Edward put his arm around me and pulled me tightly against his side.

5 Regularly Overpriced Car Repairs to Watch Out For

Posted By: on July 4, 2013
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Owning a car is expensive. Unfortunately, it only gets more expensive as the years go by and your car needs more and more work.

The average car owner does not know how to repair his or her own car, or even how to keep the vehicle in running condition. This means that most of us are at the mercy of our auto repair shop, and have to pay whatever the autoshop writes up.

When it comes to minor repairs and maintenance fixes, the average car owner could easily pay for his or her own supplies and do the repairs on their own, saving hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on over-priced parts and labor. Here’s five routinely overpriced car repairs you can do at home.

1. Oil change

If you can stand to get a little dirty, you can buy a can of oil and change out your oil yourself without too much trouble. If you aren’t up for that, you can also take your car to an express oil change company that will charge you less than a dealership. Because these businesses are looking to make a profit, say no to the offered extras; most of the time, you don’t need them.

2. Tune-up

Going in for a tune-up is a dangerous activity, in terms of price alone: If you don’t specify what you want from the dealership or repair shop, you are likely to get a bill that is much larger than what you would have paid if you only got what you need.

If you keep track of what your car is due for and go in to get those specific things replaced, you can have more confidence that you are paying for services you need.

3. Fluids

You can top off fluids yourself in your garage by just lifting up the hood, so why take it into the shop? Most of the time repair shops will top off fluids just to boost their own profit margin, when you could have done it easily by grabbing some washer fluid and filling up your car at home.

4. Brakes

While this is probably more complicated than you can handle at home, it is rarely as extreme as mechanics often make it seem. Every 30,000 miles you should consider getting your brakes looked at. Be sure to ask for a brake pad change, and go to a mechanic that you trust, that way you know you are getting a good replacement, and can trust that person’s recommendation to do more if necessary.

5. Repair contracts

This is more common at dealerships. Car salesmen will offer you a deal that pays for all future repairs, and is “merely” added to your loan and lease payment. However, this is rarely as good a deal as it seems.

Instead of getting work done at the dealership, consider going to a trusted mechanic who will perform the job at a lower price. That way, you only end up paying for exactly what you need, and can do the little maintenance repairs yourself, without paying dealer prices.

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The 7 Most Extravagant Casinos on the Strip

Posted By: on June 29, 2013
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Las Vegas is infamous for its devil-may-care culture, showgirls and late nights, and the smoking and drinking in all of its bars, lounges, and casinos. The city’s atmosphere of fun and debauchery are unrivaled by most US cities, and that’s all thanks to the casinos (and mobsters) who started it all.

While Vegas may once have been a place for the Bugsy Siegels of the world to gather and hide their dirty laundry, it’s become one of the most popular vacation spots for tourists around the world who are looking for a seriously good time.

Here’s a list of the top 7 casinos for anyone who’s looking to cruise The Strip.

1. Bellagio

Fans of Ocean’s Eleven will recognize this quintessentially Las Vegas image: a beautiful fountain spouting enormous streams of water into the air, water that dances to the musical stylings of a variety of old favorites — including Frank Sinatra). That elegant fountain is just one reason the Bellagio enjoys the reputation of being the classiest joint on the strip. Walk inside to discover why this hotel is the casino of choice for many refined travelers.

2. The Palms

This one is actually NOT located on The Strip, but it’s so marvelously self-contained, boasting dining, night-life, and locally favored casinos, and popular (especially among celebrities) for its five-star elegance, that it had to make the list. Flamingo Drive, where the casino is located, is only a short distance from The Strip, in case you’re inclined to wander.

3. Caesar’s Palace

This is another great-looking casino. The Doric columns that announce Caesar’s Palace are lined with sculptures in true Roman fashion, and the interior promises an excess of luxuries, from the finest dining to the most high-end shopping.

4. The Mirage

So beautiful you won’t believe it’s real. When it opened in 1989, The Mirage was more expensive to build than any other casino in history: it cost $630 million. With its reflective gold exterior, it still looks exquisite. Surrounded by ample royal palms and beautiful flowers, this hotel is truly an oasis in the hot Nevada desert.

5. Mandalay Bay

As its name promises, Mandalay Bay boasts an abundance of pools to lounge by or cool off in. With 750 sq/ft suites, and a bar at the 44th (top) floor where guests can view the city in all its glory, no visitor to Mandalay Bay will feel his or her stay here is anything less than luxurious.

6. MGM Grand

Owned by the same company that operates Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Luxor, and the older, less upscale Circus Circus, the MGM Grand combines emerald-city magic with Hollywood class. Once home to a live indoor lion habitat and the largest gaming floors in all of Vegas, it’s no wonder the MGM Grand is a favorite of gamblers and thrill seekers alike.

7. The Venetian

With its Italian flare, the Venetian is perhaps the most awe-inspiring casino on The Strip. It features a river ride on authentic Italian gondolas, the best Italian cuisine, and scenic casinos that are accessed after a window-shopping amble along one of the hotel’s many cobblestoned Italian-themed streets. The Venetian is also one of the only casinos to integrate mobile gaming into their casino system for an old-world but cutting-edge experience.

If you’re not one of the lucky few who can afford a trip to the Nevada desert this season, prep yourself for next year’s vacation (and maybe win a few bucks to put toward the trip) by trying the latest online gambling experience. Mobile casinos are the new wave in gaming, and can make a pro out of any rookie who doesn’t want to spend loads on a pricey vacation.

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TopCultured Legends

10 Things A Party DJ Should Know About You

Posted By: on June 27, 2013

He played Guns ‘N’ Roses. He played ‘Gold Digger.’ He played that Michael Jackson deep cut you hadn’t heard before, but loved. He even played that one song you like from the Soprano’s that turned Read On »

Free Robot Sex

Posted By: on July 16, 2010

I highly doubt this pathetic attempt succeeded but you’ve got to at least give it to him for his effort. I’m curious as to who exactly he’s advertising to though. Is he looking for a Read On »

2009: The Game

Posted By: on December 31, 2009

Gather up all the money you lost in the recession while avoiding horrible newsmakers like Bernie Madoff, Tiger Woods, Balloon Boy and Octomom in this addictive new game. Play it here.

7 Powerful Americans From Very Humble Beginnings

Posted By: on June 29, 2013
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There’s endless research that showcases the achievement gap among foster kids, but there are also exceptions to the rule. Some foster kids have gone on to achieve immense success, and many people don’t even know just how humble their beginnings were.

For a driven person who’s given just the right amount of support, backgrounds don’t matter. In fact, a person can even achieve great success as a CEO or government leaders in certain instances. There’s one thing CEOs and foster kids tend to have in common: a drive to beat the odds and take down obstacles. Maybe it’s that innate instinct that pushes some foster children into leadership roles.

Here are seven who broke the mold.

1. Steve Jobs

Jobs’s birth mother was pregnant in a time when having a child out of wedlock wasn’t accepted. She gave him up for adoption, and he was taken in by a loving couple. Although he was of course bright, he got into a lot of trouble at school and was even expelled once. However, his intelligence eventually shone through with the help of his adopted parents, and he quickly began skipping grades.

2. Dave Pelzer

This successful entrepreneur was called “slave” and “it” by his highly abusive mother. She forced him into “games” that nearly left him dead, and he called DHS on her himself when he was 12 years old. Pelzer was moved from one foster care family to another, but he eventually found the structure he needed in military school. He now focuses his efforts on helping other abused children.

3. Dave Thomas

The head honcho at Wendy’s has always been vocal about his support of adoption agencies and foster care systems. He was adopted after six weeks in the system and never knew his birth mother. In addition to his management of one of the biggest burger chains in the country, he’s also the founder of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

4. Tony Shellman

The co-founder of the clothing lines ENYCE and Mecca was left with Catholic Charities when his parents decided they couldn’t adequately care for him. He was eventually adopted and is best known for creating Parish Clothing. Now known as a trendsetter and leader in the fashion industry, Shellman’s humble beginnings led to a good path for him.

5. Robert Byrd

When Byrd’s mother died, his father couldn’t handle raising a child alone. He sent Byrd to live with extended family members in a foster situation, until the couple finally got approved to adopt the child. He went on to become one of the longest-serving Congressmen in history.

6. Larry Ellison

The CEO of Oracle is another successful entrepreneur who was once in the foster care system. A leader in the tech industry, he’s been a prime mover in revolutionizing technology in recent years. He’s also proof that a tough upbringing isn’t necessarily a sign that a person can’t be successful.

7. Andy Berlin

A driven entrepreneur, Berlin went on to become chairman of Berlin Camerone and Partners, a private firm that works in the advertising and micro networking industry. Brand communications are developed by his firm, and it now has offices around the globe. Berlin has been key in moving branding into the digital era, perhaps because of a difficult upbringing that forced him to stay driven.

There are many other successful adoptees and foster kids that have gone on to achieve great success. Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Edgar Allan Poe are just a few examples. To help foster kids achieve, they need programming and support networks that enable them to thrive. Anyone can help foster kids by working with a reputable program.

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7 Fashion Apps Great for Clueless Guys

Posted By: on June 17, 2013
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Some guys have no clue when it comes to fashion, and dipping a toe in these strange waters can be overwhelming at best. Luckily, help is just a swipe or tap away. There are numerous fashion apps just for guys that are easy to use and won’t have them looking like Justin Bieber wannabes. Here are seven to get started–it’s like having a personal shopper on hand whether a guy is in Nordstrom or TJ Maxx.

1. Trenstop Trendtracker

This is a free app, and it’s equal parts entertainment and fashion help. Get a sneak peek at the crazy trends making the rounds, and decide whether or not to try out the new oxblood 70s-inspired coat or not. This app is only for risk takers (or those looking for a good laugh), and at the very least it teaches guys the fashion lingo they need to impress.

2. TouchCloset

Few guys will remember the scene in “Clueless” when Alicia Silverstone’s character could match up possible outfits in her own closet to see what works. Surprisingly, that technology is now available for just a .99 download (among many options). Guys can instantly see what’s already in their closet so there’s no buying the same thing twice, and it’s a snap to see just how well that tie at the mall goes with the dress shirt at home.

3. Cool Guy

This app is part personal shopper and part style planner. It gives advice on what to get to complement what’s already in the closet. A variety of looks are available, and guys can customize the app to suit their own personal style.

4. Men’s Hairstyles

Let’s start with the basics: A good haircut. Men’s hairstyles offers a variety of options and currently has over 240 looks for a 99 cent app. Forget pawing through the magazines at the salon, and find the perfect cut before even sitting down.

5. Tie Mentor

There are countless ways to tie a tie–and sometimes the same old Windsor knot gets boring. This handy app lets men effortlessly knot their tie on the go and however they’d like.

6. Fashion Style

This app comes in two formats: one for ladies and one for the guys. It’s completely free, is regularly updated with the latest trends and styles around the world, and offers offline storage of favorite finds and designers.

7. Go Try It On

Don’t trust the salesperson to provide an unbiased opinion? This app lets men snap a photo of their outfit and an online community will provide an honest assessment, feedback and advice.

Getting dressed can sometimes be no easy feat. However, with a little help, it just got a lot less stressful. Remember that accessories are what really pull any look together, and now it’s easy to shop for stunning accessories online from the comfort of the couch.

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6 Mistakes Made by Amateur Party Planners

Posted By: on June 10, 2013
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There’s a good reason you regularly see full-time jobs posted for event planners. Planning a party, even a small one, is no easy feat: it takes know-how, skills, knowledge, tools, and personality to pull it off. In college, the Social Chair of a fraternity or sorority is the most desired position … until a person actually lands it.

Planning a party is much more difficult than it sounds. Most newbie party planners make the same common mistakes. The best planners expect things to go off track somehow, and prepare for awkward moments and have numerous Plan Bs.

Ready to organize the best party of the year? Avoid these six common mistakes.

1. Not enough ______

Whether it’s food, drinks, favors, or music, running out of something is a common pitfall among many new party planners. Always get more than you think necessary, because people can easily imbibe a little more than normal or bring a few unannounced dates.

Plan for 15 percent more of everything than what you require, and you have a great start to a stress-free party. After all, guests can always take home leftovers — or the host enjoys a surplus for a later shindig.

2. Poor music selection

A party is not an excuse to show off an obscure indie music collection (unless you’re sure all the attendees are into the same music). Instead, choose music that spans generations, is generally known and beloved, and isn’t going to offend anyone.

Karaoke favorites are a safe bet, especially if alcohol is involved. Spend some time on the playlist and make sure the tracks flow effortlessly into one another.

3. What seating?

Most people don’t provide enough seating for a proper party. Having a comfortable place to sit is paramount for any party, so don’t be shy about getting a little Feng Shui.

Rearrange existing furniture to make it conducive to socializing, and pick up some fold-away chairs. Every host should have a surplus of temporary chairs on hand that are comfortable, stylish, and sturdy.

4. Last-minute invites

Unless it’s a formal event like a wedding, social media invites are now acceptable. Send them out five days in advance, since most people quickly forget about SM invites.

Try to avoid making changes, but a simple update to the menu or another teaser leading up to the party is a good way to discreetly “remind” people about the event. But don’t count on social media to provide an accurate head count, and make sure you keep the event private!

5. Poor directions

Whether it’s directions to the house, what to bring, what to wear, what’s happening, or what time it starts, people need to know the basics. A well-written invitation should get everyone excited about the party, not leave them wondering what it’s for. A good host isn’t just “on” during the event, but during the days leading up to it, too.

6. Always choosing a potluck

Potlucks are kind of controversial, since the host should really be in charge of making sure everyone has an appropriate meal/snack/beverage. They’re okay once in a blue moon, but for the most part a guest’s job is to bring flowers or perhaps a bottle of wine. Expecting anything else from them was unheard of years ago, and is still considered crass by some.

A great way to get started with planning is choosing a fun, appropriate theme. It doesn’t matter if the party is for kids or adults; everyone loves a theme.

Choose something that’s easy for guests to get into, such as an Oscars party with red carpet attire and champagne. For the kids, ask Junior what he or she wants; kids often have the most creative theme ideas.

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5 Injuries Still Plaguing the NFL in 2014

Posted By: on May 22, 2013
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Connor Barwin

There is no pleasure without pain, and despite the honor of becoming a professional football player and being roared on by hundreds of millions of fans across the country, the threat of injuries can end a career – or even a life. For every dollar that’s been spent on research and innovation into making football a safer game, there’s no denying that it will always be a violent sport. Here’s a look at the injury issues still plaguing the NFL this season.

Brian Urlacher

The Chicago Bears lost their linebacker of 13 years when Brian Urlacher decided he’d had enough of being injured. A knee injury changed his game, rendering him incapable of playing the way he used to. Urlacher admitted that the firing of coach Lovie Smith was a factor in his decision to retire, but said that the effects of the knee injury and corrective surgery (arthroscopic debridement procedure) were “frustrating”, to the point where he didn’t want to play football anymore.

Torell Troup

Torell Troup is only 27 years old, but he compared his back injury to that of former Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox, who retired in 2011 after a devastating spinal injury while playing against the Seattle Seahawks. While Troup’s injury is not as severe as Knox’s, his recovery has been slow enough that the Buffalo Bills placed him on a season-ending injured reserve list. Troup is not expected back on the field until September 2013.

Jason Pinkston

25-year old Pinkston of the Cleveland Browns was treated for blood clots in his lungs, which could have proved fatal had they not been caught in time. While the causes behind Pinkston’s blood clots are not known, trauma to the extremities have been known to result in such clots. Pinkston was released from hospital, but prohibited from risky activities (like football) while he recovers. Assuming his doctors can ascertain that the clots were not caused by playing football, he could be back for the Browns by next season.

Bruce Carter

The Dallas Cowboys will miss the linebacker services of Bruce Carter, who will have to miss the rest of the season to recover from an elbow injury sustained during a game against the Washington Redskins. Carter dislocated his elbow while making a tackle, and had surgery to correct the problem. He is expected to return in September.

Nate Burleson

Nate Burleson, the wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, suffered a broken leg while playing against the Chicago Bears, and had to sit out the rest of the season. While he was practicing ahead of schedule to prepare for his return to the Lions in September, Burleson admitted that his confidence and endurance were still on the mend.

Injury Treatment For The Rest Of Us

Most of us don’t know what it’d be like to suffer severe head, knee and back injuries in the name of sports contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we can still get hurt on the job. Here are some things to do and keep in mind when this happens:

  • report it. Letting your boss know about what caused the injury not only alerts everyone else to be careful, but also starts the process for you to receive due compensation and time off for your injury. If you don’t report the injury, not only do you endanger others, but you might be unwittingly render yourself ineligible for reparations.
  • get medical attention. This could mean a hospital trip, or simply going home for the day to take care of yourself. Whatever the injury, however, it’s critical that you do something about it as soon as possible. For example, a pinch in your back could lead to agonizing nights of sleeplessness and difficult mobility if you don’t get it looked at.
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The 4 Biggest Business Intelligence Companies

Posted By: on May 18, 2013
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Having an eye for detail is crucial for business intelligence (BI) specialists and software. Finding the meaning behind mountains of raw data can be a difficult task, especially for companies that have not been monitoring their processes on a regular basis. Keeping an eye on business intelligence can tell stories of new opportunities, potential verticals for growth, and identify dangerous problems, allowing companies to enact a solution.

As business intelligence becomes more accessible to smaller companies and startups, with app developers driving mobile solutions, the need for BI-trained workers and software solutions goes up. Take a look at the four top business intelligence companies out there now.

1. Roambi

This BI company rode the wave of mobile devices, catering to users with enterprise mobile devices running Apple’s iOS environment. The analytics publishing software is available through the web on both Mac and PC. Roambi provides up-to-date analytics and data through interactive visual graphs. This makes information easier to interpret and consume, without the hassle of manual entry and manipulation. The app can pull from various data sources, like Google Apps, Salesforce CRM, CSV files, and HTML pages.

2. YellowFin

This award-winning BI solution provides companies with robust computer software and mobile apps to track analytics, collaborate, map customers, and visuals data. YellowFin gives businesses a bird’s eye of view, allowing them to identify areas that are reaching benchmarks and those that fall short. Interactive reports and visualization charts can be shared with colleagues and communicated across email with the touch of a button. App developers can customize the YellowFin experience and help integrate these tools into proprietary company apps.

3. Domo

Domo appeals to many branches of a company, including C-level executives, marketing teams, IT departments, operations teams, and sales representatives. Domo recognizes that BI tracking is only effective when it is applied to every aspect of a company. Giving every department visibility on performance, opportunities, and areas of growth can help these teams achieve success faster. Domo unifies information from multiple sources – spreadsheets, web pages, and apps – allowing users to get a real-time snapshot of data instantly.

4. Microsoft SharePoint

SharePoint is considered the industry standard in many PC-based environments, with metrics tracking, IT management tools, database integration, and enterprise social networking. Office 365 makes information from SharePoint accessible to users anywhere through a web portal. A plethora of third-party apps connect to SharePoint, allowing businesses to explore different options and gain comprehensive views from other analytics software.

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5 Rules for Professional Email Etiquette

Posted By: on May 17, 2013
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Even though letters are no longer the method of conducting professional correspondence and most communication is done in email, that doesn’t mean that professional conduct and etiquette should go out the window. Here are some tips for keeping professional emails, professional:

1. Make Sure You Introduce Yourself

It’s best to avoid assuming that the person on the receiving end of an email is going to automatically know who the sender is. To prevent awkward email exchanges it is best to always introduce oneself at the beginning of an email exchange so that the person receiving the email understands who they are communicating with.

2. Avoid Netspeak and Emoticons

Though abbreviations like “ty” and “ttyl’ might seem appropriate in emails with friends or family, they have no place in a professional email exchange. Always be sure to use proper grammar and spelling in all email exchanges. The person on the other end of the email has nothing to judge the sender on but what they write and there is no need to give them a bad impression.

3. Be Timely In Responses

The appropriate time frame to respond to a non-urgent email is 24-48 hours, a rule which should always be adhered to. Most people wouldn’t want to wait a week for an email about a professional matter, so it is best to be empathetic and assume that the person taking the time to send an email wants a timely response. This being said, there is no need to respond to an email a minute after it has been sent and doing so actually makes the sender appear to be careless.

4. Never Send Anything In A Professional Email That You Wouldn’t Be Comfortable Sharing With A Wider Audience

Even though an email is only being sent to one person, the sender has no control over what is done with that email after it is received. For that reason, people sending professional emails should never include content that they would not be comfortable with their boss, their contact’s boss and every last one of their coworkers seeing. Though that description might sound extreme, the aforementioned criteria is the best way guide oneself in determining if an email is appropriate to send or not.

5. A Good Template Goes A Long Way

Even though letterhead is near extinct, it is being replaced by well-designed email templates. Such templates, regardless of the content, always appear the same and add an extra professional touch to email communications; they are also a great way of integrating contact information into every email. There are many email services that can provide customers with template design, so no one has to worry about creating a template themselves if they aren’t interested in doing so.

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The 7 Most Extravagant Celebrity Birthday Gifts

Posted By: on May 15, 2013
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Super lucky 16-year-olds might get a car for their birthday, but that doesn’t compare to what celebs give each other simply for adding another year. Whether it’s inspirational or unbelievable, gossip mongers love to keep tabs on how celebrities spend their cash. After all, it’s not every year Beyonce gets older. (Okay, maybe it is).

Who can blame celebrities for overspending? After all, it’s their money and they may do with it as they please. However, the rest of us can’t avoid feeling a little envy. The more money celebrities make, the more they like to spend it on those they love.

Here are seven of the most extravagant celebrity birthday gifts ever.

1. Kristen Stewart’s $46,000 pen

When the Twilight star turned 23, her on-again/off-again boyfriend Rob Pattinson put down $46,000 … for a pen. This wasn’t a jewelry bauble or a car, but a simple writing instrument. Apparently, Kristen collects pens and this one was a Thibaldi Bentley Crew made of pure white gold. There are only 39 others just like it in the world, so for those who have a penchant for pens, it’s a must, if you think a pen should cost as much as two years of university.

2. Beyonce’s diamond whip

No, this diamond-studded whip wasn’t from Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, but from fellow chanteuse Lady Gaga. The details of this alleged gift have been kept largely under wraps, but it’s rumored that Gaga presented the S&M toy as a means of helping to spice up Bey’s sex life. Of course, getting whipped with leather is one thing; getting whipped with diamonds goes way into Christian Grey territory.

3. Brad Pitt’s waterfall

What do you give the man who’s the father of your six (seven? ten? twenty?) children? Why not a waterfall of his very own! That’s what Angelina did when Brad turned 48, with the hope that one day he can build the house of his dreams around it, a la Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, this private waterfall is nearly impossible for the paparazzi to get to, which means snapshots of Brad frolicking shirtless have yet to surface.

4 Brad Pitt’s olive tree

For an earlier birthday, Angie also gave Brad an olive tree that cost $18,500. It appears she’s intent on giving gifts that never stop giving; and that’s a great attitude that anyone might adopt. A plant represents life, health, and vitality (as do waterfalls) and it’s a gift that comes with a broad range of price tags.

5. Robin Givens’ $2 Million bathtub

Mike Tyson is known for being extravagant (Bengal tiger, anyone?), but when he gave Robin a $2 million bathtub, that was above and beyond anything else. What could a bathtub like that look like? You can’t help thinking he literally poured his money down the drain.

6. Beyonce’s crystal baby bathtub

This wasn’t from Jay-Z either, but former bandmate Kelly Rowland. It was equal parts baby shower gift and equal parts, “Sorry I told the world the sex of your baby” gift. A Swarovski crystal-encrusted baby bathtub probably patched things up pretty well.

7. Victoria Beckham’s Vineyard

Forget a bottle of wine — how about a whole vineyard? That’s what David Beckham got Posh for one of her birthdays … on the heels of her $8 million Bulgari Valentine’s Day necklace.

On a budget? There’s no reason to feel like a great gift can’t be scored at any price. The real secret to gift giving is listening enough to know what a person enjoys. A thoughtful gift has more impact than something that cost big bucks but the person might not like or appreciate. Customized and/or engraved glasses, a custom playlist, or even a romantic poem are all inexpensive but great ideas.

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5 Ways American Cities Can Prepare for Hot, Dry Summers

Posted By: on May 12, 2013
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No matter what a person thinks about global warming, or if they don’t think about it at all, it’s real and it’s coming full speed ahead this summer. Cities like Portland, Oregon haven’t seen generous snowfall during the winter months in years and A/C is now becoming a near-requirement for renters. As summers get increasingly hotter and dryer each year, what does that mean for city residents? It’s time to start prepping for possibly the hottest summer yet.

Of course, not all cities will experience heat waves, but everyone should be prepared. Ideally, city governments are also getting prepared to keep their residents cool and safe. Heat isn’t just an inconvenience; it can also be a health risk and even deadly, especially in vulnerable populations. Here are five ways cities and residents can get ready for a heat wave.

1. Cooling Stations

Cities with a history of heat waves or with predictions for immense heat during the 2013 summer should have cooling stations set up around the city. Not all residents have or can afford A/C, or what if they do and the system breaks? Getting a maintenance worker in the dead of a heat wave is nearly impossible. People should always have an option for staying cool.

2. Keep Grass and Plants Watered

Summer is not the time to try to save on water bills–save that tactic for low-flush toilets. This is especially prevalent in rural areas, but dry plants and grass are a recipe for a fire. This doesn’t mean everyone has to have a bright green lawn, but it does mean watering every other day can keep the family safe. This goes for parks, too.

3. A/C Maintenance Now

Don’t wait until the dead heat of summer to make sure the A/C is in tip top shape. Act now and have a maintenance worker check out the system each spring. Oftentimes, a problem can be caught early and fixed so that the family can enjoy a cool home without any interruptions. A/C systems are machines and can’t be expected to operate flawlessly without some TLC.

4. Practice Common Sense

Dress accordingly, wear sunscreen outside and drink plenty of water (at least 90 ounces on really hot days). However, as Voltaire said, common sense is not very common. It’s easy to put things on the backburner, such as going without water as a person prepares for a big meeting. However, staying hydrated and protected is an essential part of self-care.

5. Vacation Wisely

Nobody is going to pick up and move just to avoid a summer heat wave, but vacationing in places that have moderate temperatures is a smart move. This doesn’t mean sticking to Alaskan cruises, because there are still plenty of places with gorgeous sunshine that aren’t health risks because of the heat. For example, Clearwater, Florida has pretty moderate temperatures year-round, great shopping and dining, is close to the beach but isn’t overflowing with tourists.

Other options include all islands on Hawaii, where the geography is built to withstand the heat and air conditioning is a no-brainer. For those who want something more exotic, Costa Rica is a great option, especially for travelers who are interested in splitting their time between the mountains and the beaches. Generally, tropical areas have the landscaping to hold up against the heat that other places, such as NYC, just don’t have.

Anyone looking to beat the heat needs to keep hydration in mind. Becoming dehydrated is dangerous, and sometimes there are few warning signs. Chug that water, and remember it’s a great way to control weight and improve skin, too. It really is a miracle beverage.

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