Watercooler

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2003

SINGLE SCENES: Where's the best place to live if you're single? Chances are, it will have several big universities.

Austin, the home of diverse student culture, abundant live music and cheap drinks capital of Texas, is the best place for singles to live, according to a list compiled by Forbes.com. The Web site examined culture, jobs and growth, nightlife, cost of living, the number of singles and all-important ''cool factor,'' to develop its nonscientific rankings.

The Denver-Boulder, Colo., metro area was second, followed by Boston, Washington D.C.-Baltimore and Atlanta.

San Antonio was considered the cheapest spot for singles, while New York had the best nightlife. Austin and Seattle tied for ''cool.''

And last? Pittsburgh, mainly because of weak job growth and relatively expensive recreational items that the Web site tracked: a movie ticket, a pizza and a six-pack of Heineken beer.

SORRY REST: Do you leave bed exhausted? Is work a daily battleground where you fight to stay awake? Your sleep quality may be horrendous, and that can exact a toll on workplace performance.

The Better Sleep Council is hoping Americans will do a little research about their sleep environments and make some changes for the better.

For example, is your bedroom too hot or too chilly? Ideally, the room is 60-65 degrees. Was your bed last replaced during the Carter administration? Chances are, a new mattress and box spring are in order.

A nightly routine including an early ''winding down'' of all that stress accumulated at work also contributes to quality rest.

''A good night's sleep is essential, yet too often people are trying to sleep in bedrooms that are too hot or too cold, or on a mattress that doesn't meet their needs for comfort and support,'' said Nancy Blatt, executive director of the council, a nonprofit sleep education group funded by mattress makers.

CHILDHOOD DANGERS: Summer can be a particularly dangerous time, especially for children.

Warm weather keeps kids outdoors and busy playing, swimming and traveling with family more. The Consumer Federation of America says it's a season to be aware of the risks kids face.

''While children and their parents look forward to summer fun, tragically it is also the time of year when most unintentional injury related deaths occur,'' said Susan Winn, manager of SafeChild.net, a federation project.

A few of the potential dangers:

Head injury: Kids should always wear helmets when riding bikes, scooters, skateboards and all-terrain vehicles.

Drowning: Summer weather always makes the water attractive.

Sunburn: Children romping outdoors get an average of three times more sun exposure than adults, according to SafeChild.net.



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