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Hints From Heloise: Watch for a signal for help

Dear Readers: This is a tough topic. Today we are more aware than ever before of human trafficking and domestic violence. But did you know that there’s a special hand signal out there. Someone in distress may need to communicate to you that they need help. Here is the hand signal:

Hand held up, as if giving an oath, with all fingers together, then thumb folded onto the palm. Fingers fold over and around the thumb, thereby symbolically “trapping” the thumb inside the fingers, representing someone who is being trafficked, trapped, abused, hurt or confined against his or her will.

If someone has shown you the Signal for Help, what should you do? In an emergency, call 911. If you’re able to call the victim later, ask him or her general questions, and “yes and no” questions only: “Are you in danger?” “Do you need me to call 911?” “Do you need me to call the shelter?”

If you are the person in danger, do not be afraid to ask for help. Use the Signal for Help to indicate you are in trouble. Next week: Another way to ask for help.

Dear Heloise: I'm confused about the computer keyboard. Why aren't the keys in alphabetical order; wouldn't that be easier?

— Kellan R., age 12, in New York

Kellan R.: The design of today’s computer keyboard goes back to the late 19th century — around 1870! Before the computer, there were typewriters. Have you used a typewriter?

The keys actually used to be arranged alphabetically, but users found the keys would get jammed, or they would stick together. The final arrangement of the keys is really just a result of practice makes perfect, and, whatever works!

The creators wanted to design a keyboard that had a good balance of commonly used keys divided up so that each hand would do its fair share of typing.

Dear Readers: This is the third and final installment of our series on getting ready to purchase a home. What are we looking at today? Paperwork! Here’s a list of what you’ll need to go ahead with home-buying:

● The last two years of your personal tax returns.

● The last two years of any business tax returns, if applicable.

● Pay stubs showing at least 30 days of pay.

● Copy of your valid driver’s license.

● The last two years of W2’s (wage and tax statements).

● The most recent two months of bank statements, to ensure down-payment funding.

Check with your lender; you may need more forms, or fewer. Buying a home is a good investment, if you can comfortably afford it.

Don’t forget about taxes, and maintenance and upkeep costs. Invariably, the mechanicals will need updating or replacing, and appliances can break down. Building up a special savings account is a wise move before buying a home.

Dear Heloise: I may be too late for this school year, but this hint can help for summer school. I read the end of the chapter first (often there are review questions) and then read the chapter. It helps with comprehension.

— Emerson T. in Texas

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

2021, King Features Syndicate