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Crazy Thanksgiving facts & figures

Black Friday no more: Thanksgiving-night openings a trend this year

Several major retailers have released their Black Friday store hours, and shoppers will likely be skipping dessert on Thanksgiving to snag in-store deals.

Kohl's and JCPenney have both announced that they will open their doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night (Nov. 28).

According to gottadeal.com, “Kohl's will be open 28 straight hours from 8 p.m. Thursday until midnight on Friday night. Kohl's operates 1,158 stores in 49 states.”

Macy’s announced last week that they, too, would begin their Black Friday deals at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Toys R’ Us will be opening their doors at some locations at 10 p.m. Nov. 28th and other locations at midnight.

As more stores continue to announce their openings, experts say it’s likely they will be jumping on the Thanksgiving night opening trend. 

Avoid pet horror stories this Halloween

Pets have become an indispensable part of Halloween for many families.

Americans are expected to spend $330 million this year to dress up their furry companions as hot dogs, pumpkins, monsters and other colorful characters.

Many people also bring their pets along as they trick-or-treat.

But Halloween poses some unique safety risks for Fido and Mittens.

Dogs may love everything chewy, but candy is for people -- not pets, said the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center in Ohio.

Chocolate is dangerous for dogs and cats, and consuming too much of it can prove deadly, the center said.

Holiday decorations such as pumpkins and corn are relatively non-toxic to cats and dogs, but they can produce upset stomachs.

However, other decorations such as electric lights and pumpkins with candles inside, should be kept in places where pets cannot reach them.

Pets can suffer burns of electrocution by chewing on cords. Candles pose fire risks.

Pet costumes should not restrict the animals' movements or impact their ability to see, hear, breathe, bark or meow, the center said.

Owners should inspect costumes prior to putting them on to make sure there are not dangling parts or fabric that could be a choking hazard.

Pets should have the proper identification tags in case they get loose.

Owners should be careful when opening doors for trick-or-treaters to make sure their furry friends do not escape.

Candy may be dandy, but cavities bite; dentists swamped just after Halloween

It's the trick that comes after the treats.Every year, the week after Halloween, Mary Pagana's phone rings off the hook. Another child with a tooth ache is crying in a school nurse's office, and the child needs urgent help.Pagana is the dental health educator for the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Health Department, and it's her job to try to find a dentist willing to give emergency care to children who often have not seen a dentist before.It's not an easy task, especially the week after Halloween, when there may be a dozen or more dental emergencies she must manage."Next week I will be bombarded with calls from school nurses who have kids with toothaches," Pagana said.It takes three ingredients to make a cavity: A vulnerable tooth, bacteria, and sugar.If there's a cavity anywhere near a tooth nerve, that Halloween candy can push it right over the edge, and the consequence is excruciating pain for those children, Pagana said.Longer term, the consequences of untreated dental disease can be much worse. Missed school and work are just the beginning. Mouth infections can lead to heart disease, pregnancy loss, and diabetes complications, said Dr. Claude Earl Fox, executive director of the Lake Worth, Fla.-based Florida Public Health Institute.He urged adults to consider giving out sugarless gum, xylitol lollipops, string cheese, or non-candy items like stickers and Silly Bandz instead of candy this Halloween.But more than that, he urged state and local public officials to move beyond the unfocused, penny-wise, pound-foolish approach that Florida has long taken with dental health issues.The non-profit Pew Center on the States recently gave Florida an "F" for its short-sighted policies on dental care.Instead of allowing dental hygienists to apply tooth-saving dental sealant to children's teeth, for example, Florida mandates a dentist's exam in advance.That's an impossible hurdle for many families.The Florida Public Health Institute has grants from the Quantum Foundation, the Allegany Franciscan Foundation and DentaQuest to focus public attention on the problem. Last year, it co-hosted a Healthy Happy Halloween event at the South Florida Science Museum to promote healthier Halloween alternatives. Their advice?Brush and floss regularly, eat a healthy diet low on sugar and high on fresh fruits and vegetables, rinse with water or chew sugar-free gum if it's not possible to brush between meals, and never put a baby to bed with anything other than water in his or her bottle.Protecting baby teeth with fluoride varnish and sealant can reduce tooth decay by as much as 60 percent. Application of a sealant costs only about one-third the cost of filling a cavity.

No holiday for black cats

The black cat was carried into the woods near a Clayton County, Ga. apartment complex, sprayed with flammable liquid and set on fire.In Stockbridge, Ga., someone tried to chemically burn a devil caricature, horns and all, into the face of a black kitten.As another Halloween approaches, animal activists and animal shelter officials say black cats, always shrouded in superstition, always linked to bad luck, again are at risk for twisted holiday rituals."I think more happens than we know about," Deborah Rumbold of PeachState Pet Partners said.Black cat abuse can involve anything from the aforementioned life-threatening injuries — the Stockbridge feline survived, the other didn't — to the animal relegated to a Hallo-ween accessory and callously discarded once the holiday has come and gone.For these reasons, Clayton County prohibits the adoption of black cats around Hallo-ween, said Capt. Mark Thompson of Clayton's animal control unit. "We do what we can to respond to animal abuse. We don't want to contribute to that."Rumbold's group — which rescued the disfigured Stockbridge black kitten last year, nursed it back to health and put it up for adoption — remains vigilant in screening people before allowing adoptions. PeachState Pet Partners makes prospective owners undergo a home inspection, submit references and sit through a lengthy interview.Other shelters require people to spell out their reasons for wanting to adopt a black cat, hoping to avoid a situation that the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Suwanee, Ga., had. "We had one woman who brought in a cat after Halloween; she just wanted it to make her house more spooky," said Chandler Lumbatis of the Suwanee shelter, which has a dozen black cats in its care.At least that woman brought the black cat back. Other people have rid themselves of these animals by dumping them in wooded areas, even though many are domesticated and can't survive.People who want to adopt a black cat, and do so around the holiday, will find that policies vary. Some shelters won't consider handing over a black cat until after Halloween. Similar to adopting a pit bull dog, interviews more extensive than usual can be required.Adding to the black cat mystique, some animal shelters simply don't believe these incidents occur enough to restrict adoptions. Some metro Atlanta shelters are lifting their restrictions. There are shelter officials who no longer believe the stories of neglect. They have never personally handled a case of black cat abuse. Checks with local law enforcement agencies reveal few incidents in recent years. "We just don't see it," said Don Bruce, operations manager for Cobb County (Ga.) Animal Control. "It's like an urban myth."After seven years of banning black cat adoptions around Halloween, PAWS Atlanta is permitting them this year. Tara Mitchell, director of operations, doesn't deny that black cats have been abused. However, Mitchell said it's also important to find good homes for them.Robbin Yeager, shelter manager for Good Mews in Marietta, Ga., said she hasn't heard of a credible story of black cat abuse in years. It's been harder to find homes for these animals because of people's concerns about superstition, Yeager said, and the shelter needs to take advantage of interest in the cats brought by Halloween.Good Mews actually has a sale on black cats in progress. To spur business, workers wear shirts that argue against the negatives that surround these animals, pointing out that some cultures believe black cats are good luck.

Keep little ghosts and goblins safe

It's fun and, next to Christmas, it is one of the most exciting holidays for children.But Halloween, which falls this year on a Monday, is also a dangerous time and — in many instances — can be fatal."Children 15 and under are four times more likely to be killed than at any other time of the year," said Beverly Losman, manager of Injury Prevention at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and director of Safe Kids Georgia, a statewide network of health educators who work to prevent unintentional injury. "They are running to and fro, they fall, and drivers often do not see them."Losman said parents should watch out for tainted candy, be weary of potentially hazardous costumes and take precautions to make sure their child is visible, especially to drivers."We recommend reflective tape either to their costume or Halloween bag," she said.Home safety, driver safety and pedestrian safety, Losman said, are all key to having a fun and safe Halloween.While parents are implementing the safety tips, experts suggest that they have a game plan to keep kids healthy as well — especially because childhood obesity is a growing concern."No one wants to take the fun out of trick-or-treating, so children should be allowed to have some treats," Losman said. "But it's always a good idea to plan ahead and provide sweets in moderation."

Some tips:

SafetyAvoid costumes with excessive fabric, such as capes or sleeves. Loose clothing can easily brush up against a jack-o'-lantern or other open flame, causing your child's costume to catch on fire.Make sure costumes fit properly. Oversize costumes and footwear, such as clown or adult shoes, can cause a child to trip and fall. Avoid wearing hats that can slide over the eyes.Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords or knives. Inflexible ones can cause serious injury in case of a fall.Apply only nontoxic and hypoallergenic paint or cosmetics to the face. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely and cut eye holes large enough for full vision.If possible, choose brightly colored costumes that drivers can spot easily.Always supervise children younger than 13 and attach their name, address and phone number (including area code) to their clothes in case they get separated from adults. Older children should trick-or-treat in a group, and a curfew should be established. Have each child carry a cell phone or some loose change in case they get lost or need to call home.Children should go only to well-lit houses and remain on the porch within street view. Teach your child to cross the street at crosswalks or intersections; never cross between parked cars and always look both ways before crossing. Remind your child to stay on the sidewalk, if possible, and to walk facing traffic. Use flashlights when trick-or-treating in the dark.Remind your child not to eat any treats before you've had a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures. Throw away all treats that are homemade or unwrapped. To help prevent your children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go trick-or-treating.Parents of food-allergic children must read every candy label in their child's Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.Nutrition, wellnessProvide a nutritious meal that includes fruits and vegetables before going to gather candy. This will lower your child's appetite for sweets.Call around the neighborhood and aim for neighbors who will be giving out non-food items such as pencils, erasers and safe child toys.Separate candy as soon as you return home and take out what you will allow your child to eat in a week or two and share the rest with other kids in the neighborhood or kids who may not have participated in the festivities.Allow the child to eat things such as chocolate and hard candies versus chewy and gummy foods because they are easier to brush off the teeth.Provide water with snacks and candies as well as set aside time to be active to help burn the extra calories consumed.Source: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Novelty lenses come with a warning

Cosmetic contact lenses are being sold without a prescription at local costume shops, beauty parlors and gas stations despite the practice being outlawed since 2005, according to the Ohio Optical Dispensers Board.

Particularly popular for use in Halloween costumes, cosmetic contacts allow the wearer to change their eye color or create effects like blood-red zombie eyes or cat eyes.

Ophthalmologists say there is nothing inherently dangerous about colored contacts, but wearing any contact lens that is not prescribed and properly fitted can cause serious health problems.

In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration mandated that all contact lenses, not just those that correct vision, are medical devices and therefore fall under prescription requirements set by the Federal Trade Commission.

Those rules state that sellers must be presented with and verify a valid prescription in order to dispense lenses.

Despite the ban, the Ohio Optical Dispensers Board, tasked with regulating and licensing practitioners that dispense glasses and contact lenses, has seen an increase in the number of businesses caught selling cosmetic lenses without a prescription.

In fiscal year 2011 they issued 16 cease and desist orders to Ohio businesses, compared to 12 in 2010. Since July 1, they have issued six cease and desist orders.

Among the sellers caught illegally dispensing contact lenses since July 2010 were three Montgomery County stores: Shell Gas at 1224 S. Main St., Dayton; Nirvana at the Dayton Mall, and Shell Gas at 499 Woodman Drive, Dayton.

Employees at all three locations confirmed that they are no longer selling the contact lenses.

Not all businesses have complied willingly, said Nancy Manns, executive director of the board.

She said several filed lawsuits claiming the board does not have the authority to restrict the sale of noncorrective lenses and the Attorney General’s Office has issued injunctions against several businesses including Foy’s Halloween Shop in Fairborn in 2005.

Other area businesses ordered to stop distributing the products in the past fiscal year included the Marathon at 2693 Dixie Highway in Hamilton, Spring Beauty Supply in Springfield, NYC3 cell phone store in Middletown and the Nirvana location at Miami Valley Centre in Piqua.

“The biggest problem is that we know it’s going on, but we only have one inspector,” Manns said.

Sherill Williams, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio, said the long-term health effects of wearing a poorly fitted contact lens or getting an eye infection because of improper use can be devastating.

“You end up really putting your cornea at risk. You could require a cornea transplant,” Williams said. Manns said the board’s aim isn’t to outlaw the use of cosmetic lenses, but to regulate safe, legal use.

She said that there are reputable online sites that sell colored and cosmetic lenses and will ask for your doctors name before shipping to confirm your prescription.

There are also many websites that sell the products and do not verify or even ask for prescription information. Manns said that the board has no authority over online distributors who are not based in Ohio because the actual dispensing is going on in another state or another country.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2124 or kwedell@coxohio.com.

Five great tech gifts for Father's Day

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How awesome is Dad? He's out there every day, bringing home the bacon, cleaning the garage, fixing whatever's broken, and just generally being a heck of a guy.

If you haven't thanked him lately, your mandatory once-a-year chance is just around the corner: Father's Day is Sunday, June 16. And what better way to show your appreciation than with something techie?

All dads love gadgets and gear, so I've rounded up five gift items sure to put a smile on the big guy's face.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9

If Dad doesn't already have a tablet, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 8.9 (16GB) might just be the best deal going. On sale for $249 when you apply coupon code DADSFIRE at checkout, this big tab offers a high-resolution screen, stereo speakers, a front-facing camera for video chats, and more--plus access to Amazon Prime and all the video-streaming benefits therein.

 

Moshi Mythro Earbuds

If Dad's into music, nothing beats a good pair of earbuds--especially the kind that create a seal inside the ear canal, blocking out most ambient noise. Moshi's Mythro, which CNET called "a bargain at their price of $30," comes in your choice of six stylish colors (best bet for Dad: gunmetal gray) and includes an inline microphone so he can take calls in between "Pet Sounds" tracks.

 

MyCharge Peak 6000

If Dad travels a lot, don't let his gadgets run out of juice. The Peak 6000 is a portable power supply that can recharge a smartphone, e-reader, tablet, and other mobile devices. And it's entirely self-contained, plugging directly into a wall outlet to charge its own 6,000mAh battery, then powering other hardware via built-in ports and connectors (USB, microUSB, and Apple 30-pin). Best. Travel charger. Ever.

 

Roku 3

This is such an obvious choice, I'm almost loathe to include it--but the reality is that the Roku 3 is thesingle best streaming box you can buy. It has a Bluetooth remote, thus eliminating the pesky line-of-sight issues common to past Rokus. Even better, that remote includes a headphone jack, so Dad can fall asleep to episodes of "Game of Thrones" without disturbing Mom.

 

The Wally Dad's a practical guy, meaning he'd probably jump at the chance to ditch that bulky old wallet he's been sitting on. The Wally is a slim leather pouch that sticks to the back of an iPhone and accommodates up to three cards (credit, business, etc.) and some cash. A pull-tab makes it easy to extract everything. It normally sells for $49.99, but in honor of Father's Day, it's on sale for $39.99--and you can get free shipping when you apply coupon code 1STCLASSWALLY at checkout.

Have you found any other great gadget gifts for Dad? Tell me about them in the comments!

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.(Source: Savings.com)

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