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Here's a Curiously Strong Hint: Turn Your Altoids Tins Into Survival Kits

An Altoids tin where it belongs — in the wilderness. Photo by sebastian8a.

An Altoids tin where it belongs — in the wilderness. Photo by sebastian8a.

Don’t you love Altoids? Me neither, but at least there’s plenty to adore about the tin cases that house the chalky breath mints. Do-it-yourself and outdoor enthusiasts have turned Altoids tins into lightweight survival kits that are practical and undeniably cute.

Field & Stream has examples of Altoids kits for all occasions: camping, hunting, first aid and of course, fishing. Instructables has a good set of directions on assembling a basic, all-purpose kit for your outdoor endeavors. For those who face the metropolitan dangers of city life on a daily basis, check out this Flickr user’s Urban Survival Kit.

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Parental Controls

If you look up 'shocked' in the dictionary...

If you look up 'shocked' in the dictionary...

Monitoring and censoring your kids’ computer use is a decision that’s left up to parents. But parental controls aren’t just about blocking access to explicit websites. Consider enabling controls to set maximums on computer usage or, for younger users, a safeguard for internet safety. In Windows Vista and Mac OS X, you can also set time limits, block certain programs, and protect your computer settings and private files from being tampered with.

To activate parental controls in Windows Vista, click the Start menu and open the Control Panel. Under User Accounts, click Set up Parental Controls. You’ll probably need to type in the administrator password. Choose the user and choose On under Parental Controls. You can adjust individual features: restricting specific websites, games, programs, and very handily, setting time limits for computer use.

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Energy Bars: Friend or Foe?

Larabar, a healthy option or not? Photo by ario_j.

Larabar, a healthy option or not? Photo by ario_j.

America is wild about health food, and in particular, energy bars have become an increasingly popular item among health-conscious shoppers. They’re convenient and often pitch themselves as a healthy alternative for those who don’t time to eat an entire meal. But it makes one wonder if there’s such thing as fast food that’s good for you.

All that an “energy” bar means is that the food gives you calories, not that it makes you more energetic. Dean Anderson of dailySpark divides energy bars into three distinct categories: bars for exercise, meal replacements, and healthy snacks. Read more »

All The Wii That's "Fit" To Play

Nothing like early morning sun salutations... inside, with the windows closed.

Nothing like early morning sun salutations... inside, with the windows closed.

Video game critics bestowed glowing reviews to Wii Fit, Nintendo’s virtual yoga-aerobics-exercise experience, but is it really a good workout system? The New York Times ran a piece in which four different types of people tested out the game. The consensus was that while Wii Fit wasn’t for serious workouts, it was surprisingly effective as an inexpensive exercise regimen for busy parents and kids.

Users set weight loss or gain goals, and Wii Fit tracks your progress according to the body mass index (BMI) and the player’s performance on each of over 50 different exercises (Wikipedia’s got a full list). The game comes with a sturdy piece of hardware called the Balance Board, which is more or less a Bluetooth-enabled bathroom scale that lets Wii Fit know when you’re doing pushups, sun salutations, or spinning an imaginary hula hoop. (Interesting fact: the Japanese board supports players up to 300 lbs., whereas the “Western” model can support up to 330 lbs.) Read more »

Be Careful of Computers — They're Heavy

Climbing is a fun, inexpensive, and safe way to stay active.

He just wants to see some LOLcats.

Recent studies indicate that video game or chat addictions aren’t the only dangers posed to children by computers. According to an article by Jennifer Thomas of Health Day, over 9,000 children are now injured every year by computer hardware—a dramatic increase from the 1,300 kids hurt by computers in 1994.

The majority of children are under the age of five, and most of their injuries resulted from tripping over computer chords or toppling monitors and other large computer components. While many of the injuries are not very serious—and their prevalence has decreased from a peak of 10,000 injuries a few years ago thanks to flat screens and other lighter technology—some youngsters have suffered damage to their heads. Read more »

Rescue Shelter Dogs Join Rescue Teams

Ace, one of the National Search Dog Foundation's heroic canines

Ace, one of the National Search Dog Foundation's heroic canines

Searching through wreckage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina might not sound like much fun, but it’s these kinds of scenarios that Ace—a yellow Labrador trained by the National Search Dog Foundation (SDF)—lives for. In 2005, he and his then-handler, Teresa Ortenberger of California Task Force 7, went to New Orleans, scouring the city grounds for survivors and ensuring areas were clear before reconstruction teams began work. Read more »

Top 6 Fireworks Blunders

1. Pyrrhic victory

Rare fireworks above Nationals Park in Washington D.C.. Photo by Randomduck.

Rare fireworks above Nationals Park in Washington D.C.. Photo by Randomduck.

After a rare home win by the Washington Nationals, celebrations were canceled at the ballpark in Washington D.C. when post-victory fireworks debris fell on fans including a metro-area fire chief. Displays resumed because authorities predict threat of future Nationals’ wins not great enough to pose future fireworks danger.

Lesson: Make sure fireworks land in safe place; consult relevant laws or authorities to make sure what you’re doing is legal

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Get Into Indoor Rock Climbing

Climbing is a fun, inexpensive, and safe way to stay active.

Climbing is a fun, inexpensive, and safe way to stay active.

I started indoor rock climbing last spring. I’m not a particularly gifted athlete, but I’ve taken a liking to the way the sport encourages you to work at your own pace. It’s a rewarding activity for those who aren’t afraid to conquer their fear of heights.

What Is It?

Indoor climbing imitates the experience of climbing outdoors in a safe, controlled environment. It’s a sport that’s great for all ages; I’ve seen kids as young as six and adults in their sixties at the climbing gym. It develops physical strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, and burns a lot of calories. The sport is also mentally stimulating, promoting constant awareness, assessing challenges and consequences, and quick thinking. Read more »

Staying on Track and on the Trails

Make something a priority and you’ll find time to make it happen, Gill said.

Make something a priority and you’ll find time to make it happen, Gill said.

Saying Linda Gill was born to run might be an exaggeration, but since her teens she has trained for and competed in races. Her freshman year in high school a PE teacher noticed Gill’s ability during a fitness class and singed her up for the track team; her sophomore year a coach grabbed Gill from the swimming pool to conscript her for women’s cross country. She honed her natural talent, winning at the state level for high school, the national collegiate level as a student at UCLA, and now continues to compete. Read more »