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IT40 Information, DIY & News for Week 7 of 2019

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#2 How to Make a Pet Bed Slipcover From a Flat-Weave Rug



Skill Level

Start to Finish

 <½ Day


  • dressmaker shears
  • measuring tape
  • marker or chalk

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  • fabric pet bed
  • (3) identical 2’ x 3’ flat-weave rugs (for small and medium pet beds) or 3’ x 5’ flat-weave rugs (for large pet beds)
  • 2-oz. skein of mercerized cotton

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Like this? Here’s more:
By: Brian Patrick Flynn


Choose the Right Rug

To help mask shedding, it’s best to use flat weave rugs with nubby textures and neutral coloring. You’ll need to get three of the same rug in order to create top, bottom and side panels for the slipcover.


Measure, Mark and Cut the Top and Bottom Panels

Lay the pet bed out on a flat level surface then use the measuring tape to determine its length and width. Using the length and width measurements of the pet bed as a guide, mark the rug to size using a marker or chalk. Use dressmaker shears to cut two of the flat-weave rugs into top and bottom panels for the slipcover.


Measure, Mark and Cut the Side Panels

Lay the pet bed out on a flat level surface then use the measuring tape to determine its height. Using the height measurement of the pet bed as a guide, mark the rug to size using a marker or chalk.

Use dressmaker shears to cut the third flat weave rug into four side panels for the slipcover. Two will be cut to the length of the pet bed and two will be cut to the width of the pet bed.


Pin and Sew Side Panels to Top Panel

Use the sewing pins to temporarily attach each of the four side panels to the top panel. Thread round-ended tapestry needle with mercerized cotton then sew the four side panels to the top panel.


Pin and Sew Side Panels to Bottom Panel

Use the sewing pins to temporarily attach each of the four side panels to the top panel. Leave one of the four panels unstitched so the pet bed can be inserted. Thread round-ended tapestry needle with mercerized cotton then sew the bottom panel to the three of the four side panels.


Flip and Close

Remove the pins then turn the slipcover so the inside faces outward. Next, insert the pet bed into the unstitched side of the slipcover. Once the pet bed is in its proper position, sew the unstitched side with round-ended tapestry needle and mercerized cotton.

#3 McDonald’s confirms Donut Sticks will be joining breakfast menus following weeks of rumors

McDonald’s confirmed rumored plans to debut “Donut Sticks” on Feb. 20.

McDonald’s had remained tight-lipped about its secretive plans to debut “Donut Sticks” since rumors began circulating early last month — but now it’s safe to say those lips were covered in a blend of doughnut-grade cinnamon sugar this whole time.

On Monday, the fast-food chain confirmed news of the item, described as the “perfect complement to [the chain’s] existing breakfast lineup,” and announced that its Donut Sticks will indeed be available at participating restaurants across the nation starting Feb. 20.


“We are proud of our breakfast offerings, and excited to share new Donut Sticks with our customers,” said Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation, in a press release.

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#4 Ilhan Omar Rep. Omar starts furor with tweets on ‘compromised’ Sen. Graham, Israel ‘evil doings’

WASHINGTON – Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is fighting back after being labeled a bigot by critics for two tweets, one a recent post about Sen. Lindsey Graham and the other from more than six years ago about Israel. 

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Democrat and first Somali-American elected to Congress, posted a tweet about Graham, saying, "They got to him, he is compromised." The comment was made with a retweet of a post featuring a 2015 CNN interview in which the South Carolina Republican called then-presidential candidate Donald Trump a "race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot." 
When asked about the tweet on CNN Thursday, Omar said her point was "we have seen many times where Sen. Lindsey Graham has told us how dangerous this president could be if he was given the opportunity to be in the White House, and all of the sudden he's made not only a 180 turnaround but a 360 turnaround." (A 360 would technically mean Graham came full circle and opposes Trump again.)

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"So, I am pretty sure that there is something happening with him, whether it is something that has to do with his funding when it comes to running for office, whether it has something to do with the pull that they might have in his district, or whether it has to do with some sort of leadership within the Senate," she continued without explaining who she meant by "they."

"He is somehow compromised to no longer stand up for the truth," she concluded from his change of opinion. 

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#5 Harris takes on questions about her ‘blackness’

By Maeve Reston, CNN

Updated 12:33 PM ET, Mon February 11, 2019

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#6 Pot-smoking tipster finds overweight female tiger in abandoned Houston home

An overweight tiger was found abandoned in a Houston home on Monday.
(Facebook via BARC Houston)

The anonymous tipster who told cops about a 1,000-pound tiger inside a Houston home had broken into the abandoned building to smoke marijuana and initially thought he was hallucinating when he saw the caged big cat, officials said.

Authorities went to the residential home Monday and found the overweight female tiger in deplorable conditions inside a “rinky-dink” cage in the garage, Click 2 Houston reported.

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#7 PSG’s long and sometimes successful relationship with Brazilian footballers PSG’s long and sometimes successful relationship with Brazilian footballers

The build-up to PSG’s tie against Manchester United in the Champions League has centred around a player who is unlikely to even set foot on the pitch in either leg. Such is life with Neymar, a continual source of histrionics wrapped up in a soap opera inside a melodrama. His latest metatarsal drama has inflicted a sense of angst on the PSG camp and perpetuated the creeping sense that, for all the club’s bountiful array of playing talent, they depend to an unhealthy degree on the availability of their precocious Brazilian star.

There is some precedent here as PSG have long had a symbiotic relationship with Brazilian footballers. Indeed, were Neymar more inclined towards reflecting on the long and fruitful association his compatriots have enjoyed with PSG than personal brand building, he would have chosen 33 as his squad number rather than the predictable 10. When he and Dani Alves arrived in the French capital in 2017, the pair became the 32nd and 33rd boys from Brazil to have worn a PSG shirt since the club’s formation in 1971.

The roots of this relationship lie in the complex historical nature of the typical Parisian football fan. This was a city that for decades thumbed a collective nose at run-of-the-mill league fixtures, yet would readily turn out in huge numbers for big European nights and cup finals. Beleaguered club owners came to understand that football was little different to show business for the Parisian footballing public, so to gain their fickle attentions you had to serve up big names and box-office attractions. And no footballer suggests glamour and exoticism like a Brazilian.

This long-running liaison between Paris and Brazil was not love at first sight. The first Brazilian to pitch up in Paris for the club’s debut season in Ligue 1 in 1971 was the World Cup-winning central defender Joel Camargo. It was a signing that proved terribly judged. A player of undoubted pedigree he might have been, but Joel spectacularly failed to adapt to a new country and culture. His performances were substantially affected and he made just two appearances before returning home a matter of months later.

Eight years elapsed before the club were brave enough to dip their toe into the Brazilian market again. The belated second signing was Abel Braga, a central defender with one cap who arrived at the club from Vasco da Gama and proved more dependable than his predecessor, playing regularly over the next two seasons.

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#8 Sub-brands are the new weapon in China’s smartphone war

One of China's top smartphone brands Vivo appears to have joined its fellows Oppo, Huawei and Xiaomi in setting up a new sub-brand as a softening market and heightened competition at home drive players to venture upon their original reach.

A new smartphone brand called iQoo made its debut on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, on Tuesday by greeting in English: "Hello, this is iQoo." It also playfully encouraged people to guess how its name is pronounced, as the spelling doesn't resonate with either Chinese or English speakers. Vivo immediately reposted iQoo's message, calling iQoo a "new friend."

Vivo has not further revealed its ties with iQoo, although the latter's Weibo account is verified under Vivo's corporate name. TechCrunch has contacted Vivo and will update the story when we have more information.

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Sub-brands have become a popular tactic for Chinese smartphone makers to lure new demographics without undermining and muddling their existing brand reputation. As the third-ranked player by shipments in 2018 according to research firm Counterpoint, Vivo is the only one in China's top five smartphone companies without a subsidiary brand.

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#12 Erectile dysfunction destroying your sex life? Here’s how to get it back


Keith* and I met in our late 40s at turning points in our lives. We were both newly divorced and our children had left for college. In my first marriage sex was always a struggle, and my ex accused me of having a low libido. But when I started dating Keith, I realized that I wasn’t the "problem." We traveled a lot together and had sex at every opportunity: on a friend's bed at a dinner party, in restaurant bathrooms, even outside in a park!

We got married in a small ceremony attended by our kids and close friends. From the start, our relationship was always very passionate, but as we entered our late 50s—I’m 56 and Keith is 59—our sex life slowed down. Keith's erectile dysfunction was a huge reason why.

I would never say that in front of Keith, and even now that we've gotten to a place where we can discuss what's been going on for the past two years, I still wouldn't use the term "erectile dysfunction." I think a man's ego is very tied to his ability to perform in bed.

At first, Keith didn't want to admit there was a problem. When we would try to make love and he couldn't stay hard, he would use being stressed out or tired as an excuse. Since he works a lot, I thought those were real possibilities. But when the problem continued, I started to wonder if he was still attracted to me.

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#13 DNA reveals early mating between Asian herders and European farmers

FIRST STEPPES  Yamnaya herders from western Asia, four of whom are buried in this grave, started mating with European farmers hundreds of years before launching a major migration into Europe, new DNA evidence indicates.

A. Kalmykov

Hundreds of years before changing the genetic face of Bronze Age Europeans, herders based in western Asia’s steppe grasslands were already mingling and occasionally mating with nearby farmers in southeastern Europe.

That surprising finding, published online February 4 in Nature Communications, raises novel questions about a pivotal time when widespread foraging and farming populations interacted in Eurasia’s Caucasus region. Those exchanges presumably sparked the geographic spread of metalworking, the wheel and wagon, and Indo-European languages still spoken in much of the world.

Archaeologists have often assumed that, as early as around 5,600 years ago, Caucasus farmers known as the Maykop migrated north in big numbers, bringing metalworking and early Indo-European tongues to herders who roamed grasslands on the edge of the region. In that scenario, this cultural exchange led steppe herders to develop a horse-and-wagon lifestyle that the nomads later transported to Europe and Asia, along with Indo-European languages, starting about 5,000 years ago (SN: 11/25/17, p. 16). Researchers call those mobile herders Yamnaya people.

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#14 Virtual reality therapy has real-life benefits for some mental disorders

ERASING FEAR  Confronting phobias, post-traumatic stress and other mental disorders may become possible for more people as virtual reality therapy goes mainstream.

Jamie Jacob

Edwin adjusted his headset and gripped the game controller in both hands. He swallowed hard. The man had good reason to be nervous. He was about to enter a virtual environment tailor-made to get his heart pumping way more than any action-packed video game: a coffee shop full of people.

Determined to overcome his persistent fear that other people want to hurt him, Edwin had enrolled in a study of a new virtual reality therapy. The research aimed to help people with paranoia become more comfortable in public places. In this program, described in March in the Lancet Psychiatry, Edwin could visit a store or board a crowded bus.

Virtual strangers can be scary, just like real people. Edwin, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, often found simple errands like grocery shopping overwhelming and exhausting.

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#15 Brain-zapping implants that fight depression are inching closer to reality

MOOD CHANGER  Neural activity in certain areas of the brain (brightly colored strands show connections emanating from those regions) can be measured to decode mood.

O.G. Sani and M.M. Shanechi/Shanechi Lab

Like seismic sensors planted in quiet ground, hundreds of tiny electrodes rested in the outer layer of the 44-year-old woman’s brain. These sensors, each slightly larger than a sesame seed, had been implanted under her skull to listen for the first rumblings of epileptic seizures.

The electrodes gave researchers unprecedented access to the patient’s brain. With the woman’s permission, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco began using those electrodes to do more than listen; they kicked off tiny electrical earthquakes at different spots in her brain.

Most of the electrical pulses went completely unnoticed by the patient. But researchers finally got the effect they were hunting for by targeting the brain area just behind her eyes. Asked how she felt, the woman answered: “Calmer in my nerves.”

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#16 Top 10 things to know about the Day of the Dead

Over 500 woman gathered in Mexico City on November 1, 2014, to set a Guiness World Record for the largest gathering of women dressed as Catrina.

Here’s one thing we know: Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.

The rituals are rife with symbolic meaning. The more you understand about this feast for the senses, the more you will appreciate it. Here are 10 essential things you should know about Mexico’s most colorful annual event. [See more stunning photos from Day of the Dead celebrations.]

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#17 A new fabric becomes more breathable as you work up a sweat

ADAPTABLE FABRIC  Material knitted from special humidity-responsive yarn becomes more insulating or breathable, depending on how much you’re sweating.

Faye Levine/Univ. of Maryland

Someday, the same shirt could be part of your summer and winter wardrobe, using fabric that alternates between breathable and insulating.

Unlike other heat-accommodating cloth, which has to be flipped inside out to switch from warm to cool (SN: 2/17/18, p. 5), the new dual-use fabric adapts to how much the wearer is sweating. This material may be useful for making sportswear or clothing for babies who can’t articulate when they’re too hot or too cold, says study coauthor YuHuang Wang, a chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The fabric, described in the Feb. 8 Science, is knitted from yarn composed of many polymer fibers coated in tiny, carbon nanotubes. The closer these nanotubes are together, the better the fabric conducts the heat a person’s body sheds as infrared radiation.

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#18 2nd Fairfax accuser says she was raped by former Duke basketball player Corey Maggette

By Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 8:08 AM ET, Tue February 12, 2019

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#19 How to Train your Dog to be a Service Dog

How to Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer

Co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS

In this Article:Article SummaryAssessing a Potential Service DogTraining Your Service DogCommunity Q&A6 References

A properly trained service dog is a real asset to a person with a disability. Service dogs accompany their handler everywhere, including in public places that are usually off limits to dogs, such as shops, libraries, museums, theaters, hospitals, and cinemas. Unfortunately, because service dogs are so helpful and important, there can be a long waiting list for such dogs. If you need a service dog and can't wait for one any longer, you might want to look into training a service dog yourself.


Assessing a Potential Service Dog

  1. Image titled Care for a Pregnant Dog Step 3

    Find a dog that is the right age. It can be difficult to know if a puppy under the age of 6 months has the right blend of intelligence and attention to make a good service dog. Charities that train service dogs, have a high 'drop out' rate, even when they have used their knowledge to select likely candidates.

    • Buying a puppy with the express purpose of it becoming a service dog is a gamble. It might be better to source a young dog which has been properly trained and has established their personality already.
  2. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 2

    Assess the health of the dog. Your service dog needs to be in good health in order to meet the requirements of the job. For example, if it has arthritis, and finds it difficult to move around, it is unfair to place the responsibility of responding to the doorbell on its shoulders. Also, some dogs with health conditions such as diabetes, have needs of their own and may not always be on top form to perform their service role.

    • You are going to invest a lot of time into training your dog, so you want to ensure it is kept in optimal health. This means twice yearly vet checks and weigh ins, a regular vaccination protocol, and proper preventative parasite treatments. Depending on where you live, this might range from flea and tick treatments to heartworm preventatives.
    • Service Dog Training organizations have Board Certified veterinarians perform x-rays and other tests (complete blood panels, for example) to make sure the potential Service Dog doesn't have hip dysplasia, patellar subluxation, (bad knees), heart or eye conditions, or other injuries or genetic conditions that would prevent a dog's ability to perform its job for at least eight years.
  3. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 3

    Assess whether the dog is intelligent and eager to please. These are the hallmarks of a trainable dog and will make the task of training easier and more enjoyable. Look for a young dog that approaches you calmly but without fear. His or her body language should indicate confidence, such as an erect tail, wagging, walking directly to you (not slinking around the edges of the room), and keeping its head up (not lowered and cowed).

    • The best service dogs are intelligent and eager to please, which often makes their size irrelevant. Any breed from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane can potentially fill the role if they have the correct temperament. [1]
  4. Image titled Care for Dogs Step 18

    Find out from the owner how much training the dog has had. If its basic training is solid, ask the dog to sit and stay. Observe if it fidgets and looks around (easily distracted) or it keeps hits eyes on you (eager to please). Does he or she respond quickly or is it slow to react (not ideal in a service dog where quick reactions are needed).
  5. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 5

    Assess whether the dog is socialized and confident in a range of social situations. The dog needs to be confident in a range of situations and with all types of people. If it is anxious or fearful in certain situations this could place you in harms way. A fearful dog exhibits introverts body language such as cowering, averting his eyes, slinking in a submissive posture, holding his tail between his legs.

    • A fearful dog may lick its lips a lot, and if forced out of its comfort zone may growl. However, a confident dog will approach with an erect wagging tail, and willingly present himself or herself for petting.
  6. Image titled Get a Service Dog Step 13

    Determine whether the dog is docile and not overly protective. An aggressive, highly territorial or protective dog is unlikely to make a good service dog. You will spend more time trying to control the dog that he spends helping you.[2]

    • Aggressive dogs snarl, or raise their lips. Their hackles (the fur along the backbone) may stand on end. The dog may make direct eye contact in a confrontation manner and growl.
    • A docile dog, however, is all about wanting contact and is more likely to bang their head against your hand than exhibit distancing signals such as growling.


Training Your Service Dog

  1. Image titled Protect Furniture from Dogs Step 9

    Neuter or spay your dog, if it has not been done already. All service dogs are neutered. This is because females can't work while in heat (you will be followed by a pack of dogs wanting to mate her) and males are more easily distracted by territorial issues. Also neutered dogs tend to be less aggressive, which is important for a service dog.

    • Spay or neuter your dog when they are between four and six months of age to prevent females coming into heat and distracted males. This works well as a general guide and is much less effort.
    • If you are experienced and will not have the dog near unfixed dogs at any time (not to be taken lightly), the ideal is between one and two years depending on when your dog's bone's growth plates close (usually earlier for small dogs and later for larger dogs). This enables the dog to have stronger bones, which is especially important for some kinds of service dogs that perform rigorous physical tasks for the handler (such as mobility assistance dogs).
    • Depending on the weight of your dog, a neutering costs between USD$200 and USD$300 at most vets.
  2. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 8

    Teach your dog basic command skills. A service dog has to be able to sit, stay, lie down, and come on cue. The dog also needs to walk next to the handler in a controlled manner all the time. This is so that you have control over your dog at all times.

    • You can use either verbal cues or hand signals as commands. This is done by using a treat and holding it just in front of the dog's nose. Then raise the treat in an arc, backwards over his head. As he looks up to follow the treat, his bottom drops to the deck. Click, give the command word 'Sit' and then reward.[3]
    • Recall can be tricky if the dog is distracted, so start the lessons indoors away from other animals, or in an enclosed back yard. Call the dog to you, when he comes, click, repeat the cue word, eg 'Come', and reward. If the dog fails to come, or is tardy about it, never ever reprimand the dog. This only makes him more reluctant next time.
    • The foundation of training a service dog is the same as teaching good manners and discipline to a regular dog, except you take things a step further. Given the importance you may place on the dog to keep you safe, if you are not an experienced trainer, seek the help of a professional service dog trainer, so that you don't teach the dog bad habits or over tax it.
  3. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 9

    Consider clicker training your dog. The principle of clicker training is the use the click-clack noise to mark the exact moment of a dog's good behaviour and then give the dog a reward. The dog learns to associate the click-clack with a treat and works eagerly in anticipation of the down payment on a treat that the noise marks.[4]

    • The method advocates rewarding good behaviour, so that it is remembered and the dog wants to repeat the action to get a reward. On no account punish your dog, which only teaches him to be fearful of you, the trainer, and does nothing constructive towards your goal of training your own service dog. [5]
  4. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 10

    Teach the dog to be as well-behaved unleashed as leashed. The dog should have impeccable basic obedience both when the lead is on and not on.
  5. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 11

    Teach your dog not to greet other people. The service dog has to be focused on you, and not on anyone else. This step is vitally important because you may need instant help, and if the dog is running around to other people to greet them, the dog can miss your need for immediate help.

    • To do this enlist the help of a friend, and get them to approach slowly. Get the dog to sit and look at you. If the dog turns to look at the approaching stranger, your friend immediately stops in their tracks (whilst ignoring the dog). When the dog's attention returns to you, click and reward.
    • Repeat these training sessions and eventually the dog will learn that paying attention to strangers gets no reward (and is not worth doing) whilst concentrating on you gets rewards.
    • In addition, teach your dog to take no note of cats, food on the ground, a stranger talking to the dog or vehicles (especially moving vehicles). The one and only thing that the dog is supposed to care about is you.
  6. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 12

    Teach your dog when he is off duty. Under some circumstances, it's OK for your service dog to go and play. Teach your dog a cue that signals it's off duty.

    • To do this, perhaps invite a friend to come and visit. Have the friend bring along a dog toy, and when the dog looks in their direction, click, use the cue word 'play' and reward. This gives him the signal its OK to keep approaching.
  7. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 13

    Teach your dog specialized skills. The specific tasks you might want to teach the dog will depend on your disability. If you are profoundly deaf, then teaching a dog to alert you to the doorbell ringing, a phone going off, or a smoke detector alarm are all useful ideas. Likewise, if you have mobility issues, you might want the dog to retrieve small household items for you, such as keys, a remote, or a phone.

    • Do this in small steps. For fetching keys, this would involve the dog recognizing the keys, picking them up, bringing them to you, and giving the keys. To teach the dog what keys are, place a set on the floor where it can clearly see them. When it goes to investigate, click, cue word 'keys', and reward. Every time it approaches the keys repeat the same routine. You will notice the dog becomes more proactive about approaching the keys, and at this point say the cue word 'Keys' and as he continues to approach, click.
    • Now you want to teach him to pick the keys up. Perhaps put a soft ball on the keychain so he can pick them up without damaging his teeth. Place the keychain in his mouth, click, give a cue word 'Hold', and reward. Repeat this regularly for several days. Now place the keys a short distance away, have the dog go to the keys, cue word 'Keys', and pick them up, cue word 'Hold'. Then use your recall to bring him back with the keys. Once he has returned, get him to sit and drop the keys. Perhaps offer him an extra tasty treat, one worth dropping the keys for. Click, cue word 'Give', and reward.
    • Keep the sessions short 5 - 10 minutes at a time, but work on it twice daily. Mix this in with other training and keep it fun, so that your dog doesn't get bored.
  8. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 14

    Train public access with your dog. Good manners are crucial for people accepting your dog and looking forward to you or other service dog teams coming back. This includes:

    • urinating and defecating only on command
    • leaving any interesting looking or smelling things alone (especially important in stores)
    • walking calmly in a heel position at all times in public (unless not being in heel is needed to mitigate the handler's disability)
    • never showing aggression to the general public or other service dogs.
  9. Image titled Train Your Service Dog Without a Professional Trainer Step 15

    Gather important documents.

    • Be aware that there is no legal way or requirement to certify. If a website claims it's necessary for you to pay for a certification from a legal standpoint, it is a scam.
    • Find out which is the governing body for that particular type of service dog (e.g., is he a Hearing dog for the deaf, or a Guide dog for the blind?) and ask if they have assessors who would be prepared to license your dog. In the United States, no such governmental organization exists.
    • Get accompanying credentials that confirm you need the dog. This might be a doctor's letter explaining your disability and how the dog is crucial to your life. These will be useful for flying and rental housing. These documents never need to be presented to a business owner in the case of an access issue.
    • Get a vet check and a letter of good character to say the dog is well-trained and in good health.
    • If outside the United States, send all the documentation to the appropriate licensing body and await their further instructions.

#24 Spire Studio is an intuitive, technically sophisticated multitrack recorder great for DIY musicians

If you're ready to record that 172-track multitrack masterpiece knocking around in your brain, keep Googling, the Spire Studio is not for you. But if you are a DIY musician who wants to get songs done quickly without sacrificing sound quality, and then instantly share them in the digisphere, by all means, read on.

The Spire Studio mobile recorder is a breeze for anyone who has worked with multitrack machines, and easy to learn for recording novices. Its accompanying smartphone app lets you fine-tune mixes wherever and whenever you want, just by sliding little dots around the screen, replacing traditional multitrack sliders and knobs.

Want a vocal higher in the mix? Slide its accompanying dot up the screen. Want the horn coming out of the left speaker but way back in the mix? Slide its dot over to the left and down.

The Spire sits in a nice sweet spot between a good iPhone stereo mic attachment and an expensive home multitrack recorder, and for most applications, can replace both. The built-in microphone on the Spire is fantastic, its short list of onboard effects work great, and the accompanying multitrack app accomplishes stereo mixing in a refreshing, fun way.

The Spire can be used for everything from recording song ideas to putting together a pretty nice sounding multitrack demo. I used it for both with a dad band I play in. First, I recorded a song on 3-4 tracks (drum track, guitar, bass, vocal) and texted it to the other band members. We then took the Spire into our rehearsal space and recorded the whole band at once live onto a single track (drums + bass + guitar, all on one track), which turned out sounding surprisingly well balanced, seeing that all we did was put the thing in the middle of the room, hit “Sound Check,” which automatically sets optimum recording levels, played a couple measures, and then hit “Record.”

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#26 All natural DIY recipes for your cosmetic needs


Finding the right skin care products for your routine can be difficult, especially if you want to avoid conventional cosmetics, harmful chemicals, or animal testing. But did you know that you can make your own cosmetics and skin care products from all natural and even organic ingredients? Making your own organic beauty products is much easier than you think! With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a daily routine that is free of chemicals and good for you and the planet.

This is a great moisturizer that will keep your skin looking smooth and fresh during the cold, dry winter months. It’s so simple to make that you won’t miss your expensive little tubs of commercial goop one bit!

What you need: • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel (don’t use juice or aloe from a plant, as the cream won’t whip properly) • 2 tablespoons sweet almond oil • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil • 1/2 tablespoon beeswax • 10 drops lavender essential oil

Method: In a double boiler, gently heat the almond and jojoba oils with the beeswax. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can simply use a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove. Once melted, transfer your mixture to a deep mixing bowl so it won’t splash out. Leave to cool for an hour until it reaches room temperature. Now start to blend your mixture with a hand blender. Pour in the essential oil and slowly start adding the aloe vera. Add aloe (mixing continuously) until you reach the desired consistency. Store in an airtight container.

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#27 Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe says he ordered obstruction probe into Trump

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#28 Mandy Moore speaks out about ex-husband Ryan Adams’ ‘controlling behavior’

"This Is Us" star Mandy Moore says she empathizes with the women who have accused her ex-husband, singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, of exploiting and then stifling female artist's ambitions because she experienced it herself during their six-year marriage.

“Music was a point of control for him,” Moore said. “His controlling behavior essentially did block my ability to make new connections in the industry during a very pivotal and potentially lucrative time – my entire mid-to-late 20s." They divorced in 2016.

She made the comments to The New York Times in a story that details Adams' history of taking advantage of championing, manipulating and harassing female aspiring artists, including having phone sex and exchanging graphic texts with an underage girl. Seven women and more than a dozen associates were interviewed for the story.

"What you experience with him – the treatment, the destructive, manic sort of back-and-forth behavior – feels so exclusive,” Moore said. “You feel like there’s no way other people have been treated like this.”

But through the reporting of the Times story, Moore and other women scarred by their relationships with Adams say they have formed a support system and spoken out together in hopes of protecting others.

... To Read more, please click here

#29 Mo’Nique and Steve Harvey argue on-air over Hollywood ‘blackball’ claims

Steve Harvey and Mo'Nique got into a heated exchange during her appearance on his show.
(Getty Images)

Daytime talk show host Steve Harvey had a combative conversation with comedian Mo’Nique about the aftermath of what she describes as her being “blackballed” from the entertainment industry.


The interview began with Mo’Nique tackling the characterization that she is “difficult” to work with, which she says began in 2009 when she refused producers Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels' requests to promote their film “Precious,” which Mo’Nique went on to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for.

She added Harvey to her “list” of those who did her wrong.

... To Read more, please click here

#32 Get the best phone battery life with some quick adjustments

File photo.
(REUTERS/Zoran Milich)

Your cell phone is only as good as its battery. Once its power source runs out, so does your ability to call, check email, and pinpoint your location on a virtual map. Almost everyone has run unexpectedly low, frantically searching the local Starbucks for an open socket.

It could be the way you are charging your phone. You’re not supposed to leave it plugged in all night. Click here to learn the right way to charge your phone and get the most out of its battery.

If your smartphone’s battery keeps tapping out before the day is over, there are a few tweaks you can do to help it along. Certain functions in your smartphone are constantly draining your battery. Most of these features you don’t necessarily need and turning them off can do wonders for your battery life.

Now, if you have an older iPhone, it could be the battery itself. Apple is offering to replace some iPhone batteries for $29. Click here to check to see if your iPhone battery should be replaced for better performance.

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#33 How to Make Music on Your Smartphone

I love using my phone not only to listen to music but also to create my own music using a variety of inexpensive, easy-to-use apps.

These tools might not be quite as powerful as full-blown music-production software running on a desktop or laptop computer. But unless you're recording an album for major label release, today's music apps should have more than enough capability.

And a smartphone with the right apps certainly beats a conventional setup when it comes to affordability and portability. Some of the very best apps are free, and most of the rest are cheap. Recording on your phone allows you to work on a music project almost anywhere—and it's convenient to take your pocket studio along when you head out to meet your musical collaborators.

I’ve been recording my own music since the mid-1980s, when I bought an $800 Tascam PortaOne four-track deck that recorded onto a standard audio cassette, but I actually like my phone better than any other system I've owned.

Compared to my original dinosaur deck, my phone is not only cheaper but also more flexible, and the end result—all digital—is vastly higher in quality. I first wrote about this six years ago, and since that time it has only gotten easier to create music using mobile devices.

... To Read more, please click here

#34 66 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Right Now

Ah, the joys of the connected life: opportunities to engage with global communities, be educated and entertained, and shop with ease. But these go hand in glove with intrusions from marketers and threats from criminals. The tips here, compiled with input from dozens of security experts, will help you take control. We also have pulled out a shorter list of just seven, super-fast steps you can take right now, in less than 10 minutes. And Julia Angwin, the author of "Dragnet Nation," shares her quest for privacy and security in the digital age.

You can begin with either list or the essay—and you don't have to follow every tip, or even most of them. The important thing? Just get started.

1. Check Your Data Breach Status Wondering whether your personal data is for sale on the web? At haveibeenpwned.com you can check your email addresses and usernames against lists from 120 known breaches at com-panies including Adobe, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. (You'll need to register to check the full database.) If your name pops up, change the password for the compromised account and any other site where—tut, tut—you were using the same password. (Bonus tip: Pros pronounce “pwned” as “poned,” not “pawned.”)

2. Stop WiFi Imposters Laptops, smartphones, and other WiFi-enabled devices can automatically connect to familiar networks. That’s convenient—no one wants to enter a password for their home or work WiFi every day—but it can also be risky. A hacker can set up a rogue WiFi network with the same name as a legitimate one such as “Google Starbucks” or attwifi and trick your gadgets into joining it.

Periodically get a fresh start by using your devices’ network or WiFi settings to prune the networks you join automatically. Most devices let you delete networks one by one, but if you have an iPhone or iPad, you need to go to Reset Network settings under General settings and delete all of them at once.

... To Read more, please click here

#35 Tech Q&A: Fixing slow Wi-Fi, staying safe on Craigslist

Illustration file picture (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel).

See what’s slowing down your Wi-Fi network

Q. I think my neighbors might be using my Wi-Fi. How can I tell?

A.  The easiest way to tell if someone is using your Wi-Fi network is to use a free program like Wireless Network Watcher. It lists gadgets currently connected to your network, so you can spot anything that looks out of the ordinary. If you’re suspicious because your network is slowing, there may be other things causing it. It could be your router, or it could just be slowing in peak traffic times. Before blaming your neighbor, try these tips for testing your Wi-Fi network.

Make texting less annoying

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#36 Travis Kauffman Is No Chuck Norris, but He Did Kill a Mountain LionTravis Kauffman Is No Chuck Norris, but He Did Kill a Mountain Lion

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#37 Tommy Lee marries social media star Brittany Furlan on Valentine’s Day

Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and internet personality Brittany Furlan tied the knot on Valentine’s Day, a year after they announced their engagement.
(Getty Images)

Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and Internet personality Brittany Furlan tied the knot on Valentine’s Day, one year after they announced their engagement.

Lee, 54, shared the news in an Instagram post of two dogs wearing a wedding dress and tux respectively.

“Holy s---balls!!!! We did it!!!! Mr. & Mrs. Lee,” the rock star captioned the post.


... To Read more, please click here

#38 Former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick defrocked by Pope Francis over sexual misconduct allegations

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#39 ‘I didn’t need to do this’: Dems pounce on Trump’s national emergency admission

© Jim Young
President Donald Trump declares a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border while speaking about border security in the White House Rose Garden on February 15, 2019.

President Donald Trump handed congressional Democrats their opening salvo in the upcoming legal and legislative battles to stymie his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.

“I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said on Friday of his intention to issue the declaration. “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”

Those impromptu statements by the president — delivered during a sprawling news conference in the White House Rose Garden without the assistance of a teleprompter — have in less than 24 hours become Exhibit A in Democratic lawmakers’ arguments against what they view as unconstitutional overreach of executive powers by the Trump administration.

“He admits it's a #FakeTrumpEmergency,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. “Hear him say it: "I *didn’t need* to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) offered up via Twitter a courtroom transcript of a potential legal challenge to Trump’s order.

... To Read more, please click here

#40 US military planes head for Venezuela with aid

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Florida — The U.S. Air Force has begun flying tons of aid to a Colombian town on the Venezuelan border as part of an effort meant to undermine socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The first of three C-17 cargo planes took off Saturday from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida and landed in the town of Cucuta. It's a collection point for aid that's supposed to be distributed by backers of Juan Guaido, the congressional leader who is recognized by the U.S. as Venezuela's legitimate president.

Previous aid shipments came on commercial planes.

Maduro has vowed to block the aid, which he calls unnecessary and illegal. He blames any hunger in the country on U.S. restrictions and his domestic foes.

Saturday's 180-ton shipment includes food or health packages for more than 25,000 people.

... To Read more, please click here



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