On the Web:
* This Is Sand converts pixels into digital grains of colored sand, allowing you to build any number of sand castles without straying from your desktop, according to veryshortlist.com. The site's bare-bones layout may confuse you at first - the screen's as lifeless as a gray day at the beach. But click your mouse, and the sand begins to flow. (When you're done, you can save your designs and submit them to the site's gallery.) It's as relaxing as it sounds and more hypnotic than you'd imagine: a perfect way to while away the months before summer's here and real sand castles beckon.
* On the site mightygoods.com, head to the top of the page. There's an "invite" to join the Gilt Groupe - gilt.com - which provides "fashion enthusiasts online access to designer fashion from top brands at sample sale prices." Who wouldn't want to get in on that action? Typically you have to be invited by another member, so this is your ticket in. Once you're in, refer your friends and you can earn sale credits. The sales start at noon weekdays and last for 36 hours, or until things are sold out.
* The leasing industry took a hit with the credit crisis and the decline in overall auto sales. But there are plenty of ways still to get a leased vehicle, even it if means taking over someone else's lease. L easetrader.com provides a place to get rid of a leased car that you no longer need or that you no longer can afford. And for someone looking to take on an auto lease even for just a few months, for whatever reason, the site is target rich. Search by make and model, price or location.
* Ever hear about the Texas schools that let their teachers carry guns? What about the girl handcuffed because of a skimpy prom dress? If hearing the weird and wacky from the realm of education is one of your interests, check out detentionslip.org, "your daily cheat sheet for education news!" It's your standard blog - a collection of random stories brought to you with witty headlines and descriptions.
* SustainLane.com is a Web guide for green living. It recently launched a green-collar job board at sustainlane.com/green-jobs. The job board compiles hundreds of job listings from across the United States, targeting employment opportunities that enhance sustainability, such as alternative energy specialists, LEED building construction workers, landscape architects and administrative positions at environmentally focused nonprofit organizations.
* To know how Social Security benefits will figure into your retirement plan, check out this retirement planner page at the Social Security Administration Web site, ssa.gov/retirement. It has links to tell you how benefits differ depending on your retirement age, income, years spent working and other factors.
From Sun news services