Archive for the 'Informational #s' Category

Help a soldier phone home

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Cell Phones for Soldiers is an organization founded by two teens in Massachusetts, dedicated to helping service members stationed overseas stay in contact with the folks back home. Through fund raising activities and money made through recycling old wireless phones, they provide prepaid calling cards so that service men and women can phone home. Each recycled phone buys about an hour of talk time, which is a whole lot more useful than just keeping that old phone in the junk drawer.

There are designated drop off locations for phones, or you can print a postage-paid mailing label on their website. They're a bona fide 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so your donation may be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law (check with your tax advisor for specifics).

They also have a sister site in Canada, with donations there going to help out Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Everybody deserves to be able to live in a home free from violence and fear. A strong home is the foundation of a strong society. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in this home.

If you or someone you care about is afraid of their partner or their relationship, you should call The National Domestic Violence Hotline. They have advocates available 24/7/365 to offer support and help with crisis intervention, safety planning, and referrals to appropriate agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. A call to 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) (or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY) puts you in touch with help in English or Spanish, or 170 other languages through interpreter services.

The Hotline handles over 16,000 calls each month. Even if you don't need to take advantage of their services, you might consider making a donation to their continuing effort to make a difference.

Cell Phone Coverage Complaints

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

"Can you hear me now?" It's more than just a TV commercial—we've all been victim to spotty coverage, loss of signal, and the dreaded "my cell phone works at work but not at home" syndrome. Is it just me, or do other people have the same problems where I do? maintains a wireless coverage complaint database. You can check out their map to see who's having problems where. Color coded by carrier, it may help you to see that you're not alone, or to decide which new carrier you don't want to sign up with. You can report your own problems as well, and maybe help somebody else avoid troubles in the future.

In addition to the map, they've got useful information about coverage issues (beware the big concrete and steel office building), and links to individual carriers' coverage maps.

Pet Loss Support Hotline

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

If you've ever had a pet, you know how wrapped-up we can get with them. Whether you take Fido in weekly for a grooming, or take a more laid-back approach to pet-rearing, they become an important part of our lives. Studies show that folks who have pets accrue a number of benefits, including decrease in stress levels, reduced blood pressure, and many more. Those little guys are a pretty big deal.

Unfortunately, doggies and kitties aren't forever. Suffering the loss of a companion like this, whether by death or other loss, can be pretty hard to work through. Having a friendly ear available to talk to can help us to get through this tough time.

The Center for Companion Animal Health at UC Davis provides a Pet Loss Support Hotline to help people in this trying time. The Hotline is staffed with people who can listen to you, help you sort through your emotions, and refer you to local help. They also have materials they can send you free-of-charge.

You can reach the Hotline toll-free at 1-800-565-1526. They are currently staffed in the evenings between 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm Pacific Time, Monday through Friday.

Medicare Hotline

Friday, May 9th, 2008

It's an election year, and among all the issues everybody's talking about is health care. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, there is one health care area that touches all our lives: Medicare. Whether it's you yourself because of age or disability, or parents, grandparents, or others, we all know somebody who is part of Medicare. Like most things big and complicated, the benefits and requirements can be complicated, to be sure.

The Medicare Hotline is available from the US Department of Health & Human Services. If you've got a question, they've got an answer. Phone 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to get answers on questions about Medicare, health care plan choices, order publications, and other topics. They've got recorded information, or you can talk to a real person 24/7. Not many other governmental agencies make themselves available like that. For TTY/TDD users, the number is 1-877-486-2048.

Report the unidentified to the UFO Report Hotline

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

We all see things that at first blush don't make sense. Catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye. Movement where you didn't expect it. Sometimes you know that it's just junk on the windshield, and a little Windex will take care of it. Other times, there just is no good explanation.

If you think your sighting rises above the level of "just junk", the folks at The National UFO Reporting Center may want to hear from you. If you've seen something within the past week, and can give information regarding time, date, location, and a description of what you saw, they'd love to hear from you at their hotline at 1-206-722-3000. The line is staffed 24 hours a day. They ask that if want to report an incident more than a week old, that you go to their website to fill out their online form or get their postal address to mail a report in.

These guys are serious about what they do here, so please don't submit any kind of joke or hoax report—I'm sure they've seem 'em all and won't have any problem just deleting the bogus stuff.

See who else is getting the same weird calls as you with WhoCallsMe?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Who IS that guy who keeps calling me? He never says why he's calling, just leaves a number and says I need to call back. After ignoring the call for a couple of days, it starts to grate on you. You Google the number but it comes up blank. What to do now?

WhoCallsMe? is a website where you can report calls like this, and maybe find out just who it is. Enter in your caller's number and see if anybody else has gotten this same call. Turns out lots of times it's a collection agency looking for the folks who had your phone number ten years ago.

Get info for financial aid at 1-877-PAY-4-SCHOOL

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

It's not easy getting into college. Study your brains out; get involved in all the extracurricular stuff, fill out applications, write endless essays, and so much more. And that's all before you're even accepted. Once you get the "fat envelope" with your acceptance materials in it, then there's a whole new set of concerns. Now that you're going, you have to answer the biggest question of all: how do you pay for it?

One resource that's available to help figure it all out is 1-877-PAY-4-SCHOOL (1-877-729-4724). Each week they have a new hotline message that includes general tips about the financial aid process, as well as listings of scholarships and other funding sources. They supplement this information on their website with links to "featured scholarships".

Whether you're looking at Ivy League schools or your local Community College, you owe it to yourself to find out what money is available to you out there.

Dial-A-Forecast from NOAA's National Weather Service

Friday, March 28th, 2008

It's always amusing to me how far we've come, and how far we have yet to go. They can put a zillion transistors in a chip smaller than a postage stamp; we can communicate instantly with somebody on the other side of the planet; yet when we go outside, we still have to decide whether we need to bring along an umbrella—a piece of fabric on the end of a stick—to keep us from getting wet.

Weather information is all around us. You can see forecasts on TV, you can visit sites on the Web, you can read them in the paper. Did you know you can also get them on the phone? The National Weather Service has numbers in many communities that will give you the latest official weather information from the folks that the weather gal on TV turns to for her information.

There is a huge list of numbers available on the Dial-A-Forecast site. Whether you're interested in New York City (631-924-0517) or Elko, Nevada (775-738-3018), or any place in between, there's probably a local number that's going to give you the updated weather info that you need. Forecasts for coastal communities include information about marine conditions as well.

Need to kick yourself because you didn't bring your raincoat along today? A quick call is all it takes to see whether you're going to need a towel by the time you get home.

USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

For over twenty years, the Department of Agriculture has maintained a food safety hotline to help folks prevent foodborne illness from the mishandling of meat, poultry, and eggs. You can call 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) (TTY 1-800-256-7072) and talk with a food safety specialist, many of whom have a background in home economics, nutrition, or food technology. The hotline is staffed 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Eastern Time, except Federal holidays, although they are appropriately-enough open for limited hours on Thanksgiving Day. Information is available in both English and Spanish. After hours, a large number of recorded food safety messages are available as well. You can also email questions to or visit the USDA's website.