Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Am I a twit for not tweeting?

I'm sorry, but I just don't get this whole Twitter thing. Suddenly, it seems, this latest social-networking craze is everywhere -- even on Oprah! -- and I get the sense that the implication is you're not "with it" if you don't tweet on a regular basis.

I actually signed up on the Twitter site about 10 months or so ago -- and I've never used it since! (Don't ask me what my Twitter name and password are, for I haven't a clue!). This whole "microblogging" thing, to me, is just one more time-waster, one more way to avoid contact with, you know, actual live human beings!

But maybe I'm not alone in my disinterest in the tweeting phenomenon. According to a recent story in Advertising Age, the "drop-out" rate for the service is about 60 percent -- people who, like me, get a Twitter account and then don't do anything with it. So, I guess we're twits, not tweeters.

I say, twits unite! Go out and meet up -- in person -- with another twit or two.
(Talk about social networking!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Summer on the screen

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Star Trek, the latest big-screen franchise to get a "goosing" from a hot young auteur (in this case, JJ Abrams). From the trailers, it looks like it's going to be lots of fun with good performances from rising young stars. We're making plans to see it at the IMAX theater a few days after its May 8 release, woo-hoo!

As far as what else is coming out this summer, the Wall Street Journal has a helpful article listing the 10 hottest prospects, and -- surprise! -- sequels dominate the list!

Here are the ones that I am most interested in seeing: Terminator Salvation (May 21); Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12); Public Enemy (July 1); Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (July 15) and Funny People (July 31.)

So, what's your list like?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The frustration continues

Though I have several things to be mildly to wildly frustrated about these days (including the never-ending weight battle and the ongoing search for long-term employment), my most formidable frustration right now is the one I'm facing regarding Matthew's smoking habit.


Since I met him, he has quit and restarted at least three times. (I last wrote about this issue in a Nov. 14 blog titled "Kissing an ashtray.") And I've had a hard time knowing how to deal with it. Of course I realize that cigarettes are probably the hardest substance to kick, and the smoker has to really want to quit in order to stand even a chance (which Matthew apparently doesn't). I also know that it's his body, his health, his choice, yada-yada-yada.

But it's not as if this choice doesn't affect me. I mean, come on, what nonsmoker enjoys being with someone who indulges? Kissing an ashtray; smelling it on clothes and in rooms; having him excuse himself frequently to go light up somewhere: the inconveniences go on and on.

And, it's just so stupid to quit and go through all that withdrawal and the cravings, and then give into the cravings before you've come out the other side of them. That cycle is a lose-lose, as far as I'm concerned. So, my frustration grows ...

My reactions have veered from anger (very unhelpful!) to reasoning (ineffective) to fining him $5 per pack (short-lived). I've also told him several times to let me know what I can do to help him in his battle with the butts. But now, he doesn't even seem to want to discuss it with me. So I'm left with bad and worse choices. Continue harping on him (counter-productive!), or say nothing (tacit approval!). So my frustration grows ...

Ironically, Matt did tell me that his doctor advised him to leave his girlfriend (me) if she smokes. Of course, he replied that not only don't I smoke, but I hate it. So, does that mean I should leave him? My frustration continues ...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reading, right-sizing and arithmatic

Yet another recession-effects story, this one about book publishers. Seems they're printing more books in trade-paperback format, rather than the more expensive hardback, says a story in USA Today.

Trade paperbacks are larger than mass-market paperbacks, and more pricey (about $14, vs. about $6) but considerably less than hard-covers (about $25). Publishers are finding that this format helps them reach a very key demographic, according to the article: "'If we want to appeal to a twentysomething audience, we have to do it at an affordable price,'" says Carrie Kania of HarperPerennial, which will publish a record 100 or so paperback originals this year. 'And a trade paperback is the price of a new CD.'"

As an avid reader, this is good news for me, since it means that prices for the newest works of best-selling writers will be more affordable. As an environmentalist, I'm always happy to see products become a little more earth-friendly.

But, frankly, my favorite strategy, which is not only economical but also ecological, is to wait to read books until I can acquire them second-hand -- via book exchanges with friends, or from the library, or from thrift stores.

And, though I admit that I haven't tried any of these myself, how about joining a free book-swapping site? Here are a few links to check out:
www.paperbackswap.com/index.php
bookmooch.com
www.bookins.com


Happy reading!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Staying lean in lean times

It had to happen sooner or later.


The recession has affected just about every category of the American lifestyle, from shopping to dining to entertainment. Now, add fitness.   

Folks are shunning high-end gyms and pricey personal trainers, and snapping up lower-priced items, like mats and workout DVDs,  says a recent story in The Wall Street Journal.  They're also getting more creative in maintaining their workout regimens, from using a personal trainer for group sessions, to streaming free exercise videos from Netflix, to turning to TV for shows on yoga, pilates, kickboxing, you name it.  

That trend is a very good thing.  "Psychologists say any regular workout -- whether on a fancy machine or in a parking lot -- is a good one in a recession, when people are more likely to experience a loss of control that can lead to excessive eating and drinking," according to the Journal. 

So, I say, be as creative as you like in your workouts; just keep at it! 

But what about those people who really need a gym environment (the structure, the setting, the equipment, the classes) in order to stay on an exercise program?   Well, here's the good news: Many gyms are offering incentives to join, as well as flexible payment options.  But what if you're already a member?  Well, I'll bet you can talk them into a deal in order to keep you. That'll give your bargaining skills a good workout! 
 

Monday, April 13, 2009

The clash of the titans ...

Those titans being: female vanity and a faltering economy.

Just when Baby Boomers are being told that we need to stay young in order to be of value in this society -- which means ever-more-expensive skin treatments and procedures -- our wallets are likely taking a big hit.

I mean, the lengths to which beauty companies will go to create the latest "must-have" product are, seemingly, endless. For proof, check out this recent Forbes story about some of the crazy ingredients that are being used in skin-care products. Things like dead sea algae (1.7 ounce night cream, only $56!); caviar (1-ounce jar of serum-like stuff, $375!); or platinum ( 1.7-ounce jar of cream, $1,000!).

Holy credit-card hock!

What's a middle-age-sexy woman to do? I certainly don't have the answers. My skin has clearly suffered the effects of my sun-loving lifestyle; which, frankly, I don't intend to give up. So, I'm doing the best I can to slow this process down, by using sunscreen regularly, and also by trying to incorporate a skin-care regimen of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. I'm spending more money than I'd like on such products (though one of the perks of my current job is occasional skin-care freebies), though I can't say definitively whether they are making much of a difference. But I'll keep up with the program, lest the unthinkable happen: I look my age!

But $1,000 for a fancy cream? Heck no! I'd rather spend that dough on a vacation -- and come back looking relaxed, refreshed and happier (i.e., younger!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Happy Easter message

Hope you're having a great day, wherever you are ... and hope you're enjoying the company of precious friends and loved ones.

It's a beautiful day here. I'm getting some chore-type things out of the way before I get out and enjoy this great day, and then host a small family gathering for Easter dinner.

Happy Easter! Happy Sunday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Terrible Tuesdays

It.s 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. What are you doing right now?

Are you sailing through your day, methodically decreasing the stack in the inbox, and starting to contemplate your lunch break before jumping back in to finish out the workday?

Nope, didn't think so.

Late Tuesday morning, in turns out, is the most stressful time of the week -- according to a recent story in London's Daily Telegraph that reported results of a poll of 3,000 British adults. "Most workers coast through Monday getting their brain in gear and catching up with gossip from the weekend," says the article. "But on Tuesday reality sets in and staff spend the first part of the day going through emails they ignored on Monday before planning the week ahead. And 11:45 a.m. is when everything comes to a head."

To compensate, many folks apparently work through Tuesday lunch to regain a sense of control over their looming workload. And this means, they're most likely either running out and grabbing a quick, easy to-go order (bad idea!) or skipping lunch and hitting the vending machines instead (really bad idea!). Talk about Terrible Tuesdays!

I think that in these times of intense workplace pressure and stress, it's even more important to get a mid-day break every day. So, if you insist on dining at your desk, then at least try to get out and take a 15-minute walk; or do a few exercises at your desk, such as leg and ankle rolls, shoulder shrugs and rolls, neck rolls, squats, etc.

Here are a few youtube links for some quickie workout ideas:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwMuMq9Qzls (1.09 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tuVrh-zJvs&feature=PlayList&p=386967C7FFAE6863&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=5 (3.47 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGYOOP93wsM (3.13 minutes)

The break will do you a world of good, I promise. It'll clear the head fuzz, derail the stress train, stretch the cramped body -- and make your day sail by much more smoothly!





Friday, April 3, 2009

Helpful tips for those who have everything

Just as the national spotlight is being cast on the obscene trappings of uber-crook Bernie Madoff -- with the government seizure of just some of his homes and toys (a $9.4 million Palm Beach mansion! a $2.2 million luxury fishing boat!), comes a very helpful article from Forbes, synopsized on Newser: 10 Recession Expenditures to Shut Up About.


Said article warns those who are still sitting high on the hog to be a bit more on the down low about their good fortune. These are very helpful tips. Things like: At a party, don't brag to your unemployed friend about your first-class skiing trip to Switzerland (No. 6); or: When dining out, skip the high-end steakhouse if your dining companions are counting themselves lucky they still have a job -- not counting the size of their recent bonuses (No. 2).

Yes, very helpful tips, indeed.

But maybe the most well-to-do among us are already practicing a bit of self restraint. Signs of this trend are encouraging: Tiffany for example, posted a 76 percent drop in profits for its fiscal fourth quarter. I guess for that ultra-luxury jeweler, Christmas was more sticks than carats!

So, to all my super-wealthy friends (oh, that's right: I don't have any!): Ban the bling, at least for now. It's time to be a little more modest, a little more circumspect, a little more ... considerate.

 
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