The End of the Summer Vacation?

While the official start of summer, according to the calendar, isn’t until June 20th many Americans’ summers have already started.  For many, summer began on Memorial Day weekend, as that is the first warm three day weekend of the year.  For others, summer starts when the school year ends.  Regardless of how you may calculate the beginning of summer there is one thing that is as American as Mom, apple pie, and baseball, and that is the summer vacation.

Many of us have memories of loading up into the family truckster and heading to someplace far from home — far being at least a day’s drive away.  I remember being crammed in the back seat of the family station wagon with my brother and sister and being dragged to places that I’d rather not be and anxiously awaiting for the return home, so I can be with my friends; good times indeed #sarcasm.  Well, if you are one of those kids that dreaded family vacations, and/or if you are a parent who dreads the family vacation too then I have some relatively good news and I stress relatively.  It appears that the American summer vacation may be becoming a thing of the past.

Yep, due to the fact that many Americans have had their budgets significantly cut because of the economic doldrums our beloved country can’t seem to find its way out of these impacted people have decided to forego their traditional summer vacations.  That isn’t too surprising though, less money means some frivolities must be sacrificed; and yes a summer vacation is a frivolity, not a necessity.  It isn’t all bad though, according to a recent study, some Americans are sacrificing their summer road trips for the altruistic reason of conservation.  It should be noted though that this new found conservatism is directly tied to saving money too.  Many people have decided to not travel this summer to “save” energy; which of course means saving money too.

Like I said earlier, this can only be described as relative good news.  It is good for those that dread the family vacation, but it isn’t so good when you consider why those are “deciding” not to take that road trip.

Using Technology to Supplant Will Power

Many of us here in America (and worldwide) struggle with our weight, including myself.  While I am by no means fat, weighing in at around 190 lbs. I am also over six feet tall, if you saw me you would say that I am on the thin, to average side when it comes to build.  That doesn’t mean that I am not prone to glutinous behavior though.  You put a pizza in front of me and stand back, because I will attack it like a honey badger protecting its domain; the same goes for chocolate chip cookies.  There are foods out there that many people have a hard time resisting their urge to overdo it on their intake.  When you take into the fact that the United States is the fattest country in the world and it becomes obvious that we here like to eat too much.  Many restaurants in this country serve us enormous serving sizes, and not surprisingly they are quite popular places for people to eat at, thus contributing to our ever expanding waistlines.

What if there was a way to control our urge to gorge ourselves — without some sort of nanny state law.  Well, those clever scientists in Japan have developed a device that can do just that.  It isn’t some sort of pharmaceutical whose side effects would more than likely be worse than its supposed benefits.

Instead, as with many of Japanese creations, these scientists have used technology to come in and save ourselves from our appetites.  They have created goggles that basically make things look bigger than what they are, even when it is in our hands.  I know what you are thinking, it is simply a magnifying glass, but it isn’t.  When looking through these goggles that tiny little cookie looks significantly bigger, you go to pick it up and your hand still looks normal size, but the cookie remains looking larger than it actually is.  These goggles are designed to fool your mind into thinking that you are eating more than you are, and perception is reality.  These scientists have also created a device that fools your mind into thinking that you are eating something tastier than a rice cake by emitting smells of more delectable stuff like chocolate, or strawberries for example.  I guess we can expect them to give us actual beer goggles next …


For $17.3 Million You Can Buy a James Bond Style Secret Base

I love the James Bond franchise of movies, sure if you are a cinema snob then you more than likely pull your nose up to many, if not all of the films in this long standing series; however if you simply enjoy a fun, and at times campy piece of escapism then more than likely you enjoy the James Bond movies too.  There are few (if any) franchises that have spanned as many years as James Bond, and because of this long span there has been a need to “update” (replace) who plays the title character of these movies, and thus far there have been six James Bonds in the history of these movies:  Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and the current Daniel Craig.  Because of all those different actors playing the titular role of these movies there are debates amongst many Bond fans as to who is the best 007.

I myself like Sean Connery the best.  This is because many of the Bond movies he was in created a fanciful world with apparently well financed evil organizations bent on world domination, such as SPECTRE.  The evil organizations had secret hideaways and bases that were elaborate and so big that it is hard to imagine that no one knew where they were, even with the technological limitations of the 1960’s; but the movies weren’t necessarily about realism, as they were about escapism.  I don’t they were ever meant to be too thought provoking or to provide any more of a message than the simple good versus evil.  As a kid watching those early James Bond movies I used to think it would be totally cool to have a base similar to those portrayed in the Bond films; not because I wanted to take over the world, but because let’s face it, they were damn cool; as were all of James Bond’s cool gadgets.

Well, apparently if you were like me and thought that having your own “secret” base would be just too awesome, then your dream may have just come true.  For a mere $17.3 million you can purchase a retired, now not so secret submarine base in Norway.  Looking at the pictures it totally reminds me of many of the secret bases Sean Connery’s James Bond had to infiltrate back in those early Bond films.  Too bad I already spent my (fictional) $17.3 million on other things, but I am sure there will be someone more than willing to pony up the cash for this “secret” base.

Lil Wayne’s Pity Party

Let’s do a little pop culture today, mixed in with some sports.  I am a fan of one and often find myself rolling my eyes at the other.  However, and let’s be perfectly honest here, neither can be considered the lynchpins of what holds society together.  That is to say that if either were to somehow disappear today, the world would carry on tomorrow (albeit a much more boring world — maybe).  The sport I want to talk about is professional basketball, and the pop culture is actually two things, (1) a pop culture personality, and (2) Twitter.

For those who don’t follow basketball or sports in general, the NBA playoffs are in full swing right now, and they are in the phase of the competition pitting the Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals; and the Oklahoma City Thunder against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.  The winners of those two series will then face each other in the NBA Championship Finals, in a best of seven series.  It is the Western Conference Finals where sport and pop culture has recently collided.

Hip Hop star Lil Wayne was recently “denied” entry to game three in Oklahoma City Thursday night, because he didn’t have a ticket.  That sounds reasonable enough; I doubt any of us would have been granted entrance to ANY event if we didn’t have a ticket.  Well, apparently Lil Wayne thinks differently.  He was offered seats behind the San Antonio bench, but he wanted courtside seats, which were sold out; and I guess he felt slighted by this.  Lil Wayne took to his Twitter account (the ultimate source for celebrity self-aggrandizement) lamenting his plight of not getting what he wanted; which would have meant that someone who bought their tickets fair and square would be asked to move to accommodate a celebrity — um yeah because celebrities are more important than us working stiffs #sarcasm.  It doesn’t stop there though.

Lil Wayne returned to Los Angeles and apparently his ego is still feeling bruised by being asked to “settle” for seats behind the bench, because he is now saying that he felt unwanted in Oklahoma City; and alluding that there was some racial motive or component to how he was “insulted” there.  Get over yourself dude!  You needed a ticket to get in, just like those that go to see your concerts need tickets to get in.  The seats that you wanted were sold out, but apparently they still had very good seats available for you; but you didn’t want them; so YOU chose to instead have a pity party and not to go.  Just like if someone couldn’t get primo seats to one of your shows and decided not to opt for seats elsewhere in the arena and stay home.  Nowhere in that logical chain of events does race come into the equation.  Read the two hyper-linked articles above and you decide…


Man Changes Name to Thwart Telemarketers

Telemarketers — just the mere utterance of that word can send people into convulsive fits of rage, mixed with disgust a dash of disdain, and perhaps a sprinkling of fear.  We all have had to deal with them at some level or another; they are becoming as ubiquitous as death and taxes, which would explain the complex emotional reaction we have when we hear that word.  Thankfully though with the ever increasing use of wireless communications has somewhat diminished how many telemarketing phone calls we receive; though I still do get telemarketers calling me on my cell, and I have no idea how they got my number.  With the rise in wireless has come a decline in the number of people who actually have a landline, which is the telemarketer’s life line.  Despite all of this we still carry the collective disdain for telemarketers.

Since we have such a lack of patience and sympathy for those who would call us during our dinners and then try and sell us something, or scam us in some fashion begs the question, how far would you go to limit the number of calls you receive from these scoundrels?  Well, a man in the UK has gone to the extraordinary measure of actually changing his name, with the hope of thwarting would be telemarketers.  The formally named Tim Price was apparently so tired of the relentlessness of telemarketers that he decided the best way to combat it was to change his name into something that no telemarketer would even want to try and pronounce.  To do this he simply added nine “P’s” to his last name, thus going from “Price” to “Pppppppppprice.”  That my friends is truly an extraordinary measure to try and thwart would be telemarketers, but I think it might be going over the top a bit; plus he undermines his own effort by telling people how to pronounce his new last name.  I guess the UK doesn’t have the so called “Do Not Call” list that we have here in the United States, because that would be a lot simpler than having to change your name.