1. Try The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique.

A Happy New Year to You! What's the matter? Are you still making your way through the post-holiday inboxes? Those holiday bills got you down? The resolutions not working out? Whew. Your Personal Assistant is here. Along with the nice Dr. Weil. Breathe 4-7-8 here. Now, isn't that better? Mmkay, time to wake up! We've got work to do!

2. Vamoose!

Make a note to consider the Vamoose bus service the next time you need to head to New York. Locally, it picks up passengers in Rosslyn and Bethesda (and Lorton), and arrives in mid-town Manhattan's Penn Station 4 1/2 to 5 hours later. A round trip costs $50 to $60 total.

It's a privately owned bus company that has been providing daily transportation from the DC Metro area to New York city since 2004. And Your Personal Assistant, always eager to be on the cusp of Big New Things, recently had an opportunity to take a ride -- for the first time.

The bus left Rosslyn at 7:30 am, stopped in Bethesda to pick up a few more passengers, and arrived in New York City at about 11:30 am.

Returning to DC, I caught the last return bus at 7:00 pm, arriving in Rosslyn at 11:00 pm.

The 56-seat bus was clean and comfy, and the drive was uneventful. The reclining seats had power outlets, and the bus had WiFi -- albeit spotty, slow WiFi.

There's also a roomier business-class bus called "Vamoose Gold" with 36 seats and a fare that starts at $60 each way. You'll find more information here.

3. Student & Senior Discounts Galore.

So maybe your college student didn't appreciate that smart tiger sweatshirt? Can't imagine why! The salesperson said it would be a holiday gift hit! It's the thought that counts. Before you send your ingrate back out there to pick out something else, be sure and tell your student there could be discounts to be had. That plastic college ID card can also be handy outside the college town, and your student should consider inquiring at checkout about an unadvertised discount. These companies are kind enough to participate:, Prime member discounting
AMC, lower price on Thursdays
Apple, varied special pricing
Ann Taylor, 20% off
Banana Republic, 15% off
Burger King, some locations, 10% off
Charlotte Russe, 10% off
Club Monaco, 20% off
Dairy Queen, some locations 10% off
Dominos, varies by location
Dunkin Donuts, some locations, 10% off
JCrew, 15% off
Madewell, 15% off
McDonalds, some locations 10% off
RadioShack,10% off
Regal Theaters, select theaters
Subway,some locations 10% off
The Limited, 15% off
Topshop, 10% off
Urban Outfitters, 10% off

There are also discounts available to senior citizens all over - from AMC Theaters, to Amtrak, as well as certain hotels and lots of restaurants. Click here for the list.

4. Abracadbra: Making The Facebook Overposter Disappear.

My nice client was frustrated, wanting to enjoy Facebook without a particular "friend" and her frequent posts, but knew that de-friending would likely be a personal insult. But enough was enough with her politics, inspirational quotes, and dinner plate specials.

We found one of the recent posts on Frustrated Client's Newsfeed and clicked on the carat located in upper right hand corner of the box. A dropdown menu appeared, and we selected the second option Unfollow (formerly known as Hide All). And VOILA: Facebook Overposter is no longer appearing on Frustrated Client's Newsfeed. Most importantly, Frequent Overposter is none the wiser.

5. Blocking A Contact On The iPhone.

Feeling empowered by killing off Facebook Overposter, Frustrated Client was swept with giddy excitment: Now show me how to block a caller on my iPhone!

We found the caller record in her phone's Recents file.
  1. We tapped the i (for info) circle to the far right.

  2. This took her to the Info screen where she scrolled down to the end to locate Block this Caller.

  3. She tapped Block this Caller and got a follow up message confirming her selection.

  4. She tapped Block Contact.

When the blocked caller calls her, he will get a single ring, followed by a voice message saying that the number is unavailable. The caller will then be invited to leave a message.

Frustrated Client won't receive notification of the voicemail, and the message will be sent to Blocked Messages. Should Frustrated Client want to hear the message, however, the voicemail will be located in a Blocked Callers file under the usual voice messages.

6. What's With All The *Asterisks* In Social Media?

I got an email from a client recently asked me the meaning of the asterisk on social media: On most social media sites, in the absence of italics or because of space limitations, the asterisk is used to *emphasize* a word or *laugh* at something funny.

7. Time To Start Thinking About Your Valentine!

Especially if you want to personalize your gift. Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, so make those dinner reservations now!

We First Met Here Jigsaw Puzzle
400 pieces, 18x12 inches, 8-9 days processing, $40

Personalized Collar Stays silver aluminum,up to 10 characters, 5-7 days processing, $20
Layered Heart Necklace
double strand, gold filled or sterling silver, $40

Signature Bracelet gold or sterling, 1-2 week processing, $35