Saturday, July 21, 2018

For Armchair Detectives

If you are looking for a free, interesting, home-based hobby, and enjoy research, consider becoming an internet sleuth.  People have been using the power of the internet along with crowd-sourcing to solve crimes for more than a decade (examples here, here, and here).

Web sleuths use a number of crime-solving websites to search for information matches and clues then pass them along to law enforcement.  Websites to check out include the Doe Network, NamUs, Web Sleuths, The Charley Project, and Unsolved Mysteries.  There are also several Facebook pages and groups that focus on specific cases.  Of course there are subreddits for all sorts of crimes (see sidebar here).

This is an interesting way to spend your downtime and could help resolve cold cases that would not otherwise be solved.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Insurance When You Travel

Many people plan their vacations out meticulously--planning all of the fun things that they want to do and all of the places they want to see in great detail--but they often forget about a very basic safety precaution to take when going on vacation and that is ensuring adequate insurance coverage that will take care of them if something horrible happens to them while they are on vacation.  Just here in Vegas I've seen tourists severely injured (one lady had half her face ripped open from an accident) and even dead (the Route 91 mass shooting, tourists run over and killed by cars, etc).  Nobody plans for these things but they can happen so it only makes sense to proactively plan for such contingencies by having the following types of insurance coverages:
  • Medical insurance.  See if your current medical insurance will cover you, whereever you go.  Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't, and sometimes if you end up in a hospital in a foreign country they will hold you hostage until you pay them cash before letting you leave.  You can get a specific travel medical insurance plan if your regular medical insurance doesn't cover you abroad.
  • Trip cancellation insurance.  There is an added fee when you book a cruise (as well as other types of travel) that will pay for trip cancellation insurance in case you can't make your travel due to illness/death/etc.  Note that some policies have very specific rules while others let you cancel for any reason.
  • Medical evacuation insurance.  If you become seriously injured or ill in a foreign country, you can't just hop on a plane and come back home which is where medical evacuation insurance comes into play (if you were to pay cash to be medically evacuated and returned home it could cost $100k+).
  • Kidnap and ransom insurance.  There is an entire industry built around people being kidnapped and ransomed while traveling abroad.  Generally these policies are for the wealthy and those who work in high profile industries but, depending on where you are traveling, this may be something to look into.
  • Other types of travel-related insurance.  There are several other types of insurance coverages for travelers, either through specific policies or sometimes through your credit card, including lost luggage, rental car coverage, term life insurance, medical tourism coverage, etc. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

10 How-Not-To-Die Tips

There are a lot of basic "if you do this you will probably die" situations that, surprisingly, a lot of younger people these days don't know about.  Here are some basic safety tips to keep you alive:

  1. Don't start a bbq grill/campfire/bonfire with gasoline.  (pertinent video)
  2. Don't mix ammonia and bleach together in any fashion and don't mix products that contain these items together either. (it basically makes a toxic chlorine gas)
  3. Don't use a generator/bbq grill/other combustion appliance indoors.  (you could die from carbon monoxide poisoning)
  4. Don't jump off a boat or swim far out from shore in cold water.  (cold water shock is a common cause of drowning)
  5. Don't be caught in high heat where you can't cool off.  (it's fairly easy to die from heat exhaustion)
  6. Don't point a gun at anything/anyone you don't want to kill. (whatever a gun is being actively pointed at is at risk for death)
  7. Do "stop the bleed".  (the most common cause of preventable death after injury is hemorrhage)
  8. Do learn how to prevent/extinguish a variety of fires.  (there are actually different ways to deal with different fires)
  9. Do make sure your smoke detectors work.  (smoke inhalation kills a lot of people, not the actual fire itself)
  10. Do eat right and exercise.  (by far the most common causes of death in the US are health-related)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

12 Evacuation Questions

There was an explosion at a gas plant in Texas today which caused mandatory evacuations in the neighboring towns.  Imagine if this happened in your area, would you...

  1. Have bug out bags pre-packed and ready to go for each family member?
  2. Have a plan to quickly secure your home from looters as well as notify responders that the home has been evacuated?
  3. Be able to evacuate the house with the entire family (and pets) within minutes of receiving notice of the mandatory evacuation order?
  4. Be able to evacuate everyone in the home and meet up with family members who weren't at home in a predetermined spot?
  5. Have a place to evacuate to?
  6. Have several ways to evacuate if the main roads near your home were closed?
  7. Have a full tank of gas for your evacuation vehicle?
  8. Have the cash/credit card on hand to pay for a few days or more stay at a hotel (including meals out, etc)?
  9. Know where evacuation shelters are located if hotels are overbooked?
  10. Have a way to communicate to worried family members that you are OK and where you have evacuated to?
  11. Have a way to continue: working, paying bills, receiving medical care, etc.
  12. Know when it is safe to return to your home?

Monday, July 16, 2018

10 Fun Things To Do With the Kids This Summer

Summer is half over already but there is still time to do some fun activities with the kids (they won't even know they are learning survival skills this way!).

  1. Make a small campfire/bonfire in the back yard/local park and roast some hotdogs/marshmallows.
  2. Set up the tent in the back yard/nearby park and camp outside overnight.
  3. Take the kids geocaching/letterboxing.  It's fun to find hidden prizes and teaches orienteering at the same time.
  4. Conduct science experiments with the kids.  They can start with simple stuff like making clay and slime then move on to chemicals that erupt.
  5. If you don't have a farm or ranch of your own, take the kids to u-pick farms, petting zoos, county fairs, and other places where they can get out in nature and learn where their food comes from.
  6. Have a garage sale and let the kids do the set up, pricing, advertising, and haggling with customers; this will teach them an umber of useful skills and help them earn a little money as well.
  7. Set up an age-appropriate scavenger hunt (around the yard for small kids, around the entire city for teens).
  8. Play old fashioned games and invite the neighborhood kids--water balloon fight, hide and seek, sandlot baseball, croquet, etc.
  9. Work on a big project as a family--putting together a big jigsaw puzzle, making a quilt, completing a home improvement/building project, etc.
  10. Have the kids/entire family contribute to the community--volunteer at an event, do a trash pick up project, feed the homeless, etc.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

In the News This Week

It's a busy (weird) week in the news...