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Monday, December 26, 2011

"It's an evil snowman."

Freaky The Scary Snowman has been scaring pedestrians for of a year now.  This is a video of his most recent prank was filmed in Providence, Rhode Island.  You can view more of Freaky's pranks HERE.



Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two generations' perspective of customer service

UPDATE

My dad and I are shopping for a new cellular phone. 

You've got two generations looking for the same thing but with different perceptions of the capabilities of a smart phone. You also have a technology gap between us both--my dad still think I know the answers to anything digital or wireless oriented.

During my recent trip to the valley, my dad took us all to the Sprint store to look at phones. His interest was on the HTC EVO, which I like as well.  

Supposedly, he was told by a sales girl that the EVO would be free and that he would just need to pay the $70 a month for the voice and data plan, a few days before.  However, when we all returned to the store, he was told that he'd have to pay $150 for the phone, then we would receive a mailin rebate of $50. 

Naturally, my father was upset. He challenged the sales representative before him with no avail. 
I knew it was too good to be real. I asked the sales representative to tell me how much I would need to pay today in the store to upgrade my phone to a HTC EVO. I was told I would need to pay $150.

I didnt' care for that deal and made my way to the store's exit leaving my dad behind still arguing his case that the previous salesperson promised a zero payment for a new phone.

A few days later, after we returned back home to Austin, I called my dad to inform him that Best Buy was offering the EVO for $50 and the INSPIRE for free. His reply was that he would return to the Sprint store and inform them of Best Buy's offer.  I countered, "No dad. Go to Best Buy and look at their phones and what they can offer you. Forget about Sprint.  They aren't going to give you the mail-in rebate Best Buy will give their customers at the store."

The contrast between the two generations were evident. The old "the customer is always right" philosophy is well... old. Contracts and terms of services protects the companies from those annoying oops made by company employees.

Now the oops are commonly found in violations of company contracts after the agreement has been made. Perhaps the only way a customer can be right is at the local mom and pop stores where legal documentations aren't as viable.

So did we ever get a phone? Yup.

My parents and I went with the HTC EVO.

I returned to Best Buy and went with the HTC EVO Design 4G. So far I love it.   

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 12, 2011

Eating healthy at home

We've heard that eating at home is healthier than eating out or buying prepared food from the grocery store, right?

As mentioned in an article in Natural Awakenings, eating out correlates with childhood obesity. Childhood obesity being a condition where a child's body mass index (BMI) exceeds the normal range. 

Granted, many of us find ourselves in the daily rough and tumble with little time to prepare a well-balanced healthy meal for our family. However, a study cited in the article found that home cooked meals prompt parents to shop for healthier foods. Kitchen ambience encourages healthy eating as well.

You can read the full article HERE.

Source: Wikipedia; "Home is where the Healthy Meal is," Natural Awakenings, November 2011, Pg. 13

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just move on

I will be the first to admit that I let my mistakes linger rather than forget them and move on. I playback the mistakes in my head countless times, which has become a burden in my personal and professional career.

I came across an article in Nside Austin by business coach Alicia Marie Fruin on how to embrace failure. In order to become successful, Fruin encourages accepting failure, learn from the mistakes, and keep going, "[successful people] understand that who they are is not their job, their business or their results."

Perhaps that's my problem. I take ownership of my actions and I keep them. Rather than just filing them, I resort to the past failures and avoid acting--in fear that my past failures will be exposed.

Fruin suggests, "take your next step toward your goals today, and again tomorrow, the next day and the next day."

You can read her full article HERE.

Source: "Embracing Failure," Alicia Marie Fruin, Nside Austin Business, November / December 2011, Pg. 28.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb Part 13

Continued.

I use to tease my wife for showering before going to the gym. Why would someone take a shower to go to the gym?

I don't tease my wife anymore.

A few Sundays ago, my wife and I went to Gold's Gym.

Like usual, she went upstairs to do cardio, while I stay downstairs with the machines.

I'll be honest, I don't perspire easily. Not like the other people at the gym. And I know I don't emit a pungent stench. Really.

After doing the machines for fifteen minutes, I make my way upstairs to do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio. 

Upstairs there is a variety of cardio machines, such as stair machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical and striders--my wife calls it a "stepper."

I went upstairs and selected the closest stepper strider to the stairs, which also happens to be next to the paper dispenser and disinfectant spray.

In front of me was an attractive athletic blonde running on the treadmill.  My wife was down the end of the treadmills walking on an incline. 

Honestly, I thought this couldn't be a better view day, until something pungent wafted towards me. I couldn't place the source of the smell. Could it be the guy two steppers striders away? Perhaps it's me?

I kept striding along and smelling my arm pits concerned that the smell was my own.  This went on for several minutes until the attractive blonde girl stopped her treadmill and walked towards the paper dispenser and disinfectant spray. 

Eww! I had found the source.

What did it smell like?  Ever walked past a trash bin in a downtown alley? That's what it smelled like. No joking.

So, I thanked my wife for showering and since then have made it a point to shower as well before heading to the gym.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hosting a party

It's the holidays. The perfect time to host and attend parties.

Like other socialites, my parents are known for their parties. Tonight they host their annual Christmas party.

This event has been in the planning for months in advance. The catering, beverages, and music were selected and purchased weeks before tonight. Indeed, they are masters in event planning and superb hosts.

For us not-so-socialites and socialite-wanna-be's, I gathered a few tips from Austin Woman and Austin Nside magazines that may help in planning your next event:

1. Plan your event early. Send invitations that includes all the important information they need to know about the event;

2. Prepare a guest list. If it's a corporate party, prepare your coworkers of business clients attending the event;

3. Think of the logistics of the event--hosts, time and day of the event, food, beverages, music, etc.;

4. During the event, greet guests warmly and make good introductions; and

5. Address inebriated guests accordingly.

If you are attending a party:

1. It's better to overdress than underdress. If you are unsure, contact the host about what to wear;

2. Introduce yourself to others and mingle.

3. Avoid gossip and controversal discussions;

4. Keep your right hand available for handshakes;

5. Have enough business cards available; and

6. Don't drink too much.

You can find the full articles and complete tips HERE and HERE.

Sources: "Hosting Holiday Parties," Sharon Schweitzer, Austin NSide Business, November / December 2011, Pg. 29; "Party Etiquette," Jan Goss, Austin Woman, November 2011, P. 102

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Longer life and healthier pets

 I'll be honest, I didn't neuter my dog, Chato, until he was five years old (33 years old in human years). Like many other guys, I couldn't bare the thought of castrating my dog.

There are, however, benefits to neutering your male dog and spaying your female dog. As mentioned in a L Style G Style magazine article, the main benefits are longer life and healthier pets. Another benefit mentioned is spayed or neutered pets show less aggression and less likely to roam.

Unfortunately, because I waited until he was an adult dog and many of his habits are still apparent, such as roaming around the block smelling pheromones and humping pillows.

The article also debunks common myths often heard regarding spaying and neutering pets, such as weight gain, lethargic, and cost.

You can find the full text on page 74 at the following link: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/16e8fb6c.

Source: L Style G Style, November / December 2011, Anniversary Issue, Pg. 22.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Phhhhhhrt. Excuse me.

You've heard it happen in your workplace. Chances are you've let one slip in public too. Oops.

Although embarrasing, flatulence is natural.

But what causes gas and why do they sometimes have an offensive odor?

There are several foods that produce gas.  The majority being foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides), starch (polysaccharides), and fiber.

The four sugars that cause gas include the following: raffinose, which is a trisaccharide found in vegetables such as beans and broccoli; lactose, which is a disaccharide common in milk; fructose, a fruit sugar commonly used as a sweetner; and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol found in fruits such as apples and used a artificial sweetners. These sugars contribute to flatulence.

When consuming simple dry fruit seed pods such as peas, beans, soy and peanuts, microorganisms (also known as microflora) that live symbiotically in our intestines breakdown sugar molecules, known as oligosaccharides, and causes gas.

The offensive odor comes from chemicals that are found both in the foods we eat as well as the chemicals that is produced during digestion. These organic and chemical compounds include skatole, indole, methanethiol, hydrogen sulfide, and dimethyl sufide. In addition, the microflora bacteria found in the intestines are also thought to play a role in the foul smell.

Should we avoid foods with carbohydrates? Absolutely not. The glucose that we get from carbs provide energy our body needs.

Austin Fit Magazine suggests limiting foods and beverages which fructose and sorbitol, such as carbonated beverages and chewing gum. Eating slower will also limit the amount of nitrogen and carbon dioxide that is swallowed with food. And daily exercise will help with digestion.

So, the next time you break wind, blame it on the carbs or those pesky microfloras and excuse yourself.

Source: Wikipedia; "Why do Healthy Foods Make Us Bloated and Gassy?" Austin Fit Magazine, November 2011, Pg. 48-50.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How to handle holiday stress

Can you hear the chimes, dings and bells ringing? Those incoming calls and text messages are the first sign that the holidays are here.  These sounds, along with the growing number of things to do, can cause one's blood sugar level to increase. 

Below I've listed a few suggestions as provided by an article I found in the November/December 2011 issue of Sprouts Magazine that may help lower your stress level.  You can find the full article HERE.

1. Manage your time by delegating tasks
2. Do 20 to 30 minute low intensive exercise
3. Drink green tea
4. Sing along with your favorite music
5. Avoid sugars and eat more whole-grain, fruits and low-starch vegetables
6. Take Epsom salt baths
7. Clear your senses, take a walk and avoid stressful dialogue

I would also add taking a break from the Blackberry and iPhone. Program your smart phone to fetch emails every other hour or so rather than instant notifications.  Remember you have control of your incoming calls and messages, and you don't have to answer each and every one of them instantly.

Also, avoid back-and-forth texts that go nowhere. If you need clarification, just call the person.

Source: "Stress Less," Vicky Uhland, Sprouts, November / December 2011, Pg. 14-17.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My new toy: MyGica CapIt

I've been video editing my son's little league games on an old computer in the garage--the computer has a firewire card that allows me to plug in my camcorder.

For months, I've been searching the web for a product that would convert firewire to usb.  No such luck, until I stumbled across an ad for a MyGica CapIt USB device that allows transfer of video through the AV connection on the camcorder.

On Sunday, I started playing with my new toy by transferring and editing my son's little league tournament game.




Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's in your food?


I've been teased at work for eating healthy. Even my supervisor has challenged me on the snacks I eat just to be surprised that Nature Valley granola bars, my favorite, doesn't contain the articifial preservatives and chemicals found in other snack bars.


I'll be honest, I haven't always been this way. I use to love eating junk food as much as the next person. Perhaps it all changed when I met my wife. Unlike me at the time, she read the nutrition facts label on the side panel and on the back of boxes and cans before purchasing. 

Soon after, I said good-bye to the fast food restaurants and to the high-sodium processed foods floating in artificial preservatives and chemicals.


Thank god I did, though. Back then, I recall experiencing bloating, stomach pains, headaches and hives after eating junk food. I didn't connect the dots until two years ago after eating Chinese buns I purchased at an Asian supermarket that contained high sodium and MSG.

An article I found in Austin Fit Magazine discusses the history and importance of the nutrition facts label that is found on all packaged items. As the article points out, the first three ingredients listed on the label make the bulk of the product, and it's important to heed to the ingredients. 


Girl Scouts Peanut Butter Sandwiches

I use my favorite Girl Scout cookies, the Peanut Butter Sandwiches, as an example. The first three ingredients are enriched flour, sugar, and peanuts.  The other ingredients include oats, vegetable shortening, several corn products and sodium. In addition, three cookies contain 135 mg of sodium and 160 calories.

In the patry, I found a can of Del Monte Sloppy Joe that has been sitting in there untouched for almost a year. I haven't used it because everytime I've wanted to make sloppy joe we don't have ground beef.

The first three ingredients in the sloppy joe include tomato puree, corn syrup and distilled vinegar. It also contains worcestershire sauce, which has more corn syrup, and there's about 440 mg of sodium in a quarter serving of sloppy joe (enough to make a sandwich). Eek! That's a lot of sodium. Perhaps I shouldn't make it after all. 


Del Monte Sloppy Joe Sauce Original

I can't say I'm the most healthiest person or that I eat healthy all the time. I do enjoy a Whataburger or a Wendy's spicy chicken burger once in a while. I do sometimes sneak a Girl Scout cookie after everyone is sound asleep. And in no way do I want to dictate what you should eat and not eat. 

I guess what I would like for you, the reader, to get out of this blog posting is that the nutrition facts label is there for a purpose. It is there to educate the shopper of what is inside the can or box before its purchased and consumed.


Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A nice dog story

I came across this touching story reported last Sunday by Sky News about a loyal dog that has stayed near his owners grave since he passed away earlier this month.



Source: http://news.sky.com/home/strange-news/article/16113936

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 25, 2011

Praying my neighbors get pregnant...soon

You're probably confused with the title of this blog entry.  Yes, I pray and recently I have found myself praying that my young neighbor and his girlfriend get pregnant.  What's worse is that I pray not only that they get pregnant but they get pregnant with twins or triplets.

When my wife and I purchased our home, the relationship with the original neighbor was nice.  He would have get togethers, but the parties never went past a decent hour. Sadly, the neighbor and his wife sold thier home and moved to another community.  The buyer, a cousin of another neighbor who lives down the street, was younger than both of us--something we had concerns about.

Around the time of this transition, my wife and I were raising a toddler.  A light sleeper, my wife was often awaken by the partying that could be heard at odd hours of the night. 

As a solution, we muffled the sound with the a/c, heater, or portable fan.  It sometimes worked.

Recently, however, it seems as if the party is getting bigger and louder. Deeper male voices can be heard arguing outside our bedroom window, and the ladies hysterical laugh can wake a deep sleeper like me. 

It's gotten bad to the point that I, a person who hates confrontation, finally resorted to expressing my concerns. I emailed my neighbor after waking up to a lady's loud voice. It was 3 o'clock in the morning on a workday. This was unacceptable since we had work the following day.

My neighbor responded with apology; however, the parties still continue into the early mornings. 

Nothing has really changed.

It would be divine justice if my neighbor and his girlfriend get pregnant with twins or triplets soon... very soon.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Losing is hard

Losing in hardMy seven year old is a very good baseball player.  I don't say that because he is my son, but because I've seen him on the field. 

Like in youth soccer, little league baseball doesn't necessarily keep score.  In other words, everyone wins.  Our son's coach decided to practice that ideology.  To my son, his team won all games.  In reality, they lost a couple of them. 

During the tournament, those rules don't apply. You either advance or not. If you advance, you win. If you don't, you lose.

Try explaining not advancing to a seven year old who has been told he's been winning all season long. 

My son doesn't take losing lightly. Actually, he takes it quite personal. He did, however, hold his anger and frustration until he got inside the car and was buckled-up. After that he let go and cried the way home.

Like every dad caught in this circumstance, I reassured my son that he did great on the field. I used the old cliché that there is no "I" in "TEAM" and that it's a group effort. The team lost. Not just my son.

Indeed, he did good on the field.  There were a couple of errors he made, but he was strong on first base and right-field. He did have two hits and brought in two runners.

Perhaps what confused the team was that they thought they had an extra half-inning. In tournament play, however, the game was limited to 60 minutes, period. So, the team did not have that extra half to catch up and score points. In other words, rather than focusing on scoring hits, the team should have concentrated on defense and prevented plays.

Of course, these are five, six and seven year olds playing little league baseball. How do you reprogram their concept of the game to focus more on defense.

Then again, these are kids.  What we should be instilling in our young players is to play to have fun.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh, the back pain

A few years ago, I noticed a nagging pain that ran from the arch of my foot up to my lower back.  This went on for several months until I decided to find the cause. 

I visited my doctor to ask about the pain on my foot arch. I told him that I saw on the Internet that this could be plantar fasciitis.  He disagreed and instead told me that this could be due to my weight. 

At the start of the new year, I decided to change my eating habits and began my weight loss challenge--you can read more about my diet story HERE

Sure enough, the pain that I felt disappeared as soon as I lost my weight. 

I came across an article in my wife's Redbook discussing four reasons for the back pain. Although the article focuses on women, I thought perhaps the reasons listed below could help men as well.

1. Shoes with soles that don't absorb shock.
2. For parents, lifting kids incorrectly.  I'd also include weight gain.
3. Stretching your spine while on the cell phone.  I'd also include your sleep position and how you rest your head on your pillow.
4. Sitting for long periods of time can have an effect on your back.  I blogged about my experience HERE.

You can read the complete article HERE.

Source: "4 sneaky reasons your back hurts," Jessica Girdwain. Redbook. November 2011, Pg. 75.

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

1 Run 2 RBIs

Last Saturday was my son's last game for the fall season. Although the team didn't do so great, my son did manage to score a run and brought in two runners. During the final inning, he got a runner out on first.



Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A review of Les Miserables

I came across this college paper I wrote back in 1999 on Les Miserables.

Please contact me for citation information and to obtain permission.

Welcome to the Movies, Victor Hugo

A cherished classic novel of one’s redemption and a nation’s revolution comes to HBO. Victor Hugo’s classical novel “Les Miserables,” is about a convict who changes his life due to the single act of mercy by a bishop, but faces difficulty doing so because of an ambitious policeman.

Bille August, the director of the new movie, includes two international acclaimed actors: Liam Neeson, who got an Oscar nomination for Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” and Geoffrey Rush, who won an Oscar for Scott Hick’s “Shine.” Both actors interpret the characters Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert with splender.

For fifteen years, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of David Charles Abell, has been performing Hugo’s classic as a musical at the Palace Theatre in London—located at the very heart of London’s West End theatre-land. The Hugo musical by Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg—who are also known for writing the musical Miss Siagon and Martin Guerre—continue to receive praise from international critics. On October 8, 1995, Cameron Mackintosh produced Les Miserables on their 10th Anniversary performance.

As a musical, Hugo’s novel comes to life with passion and rage. As the characters sing with every emotion, it captivates the audience attention and causes them to empathize with Hugo’s characters. When Javert, playe by Philip Quast, captures Valjean, played by Colm Wilkinson, while rescuing Marius—a young rebel who is in love with Cosette—shouts, “Down! Javert! He’s standing in his graaave! Give way! Javert! There is a life to save!” The audience can feel the dramatic pled for human mercy from Valjean.

The musical could not have such an impact without the orchestral score by John Cameron and the direction by David Charles Abell. With every cry the actors made, a sound by the woodwinds could be heard. When Valjean is caught with a difficult decision of whether-or-not to let a man take the blame for his crime and then decides to confess, the mixture of woodwinds and brass instruments rapid playing indicates the confusion Valjean feels. With the lyrics, “My soul belongs to God, I know I amide a bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to journey on Who am I? Who am I? I’m Jean Valjean,” the orchestra hits a climatic point and fades easily to silent as his last line is, “Who am I? 24601!”

The musical is not only sad and gloomy, but there is a moment where Boublil and Schönberg brings light comedy to the tragedy by introducing Thénardier is an innkeeper who Fantine entrusts her daughter Cosette to, while Fantine finds way to earn money. From a sorrowful feeling in the first few chapters of Act I, the audience switches to a gleeful feeling with the comical Thénardier chorus, “Master of the house. Quick to catch your eye. Never wants a passer-by to pass him by. Servant to the poor. Butler to the great. Comforter, philosopher, and life-long mate. Everybody’s boon companion, Give’s em everything he’s got. Dirty bunch of geezers. Jesus! What a sorry little lot!”

In an attempt to capture Valjean, Javert is taken prisoner by Marius, who had gone to meet Cosette. After a little orphan is shot by French troops, the rebels choose to kill Javert, but Valjean convinces them to let him shoo Javert in the alley.  With stubbornness and loyalty to the law, even after Valjean frees Javert, he promises Valjean, “If you let me go, beware, you’ll still answer to Javert!” With convincing portrayal of a man frustrated and tired of hiding, Colm shouts to Javert, “You are wrong, and always have been wrong. I’m a man, no worse than any many. You are free, and there are no conditions, No bargains or petitions. There’s nothing that I blame you for. You’ve done your duty, nothing more.”

After 17 years of trying to capture Valjean, Javert questions his fate after Valjean spares his life. While Valjean accompanies the troops escorting the injured Marius to his house, Javert sits alone at the Pont Notre Dame over the Seine River to think of the proper punishment for his rival. At first Javert says, “What sort of devil is he (Valjean) to have me caught in a trap and choose to let me go free,” then contradicts himself by saying, “This desperate man whom I have hunted he gave me my life. He gave me freedom.” Philip Quast faces a difficult part to interpret, because Javert has somewhat contradicted himself. As he makes his character show some grown respect for Valjean, the voice changes to self-hatred, because for the first time in his career he is going to disobey the law as he jumps off the Pont Notre Dame.
Please contact me for citation information and to obtain permission.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Report on Uses and Gratifications of Media

Undergraduate Paper
Communications 4327
10 December 1997

Please contact me for citation information and to obtain permission.

A Report on
Uses and Gratifications of Media

Introduction

For many years media has been used in different ways in the United States and the world.  One of the ways that people have sought to understand the way people have used media is through the uses and gratifications approach.  This approach provides a better understanding of the functions of mass media to different audiences.  In this report, I will try to review what media does to people and what do people get from media.  The report will also provide information on why people use different kinds of media.

The uses and gratifications approach grew from the concern that the study of mass communication as persuasion was dying (Katz, 1959).  Katz indicated that perhaps the field of communication research could be saved by investigating what the media does to people and the reasons why media is used by people.  Several studies have investigated why people use media.  Although these studies are based on why people use different types of media like newspapers, radio, television, etc., they do provide us with a way to better understand the reasons why people read newspapers or listen to the radio.

In newspapers, one of the studies shows that people read to learn about world affairs, or for escape, relaxation, entertainment and social prestige.  Still, others read the newspaper to find information on fashion, recipes, and weather forecasts (Berelson, 1965).  I was surprised to find that the survey did not show that people read the newspaper to keep up with sports.  In a personal interview with a former editor of The Monitor, Mr. King indicated to me that the majority of the people buy the newspaper to keep up with sports. Another study showed that children read adventure stories to fantasize or daydream (Riley, 1951).

With respect to radio and TV, one of the studies shows that people listen or watch soap operas for escape or emotional release of personal problems (Herzog, 1944).  In the Rio Grande Valley, soap operas and novelas in Mexican television are very popular among Mexican Americans and university students.  I personally agree that soap operas and Mexican telenovelas serve as an emotional release of our personal problems.  With respect to elections, another study showed that people in England watch political broadcasts as a source of information about political affairs.

Uses and Gratifications Models

One of the difficult problems in studying uses and gratification of media is the classification of audience needs and gratifications.  Some researchers have classified audience needs and gratifications in terms of "immediate" or "deferred" gratifications (Schramm, Lyle & Parker, 1961).  In other words, these people say that we watch a program on TV or read the newspaper, we either get immediate gratification or from watching it or deferred gratification at a later time.  Another researcher identifies the uses and gratification in terms of information or educational or fatasist or escapist (Weiss, 1971).  This model is probably more applicable to different types of media.  For example, people watch the news or the Discovery Channel for educational or informational purposes.  On the other hand, people may watch soap operas to escape from our daily problems but children may watch Barney or Star Trek to fantasize.

Swedish researchers identified uses and gratifications of media into three different elements.  The first element was whether the audience was conceived of as active.  In other words, did the audience play an important role to the mass media's goal.  The second element was the mass communication process much initiative in linking need gratification and media choice lies with the audience member.  The final element was th emedia compete with other sources of need satifactions (Katz, 1973).

This model asks that we think of media exposure as an intervening variable in the study of traditional communication effects research.  According to Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch, audiences differ in the gratifications they are seeking from the mass media.  The reasons might be related to certain social conditions and functions or personality dispositions and abilities.

Rubin and Perse applied this uses and gratifications model to the television viewing needs and motives among children and adolescents.  In 1981, Rubin found that motivations do determine television use.  He found that viewers who are seeking companionship or infomration tend to watch the most television.  More recent research shows that the uses and gratifications approach is useful in predicting MTV, magazine, and telephone use (Vincent, 1997).

Another uses and gratifications model was developed by McQuail, Blumler and Brown in 1972.  It suggests that diversion played an important role to an audience.  In other words, people sought an escape from reality through the media.  They also suggested that personal relationships dictated why people used the media.  These researchers found that people use the media to gain information to use during a conversation.  They also found that the audience seek companionship with the use of media.  Personal identity or individual psychology is also seen to play an important role in the attention the audience gives the media.  It was seen that the media gave value reinforcement or reassurance to media users.  In some cases, individual psychology helped audience find a self-understanding.  Surveillance also was seen to effect the audience.  It was seen as information about things which might affect one or will help one do or accomplish something (McQuail, 1972).

Mark R. Levy in 1975 used the McQuail, Blumler and Brown model to study a sample of 240 adults.  His research concluded that television news test viewers preceptions and attitudes on "fresh" events and personalities.  According to Levy, many viewers "actively" choose between competing newscasts.  In effect, viewers arrange their schedules to be near a television set at news time and pay close attention to program (Levy, 1975).

A year later, Katz, Gurevitch and Haas saw that individuals used the mass media to disconnect or connect themselves from others.  They listed 35 needs and placed them into five categories.  One of those categories was the need to acquire information, knowledge and understanding, wich is known as cognitive.  An affective need was also categorized as the audience using the media for emotional, pleasurable or aesthetic experience.  The audience also use the media to strengthen their credibility, confidence, stability and status; this category is known as a social integrative need.  The final category stated that the audience used the media as an escape and diversion from reality.  It was seen as a tension release.

With this category, the researchers interviewed 1,500 respondents in Isreal.  After researching their needs and satisfactions, they reached several conclusions.  One was that the non media source was found more gratifying with friends, holidays and work.  Second was the greater the "distance" from a referent -- social, physical or psychological -- the more important the role of the media.  Thirdly, certain comparative processes, such as lifestyles, seemed well served by the media.  Friends were seen as more important than the mass media for needs having to do with self-integration.  The fourth conclusion was that the media usefulness in serving these needs is entirely consistent, regardless of the respondent's education level.  Finally, the needs having to do with self are associated with different kinds of media.  This includes: knowing oneself through books; enjoying oneself in associated with film, television and books; while the newspaper contributes to self-regulation and self-confidence (Katz, 1973).

Some recent uses and gratifications models were made by Perse and Courtright (1993) and Meng Weng Wong.  Perse and Courtright identifies 11 needs that can be satisfied by communications.  Those 11 needs include: the need to relax, to be entertained, to forget about work, to have something to do with friends, to learn things about oneself and others, to pass the time away, to feel excited, to feel less lonely, to satisfy a habit, to let others know I care about their feelings, to get someone to do something for me (Severin and Tankard, 1997).

Meng Weng Wong, an independent researcher, divided his uses and gratifications model into four categories: cognition, diversion, social utility, and withdrawal.  He defined cognition as being the act of coming to know something.  For example, a person can use the media to keep up with information on current events.  The second category is diversion.  Diversion is separated into three subcategories: stimulation, relaxation, and emptional release. According to Wong, people seek stimulation in order to avoid boredom.  Some seek relaxation to escape from life.  Others find watchign hoor movies as emotional release.  The third category dealt with social utility.  According to Wong, some people use social utility to talk about events stemming from shared experience through the media, and Wong categorizes the act people do when they want to avoid interaction as being withdrawal.

All these different models gives us a good understanding of what uses and gratifications actually mean.  Uses and gratifications studies audience use of mass media according to social and psychological needs.  Though it is research, there are many criticism towards the use of uses and gratifications.

Uses and Gratifications Experiments

In 1984, Bryant and Zillmann conducted an experimental study of whether an individual's mood influences the selection of television programs.  These researchers investigated the selection students made when they were either stressed out or bored.  The students had to select between exciting and relaxing television programming.  The researchers concluded that students who were bored viewed more exciting rather than relaxing movies.  The stressed out students also watched exciting movies but didn't mind watching relaxing movies.

Stone and Stone carried out a telephone survey in 1990, in which people indicated their reasons for watching evening television soap operas by agreein with eight statements. The result showed the respondents watched evening television soap operas due to habit (Severin and Tankard, 1997).

O'Keefe and Spetnagel in 1973 found that among college students, males viewed more television and read more newspapers than females.  According to the study, television viewing levels increased with age.  Television was the preferred source for news of a national or international event with newspapers being second; newspapers socred highest as a source for detailed information (Vincent, 1997).

Other interesting experiments dealt with the recent development of technologies.  Heeter and Greenberg gave viewers a variety fo scanning strategies to decide which programs to watch.  They concluded that young adults were the most active viewers of cable television who tend to use controlled, elaborated, and exhaustive searchign strategies.  Talk about channel surfing.

Perse and Dunn conducted a survey to research what use the people have for the Internet.  They found that people use the Internet to learn, to be entertained, social interaction, escapism, pass time, and out of habit.  The authors believe that the use of computer connectivity might actually lead to addictiveness.

To make this paper fun, I did a survey of communication majors on the amount of time they watch television.  What I found was that 40 percent of the students watch less than five hours of television.  Only 10 percent of the students watch 11-20 hours of news worthy television, while 30 percent watch 5-10 hours or entertainment television.  What I found is that the communication students watch more news worthy television than entertainment television.

Criticism

There are three different types of criticism. The first criticism other researchers have is that uses and gratifications is non-theoretical.  In a 1983 critique found operational definitions and analytical models confusing.  Plus, critics found that uses and gratifications model to offer a lack of theoretical justification, and critics say "the discussion ranges far from the result, which does not support their theoretical underpinnings (Stanford, 1983)." 

Many critics see the use of uses and gratifications as being vague in defining key concepts.  Critics say that uses and gratifications focuses too narrowly on the individual.  It relies on psychological concepts such as needs, and neglects social structure and media.  An answer to that criticism was made by Rubin and Windahl.  They proposed a synthesis of uses and gratifications approach and dependency theory.  Their "uses and dependency model" places individuals within societal system, which help share their needs.

Critics also call the model being nothing more than a data-collecting strategy.  Critics suggest that much use of mass communication might involve a low level of attention.  They believe that many might not be interested in surveillance or personal guidance as much as they are interested in some mildly pleasant stimulation (Severin and Tankard, 1997). 

Some critics believe that individuals needs was created by the media.  Others say that uses and gratifications goes to far in claiming that people choose to see what they want and interpret the way they want.  They believe that mass media messages tends to reinforce the dominant world view of the culture. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, people use the media for different types of reasons.  Some see it as a way to escape from reality, while others use media for educational purposes.  Canary and Spitzberg found evidence that the audience use the media to escape loneliness.  A way to prove that is watch who is viewing QVC at 3:00 in the morning. 

The uses of the media and the gratifications they get out of it has been studied for the past 40 years.  Researchers main concern on their studies is what we do with the media and how we use it.  Even though uses and gratifications is seen as non-theoretical, they still serve a purpose of informing us of why others use the media. It even gives us an update on trends the audience have on the media.  I believe that uses and gratifications effects they way businesses and advertising agencies work.  These tests can give an idea of waht the audience want.

References

Berelson, B (1965). What missing the newspaper" means. In W. Schramm (ed.), Process and The Effects of Mass Communication., pp.. 36-47. Urbana: University of Illinois.

Katz, E., M. Gurevitch, H. Hass, "On the Use of the Mass Media for Important Things. American Sociological Review 38 (1973): 164-181.

Levy, M.R. (1980). Home video recorders: A user survey. Journal of Communications 30 (no. 4): 23-25.

McQuail, D., J.G. Blumber, and J.R. Brown (1972).  The television audience: A revised 28.8,9 (1994): 52:75.

Severin, Werner J., James W. Tankard, Jr. Communication Theories: Origins, Methods, and Uses in the Mass Media. New York: Longman, 1997.

Standford, S.W. (1983). Comments on Palmgreen and Rayburn, "Gratifications sought and media exposure." Communication Research 10; 247-258.

Thomsen, Steven R. "at work in cyberspace": Exploring practitioner use of the PREForum.  Public Relations Review 22.2 (1996): 115-131.

Vicent, Richard C., and Michael D. Basil. "College students' new gratifications, media use, and current event knowledge." Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 41.3 (1997): 380-392.

Wong, Meng Weng. "Audience's Use of Mass Media." Nov. 1993: http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~mengwong/comm125.audience.html.

Please contact me for citation information and to obtain permission.


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Friday, November 11, 2011

Meeting Julio and Tenoch

Y Tu Mama Tambien is a 2001 Mexican film about two boys who fall in love with an older lady and set out on a road trip. The critically acclaimed film received many recognitions for its portrayal of two Mexican teenage boys, Julio and Tenoch.

The reason why I bring up this movie is because I recently met Julio and Tenoch. No, not the actors but rather two boys in thier teens who act very much like the teenagers in the movie. The sad thing is that these boys were traveling not with an older woman but a 60 year old man--my dad. 

Although retired, my father still teaches economics at the local university.  He's always had a connection with his students; many have stayed in contact with my dad years later. Granted, he is a mentor.

So, these boys I met are from Mexico who are attending a public university in the states.  One is from Torreon and the other from Monterrey.  Although both are nice and noble young men, listening to both conversing is like watching a dialogue exchange between Julio and Tenoch--every other word was accompanied with some sexual reference and inappropriate adult language. I was waiting for Maribel Verdu, the lady who played the older woman in Y Tu Mama Tambien, to walk in and capture the two's attention.

For as long as I can remember, my dad would introduce my mother and I to new characters that were his students. 

There was this female student who sang with me The Pointer Sisters' I'm So Excited during my dad's re-election campaign.  She had crazy hair, loud and always hyper.  I'm not sure what happened to her.

There were several other students who I terrorized during the years.  I would shoot spit-balls and water guns at many of them when they came over.  One of them I managed to shatter his sister's car windshield, accidently. 

These are just a few I can recall.

I guess the thing that troubles me is that my dad is in his sixties and running around with kids two generations his junior--in a sense, I can be these kids' father. Or perhaps I'm a bit jealous watching my father continue to grab the admiration and respect from his students.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2 Runs 2 RBIs

My seven year old had a good game this past Saturday.  He scored 2 runs and 2 RBIs.  While playing 2nd base, he tagged out three runners--the other team had a scoreless inning. 

You'll notice in the video below that I didn't catch the first tag out.  I guess I should just let the video recorder run throughout the game.

Excuse the audio delay.



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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Man Rule #1022

Never wear boxers and shorts to a park where fire ants are plentiful.  Ants don't discriminate and thier bits are more painful.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

A WTF Huh? moment in the men's room

Us guys know there is an etiquette when it comes to the men's restroom; for example, the selection of a urinal is critical and making eye contact or talking is usually discouraged.  This blog entry is about the latter.

After having lunch, a coworker--who is also a good friend of mine outside of work--and I found ourselves in the men's restroom; he had, however, arrived in there before I did.  When I walked into the restroom, I saw him at the third urinal while another coworker was at the urinal closest to the exit. 

Men rules state that if this happens you should select a stall or wait in order to avoid the dilemma.  I was the renegade and chose the urinal at the end of the restroom next to my friend; besides, we just had lunch together and thought this man rule, due to prior precedent, was voided between us.  Not so.

"We're making pizza tonight...," I said.  Yes, it's a strange statement to make in the men's restroom, but we're friends, right?  Well, I should have gotten the hint after awkward silence.  To fill the void, I continued, "And it's with all natural ingredients." 

No response. 

I thought he'd definitely have something to say about us using "natural ingredients."  Not so.  The only response I got was from the guy at the first urinal who was confused as to whom I was talking to, "huh?"

My friend of over seven years walked away from the urinal, washed his hands, and exited the restroom without saying a word. 

WTFudge!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

9 Tips on how to improve your résumé


Employee works with tropical fish at a hatchery: Tampa, Florida
Photographed by Charles Barron, Jan. 1953
When I was in college, about 15 years ago, I took a communications class that focused on improving interviewing and résumé writing skills.  Many of the things learned in the class was applied in my own résumés. 

What made it challenging, however, was that during the time, computer software introduced many ways a person can jazz up their résumé.  Borders, fonts and pictures obscured context and made it challenging to present your professional experience.

In addition, paper became an important element in résumé writing.  I spent hours and money choosing a box of résumé paper from a row full of options. 

Paper, fonts and borders may help, but what really matters more is how you present your accomplishments in context.  Below I've listed a few recommendations I gathered from freelance writer Denene Brox and High Tech recruiting firm marketing manager Christina Long that may help your résumé stand out.
  1. Present your accomplishments in four to six sentences.  Focus on outcomes rather than listing job duties.
  2. Use "common buzz words" throughout your resume.
  3. Use bullet points and highlight essential projects or accomplishments that stand out.
  4. Customize your résumé based on the employer.  Only list previous jobs that relate to the position being advertised.  And avoid generic résumés.
  5. Résumés should be no more than two pages long. 
  6. Be honest when listing skills.
  7. Use some white space and avoid overcrowding text.  Make your résumé easy on the eyes.
  8. Include your contact information on every page.
  9. Proofread.  Have someone proofread for grammatical errors and typos.
Sources: http://www.getnside.com/atx/magazine/business/current/articles/2304-The_Top_of_the_Stack/; Brox, Denene, "The Top of the Stack" PM Network, Vol. 24, No. 8 (August 2010), pg. 48.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Little League Highlights and a blooper

My seven year old's little league team, the Pirates, had two weeks off; so, it was exciting to see him back on the field this past weekend.

This was his fourth game and his performance was just like the previous games--excellent. He scored three runs and one RBI.

His stats for the season, so far, is 1 home run, 7 runs, and 8 RBIs.

While you watch the video, catch my son's dance routine on the field.

Oh, and excuse the audio delay. I need to update my video editing software.


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Monday, October 24, 2011

An apple a day...

When I was little, I remember sitting on the back of my grandfather's truck selling apples in Laredo, Texas.  "Manzanas! Manzanas!" he would yell.  I was then encouraged to yell the same to passerbys. 

My grandfather, Grandpa Kiko, always had apples at the house.  I was sure to have sliced apples everytime I visited him. 

At a young age, I knew the importance of consuming apples--an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I didn't like shots and if that meant eating apples then I was all for it.

Recently, a team of scientists from Florida State University, found that apples may keep the doctor away. Examining 160 women ages 45-65, the FSU scientists found those subjects who ate an apple a day had lower bad cholestrol levels.  Apples also act as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  In addition, apples contribute to body weight reduction.

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1376133/How-apples-day-cut-cholesterol-quarter.html;
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412131923.htm; Natural Awakenings, October 2011

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Friday, October 21, 2011

"Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left"

After hearing the good news of faith among Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote a letter of encouragement to the Thessalonians.  To strengthen their belief, Paul wrote about the second coming of Jesus and the rapture.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;
then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Back in April, I wrote about Christian author Harold Camping and his predictions of the rapture scheduled on May 21, 2011.  He also has predicted the beginning of Armageddon on October 21, 2011, this is today. 

In my previous blog, which you can read HERE, I stressed that no one can predict the second coming of God--biblical scripture clearly states that in Matthew 24:36.  However, you have a radio personality that has  done some sort of math to determine the exact date of the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

Now, he was wrong four months ago.  Could he be right, today?  Of course former dictator Muammar Gadhafi was killed yesterday.  I guess we'll see come October 22nd.

Title quote: Matthew 24:40

Source: The New Oxford Annotated Bible



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Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Alma Mater - Texas State

TX ST v CAL POLY 21
I remember the first day I walked down the Quad at Texas State University--back then the school was known as Southwest Texas State--among countless blue eye blondes.  Yes, this brown boy was in paradise.

Despite the great looking girls, I focused on my studies. Although it was challenging to concentrate at times, I did manage to finish my masters degree.   

After finishing my studies, I remained loyal to my alma mater.  I've participated in a couple of university boards and organizations.  I occasionally visit San Marcos for a quick stop at the University Bookstore to pick up some Bobcat apparel or spirit gear.  I also follow Bobcats sports when I can. 

Last year I took my son to a Bobcat football game.  We both enjoyed the experience sitting near the front of the field--a stone's throw from the blue eye blonde cheerleaders.  What made it memorable for my little boy was that the Bobcats won both games we attended.  

Recently, Texas State, a member of the Southland Conference, was invited to join the Western Athletic Conference in 2012.  In addition, the Bobcats football team picked up Dennis Franchione as head coach. 

So, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that a recent KLBJ FM poll which asked, "Who should be the number one team in college football?" people answered "Texas State." 

Maybe they meant "Texas" as in "University of Texas."  Or perhaps the folks at Austin's Rock Station thought it would be cute to disregard the Longhorns after their terrible performances against the two Oklahoma team.  Regardless, Texas State has a well developed team and deserves the recognition, and it was nice to see my alma mater among some good college football teams.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Women, never stop...

Photography Appreciation

Romantik
Romantik by Sven Türck (1897-1954)

Cosmo lists 50 things a woman should never stop doing in a relationship.  Below are ten of those mentioned in the article by Jessica Knoll in the October 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan. 

Never stop...

1. "Keeping your body complaints to yourself...
2. Maintaining your feminine mystique
3. Screening his calls and waiting 10 minutes before returning it
4. Keeping your phone in your purse during dinner
5. Going out with your friends
6. ...checking out new spots and trying interesting cuisines
7. Talking him up...to anyone you meet
8. Laughing at his funny jokes
9. Giving his egos a good firm stroking by occasionally telling him sweet little white lies
10. Looking your hottest when your hanging out with his friends."

Source: "50 Things You Should Never Stop Doing in a Relationship," Jessica Knoll, Cosmopolitan, October 2011, Pg. 147-149.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pay-Per-View

This reminds of the juvenile insults I use to take part of on the playground.  I came across the Yomama Channel on Youtube featuring a cartoon jock named Brody telling yo mama jokes.



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Monday, October 17, 2011

Me and my softball team

I enjoy planning events; especially, if it involves a team.  Perhaps I get this trait from my parents. 

My mom enjoys planning parties.  My dad was known for organizing winning teams at the university he taught. 

Months ago, I organized a team of coworkers for a softball tournament (you can read my previous post HERE).  Before that particular tournament, our team practiced several weekends before the game.

A few weeks ago, I decided to organize another team for another softball tournament; however, I faced many challenges, such as college football season.  Furthermore, the weekend I decided to practice, god decided the 100 days of no rain would end.  Regardless, I found my team and we made our presence at the double elimination softball tournament.

Although we didn't win, I was extremely proud of my team.  I was also proud of myself. 

For this tournament, I was not only the manager but the coach for the team.  Leading up to day of the tournament, I read the ASA rules and familiarized myself with the various field positions.  Quite honestly, I think my son's little league games helped me prepare for this game.

Speaking of my son, he was my assistant manager/coach as he called players on deck and in the hole.

After the game, I took a two hour nap.  I slept 10 hours that night.  Needlesstosay, I was exhausted.  Yet, I still want to organize future games.  I love the idea of planning events.  I enjoy participating in something as a team.  And even if my record is 0-5, the odds are in my favor because eventually I will win a game.   

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The cleaning products you use may cause breast cancer

Chemicals commonly found in cleaning products and air fresheners may contribute to the increased risk of breast cancer in women, according to a case-control study reported in Environmental Health Journal

The telephone interview, conducted by Silent Spring Institute, surveyed 787 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 721 control subjects.  The survey asked participants which household products were used prior to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Some household cleaning and pesticide products contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) which are known to interfere with natural hormones that may cause mammary gland tumors.

The study found that woman who used air fresheners and mold and mildew products are susceptible to breast cancer.  Air fresheners and mold and mildew products contain phthalates, which have been shown to change hormone levels.

You can read the entire report HERE.

Sources: http://www.ehjournal.net/content/9/1/40; Wikipedia; Natural Awakenings, October 2011

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ladies, look what drinking mineral water will do

Check out this French commercial advertising mineral water Contrex, which is owned under Nestlé Waters


Source: Youtube

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Bank of America. We've got your customer service right here."



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Sunday, October 9, 2011

"What's he do? Nibble your bum?"

The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog is perhaps the most memorable character of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

In search of the holy grail, King Arthur and his knights come across Tim the Enchanter, a wizard, who leads him to the Cave of Caerbannog where they must defeat a terrible monster--a cute white rabbit. 

My seven year old son loves this part and gets the comedy as the King and his knights "run away" after the rabbit kills two of the King's knights.



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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Eating a plate and a half

Soon after my son was born, especially once he was able to eat solids, I found myself 15 pounds heavier.  When my body could barely fit in a 33 waist, I made the decision to lose weight. I dramatically dropped the pounds within a year; however, it wasn't the most healthiest option.  In the process of shedding the pounds, I also found my body's immune system weak. 

I came across an article in the October 2011 issue of Redbook Magazine that cited medical research conducted by Dr. Jerica Berge, a clinical family researcher, that examined the nutritional and physical health of young mothers.

Although the article was obviously targeted to young moms, I thought this could apply to young dads too.

The article provides four tips to improve ones health as a new parent, which I've paraphrased below:
  1. Avoid the temptation of cleaning your childs plate after he or she is finished with her meal (I'm guilty of that.  It's still a struggle to avoid eating that extra half plate of food);
  2. Stress leads to depression, so avoid it as much as you can by sneaking time for yourself;
  3. Avoid drinks with sugar and opt for green tea; and
  4. Practice good hygiene to avoid viruses and bacteria.
Sources: "4 Ways to kid-proof your health," Amy Levine-Epstein, Redbook Magazine, October 2011, p. 95; "Are Parents of Young Children Practicing Healthy Nutrition and Physical Activity Behaviors?" Jerica M. Berge, PhD, LMFT, Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RD, Katherine W. Bauer, PhD, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD.


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Friday, October 7, 2011

"Citrus balances alcohol and sugar"

It's quite comical to hear my dad defend why he can drink a margarita even after his physician suggests avoiding too much sugar,"I can drink a margarita because the citrus balances the alcohol and sugar."

But he may actually be right.

When my dad makes margaritas, he usually opts for juices, mineral water, and tequila. According to an article in L Style G Style magazine, the way he makes mixed drinks is much healthier than using mixers. 

Source: L Style G Style magazine, July / August 2011

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb Part 12

Continued.

I've debated for the past few weeks about posting this blog entry... okay, here it goes: I have a gym crush. 

No, this blog entry isn't about that cute redhead but about a lady who seems to have an attraction to me.  Let me explain: this girl resembles the large WB abominable snowman who wants Bugs Bunny as its "George." 

"You didn't even sweat," the voice came from the large woman in front of me while I wiped off the seat after doing twenty reps of abs and deciding to stop when I felt uncomfortable with her peering eyes.  I shrugged and grinned and moved off to the next machine.

A few weeks later, the same abominable snowman chick decided to run next to me on a treadmill avoiding the fact that there were probably five others open and free. 

She tried to talk to me, but I pretended my music over my iPod muffled her voice and I couldn't hear.  Of course, I heard clearly when my wife approached me from the opposite side to ask if I was ready to leave.  I quickly responded yes, stopped the treadmill and hopped off. Unknowingly, my wife claimed her territory. 

Of course, perhaps all this was in my mind and this poor large lady was just another client working out and didn't even think about flirting.  Of course, I like thinking that I still got game.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A home run!

When I was young, I collected baseball cards. I remember opening my first Topps deck and finding a Ryne Sandberg baseball card. I soon became a Chicago Cubs fan. I couldn't play, but I was intrigued by the sport.

I noticed that my son had baseball blood in him when he threw a ball at great speed and accuracy at age one. He then surprised us during his second birthday party where he swung a stick with great speed against his Elmo pinata. What put the icing on the cake was when he threw a cartboard at my neck and caused a small scare--he got in deep trouble for that.

My wife and I decided to enroll our seven year old in little league this fall. I think it's the best thing we decided to do for our son. 

During his first game, our son was at bat twice.  He got one run and two RBIs.    The second game, he was at bat twice, got two runs, and three RBIs. This past weekend, he made a home run and two RBIs.

The cool thing is that my dad, his grandfather, got to watch him run around the bases.



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Monday, October 3, 2011

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb Part 11

Continued.

So this blog entry isn't entirely about the gym but of the workplace.  My workplace to be more precise. 

I work in an office building full of cubicles.  It's quite a maze--trust me. 

I use to be that employee who would stay behind the desk with my eyes fixated on the computer in front of me--the perfect specimen to an authoritarian boss. 

Not too long after, my back started aching, I became overweight and depression became my new best friend.  I questioned my relationship with my wife and son and at one point wondered why life in general was turning against me. 

It wasn't until I got to know my office bestfriend who happened to work on the other side of the building. Not before long, I was visiting my new bestfriend periodically during the day.  My confidence improved.  I lost weight.  My depression deminished. 

A few weeks ago, I came across an article in Redbook Magazine suggesting taking a three minute break every hour at work to walk around.  Walking around the office helps "engage your muscles and improves blood flow which helps metabolism." 

I totally agree.  However, I should add that taking a break from your computer does help with your social skills, creativity, and mental health.

Source: "You're typing away at your computer," Jamie Beckman, Redbook Magazine, October 2011, page 100

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

2 runs and 3 RBIs

He did it again.  My seven year old son, number 6, had a great game day on September 24, 2011. 

He had two hits and three runs.  He also played first base and took a kid out.

 At the end of the game, the coach gave my son a game ball all for his great efforts on first base. 



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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today: do nothing

Sailors sleeping on flight deck of the USS Lexington (CV-16)., 11/1943
Sometimes we need some time off from work.  We work 40 hours a week under deadlines and criticism from our peers and managers.  We need that 15 minutes between our workday and our weekends to ourselves, right? 

I came across an article by Ann Daly in the September issue of Austin Woman titled, "The Art of Doing Nothing."  In the article, using an example of a travel blogger, she stresses the importance of "doing nothing" or taking time for oneself after work and on the weekends/days off. 

As she explains, doing nothing equals making space that allows creativity, reflection and innovation.  Doing nothing allows oneself to be "truely present" and enjoy loved ones.  It also allows ourselves to "reinvent ourselves and our future", leading "to a clamer and vibrant spirit."

In the article, she offers several tips to accomplish the "art of nothing," such as: making a list of activities and obligations; from that list, select which can be eliminated or delegated; eliminate or delegate one item at a time; schedule "do nothing" time for yourself; reward your accomplishments; and learn to enjoy pleasant sounds. 

You can read more in the September issue of Austin Women HERE.

Source: "The Art of Doing Nothing," Ann Daly, Austin Woman, Septmeber 2011.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"We eat ham and jam and spam a lot"

"On second thought, let's not go to Camelot, it's such a silly place."

Silly indeed. Yet, it's one of my favorite parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I can see Jason Lee play one of the knights.




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Monday, September 26, 2011

MSG is what makes things taste good, but is it good for you?

About two years ago, I began noticing a trend after dining at Chinese restaurants or fast food joints.  After eating lo mein, hamburgers, fried chicken or Mexican food, I would experience abdominal pains, bloating, headaches and hives.  I connected the dots and found a common ingredient in these foods--monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.

MSG is a crystalline "free" glutamic acid salt that is a flavor-enhancer commonly added to food to make it taste yummy.  This neuro-exciting compound chemical which includes carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sodium and oxygen (C5H8NNaO4), may produce a negative reaction to a person with food sensitivites or intolerance. 

To some people, when MSG is ingested, the autoimmune system reacts as if the food particle is a virus or bacterium.  The effects may affect breathing and metabolism. 

When I ingest a food that contains MSG, it usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to notice a reaction, which usually includes bloating, stomach pain, inflammation, sharp headaches, and sometimes rashes and or hives.  To help resolve the effects, I drink water to help dilute the chemicals I've ingested.  This sometimes works for me, but for others it may not be enough. 

Since switching to a more organic diet and avoiding foods that may contain MSG, I've notice an improvement in physical health. Decreasing glucose and starches from your menu and replacing it with omega-3, omega-6 and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium can help reduce inflammation, as suggested by holistic health practicioner Leslie Tatum.

Read up on this chemical compound and determine whether this is causing your food sensitivities. 

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate; http://www.austinallnatural.com/sites/austinallnatural.com/files/AAN_SEPT.2011-web.pdf
http://www.foodpowers.com/; http://www.amsterdamkliniek.com/treatments/allergy/Allergies_and_Other_Sensitivities.html; http://www.buffaloberries.com/choosinghealthy/bad/57.html; http://www.livinghealthnewbraunfels.com/; "What is Inflammation, really?" Tatum, Leslie, Moxie Magazine, Summer/Fall 2011, pg. 10. 

Visit my blog at http://photographywritingandmore.blogspot.com/