February Is Black History Month 

Statue of Carter G. Woodson
 Statue of Carter G. Woodson in Huntington, WV

Although Black History Month is observed each February in the United States, many people are not familiar with how or why it was created. To understand Black History Month, you have to look back to early 20th-century historian Carter G. Woodson. As the son of formerly enslaved people and the second African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, Woodson was thoroughly familiar with how Black Americans were being left out of the narrative of American History.

Woodson’s desire to correct this glaring oversight lead to the development of Negro History Week in 1926. This week served as a prototype of sorts, and would later grow into the Black History Month we know today. And while people often joke about Black History Month being regulated to the shortest month of the year, Woodson made a calculated decision to begin Negro History Week in February.

The Origins of Black History Month

First, Woodson Developed Negro History Week

In 1915, Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History or ASALH). The idea for an organization devoted to Black history came to Woodson as he was talking about the release of the racist film “The Birth of a Nation.” Discussing it with a group of Black men at a YMCA in Chicago, Woodson convinced the group that Black Americans needed an organization that would strive for a balanced history.

The organization began publishing its flagship journal—The Journal of Negro History—in 1916, and 10 years later, Woodson came up with a plan for a week of activities and commemorations devoted to Black American history. Woodson chose the week of February 7, 1926, for the first Negro History Week for its symbolism. It included the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12), celebrated for the Emancipation Proclamation that freed many enslaved people, and the abolitionist and formerly enslaved Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14). As reported by Oprah Magazine, both of these men were already celebrated by many people in the Black community, and it made sense for the ASALH to further solidify that recognition by building a holiday around that week.

Woodson hoped that Negro History Week would encourage better relations between Black and White people in the United States as well as inspire young Black Americans to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of their ancestors. In his book “The Mis-Education of the Negro” (1933), Woodson lamented, “Of the hundreds of Negro high schools recently examined by an expert in the United States Bureau of Education only eighteen offer a course taking up the history of the Negro, and in most of the Negro colleges and universities where the Negro is thought of, the race is studied only as a problem or dismissed as of little consequence.”

Thanks to Negro History Week, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History began to receive requests for more accessible articles. As a result, in 1937 the organization began publishing the Negro History Bulletin aimed at Black teachers who wanted to incorporate Black history into their lessons.

Then, Black History Month Was Born

Black Americans quickly took up Negro History Week, and by the 1960s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, American educators, both White and Black, were observing Negro History Week. At the same time, mainstream historians had begun to expand the American historical narrative to include Black Americans (as well as women and other previously ignored groups). In 1976, as the U.S. was celebrating its bicentennial, the ASALH expanded the traditional week-long celebration of Black history to a month, and Black History Month was born.

That same year, President Gerald Ford urged Americans to observe Black History Month, but it was President Carter who officially recognized Black History Month in 1978. With the federal government’s blessing, Black History Month became a regular event in American schools.

Trying to capture the entire history of a people in a single month is obviously impossible. But each year, the ASALH gave Negro History Week themes, and that tradition has extended into Black History Month to help narrow people’s focus to particular aspects of Black history. In 2021, the theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”, and the theme for 2022 will be “Black Health and Wellness”. In recent years, Black History Month’s themes have included:

  • 2014 – Civil Rights in America
  • 2015 – A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture
  • 2016 – Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memory
  • 2017 – The Crisis in Black Education
  • 2018 – African Americans in Times of War
  • 2019 – Black Migrations
  • 2020 – African Americans and the Vote

Learn More About Ongoing Movements Surrounding Black History

There are a number of organizations that continue to work within a broader movement to capture and help people learn more about Black History. Of course, Woodson’s own organization, the ASALH, is still active today. You can also check out resources like:

The Zinn Education Project: This organization promotes the teaching of people’s history. In other words, the Zinn Education Project pushes at the boundaries of what is considered history, so students are receiving more accurate and complex reflection of events than what is often found in classroom textbooks. Its website includes free teaching materials that can be organized by time period, theme, resource type, and grade level.

Center for Racial Justice in Education: This organization is dedicated to “train[ing] and empower[ing] educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in schools and communities.” It has a number of free resources, including a Black History month guide that is designed for both educators and families.

The NEA Black Caucus: Founded in 1970, the NEA Black Caucus defines its mission as “to advance the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy, and educating the public.” The organization hosts an annual leadership conference.

Article written by Lisa Vox Ph. D.

Source: What Is Black History Month and How Did It Begin? (thoughtco.com)

The Chinese New Year

Begins Tuesday, February 1. It’s the Year of the Tiger 

The Chinese New Year is the most important festival in Chinese culture. It is celebrated on the new moon of the first month according to the lunar calendar and is a time for family reunions and scrumptious feasts.

While Chinese New Year is celebrated in Asian countries like China and Singapore, it is also celebrated in Chinatowns spanning New York City to San Francisco.

How Long Is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year traditionally lasts from the first day to the 15th day of the New Year (which is the Lantern Festival), but the demands of modern life mean that most people don’t get such an extended holiday. Still, the first five days of the New Year are an official holiday in Taiwan, while workers in Mainland China and Singapore get at least 2 or 3 days off.

Home Decor

A chance to leave the problems of the previous year behind, it is important to start the New Year fresh. This means cleaning up the house and buying new clothes.

Homes are decorated with red paper banners which have auspicious couplets written on them. These are hung around doorways and are intended to bring luck to the household for the coming year.

Red is an important color in Chinese culture, symbolizing prosperity. Many people will wear red clothing during the New Year celebrations, and houses will have many red decorations such as Chinese knotwork.

Red Envelopes

Red envelopes (►hóng bāo) are given to children and unmarried adults. Married couples also give red envelopes to their parents.

The envelopes contain money. The money must be in new bills, and the total amount must be an even number. Certain numbers (such as four) are bad luck, so the total amount should not be one of these unlucky numbers. “Four” is a homonym for “death”, so a red envelope should never contain $4, $40, or $400.

Launch Fireworks

Starting at midnight New Year’s Eve and continuing throughout the day, fireworks of all shapes and sizes are lit and launched. The tradition began with the legend of Nian, a ferocious monster that was afraid of the colors red and loud noises. It is believed the noisy fireworks scared the monster. Now, it is believed that the more fireworks and noise there are, the more luck there will be in the New Year, so Chinese New Year is a very loud celebration. Long strings of firecrackers are set off throughout the holiday, and there are many displays of fireworks lighting up the evening skies

Avoid Taboos

There are many superstitions surrounding the Chinese New Year. The following activities avoided by most Chinese on Chinese New Year’s Day include:

  • Breaking dishes, which brings bad luck.
  • Getting rid of the trash, which is likened to sweeping away good fortune.
  • Scolding children is a sign of bad luck.
  • Crying is another sign of bad luck.
  • Saying inauspicious words, another sign of bad luck.
  • Washing hair is also said to bring bad luck on this day.
xīn nián kuài lèHappy New Year新年快樂新年快乐

7 Foods that Never Expire

©<p>© ThinkstockPhotos</p>

Salt

Natural salt has an unlimited shelf life, whether it’s fine salt or coarse salt. Iodized salt, on the other hand, may only last about 5 years.

Honey

Thanks to the natural antibiotics it contains, honey cannot go bad. Its color or texture may change, you just need to heat it up and it will return to its original state. 

Cornstarch

Cornstarch never goes bad, as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place. It’s best stored in its original container with a sealed lid and away from moisture.

White vinegar

White vinegar doesn’t expire and can be kept indefinitely, although its quality may decline and its color can change, according to how you store it. To maintain its flavor and quality for as long as possible, store it away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dark and dry place with the lid firmly closed.

Rice

White rice (jasmine, basmati, long-grain, etc.) and wild rice can be stored indefinitely. If you store it in a cool, dry place and keep it in an airtight container once opened, it virtually won’t go bad. Brown rice, on the other hand, only has a shelf life of about 6 months, due to its higher oil content.

Sugar

Sugar—whether it’s white, brown, or powdered—never expires because it doesn’t support the growth of bacteria. However, it should be stored away from humidity in a cool place, and preferably in an airtight container.

Pasta

All dried pastas are non-perishable except whole-wheat pasta (for the same reason that brown rice doesn’t last forever). That said, pasta can diminish in quality over time and tastes freshest within the first two years of purchase. Fresh pastas are made with eggs and moisture, so they can only be kept for about two days in the fridge and two months in the freezer.

By Stephanie Holmes writing for Gourmandize©

Source: 7 Foods that Never Expire (msn.com)

A classic Facebook scam is still going strong – Don’t fall for it

If you have spent time on social media over the last few years, you probably know your villain name, which Disney character you are most similar to, or how well your friends know you. Here’s another quiz you should take: Which generation has the worst password habits?

These whimsical quizzes and questionnaires can be an excellent distraction from daily realities. But if the Cambridge Analytica scandal taught us anything, it’s that information divulged online can be used against you.

It might seem to be harmless fun but read on to see why you need to think twice before taking those social media quizzes.

Here’s the backstory

Have you ever stopped to think about the information you freely put out on social media? We’re not talking about uploading photos or linking to a personal blog. We specifically refer to the multitude of quizzes on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

For instance, in one quiz spotted on Twitter, you correlate your birth month and birthday from the selection to get the answer to “What’s your horror hostname?” That quiz is relatively mundane, but others are more intricate.

Their problem is not that our horror hostname is “Collector of Villainy,” but that it is easy to disseminate the information. It would be quick for someone else to work out the precise details of your answer and collect more information than you intended to share.

Depending on the quiz type, you could reveal your birthday, favorite color, pet’s name, the first letter of your mother’s name, where you live and so on. These answers are often found in account recovery or password retrieval.

See the problem? If hackers wanted to target you through phishing attacks or brute force, they could go through your social media quizzes to learn more about you. Chances are, they will come across some information that could help them.

What you can do about it

The easiest way to ensure that you don’t share sensitive information is not to take the quiz. Instead, you could work out the answer for yourself and have a giggle, but resist the urge to share it on social media.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has also warned against these questionnaires and sharing the results. “These are common security questions for insurance, banking and credit card accounts. Social media data and quiz answers can be used to steal your identity or enable a scammer to impersonate you,” the BBB explained.

Here are some tips from BBB to stay safe online:

  • Be skeptical: Before answering a quiz, figure out who created it. Is it a brand you trust? Just because something appears to be fun and innocent, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
  • Adjust privacy settings: Review the social media account’s privacy settings and be strict about any information that is shared. Also, be mindful of who you are sharing it with.
  • Remove personal details from your profile: Don’t share information like your phone number or home address on social media.
  • Don’t give answers to common security questions: Be cautious if the questions in a quiz ask for things like your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, previously owned vehicles, favorite foods or the name of your high school.
  • Monitor friend requests. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. And be wary of a second friend request from someone you are already connected with; the second profile may be an imposter trying to access your data and Friends list.

More on this scam:

Remember when you took that little Facebook quiz that claimed to reveal “what type of beauty you possess”?

Or that funny photo app that turned you into a magazine cover model? Or maybe that test that told you what kind of “Game of Thrones” character suits you?

Admit it, you have taken a number of these Facebook tests, haven’t you?

Quizzes like these are some of the social media site’s most popular guilty pleasures. If all your Facebook friends are taking them, they’re probably OK, you might think.

Well, the Cambridge Analytica scandal reminded us how these seemingly harmless and fun quizzes and apps can be trojan horses for massive data collection.

Take this popular third-party Facebook quiz app, for example. It looks like it has been leaking user information for years!

Are you one of 120 million?

(No, this is not another silly quiz.)

NameTests, one of Facebook’s biggest quiz app platforms, has been publicly exposing the data of up to 120 million people for years, including names, birthdates, photos and status updates.

Security researcher Inti De Ceukelaire discovered the alarming flaw and reported it via Facebook’s new Data Abuse Bounty program. Note: This program was launched as part of Facebook’s ongoing crackdown on abusive third-party apps.

Now, unlike in the Cambridge Analytica case where the quiz developer willingly shared the data with the analytics firm, Nametest’s data leak was caused by a glitch on its website.

According to De Ceukelaire’s findings, each time someone takes a NameTests quiz, its website fetches the Facebook user’s personal information and displays it on a webpage.

The problem? This page was poorly configured and allowed anyone to access it.

“I was shocked to see that this data [were] publicly available to any third-party that requested it,” de Cuekelaire wrote in a blog post. “In a normal situation, other websites would not be able to access this information.”

Be safe on-line.

Article by Charlie Fripp and Francis Navarro for Komando.co

Source: A classic Facebook scam is still going strong – Don’t fall for it (msn.com)

How People Get Alzheimer’s and Some Ways to Reduce Your Risk

Alzheimer’s disease can seem scary and mysterious. A progressive disease that eventually robs a person of the ability to communicate and function, it’s not entirely understood, although scientists are learning more all the time. In recent years, they’ve discovered that most people who get Alzheimer’s have certain risk factors, and there are things you can do to significantly reduce your risk. 

“Scientists believe that for most people, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time,” says the Mayo Clinic.

These factors may include:

1. Age

Age. This is the #1 risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The risk of developing the disease increases after 65.

2. Genes

Genes. Your risk is somewhat higher if a member of your immediate family had Alzheimer’s.

3. Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices. Obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can increase the risk of both heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Some studies have found that as many as 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease also have cardiovascular disease. Excessive alcohol consumption has also been associated with a higher risk of dementia.

4. Social Isolation

Social isolation or a lack of intellectual engagement. Research has found that people who are socially isolated or less mentally active have an increased risk of developing dementia. 

Experts believe those factors may lead to changes in the brain that produce the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Toxic Debris Build Up in Brain

Although the causes of Alzheimer’s aren’t completely understood, scientists have zeroed in on the buildup of debris in the brain, which causes brain proteins to stop functioning correctly. Brain cells called neurons become damaged, lose connections to each other and die.

Two kinds of debris that seem to be responsible are plaques (protein fragments that cluster together with other cell debris, disrupting cellular communication) and tangles (proteins that change shape and group themselves together, disrupting the brain’s transport system and killing off healthy cells). 

How to Reduce Your Risk

“Although some risk factors — such as age or genes — cannot be changed, other risk factors — such as high blood pressure and lack of exercise — usually can be changed to help reduce risk,” the Alzheimer’s Association says. Experts recommend:

1. Getting Regular Exercise

Getting regular exercise. CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta says this is the best thing you can do to reduce risk. “Exercise, both aerobic and nonaerobic (strength training), is not only good for the body; it’s even better for the brain,” he said.

2. Getting Quality Sleep

Getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. During sleep, the brain undergoes a “rinse cycle” in which it sweeps away debris and toxins, says Gupta.

3. Maintaining Heart Health

Maintaining heart health. Eat a heart-healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables, low in red meat, added sugar, and processed foods. 

4. Staying Socially and Mentally Active

Staying socially and mentally active. Being socially engaged and regularly “exercising” the brain with mentally stimulating activity seems to keep it healthier.

Article by Michael Martin for ETNT Helth

Source: Most People Get Alzheimer’s This Way, Experts Say (msn.com)

5 steps you can take to protect your money from inflation

  • The core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, an inflation measure closely watched by the Federal Reserve, climbed to a new high in December.
  • The 4.9% gain versus the prior year represents the biggest jump since September 1983.
  • Consumers who have seen day-to-day prices soar probably aren’t surprised. But there are steps you can take to help manage the bite from your budget.
As inflation hits another record, here are 5 steps you can take to protect your money

An inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve has reached a record high.

The index measures the prices people pay in the U.S. for goods and services, excluding food and energy, which tend to have more volatile prices.

Inflation — which some experts had initially promised would be transitory — has lasted longer than many had hoped.

There may not be an immediate fix as pandemic conditions contribute to higher prices and supply chain issues, but experts say there are steps people can take to try to stay ahead of rising costs.

1. Stay invested in equities

Even amid the recent market rout, the primary way to offset inflation is to own equities, according to Mark Hebner, president and founder of Index Fund Advisors, an Irvine, California, fee-only advisory and wealth management firm that was No. 72 on CNBC. Com’s FA 100 list for 2021.

The reason for that is that stocks have a strong track record. Over more than 90 years, equities have had returns in excess of inflation, he said.

The key to success is to design an all-weather portfolio for all market conditions and then to rebalance when necessary, Hebner said. In other words, scary headlines about rising costs and supply chain woes should not throw you off course and prompt you to make reactionary trades.

2. Adjust your spending

Ideally, your income should go up at the same pace as inflation. If it does not, you may have to pare back your spending.

That goes particularly for retirees, who anticipate living off a certain portion of their portfolio. An annual withdrawal strategy of around 6% should enable people to keep up with inflation, due to expected increases in their portfolios’ value, Hebner said.

But if retirees find it difficult to pay for certain items, they should pare back their spending, he said. Variable expenses, like entertainment, would be a great place to start.

Those who are collecting Social Security benefits received a 5.9% bump to their monthly checks this year, due to an annual cost-of-living adjustment that is the highest it’s been in four decades.

Meanwhile, workers who are still employed should hope to see at least a 3% annual salary bump in order to keep up with rising costs.

3. Negotiate your debts

A great way to combat rising prices is to fix your costs, said Carl Zuckerberg, principal and chief investment strategist at RZH Advisors, an independent wealth management firm in Stamford, Connecticut, that was No. 46 on CNBC’s Financial Advisor 100 list for 2021.

To that end, Zuckerberg’s team at RZH Advisors has urged clients to refinance their mortgages at 15- and 30-year fixed rates.

“Having a fixed-cost mortgage with a fixed interest rate means that cost in your life, which is normally one of the larger costs in someone’s budget, is not going to go up with inflation,” Zuckerberg said.

In addition, it’s important to refinance or pay off other debts you may have.

When buying new items, pay attention to deals that offer 0% interest for extended periods like 39 months for items like mattresses or home exercise equipment.

“If you think inflation is going to be high, that means every day one dollar is worth less,” Zuckerberg said. “If you can pay with future discounted dollars, that’s a home run in an inflationary environment,” he said.

4. Rethink your gas consumption

While it can be tough to find new and used cars to purchase, certain electric vehicles are fully stocked at dealerships. What’s more, that can help you sever your ties to gas prices altogether, Zuckerberg said.

If you’re not planning to buy a car now, you can still control how much you spend on gas by downloading an app to find the lowest prices in your area, he said.

5. Bundle your purchases

As prices for cars and home construction rise, one way to potentially get significant discounts on those big-ticket purchases is by bundling them.

Zuckerberg had clients who were doing home renovations at the same time as a neighbor and used the same contractor. The contractor was able to do the work on both properties and only had to bring in equipment once. Those savings were passed on to neighbors in the form of a 15% to 20% discount on a six-figure job.

The same concept works for buying cars. If you go to a dealership with a friend and each purchase separate cars, you may be able to negotiate a bigger discount than if you went alone, he said.

“We’ve been recommending that to our clients, and it works on all levels,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s a win-win.”

Article by Lorie Konish for CNBC©


How to Treat Brittle Nails

Dealing with brittle nails? A dermatologist shares how to treat them

Having your nails look and feel good isn’t just important for aesthetic reasons. Their condition could also be tell-tale signs that something is amiss with your overall health. If you’re suffering from thin, breaking or brittle nails, there are simple steps you can take to understand and gain control over them.

To find out why your nails weaken and how to strengthen them, Shop TODAY called in Dr. Angela Lamb, a certified dermatologist and associate professor and director of Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology, to explain more.

What causes brittle nails?

According to Lamb, damaged nails can signify different things in different people. “Nails often manifest vitamin deficiencies or can be a normal sign of aging,” she said. “Eczema or psoriasis can be found in the nails, too. Often when a patient has been diagnosed with psoriasis, the first place I look is their nails.”

However, our nail thickness, hardness and growth is often determined by our genes. Lamb compared this to the way our hair grows since they’re made up of a similar type of protein. “For the same reason some people have curly [or straight] hair, [and] some people grow long [or] short [hair], it’s all dependent on genes,” she quipped. “But there can also be pathology problems with your nails: paronychia, fungus, yeast [or] eczema.”

Be cautious not to misinterpret nail health with nail diversity, though. “Sometimes there are just normal changes,” said Lamb. “For example, I have fast-growing thin nails, [while] some people have thick, durable nails [that] grow slow.” If you’re concerned about the growth or texture of your nails, a dermatologist can help steer you in the right direction.

What can help strengthen your nails?

First things first, Lamb said to make sure you’re not vitamin deficient. A diet that lacks key nutrients like biotin, iron or magnesium can result in brittle, thinning nails.

Additionally, Lamb advised ensuring that your nail technicians are keeping their equipment sanitized and clean. She also mentioned that lacquers and nail hardeners are great for daily use. “Nail polish doesn’t always thin your nails; it can act as a very good protectant.”

Based on Lamb’s advice, we’ve selected some highly rated products for brittle and thin nails that you can incorporate into your routine starting today. Take back the health of your nails once and for all!

For a list of recommended products click on the link below.

By Cassidy McKenna for Today©

Link to source: Dealing with brittle nails? A dermatologist shares how to treat them (msn.com)

Save some money and cut the cable TV cord 

It’s time to kick your cable box, and pricy cable TV bill, to the curb. Thanks to streaming, you don’t need cable or satellite service anymore to watch all of the TV shows, movies, news and sporting events live or on-demand. And if you’re used to your cable box’s DVR, live TV streaming services offer cloud DVRs of their own that work in the same way, no box required. All you need to cut the cord is a good internet connection and the apps built into your smart TV or running on an inexpensive streamer, such as a Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

Sarah Tew/CNET

More Americans than ever are cutting the cable TV cord in favor of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max and Hulu. There are thousands of TV shows and movies to stream on-demand, but that’s just the beginning. Direct cable replacement services like Sling TV and YouTube TV start at $25 a month and can stream most of the live channels, sports and news available on your cable box with no contracts to sign, so you can cancel anytime. And if you don’t want to pay at all, numerous other services stream free TV shows, free movies and even live news. 

Whether your favorite shows are on Netflix or NBC, Disney Plus or ESPN, Amazon Prime or your local ABC, Fox or PBS station, you can probably stream them without ever needing to use a cable or satellite TV box. 

Here’s how to get started.

Set up a home internet plan with unlimited data, if you can 

Even if you cut cable TV, you’ll still need a home internet connection for streaming. Many people get their internet as part of a cable TV bundle, maybe with phone service too. Often your cable company is the same one providing your internet connection, but sometimes you can shop around to multiple internet providers.

You’ll need to find out how much home broadband costs by itself, without a TV bundle. If your bundle is $130 a month, maybe you’ll have to pay $60 for just internet. That leaves $70 of potential savings by cutting cable TV. That’s a lot of money every month to pocket or spend on new streaming services.

Other things to consider as you shop for internet-only plans:

  • Are you under contract? If so, you’ll have to either wait it out, renegotiate a new internet-only deal with your cable company or eat the early termination fee.
  • How fast of a connection do you need? Start by pricing out the same speed you have already but keep in mind that with everyone in your home streaming more, you might need a faster connection.
  • You should get a plan with unlimited data, if available, which can cost more than data-limited plans. Streaming video can really add up.

Which TV shows and channels are your must-haves? 

Now it’s time to figure out your TV must-haves. canceling cable means you’ll need to stream the stuff you normally watch on your cable box.

Make a list of the shows and channels you and your family watch regularly. In some cases, you’ll be able to replace your favorite channel programming with a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu, but be aware that many current-season episodes won’t be available immediately.

The best option to replace your cable box directly is with a live TV streaming service. Each offers a package of live channels you can watch on a streaming app that, with a bit of a learning curve, works just as well as (or better than) a cable box. They include program guides, cloud DVRs and extras your box can’t deliver including user profiles and mobile streaming. Prices start at $25 a month but to get live local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or PBS) and a package comparable to cable, you’ll need to pay at least $65 per month. For premium shows, HBO ($15 a month), Showtime ($11) and Starz ($9) all have standalone services, too. 

The best part about any of the services above? Unlike cable, you can cancel and restart service anytime without contracts or penalties. You can subscribe to follow a particular show, for example, and then cancel after the finale. 

Try to replace your DVR’d shows with streaming options

Do you use your cable box’s DVR a lot? Live TV streaming services offer a “cloud DVR,” but they do have some limitations compared to TiVo or the DVR from your cable company. They often have storage limits, shows that expire after a certain time, limitations on which channels can be recorded, and some even force you to watch commercials. YouTube TV has the best cloud DVR we’ve tested, and in most ways it’s as good as TiVo, but other services’ cloud DVRs aren’t as good.

Thanks to on-demand, however, you might not miss your DVR much at all. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others let you watch shows on-demand — often the same shows you’re using your DVR to record. And live TV services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV offer a lot of on-demand shows, and you can often pause or even skip commercials. On the other hand, every episode of every show might not be available.

Install a TV antenna for local channels

One way to get around the high cost of local networks on streaming is to use an antenna. To qualify as a television, and not a monitor, a display needs to have an over-the-air tuner built-in, so you can plug in an antenna and watch broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS. Reception varies widely depending on where you live, however, and unless you buy an antenna DVR like the Fire TV Recast, AirTV or TiVo Bolt OTA, you’re restricted to live-only viewing.

Use a streaming device: smart TV, game console, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast or Apple TV

You won’t need that cable box anymore, but you will need some kind of streaming device to watch services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max. Maybe the app is built into your smart TV, maybe into your game console, or maybe you have to buy a new streaming device like a Roku or Apple TV. In any case you’ll also need to connect such a device to each TV that’s currently connected to a cable box.

At least they’re relatively cheap ($17 and up), and you don’t have to pay the cable company every month to rent one. And with most services you can also watch on your phone, tablet or computer.

Do you care about watching sports?

Sports fans have an increasing number of streaming options that show live games, but depending on which sport(s) you follow, the local team(s) in your area and how many games you want to watch, it can get costly. Channels devoted to pro basketball, hockey and baseball teams, known as RSNs (regional sports networks), are available on most cable networks but are rare and expensive on streaming services. These are the channels you’ll need to watch most regular season games for those sports. 

Unfortunately, live TV streaming service DirecTV Stream’s $85 plan is often the only option if you want to watch your local RSN via streaming, although in some parts of the country a somewhat cheaper service (namely YouTube TV or Fubo TV at $65) will carry your channel. Coverage varies widely by sport, team and city, so check out our dedicated guides for more details — including exactly which services carry your local team and how much they cost. 

NFL pro football games are usually carried on local CBS, Fox and NBC networks, but you’ll typically need an antenna, a live TV streaming service, Paramount Plus (for CBS games only) or Peacock (for NBC Sunday Night games) to watch them. Amazon Prime Video also streams many Thursday Night Football games free for Prime members and will host Thursday Night Football exclusively from 2022. And of course, you’ll need ESPN, available on most live streaming services, to watch Monday Night Football.

During MLB playoffs, you can typically watch the games on Fox and TBS, which are available on most live TV services, but that changes once the regular season resumes in the spring, when fans who want to watch every day will need to opt for a service that includes their local RSN.

If you like to chat with friends in real-time during the game, or follow live games on Twitter or social media, be aware that streaming sports are often delayed compared to the “live” game on cable or elsewhere. The Super Bowl, for example, lags 30 seconds to a minute behind cable.

Do a trial run before you cut the cord for good

Cutting the cable cord can save you a lot of money but you’ll need to do some planning to make the transition as painless as possible. It pays to get all your streaming ducks in a row before you make that final fateful call to your cable provider.

Go through your checklist and figure out which services you need to subscribe to and which devices you’ll need to get. Install everything on your main TV, unplug your cable box and get used to using streaming instead. Familiarize yourself first, then move on to helping other members of your household.

Chances are you’ll experience some bumps along the way. The menu systems on some streaming services are different, the remote controls on devices are different, even the lack of channel numbers and need to use search can be tough to grok. Give it time and patience, however, and it will be fine.

Ready? It’s time to cancel your cable service

After you’ve lived with streaming for a while and have grown comfortable with the process of clicking on an app rather than firing up your cable box, it’s time to make the fateful call. Your cable provider might offer you incentives to stick around and you’ll have to weigh those against the benefits of cutting the cord, but do so carefully. Especially if the offer is contingent on signing a two-year contract. A lot can change in two years and with the freedom of streaming, it’s simply a lot easier to save money than with cable.

In the end, cutting cable TV isn’t for everyone. No single device or service has as many channels as a premium cable package. Juggling different services to find the shows you want to watch can be more effort than some people are willing to put in.

On the other hand, cutting cable is getting easier with every new option that hits the market. Beyond the savings, you get the freedom of being able to pick and choose the service you want — and drop it like a hot potato if you don’t like it anymore, your favorite show ends or something new comes along. Cutting cable is all about choice and if you do it right, you’ll never miss that old cable box.

Article written by David Katzmaier for C|NET©

Source: Save yourself some money and cut the cable TV cord already (msn.com)

12 OF THE BEST YOGA RETREATS IN THE USA 2022

Yoga retreats are gaining in popularity as travelers seek a relaxing change of pace from the daily grind.

As more and more people seek out retreats, they’ll find an abundance of options in the USA. There are retreats for yogis of all practice levels and at various price points, including off-the-grid adventures and luxurious, high-end trips. They typically include daily yoga classes, guided meditations and optional excursions, as well as some independent time. With so many options to choose from, we’ve identified 12 of the best yoga retreats in the USA below.

4 Day Digital Detox: Move, Breathe, Laugh, Play in San Diego, CA

With over 30 years of experience, yoga teacher John Quirk invites yogis of all levels to enjoy his 4-day digital detox in beautiful San Diego. In addition to daily yoga, Quirk also teaches classes on meditation and the benefits of plant-based eating. Quirk offers this retreat throughout the year at Serenity Mountain Estate, which sits on 20+ acres with spectacular views. Guests have access to a lap pool, terrace and gardens for independent yoga and meditation. Brunch, dinner and snacks are included and prepared by a private chef using locally sourced ingredients. From $1,050 per person

Book at BookYogaRetreats

4 Day Hiking, Yoga, Sound Healing Retreat in Yosemite Valley

Garden of Dreams Wellness offers a completely customizable hiking, yoga and sound healing retreat in the Yosemite Valley. It is hosted by Ashlee Dream, who will offer individualized yoga classes and catered meals throughout the duration of the retreat. Guests will also enjoy guided hiking/walking tours in Yosemite, sound healing sessions and more. Transportation is provided throughout the duration of the trip. The retreat includes lodging at the Fantasy Ranch, with full-access to a saltwater hot tub and sauna. Garden of Dreams’ offers this retreat year-round with start dates to accommodate anyone’s schedule. From $4,500 per person

Book at BookYogaRetreats

6 Day Yoga, Meditation & Wellness in Boca Raton, FL

Experience six days of yoga, meditation and wellness at Zen Den Yoga School in Boca Raton, FL. They offer this retreat year-round to help people unplug and unwind from the stress of daily life. Zen Den’s retreat is accessible to yogis of all practice levels. The retreat cost includes a 50-minute massage and an acupuncture session, as well as meditation and yoga classes. Each morning will start with Zen Den’s signature green smoothie, something they encourage you to incorporate into your routine post-retreat. Additional meals are not included, however, guests will have access to a state of the art kitchen and there are nearby grocery stores. From $950 per person

Book at BookRetreats

Photo: bookretreats.com

4 Day Yoga, Meditation, and Wellness Holiday in Phippsburg, Maine

Maine’s pristine coastline is a retreat from the stress of modern day life. Santosha on the Kennebec is an ideal place to enjoy a 4-day yoga, meditation and wellness holiday, with a flexible start date to work around a busy schedule. Each day, participants will enjoy two yoga classes, a guided meditation session and independent time to go hiking, snowshoeing, and more. Choose from either a bunk room or private room at Santosha, which is tucked away on the Kennebec River in a rural fishing community. Three meals per day are included and different dietary needs can be met. From $850 per person

Book at BookYogaRetreats

Photo: bookyogaretreats.com

4 Day Yoga, Adventure and Hiking Retreat in Williams, AZ

In Williams, AZ, guests will be surrounded by natural beauty as they take a break from the daily grind. Bigger Life Adventure’s four-day retreat includes yoga, mediation, workshops and more. Two excursions are included in the retreat cost. Choose from hiking in the Grand Canyon, stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Mary, rock climbing and more. There are accommodation options at different price points, from an economical shared yurt to a private tiny cabin for two. Ayurvedic, plant-based meals are prepared by Chef Zach and included. This retreat is offered several times throughout the year. From $900 per person

Book at BookRetreats

Photo: bookretreats.com

There are more yoga retreats to view, just click the link.

Source: 12 of the Best Yoga Retreats in the USA 2022 (travelmag.com)