Dear Heloise: Do you have any hints for ONLINE PASSWORDS? I know security is a big issue for everyone nowadays, and I want to make sure I am protecting myself. -- Pat, via e-mail

Pat, I do have a few hints for you. The best thing you can do is make sure your password is strong and not easily figured out. Here are some suggestions:

* Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers.

* Substitute symbols for letters. For example, a “$’’ for an “s.”

* Think of a sentence and use only the first letter from each word. Example, “My dog’s name is Spot” equals MDNIS.

* Don’t use things like birthdates, Zip codes or phone numbers. They are too easy to find out!!

* Make up a password and then reverse it, such as “Date time” becomes “Emitetad.”

* It’s best not to use the same password on multiple sites, especially ones such as banking, credit card, etc.

Use these simple hints to better protect yourself, and you will feel more secure. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Regarding your hint from Kim in Michigan about taking a picture of your name and address for camera identification: For security at home while traveling, do not put your home address or phone number on your bags or personal items. Put your office address and/or cellphone number for a contact. -- Ann in Houston

How right you are! For those who may not have an office address, use a friend’s, or just use a cellphone number. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: You once had directions about how to keep towels soft and fluffy. I have misplaced the directions. Would you please reprint them? -- Verlyn in Lubbock, Tex.

This is a common question, Verlyn! The problem most likely is that the detergent is not being completely rinsed out. To find out if this is so, put the towels in the washer with no detergent, and run a cycle. If you see suds, TOO MUCH detergent!

To remove the buildup, wash the towels (only towels) in hot water and use baking soda or washing soda only. Add a cup or two, and do use a second rinse. Baking soda should be in every household! To find out money-saving hints for using baking soda, order my pamphlet Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Does your laundry have an odor? Add 1 / 2 cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle to wash away the smell. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have found a way to entertain children. I have a ton of beads left over from craft projects, so I place them in a large bowl. I then put out an ice-cube tray and let the kids sort the beads. They can sort by color or shape. It is entertaining and a great learning tool. -- Olive in Indiana

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

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