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When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate

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Chocolate sales are rising even as consumer spending is shrinking over all. Purveyors say it’s one luxury Americans won’t do without. They gobble it to feel better.


Bollywood at the gym: ‘Slumdog’ dance is now a fitness craze

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The popularity of “Slumdog Millionaire” has spurred an interest in bhangra dance classes across the country. The dance, a high-energy traditional Indian dance common in Bollywood films, is taught in classes in gyms and studios, and learning it can burn more that 500 calories in a 45-minute session.


Pass the Pyrex: hot dishes are cool again

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Casseroles have experienced renewed popularity as people scrimp on groceries—and there’s not a can of cream of mushroom soup in sight. Kitsch is cool, and more important, it’s affordable. People nationwide are creating contemporary renditions of classic casseroles that can be cooked in a single Pyrex dish and feed a crowd on a budget.


Race your heart—or stomach—out

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Adding doughnuts, costumes, mud pits, battles between the sexes—you name it—to the traditional mix, a number of oddball races are inserting a sense of lighthearted fun back into the increasingly serious sport of running.


Velociraptors attack innocents

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On April 17, in what is expected to be a simultaneous eruption of silliness throughout the United States and Canada, fans of the Web comic xkcd will get together to celebrate Velociraptor Awareness Day.


When every weekend is a three-day weekend

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Delia Desai, an associate photo editor at Vibe magazine in New York City, recently took at 12.5 percent pay cut and switched to a four-day workweek instead of seeing any of her co-workers get laid off. But as four-day workweeks become more common, what do employees do on the fifth day? Experts agree that they are unlikely to turn into couch potatoes. Instead, more workers are using their extra days off to restore their work-life balance, run errands and pursue hobbies.


When the Ponzi scheme collapses, receivers help clean up the mess

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Ponzi scheme receivers are hired to recover assets in the aftermath of fraudsters like Bernard Madoff. They have to track down and secure what assets they can and try to get some of the money back to defrauded investors.


Psychic business is booming as recession deepens

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As the economy crumbles and consumer confidence falls to record lows, psychics across the nation say business has never been better. And while love and romance used to be at the forefront of fortune seekers’ minds, these days, it’s all about the money.


A fierce rivalry of fleece

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Forget Coke and Pepsi. The latest brand rivals are the Slanket and the Snuggie. Across the country, Slanket devotees and Snuggie enthusiasts are debating the merits of their preferred sleeved blankets. May the best blanket win.


On Gchat, everyone can hear you scream

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In just a few years, Gmail has become a far-reaching, ubiquitous presence in the online world. We all use it, and most of us love it. But it turns out the mail program has a unique quirk that’s causing weird levels of discomfort: When another Gmail user e-mails you, he or she automatically appears on your Gchat “buddy list,” and vice versa, giving you a permanent onscreen window into the other’s life.


No calories, sweet and all natural: is stevia too good to be true?

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For Coke and Pepsi, the long search for a natural sugar substitute to replace synthetic saccharin and aspartame may be over with the government’s recent approval of stevia as a food additive. But health concerns linger.


Bad economy ruined your job prospects? Wait it out in Buenos Aires

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An increasing number of young internationals are moving to Buenos Aires. Driven away from their homelands by a lack of job prospects, they are pulled in by the city's great night life, cheap education, and low cost of living. But when they arrive they find mixed results: low cost of living, but very few opportunities to make enough money to stay. As a result many expats are cutting their stays short.


Want to be an FBI agent? Just answer these weird questions

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As laid-off workers and career-seeking hopefuls look to the FBI for a recession-proof job, they’re fielding tests with questions like “Have you ever been given a surprise party?” and “Do you have late library books?” It’s all a part of a growing use of “biodata inventories” for hiring by the federal government and private businesses. These tests measure life events and attitudes and match them to the answers of an organization’s best staff.


Expecting hard times, orchestras are changing their tune

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In anticipation of hard times, several orchestras are changing their tune, offering free subscriptions to the jobless, discount tickets to the young, and launching budget-minded programming with broad appeal.


Counting pennies in the digital age

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Twentysomethings face the biggest economic slide in 70 years even as they’re carrying a record amount of debt in the form of student loans and often overdue credit card balances. Getting by on less is a necessity—so why not blog about it?


Speak English? Like to travel? Here’s a job made for you

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As the American economy worsens, many recent graduates have moved overseas to teach English. Foreigners have found a welcoming job niche, especially in Asia, that does not require real background or qualifications. As native English speakers continue to be in demand throughout the world, young people are moving to foreign countries in droves to ride out the economic woes at home.


College seniors try to network with the unemployed

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The tough job market is putting even alumni networks to the test as graduating seniors watch contact lists dry up. Seniors find that the alums they had cultivated are out of work and could even be competing for the same jobs.


Pass the prosciutto: Foodie parents attempt to raise foodie kids

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Parents with a passion for good food, a.k.a. “foodie parents,” aren’t willing to give up their fine-dining ways just because they have kids. Instead, they’re working to cultivate an appreciation for fine, if adult, food in their children. They’re sending their kids to sophisticated cooking schools, blogging about their experiences and even writing cookbooks.


Obsessive about possessive's? Youve got company

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Any cursory look around an American city is sure to reveal scores of misplaced apostrophes. Don't laugh: a lot of people are quite offended.


The latest wedding accessory: the family dog

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Man’s best friend has turned into the best man as an increasing number of couples are using dogs in their wedding ceremonies. This new breed of wedding guest has created a niche industry that caters to Fido’s appearance on his owner’s big day.


For an allergic child, ‘hypoallergenic’ could be mean ‘danger’

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For a parent with a child who has severe allergies, a “hypoallergenic” label may be as dangerous as something not labeled. In reality, the term “hypoallergenic” is not regulated by the FDA and has little meaning. In support groups and doctors’ offices, parents of severely allergic children are being proactive and learning practical ways keep their kids healthy, rather than relying on advertisers to tell them what’s safe.


The latest foodie fad: be your own butcher

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Restaurants, butcher shops and fine food stores throughout the United States and beyond have started offering butchering classes to seasoned chefs, foodies and the merely curious. Participants interest has been stoked by the popularity of Michael Pollan and “green living.” But the classes aren’t reserved for seasoned chefs and professionals—they also make for a hip evening out.


In Brooklyn’s Park Slope, a local poet laureate reigns and rhymes

Can’t get the job of poet laureate of the United States? Try to get appointed poet laureate of your neighborhood. It won’t pay as much, but there are more openings than ever. Meet Leon Freilich—the 75-year-old poet laureate of the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.