HELP­FUL HINTS

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NWA OUTDOORS - HELOISE Send a money- or time-sav­ing hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San An­to­nio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

DEAR READ­ERS: Happy birth­day, Amer­ica! To­day, the United States turns 241 years old. Here are some fun facts about one of our most beloved sym­bols, the Amer­i­can flag:

Red, white and blue are the col­ors of the flag, of course, but they have spe­cific mean­ings. Red stands for courage in bat­tle (com­monly called “valor”), white rep­re­sents free­dom and in­no­cence, and blue char­ac­ter­izes eq­uity and fidelity. Each of the 50 states is rep­re­sented by a star, and the 13 stripes stand for the orig­i­nal 13 Colonies.

The flag has got­ten a makeover 27 times to up­date the quan­tity of states and stars.

When the flag is flown at night, it must be lit.

The flag must be raised quickly and low­ered slowly, with rev­er­ence.

There have been six flags placed on the moon.

DEAR HELOISE: Peo­ple have al­ways used ab­bre­vi­a­tions when writ­ing, even in my day, such as “SWAK,” “XOXO” and “ASAP.”

But my grand­chil­dren seem to be speak­ing a dif­fer­ent lan­guage these days with all of their ab­bre­vi­a­tions, es­pe­cially when tex­ting!

I’ve de­coded some ab­bre­vi­a­tions, and they’ve ex­plained some oth­ers to me:

NP — No prob­lem

PA — Par­ent alert

NP — Nosy par­ent

POMS — Par­ent over my shoul­der

AIR — Adult in room

RUOK — Are you OK?

SUP — What’s up?

BRB — Be right back

TNTL — Try­ing not to laugh

LOL — Laugh­ing out loud

OAO — Over and out

TTUL — Talk to you later (In read­ing English and in try­ing to fig­ure out the kids’ jar­gon, I have to keep in mind that “C” can mean “see,” “R” can mean “are,” “U” can mean “you” and “Y” can mean “why.”)

It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand what our kids are say­ing online and on their phones, and to know who they are talk­ing to.

— Mary M. in Phoenix

DEAR HELOISE: Busi­ness en­velopes have an unglued por­tion at the cor­ners for a rea­son: So you can slip a letter opener in there and open the letter.

So many times I come across an en­ve­lope that some­body has taped shut. Ag­gra­vat­ing! Please don’t tape the en­velopes closed.

— Robert B. in Ohio

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