I love life hacks -- a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one's time and daily activities in a more efficient way.

Some of my favorites include putting a wooden spoon across a boiling pan of water or other liquid so it doesn't boil over, using toothpaste to clean your sneakers (or restore your headlights), and using a cup of water in the microwave when reheating leftover pizza to keep it from getting soggy.

But here's a new one that actually could save your life -- or at least keep you from getting a huge stomachache.

Power outages happen occasionally and the biggest hit is not to our video game time, but rather the food we store in our freezer.

If the power goes out for a time, the food in your freezer may thaw out, creating a bonanza for bacteria growth. When the power goes back on, the food refreezes with all that bacteria present.

If you're away at work or otherwise, you may not know it even happened.

But here's a simple tip to help you root out that bacteria.

Freeze a cup of water and place it in your freezer. Place a coin on top of the ice.

Then, if the power goes out long enough for the water to melt, the coin will drop to the bottom of the cup. When you return home and find the coin at the bottom of the cup, you'll know the food in your freezer has probably been compromised and is not safe to eat.

It's a simple tip, but could definitely save you some stomach issues in the future.

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Sick Of Self Checkout? These Stores Are Listening

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The complaints are numerous when it comes to self checkout lanes in stores.

"It's too impersonal."

"It always glitches out."

"I hate having to scan things myself."

"Why is it telling me that I have to bag my gallon of milk?"

It won't take my discount/coupon."

And the list could go on and on.

Finally, some stores are listening. Led by the British supermarket chain Booths, retailers worldwide are starting to rethink the idea of self checkout.

Along with our complaints, many retail stores are finding the incidents of theft on the rise, or more accurately, the incidents of undercharging. Basically, some customers are getting more expensive items than they are paying for by purposely scanning the wrong bar codes.

Slowness has also been a problem, especially when it comes to buying items like alcohol or tobacco that require age verificati9n by a store associate.

In the United States, Walmart, Costco, Wegmans and other chains are revising their self-checkout strategies.

Walmart has removed self checkout lines in many of its New Mexico stores and promises more nationwide in the future. Costco is adding more employees in the "self checkout area" to expedite the process and Shoprite stores are also making moves to take out self checkouts.

The Atlantic sums it up nicely.

You know how this process actually goes by now: You still have to wait in line. The checkout kiosks bleat and flash when you fail to set a purchase down in the right spot. Scanning those items is sometimes a crapshoot—wave a barcode too vigorously in front of an uncooperative machine, and suddenly you’ve scanned it two or three times. Then you need to locate the usually lone employee charged with supervising all of the finicky kiosks, who will radiate exasperation at you while scanning her ID badge and tapping the kiosk’s touch screen from pure muscle memory. If you want to buy something that even might carry some kind of arbitrary purchase restriction—not just obvious things such as alcohol, but also products as seemingly innocuous as a generic antihistamine—well, maybe don’t do that.

All these moves do not signal the end of self checkout, but at least retailers are recognizing that the system as it is does not work. It is broken and needs fixing.

What that will take is anyone's guess, but at least they're acknowledging there is a problem.

Some common (and funny) memes about self checkout:

  • City of Lewisville Franco Zacco @ I was thrown out of the break room of my Walmart yesterday. They asked me what I was doing there. I told them I was on a break. They said you don't work here. I said I'd just finished using the self checkout so clearly I do.
  • FINALLY, MADE EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH EMPLOYEE OF THE SELF CHECK
  • What I look like What! look like in in my mind the Target self- checkout camera
  • Finally a self checkout I can actually use. SELF CHECKOUT "a I
  • The cashier at Walmart said that's $120" Girl gimme my money back I'm going to self-checkout
  • jordan Every time I use self-checkout, the person in front of me has never used self-checkout, touchscreens, or money before
  • walmart, selfcheckout, irony, ironic, jobs, itdobelikethatsometimes, itreallydo
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Move Over, Save A Life During Crash Responders Safety Week

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Today is the first day of Crash Responders Safety Week.

Sadly, we need this week to help us remember to move over, slow down and use caution when driving near traffic accidents.

Just in the last 11 months, 34 First Responders have been killed while trying to help others deal with a crash in the United States.

The National Transportation Safety Board put out this statement:

"Every minute of every day, law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services (EMS), public works, transportation, towing, and other responders work roadside to make roadways safe for all road users. These traffic incident responders put their lives at risk when clearing each of the nearly 7 million annual motor vehicle crashes or the broader range of incidents such as stalled vehicles or roadway debris."

CRSW is an opportunity to promote road user awareness and adherence to Move Over laws and Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Responder Training for all traffic incident responders.

The theme for CRSW 2023 is “Protect Those Who Protect You,” emphasizing the traveling public’s role in keeping responders safe while responders make roadways safe for all road users.

During Crash Responder Safety Week — and every week — stay alert, slow down, and move over for traffic incidents to keep professionals working to clear roadway incidents safe. These responders also have families waiting for them. #SlowDownMoveOver #CRSW #IAFF

A reminder has been issued as well to all drivers that it is a moving violation for drivers who fail to move over a lane (if it is safe to do so) when coming up on an accident or any police, medical or fire personnel on the side of the road.

This is a safety issue. Already, nearly one First Responder a week in 2023 has been killed in the line of duty while assisting during a traffic incident.

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This Little Debbie Frozen Treat Might Be The Best. Ice Cream. Ever.

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Just before Christmas every year, Little Debbie snack company comes out with my favorite holiday treat of all -- the Little Debbie Christmas Trees.

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It's what I like to call my guiltiest pleasure of all. Composed of mostly lard, sugar and Santa's magic elf dust (at least, I think that's what is in there), these treats are bad for you in just about every aspect. They have virtually no nutritional value, they don't travel well (easily crushed) and there are only five in a package.

And yet, I love them down to my very soul.

And I just found out there is a Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cake ice cream out there.

According to All Recipes, this decadent snack food giant mixed pieces of its seasonal, golden Christmas tree cakes, green sprinkles, and red icing into vanilla ice cream called Christmas Tree Cakes. It's part of Little Debbie's and Hudsonville Ice Cream's holiday treat line, along with two more brand new holiday-themed Little Debbie Ice Cream flavors all on the shelves of Walmart.

The other two are Cherry Cordial and Chocolate Ice Cream Cake ice creams, both also based on Little Debbie pastries.

While the other two flavors are fascinating, the original Christmas Tree Cake Ice Cream has me beside myself with excitement.

There is one caveat though: This ice cream flavor is being sold only at Walmart.

I'm not getting paid by the big box store, but I can tell you that there will be a trip to Uncle Wally's in my future very soon.

By the way, Little Debbie snacks have been part of America's dessert fabric since the Great Depression starting in 1928, according to McKee Foods which touts being America's largest family bakery.

Oh, and I checked. Walmart has this in stock right now.

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A Politically Incorrect (But True) Fact About What Utah Kids Need

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The PC (politically correct) police might pull me over on this one, but sometimes you just have to tell it like it is.

If we want our kids to be well-adjusted, motivated, high-achieving and contributors to society, they need a Mom and Dad, and they need them to be married to each other.

Study after study has shown that children with parents who are married to each other are overwhelmingly more successful than children with just one parent in the home or even two parents who are unmarried (cohabitating).

First, the idea of only having one parent (usually a mom). The truth is children need a father figure in the home. Check out these statistics:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the US average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
  • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
  • 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God’s Children]
  • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. [US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988]

Now what about the parents being married? Check out these numbers from intellectualtakeout.org:

  • Marriage makes a big difference: Most couples who are cohabitating and not married in the United States are not stable couples who are going to be together for the full 18 years of a child’s life and are just choosing to live a bohemian life without the legal paperwork.
  • Huge gap: Even among single mothers with college degrees, there’s a big difference in the outcomes for their children versus the children of married parents. About 28% of kids of a single mother with a bachelor’s degree get a bachelor’s degree by age 25. In contrast, about 57% of kids of a married mother with a bachelor’s degree get a bachelor’s degree by age 25.
  • Money makes little difference: A child born in a two-parent household with a family income of $50,000 has, on average, better outcomes than a child born in a single-parent household earning the same income.” Author Melissa Kearney speculates that might be because money isn’t the only resource parents need to raise their kids -- time is another crucial one, and a single parent generally has less time to devote to her children than married parents do.
  • Welfare makes little difference: Even in Denmark, a bastion of public welfare that includes free college tuition, universal access to high-quality health care, universal high-quality pre-K, and a generous childcare and maternity-leave policy, the influence of family background on many child outcomes is about as strong as it is in the U.S.

It's clear: Marriage matters. For us. For our kids. For our grandkids.

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Fraud Alert! WCSD Warns Southern Utahns Of Bank Money Scam

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A consumer alert was issued by the Washington County Sheriff's Office recently focusing on a new scam

In this new scheme, scammers are contacting locals and instructing them to deposit money into local Bitcoin ATMs (there are two of these in Washington County).

Here's the warning:

We have had a few fraud calls lately where scammers are contacting people and having them deposit cash into Bitcoin ATMs around town. The scam starts as either a message on an I-pad or a cold call claiming the victim has been hacked or their bank account has been linked to child porn. Then they tell the victim to withdraw cash from their bank so they do not lose the money, and the "bank" will return it to them in a couple of weeks. They are “spoofing” their number so it looks like the bank itself is calling them, furthering their deception.

The sheriff's office warns citizens to completely ignore these scammers.

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank, or anywhere that seems remotely suspicious, do not give them any information or money. Look up the number to your bank online (don’t just use a number they give you, it will probably just call the scammer) and call your bank directly. Ask the teller ... if this seems legitimate. Ask if this is a legitimate issue. Always use caution when someone cold calls you, verify by calling directly when in doubt. Banks and legitimate businesses don’t ask people to pay them in or hold money with Apple iTunes gift cards or bitcoin.

Here are eight tips from the National Council on Aging for how seniors can avoid scams:

  1. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call
  2. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers—and from those closest to you
  3. Don’t isolate yourself—stay involved!
  4. Tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”
  5. Shred all receipts with your credit card number
  6. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off multiple mailing lists
  7. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen from the mailbox
  8. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and thoroughly do your research
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Check Out These Scary Animal Attacks In Utah

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The story from Northern Utah is devastating.

Last week, 63-year-old Sandra Dee Miller was in her own backyard in Taylorsville when she was attacked by two adult and five puppy Pitbulls.

When police arrived, they had to use pepper spray to get the dogs away from the woman. Even then, one of the dogs came at the first responders and was shot dead.

Miller suffered severe injuries to her face, neck, legs and hands and was rushed to the hospital, where she was cared for, with doctors ultimately opting to amputate one of her legs in an effort to save her life.

Unfortunately, the mother and grandma succumbed to her injuries Monday, passing away at the hospital.

The other six dogs involved in the attack, all owned by the victim's son, have been euthanized.

It is a tragic story all around, but not the first time animals have attacked humans in the Beehive State. Here are some other incidents:

  • Last week, Clinton -- Three dogs (also Pitbulls) attacked two adults, causing non-life-threatening injuries. One of the adults shot and killed one of the dogs, while a second dog returned to its owner. The third dog is still on the loose.
  • October of this year, Draper -- Coyote snatches pet Chihuahua out of lady's front yard, despite her yelling and screaming. The coyote snarled at the woman, then took off with the pet. The dog, 'Koda' was never found.
  • July 8, near Provo -- This one was a cougar attack. Although the mountain lion never actually touched Kyle Burgess, this one is compelling because Burgess had the whole attack on video.
  • April 28, Spanish Fork Canyon -- A 70-year-old man was attacked by a mountain lion near a parking area in the canyon, suffering lacerations to his head and face, sending him to the hospital. DWR officials warn that there at least 1,500 mountain lions in the state of Utah.
  • October, 2022, Sandy -- A 5-year-old boy had to have nearly 3,000 stitches to repair wounds to his face and hands after being mauled by a husky. The boy had been riding his bicycle out in front of his home when the neighbor's dog attacked.
  • Sept. 26, 2022, Mill Creek Canyon -- Another mountain lion attack, this one sending two female joggers to the hospital.
  • Aug. 2019, Hobble Creek Canyon --  A young black bear bit a 13-year-old boy while he was camping at the Dewey Bridge Campground near Moab. The boy was sleeping outside in a sleeping bag when the bear bit his head. The bear was scared off when the boy woke up, but he was left with injuries on his cheek and ear.
  • March, 2019, Layton -- A 4-year-old boy lost his hand and arm after sticking them through a neighbor's fence. A husky on the other side of the fence committed the attack..
  • June 2007, American Fork Canyon -- A boy was killed when a black bear ripped him from a tent he was sharing with his family. Officials searched for hours before finding the boy’s body hundreds of yards from the campsite. The black bear later was shot and killed.

This is just a sampling of a few frightening encounters. There have been many more cases of animals attacking in Utah.

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