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Shopping smarter is now easier.

How to Shop Smarter

There's no doubt that most of us have little time for shopping. I had to admit to my daughter just last weekend that I no longer like to shop. "Why," she asked, "because you feel like you should be doing something else?" Smart girl! No, the truth is that shopping takes time. There is so much out there that the research alone to find the right product or best price is overwhelming. Leave it to Consumer Reports to come up with a new, advertisement-free magazine that aims to cut through the shopping maze and direct us to the best choices—SmartShop. These guys are covering everything from vacation packages to moisturizer. Now that's helpful. Just to entice a shopper like me, the cover story is all about best green products. Check it out. It looks pretty handy.

Ah...that unclogged-drain feeling

Persistence Pays Off

Some do-it-yourselfers just won't give up. When my co-worker Nancy's bathtub drain clogged three weeks ago, she was determined to avoid calling a plumber. Fellow do-it-yourselfers may be familiar with her unclogging-a-drain travails. First, she tried Drano. When that didn't work, she went to work with a plunger. Nothing. Next she broke out the 10-foot drain snake and worked it seven feet into the pipe. After that failed, she went with repeated pourings of vinegar and boiling hot water down the drain. When that failed, Nancy got serious. This job called for a trip to the local home renovations superstore to buy a 25-foot drain snake. Unfortunately, when she worked the full length into the pipe, she didn't realize the spool had come undone and she had to reel it in by hand. Blech. The snake did dislodge some clumps of hair but still the drain would not unclog. Another trip to the home renovations superstore to pick up CO2 cartridge to blast the clot out of the pipe with a gust of highly concentrated air. After stuffing a wet facecloth in the overflow pipe, Nancy took aim, blasted away, and finally the pipe was clear. Since the clog was blown into the sewer, it remains unidentified, but her travails were over, and her bathtub drain is now the cleanest in the metro Boston area.

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