How to Buy a Midsize Sedan

1.Determine what you want to spend. Midsize sedans start at about $12,000 and can go up to $40,000 or more.
2.Decide what's most important to you: safety, performance, value, handling, comfort, reliability, dealer service, looks, interior room, gas mileage.
3.Make a short list of the makes and models you want to consider. Do some research to determine how they stack up in terms of your priorities. Most cars today excel in most if not all areas. However, some place comfort over handling and performance, or vice versa. Read magazine reviews to get a clearer picture.
4.Review the crash-test data for various cars. Check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) vehicle ratings (see Related Sites).
5.Consider resale value. You may be surprised to find quite a bit of variation here. In general, German and Japanese cars have the highest resale values. Check the Kelley Blue Book values of the various models over time (see Related Sites).
6.Talk to friends who own similar cars. They may have some good advice.
7.Compare insurance premiums for different cars you are considering.
8.Go test-drive the two or three cars on your short list. Don't worry about the dealers now. Focus on the cars. Do you feel comfortable in the car? Does it drive the way you want it to? Don't commit to any car or salesperson yet. Go home and think about it.
9.Rank the cars according to your priorities. Then rank them in price. You should be able to narrow down your choices to one or two cars. If the choice still isn't clear, test-drive the cars again.
1..Collect pricing information about the car you want (see Related Sites), decide on colors and option packages, and get your loan together. See the Related How "How to Get a Car Loan."
1..Return to the dealer and tell a salesperson what you want. For tips on how to negotiate the sale, see the Related How "How to Shop for a New Car." 
Consider a hatchback or a station wagon for more hauling space.
Most models have two or more engine choices. Consider a four-cylinder for a lower price and better fuel economy, or a six-cylinder for smoothness and power.   

How to Assume an Open-Leg Stance in Karate

1.Face forward. Keep your body and head erect.
2.Keep your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart.
3.Turn your toes outward about 30 degrees.
4.Bend your legs slightly at the knees.
5.Distribute your weight evenly on your legs.
6.Look forward, with your eyes focused on nothing in particular. 
Tips: Stay focused. Nothing should distract you from the open-leg stance. 
Warnings: The martial arts are physically demanding. Consult your physician for advice on whether or not you should participate in this activity. 

How to Construct Your Doghouse

1.Gather the materials. You'll need (in sizes and numbers appropriate to your plans): 5/8-inch or ¾-inch plywood (exterior-grade, commonly called CDX or ACX); 2-by-2s or 2-by-4s; stainless-steel or galvanized screws or galvanized nails; a hammer; a screwdriver or drill; exterior grade caulk; exterior-grade paint (unless you're going to use siding); siding (optional); roofing materials (optional); insulation (sheet polyurethane or fiberglass batts like those you would use in a house).
2.Prepare to build the floor of your doghouse on wood or bricks to get it off the ground so that moisture does not wick up through the wood and so that water cannot flow in.
3.Build the frame of the floor first to the dimensions drawn in your structural plan. Cover it with plywood. If you're going to insulate, place insulation under the plywood.
4.Build the rest of the frame on top of the plywood, making it go straight up from the edge of the floor. Attach the frame to the floor with nails or screws.
5.Build the door opening using the same material as the frame. Shape it very simply, like an inverted "U".
6.Cover the frame with plywood.
7.Build the frame of the roof (See Related Hows), and cover the frame with plywood. Attach the roof to the open-topped doghouse.
8.Caulk all seams.
9.Add roofing and siding to meet the demands of the weather - and your sense of style.
10.Check to make sure no nails, screws or splinters are protruding inside or out. 
Be prepared before you begin: Have all your tools and materials at hand. Even a small job can take a long time if you're always running off to the store.
Use screws on at least one wall or the roof so that it is easily removable for cleaning.
Face the opening away from prevailing winds. Also, consider a flap over the door or a commercial doggy-door to slow down drafts.
A bed is necessary in all but the warmest climates - and even there, it's nice.
If you live where it snows, consider a snow fence (a barrier to force the snow into a drift) to keep your doghouse protected. 
Warnings: All materials should be non-pressure-treated; pressure treating is toxic.   Steps:
1.Decide on the dimensions of the doghouse based on the size of your dog and on the following rules of thumb: Length should be no more than 1 1/2 times body length (minus the tail); width should be 2/3 to 3/4 body length (minus the tail); and height should be about 25 percent to 35 percent taller than your dog (from the floor to the top of its head).
2.Decide on the shape of the roof. A flat roof will not drain water; see "How to Build a Doghouse Roof" for instructions on building a simple slanted roof.
3.Plan a door opening that is a few inches wider than your dog. A door that's too small will obviously be problematic, while a door that's too big will allow too much weather inside.
4.Consider locating the door away from the center of a wall. Placing it next to a corner will help protect against direct drafts.
5.Decide whether you'll need siding and roofing; if you live in an area that gets "real" weather, a real roof of shingles, roll-roofing or even tile is a good idea. Roofing also adds insulation value.
6.Consider using insulation; in colder climates, it becomes critical, particularly under the floor. You may want to insulate the walls and ceiling, as well. The best insulation for the floor is probably sheet polyurethane or its equivalent.
Consider a simple hallway inside, or a baffle, in cold climates. Similar to a mud room or double entry in a human house, these will slow down any direct drafts and will better contain the heat generated by your dog's body.
Everything inside the doghouse should be nontoxic. 
Warnings: Experts recommend not painting the inside, where moisture (mostly from your dog) will condense on the ceiling and walls and drip to the floor, where your dog lives.   

How to Treat Heat Cramps

1.Move the person out of direct sunlight, preferably into a cool, shaded area.
2.Stretch the calf and thigh muscles gently through the cramp. This will usually bring immediate relief.
3.Hydrate well, preferably with a diluted sports drink or oral rehydration solution. A teaspoon of salt in a liter of water will also do.
4.Have the person rest quietly. 
If you don't have a sports drink or oral rehydration solution, have the person eat lightly salted snacks while drinking water.  Overall Warnings:
Don't massage the cramped muscle - this may increase pain and leave residual tenderness.
Don't use salt tablets to rehydrate, as these are too concentrated and often make people nauseous. Use oral rehydration salts instead.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. 

How to Play Music CDs on the Computer Through Headphones

Connecting the Headphones
1.Plug magnetically shielded headphones into the most convenient of four places: the headphone jack on externally powered speakers; the headphone jack on the CD-ROM drive's drawer; the headphone, audio out, or speaker jack on the back of your computer; or the headphone or audio out jack on your computer monitor. 
Tips: Plugging headphones into the jack on speakers will mute most speakers. If you connect headphones elsewhere, turn off external speakers. 
Controlling CD Volume and Track Order

2.See "How to Play Music CDs on the Computer" to learn how to customize play.
3.Adjust the volume with the controls on your CD drawer (if it has one) or your headphones (if they have one), in the Windows CD Player program, or in the Windows system.
4.To learn how to set Windows system volume, see "How to Change the Sound Volume on Your Computer." 
Permanently Setting Up Your PC for Headphone Listening

5.Right-click on the speaker icon in the System Tray (the bottom right-hand corner of the screen on the taskbar is the default location).
6.Click Adjust Audio Properties.
7.Click Advanced Properties under Playback.
8.Click the down arrow under Speaker Setup.
9.Select Stereo Headphones.   

How to Fit Pointe Shoes

Fitting a Pointe Shoe
1.Find your most comfortable pair of street shoes. Use this size as a guide.
2.Stand on your feet on a piece of white paper.
3.Look at the shape of your foot and decide what it looks like to you. Is it wide? Is it narrow? Does it turn in? Determine if you have long toes, short toes, crooked toes; if your foot is long or short; if you have a high instep or low instep.
4.Trace the outside of your foot.
5.Decide which of the styles of pointe shoes that you like matches the shape of your foot. As a general rule, look for a wide box if you have a wide foot and a long box if you have long toes.
6.Choose a shoe 1 1/2 to 3 sizes smaller than your street shoe size. You should have 1/2 inch of space at the tip in a proper-fitting pointe shoe - before application of padding.
7.Apply toe padding (see Section 2).
8.Step into the pointe shoe you chose. You should have a full fit with no gaps.
9.Rise on pointe.
1..Try a smaller or narrower shoe if your foot slides too much forward and the back is not in place against your heel. The shoe is either too wide, too long or both.
1..Try a larger shoe if the heel of the shoe cuts into your heel and feels too tight.
1..Continue to try on shoes until you find a pair that fits properly. With a perfect fit, you don't have to tighten the drawstring, the tips of your toes fit almost to the tip of the shoe, your heel stays in place and you rise with no slippage forward. 
Choose a long box if you have long toes or even toes; a shallow box with a wide pointe if you have heavy legs, short crooked toes, or want more stability; a deep vamp if you have a high instep; a rounded vamp if you have a shallow instep or a damaged foot; or high box wings if you need stabilization.
Choose leather toes for practice if you are heavy or want greater longevity for your shoes. Satin toes don't last as long. 
Warnings: Do not squeeze your foot into too short a shoe, no matter who tells you to. This will cause reduced blood flow to the foot and injury. 
Applying Lambswool

1..Take fresh, fluffy lambswool from the box.
1..Divide it into two sections.
1..Work with one fluffy ball at a time and pull the lambswool apart to make a fluffier oval wad.
1..Stretch the lambswool wad and make it as wide as your toes' width. The wad should look almost like an oblong bird's nest and should stay on your toes. Make sure that most of the wool is in the center of the nest.
1..Now place your toes in the center of the long "nest."
1..Pull the wool up to protect and cushion pinky toes if necessary.
1..Use the second section for your other foot.
2..Put your shoes on.
2..Stand on pointe to make sure the cushion is in place. If not, redo the process. 
Overall Tips:
The new preformed toe pads are ideal. They come in a variety of materials and are preshaped to fit inside your shoe. They look like little collapsible water cups.
Lambswool is no longer useful when it feels brittle or dried out - usually after three or four wearings.   

How to Spend Valentine's Day if You're Single

1.Send yourself a dozen roses to work (act baffled when they come). Enjoy the novelty of having roses on your desk. At the end of the day, distribute them to strangers on your way home.
2.Treat yourself to a self-loving gift - an hour-long massage, an essential oil for your bath, a new gym membership, a fancy lunch at that trendy restaurant you've been wanting to go to, a flowering potted plant for the living room.
3.Invite another single friend over for dinner and go all out as host. Serve oysters on the half shell, anything with garlic, and, of course, champagne.
4.Surprise your parents with a call. Tell them that you love them (or at least that you're thinking about them), but don't mention that you believe they're the root of your intimacy problems, which is why you're spending Valentine's Day alone in the first place. Save that for another day or therapy.
5.Attend any Valentine's Day party, after-work lonely hearts gathering, or other social event you're invited to, especially if you're eager to move out of the singles status and into the world of couples. How else are you ever going to find a mate?
6.Plan a cozy evening at home if no plans surface. Rent a classic romance - "Casablanca" for the ultimate cliché, make your favorite comfort food, and write down the top ten reasons why you're so adorable/sexy/lovable.   

How to Practice Proper Pen Pal Etiquette

1.Begin each message with a pleasant greeting.
2.Respond first to the news and information that your pen pal shared in his or her last message.
3.Follow this with your own news briefing.
4.Share information about the things that are going on in your life at the moment.
5.Keep your tone upbeat.
6.Try to keep your letter short enough that it can be read in one sitting.
7.Realize that over time, you and your pen pal may agree to write longer letters or e-mails as you become more comfortable.
8.Pace the revelation of personal information. Remember that telling too much about your life too soon could scare away a new friend.
9.Avoid controversial topics - at least in the beginning of your relationship.
1..Understand that written letters are usually a bit more formal than e-mails.
1..Be yourself in your correspondence. Remember you don’t need to impress anyone.
1..End each letter with a note with encouragement for your pen pal to reply. ("I look forward to hearing from you soon" or something similar would be appropriate.) 
If you write a letter by hand, make an effort to keep your writing legible.
Use dark ink that is easy to read. Try to avoid using a light pencil.
Respond as promptly as you can to your pen pal’s messages. 
Warnings: Don't give out personal information to someone whom you've just begun writing.   Steps:
1.Volunteer to read out loud, play board games or play the piano and sing at a local nursing home or extended care facility. Many seniors love to have visitors, especially if their family lives in a different city or state.
2.Visit your local senior center or community center, and ask about volunteer opportunities. There may be a whole list of possibilities!
3.Offer to get groceries or run errands for someone at a local semi-independent senior community.
4.Give a few hours a week to Meals on Wheels, dropping off dinners to elderly residents of your area.
5.Provide regular rides to someone who no longer drives; ask your local community volunteer coordinators if they know of anyone, or ask at a nearby nursing home.
6.Join a “Rent-a-Grandma” program. Many senior centers and care facilities invite parents and children to visit so that elderly residents can spend some time with babies, toddlers and even school-age kids.
7.Ask at a nursing home if you and your pet can visit. Some facilities like to have people with well-behaved dogs, cats and other small animals visit the residents.
8.If you are involved with sports and fitness, volunteer to help with physical activities at a local senior center or home.
9.At holiday times, offer to participate in seasonal or spiritual celebrations at a local nursing home or care facility, or invite a senior to share in a holiday dinner at your home. 
Tips: If you’re not sure where to start, look in your telephone directory under “Senior Citizens” – you will almost certainly find the contact information you need. 
If you suspect that a senior you are spending time with may be malnourished, abused or neglected, talk to someone who has the authority to handle the situation, or contact the senior’s extended family directly.
If you come up against any other problem or situation you can’t deal with, report it. You may suspect that your senior friend is the target of a scam artist, or may feel that your friend’s mental or physical health is deteriorating unusually rapidly. Either way, talk to someone who can make a difference.   

How to Recognize the Signs of Suicide

1.Notice if the person talks about suicide or makes statements that indicate suicidal thoughts. For example: "The world would be better without me," "I wish I were dead," "I just can't go on like this."
2.Ask directly, "Are you thinking about suicide?" or "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" If the answer is yes, ask, "What are you thinking about doing?"
3.Listen closely to how carefully calculated the suicide plan is. The more specific the plan, the more serious the suicidal thoughts.
4.Question the person in a calm, caring manner about how and when he or she would do it and whether there are actual, available means to do it - meaning access to pills, a gun, a rope, etc.
5.Show empathy and understanding rather than sounding panicky, irritated or upset. Allow the person to express thoughts and feelings openly.
6.Take immediate action to protect the person if the plan is carefully calculated. Call 911 or go to the emergency room.
7.Talk to the person about getting counseling if the danger of suicide doesn't seem immediate. Help the person call a doctor and set up an urgent appointment. Offer to accompany the person to the appointment. 
Directly asking someone about suicidal thoughts does not make him or her suicidal or "put the idea in his or her head." Asking about it allows the two of you to talk thoughts and feelings openly, which can be very helpful.
If you are not with the person when you suspect a suicide attempt, but know the person's location, you can still call 911. They know what to do and will take the person to the hospital if necessary. 

How to Use Distance Learning for Graduate Courses

1.Consider earning your degree from a school you know well. If your alma mater offers distance education for graduate courses, you may feel most comfortable working within that environment.
2.Think about other schools that offer courses and degrees that interest you. You may start by choosing a school you like, then going online to see if it offers distance graduate courses, or you might elect to choose a graduate course of study and then find out what schools offer it.
3.Make sure the school is accredited before registering. Then read through the course offerings and make sure you can earn the degree you want from that school.
4.Check to see if you have the appropriate computer equipment before registering - the school's Web site will tell you what type of computer and modem equipment you need.
5.Fill out the online registration form, or call and register. The admissions phone number should be listed on the Web site. Admissions committees will consider your academic and professional experience and how well their program suits you.
6.Purchase any textbooks, videotapes, CD-ROMs or other materials required for the class. You can do this online as well.
7.Read your professor's lectures (which will be available via the Web, e-mail or conventional mail) and participate in classroom discussions in online chat rooms, on message boards or both. The school will provide detailed instructions on how to participate.
8.Do your homework online and take quizzes and tests. Consider all feedback, and contact your professor by e-mail or phone if you have questions or problems.
9.Continue with your course of study until you meet the requirement for the degree you seek. 
Benefits to taking graduate courses remotely include convenience and schedule flexibility.
Consider price and prestige when choosing a distance learning graduate school. In general, registration fees for distance learning are the same as those for on-site learning. Be sure to add your online and computer costs when figuring the total amount you will be spending.
A fast Internet connection will make your interaction with your classmates and professor more pleasant and productive.
If the school offers a quick "demo" course, take it online so that you can see what your distance learning class will be like. Demos usually involve a look at class materials, lectures and even tests. 
A few classes might have site-based courses or laboratory work.
If you're not the self-motivated type, you might not do well with distance learning, which happens without direct interaction with other students or professors. Be realistic in assessing the likelihood that you'll be disciplined and focused.