Humans are social creatures; rarely do we like to spend lots of time with ourselves. While some people find it perfectly acceptable to attend a movie alone, others seek out at least one person to join them at the theatre. The same goes for stage performances and concerts. What do going to the movies, live theatre, and big name concerts all have in common?
Each of these activities costs money.
Technology has made it time efficient for movie-, live stage-, and concert- goers to purchase their tickets online with just a few clicks. Who wouldn’t choose that option over waiting in a long, slow line? The catch: there is only room for one credit card number.
So whose responsibility is it to pay for the tickets? In a perfect world, it would be up to each attendee to cough up the dough, preferably cash or a personal check, to one responsible person who will then purchase tickets for everyone. However, the good seats go fast and it’s easier for one person to charge it and expect to be paid back at a later date. Ideally, everyone will have paid for their tickets before the date of the event, or the date of the event at the very latest.
Chances are we have all been a borrower and/or a loaner. There are three types of borrowers:
1)Those who reimburse the loaner before or on the date of the event.
2)Those who take a few weeks or months to reimburse the loaner.
3)Those who never reimburse the loaner.
There are also three types of loaners:
1)Those who wish to be reimbursed before or on the date of the event.
2)Those who don’t mind being reimbursed within a few weeks or even months.
3)Those who don’t mind or care that they have not been reimbursed.
Loaners are more likely to expect reimbursement if the cost of the ticket is high. In most cities movie tickets cost around 8 or 9 dollars, about the hourly wage of many retail jobs. 8 or 9 dollars can also buy a pretty decent lunch or dinner at a cheaper restaurant. If a friend buys your movie ticket in advance for you, offer to buy theatre treats or a meal after the movie. If you buy the tickets in advance, suggest that your friend buy theatre treats or your meal after the movie. Either way, each individual has contributed to covering costs for your activity.
But what happens when you’ve spent $50 or more for your friend’s ticket and it’s been a few weeks? Before you know it, those weeks can turn into months and eventually a year. Are you still sitting by the phone or waiting for an email? If it’s been this long, you should be fairly confident you are never going to see that money again.
There are a few ways you can protect yourself and your money:
Know your friends. If you know your friends, you know which ones are the most reliable. Don’t be afraid to be picky over whose advance costs you’ll cover. If you are just getting to know a potential new friend, try spending a small amount of money on that person and clearly state you expect to be paid back. On your next outing, cover a larger amount. If you have been reimbursed for each outing, you may have just made yourself a reliable new friend.
Only bring enough money to cover your own expenses. Sometimes you really enjoy the company of a friend, even if that person is financially irresponsible. However, hanging out with this friend might mean losing out on some of your hard-earned cash. For example, your friend is short a few bucks and asks you to loan it to them. You’ve fallen for this before, and still haven’t been paid back. Plan ahead and establish how much you will be spending. When you go out with your friend, only bring enough money to cover your own expenses. If you pay with a debit or credit card and your friend asks you to pay, gently explain you are low on funds and only have enough in your account to pay for yourself. Your friend will get the message that you do not trust him or her, and maybe even get the hint to pay you back.
Sell your friend’s ticket if he or she has not paid up. You’ve been burned one too many times, and now you’re not giving any more chances. If it falls on your shoulders to pay in advance for something, provide your friends with a reimbursement deadline. Gently inform them that if they are unable to pay you back before the deadline you will find someone else who can.
Be aggressive. If you are still waiting for you friend to reimburse you, keep issuing reminders. Make it very clear that you did them a favor by covering the cost for them in advance. If you suspect your friend has financial difficulties, let him or her know it would be acceptable to pay you back in small amounts. If your friendship is valued, you will eventually get your dues.
A great many of us have tried every diet on the planet that we could find. The low fat diet was popular once upon a time and the Atkins diet was a giant fad. Between, before, and after those diets were a slew of other mystical ways to lose weight. The problem with most diets is that they are hard to stick with and when you stop, the weight comes back–sometimes with a vengeance. What good are those kinds of diets?
I hate counting calories and having to watch what I eat when I’m eating out. Determining the caloric damage of a restaurant meal is an art form all its own–some menus tell you the number of calories now. How am I supposed to know which choice of entree that I actually want to eat is also not going to be worth two meals in calories? That is way too much work–and mostly guess work–to do when you are out trying to have a good time.
The easiest of all diets to stick to and actually lose weight with is a meal replacement diet. Some people might call it a liquid diet. The idea is to replace certain meals with liquid ones that have a set number of calories, vitamins, minerals, and everything else that you can scientifically control. These shakes are generally a few hundred calories and keeps you satisfied. You are never starving yourself.
A meal replacement diet is simple and fool proof. Studies show that replacing one or two meals a day leads to a consistent loss of 7 to 8 percent of body weight in a year. You can choose to replace your entire diet with meal replacements. That will get boring and you will likely get a craving for real food. Real food is nice. I don’t recommend making every meal a liquid one but, replacing most of them will probably give you the results you want without any side-effects of weight loss drugs. You can replace most of your meals with a liquid one and then make sure that your other meal is consistently in line with your diet so when you go out to eat, it won’t matter what you order. You can consider it a treat.
You can get any number of over-the-counter meal replacement products like Slim-Fast, Met-Rx, or Atkins Nutritionals. You can also buy meal replacement powders from places like GNC. The idea is to look for something that has a good ratio of fats, carbs, and proteins as well as lots of vitamins and minerals. Basically, you want to replace what you would normally get in real food with the liquid stuff. In a lot of case, you’ll probably be eating better–nutritionally–with the shakes if your current diet consists mainly of mass-produced or highly processed chain restaurant foods.
I’ve tried a few meal replacement shakes from making my own using real ingredients in a blender to prepackaged powdered products. For convenience sake, I would go with the powdered products. The one that I am currently using is Muscle Milk Chocolate Milk. It has a the blend of carbs, fats, and proteins that I want plus a handful of vitamins. On top of that, it actually tastes really good. It also has a lot of other things that are supposed to promote fat loss and boost muscle growth. I don’t know if it works but, if it does, great.
There isn’t an easier diet to follow on the planet. It works, usually quicker than most other diets, and it is easy to stick with. There is little preparation work involved once you figure out which meal replacement product you want to use. Mix this diet in with a real workout plan and you’ll be torching fat like nobody’s business.
Finding the perfect gift for the professional in your life requires a little thinking. You have to consider that these people spend a lot of time behind a desk, on the road, and in hotel rooms. A professional needs gifts that make their work space a little more inviting. Professionals also need gifts that make their lives easier. Here are several gift ideas for the professional in your life.
Being a professional requires keeping up with several appointments. Not to mention that a professional has other important dates to remember, such as anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc. This makes a perfect gift not only because it helps the professional in your life keep up with important dates, but they will also be able to keep up with phone numbers, addresses, and to do lists. This is also a great gift for professionals before they can load games onto the PDA and have something to do while they are stuck in a hotel room. They can even load MP3s onto the PDA.
If you want to get a more expensive gift, you could buy them a laptop. A laptop is the perfect gift because it allows them the freedom to get up and go work outside. A laptop also makes a perfect gift because it will allow the professional in your life to watch DVDs while sitting in a hotel room. They will also be able to keep in touch with family and friends through email if their hotel offers internet access.
A nice leather briefcase makes the perfect gift for professionals. A leather briefcase also helps give the look of success. Professionals usually have several files to keep up with as well and this is a much better option than carrying them around in paper folders.
Another gift that will give the professional in your life the look of success is a nice coat. A nice full length coat is a perfect gift for any professional.
Talking Picture Frame:
A great gift for professionals is a talking picture frame. Professionals spend lots of time away from home and want to have something to remind them of their family. A talking picture frame will not only allow professionals to look at their family, but to also hear them. Having a picture of their spouse saying, “I love you” would make a wonderful gift.
Spending hours and hours at a desk can get quite boring. Having something to play with will help the professional in your life take their minds off how many more hours are left in the day. A great gift would be a levitating globe or pen. You could also buy small games and puzzles such as a rubiks cube.
With all the time professionals spend stuck on planes and in cars, an MP3 player makes a wonderful gift for them. The professional in your life probably gets tired of listening to the person next to them talk about their cold, children, and God knows what else. This year treat the professional in your life to an MP3 player. This gift can easily be used in a car with an FM transmitter.
I hope these gift ideas help you find the perfect gift for the professional in your life. Other great gift ideas for professionals include plants, pictures, a comfy pillow, etc. These gifts will make their office feel more like home. If you have the money, another great gift would be to take the professional in your life on a vacation, just them and the family. They need all the time they can get with their family.
Clock ticks, time passes, we grow and so do all the other living organisms. You do agree with this statement right? Then you may get shocked when you hear someone say your house has gone old. But you don’t because it is in fact old because it’s not a living thing.
The above argument has become of much importance since time decays the exterior of your homes and the related discussion of renovation starts once again. Nowadays there is a lot of trend to change the outlook of homes by implementing different remodeling techniques. There is a lot one can do for this purpose such as restoring the roofs, changing the bricks, garage improvement and the reconditioning of windows and doors.
We peek into some elements of Exterior home renovation and find out what and how can be done in this regard.
Entrances and walkways:
Entrances must go through proper renovations or the whole picture of your home will be drab. The entrance walkway can afford stone tiling. Stone tiling gives a traditional aura to the exterior. At the entrances different shrubs and flowers will add a refreshing and pristine effect to the exterior of your home.
Roofs provide the shelter of your home and are a major concern when planning renovation. There can be leaks and broken shingles on the roof that will not only ruin the exterior portrait but will also affect the stability of your home.
Rubber roofing will ensure its durability and is best for both low and flat types. Proper air ventilation must be checked and regulated which will increase the life of the roof. Roofs can positively impact the exterior landscape if nice shingles are installed and they have attractive color combinations. There is a whole new variety that exists for both the roof design and shingles. You may pick the one that will uplift the whole exterior panorama.
Your home exterior begs nothing more than its sidings to be renovated to beautify its character. Sidings have a deep impact and renovating them is really necessary in the process of remodeling. There are different types of sidings available in the market and their proper selection is very important.
Different sidings are current; vinyl sidings, aluminum sidings and seamless steel sidings. The vinyl siding are very common and is a fine choice. It is affordable and long lasting. For best exterior design, vinyl siding has become quite popular. It needs washing twice a year.
Aluminum sidings are fireproof and they are more durable. But when ultimate exterior design is considered, the only choice is seamless steel siding. It has a very attractive look and it doesn’t need washing. This is the newest siding and it is very easily installed. Despite its expensive price tag, seamless steel siding is getting very popular.
Windows and doors:
Where would one be if windows and doors were all rusty and hanging loose from the hinges? Well in utter disgrace to say the least. One of the important improvements in exterior design that can’t possibly be overlooked is windows and doors.
Doors can be polished to give a new and fresh look. Proper cleaning increases their life. Windows embellish the exterior of the home with little renovation. Windows frames cherish the beauty of the whole house. Different frames and window borders are available at cheap costs from the market.
Garages also constitute an important part in the exterior design. Garages demand a lot of remodeling if not taken care of correctly. Things to look for are new floors, cabinets and doors. Cabinets can be wooden or plastic. Newer models offer stainless steel cabinets that are very stylish and durable. So carefully tailor the materials according to your own style and taste. Make sure whatever you select must also glorify the exterior of your home.
One thing that will be noticeable on the first glance at your home exterior is a shutter. Shutters are very simple to be installed. The choice is simple, wood or vinyl. Vinyl shutters are relatively cheaper but they are not at all durable. Wood shutters have long lasting lives and are the best choice to magnify the exterior beauty. They are enduring and resistant to decay.
Water fountains in your front yard or at the entrance are a very attractive and elegant addition. They are invaluable and must be well taken care of. Much of the exterior beauty is just because of a decent and nice fountain at the front of your house.
Renovation of the fountain is mostly related to its cleanliness. Keep your fountain clean by removing tree leaves and unwanted waste materials. You can increase the life of your fountain by keeping it dry in summer and covering it in the winter. Fountains add to scenic beauty and give a very tranquil and pristine landscape so they must be kept clean and constantly renovated to maintain the exterior elegance of your home.
Trees and Shrubs:
What really reinforces the scenic beauty of the home exterior are trees and plants. You may want to add shrubs alongside the walkway or roses before the entrance to give the exterior environment a calm and refreshing look. If you plant palm trees, they will totter and sway along with the wind giving a relaxed feeling of you being on an island. Shrubs and flower develop an aura of tranquility; they are natural gifts and are an essential element for the renovation of home exterior.
Above mentioned exterior remodeling tips are vital to be followed before you take any implementation step. You will achieve very satisfying results if you exercise your plan the way I have defined.
Situated on the edge of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife refuge, in the shadow of majestic Mt. Scott, you will find historic Medicine Park, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Senator Elmer Thomas founded Medicine Park on July 4, 1908 as a resort community. Medicine Park was centered on Medicine Creek, a spot that the Native Americans thought had special healing powers. There were inns, a health spa, eateries, a dance hall, beautifully landscaped gardens and even some notorious visitors such as Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, and Pretty Boy Floyd.
The resort community thrived during the 1920’s, but the Depression and World War II kept people away from resorts and Medicine Park declined. It suffered through rough times and setbacks, but today it is being revived as an arts community and it makes a great weekend getaway for anniversaries, birthdays or romantic weekends.
The rustic look of Medicine Park is charming and quaint. The building material of choice is the rounded cobblestone, which can only be found in Oklahoma and nowhere else in the country. Almost all of the early day buildings are built from these cobblestones.
Spending a weekend in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains can be an exciting adventure.
You are only minutes away from boating, fishing, swimming, historical locations, great dining spots, shopping, and wildlife in its natural habitat.
Medicine Park offers a unique lodging experience. You can choose from any of a number of lovely cabins, including one that Bonnie and Clyde are rumored to have stayed in. There are also two bed and breakfast locations that provide a comfortable spot to stay.
If you like to shop and you enjoy the work of local artisans then you will want to be sure to hit the shops of Medicine Park. There are several galleries and businesses with unique items that will be sure to please everyone.
Do you like wine? Then you will want to make a stop at the Winery of the Wichita’s. They are open daily from 11:00 to 7:00 and offer wine tasting. You can also sit on the deck and enjoy a relaxing glass of wine while taking in the magnificent scenery.
If you think you are ready for a swim, it’s just a few steps to Bath Lake, where you can wash your cares away in an area off of Medicine Creek that was developed specifically for swimming. Remember the waters of the creek are supposed to have special healing powers. The trout also swim in the creek and the fishing is great, just be sure to get your permit.
The Medicine Park Trail is a three-mile, paved walkway lined with cobblestones that rambles around Medicine Creek and provides a beautiful scenic path for an evening walk. If you don’t want to walk, you can always take a drive along the shoreline of Lake Lawtonka and enjoy some breathtaking views of this 2,400-acre lake with its 21 miles of shoreline.
When you are ready to eat you will want to make a stop at one of the great restaurants that Medicine Park has to offer. The Riverside Café offers a great menu with lots of variety and an opportunity to eat on their deck overlooking Medicine Creek. You can even feed the catfish while you are waiting for your meal to arrive.
Just a few miles away is the historic Meers Restaurant and Store which serves the world-famous Meersburger which is the size of a dinner plate. While you are there you can check out their seismograph, which monitors the Meers fault, a 15-mile long crack in the Earth’s crust.
For the ultimate in relaxation, you can visit The Blissful Body, where a variety of massage options are offered.
With activities of all kinds abounding, Medicine Park, Oklahoma makes an ideal spot for a quick weekend getaway.
To get there, take I-44 West from Oklahoma City and then take the Medicine Park exit just outside of Lawton. Medicine Park is located just off Route 49 at the entrance to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
This year, as of late January, eBay, the widely popular online auction site, has been actively enforcing a new policy of banning the sale of virtual property by removing any auction listings selling virtual merchandise from online games. The ban includes not only video game accounts and characters but also in-game currency, weapons, and any other virtual items. Interestingly enough, this new policy does not apply to the virtual world of Second Life.
The Process of Buying and Selling Virtual Property on eBay
Prior to the ban, the selling of virtual game goods on eBay was multi-million dollar market. Sellers would list auctions for online game accounts, characters, and/or items with descriptions of what they were selling, method of delivery, and usually a picture. When selling accounts, the seller, upon receiving payment from the winning bidder, would usually e-mail the winning bidder with a username and password to the game account they were selling. When selling virtual items and not whole accounts, the seller would either create a “mule” account and send the winning bidder the username and password or meet the winning bidder in the game and deliver the item using an in-game trading system.
Why Did eBay Ban the Sale of Virtual Goods?
This new policy was allegedly instituted to avoid complex legal issues that are associated with virtual property. Selling accounts and property is usually illegal according to the EULA (End User License Agreement) and terms of service of most online games. By no longer allowing users to buy and sell virtual property on their site, eBay may have avoided future legal action against them.
Besides that, another motive for eBay to ban the sale of virtual property is to reduce time spent dealing with customers who were misled or ripped off over a virtual property auction. Unlike physical goods, whose shipments can be tracked and confirmed, there is no effective way to track the delivery of virtual items of game accounts. Naturally, this means that bidders run the risk of being victims of fraud. eBay had received several complaints about sellers accepting payment for virtual property and then never delivering the goods.
The Exception to the New Policy: Second Life
The selling of virtual property from all online games has been banned under eBay’s new policy with the exception of one: Second Life. Second life is an online community that allows you to script and create your own buildings, objects, etc. You can even you’re your own business in this online community. Several Second Life players make part time to full time income from their Second Life Business. eBay has not banned the selling of virtual property from Second Life likely because it is not considered a game by many.
The Pros and Cons of Banning Virtual Property Auctions
The positive aspects of eBay’s decision to ban the sale of virtual goods is already discussed in the above two paragraphs. By not allowing virtual property auctions, eBay avoids future legal complications and reduces the amount of time their customer service must spend dealing with consumers who have been defrauded.
However, this policy also has a downside. As mentioned earlier, the sale of virtual property on eBay was a multi-million dollar market. eBay profits from sales their users make by charging varying listing fees (dependent upon starting price, amount of pictures, listing features, etc.) as well as taking a percentage of the final sale value. By banning the sale of virtual game items, eBay will lose the profit it was receiving from the sale of these items. In addition to this, eBay’s new policy will likely cause many sellers to take their business elsewhere.
eBay’s new policy may have cost them the revenue gained from virtual property sales commissions but in the long run it was probably good idea. They no longer have to worry about (as many) disgruntled customers or potential legal action from the gaming industry.
Too often we don’t take the time to consider home security precautions until it is too late. This is unfortunate, because not only are your possessions at risk, but you and your family could be at risk as well. While many of us take the stance that it won’t happen to us or that our community is safe from such potential hazards, such things should not be left to chance. There are certain steps, many of them simple, that you can take to improve home security and reduce the chances that your home will be targeted for a break in.
By removing large bushes, trees and other obstructions from around your home, you eliminate hiding places for burglars. Such items placed close to the home can provide the perfect staging points for prospective entrants and give them cover while they case your home or work to open a window or door.
Most criminals will attempt to avoid anything that brings attention to their illegal activities. Therefore, ensuring the outside of your home is well lit, can act as a strong deterrent to anyone looking to break in. A light set to a timer to come on when it is dark or a motion detecting light can be cheap and relatively easy ways to improve your home security. It can also help to leave a light or lights on inside your home when you are out to give the impression that someone is at home.
While certain alarm systems can be costly, they are strong deterrents for those attempting to enter your home illegally. Monitored systems through a security service are the most costly. Unmonitored systems are cheaper but probably won’t bring assistance from local police or security services. If you can’t afford such a system, consider placing a system service or alarm sticker on windows or doors. Most potential burglars will not know if these stickers are decoys and won’t take the chance to find out.
The small stuff
Even little things can make a big difference when it comes to home security. Locking doors and windows even when you are at home, closing drapes, not letting mail and fliers pile up or leaving trashcans by the street for extended periods can reduce the chances of a break in.
Get to know your neighbors. Join a community watch program. If you have trustworthy neighbors, let them know when you are going out of town for extended periods, have them keep an eye on the place, and make sure you stop your mail or have someone pick it up while you are away.
What would you do if someone broke into your home and you were there? Have you ever considered it? If so, have you actually developed a plan of action for you and/or your family? Having an action plan in the event of a break in can be the best way to protect you and your loved one’s home security.
So, it’s been about 2 years now since Dungeons amp; Dragons 4th Edition was released. Now, I played a couple of games when 3.5 was the big thing, but this only amounted to two game sessions. This was while I was in college, about 3 years ago – I forgot everything about how to play. Coming into 4th Edition, then, was as if I had never played. And oddly enough, while it has its fans and plenty of advice on using which class and what race, there is little to no info for new players.
The game is set up around a team of 5 player characters and a Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master, or DM, is in charge of making sure the game stays on track, playing any monsters the players encounter, and settling conflicts whenever possible. Players can volunteer to play as NPC’s (non-player characters), or the DM can play them. The player’s main job, though, is to play the role of their character.
Characters are made by choosing a race and a class. Most of the available races are pretty standard to fantasy – elves, dwarves, gnomes, and so on – while others are more exotic. While there are several classes to choose from, each one fills one or more roles that the team needs to survive. A good team has at least one each of a Leader (really a healer), Controller (magic user), Defender (melee fighter), and Striker (ranged fighter). Leaders are really there to heal the team, and can double as Defenders if they have to, but mostly are there for support. Leaders are also rarely the ones to lead, with Defenders or Controllers more often calling the shots.
The game assumes you use gridded game maps and miniatures or tokens to represent your characters. It’s not completely necessary, but it saves a lot of mental work on how your characters are located on the map. This makes combat a lot easier, and frankly more fun. Having something to look at helps add to the effect, and while it might not be as spectacular of the animated violence of video RPG’s, it’s a fair bit better than just using your imagination.
Speaking of, people who play video RPG’s, and especially the MMO type, will probably settle into the game easier than non-gamers. The game structure is built like one, with abilities having range, area of effect, and recharge times comparable to such games. That’s not to say that people non-gamers won’t find D D; fun, just that it might take longer to get in to. Old school D D; player might need some time to adjust.
This may all seem overwhelming, and there’s far too much material to cover for a complete review. However, Wizards will be releasing an “Essentials” line in late September, with simpler rules that are still compatible with existing product. So for all you Dungeon Masters out there looking for a way to bring in new players, 4th edition might be just what you’re looking for.
Sunshine, clean sand, waves, people tanning and having fun-that’s the typical beach atmosphere. What about swimming bans, trash strewn in the sand, empty bottles lying about, and excess bacteria and E.coli levels in the water? Well the later has just described many of the problematic conditions at Chicago beaches.
At some of the beaches in Chicago, swimming is not even permitted due to extremely high levels of bacteria in the water. These levels pose a serious risk of illness to anyone who swims in the water. The beaches with such high bacteria levels in the water have been red flagged, thus banning swimmers from going in. In this summer heat wave, most people are looking for a fun place to cool off. Naturally, you would think the beach would be the perfect spot but no one wants to go somewhere that can be hazardous to their health or the health of those around.
The Chicago Park District says they are trying to fight E.coli levels in Lake Michigan but some of it is beyond their control. In addition to rainfall, the water is polluted by sea gull waste, trash people throw in, and sewage waste from septic systems and pet wastes. That is disgusting to even think about and even more disgusting if you’re in the water along one of the high bacteria beaches. Even the beaches with moderate levels of bacteria are not safe for everyone. People are advised to keep their babies, small children, the elderly, and those susceptible to illness out of the water.
Some avid beach goers claim they don’t mind the bacteria levels in the water and would still swim in it. But one thing they may not know is that even if they aren’t ingesting any of the water by accidentally swallowing it, the water can get into their systems through their ears when they are submerged. And for most people, regardless of how hard you try not to swallow any water, you will still ingest some of it. Suppose you have an open cut or wound that hasn’t completely healed and you submerge yourself in bacteria infested water; that bacteria is getting into your system.
So what are people to do to keep cool during the scorching summer season? Well you may decide on a water park to travel too or go to a park swimming pool instead. There will be bacteria in either place due to the number of people that frequent these cool off spots but at least it is safer than a banned beach. The best bet is for those who have their own private swimming pools or those who travel somewhere with beautiful and clean beaches where the water is safe to swim. Just a heads up to those who live in Chicago or anyone planning to visit one of Chicago’s beaches, be aware of which beaches have been flagged and how high the levels of bacteria are. You can check the swimming conditions on Chicago’s beaches on the Chicago Park Districts website www.cpdit.com/resources/beaches.