April 2011 - Posts

Well…the big day is tomorrow. Prince William will finally marry Kate Middleton, making her fairytale rise from commoner to princess a reality. 


It's estimated that somewhere between 1 and 2 billion people will watch the wedding. But they won't just tune in via television. People will be watching on computers, cell phones, iPads and more. The wedding will no doubt be re-broadcast repeatedly, or at least, highlights will, on television, while anyone can watch the day's festivities whenever he or she likes on YouTube. 


Not since Prince Charles and Diana very loosely tied the knot have people taken such an interest in a royal wedding. Why is this one capturing the attention of people worldwide? 


Perhaps it is because of social media. The event will live forever on the Internet, and clips will no doubt be tweeted into oblivion. The royal family has hit the Interwebs! This is history in the making for sure.


Perhaps it's because a prince is marrying a commoner. There have only been a handful of times this has happened in the past. And now there's the possibility that Kate could be queen. Bet her mum and dad never dreamed that for their daughter.


Another possible reason is that Kate has rapidly risen to the status Diana once held – the people's princess. She has stood by William's side for years, has endured the press, and has found her place in the royal family. People of all types relate to her and find her appealing. 


Whatever the reason, you can bet people will tune in everywhere. All day long. This kind of thing only happens, as they say, once in a lifetime.


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Sony waited to disclose that PlayStation Network gamers were hit by a data breach because company officials didn't know the extent of the damage.


The intrusion took place April 19, and shut the services down. A hacker stole names, addresses, e-mail addresses, PlayStation user names and passwords, birth dates and possibly credit card numbers and expiration dates for 77 million people. The company waited, officials said, to disclose the breach until they "understood the scope of the breach."


The breach, which prompted Sony to shut down the system, is likely going to rank as the largest breach in Internet history. And the fact that they held off for several days before announcing it will also be well remembered.


The company has warned users to watch their credit card statements for unauthorized charges, and to be on guard against any e-mail, phone or postal scams. 


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According to a recent study at Purdue University, a half teaspoon of dried ground cayenne pepper may help curb appetite.


The study found that capsaicin, which is what gives chili peppers their heat, can reduce hunger and increase burning of calories. The study involved 25 people of regular weight, with 13 members who like spicy food and 12 who don't.


Well. Duh. If your mouth is on fire, of course you will lose your appetite. And again, duh. You will burn more calories if you are, well, burning.


College studies. Bah. 

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To help you deal with your "manic" Monday...

http://youtu.be/4K3MXY5ITxQ
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It's that time of year again – kids are looking forward to the end of the school year, while parents are looking forward to the start of summer camp.


If your kid goes to camp in New York, it's likely he won't be playing kickball, freeze tag or Wiffle ball. The state has added the three childhood games to its list of risky activities. This means that if a camp offers these activities, the camp will have to provide medical staff and pay a $200 fee to register as a summer camp. 


Seriously? 


Gone are the days when a kid could just be a kid…wander around the neighborhood, playing kickball or riding his bike, without a care in the world. These days, kids are concerned with being stalked by child molesters or getting a life-threatening injury while playing freeze tag. Today's average kid spends more than six hours a day watching television, playing video games or operating a computer. The amount of time a child spends outdoors has declined by 50 percent in the past 20 years. 


Instead of worrying so much about what might happen to a kid, why not try saying those four magic words – go outside and play – four words not heard a lot today.


What will happen to our children if they grow up only knowing and understanding the world by their virtual experiences? What will the world be like if our children become adults with no connection to the outdoors or to their own inner child?


Outdoor physical activity is good for a child's health – it keeps his lungs healthy, and is good for his growing bones and his heart. It helps a child develop a love of nature, a sense of stewardship and responsibility for other living creatures. Not to mention that it's just fun to play outside on a summer day!


Parents have legitimate concerns with allowing their children to go outside and play – many don't feel it's safe and they don't have the time to supervise them. Concerns about children playing outdoors unsupervised are real. But there are other ways you can engage your child in outdoor play, including community and volunteer projects, group activities and family outings. 


Children learn by example, so it is a good idea for parents to lead by example. Families need to spend time together doing healthy activities outdoors. Disconnect from the television and computer and video games and make a commitment together to get outside for a few hours each week.


This is one of the greatest investments you can make in your child's future. Activities and time spent outdoors will forever have an impact on who your child is today and the kind of adult he will become.


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Come April 29, there will be nowhere you can run, nowhere you can hide. The nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton will be everywhere. And we do mean everywhere.


In fact, if you want to watch it but aren't near a television, you can also watch on your computer via YouTube. It was just announced this week that the wedding with be live-streamed on the official YouTube royal channel. The live stream will begin at 5 a.m. ET, and will follow the wedding procession, marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey, and the expected kiss on the balcony.


And if all that isn't enough for you, the channel will also feature live blog commentary of the event, updated throughout the day as the events unfold. 


If you don't want to get up and watch at 5 a.m., have no fear. The footage will be available on the site to view at your leisure whenever you like. 


Still not enough? Google has announced that it has expanded its Earth 3-D imagery so that you can view the entire wedding procession, complete with 3-D images of iconic landmarks along the route.


Personally, we'll be glad when this whole thing is over. We've heard nothing but the words "royal wedding" for weeks now. The whole world has been in an uproar about everything from Kate's dress, to whether she'll wear a tiara, to how she'll wear her hair. When it was discovered that William won't wear a wedding ring, it made international headlines. 


And it didn't end there. Where were the stag and hen parties held? What did they do during them? Who's invited to the wedding? Who wasn't invited? Where will the happy couple spend their honeymoon? Where will they live afterward? Will Kate arrive in a coach or a car?


There's all sorts of questions that we won't know the answers to until the big day. Then we can all watch YouTube and find out the whole story. But until then, here are some tidbits you may not know:


• Dr. Rowan Williams, who will officiate the ceremony, is a huge Simpsons fan.

• Kate is Ellen DeGeneres' distant cousin.

• The happy couple plans to live in a smaller home in North Wales.

• William is favored to take the throne instead of his father.

• The first-ever Royal Engagement coin was issued bears likenesses of William and Kate, although neither image looks like the prince or his bride-to-be.

• While attending St. Andrews, Kate and William went dutch when they went out while they were dating.

• Kate gets to pick her bridesmaids, but William won't get to pick groomsmen. His brother Harry has been named best man, but the "gentlemen ushers" will be a 10-member group that will be paid for their services. It's a tradition that dates back to the 15th century.

• A beer has been created to celebrate the royal nuptials, called "Kiss Me Kate," created and marketed by Castle Rock Brewery.


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Where the Last Supper actually took place has been the subject of debate for a long time. Many traditionalists think it took place on Maunday Thursday, but a professor at the University of Cambridge recently claimed it actually took place on a Wednesday.


Personally, we don't really know when it took place. We don't really care on which day it was held. We're more concerned about the menu. Judging from the famous painting, whoever planned that menu had their hands full. There must have been a boatload of dietary restrictions, what with some apostles counting calories and others dealing with food allergies, not to mention the vegetarians in the bunch. Jesus was smart to serve just bread and wine. No complaints there.


But try pleasing your family at Easter time. Most families opt for the traditional feast, which includes glazed ham, deviled eggs and three-bean salad. Pretty classic fare.


But our favorite Easter food won't be listed on any menu anywhere…Passover Peeps. Yep, those little chicken-shaped, marshmallowy, bright yellow sugar confections, that you can also get bunny-shaped. Either way, you pronounce "peeps" like this: yum-mee.


Who could resist Peeps? The yumminess we have all grown to love first appeared in Easter baskets in 1953, and the colors now include bright green, blue, pink, orange and lavender. You can even get them in chocolate mousse and mint flavors. You can get them sweetened with Splenda, instead of sugar. You can get them milk- or dark-chocolate dipped. You can get them for just about any holiday, only they take on the holiday's iconic shapes, like hearts on Valentine's Day, jack-o-lanterns on Halloween, and Christmas trees, snowmen and reindeer at Christmas.


No matter how you like them, you can't deny the happiness that getting a basket filled with Peeps brought you on Easter when you were a kid. Heck…who can deny the happiness you feel as an adult when you see a box of the little guys?


Granted, the ruler of the Easter basket is still the chocolate bunny. But can you do this http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/peep-show/2007/04/02/AF1rhLPD_gallery.html#photo=1 with a chocolate bunny? 


We didn't think so.


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A woman in Wellington, Fla. has been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. That part of the story isn't so strange. The battery was against her husband. Still not too out of the ordinary.


But when you consider that the weapon was a remote control, it gets a bit wacky.


Rita Counts, 48, was arrested and charged after her 50-year-old husband called police, saying his wife had hit him on the head and arms with a remote control during an argument. 


The husband had visible red marks and black bruises on his body.


Here's the lesson out there for husbands everywhere: if your wife is watching her favorite soap opera, don't insist on changing the channel. She will hit you. Hard. 


And by the way…pointing the remote at her and hitting the mute button…that doesn't actually work.

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Easter is coming up soon, and with it comes images of Easter baskets, candy, bunnies, weird plastic green stuff that's supposed to be grass, and little kids decked out in their Sunday best. 


One of the best parts of Easter, for many of us, were the hard boiled eggs. They were fun to color and decorate, and a lot of us thought they were fun to eat. They weren't fun, however, to find three weeks after the Easter egg hunt was over. But if you found them on the day of, they were quite delicious.


Equally as fun are the plastic ones, which we would all run to find as quickly as possible, because they contained candy and sometimes money. A whole dollar! That was a lot when we were 4 years old.


The holiday tradition of Easter eggs has somehow been stamped politically incorrect in Seattle. A teen there recently volunteered at her local elementary school, and asked a teacher if she could bring in some Easter eggs. They were of the plastic variety. The teacher gave permission with one condition: the young lady had to call them "spring spheres," rather than Easter eggs.


The kids weren't fooled. The minute the teen took them out of the bag, the kids all yelled, "Easter eggs!" despite the teacher pointing and saying, "Look class…spring spheres."


What the heck!? When did it become offensive to say Easter eggs? Will it soon be politically incorrect to say Christmas present? Will children everywhere be taught to say, "Look. Santa brought me a festive holiday offering?" Will we pile in our cars and ride around, referring to the sights and sounds of our neighbor's holiday decorations as "non-offensive displays of cheer?"


This politically correct thing is getting out of hand. There are some things you people should just leave alone. 


And by the way, you're getting very small, very brown jelly beans this year in your "spring" basket.

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Economists are trying, according to National Pubic Radio, to figure out if rising gasoline prices will hurt consumer spending.


Duh.


In some parts of the country, gas prices have already hit the $4 mark. The U.S. Energy Department estimates that prices will average $3.86 this summer. That's up 40 percent from last year. 


So, Mr. Economist, do you think people will consider not getting into their vehicles and hitting the road as much? We think so. When the choice is feeding your family or gassing up the SUV, we think most people will choose feeding their families. Prices are up for milk and beef as well. 


Do the economists honestly think that if people are having trouble putting food on the table and gas in the tank, that they will hit the malls? 


Give us a call, fellahs. We'll help you figure this thing out.


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The world is addicted to Facebook and Twitter. We're just all up in each other's business. We know when our friends are having a bad day at work, we know when they're sick and we know when relationships end. We know what they think about what's going on in the world, and we know what they "like" and don't "like."


But with all this Facebooking and tweeting, who has time for anything else? Wouldn't it be great if we could schedule our updates ahead of time, so we wouldn't have to be bothered with it later? 


Well…we can do just that. There are now some free services that offer the ability to schedule status updates and tweets ahead of time. 


• LaterBro: You don't need an account at this site. You just log in using your Facebook or Twitter account, and you can schedule updates or tweets from multiple accounts. www.laterbro.com


• Social Tomorrow: You can schedule Facebook updates, fan page wall post updates, and Twitter posts, including sms text messages. www.socialtomorrow.com


• Hootsuite: This is a popular Web-based Twitter client which also supports scheduling of Facebook updates. www.hootsuite.com


• Sendible: This is a popular app for scheduling updates for social networking sites which support Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, along with e-mails and sms for businesses. It allows business owners to track, analyze and measure the effectiveness of social media within their businesses. www.sendible.com

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Nearly 700 students participated in a pie fight at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa last Saturday. The event was an attempt to break the Guiness World Record. The current record is 671 people. 


Could we take this idea to Washington? A few pies thrown around might aid in the legislative process. 


Just saying'…

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Today's the day. Today we find out if the wheels of government will come to a grinding halt. The list of things that would be a pain in our collective backside if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement on the budget is an ever-growing beast. 


CNN published a list of things this morning that experts consider to be the biggest concerns.


• Lawmakers will get paid, while their staff likely won't.

• An estimated 800,000 federal workers won't get paid because they're "non-essential" and can be furloughed first. 

• Government contractors will likely have to shut down.

• If a shutdown happens and it stays that way for an extended amount of time, our troops won't be paid on time. 

• Trash won't get picked up in Washington and there won't be a Cherry Blossom Festival. This won't be much of a loss if the views are obstructed by piles of garbage.

• Services administered by the federal government will come to a screeching halt. This includes loan approvals by the Federal Housing Administration and Small Business Administration, no tax returns/refunds processed by the IRS, and no passports or visas.

• Although Social Security checks will still go out, there won't be anyone in the offices to answer questions or offer guidance.

• Various agencies with the Department of Health and Human Services will operate, at best, in a patchwork fashion. No new patients or clinical trials, and inspections by the FDA of food processing facilities and drug manufacturing plants will be prioritized by risk.


Here's the thing: this shutdown, if it happens, won't actually save the government any money. It will instead cost taxpayers to ensure a smooth transition to a shutdown. Then there's lost revenue that has to be recouped, etc.


Our nation's leaders are arguing like a bunch of third graders on a playground. Get over yourselves, boys and reach an agreement already. 


Hope? Nope.

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Americans are split on the issue of re-electing President Barack Obama in 2012, according to a Gallup poll. Forty-six percent of registered voters say he deserves to be re-elected, while 51 percent say he does not.


Will he be re-elected? To take a look forward, take a look back. In 2008, the recession was just beginning as Americans grew tired of the war in Iraq. And after eight years of a Bush White House, many voters were apathetic toward politics, generally speaking. But out of this mundane political rubble came a charismatic candidate, who said all the right stuff and did all the right things. He was a rock star in a suit. Politics became cool again, and although in the beginning most didn't even know what his platform was, people quickly bought into Obama's key word: change.


Fast-forward to today. We're at war with Afghanistan. Unemployment is around 9 to 10 percent nationwide. Debt has skyrocketed. The border with Mexico is porous at best. Foreign affairs are chaotic. The U.S. is unsure whether to stand up with or condemn those in rebellion in the Middle East. 


With all of this going on, Obama seems to have maintained his overall popularity, but can he win America's vote again? Unlike when he was running for office, the American people now know what he stands for, and throwing around words like hope and change won't cut it anymore. Should he take a stand on national debt, unemployment, health care, foreign policy or some other issue? What he chooses may very well determine the election.


Obama decided to double-down and give Americans more government, at a time when Americans want less. Now Americans know what Obama meant when he told Joe the Plumber that he was going to spread the wealth around – and America doesn't like it.


Will he be re-elected? It may be too early to make a prediction, but we don't think so. Despite the boyish charm he displayed early on, Obama gives the impression these days all too often that he was anointed and not elected. Americans don't like this kind of elitist condescension. 


We think the word "change" will be heard again in 2012. But not the way Obama meant it.

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A few days ago, President Barack Obama returned to the White House to find the doors to the Oval Office were locked. After trying several doors, he was finally able to find one that was open and he gained entry. Here's a link to some video of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZNAVgOJDd8.


Most just laughed it off and the whole event became fodder for late night TV hosts' opening monologues. The official story from the White House, at the time, was that the staff was unaware the president was returning that day.


But today the true reasons for locking the president out of the White House have been revealed.


All of the clocks in the White House are controlled by a computerized system, so that they are synchronized. It seems that when a White House employee made the adjustment for the annual "spring forward" daylight savings time change, he inadvertently changed the year as well, so that all the computers in the building read "2012."


Thinking it was spring 2012, employees locked Obama out.


And by the way, Happy April Fool's Day!


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