Direct Shots

Useful sites because you may not have time to surf!

Editor’s Note: If you’ve found a useful website you’d like to see listed, please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and, after checking the sites’ usefulness and validity, it may get posted here so others can take advantage of time you’ve already spent in surfing.

  • Check for Recalls online: Did you know public recalls don't expire? In just the month of December 2013 there were over 30 recalls 'Safe Kids' recalls. The government operates a recalls website (www.recalls.gov) which offers the public information on all recalls including cars, boats, food, consumer products, medicine and cosmetics. Check this site regularly to stay informed.
  • What's for Dinner? That age-old question now has some help with these online menu planners which could help for a less stressful week! (Subscription fees may apply.) www.relishrelish.com; www.allrecipes.com; www.dinnerplanner.com, Quick Healthy Meals in 45 minutes or less.
  • Informed Dining: To see restaurant inspections on the web by the State Department of Inspections and Appeals, go to www.state.ia.us/government/dia
  • Hospital Comparisons: The Iowa Healthcare Collaborative has published a guide showing how Iowa hospitals performed on dozens of quality-of-care measures. Find the complete guide at www.ihconline.org.
  • Agency Reporting of Gifts, Bequests and Grants: Reports from state agencies on gifts, bequests and grants they receive from private or other government sources can be viewed at the web site for the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, this includes gifts the Governor receives on behalf of the state. The web address is www.state.ia.us/government/iecdb/ethics/gifts.htm.
  • Obtaining your Credit Report: It’s a good idea to periodically check your credit report to spot errors or fraud. The official site to obtain your free credit report is www.annualcreditreport.com. There are three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax - www.equifax.com; Experian - www.experian.com; TransUnion - www.transunion.com.
  • Cost of Gasoline: There is a web site that helps visitors find the lowest gasoline prices in an area after typing in a specific zip code. GasBuddy is a portal to over 170 local or state sites that track what stations in each community are charging. www.gasbuddy.com
  • Appliance Help: If you're in the market for a new home appliance and enjoy research before purchase, you might want to visit www.appliance411.com which they claim provides “unbiased, helpful tips about home appliances.”
  • Life Expectancy Calculator: Ever wondered how your lifestyle habits and family history affect your longevity? The non-profit Alliance for Aging Research has a Life Expectancy Calculator based on centenarian studies and other medical research. Assess your longevity by answering the questions at www.livingto100.com.
  • Home Inventory: Very few people could remember everything they own in the event of a tragedy such as a house fire or tornado. Free home inventory software is available on the Internet. The Insurance Information Institute offers "Know Your Stuff Home Inventory" downloadable software at its website, www.knowyourstuff.org. You might also check with your insurance agent to see if the company which insures your home also has free software to make home inventory an easier task to tackle.

Did you know...

Do you know the average cost of driving? The average per mile cost (averaging small, medium and large sedans) is $.78.3 per mile if you drive 10,000 miles per year, $.60.8 if your drive 15,000 and $.51.9 if you drive 20,000. Source: AAA

On May 21, 1934, Oskaloosa, Iowa, became the first city in the United States to fingerprint all of its citizens. (Sources: www.datesinhistory.com and www.on-this-date.com)

Iowa's longest and highest bridge crosses Lake Red Rock. (Source: 50States.com)

An Iowa law approved in May 1999 prohibits the sending of unsolicited bulk e-mail that uses a third party's name for the return address without permission, or contains false or missing routing information and must include opt-out instructions. You can read more at www.spamlaws.com.

Read more by clicking on the "Did You Know" tab at the top of the page.