Monday, July 28, 2008

7 Ways to Improve TV News:

Capture from TV tuner card by mrebert

The news is often depressing, sad, dreary and just plain unwatchable. Sure we may need a little bit of information about the state of the world, but it seems to me there might be a few places to they could improve the delivery. Here are few ideas of my own:

  1. After every horrible, unhappy story, show pictures of cute, fuzzy baby animals.
  2. No speculators please. Don’t guess or imagine what horrible possible scenarios may occur, or why an unspeakable atrocity was committed. Stick to the facts, or don’t do the story at all.
  3. Put it on at 2 a.m., when hardly anyone is awake or watching TV.
  4. Skip the pictures and descriptions of the brutal mutilation of some hapless victim. Whether in the morning, noon or 6 p.m., this is a definite appetite destroyer.
  5. Have circus clowns as hosts to help take your mind off the negative reporting.
  6. No more so-called experts please. Just ask the people on the street – they’re right just about as often, and are not nearly so smug about it.
  7. Put on 2 positive stories for each negative one shown. (Yes they are out there, you simply have to look.)

Here are a few more freebies:

  • Stop all those flashing headlines and tickers running across the screen. They are enormously distracting. Save that stuff for when something truly devastating occurs.
  • Skip the celebrity updates. Unless one of them has cured cancer we don’t need to know. That’s what talk shows and Inside Edition are for.
  • Don’t report about the same problem more than twice in one week unless you’ve suddenly come up with a solution of your own.
  • Every hour flash a black screen with the message “Time for a news break. Please enjoy this musical collage of playful puppies.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Answers to the Energy Crisis.

Picture by Lollie-Pop

In these stressful days when gas prices keep us home more often, and the TV is full of nonsense and hype, we all need a little comedy relief. It seems everyone and their mother has an idea to offer to solve our energy problems. Here are just a few more ideas. . .

  • Foot Power: The Flintstones is the inspiration for this idea. No more high gas prices. Now we use the power of our feet. Stinky, dry and rough, or with long yellow nails, suddenly feet are beautiful. We could launch Pedal Power Plants in every gym in America.
  • Celebrity Power: Everywhere you look there are celebrities; newspapers, TV, Internet and more. At the next award show simply line the red carpet with lots of wind generators. All that hot air could power us for a year.
  • Weed Power: Why bother with corn-based ethanol? Instead we could use crab grass, dandelions, thistles and more. All those nuisance, fast-growing weeds that do nothing but get in the way. At the rate they grow we’ll be energy independent in 6 months.
  • Bean Power: This one is self-evident, but easily overlooked. Simply take 1,000 people or so and have a free bean tasting event. Then lock them all in a steel tanker. Viola – a free source of natural gas.
  • South Park Power: As any fan knows, if we simply put Butters in charge of Imaginationland our troubles will quickly disappear. All it takes is a little mind power and poof – instant resolution. No messy processing plants or waiting needed.
  • Psychic Power: This is another no-brainer. Gather the top ten psychics from across the nation together and have them give us the answers. After all, they’re psychics - they already know exactly what we need to do.
  • Hoof Power: Bring back horse travel. Just think of the income generated by all the necessary street cleans, boot makers and corral builders. It will instantly lower fuel costs, with the added bonus of boosting the economy.
  • Berry Power: Have the government issue every citizen a new Blackberry device – complete with a paid service plan. We could all communicate instantly via email, text message and phone, thereby reducing the need to actually go anywhere.

What creative solutions do you have for the energy crisis? Leave your great ideas in the comments section. Thanks for stopping by and have a fun day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Best Theme Parks

Roller coaster and a hot dog by ReefRaff

It’s summertime – and that means the ads for every amusement park from Disneyland to your local zoo is in full swing. So where should you go this year for your getaway? Let’s start with a review of the some of the most popular theme parks in the U.S.

  • Disney World, Orlando, FL. One of the top destinations for millions of kids and their families, this has to be one of the top parks for one main reason; its creator Walt Disney.Mr. Disney’s view of a family-friendly, creative and imaginative environment has turned into an interactive, all-inclusive, extravaganza of fun for people of all ages.
  • Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH. This park pops up is mentioned over and over.With a huge diversity of entertainment, from water rides and roller coasters to carousels and children’s rides, there is something for everyone.
  • Sea World, San Diego, CA.It’s hard to resist a park that gives you an up-close and personal look at creatures you can’t see any other way.Whales, dolphins, seals and more abound at this undersea oasis.Full of amazing sights and even hands-on events, this park is ideal for those who want to see another side of our world – the wet side.
  • Busch Garden, Williamsburg VA. With thrilling rides and eye-popping shows, and thick, lush landscaping, you can enter another time and place at Busch Gardens.Beautifully themed “hamlets” include French, German, Irish, Scottish and Italian will delight you with delicious food, souvenir shops and musical performances for every taste.
  • Six Flags, CA, GA, IL, KY, MA, MO, NJ, TX.With over 8 parks spread across the U.S., there’s likely one nearby no matter where you live.From animal parks to water parks and everything in between, you’re sure to have fun. Full of characters like Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny, Superman and Batman, these parks appeal to the kid in all of us.

If you’re unfamiliar with parks in your area, try visiting Theme Park City for a state-by-state list. Don’t miss some of these lesser-known, but extremely fun parks:

  • Hershey Park, PA. More than just a chocolate lovers retreat, this park offers water rides, roller coasters, concerts and more.
  • Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN. Located in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, this park offers the award-winning Thunderhead wooden roller coaster as well as a chance to see the ancient crafts of blacksmithing, glass blowing and wood carving.
  • Wisconsin Dells Indoor Water Park. How else do you keep the summer fun going all year long? Put your water park inside! No matter what the weather you can float your cares away at the Wisconsin Dells water park.
  • Stone Mountain Park, GA. From the thrilling rope-like Sky Hike, to the Summit Skyride with mountain views, take a ride on the Ducks, the super-cool amphibious vehicles, and after a game of miniature golf, enjoy a spectacular fireworks and laser show to end the evening.

For further information, or a burst of inspiration, check out these theme park review sites:

Theme Park

Theme Park

Screamscape – the ultimate guide to theme parks.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Movie Fun

Popcorn by Darren Hester

Though there have been many mediocre and disappointing movies coming from Hollywood these days, I am still looking forward to visiting the theater. From this week’s favorite demon-spawned gem Hellboy II: The Golden Army, to the quirky comedy Meet Dave, about miniature aliens who land on earth in a clever disguised ship which looks like an ordinary human, there is much to enjoy at your local theater.

I’m not picky either – I’ll take a good comedy, animated children’s movie, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, or action flick. Give me some cool visuals, lots of action, and a few plucky sidekicks thrown in and I’m happy. Wanted looks to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller with those super-cool slow-motion shots that make the action even more suspenseful. And I’m also looking forward to the crazy antics and hilarious wit of the upcoming Step Brothers movie. With two of my favorite funny stars, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly who make a hilarious comedy duo, this is sure to be a hit.

Last week I got to see the animated movie Kung Fu Panda. I love watching accidental heroes –especially when they are cute, fuzzy, talking animal heroes. This movie was fun, colorful, and kept me entertained the entire time. We also have The Dark Knight, which opens July 18th. After many disastrous attempts to bring this comic legend back to life, Christian Bale has captured the essence of a real-life Batman, giving us a troubled and flawed, but essentially good-hearted man whose passion is to bring order and peace back to the streets of his hometown.

In these days of hot humid weather and rainy afternoons, there’s no place like your favorite big-screen cinema house to offer a great getaway from work doldrums and an fun-filled escape for moms to take kids of all ages. Let’s not forget the other great contenders soon to arrive at our door; The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Rocker with our Office favorite Rainn Wilson in the starring role, and finally for all you Star Wars fans, the eagerly anticipated Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie.

Here’s to a great summer, full of good times with good friends. Feel free to share your favorites here. Happy screening!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Healthy Eating Tips for Work.

Healthy food at the gymnastics center by Rick McCharles

During the fast-paced, busy workday it is easy to overlook our regular healthy eating habits. Many of us could use a little help or a quick reminder to keep us from hurrying to the vending machine for the high-calorie temptations that lurk there. Here are a few tips to help keep you on the straight and narrow:

  • Diet and low-calorie drinks – diet soda, fruit juice boxes, orange juice singles and low-sugar mixes like lemonade and fruit punch. Get your vitamin C and a refreshing drink without the caffeine overload.
  • Dried cereal mix – bag up some easy, healthy dried cereal. Choose a brand with nuts, raisins, cranberries or other tasty additions. This can be a healthy start to your work day. Try some during your morning break.
  • Small portions – choose items with good portion sizes like vanilla or chocolate pudding cups, granola bars, or flavored yogurt. They’re easy to pick up on the go and have lots of varieties.
  • Fruit – don’t just go for the standard apple, banana or peach. Make sure to include canned fruit, pre-mixed fruit cocktails and dried fruit. Trail mix with dried fruit will keep your energy up all afternoon.
  • Veggies – get a pack of small baby carrots or cut up some celery, broccoli, or cauliflower. Bring some low-fat ranch dressing for a zingy snack or side dish.
  • Cup of soup – keep a stock of flavorful soup mixes at your desk along with a handy mug and spoon and you’ve got a ready-made meal anytime. My favorite is chicken noodle.
  • Mixed nuts – in your snack drawer be sure to keep a handy can of mixed nuts. Cashew, almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts are full of flavor and nutrition. Grab a handful before your next meeting to keep you going until lunch.
  • Lunch from home – bringing lunch from home usually keeps calories and fat to a minimum. Bring sandwiches, a tuna wrap, salad, frozen dinners, leftover spaghetti and whatever yummy recipes you can find. Go online to spice up your choices.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

You Don’t Have Time to Worry

Worried little girl by txd

How true, how true. Most of us are so busy we don’t have time for living. How could we possibly have time to waste on worrying? Yet hundreds of thousands of us do it all the time. We are plagued by financial concerns, relationship troubles, and difficulties at work. We worry about things that have already happened, our past mistakes, as well as things that could possibly happen, or might come true in the future.

Worry, fear and anxiety steal the joy from our happy moments; it steals the energy and health from our bodies, and steals the wisdom and strength from our minds. To live a more robust, vigorous, productive and joyful life we need to put worry in its place. Slow down the avalanche of negative thoughts that bombard us every day. Try some of the tips below to help you get started:

  • Write down your worries. Just the simple act of writing things down is very freeing. It takes away the fear that you might forget something important. It allows your mind to concentrate on the present moment. You are able to deal solely with whatever is happening in the now. It gives you the freedom to take action on your current situation without the distraction of problems that are temporarily out of your control.
  • Put a stop to your fears. Many people go through a snowball effect of worry. Perhaps you are worried about having enough money to pay your bills. You may start imagining worst-case scenarios where you lose your job, your car, your house and your spouse. When you recognize this kind of out-of-control fear grabbing hold of you, say aloud to yourself “Stop it. Calm down, you have a good plan.” Learn to put a halt to your unrestrained imagination. Remind yourself of the solutions you have already come up with to deal with your problem.
  • Take a news break. One way we tend to worry more than we should is by paying attention to negative events and situations. Anyone who watches the daily news understands how filling your mind with tragedies, natural disasters, death and money troubles, even if they all belong to someone else can fill you with anxiety and stress. Turn off the TV and stay away from newspapers and magazines for a while. Your mind and body will thank you.
  • Learn to relax. Scheduling daily quiet time into your day is a must to get your worry and fear under control. When you are busy and overwhelmed with getting things done, you don’t allow yourself the space for peaceful, calming thoughts and feelings. Breathing deeply, listening to soothing music, or repeating positive thoughts to yourself can counteract your panic and apprehension. Sitting outside under the sun or stars for just 15 minutes can slow down your thoughts, brining clarity and peace.
  • Set a time limit. If you can’t stop a worry or concern from straying into your thoughts, set aside time to address it. Put aside at least 15 minutes to an hour. Write down what’s bothering you and your ideas to correct it. If you need to, call a friend to ask advice, visit a professional on the subject or get a good book from the library to help. By knowing you have a set time to deal with your problems you are less likely to experience the doubt, uncertainty and uneasiness of facing the unknown.
  • Find a good distraction. When your worries are trivial or insignificant, try finding a more useful diversion. Some people find doing a constructive chore, like cleaning, exercising, or taking care of the kids a good way to keep their minds focused on the here and now. If you do this each time your thinking goes astray you may be able to stop the worry habit in its tracks. Life is too short to spend it fearing things that may never happen. Why not arrange your photo album, find new dinner recipes, or sort your belongings for your next garage sale instead?