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Miss April May's HOT Tips

VERY hot tips from the REAL IRS
        Taxpayers should be on the lookout for new version of SSN scam Taxpayers should be on the lookout for new variations of tax-related scams. In the latest twist on a scam related to Social Security numbers, scammers claim to be able to suspend or cancel the victim’s SSN. It’s yet another attempt by con artists to frighten people into returning ‘robocall’ voicemails.
        Scammers may mention overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the person’s SSN. If taxpayers receive a call threatening to suspend their SSN for an unpaid tax bill, they should just hang up.
       Make no mistake…it’s a scam.
        Taxpayers should not give out sensitive information over the phone unless they are positive they know the caller is legitimate. When in doubt –hang up. Here are some telltale signs of this scam. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will never: Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card or wire transfer.
       The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments:
        1. Ask a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury. Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
        2. Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
        Taxpayers who don’t owe taxes and have no reason to think they do should:
        1. Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
        2. Report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by sending it to The taxpayer should write “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line.
        3. Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission. When reporting it, they should add “IRS Phone Scam” in the notes.
        Taxpayers who owe tax or think they do should:
        View tax account information online at to see the actual amount owed and review their payment options. Call the number on the billing notice. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
This is a verbatim message from a IRS Press release. (Editors)

        Down With Weeds. Do you believe the World Health Organization? WHO? (Well may you say so.) Anyway WHO says several commercial weed killers have ingredients that can give you cancer. Don't buy; don't use.
        But -- don't fret -- Here, courtesy of Consumer's Union, is the recipe for a home-made concoction that will do the trick. Ready? Here goes: Mix one gallon of vinegar, 2 cups of Epson Salt (resource the pharmacy) and 1/4 cup Dawn dishwashing soap (OOps! Brand name! But no, we don't get a rakeoff. Like Consumer's Report , we scorn commercial payments. And maybe some other detergent would work just as well.) Pour the liquid into a spray bottle and attack those ugly green invaders. CU says the stuff works because the vinegar is a mild acid, and, with the Epsom salt and the detergent, it leaves a coating on the weeds that smothers them.
        So now you know. Go! Mix! Spray! Kill Weeds!

        Oh Help! I pushed the Panic Button on my car keys by mistake! I grabbed my keys and pushed it again but no-go. I can't stop that racket! The neighbors are complaining. I'm going crazy — I CAN'T MAKE IT STOP!
        Ah, but you can. If you're not a burglar, put your car's doorkey into the car door and turn it. The car then knows you're there and settles down.

        Bad advice from unsolicited callers. The phone rings. It's a stranger. Do you give that person your credit card number? Your PIN number? Buy stocks? Dial unknown numbers? NOT! What stranger would call you with such requests? Crooks -- that's who!
        An e-mail that's currently making the rounds tells us that people pretending to be AT&T Service technicians, conducting a test on telephone lines, are asking the people they call to touch nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#) and then hang up. The e-mail goes on to say that when the writer called the telephone company to check it out, he was told that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number. We did not check, but that could be so.
        But why would anybody take advice from a stranger on the phone, anyway?
        Wouldn't you check out strange calls and e-mails at before taking that kind of advice?
       And . . .
        BE AWARE: The IRS does not telephone. They may send you a terrifying letter. (In which case, call your accountant, or your lawyer, or your brother.) They may stick a compellingly threatening letter in your door advising you that they plan to take away your house if you don't come see them and pay up. They may appear at your door. And that's not trick or treat! But they do not telephone and ask you to press one. Or seven. The voice on the other end of that call is a CROOK! And that's as terrifying as the IRS. Or almost, anyway. Be warned!

        Get Rid of Ants. Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," and can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, esp. if it rains, but it works & you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

        Take baby powder to the beach Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach powder and the sand will slide right off your skin.

        MINE! Put your child's picture inside the handle bar before placing the grips on the bike. If the bike is ever stolen and later recovered, remove the grip prove who owns the bike.

        More about the panic button: If you are in a dark parking lot, and you're accosted or attacked . . . That's when you should really hit the panic button on your car keys. Stay safe.

        Your Keys to Safety: Here's a tip that came via e-mail from a neighborhood watch coordinator: keep your car keys beside your bed at night. If someone trys to enter your house, you can set off a real alarm by pressing the panic button to start your car alarm — and off goes the horn! It's a security alarm system thats already in place, and it requires no installation. Try it. It will go off from almost anywhere in the house. It works whether you park in your driveway or garage. That rackety car alarm can be a real friend!

        Ticked off! Fleck the dirt off my calf, and -- ewwwwh! It's a TICK! What do I do? Light a match and burn it off?
        Negative-negative — bad news. Removing ticks quickly as possible is important to preventing Lyme disease or some other infection, but burning a tick that's fastened into your skin can be your worst-choice move. Experts say that burning it, or using too much force can make the creature regurgitate, whch increases the likelihood of infection.
        Over the past decade, Spanish researchers kept records on 52 patients who were treated at a hospital after extracting ticks by various methods. Smothering the insect by painting it with Vaseline or nail polish is a bad idea, because the more quickly it is removed, the less the chance of infection. And those who squeezed, crushed, or burned the critters were far more likely to develop Lyme disease or other complications than were those who simply grasped the insect with tweezers and pulled.
        So use the tweezer method. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull it straight up. Then fish out any remaining insect-bits and clean the site with a disinfectant. Some doctors also recommend taking antibiotics to ward off infection.

        How long will it keep in the freezer? The US Department of Agriculture says that frozen roast beef or steak will keep 6-12 months if kept at a properly low temperature -— which is Zero degrees Fahrenheit. Ground beef will keep 3-4 months, and cooked meats 2-3 months. Frozen poultry keeps for 6 to 9 months. Frozen fruit stays wholesome up to 12 months, and veggies keep 8-12 months. So date your freezer packages — with an expiration date if you can remember these numbers. (Sure you can!)

        Fog begone! Does the world sometimes get to looking foggy while you drive? Here's a cure: Use the fresh air setting to reduce humidity that has built up in the car. Or turn on the car air conditioner for a minute or two, so the air compressor can help to dry out the interior air.

        Traveling with portfolio On vacation? Break your glasses? Lose your pills? Pack a photocopy of crucial prescriptions, and you can set things to rights and set your mind at ease.

        Sock the painter! Pull a pair of old socks on over your shoes when you paint, and walk away clean. (Those same socks will prove useful for wiping up that one little smear that always gets away.)

        Here's a flock of very strange tips that came to us by e-mail from various manufacturers. They sound like commercials, but — who knows? — they might work like gangbusters. However, most of them are untried, so use them with a grain of salt (which means they may not work and they might be messy). (And we don't get a rake-off from the companies for running the info — in case you're wondering.)

  1. Pam cooking spray will dry finger nailpolish.
  2. Cool whip will condition your hair in 15min.
  3. Got any Elmer's Glue? Paint on your face with it, allow it to dry, peel off and see dry, dead skin vanish away.
  4. Shiny Hair: Rinse with brewed Lipton Tea.
  5. Sunburn: empty a large jar of Nestea into your bath water.
  6. Minor burn: coat with toothpaste.
  7. To combat arthritis, May's father-in-law says to use WD-40 to help de-fuse insect stings.
  8. Bee stings: try meat tenderizer
  9. Chigger bites: try Nail polish. Paint the bite with colorless polish and leave on until it wears off. Suffocates the little creature that is burrowing into your skin. Cruel? Maybe, but it's your body! (This one works. I've tried it!)
  10. Paper cut: Stick the skin back together with crazy glue. (Glue is used instead of sutures at many hospitals).
  11. Stinky feet: wash with Jello!! (Egads, wonder what flavor??)
  12. Athletes foot: cornstarch in your shoes (Baby powder is mostly cornstarch, by the way.)
  13. Fungus on toenails or fingernails: Vicks vapor rub (Never tried this)
  14. Use Kool Aid to clean dishwasher pipes. Just put in the detergent section and run a cycle, it will also clean toilet. (I've heard this about cola drinks, also. But doesn't the kool-aid leave its own stain?)
  15. Kool Aid can be used as a dye in paint also. Add Kool Aid to plain yogurt as finger paint. Kids will love it and it won't hurt them if they eat it! (But once it dries, I'll bet it's hard to get off!)
  16. Sticking bicycle chain: spray with Pam no-stick cooking spray
  17. Pam will also remove paint, and grease from your hands! Keep a can in your garage.
  18. Peanut butter will remove ink from the face of dolls.
  19. Heavy dandruff? Pour on the vinegar!
  20. Body paint: Crisco mixed with food coloring. Heat the Crisco in the microwave, pour into an empty container and mix with the food color of your choice!
  21. Tie Dye T-shirt: mix a solution of Kool Aid in a container, tie a rubber band around a section of the t-shirt and soak.
  22. Preserving a newspaper clipping - large bottle of club soda and 1/2 cup of milk of magnesia, soak for 20 min. and let dry, will last for many years! (Better yet, get one of those laminate sheets and keep it practically forever!)
  23. A Slinky will hold toast and CD's!
  24. To keep goggles and glasses from fogging, coat with Colgate toothpaste. (Only how do you see through the toothpaste?)
  25. Wine stains: pour on the table salt and watch it absorb into the salt. (I've heard this really does work.)
  26. To remove wax, get a paper towel and iron it over the wax stain, the paper will absorb into the towel.
  27. To remove labels from glassware etc., rub with peanut butter!
  28. To remove stubborn, baked-on food, fill the pan with water and add a paper fabric softener and soak it overnight. The manufacturer claims the static from that little towel will attract the baked-on food and cause it to adhere to the paper towel. You might also try one of those foaming tablets that are used to clean dentures!
  29. Crayon on the wall? Give it a good brushing with toothpaste. (Probably works best if the color of the toothpaste matches the color of the wall!)

        Don't call me; I'll call you! The backstory: When the "Do Not Call" registry was first introduced, over 16.9 million phone numbers were registered in the first week alone! If you're phone number has not been registered, or if your registry has expired and you'd like to accept the FDA protection, the number to call is 1-888-382-1222.

        Ditch the skid and slip the slide. The highway patrol suggests that you should not EVER drive in the rain with your cruise control on. If you should begin to hydroplane (not an impossibility) as soon as your tires lose traction with the road, the acceleration can . . . accelerate, and the next time you touch ground, you could be really flyin'.

        However, if you're planning on flying . . . You may lower the price of a round trip air fare substantially by making certain your trip includes a Saturday evening stay over, and by purchasing the ticket well in advance. And check all the airlines that fly where you want to go and find out the lowest fare to your destination.

        The maintenance you do today keeps the repair persons away. Periodically clean the screens at both ends of your washing machine's fill-hose and also check the drain hose, so water can flow into and out of the machine efficiently. Check the hoses for wear and replace the belt when it begins to look tired. Your dryer's lint screens should be cleaned after every load, and check the dryer vent regularly. Investigate the drum belt from time to time. (If the drum won't turn when the dryer is running, the belt is broken!)

        Powder from dryer sheets can leave your dryer too dry and too hot Yes, those little dryer sheets help your stuff come out feeling fluffy and soft. And sweet-scented, if you like sweet-scented. But if you like 'em and use 'em, you'll need to wash the dryer filter regularly, say repairmen. Why? Take out the filter and run a gentle stream of wasm water through it and see what happens. Chances are there's an almost invisible chemical; film clogging the mesh, and the water will puddle and run off the edges of the screen.
        The chemical powder in the dryer sheets can coat the metal of the grid, impeding not only the lint it's designed to catch, but even the passage of heated air that dries your laundry. When that happens, the mesh (and the dryer) can overheat and burn out the heating unit. And possibly even cause a household fire.
        Solution: wash the mesh filter with warm soapy water and a nylon brush for about 30 seconds. Then rinse. Watch the water run right thru the screen! Such a simple answer that you might try it on your dryer even if you don't use dryer sheets. Most screens could use a good cleaning anyway!
        HOWEVER, If you still want to use those softener sheets and don't hate the scent, the manufacturer says they'll chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. And a sheet will also . . .

  1. Repel mosquitoes: tie a sheet of softener sheet through abelt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.
  2. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors: Use one of those little sheets as a cleaning cloth.
  3. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needlethrough a softener sheet before beginning to sew.
  4. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparentlyweakens the bond between the food and the pan while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food. (I'd give it a good scrub afterwards, though. If that stuff will dissolve baked-on food, what will it do to your insides!
  5. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a softener sheet will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.
  6. Eliminate static electricity from venetian blinds.Wipe the blinds with a softener sheet to prevent dust from resettling.
  7. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used softener sheet will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.

        Insurance: do you have the right stuff? Homeowners insurance premiums vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and often from house to house. Do you have enough? Maybe too much? Is the insurance you have exactly what you need? Moreover, if you also have a home-based business, you may need entirely different coverage.
       Getting enough: What is the upper limit stated in your policy? If you've remodeled or added major improvements, your old policy may no longer be adequate.
        Maybe your home has appreciated in value in the past few years (or — horrors! — ). Either way, make sure your policy covers guaranteed replacement costs, because most home coverage is written as an HO-3 policy — one that sets a dollar-limit on replacement costs. If you get only depreciated value for your damaged possessions, and you have to buy new stuff at today's higher prices, you might end up having to do without a sofa or two. But do leave out the value of the land your home stands on; that's one thing you don't have to insure.
        Liability: According to a report from Consumers Union, most homeowners buy liability coverage for up to $300,000. But if your net worth is much higher than that amount, it could be wise to get an "umbrella" policy that covers liability for both your home and car. CU noted that an annual premium of about $200 provides $1 million coverage.
       Complicated? Yes, but you're protecting your biggest asset: your home.

        Gems of info about buying jewelry

        I seem to remember that — Oh, I forgot . . . Why? Brain experts say one reason we forget things is that we simply haven't used them recently; or because we haven't organized a supporting structure for the information in our minds.
        However, that's not as reassuring as it might be, because memory lapses, once chiefly the worry of the elderly, have emerged as a source of anxiety among folks of all ages in this era of information overload. "There are just so many things on our minds." Remembering it all requires lots of practice and better organization.
        Don't rule out physical causes for memory lapses. Research indicates that memory can be diminished temporarily, or even permanently by stress, nicotine, lack of sleep, or even small amounts of alcohol,. Another big cause is physical trauma. For example, young soccer players who take a lot of head shots sometimes report memory problems. And newer research tells us that adults who suffer multiple mild concussions from contact sports (and accidents) can suffer major, permanent memory loss.

        Something you can and should forget is herbs and "magical" remedies. Millions of dollars are spent each year on herbs of scientifically dubious value that promise sharper recall. But leading scientists who have studied commercially available herbs that claim to improve memory shake their heads and advise you to save your money. And some products (silver-based "vitamins" for example) can cause serious illness.
        So what's the answer? Focus on focus, experts say. Memory researchers now know a lot about the brain processes that create and store short-term, episodic and long-term retention, and they say memory can indeed be improved. But real improvement takes lots of practice and better organization.
        Repeat after me: Focus! Misplace your keys? Keep them in the same place every day. Forget names? Use word associations: Knowing someone's name is Baker means less than remembering that someone is a baker. Fearful of forgetting an important date? Tell your brain it is relevant and mentally repeat it, again and again.
        And don't sweat it. Experts agree that forgetting some things is normal. They argue that one reason we function so well as human beings because we do forget things. After all, our brains are limited. If we remembered everything about every aspect of every day, we'd retain such a tremendous store of trivia we'd have trouble sorting it all out and finding the important stuff. So forgetting is as important biologically as memory. And although folks who forget how to spell common words or even when to pick up their children worry that they are losing their memories, they probably aren't.

        Know your flagetiquette

        Shakespeare said, "Who steals my purse steals trash . . ." — Well . . . maybe not. Wallets and purses now contain things far more valuable than dollars: Your credit cards, your driver's license with your signature and address, possibly your Social Security number, and maybe even a check or two are in there. And worse yet, it could be your identity that's lifted!
        What can you do? Of course, you should cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. (Note to self: NOT in the wallet!)
        File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation — if there ever is one.
        And here's something else it's important to do: Call the three national credit reporting organizations at once to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number. If the thief tries to open a new charge account (or files any application for credit) in your name, the alert signals any company that checks your credit that your information was stolen. Thereafter, they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

        Here are the numbers for the Social Security Fraud Line, and for the credit reporting companies. You should be able to find these numbers if you need them. Well look no further! You can save yourself a lot of trouble and grief if you would jot these down on a sticky note or pin them with a refrigerator magnet:

        Social Security Administration Fraud Line: 1-800-269-0271
        Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
        Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
        Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

        Water, Water Everywh-- . . . Oops, conserve it if you can! Feel good about hand washing your dishes? Think again: you're using almost twice as much water as the average dishwasher. Pre-rinsing for your dishwasher? Reconsider. Pre-rinsing uses up an average of 6,500 gallons of water per year. And for "uses up" read "wastes;" according to Consumers Union tests, pre-rinsing is completely unnecessary if you have almost any brand of modern dishwasher.

        What happens if your backup contains the potential glitch that trashed the data you lost? Trouble! So here's a possible solution: Maintain two backups, one older & one newer. You may lose newer data, but not the whole barrel of pickles!

        Quickie Tips And here are some fast facts and tips that you may want to consider as you go about your daily business. These tips are good to know! (Even if you don't think so now!)

  1. A counterintuitive fact: One 100-Watt incandescent bulb produces more light than two 60-Watt bulbs and uses 60% less energy!
  2. Chefs advise potato-salad-makers to add the dressing while the potatoes are still hot, because warm potatoes absorb flavor better than cold ones. (Try using Thousand Island dressing for a new flavor!)
  3. One six-ounce serving of orange juice made from frozen concentrate provides the daily recommended adult allowance of Vitamin C. Alas, it also adds 80 calories to your diet. One orange, however, has still more Vitamin C, and about half as many calories.
  4. And while we're talking diets, did you know that one tablespoon of butter adds 100 calories to that baked potato? The same amount of sour cream adds only about 26!

        According to the Automotive Information Council, Wind resistance against luggage carried in a rack on the car roof can reduce gas mileage by as much as 8%. So if you have to pack things on top of the car, streamline the load as much as possible. Put larger parcels toward the back, smaller things in front, and cover everything with a tight woven tarp.

        Find out whether your safe-deposit box is covered by the bank's insurance in case of fire or theft. If not, you may want to add a floater policy to insure any valuables you have stored there,

        Catching cold? Docs say, "Wash your hands!" The U.S. Navy recently came up with some interesting news about catching cold. A "treatment" group was instructed to wash their hands more frequently than usual, when returning from a public place, for example, and before every meal. At the end of the study, their health was compared to a control group that had received no special hand-washing instructions. In all the program collected more than one million person-weeks of data. Results: the treatment group had 45% fewer clinic visits for respiratory infections! Cold and flu viruses linger on light switches, door knobs, and hand rails, in public places. Money passes from hand to hand all day. So, especially in winter, it's important to wash your hands frequently. May be a nuisance, but drippy hands sure beat a drippy nose!

        Kitchen tips: Most people know that lemon or lime juice will remove that dreaded fishy smell from the kitchen. Drop a slice down the disposer, too! . . . But did you also know that coffee grounds will take the scent of garlic off your hands? Used grounds are fine; rub your hands in the grounds, wet or dry, then wash. (But don't try making coffee with them afterwards!)

        Look out for those big rigs, they may be flying blind! Truckers driving very large vehicles may not be able to see you if you're directly in front of their bumper, or close beside them, or in the blind spot 200 feet behind their trailers. Also be aware that large tractor-trailers often swing wide to the left when the truck makes a right-hand turn.

OK! That's it from me, Miss April May. See you around!

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