatible." (If you're a satellite subscriber, that'll be another ten smackeroos a month, thank you very much.)

Plasmas are more touchy and if you watch a lot of sports with fixed scores showing, there could be some burn-in issues. Manufacturers assure us that those problems are fixed, but you need to know there's a possibility. Plasmas are also kind of fussy about handling - lay them incorrectly on their sides and you could destroy them for good.

If you're narrowing down your search between plasma and LCD, here are two biggies:
-Plasma looks better in a dim room, according to the expert reviewers.
-LCD has a better picture in a brighter space.

If you have a theater setting without too many windows, you might want to consider plasma. Based on the units selling at Wal-Mart, though, LCD seems to be leader in choice. The Supercenters feature less than a handful of plasmas as compared to an entire wall full of LCDs. While you may not want to darken their doors for a truly enjoyable shopping experience, we can assume they've done their homework in that department.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Propagating Dieffenbachia: Putting the Dumb in Dumbcane

Sooner or later, a dieffenbachia may develop twisty stems that simply fall over or break. You can propagate by wrapping the saved portion in sphagnum. Keep it damp and inside a plastic bag - just the bottom part of the stem. You can also just start over - by trimming the plant stems back to about 2-3 inches above the soil. They'll develop new leaf growth in time.

Dieffenbachia is also called dumbcane - and there's a reason for that. The sap is poisonous and if it touches your lips or mouth area, it can cause the tongue to swell. In severe reactions, the swelling can close off the throat. If you own curious pets or have equally adventurous children, it's probably best to bypass this plant.

At the very least, when handling dieffenbachia, wear gloves or wash thoroughly afterward. That includes handling the leaves or when trimming any portion of the plant.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shampoo and Blood Do Mix

Got a little cut and didn't realize it was leaving a trail of blood on your clothes? Quick, grab the shampoo. Be sure it doesn't contain conditioner. Rub it in really good and it should disappear. Then, you can wash or even soak in cold water. I highly recommend you not dry anything until you're sure the stain is gone.

Now, if you have a gusher and larger areas are involved, you'll have to get a bucket and try a saltwater solution. First, though, you may want to head to emergency and get treatment.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Poor Man's Propane Gas Gauge

If you're running that 20-lb propane tank and wondering when it's going to come up empty, here's an easy way to ballpark it. Just use your bathroom scales. Granted, it's not the most convenient thing to do in the middle of a cookout, but until you find a gauge that works, this'll do. The down side is - there are no leak detection alarms, so you have to that the old-fashioned way, too. Check the connections with this solution: one-half cup water; one-half teaspoon liquid hand soap.

A 20-lb tank will run about 18 pounds when it's empty. When full, it can weigh about 38 pounds. Weigh yours when it's full, so you can have a starting point. OR, run it completely out and then weigh it.

Now, if you're cooking at home, it's just as convenient and a darn sight more useful to just invest in a second tank.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Getting a Credit on your Credit Card

Catching and fixing a mistake on your credit card is not always easy. In fact, if you browse through card company web sites, there very little there in the way of fixing things that go wrong. On the merchant end, you are just as likely to come up empty.

Here's the situation:
-You purchase an item that is marked 50% off, but cashier rings it up at full price (a good reason to check those readouts, right?)
-You pay be credit card without noticing the error.
-You check the slip as you walk away and return to the counter.
-Cashier re-inputs info and tells you everything will be all right when you're billed.
-A couple of days later, you check your billing online and find the merchant has double billed you - once for the original purchase and again for the corrected purchase.

What do you do?

-Call the merchant/particular store directly. Surely you kept your sales slip for a few days.
-You'll be transferred to customer billing.
-Easy fix - it takes about 48 hours for the correction to actually be processed. That means the charge will disappear from your online statement if all goes well.

Now that you have this handy information, you can wait the full 48 hours before calling to complain, right?