Did you know fake cobwebs and some other outdoor Halloween decorations meant as harmless fun can do real damage to wildlife? Here are a few quick reads to help get your health, finances and family in order.
Some tips to make Halloween decor less scary for wildlife
Fake cobwebs and some other spooky, outdoor Halloween decorations meant as harmless fun can do real damage to wildlife.
Halloween spending has skyrocketed in recent years, and the National Retail Federation says Americans are expected to spend $2.7 billion on Halloween decorations this year.
Wildlife organizations say they also have seen an increase in animal visits to local rehabilitation centers for injuries related to the outdoor holiday decorations.
"The fake cobwebs are of particular concern," said Lisa Bloch, director of communications for the Marin Humane in Novato, California. When they're strung across bushes and trees, "wildlife can easily get stuck in these webs."
The fake webs can trap animals, said Alison Hermance of WildCare, a nonprofit wildlife hospital and nature education center in San Rafael, California. Birds caught in them can damage their wings and claws. Chipmunks and other low-to the-ground rodents can also get caught and damage their paws.
If you observe an animal in trouble, always call a wildlife center before intervening, Bloch said.
Halloween lights and other items that dangle also can pose problems for wildlife. Deer and elk can get holiday lights, netting, clothing and other materials stuck in their antlers, said Jason Clay of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Denver office. "We see it every year," he said.
Be aware of what paths animals use in your yard, and avoid placing decorations there, Clay said.
Pumpkins and other food items should be disposed of promptly because they entice animals to come closer to your home than they normally would, putting them in contact with pets and increasing the risk of getting hit by a car, Hermance said.
Don't leave any decorations up for an extended period, adds Bloch. "It's good to be mindful and remove the decorations as soon as you're done celebrating."
—By MELISSA KOSSLER DUTTON, Associated Press
Exercising before breakfast burns more fat, study says
Should you eat before or after exercise in the morning? The debate has raged for years.
The eat-first camp says food before exercise boosts blood sugars, giving the body fuel to increase the intensity and length of a workout. It also keeps you from being fatigued or dizzy.
The eat-after camp says you burn more fat if you fast before exercise.
A small UK study published Friday supports the latter point of view: In 30 obese or overweight men, those who exercised before breakfast burned twice the fat as men who ate breakfast before they worked out.
That's because exercising with no fuel forces the body to turn to stored carbs, and when those are quickly gone, to fat cells.
Unfortunately the eat-after group didn't lose more weight than the eat-before group during the six weeks of the study, but it did have "profound and positive" effects on the health of the group that fasted, researchers said.
Skipping the meal before exercise made the men's muscles more responsive to insulin, which controls high blood sugars, thus reducing the risk for diabetes and heart disease.
"The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin, which is all the more remarkable given that both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight and both gained a similar amount of fitness," said exercise physiologist Javier Gonzalez, an associate professor in the department for health at the University of Bath, in a statement.
"The only difference was the timing of the food intake," Gonzalez added.
A 2017 study from the University of Bath, also co-authored by Gonzalez, looked at 10 men and found the same results -- because of lower blood sugar levels after fasting, the men burned more fat.
However, this time the men burned more calories if they ate breakfast first.
A 2010 study found similar results, this time in a group of 28 healthy, physically active men. One group did no exercise. Two other groups were put through grueling morning exercise of running and cycling four times a week; one group ate before exercise and the other after.
It's likely no surprise that the group who didn't exercise gained weight. But contrary to the 2017 study the group who ate breakfast before exercise also gained weight. It was the group who exercised on water and an empty stomach that maintained their weight, lost fat, and kept their blood sugars in good shape.
What's the takeaway? Obviously science needs to look at this a lot harder, with much larger study groups. But based on the science in these studies, it does seem exercising before eating may be good for your overall health, even if it doesn't always whittle your waistline.
If you do choose to work out on an empty stomach, keep these tips from the US Figure Skating Association in mind to keep your muscle tissue from breaking down:
- Use the four R's of recovery: rehydrate, replenish, repair and reinforce.
- Do that by drinking water or sports drinks.
- Within 15 to 30 minutes, eat a meal with a 4:1 carb to high quality protein ratio.
- Some good choices are fruit and low-fat Greek yogurt, trail mix, or a banana with peanut butter.
—By Sandee LaMotte, CNN
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Deals & Steals: Free year of Apple TV+ with device purchase
Apple is giving away a free year of its new Apple TV+ streaming service with purchase of an Apple device.
Get a free 12-month subscription that launches Nov. 1 with purchase of a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV or Mac.
Claim the offer in the Apple TV app (make sure the eligible device is running the latest iOS) within three months after setting up a new device. You also will be agreeing to a $4.99 per month subscription that starts immediately after the free offer ends. You can cancel at any time, but doing that before the freebie ends will cancel the service immediately. The trial can't be reactivated, according to Apple.
The offer is good on Apple devices purchased after Sept. 10 from Apple or authorized resellers.
Apple TV+ will cost $4.99 a month as the company spends billions on developing original programming. Look for "The Morning Show," a comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, among nine new shows set to roll out each month in 100 countries at launch. Other shows include the kid-friendly "Snoopy in Space" and "See," starring Jason Momoa.
Apple also soon will roll out Apple Arcade, a new video game subscription service offering more than 100 games for $5 a month.
Go to Apple.com to read the offer's fine print.
Keep up with the latest deals: "Like" the Sentinel Deals page on Facebook or follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter @PrettyGoodIdeas.
Black Friday: If no price match, go for cash back
On almost any day of the year, consumers can shop around, compare sale prices and ask one retailer to match a lower price at another retailer.
Black Friday is usually an exception to that rule.
When price matching isn’t an option, cash-back websites, apps and credit cards can still ensure you’re getting a good Black Friday deal.
Price matching exclusions
In most cases, you won’t be able to price match on Black Friday — or the days surrounding it.
Here are a couple of examples of store policies that exclude the day after Thanksgiving:
Best Buy: Price match will not apply to offers or items for sale between the Sunday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) and the Monday after Thanksgiving (Dec. 2) — whether offered by Best Buy or a competitor.
Target: From Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, through Dec. 7, Target won’t accept price matches and adjustments to competitors.
But just in case the store you’re shopping at is an outlier, always read the price matching policy before you hit the stores.
With price matching largely out, finding other ways to save becomes even more important.
First, scope out the deals before you shop on Black Friday (or Thanksgiving). Most retailers release their ads ahead of time, so you’ll know which items will be on sale and how much they’ll cost.
Once you decide what you’ll buy and where you’ll shop, use cash-back websites, apps and credit cards. If you do, you could get money back after you shop — almost like an additional sale on top of that already low Black Friday price.
Here are three ways to earn cash back on qualifying purchases:
Websites. Become a member of cash-back shopping sites like Rakuten and BeFrugal to get money back when you shop at qualifying retailers. After signing up, you’ll need to click a link on the cash-back site before you visit the retailer’s site to place an order online. Once you earn enough cash, you can choose to get paid via methods such as check or PayPal credit.
Credit cards. Cash-back credit cards can accrue rewards, too. If you’re disciplined enough to pay off the balance when the statement comes, using a credit card for items you were going to buy anyway can be a savvy holiday shopping strategy.