Saturday, December 14, 2013

Loewy Online: The best Christmas gifts ever - Blogs - The Register-Mail

Technology has brought change to almost any and every job of which you can think.

In my mind, no other bit of change has been more important to journalists than Facebook. It's, frankly, awesome.

Journalists can ask questions in the ether and watch responses roll in from the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places.

But I've never enjoyed any responses more than those to the question I posed this week: Tell me about the best Christmas present you ever received.

I loved reading each and every one of them.

For Friday's A2 column, I choose one in particular, from Lucinda Sanders, upon which to focus. But I wanted to share all the responses with readers in this edition of Loewy Online.

I hope you read as many as you can. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

First, here's a little peek into the lives of those who work very hard every day to deliver the news of Galesburg and Knox County:

Editor and Online guru Jay Redfern: A yellow Schwinn Sting-Ray bike, early 1970s. I've been lucky enough to receive a lot of wonderful gifts throughout the years, but this one always sticks in my mind.

Administrative assistant and all-around go-to performer Lorraine Stone: One of my favorite presents for Christmas was the remote car starter that my husband Bill gave me the Christmas after he started working over-the-road ... actually just gave me the key remote in a box with a potato so it was heavy when I picked it up. He always went out and started my car for me in the mornings before I had to leave for work and when he was gone, I had to go out in the cold (which I hate) to do it myself .. so the remote starter was perfect!

Editor of all of The Register-Mail's non-daily publications as well as serving as assignment editor Lisa Coon: It wasn't so much a single present, but the actual Christmas celebration when I was 7 years old. We lived in Peoria and always celebrated Christmas at home, just with my parents and siblings. This one particular year when I was 7, my grandparents - who lived in south-central Iowa and would celebrate Christmas with my aunt's family there - came to Peoria for Christmas.

It was magical.

The gifts under the tree grew exponentially upon their arrival. I remember the entire day just being filled with happiness - mom had her parents at Christmas, which made her very happy; and we had grandma and grandpa celebrating Christmas at our house for the first - and what would be, the only time.

I don't remember the gifts that year, other than a fishing pole for my oldest brother, and I have no idea why I recall that.

In my mind, I can see my grandma and grandpa at the age they seem to be forever frozen in my memories on that Christmas day.

Business and education reporter Allison Goodrich:

Christmas Eve 2012. My brother and his fiancee (girlfriend at the time) had to leave early Christmas morning to spend the day with her family, so we opened presents the night before. My mom presented a big wrapped box to my older brother, Jen and me, and told us to open it together. Inside we found magazines with "Italia" written on the cover, Italian-style hazelnut chocolates, a bottle of Italian champagne, Italian dictionaries, tourist guides, etc.

About six months later I left for Italy with my family for one of the best trips we've ever taken together.

Police beat and Knoxville City Council reporter Nick Ostdick: My first guitar. An Ovation, a cut-away acoustic/electric, with a natural finish, pretty ornate rosette and small pearl in-lays on the neck. A beautiful, beautiful instrument that made me fall more and more in love with music, creativity, the idea of making something, etc. Pivotal.

I read posts from lots of old friends and strangers. I smiled all the way.

Thanks to those who took the time to share their best Christmas memories. And thanks to those of you who read this blog.

Without further typing from me, here we go:

Kyle McLaren: Besides getting engaged I'd have to say it was a Nerf bow and arrow when I was a kid

Christi Syron: My grandma bought me all the Barbies plus the australian christmas cards,pool, 3-story townhouse. My auntie made all my baby & Barbie clothes I needed.

Brian Tucker: Engaged. Side note to Jay, I had a bike just like that early seventies. Only difference white seat. Favorite bike ever.

Michael Mannino: Because I grew up in the era before video cameras were inexpensive, we occasionally made audio recordings of big family events. Thus we "taped" Christmas morning, but I promise not creepy Nixon White House style. In high school, my little sister and her friend found these tapes and started playing them for the purposes of mean girl mockery. Apparently, seven year old Mike Mannino, was understandably excited about the football I received in 1977. Still quoted to this day is when I said, over and over again "A FOOOOOOOTBALLLL!" While I was nonetheless excited about the red, white, and blue plastic football, it was the Thundershift 500 that stands out above all the awesome Christmas gifts with which I was showered.

Randy Fox: When I was a kid, I got the Mattel Vaccuform. I loved that thing and made tons of utterly useless small toys with it. As a bonus, I never burnt anything except the occasional finger.

Michelle Sherman: One year, my parents put together "art kits" for my sister and me. They were the big Rubbermaid tubs stuffed with everything we could want to use: glitter, paint, stickers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc. We had many, many hours of peace (a rarity) as a result of those art supplies.

Christy Kinney: GORGEOUS diamond stud earrings from my wonderful parents. I never take them out unless I have them cleaned or inspected. I received them about 5 years ago.

Libby Allison Derry: 1990... Nintendo NES for my brother, sister and I to share. It was the coolest.

Marilyn Webb: A Lionel train set when I was seven and at that time they made trains for girls in pink. I loved the trains but I also loved that I got the regular, non-pink ones, smoke tablets and all.

Wes Huett: 1986. My brother and I received the Nintendp Entertainment Center. Within minutes of opening the holy grail of 1980s holiday gifts, our family had to load in the car and drive from St. Charles, Mo., to Peoria, Ill., and my grandmother's house. The NES remained. What an agonizingly long weekend.

Frank Fimbres: Sea horses when I was a kid.

Buddes Bar Budde: A HUSBAND! Mike Budde & I were married on Dec 26, 1998 at the Orpheum Theatre! It will be 15 years this Christmas & I am still feeling blessed! Christmastime is a great season to be married in! Dianne Rogers Budde.

Aaron Frey: I got a pair of red and white Air Jordan XIIs in 1996. They were the coolest pair of shoes I'd ever seen. I remember everybody in school was dying to get a pair so we could be like Mike. I think there was only one other kid in my grade who had them. I'd never even owned a pair of Nikes, and here I was wearing the sickest shoes on the planet! I wore the shit out of those shoes. I wore them every day until the soles wore all the way through.

Beau Spencer Thompson: It wasn't one present for me, rather one Christmas that sticks out. My older cousin lived with us for a year when I was in 4th grade. I received Tecmo Super Bowl for NES, and even though I disliked my cousin, I had someone to always go head-to-head with playing that game. That year I also received my first BOX of football cards instead of just a few packs. I think a Home Alone VHS tape was in my stocking. I probably watched that tape 50 times over the next month.

Danielle Wingo: As an adult, the little crafty ornaments my kids have made at school. As a child, barbies!!

Melissa Bryant: My favorite gift was from my parents. I was a single mom and they brought me a tote filled with toiletries..children supplies and household supplies that would last months. Very simple but very useful. It was such a relief for me as a young mother.

Bonnie Nichole Moore: My best present was last year when i was having a hard time moved in w my grandma so i could get bills paid up and save money to get a place my mom asked me what i wanted i asked her to use the money for gifts for my two kids she got presents for the kids and let me wrap them and put my name on them made my year love my family they are all i need.

Charity Burge: I would have to say the best Christmas present I have ever received was from my oldest daughter. I know its not Christmas yet, but she gave it to me early this year. It is a silver locket with footprints and a diamond on the front and part of the "Footprints" saying on the back. My dad was killed in an accident 7 years ago and at his funeral I had them read the "Footprints" saying and it was also printed on the obituary papers that they give to u at the funeral home. I have a collage that I made with his pictures surrounding the "Footprints" saying also. She bought me this locket so that I could put my dads pictures in it and carry him around with me everywhere I go. Of course, this gift made me cry! It was the best gift ever!

Laura Eaves Dowell: Family all together in one place for Christmas! Best present ever!

Amanda Jo Kirby Fisher: The best Christmas gift I ever received was a jewelry box with a picture of my grandparents in it. My Papa passed away 5 months before that Christmas. Same year I received a peppermint candle from my sister... Peppermint were my Papa's favorite! Sure do miss that man.

Kathy Bennett: Best childhood gift was the Strawberry Shortcake Treehouse when I was 8 in 1982. I will never forget how much I loved strawberry shortcake and her smell I would love to get her doll this year as a great memory!

Amy Dee Coates-Kelso: I think the bear Christmas gift I have ever received I receive every Christmas and that is the joy of watching my 2 kids and my nieces open their gifts on Christmas morning. I get so excited I can hardly sleep the night before.

Jon Prain: As a child in the 1970's, my sister and I received a joint gift--the early video game set which included "Pong". Our family members spent many hours playing those silly games. As an adult, my favorite gift was when my wife gave me one share of stock in the Green Bay Packers organization.

Donna J. Richardson: When I was a child, Christmas was not a fun day . I had been living here and there and all the kids got a present but I receive none. then one day my father came ( he could not get custody of me) and handed me a big box. Inside there was a Horsman doll . I was so thrilled . When you are a child , when Santa forgets you it is a hard thing ! I kept the doll for most of my young years . Wish I had it still but at least I have that one sweet memory.

Chad Fengel: An acoustic guitar when I was 14 or15. 24 years later, and the guitar hasn't left my side. I still have that guitar too.

Shari Mahnesmith: when i was 42, i had a high risk pregnancy and gave birth in december to a healthy baby girl. that was a wonderful present

Shawna Benne: 1977 "Santa" brought me the Village People album. Unforgettable joy as my grandfather let me play it over and over with out hesitation.

Jenny Cross Stegall: When I was 10 yrs old, I got a record player. Any money I earned after that went straight to Lindstrom's for 45's!

Chasity Hoffman: I got to spend the last christmas with my dad in 2003. I miss him. Love you joe hoffman. I will always cheerish that christmas.

Lindsay Hillery: I had all the barbies and accessories as a little girl. I have 2 boys now so i dont get to spoil them with barbies too. Last Christmas I got a barbie from my husband! It was so sweet and thoughtful! It is my favorite gift from him over 17 years!

Lisa McIntyre: Mine is from this year! It was a couple weeks early but it was the best surprise and present ever. I got a gorgeous diamond ring...My boyfriend proposed! He asked my dad for permission to marry me on Thanksgiving and then the planning for when he would propose started! He got my family and his family altogether, we went out for dinner and to a festival of lights! It was amazing and I was so surprised. I loved that he included our family's in that very important moment in our lives! I couldn't ask for a better man to call my husband some day soon! Everything was perfect! He may have trouble topping this year's Christmas in the years to come!!!!

Dana Adams Maxwell: My mom always made sure I had wonderful Christmases, and she worked very hard for me to get what I always wanted, but I wanted a new bike and didn't think I would get it but I did, it was the best Christmas ever.

Lola M Anderson: Even though it was a very sad Christmas the year i got my favorite gift. Mine would have to be my cabbage patch doll. The sad part of that year is that i had a grandmother who passed away the day of Christmas Eve.

Jeanne Harland: My Great Aunt Em, who I never met, sent me an Easy Bake Oven.

Jana Hastings: When I was in kindergarten my big sister Kathy gifted me my first album-Shaun Cassidys solo album. Christmas 1977? It was my first "crush" and so it fiery passion and deep appreciation for music. My taste has changed over the years...but I'm certain if I heard "Da do ron ron" I'd sing along for sure!

Angela Hollowell: The best gift that i have gotten throughout my life is being able to spend time with family and friends and making memories

Pamela Holman Taylor: a surey with fringe on top!!! Held 4 kids (hahaha) and peddled from the back seat!

Barbara Saline: Close and play record player it played puff the magic dragon i was 5

Theresa Owens: Chatty Kathy doll she was my favorite..I think that is why I talk so much to this day!!

Racheal Thurman Mckillip: My Crissy grow hair doll when I was 4. I still have her 39 years later.

Travis Martin Gustafson: The best present I ever got as a kid was my very first Nintendo!:)

Shelly Payne: my best christmas present will be this year im 33 and pregnant with my first baby...a baby girl...though I wont get to see her till April shes still my over all best and blessing

Polly Emery: Best gift I received as a child was a homemade Barbie Dream House that my brother-in-law made. It is one of a kind & because it's made out of wood my daughters have enjoyed it & hopefully their daughters will too!

Nancy Simmons: My favorite gift was a doll called Mrs. Beasley!! You pulled a string and she talked!

Patricia Dawson Keil: I don't remember too many things about my Childhood but I did get a Toni Doll one year when I was little and I still have it.

Phillip Baughman: I got a drum set for Christmas one year and the wrapping paper was little drummer boy had no clue.

Jessica Tolle: Life...I was born on Christmas eve

Sharon Ball Paulsgrove: Back in 2001 I received a late Christmas present. I got it on December 28th. My granddaughter was born. It was the best Christmas present ever.

Jackie Underwood: When my father was living with us after an illness! He would always wake up my two little girls between 2-3 am to open presents then he would go back to bed and leave me up with the girls as they wanted to play! I miss those days! Greatest gift of all is your parents!

Perky McJingles: lets see mine would have to be back in 2010, ive never met anyone on my dads side of the family, & my dad has been with the angles since 96' & my grandma chapman from oregon sent me some of his ashes. So i finally got to meet my dad two days before christmas. Even tho hes gone, he will always be with me. It was a shocker at first but its the best thing ive ever recieved & he goes with me everywhere. He always loved sturgis so he also came there with me this year!!!

Millie Anderson: When I was 8 I loved to ride unicycles, so that Christmas I got one.. Best Christmas present ever !!!

Luan Swigert: At about age 12, I received a Kodak Instamatic camera, (my very first camera) from my UncleFred and Aunt Irene!

Tami Eager: The best present, by far, that I have ever received was my dog, Harry. In 1998, on Christmas Eve day, my sister surprised me with a morning trip to the Humane Society. She had already picked him out, and at the moment I wasn't so sure about getting a dog, but over the years that I had him, he became a piece of my heart. Thank you, Becky, for the best gift ever

Pamela Beard: I had bought my mom a Winnie the Pooh figure to put by her Christmas tree because she loved Winnie the Pooh. My mom passed away and my siblings made sure I got the figure back. So every year I would put it under my tree until mice ruined it. I was so heartbroken. My daughter searched online for a long time and finally found one similar to the one I gave my mom. I woke up Christmas morning to open presents with my family and there under the tree was Winnie the Pooh. I started crying because I had no idea my daughter had did this for me. In my heart that was the best present I could ever receive because I always think of my mom and the happiness it brought to her.

Karen 'Douglas' Kraft: My best present was a bundle of switches tied with a red ribbon. LOL ... Seriously though, I asked for a guitar & my dad said all I was getting was a bundle of switches. so he went out during the wee morning hours & cut some switches then bundled them with a red ribbon. When I saw them in the tree the next morning, I excitedly hollered, "Yay!! I got my switches!!" What makes it so special; what my dad went through just to tease me but he showed me so much love too.

Hilary Curtis: My husband buys me a Christmas bear every year, the kind with the year on it's foot. They're just special to me

Phaedra Dilworth-Washington: When i was six my mom got me a doll on skates. Best ever and to this day i don't know why , i didn't ask for it but i loved it . Thanks mom you are the best.

Kim Myers: As a child I received a whole box of twinkies that I didn't have to share with my brother or sister. I put them in the refrigerator and tormented my siblings every time I ate one. Best Christmas ever!

Kim Osborn Damewood: My son...even though 10 days early! But regardless, the best present EVER!

Stephen Buck: My Christmas Story leg lamp hand built by my son Rob. He used a manikin leg from a Bergner's close out of fixtures, and other parts from the Salvation Army store and back yard sales. Took him three years to gather and build. It came in a water heater box wrapped in all white paper and with a Western Union telegram informing me of winning a major award. It goes up the front window every Christmas season.

Jeremy Karlin: My former co-workers, Jennifer Steck and Angie Taylor bought me a book about pie, called "Pie", two deep-dish pie pans and a nice tapered french rolling pin. As a result, I made alot of pie over the rest of the holiday season and I got over my anxiety about making pie crust from scratch. Grandma's slug-o-bourbon apple pie is one the first pies I ever made, and it is still a go-to recipe for me today.

Jody Tracy Mahoney: A bicycle

MaryEllen Carson: Oddly, I was in the 7th grade & was taking a classical music class at George Churchill. There were two pieces that were my favorites & Christmas morning, I got both. Still have the albums with my mom's inscription & year on each. I treasure them.

I want to thank each and every one of the readers who responded to this question. Register-Mail photographer Steve Davis told me he started reading the responses and felt his eyes tear up. No matter your religion or beliefs, this time of year is special. I'd like to think these posts are a window is to just how special.

Next week I'm asking about the best Christmas gifts you've ever given. Frankly, I can't wait to read your responses.

Tom Loewy is a reporter/columnist for The Register-Mail. Contact him at or 343-7181, ext. 256. Follow him on Twitter @TomLoewy

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's true - Mariners sign Cano for $240 million

BY Adam Lewis 09:11AM 12/06/2013

robinson cano wiki Cano is a Mariner.

Multiple outlets, including ESPN Deportes and , Friday morning reported that the Mariners signed the most important free agent of the off-season, the power-hitting second baseman formerly of the Yankees, to a 10-year, $240 million contract after a night of heated negotiations.

Cano and his representative, rapper Jay-Z, flew to Seattle late Thursday for a meeting with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and CEO Howard Lincoln. Per the CBS report, Seattle first offered Cano a 9-year deal worth $225 million before eventually upping the offer after Cano asked for 10 years and $260 million. Other reports have Cano agreeing to $240 million.

Pending a physical exam scheduled for Monday in Seattle, Cano's contract will be the third largest in MLB history.

The signing is historic for a Mariners franchise that in 2013 lost 91 games, manager Eric Wedge and hasn't made a playoff appearance since 2001.

The addition of Cano provides the lineup immediate pop and re-energizes one of the league's most disgruntled fanbases.

Cano, 31, a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, boasts career a .309 batting average, .355 on-base percentage and .860 OPS.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bad blood, cold weather highlight MLS Cup clash between K.C. and Real Salt Lake

Kei Kamara, a Sporting Kansas City striker, trotted upfield, his eyes locked on the high-flying ball headed in his direction. As it seemed to be sailing way over his head, Kamara peeked to his left. In an instant, he was lying twisted on the field, gasping for air.

This July matchup between two of Major League Soccer's top teams was less than five seconds in when Chris Wingert, a Real Salt Lake defender, plowed his shoulder into Kamara's neck, whipping the tall striker's head to the left like a rag doll as he crumpled to the field.

Vancouver Whitecaps' Camilo Sanvezzo, of Brazil, celebrates his second goal against the Chicago Fire during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday July 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS


Watch Camilo Sanvezzo's goal of the year

It was on.

Some Kansas City players saw it as a hostile act by their opponents.

"The guy just wanted to send a message to us that they wanted to break us," Aurelien Collin, a Sporting defender, said Thursday. "But nobody breaks us."

But Wingert said he was merely going for a long ball and accidentally collided with Kamara, who no longer plays for Kansas City.

"I wanted to try to get up and get into his shoulder and then find the ball before he could climb on me," Wingert said. "Unfortunately, I ended up getting a lot more of Kei than I wanted to."

Regardless of the intent, the play fuelled a perception - a flawed perception, some players on both teams say - that there is animosity between these two teams.

The country will get a closer look at the nature of the relationship on Saturday (4 p.m. Eastern, TSN) when they play for the MLS Cup title at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. Each team will be vying for its second league crown: Kansas City won it in 2000, when the team was known as the Wizards, and Salt Lake won the title in 2009.

The teams will be battling frigid weather com code, with game-time temperatures expected to be in the low 20s.

But players on both sides said they were more concerned with their opponents than with Mother Nature.

In recent days, attention has been focused on a preseason match the teams played in Arizona in 2011 that ended with a bench-clearing dust-up because of a hard tackle. Players this week said their memories of it were vague.

Jimmy Nielsen, the Kansas City goalkeeper, said that he and Salt Lake's keeper, Nick Rimando, chatted in the centre circle while a mob of players pushed one another.

"It happens all the time," Nielsen said of the altercation. "They were just pushing."

Nonetheless, the episode, coupled with the opening tackle in this season's game, which Kansas City won on a goal in stoppage time, feed into a narrative that something deeper could be brewing. The matchup got a bit more fuel in recent days when many Salt Lake fans' ticket orders were invalidated because they used a code reserved for Kansas City season-ticket holders that was leaked on the Internet.

He added, "I think whenever we line up across each other, the other team wants to establish a physical presence as quick as possible."

But Kansas City snickered at its reputation for all physical play with little finesse, and coach Peter Vermes said nobody should be surprised when things become physical.

"It's not youth soccer," he said. "It's a man's game, and men are going to play."

Although Kansas City is known as the more physical team and Salt Lake as the team that can better control possession, Wingert said it did not mean that Sporting was "going to be fouling more and we're going to be completing more passes."

"Every game takes on a life of its own," Wingert added. "We're going to do our best to impose our will on the game, and they'll be doing the same."

Monday, November 25, 2013

New And Exclusive Micro-Site Content

ePHOTOzine's Micro-Site Roundup - Find out what's been happening on our five Micro-Sites.


Here's a roundup of the exclusive content we've got for you to have a read of on our five micro-sites this week:

On PENTAXPORTAL this week, you can take a look at some top tips for photographing seals with your Pentax camera, and check out some top Pentax sunset photos. Plus, the brand new K-3 DSLR has been reviewed on site this week, and there's news of new images from Ricoh Imaging brand ambassadors.

Over On EIZO ColorZone, you can learn how to perform a monitor viewing angle check and find out why ColorNavigator software is a great tool for aiding calibration. Plus, there's news of a new 3D CG colour management handbook that's now available.

Meanwhile, on Olympus Image Space this week, there are techniques on how to use blur creatively, and there's news on Olympus workshops taking place over the coming months with Damian McGillicuddy and Steve Gosling. Plus, news on the Olympus Impressions 'Fall' competition, and £100 accessory cashback when you buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera have also gone live.

On Totally Tamron this week, you can learn some top tips for taking better photos of ice with your Tamron lens, plus there are some top Tamron portrait photos for you to take a look at. Don't forget to take a look at David Pritchard's blog the days zoom past, too, as he's been out-and-about with his newly acquired Tamron 24-70mm lens.

Last but not least, on Nikon Nation this week, you can check out some ideas and tips for on location portrait shoots, get creative with colour balance and lots more. Plus, don't miss the Nikon D5300 Cheap DSLR review and news of ono-to one training with Nikon School in December.

Make sure you check back to the Micro-Sites regularly, as new and exclusive content is posted weekly!

Source: Ephotozine

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New And Exclusive Micro-Site Content

ePHOTOzine's Micro-Site Roundup - Find out what's been happening on our five Micro-Sites.


Here's a roundup of the exclusive content we've got for you to have a read of on our five micro-sites this week:

On PENTAXPORTAL this week, you can take a look at some top tips for photographing seals with your Pentax camera, and check out some top Pentax sunset photos. Plus, the brand new K-3 DSLR has been reviewed on site this week, and there's news of new images from Ricoh Imaging brand ambassadors.

Over On EIZO ColorZone, you can learn how to perform a monitor viewing angle check and find out why ColorNavigator software is a great tool for aiding calibration. Plus, there's news of a new 3D CG colour management handbook that's now available.

Meanwhile, on Olympus Image Space this week, there are techniques on how to use blur creatively, and there's news on Olympus workshops taking place over the coming months with Damian McGillicuddy and Steve Gosling. Plus, news on the Olympus Impressions 'Fall' competition, and £100 accessory cashback when you buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera have also gone live.

On Totally Tamron this week, you can learn some top tips for taking better photos of ice with your Tamron lens, plus there are some top Tamron portrait photos for you to take a look at. Don't forget to take a look at David Pritchard's blog the days zoom past, too, as he's been out-and-about with his newly acquired Tamron 24-70mm lens.

Last but not least, on Nikon Nation this week, you can check out some ideas and tips for on location portrait shoots, get creative with colour balance and lots more. Plus, don't miss the Nikon D5300 Black Friday Deal DSLR review and news of ono-to one training with Nikon School in December.

Make sure you check back to the Micro-Sites regularly, as new and exclusive content is posted weekly!

Source: Ephotozine

Nikon D5300 Review

<Nikon D5300 Buy Cheapp>


The Nikon D5300 is a new 24.2 megapixel DSLR camera with no optical low-pass filter that can record Full HD movies at 1080/50/60p with stereo sound and comes equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. A high-resolution 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD monitor makes it easier to compose your shots from difficult angles, while the extensive ISO range of 100-25600 should cope with virtually all lighting conditions. A 5fps burst shooting mode, EXPEED 4 image processor, 39-point autofocus system with nine cross-type sensors, 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor, High Dynamic Range mode, Active D-Lighting, and nine different special effects for stills and movies complete the Nikon D5300's headline specs. Available in three colours, black, grey and red, the Nikon D5300 costs £729.99 / $799.95 / €899 body only, or £829.99 / €1029 with the 18-55mm VR kit lens, and $1,399.95 with the AF-S NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

Ease of Use

The Nikon D5300 replaces the year-old D5200 as the new mid-range model in Nikon's extensive DSLR line-up, slotting in between the existing D3200 and D7000 models, not only in terms of feature set and functionality, but also in terms of size and weight. It isn't quite as compact and lightweight as the D3200, but neither is it as bulky and heavy as the D7000. In comparison to its predecessor, the D5300 is slightly smaller and lighter than the D5200. The right-hand grip is deep and therefore quite comfortable for photographers with large hands and/or longish fingers, and there's also a handy rubberised thumb rest on the back of the body.

The D5100's 24.1 megapixel CMOS sensor has been superseded by a 24.2 megapixel sensor with no optical low-pass filter, which promises to deliver slightly finer details. The sensor can clean itself by way of high-frequency vibrations that will, at least in theory, shake off any non-adhesive dust particles that may have settled on the low-pass filter during a lens change. You can specify, via an option in the Setup menu, whether you want sensor cleaning to take place at shutdown, startup, both or neither, with the default being 'both'. The cleaning process pleasingly has no practical impact on startup times, which were near instant. The new image sensor is complemented by the more powerful EXPEED 4 processing engine and a larger buffer as well.

The D5300 is the first Nikon DSLR to offer both built-in wi-fi and GPS connectivity, instead of relying on optional accessories like all previous models. The wi-fi function essentially pairs the D5300 with an iOS or Android smartphone or other smart device, and allows you to eidt and share images directly to social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. It also makes it possible to control the D5300 remotely via a smart device using the free Wireless Mobile Utility app, and set the focus point using the smart device's touchscreen. The built-in GPS/A-GPS receiver logs location information such as latitude, longitude, and altitude in the image's EXIF data, even when the camera is turned off, allowing you to retrace your steps even when you're not taking photos.

The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR kit lens that Nikon supplied feels fairly well-balanced on the Nikon D5300 and it fits into place with a reassuring mechanical click. It also adds the very important advantage of Vibration Reduction. Nikon bodies don't offer any form of in-camera image stabilisation, unlike similar models from Sony, Pentax and Olympus, so the affordable 18-55mm VR lens is a good starting point if you don't already have any Nikon lenses.

The shutter release action on the Nikon D5300 is surprisingly quiet, with a dampened mirror slap that makes this DSLR actually quieter than some rangefinder cameras. Furthermore, there is a Quiet Shutter Release mode, in which the mirror is raised fairly slowly to further reduce the sound it makes. This does, however, introduce some shutter lag, which usually isn't worth the few decibels of difference versus what is already an impressively quiet shutter.


The Nikon D5300 follows conventional DSLR design in having a shooting mode dial on the top of the camera, which allows you to select either one of the advanced modes like Manual, Aperture- or Shutter-priority, or a number of scene modes. The Exposure Compensation button is thoughtfully positioned next to the shutter release. Hold down this button with your right forefinger and spin the control wheel on the top-rear of the camera with your thumb to adjust its settings - simple and intuitive.

The Effects shooting mode, first introduced on the D5100, now provides 9 different filters that can be applied to both still images and movies. The Night Vision effect is particularly worth of mention, pushing the camera's sensitivity to a whopping ISO 102,400, although a monochrome rather than colour image is recorded. For stills, you can enter Live View mode to preview the effect or simply use the optical viewfinder. For movies, the recording is slowed down (dependent upon the chosen effect) as the camera uses a lot of processing power to apply the effect, leading to footage that can have a rather staccato feel. Note also that the camera sets virtually everything in the Effects mode - exposure, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, file type and quality - so its only creative in terms of the arty effect that's applied. Several of the same effects can be applied to an image or movie that you've taken, though, so you can have the best of both worlds (albeit without the luxury of a preview).

The second button sitting next to the shutter release is labeled 'info'. This button is arguably at the heart of the Nikon D5300's ease-of-use, as like its predecessor the camera lacks the monochromatic status LCD of the older D90, so Nikon had to provide a different way to check vital shooting information without having to look into the viewfinder. Enter the info button - pressing it displays virtually all of the camera's main settings on the large rear screen. Pressing the "i" button on the rear of the D5300 then allows you to interact with and set the onscreen options, with 14 available in total.

The rear articulated LCD screen is hinged at the side rather than the bottom. This fully articulated design is a much more flexible solution, allowing the screen to be folded out from the left side of the camera and folded inwards to protect it when not in use. The screen is slightly bigger than the D5200 at 3.2 inches and higher resolution too, with 1,037k dots, so there's nothing to complain about in this department. The screen also has an anti-glare coating, so that it's usable most of the time outdoors in strong daylight, although it still struggled a little with reflections.

The D5300's Live View is accessed in a different and arguably less intuitive way than on the D3200/D7100. Instead of a combined switch / button on the D3200/D7000, the D5300 has a fore-finger operated spring-loaded switch on top of the body that is pushed downwards and toggles between turning Live View on and off. Positioned next to the Shooting Mode dial, it allows you to enable Live View whilst holding the camera at arms length with one hand, or to turn it off as you hold the camera up to your eye. We'd prefer it to be on the rear of the camera and also to incorporate the Movie record button, in keeping with the D3200/D7100 models.

Press the Lv switch and the mirror flips up, the shutter opens and the rear screen displays the scene as seen through the lens. There is a red rectangle in the middle, which you can move practically anywhere in the frame. When in manual focus (MF) mode, you can magnify into this rectangle in a number of steps by repeatedly pressing the button marked with a loupe icon, but this magnification seems to be at least partially interpolated. This means that you cannot see detail down to the pixel level, unlike some competing cameras.

Fortunately, MF is not the only focusing option in Live View, at least as long as you are taking stills. Single-servo AF (AF-S) and Full-time-servo AF (AF-F) modes are also available and, while slow, they tend to be accurate. Both modes can also be used in connection with face detection. 'Face-priority AF' had no problem finding and keeping track of human faces as long as they were facing the camera, but acquiring focus was another story - very, very slow.

Live View must also be entered to shoot movies. After pressing the Lv button and optionally presetting the aperture and focus, you can start recording video by pressing the dedicated Movie Record button on top of the camera next to the shutter release. The camera records full high-definition, wide-screen video in 1920x1080 pixel resolution, at a frame rate of 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, in AVI format using the motion JPEG codec. As with Live View, contrast-detect AF is possible whilst shooting movies, although as with still images there's an audible whine as the camera refocuses and it's still too slow to focus on any fast-moving subject, so much so that we suspect most serious users will use manual focusing instead. Although the D5300 can automatically focus during video recording, it's just not fast enough to warrant regular use.

You can set both the aperture and the shutter speed during movie recording, although the slowest shutter speed is limited to 1/30th second, plus exposure compensation and AE-Lock can also be set. Out of the box the D5300 can record stereo sound via its built-in microphone with three different levels of sensitivity on offer, and improved sound can also be recorded using an optional external microphone. The maximum size of a single video clip is 2 gigabytes which, given that movies occupy about 100 megabytes of storage space per minute, would theoretically translate into about 20 minutes of continuous recording.

The D5300 has a proper through-the-lens optical viewfinder with a slightly improved magnification of 0.82x, on par with most of its rivals. The Nikon D5300's 39 auto-focus points are permanently marked on the focusing screen, whereas the compositional grid lines can be called up via a menu option. Two warning signs - telling you that the battery is running low or you have forgotten to insert a memory card - may also appear in the form of overlaid icons when appropriate. Below the finder is a traditional monochromatic status bar showing practically all relevant shooting information (including the ISO sensitivity, if so specified in the menu).

As stated above, the Nikon D5300 has 39 auto-focus sensors, out of which 9 are cross type. The other thirty are of the line variety, consequently being only sensitive to either vertical or horizontal detail, but not both. In practice, this did not turn out to be a real problem, with the camera typically locking focus on the subject quickly and easily, no matter which AF point was selected. In the viewfinder, the active AF point appears in red, which is easy to see. Selecting the active AF point is done by way of the four-way pad - except if you choose Auto Area AF - again a simple and intuitive solution. In low light, the AF sensors are helped by an AF assist lamp located on the front plate of the camera.

The 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor used by the D5300 is again identical to the system used by the more expensive D7100 model. This provides precise data to the camera's Scene Recognition System, which optimises exposure, autofocus and white balance immediately before the shutter is released.

Memory Card SlotBattery Compartment

The Nikon D5300 only has one control wheel and there are no dedicated buttons for controlling ISO sensitivity, white balance, metering or AF mode. The Fn button can be reprogrammed to perform ISO selection or white balance adjustment (or one of a few other functions such as file quality specification), but the others still have to be set through the main info screen, called up by pressing the [ i ] button top-right of the rear display. With practice, performing adjustments via this screen becomes fairly quick and easy, but it's not as efficient as the older D90's dedicated controls.

Most of the camera's rear controls are scattered, seemingly almost randomly, to the right of the D5300's large folding screen. While we can understand the need to locate them to accomodate the 3 inch LCD, the positioning of the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons in particular isn't very intuitive, being operated with your right-hand thumb, and right next to the Delete button. As the D5300 isn't a very complex camera in terms of the number of external controls, it thankfully doesn't get too confusing, but is something to consider from an ergonomic point of view.

For the images that you've already already captured, the Nikon D5300 offers a broad range of retouching tools, including post-capture D-lighting (useful if you forgot to turn on Active D-lighting before capture), red-eye correction, trimming, monochrome conversion, different filter effects, colour adjustments, image resizing, image overlay, in-camera raw processing, quick auto retouching, straightening of crooked pictures, lens distortion correction, fisheye, colour outline, colour sketch, selective colour, miniature effect, and perspective control. Many of these functions make it unnecessary to buy specialised computer programs or plug-ins and spend hours in front of a computer to achieve a desired/popular effect.

The Nikon D5300 is powered by a proprietary EN-EL14a Lithium-ion battery, good for 600 shots, and records videos and image files on SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. As we noted in our D5200 review, we would really have liked to see Nikon add a second card slot for Compact Flash cards, so that owners of higher-specified Nikon DSLRs who buy a D5300 as a second body can use their existing memory cards. It also lacks the dual-SD slots of the D7100. As far as connectivity goes, there are USB/VideoOut and Mini HDMI ports as well as an accessory terminal for the connection of a wired remote or a GPS unit, all sheltered behind a door on the left side of the camera, when viewed from the back.

That concludes our look at the D5300's interface and feature-set. Now let's take a look at the D5300's image quality...

Entry Tags

Source: Photographyblog

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nikon D5300 DSLR Unveiled, 24.2MP Successor to the D5200

Posted on 18. Oct, 2013 by Steve in Digital Cameras

Nikon D5300 Coupons-with-18-140mm-Nikkor-lens.jpg">Nikon has unveiled the successor to the popular Nikon D5200 digital SLR, which the company launched almost one year ago, the new model is named Nikon D5300. The new Nikon D5300 will start to ship early next month with a retail price that is just under $800 for the camera body. The D5300 and the D5200 both share a similar body design, but there are minor differences or improvements that the D5300 has to offer buyers.

The improvements list is short and consists of features that enhance the photographic abilities of the camera and a feature that brings the camera up-to-date with a new digital camera market trend.

Improvements that will help the overall performance of the new Nikon D5300 over the now-old D5200 include a newly designed and higher resolution CMOS image sensor along with a brand new image processor.

Between the Nikon D5200 and the new Nikon D5300, the 24.2 megapixel D5300 has just 0.1 megapixels more resolution than the 24.1 megapixel D5200, however the D5300′s sensor has no built-in OLPF (optical low pass filter) and Nikon say's that will help with image clarity, both the old D5200 and new D5300 use similarly sized DX-format CMOS image sensors.

Nikon D5300 digital SLR gallery:

The new image processor that you will be getting with the upcoming Nikon D5300 is Nikon's newly developed EXPEED 4 image processor. According to Nikon, the new EXPEED 4 offers fast performance while 'maximizing energy efficiency, reducing image noise and delivering true-to-life colors'. The D5200 digital SLR features the EXPEED 3 image processing engine.

After the new image sensor and processor the only other major new feature included with the new Nikon D5300 digital SLR is Wi-Fi. The camera will be shipped with Wi-Fi capabilities built-in that don't need any external accessories like the Nikon WU-1a. The built-in Wi-Fi will let you pair your D5300 to your mobile devices iOS or Android after you install the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility free app. Also the Wi-Fi working with the cameras built-in GPS can geo-tag files all without external accessories.

However, with the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app you will be able to complete functions like remote shooting where you can use your mobile device as a live view enabled wireless remote for snapping photos, wireless transferring of photo and video files, manual file upload for sending files to your mobile device even when you're not paired to the device (the image just downloads later when you are paired).

After you consider all of those differences the Nikon D5300 isn't really a radically new camera compared to the out-going Nikon D5200. However nobody should have expected a totally different camera given the very short gap between the two cameras launches, the D5200 was launched November of last year.

Some big similarities include Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps, continuous Shooting up to 5 fps, expandable ISO from 100-25600, 39-Point auto-focusing system, active D-Lighting and built-in HDR, Nikon F mount support, and an at eye-level pentamirror optical viewfinder.

From an exterior design perspective you can really see the lack of a re-design in the D5300 compared to the D5200. The only difference in looks is the vari-angle LCD is now 3.2-inches with the D5300 instead of 3.1-inches. Even with the color options the new Nikon D5300 is much like the D5200, the new camera will be offered in Black, Red or Grey colors.

Camera seller B&H Photo Video is offering pre-orders for the Nikon D5300 body at $796.95 (same price for each color) and they are offering a body+14-140mm telephoto zoom lens kit (pictured first above) for $1,396.95. With this particular retailer you can expect your pre-ordered D5300 camera to ship on November 14, 2013 according to notice put on each listing.

Tags: 1080p, 3.2-inch Vari-Angle LCD, 720p hd, active D-Lighting, auto-focus system, cmos sensor, digital camera, dslr, DX-format DSLR, full hd, FullHD, gps, hd, hdmi, hdr, image stabilization system, interchangeable lens, memory card, Nikon, Nikon D5300, Nikon dslr, Nikon Expeed 4, Nikon F mount, Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility, optical low pass filter, optical viewfinder, pentamirror optical viewfinder, sd memory card, sdhc memory card, sdxc memory card, tilt LCD, Video, wi-fi

Source: Digital-cameras-planet

Monday, October 21, 2013

If It's Over 70 Degrees Where You Live, You Should Have This On Your Front Porch

<cat stencil facep>When you're in New England -- or any place that boasts picturesque apple orchards, vibrant changing leaves and chunky cable knit sweaters -- carving pumpkins is an annual ritual. Colonial houses look bare if not adorned with a few jack-o-lanterns and children suddenly crave over-salted, sometimes burnt pumpkin seeds.

When you live in a warm or even tropical climate, however, the yearning for pumpkins in October fades. Somehow, they feel out of place next to flip-flops and sand on the porch. Their orange roundness clashes with perpetually bronzed bodies, and children come back from the beach craving something juicy and refreshing.

Enter the pineapple jack-o-lantern to save the autumnal day. A tradition in Hawaii, the pineapple jack-o-lantern should be adopted anywhere that enjoys 70 or 80 degree weather in October. Besides being easy to make and delicious to eat, the pineapple's knotty rind makes for a spookier jack-o-lantern face while the spiky crown lends itself to either a mean mohawk or a goofy quiff.

No more pretending we're in New England when Halloween rolls around. Embrace the warm weather and carve your pineapple jack-o-lanterns under the sun.

Also on HuffPost:

Source: Huffingtonpost

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hagley Among Top Americans at Chicago Marathon

Chicago - Lebanon's Laura Hagley went for a long run on Sunday, and she did it a long way from home.

The 29-year-old finished high up among the best female runners at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with a time that left her among the top 300 runners in the event. Hagley completed the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 47 minutes, 15 seconds, a timme good enough for 10th place in the women's 25-29 age group as well as 24th out of all women in the race. Hagley also claimed 15th place among all American women in the marathon as well as the best time among 60 New Hampshire residents who completed the course.

Other Upper Valley runners competing at Chicago included:

∎ Michael Smyth, 36, Orford, 4:01:58 (12,435th overall).

∎ Navajeevan Bokinala, 39, Lebanon, 4:23:28 (18,272nd).

∎ Amy Huyffer, 43, Strafford, 4:53:52 (26,360th).

∎ Mary Duryea, 28, Hanover, 5:04:04 (28,718th).

A total of 38,871 runners completed the marathon, which began and ended in Chicago's Grant Park.

Barton, Griffin
Win Foliage Five

Thetford - Competitors from the Upper Valley Running Club claimed victories in the Foliage Five-Miler road race on Saturday at the Union Village Dam Recreation Area.

White River Junction's Mike Barton, 40, claimed the overall win, clocking a time of 28 minutes, 17.99 seconds. Former Hanover High runner Georgia Griffin, of Norwich, took the women's title, finishing third overall in 31:27.50.

Norwich's David Cahill took second place in the field of 55 runners, finishing in 31:13.00. Bjorn Blakeson, of West Dummerston, Vt. (32:00.50), and Grantham's Thomas Gessner (33:02.00) rounded out the top five overall.

Canaan Race Upcoming

Canaan - Mascoma Valley Parks and Recreation will get in the spirit of the halloween activities in chicago season by hosting the Jack-o-Lantern 5K and Kids Trick or Trot 1K fun run on Oct. 26.

The run begins and ends at the Canaan Hall parking lot, with 5K runners heading up Orange Road and turning around at Tuttle Hill Road. There will be two water stops along the way and refreshements at the finish line. The cost for the run is $15 through Oct. 21 and $20 the day of the race. Walkers of a 3K route are invited to join as well, at $12 in advance and $15 on race day. The kids' fun run is $7 in advance and $10 on race day.

The runners kick off the day at 10 a.m., with the fun run to follow at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Kati Laqry Jopek at or call 603-523-4501, ext. 111.

On Target

EOC Hosting Match

Enfield - The Enfield Outing Club will host some friendly autumn competition with its first Harvest Match, an NRA-sanctioned target shooting competition, on Oct. 26.

Shooters of all ages are welcome to participate. The match will involve competition with .22-caliber rifles from three target-shooting positions. The cost to particiapte is $10 per person.

For more information, contact the EOC's Scott Thompson at 603-632-1005 or visit

On the Pitch

Sullivan FC Charity Match

Claremont - The Sullivan Football Club U10 girls soccer team will hold a fundraiser for the Susan B. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation on Saturday at River Valley Community College.

SFC will host a squad from Hanover's Lightning Soccer Club in the charity match, wearing pink to raise awareness for the cause of fighting breast cancer. In addition to the 10:30 a.m. match, the club will sell refreshments and hold an on-site raffle of prizes. All proceeds from the day will go to the Komen foundation as part of the SFC girls' community service project.

For more information, contact Gene Grumman at 603-742-6990.

On the Slopes

Northeast Slopes Cleanup

East Corinth - The Northeast Slopes ski area will hold a work day on Saturday to get ready for the coming skiing season.

Volunteers are sought for a number of tasks; experience is not necessary. Work will go from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with lunch provided by the ski area. Volunteers are welcome to take part for the whole day or just an hour or two, but are advised to bring work gloves and any necessary gear. A second workday is also on the schedule for Oct. 26, also from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., also with lunch provided.

For more information, contact Genevieve Faherty at 802-439-6233 or visit

On the Ice

HHA Hockey Introductions

West Lebanon - The Hanover Hockey Association is offering a pair of programs for children ages 4-8 interested in getting started in the sport of ice hockey.

The HHA will hold a series of free clinics this weekend for first-timers. The clinics will be on Friday from 5:10-6:10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30-11:20 a.m. Parents needing equipment can acquire some at Stateline Sports and, once the clinic is done, may return it for a charge of $55 or keep it and register for the coming season at a cost of $220-$250.

Beyond that, the HHA starts its first learn-to-play-hockey session for youths ages 4-8 with little or no prior hockey experience on Oct. 26. The classes will be held every Saturday from 8:10-9:10 a.m. through February, a total of approximately a dozen skates over 6-7 weeks. The cost of the program is $125. Hanover's Mite program, the follow-up to learn-to-play, also begins on Oct. 26 and is open to youths ages 6-8 who have completed at least three learn-to-play sessions.

For more information, visit or contact

On the Diamond

Dartmouth Softball
Clinic Saturday

Hanover - The Dartmouth College softball program will hold its first community clinic for girls in grades 2-8 on Oct. 19 as part of its annual Green-White game.

All activities will be held at the Dartmouth Softball Park, with the one-hour skill development clinic and autograph session to follow the 10 a.m. game. There is no charge for the clinic or game.

For more information or to register, contact Lindsay Vanover at

On the Court

IAABO Referee Classes

White River Junction - Vermont Board 105 of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials will hold a series of classes for aspiring referees beginning Oct. 28 at Hartford High School.

The classes will run on Monday and Thursday nights for four weeks, meeting 6:30-9 p.m. on each occasion. There is a cost to attend the seminars.

For more information, contact Dan Pause at 802-683-9315 or

On the Run

Run for Pie

Grantham - Why focus on the meal? Eastman Recreation will eat dessert first by holding the Run for Pie 5K road race on Nov. 9.

The five-kilometer course will be along Eastman's paved and dirt roads, while an associated two-mile walk will be held on a wooded trail along the west side of Eastman Pond. True to the race's name, homemade pies will go to winners of the race.

Advance registration is available at at a cost of $15 for individuals and $32 for families. Race day registration starts at 9:30 a.m. at a cost of $18 for individuals and $38 for families. Race time is 11 a.m. Call 603-863-6772 or email for more information.

On the Trails

Baker's Crossing Walk

Lebanon - The Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department will lead a easy and scenic quarter-mile walk in the Baker's Crossing Conservation Area on Nov. 17.

The walk will cover a route along the Mascoma River and floodplain meadow, starting at 1 p.m. While scheduled for an hour, anyone interested in extending the walk along the Northern Rail Trail for up to two more hours will be accommodated.

Participants are asked to meet at the Baker's Crossing parking area, on Hardy Hill Road just east of the Packard Hill Covered Bridge, to join the walk, which is free of charge.

Fall Friday Hikes

Lebanon - The Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department has scheduled a series of Friday fall hikes for folks of all ages.

Each trip begins at Lebanon City Hall at 9 a.m. with transportation to that day's trailhead, with a planned noon return. The schedule:

∎ Oct. 18: APD Nature Trails, Lebanon (easy/moderate).

∎ Oct. 25: Two Rivers Conservation Area, West Lebanon (easy).

Participants are asked to bring snacks, water, a backpack (if necessary), properly layered clothing and hiking boots or sturdy sneakers. Each hike is free, but pre-registration is required. Call 603-448-5121 for more information.

Wednesday Walkers Back

White River Junction - The Hartford Parks and Recreation Department is hitting the Upper Valley's prime hiking spots again this fall with the resumption of its Wednesday Walkers program.

Meeting every two weeks, trip leader Jay McDonough will guide walkers on two-hour hikes at various locales. Hikers meet at 9 a.m. at the Hartford Municipal Building for transport to the hike site, returning by noon. The schedule:

∎ Oct. 23: Cole Pond Trail, Enfield.

∎ Nov. 6: Velvet Rocks, Hanover.

Hikers are recommended to bring boots, appropriate clothing, water and a snack. For more information on this series of free hikes, call Hartford Parks and Rec at 802-295-5036.

With Paddles

Benefit Ping Pong Event

Lebanon - The Lebanon Assembly of God will host a fundraising ping pong tournament on Oct. 26 for the benefit of the Pregnancy Center of the Upper Valley.

The event will be held at the church, located at 45 Buckingham Place in Lebanon, starting at noon. Prizes will be available, including trophies for the tournament winners. Potential participants are asked to register online via the ping pong link at by Oct. 17. The registration fee is $25 for the tournament along with a $5 hot dog lunch.

For more information, contact Joel McPherson at 603-448-3333 or

Source: Vnews

Monday, October 14, 2013

OtterBox Commuter Series Wallet: To protect and to serve

OtterBox has been making protective 5s iphone cases otterbox commuter magnet since 1998, making the company the great-granddaddy of the entire huge smartphone/tablet case market. The company announced a new member of the family yesterday, introducing the Commuter Series Wallet (US$44.95) for the iPhone 5/5s.

We've been seeing a lot of different wallet cases lately, many of which are more wallet (think leather) than protective case. OtterBox has taken the protection of the Commuter Series cases and merged it with a slide-out drawer-like back that can hold up to three credit or ID cards and one folded bill.

Like the other members of the Commuter Series, the Wallet wraps your iPhone 5 or 5s in rubbery silicone that is then surrounded by a tough polycarbonate shell. The screen is covered with a stick-on screen protector (it leaves space for the Touch ID-enabled home button of the iPhone 5s), so your preciousss is going to be in good hands while living in the Commuter Series Wallet.

There's a silicone door that covers the Lightning port, another one that covers the headphone jack, and soft buttons that cover the volume toggle and power switch. Installing the case is a piece of cake, although it takes some muscle to take it back off.

Once the case is on your iPhone 5, you can rest assured that whatever you put into the wallet "drawer" is going to stay put. It makes an audible "click" when shut, and requires a bit of pressure to open. I can verify that two credit cards and a driver's license fit into the case snugly, but I had no cash with which to check out the "one folded bill" claim...

If there's one negative I can find with the Commuter Series Wallet, it's that it's somewhat difficult to get cards out -- a small ramp on the bottom edge of the drawer would have made it a bit easier to slide cards out. As it is, you have to kind of pick them out with your fingers.

The Commuter Series Wallet is available now from OtterBox in black and glacier (white hard shell with gray silicone), and will soon be available in primrose (pinkish hard shell with light gray silicone). The case weighs just 2.0 ounces (56.7 grams), not bad considering the level of protection it provides. Unsurprisingly, it's a little thick at .71 inches (1.8 cm), but when you consider that the case can eliminate the need to carry a separate wallet, that's not a real issue.

Check out the video below for a demonstration of the Commuter Series Wallet Case, and then read on for a chance to win one of these cases.


With the Commuter Series Wallet for iPhone 5/5s, OtterBox has entered the case wallet market with a bang. The case provides the excellent drop protection that the company's line is known for, and provides a convenient and secure way to carry an ID card and some credit cards.


  • Reasonably priced for a high-quality protective product
  • Very lightweight
  • Positive feedback on the drawer mechanism insures that your cards remain safely stowed
  • Excellent build quality

    It would be nice if the cards could just slide out with pressure from a thumb; as it is, they must be picked out of the drawer one by one.
Who is it for?

    The iPhone 5/5s owner who is looking both for the protection of one of OtterBox's Commuter Series cases and the convenience of not having to carry a separate wallet


Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before October 8, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive an OtterBox Commuter Series Wallet valued at $44.95
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

Source: Tuaw

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

OtterBox Commuter Series Wallet Case Protects Your iPhone

If you're anything like me, you always have your smartphone with you. I always have a fear of losing something in my pocket, especially my car keys, so it drives me crazy to have a lot of things stuffed inside the pockets of my jeans. If you like to go a bit more minimalist and don't want to have to carry your smartphone and your wallet, OtterBox has a new case that you might appreciate.

The case is called the Commuter Series Wallet and is available for the iPhone 5/5S and the Samsung Galaxy S4. This certainly isn't the first case on the market to offer wallet capability, but it does look like OtterBox's offering will hold more than a lot of other 5s iphone cases otterbox commuter jet on the market. OtterBox is also well-known for making cases that actually protects your phone in the event of a drop.

Rather than having slots, this smartphone case has a sliding drawer on the back that appears to be approximately a quarter of an inch deep. You can cram credit cards, driver's license, and cash inside the wallet drawer and have them with you at all times. The only downside I see is that the case is rather thick and might not fit in your pocket if you're the sort who wears skinny jeans.

The Commuter Series Wallet is available now from OtterBox for $44.95(USD).

Source: Technabob

Sunday, October 6, 2013

10 Best iPhone 5s Slo-Mo Videos

The iPhone 5s iphone cases that charge comes with a unique camera mode that no other iPhone model has - not even the iPhone 5. Users are able to shoot video at 120 frames per second to allow for slow motion playback. This essentially means that videos play back four times slower than normal speed, since most video is shot at 30 frames per second (30 x 4 = 120 frames per second).

If you're not familiar with how slow-motion video works, the camera essentially captures 120 frames every second (compared to 30 frames per second with regular cameras). Then, it plays that video back at 30 frames per second, which results in a slow-motion effect. The higher number of frames that can be captured per second, the slower the video plays back.

Needless to say, the iPhone 5s's "Slo-Mo" feature is pretty cool, and users have already made a ton of nifty and funny videos showing off the capabilities of the phone's camera. Here are a few of them that we particularly enjoyed.

This first one might be a little odd, but it shows how much detail the iPhone 5s's camera can capture. We've seen highly-detailed photos of the eye's iris, but it's impressive to see it detailed using a smartphone's camera - nonetheless getting a slo-mo view of the pupil dilating.

This next one is probably the weirdest slo-mo video you'll see, and it might be a little gross for some, but it shows the uvula in the throat moving around in slow motion. Enjoy.

We've seen plenty of iPhone drop tests, but this is the first iPhone drop test to be recorded in slow motion using another iPhone. It's not as slow as we would like a drop test to be, but it still shows interesting angles of an iPhone 5c drop test.

This one is more of the artistic slo-mo videos shot with the iPhone 5s. Of course, we wouldn't be surprised if we saw more and more artistic slo-mo videos shot with the iPhone 5s, but here's one to whet your appetites.

One of the interesting things about slo-mo video is that it also slows down the audio, which lowers the pitch, making regular dialogue sound like slow-talking ogres. For this little yorkie puppy, he sounds like a full-grown lion when his bark is slowed down.

This video is a quick slo-mo demonstration of a BMXer showing off his street freestyle skills.

It wouldn't be slow motion video without the explosions. This is one of the more impressive explosions that we've seen recorded with the iPhone 5s.

This iPhone drop test is a bit different; instead of recording another iPhone being dropped, the iPhone 5s recording the slo-mo video is the one being dropped, and the result is quite impressive, but it might give you vertigo, so be warned.

This video consists of a montage of slo-mo footage recorded with the iPhone 5s, from large groups of people shopping in the mall, to folks playing basketball.

As the last iPhone 5s slo-mo video on the list, I'm including an obligatory slo-mo video that I recorded of my nephew sneezing and coughing in slow motion (don't worry; he's not sick here). It's definitely entertaining to watch.

Source: Gottabemobile

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hydroflex Launches High-Tech Composite Skateboards


iReach/ Surfboard manufacturer Hydroflex Technology LLC is launching today a high-end skateboard line through in order to raise the capital needed to set up for production and bring the product to consumers.

The skateboards are built like surfboards, using only foam, fiberglass and resin. The boards are light, strong and waterproof, due to their patented 3D-Glassing TM Technology. The deck is made of a signature honeycomb core enhanced with radiating colors, evoking an eye candy effect.

The decks patented 3D bonding structure is based on biomimetic principles and connects both sides of the deck. This ensures the boards are responsive and durable.

"We started using excess materials from surfboard production to build cruiser skateboards that we could use to skate around the factory, get lunch and check the surf", founder Rouven Brauers explains. After a number of friends and business partners took notice and wanted a board for themselves, the Hydroflex team started to look at the idea more in depth to further build prototypes and to develop the product.

"We wanted to go beyond existing limits of deck construction and bring something totally new to market" Hydroflex CEO Rich Ciesco explains. "A board with a fresh look and outstanding riding characteristics."

After thoroughly testing the boards, Hydroflex will now launch on kickstarter with three models: A micro cruiser, mini cruiser and a longboard. The mini cruiser will also be offered in a co-branded edition with Lost Surfboards. All boards will be available in a wide variety of colors. Project backers can also choose the ultimate design edition that enables them to design and shape their own skateboard.

Source: Broadwayworld

Research and Markets: European Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings Report 2013

<codesp>Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the"Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings (European)" report to their offering.

This report includes a wealth of information on the financial trends over the past four years. This, the latest plumbing fixtures & fittings analysis, is ideal for anyone wanting to:

  • See the market leaders
  • Identify companies heading for failure
  • Seek out the most attractive acquisition
  • Analyse industry trends
  • Benchmark their own financial performance

Using exclusive methodology, a quick glance of this report will tell you that 25 companies have a declining financial rating, while 7 have shown good sales growth.

Each of the largest 100 companies is meticulously scrutinised in a one-page individual assessment and is analysed using the most up-to-date and current financial data.

Every business is examined on the following features:

  • A graphical assessment of a company's financial performance
  • An independent financial valuation
  • Four year assessment of the profit/loss and balance sheet
  • A written summary highlighting key performance issues

Subsequently, you will receive a thorough market analysis highlighting the latest changes in the market.

This section includes:

  • Best Trading Partners
  • Sales Growth Analysis
  • Profit Analysis
  • Market Size
  • Rankings

Key Topics Covered:

The report is split into two sections and uses both a written and graphical analysis - analysing the 100 largest plumbing fixtures & fittings companies.

It also contains the most-up-to-date financial data and applies these figures to create their unique and authoritative analysis.

The next section focuses on company analysis and provides an in-depth analysis of the largest companies within the industry.

Each business is analysed using an unequivocal model which uses a series of charts to graphically analyse an individual company and measure its ability to achieve sales growth while maintaining financial strength.

Therefore, this company analysis will tell you if a company is:

  • Strong or heading for failure
  • Utilising their investments
  • Becoming burdened by debt
  • Getting the most from their resources

The analysis also provides you with full business name and address, name and ages of directors and registration address.

For more information visit

Research and Markets
Laura Wood, Senior Manager.
U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907
Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716
Sector: Construction

Source: 4-traders

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

iPad 5 fingerprint sensor now very likely: Front panel fits iPhone 5S home button 'perfectly'

It's looking more and more likely that Apple's coming iPad 5 will will indeed have a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, just like the iPhone 5s iphone iphone 5s cases otterbox personalize.

Looking at all the unreleased iPad components he's been able to amass Unbox Therapy 's Lewis Hilsenteger had an idea. While it involved performing gadget surgery on his own iPhone 5S, it just may have been worth it.

Because, as you can see, the iPhone 5S' fingerprint sensor fits the home button opening on the iPad 5′s front panel perfectly:

As Hilsenteger himself says, of course, nothing is confirmed until Apple actually ships hardware. But this seems too perfect to be accidental. The old iPhone 5 home button doesn't fit the new iPad front panel, and the newest home button from the iPhone 5S fits exactly.

"It almost looks like it was designed to go in there," Hilsenteger says.

Adding Touch ID to a tablet will be something that business users will greatly appreciate. Apple has a new focus on enterprise this year, and the iPad is leading the charge there. Touch ID will be extremely helpful to businesses that want to keep corporate secrets secret, without forcing users to change their passcodes every couple of week.

"iPads are 88 percent of all tablet activations in enterprise," Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in July.

Apple's iPad 5S will likely be launched this month in preparation for the Christmas shopping season. The device looks to be lighter and smaller than the existing iPad 4, while retaining the same large screen size. In addition, it will almost certainly have the iPhone 5S's outstanding new 64-bit A7 chip, with the new M7 graphics processor.

VentureBeat is creating an index of the most exciting cloud-based services for developers. Take a look at our initial suggestions and complete the survey to help us build a definitive index. We'll publish the official index later this month, and for those who fill out surveys, we'll send you an expanded report free of charge. Speak with the analyst who put this survey together to get more in-depth information, inquire within.

Source: VentureBeat

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 26, 2013: Barneys and Jay Z Announce Holiday Partnership, Japan Creates Inflatable Concert Hall, Iconic Comedy Festival Gets Own SiriusXM Channel | BizBash

1. BARNEYS AND JAY Z ANNOUNCE HOLIDAY PARTNERSHIP: Jay Z will create a holiday collection for the department store Barneys, which debuts November 20 in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago stores. Rolling Stone: "The collection, called "BNY SCC Gallery" (standing for Barney New York Shawn Corey Carter), will include themed window halloween lawn decorations inflatable, ads, and a massive party, all of which will feature special-edition merchandise from brands such as Lanvin, Balenciaga, and Proenza Schouler."

2. ICONIC COMEDY FESTIVAL GETS OWN SIRIUSXM CHANNEL: Mediabistro: "Coinciding with the 30th anniversary year of Montreal's annual Just for Laughs comedy festival, SiriusXM is tomorrow launching a new channel that will tap archived and future material from the now international year-round event."

3. SEE THIS: INFLATABLE CONCERT HALL CREATED IN JAPAN: An inflatable concert hall, developed to tour areas of Japan devastated by earthquakes and tsunamis, is nearly finished. The hall, which looks like a massive purple doughnut, has scheduled a performance for October 12. Spoon & Tamago: "Arc Nova takes about 2 hours to inflate and holds roughly 500 people. The wooden benches were completed during a workshop in August, in which volunteers showed up and used wood from tsunami-damaged cedar trees at Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima."


Eventbrite, the self-service, online ticketing platform, announced it has processed $2 billion in gross ticket sales for organizers worldwide since the company was founded in 2006. The company attributes its growth to international expansion and growth into new categories such as music, festivals, and endurance sports.


BOSTON: United Way Emerging Leaders will host its season kickoff mixer at the Liberty Hotel next Thursday. Geared toward philanthropic young professionals, the event will donate ticket proceeds to Youth Venture.

SkyBokx 109 GastroSports has a new menu for sports-viewing parties. With a focus on family-friendly comfort foods, items include warm baked brie, St. Louis-style barbecue ribs, and bourbon-glaze wings.

Finch, the restaurant and bar in the Boxer, has a new list of 20 craft beer selections. Finch hosts meetings and events and can hold 70 guests.

CHICAGO: Nouveau Tavern will open soon in River North. Inspired by New Orleans, the restaurant will offer contemporary takes on dishes such as jambalaya and shrimp and grits. The chef is Norman Hargrove, formerly of the Peninsula's Pierrot Gourmet.

Bonefish Grill Orland Park is now open. The venue does not have a private dining room, but it can be bought out to host events for as many as 196 guests.

LAS VEGAS: Las Vegas Review-Journal: "In many folks' eyes, it was quite a gamble. But Jordan Butler never saw it that way. He had a women's tennis tournament that was flat-lining in terms of interest, so he figured if he thought outside the box and it didn't work, he wasn't any worse off than when he started. By bringing in musician Redfoo as an investor and using his 'Party Rock' brand to spice things up, Las Vegas' only pro tennis event saw a spike in overall attendance by nearly 15 percent in 2012 while creating a fun vibe throughout the Darling Tennis Center."

Epicurean Charitable Foundation of Las Vegas has named Melissa Arias as the new executive director.

LONDON: The Barbican Centre will host Wikimania, the annual conference for Wikimedia, August 6-10. Around 8,000 attendees are expected for the 10th anniversary of the event, which kicks off with a hackathon.

LOS ANGELES: New York University's Tisch School of the Arts is hosting a Los Angeles Benefit Gala October 28 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Alumni including filmmaker Oliver Stone and producer Liza Chasin are expected to attend.

Virgin Galactic, the commercial spaceline, hosted its annual private customer event Wednesday at Mojave Air and Space Port. Deemed "Your Flight DNA," the event brought together 400 future astronauts who attended presentations on medical evaluations, overall operations, and the progress being made at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Tonight they will attend a private Virgin Galactic party at the California Science Center.

The Spare Room at the Roosevelt is launching an off-site cocktail catering service that offers customized bar packages and services with signature craft cocktails, house-made elixirs, and small-batch premium spirits.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA: The third annual Gables Bike Day is October 20 on Miracle Mile. The event, from the nonprofit Bike Walk Coral Gables, includes BMX demos, skateboard contests, guided bike tours, and music from DJ Nil Lara.

Holi One Color Festival comes to Miami November 30 at the Production Village at Mana Wynwood. Partygoers are encouraged to dress in all white, and ticket packages include packets of colored powder and a commemorative wristband.

NEW YORK: Crains New York: "The controversy that erupted when Gov. Andrew Cuomo changed the dates of the New York Boat Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center may have been resolved. Major stakeholders involved in the uproar have reached a tentative deal that will involve a slight adjustment to the schedule, but will not be the plan announced by Mr. Cuomo in August."

The Teak Fellowship, dedicated to the academic success of talented New York City students, will host its 15th anniversary Benefit Celebration October 23 at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Tao New York Downtown will host its opening party on Saturday inside the Maritime Hotel.

Ravel Hotel in Long Island City, Queens, announced a $10 million expansion including an ice skating rink, 54 additional guest rooms, increased special event spaces, and an outdoor park area. It is slated to open in May.

NYC & Company announced that will become the exclusive hotel booking engine powering the city's official tourism Web site,

World Yacht is hosting a special "Harvest on the Hudson" dinner cruise highlighting new seasonal menus consisting only of Hudson Valley-grown fresh produce and vegetables, as well as locally sourced wine and spirits. Available to the public through October 19, tickets will be $65 to $75 a person.

Cafe Boulud and DeBragga New York's Butcher are hosting a $270-per-person dinner October 16 featuring Miyazaki-gyu Japanese wagyu. Chefs Gavin Kaysen and Hiroki Ave will create their own wagyu dishes.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

ORLANDO: Hyatt has announced three executive appointments for the Hyatt Regency Orlando, which will be the new name of the Peabody Orlando as of October 1. Tom Smith will become area vice president and general manager; Brian Comes will be hotel manager; and Nate Hardesty will be director of sales and marketing.

Florida Hospital Celebration Health will launch "Pink on Parade," a 5K fund-raising walk for breast cancer in Celebration Sunday. Glickman Productions will produce the event, with details such as pink restrooms, pink beach balls, and pink pyrotechnics.

PHOENIX: The Devoured Food & Wine Classic, now in its fifth year at the Phoenix Art Museum, is March 1-2. The festival is adding a V.I.P. component that will allow 300 ticket holders into the festival an hour before general admission and access to a lounge for exclusive wine tastings, meetings with chefs, and cooking demonstrations.

TORONTO: IIDEX Canada, Canada's National Design and Architecture Exposition & Conference, runs today and Friday at the Direct Energy Centre. The event features 350 exhibitors.

WASHINGTON: Air & Scare, the annual Halloween event at the National Air and Space Museum, is October 26 at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Children are invited to wear costumes, and activities include indoor trick-or-treating, creepy crafts, and science experiments. Mars Chocolate North America is a sponsor.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Lauren Matthews, and Anna Sekula in New York.

BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from

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Source: Bizbash

Heidi Klum Halloween Party 2013: Scary Dollhouse Is This Year's Theme

<halloween party supplies packagep>Heidi Klum's Halloween party in 2013 will have a scary dollhouse theme.

The internationally known model is not only sporting some fantastic fashions lately, but this Halloween, she's once again going all-out as a whole different kind of doll.

Halloween costumes and parties usually incorporate the classic horror villains such as Dracula, zombies, and witches, while some women go for more sexy outfits like Catwoman, a just plain cat, or something a tad naughty. Heidi Klum takes her Halloween ideas and goes the extra mile, which makes it probably a good thing she doesn't go with the usual horror route as much. Anything too scary might result in party guests fainting.

Last year, Heidi Klum's Halloween outfit was Cleopatra, incorporating an extravagant headdress. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy forced the party to get postponed. Hopefully no natural disasters strike Heidi Klum's Halloween party in 2013, or anywhere else for that matter.

Heidi Klum certainly knows how to throw a party even at the age of 40, and still look good doing it. The scary dollhouse-themed Halloween party will be held at nightclub Marquee New York, marking the 14th annual event of these extravagant endeavors. Music at the Halloween party will be provided by DJ Questlove, with the decorations coming via Shutterfly, according to the newspaper The New York Post.

The ageless beauty has already begun preparations on her costume this year, as early as July, meaning that once again Heidi Klum is planning to wow everyone with it. - Halloween 2013 - Heidi Klum Party Plans This Year Include Scary Dollhouse Theme

- Pop Journal (@PopJournal) September 29, 2013

Other previous outfits Heidi Klum has worn for Halloween parties included a robot with her face painted purple, a crow, and a gorilla. The party where she showed up as a gorilla, she appeared late because of problems applying the hair. The model is dedicated to making each year's party and outfit as amazing as she can.

Heidi Klum's Halloween party in 2013 promises to be a massive and ambitious ball, as the model has been known as the "queen of Halloween" and most likely won't stop now. We can't wait to see the new scary dollhouse theme.

[image via Debby Wong /]

Source: Inquisitr

PHOTOS: This Is What You Need To Be For Halloween

<halloween costumes newbornp>Our favorite holiday will be here before we know it. And in order to be able to enjoy all of the pumpkin carving, trick or treating, candy eating, and spooking that comes with Halloween, we need to get one very important decision out of the way -- and that's choosing what we're dressing up as, of course.

To make it a little easier, our friends at HGTV featured the most adorable DIY Halloween costumes for the whole family that you can get started on this weekend. You'll be surprised at how easy they are to make. For example, that plain grey sweatsuit you wear as pajamas can be whipped into a pretty scary looking shark-inspired outfit by sewing on a little pointed-tooth trim and some eyes. Need some inspiration to get you started? Click through the slideshow of ideas below and head back to HGTV for even more.

Have something to say? Check out HuffPost Home on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.
Source: Huffingtonpost

Essay: First frost 'like dental floss in a Halloween bag'

Editor's note: This is an essay by Tim Torkildson of Provo, who was raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has settled in Provo to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

Growing up in Minnesota, I know all about the First Frost.

It came like a funeral wreath to a birthday party; like floaties in Kool Aid; like dental floss in a halloween dvds for kids bag. The weather was always perfect prior to the First Frost. The Killing Frost, my grandparents called it glumly. The blue in the sky was brighter than a bottle of Windex, and the clouds rolled about as ponderous as performing cotton elephants. Crisp leaves square danced around the curb and gutters. I could wear my Twins windbreaker or not -- the temperature hardly registered on me at all. The sun had lost all viciousness and fell on me as a purring cat curling up on my arms. The evenings were once again full of new episodes of Red Skelton and Dick Van Dyke. I secretly had a crush on Cathy from the Patty Duke Show -- and a new fall season would reawaken my budding libido.

And then our avuncular TV weatherman, Bud Kraehling, would apologetically announce the First Frost. Indian summer was over. Everything would die back and turn black, and there would be no snow to cover the massacre for several more weeks. Just a bleak, withered landscape. "The harvest is past, the summer is over, and we are not saved." Perhaps I was overly sensitive to atmospheric conditions, but I always reverted to wetting the bed for a few days after the First Frost.

Somehow, I survived the First Frosts of childhood to grow up and bring forth a quiver full of children myself. I endeavored to shield them from the devastating effects of the First Frost. As soon as I heard the ingratiating voice of Mike Lynch forecast the First Frost, I would bound into the living room, where the kids were sprawled on the floor and couch, hobbling large parts of their brains with Nintendo games.

"Guess what, my little poppets!" I would gush at them.

They would just gaze at me, without speaking -- silently asking "What now, old man?"

"Jack Frost is coming to visit us tonight! Isn't that nifty? We'd better get ready for him, don't you think?"

They did not even try to humor me. At some silent, intuitive command they turned their backs to me in unison and went back to Nintendo Land.

All right. If I couldn't catch them with honey, I'd give 'em a little vinegar.

"Hey! You lazy bums, get off your duffs! We gotta put some bed sheets over the tomatoes so they don't freeze tonight. Move it, you couch potatoes!"

The box holding the ancient and yellowed linen sheets was in the garage -- somewhere. I made sure to put it someplace where I could lay my hands on it easily each year after pulling them off the plants, but each year it seemed like my idea of where I could lay my hands on them easily would change radically. By the time I would discover the box, thoughtfully tucked under the storm windows (oh-oh, weren't they up yet?) the kids would be gamboling through the family vegetable patch, bombarding each other with overripe tomatoes and smashing the zucchini with their insolent feet.

"Get over here!" I snarled, handing each one a sheet and pointing to the weedy tomato plant they should cover. Some of the plants were taller than the kids, and besides, these old sheets were exactly what a ghost would wear to haunt a garden, so I had to snatch the sheets from them and put them on the tomato plants myself. Inevitably, I would trip on an overlooked zucchini that had grown to the size of a watermelon and fall flat on my face. This resulted in general hilarity on the part of those lazy cretins I was trying to protect from the devastation of the First Frost. Now I felt like murdering them.

But I did not give up. The night of the First Frost I made it a habit to have plenty of caramels and apples on hand, so we could make caramel apples around the kitchen table after dinner. Unfortunately, at least one of the children would cram as many caramels in his or her mouth as possible and then begin to choke. The resulting Heimlich maneuver would shoot a gob of caramel right through a window pane. The apples were bound to be wormy anyways.

Today, when I heard the First Frost was coming, I made sure the hot chocolate stash is full, got a blanket out of the hall closet, and laid in a stock of The Patty Duke Show DVDs. Leave the tomatoes on the vine SEmD I'm going to enjoy myself.

* Tim Torkildson works as a consultant, providing content for websites such as His work also appears regularly in the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper.

Source: Heraldextra

New Census Data Undermine House GOP's Reasons For Cutting Social Safety Net


On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution bill that would keep the government funded until Dec. 15. The bill calls for the defunding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would offer government-subsidized health insurance to the nation's uninsured. As this 41st attempt by the House Republicans to shut down the president's signature piece of legislation is almost assured to fail in the Senate, the solvency and future economic stability of the federal government is being called into question in a marked show of extreme partisanship and brinksmanship.

For many, this current pattern of Republican legislation against social programs suggests a mentality more based on personal ideology than the tangible needs of the people. This is creating a sense that the House Republicans are acting blind to the needs of their own constituencies.

"Our message to the United States Senate is very simple: the American people don't want the government shut down, and they don't want Obamacare," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told colleagues after the vote. The Senate Democrats have promised to block this bill and President Obama has indicated he would veto it.

"The last thing we can afford right now is a decision by a minority of Republicans in Congress to throw our economy back into crisis by refusing to pay our country's bills or shutting down the government," said a White House official on Friday morning. "Instead of playing politics with the economy, Republicans in Congress should join the president to focus on creating a better bargain for the middle class."

As the House continues to move toward significantly undermining the safety net for the poorest Americans, newly-released data from the Census Bureau reveals that the middle and lower classes have yet to emerge from the Great Recession. As reported in the Census Bureau's current population report, " Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012," while statistically there has been no change in income levels from 2011 to 2012, the 2012 levels are still significantly lower than 2007 levels, showing an 8.3 percent decline in real household income. 2007 was the last year of normal economic growth before the housing bubble burst.

The report indicated that women in particular are still being hit by the effects of the Great Recession. While real incomes have not changed statistically from 2011 to 2012, the median full-time income for women is at 77 percent of the median full-time income for men. In addition, one million more men are working full-time in 2012 than were in 2011. There has been no significant change in the number of women working full-time.

Per the Census Bureau, 9.5 million families now live in poverty, representing 46.5 million people living under the federal poverty line. Of all families that have a female head of household, 30.9 percent are impoverished, as are 21.8 percent of all American children under 18. The current uninsured rate for children in poverty (12.9 percent) is significantly higher than the rate for children not in poverty (7.7 percent).

SNAP and the Republicans

Health insurance is not the only cut the Republican-controlled House has proposed. On Thursday, the House passed on party lines, 217 to 200, a bill that would cut $40 billion over ten years to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) - which offers poor individuals and families vouched funds to buy groceries. While the Republicans cited fraud as their reason, the cuts - which would remove exemptions for able-bodied individuals to stay on the program after three months' unemployment - is estimated to deprive four million Americans of SNAP benefits in 2014.

"[SNAP] has ballooned since President Obama took office with one in seven Americans now receiving food stamps," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wrote to his fellow House Republicans. "As SNAP has grown, working middle class families are footing the $80 billion bill for a safety net gone well beyond assistance to children, seniors, and the disabled. That is why ... a working group of our conference came together to address the major problems to reform SNAP while still preserving the safety net for those who truly need it."

This would be on top of an preexisting $5 billion-per-year cut to SNAP benefits, due to the twilighting of the Recovery Act in November. As one in seven American are receiving SNAP benefits, and, as NPR's Tamara Keith points out, "the vast majority of SNAP recipients either work or are children, disabled or elderly," the total reduction in yearly SNAP benefits - which amounts to 12 percent of the 2012 SNAP allocation - threatens to exaggerate an already precarious situation of poverty and wealth inequality in this country.

The myth of the "welfare queen"

In the recent narrative the Republicans are trying to push toward justifying their attacks on social programs, they point to cases such as Jason Greenslate, who was profiled on Fox News as the modern equivalent of a so-called "welfare queen." A 29-year-old unemployed surfer from California, Greenslate argues that he is living the self-described "rat life." A trained recording engineer, Greenslate chose to be unemployed because he felt that holding a steady job wasn't for him.

"This is the way I want to live and I don't really see anything changing," Greenslate told Fox News. "It's free food; it's awesome." Greenslate was recorded using his $200 per month SNAP benefits to buy sushi and lobster from the grocery store, despite SNAP prohibitions on pre-prepared foods. "Two hundred dollars a month, and you just go like, boom," Greenslate said on camera. "Just like that, all paid for by our wonderful tax dollars."

Greenslate has been used to bolster the Reagan-era idea that "welfare queens" are exploiting the system in record numbers. The concept was introduced during Ronald Reagan's 1980 New Hampshire primary speech, when the then-presidential candidate said, "There's a woman in Chicago. She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veterans benefits on four nonexisting deceased husbands. And she's collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps and is collecting welfare under each of her names. Het tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000."

While Reagan never mentioned the woman by name, it was clear he was talking about Linda Taylor, a then-47-year-old welfare recipient. The problem was that nothing Reagan said about Taylor was correct. Reagan based his anecdote on the sensational exaggeration from Illinois Sen. Don Moore that was picked up by newspapers. Moore made a "guess" on the nature of Taylor's fraud, as he claimed the state's Welfare Department refused to turn over Moore's case file to him. While Taylor was indeed charged with welfare fraud, it was for using four aliases, not 80, and for collecting $8,000, not $150,000.

But this mattered little. Reagan was able to tap into the "Old Right" sentimentality that the government's "forcing" of the taxpayers - outside of the taxpayers' volition - to help out someone else is immoral. While charity is considered a good thing, neo-classical liberals hold that the government's forcing of charitable action is an unacceptable overreach of the government's responsibilities and authorities. Reagan's "little white lies" helped to stir up the resentment against the perceived "welfare state" and ushered in twelve years of Republican control of the White House.

This "focusing on the negative," however, proves illogical. In any demographic, there will be outliers - individuals who are different from the defining characteristics of the rest of the group. Say, for example, a group of friends decide to go out for pizza. One person in the group wants Chinese. That person is the outlier. If attention is given to that outlier and the group goes and get Chinese, the group as a whole goes unserved, because action was taken in consideration of the minority and not the majority. Most people using SNAP honestly need the assistance.

Thad Smith is such a person. Since being released from prison, Smith, 47, continues to make the Illinois state minimum wage of $8.25 per hour. Living in the Chicagoland area, Smith relies on his $200 per month food allowance from SNAP to survive. This works out to $5 per day. "There's no way you can make the card last a whole month like that," he said. "Just like jail, some days you eat, some days you don't."

Smith, as an able-bodied adult, may lose his only nutritional lifeline if the Republicans' plan passes.

Misguided actions

Beyond the morality of SNAP cuts, the fact that Republicans are introducing such deep cuts reflects a basic lack of understanding or appreciation of the economics of food stamps. The reason SNAP allocation was always a part of the Farm Bill is because SNAP is a backdoor payment system to farmers. SNAP recipients are encouraged to buy fresh fruits and vegetables with their benefits (whereas other assistance programs, such as WIC - which offers assistance to the 72 percent of SNAP recipients who are in families with children - provide recipients with processed and packaged foods). This directly finances local farmers and grocery vendors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $5 of food assistance yields $9.20 in local and state economic activity.

The illogical nature of the House's SNAP cuts reflects the continuing mission-creep toward getting rid of the PPACA - which, at this point means the Republicans are willing to potentially shut down the government or default on the nation's debts to force the Democrats to consent to their wishes. Both show propsals a party dangerously out of control. While the Republicans' agenda has always been clear - pro-military, pro-business, pro-family - the party's new willingness to accept "sacrifices" toward getting what they want - like the nation's financial stability, health coverage for the uninsured, food stability for the most vulnerable members of the population - amounts to a kind of political malpractice.

Basically, the Congressional Republicans' recent actions speak against the promotion of the general welfare - a constitutional mandate. The use of the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution as bargaining chips violates the Congress's mandate to pay the debts of the nation. The proposals of the House neither reflect modern-day realities or the promotion of the national health.

"What it's clearly boiled down to is that Republicans are possessed by an overpowering psychological compulsion to repeal Obamacare even at great cost and harm to America and the GOP despite forty-one previously failed legislative attempts to do so, wrote Andy Ostroy for the Huffington Post of Friday's House vote. "And now they can't stop. It's about raging, venomous, unprecedented partisan ego and out-of-control anger. The hope for logical, rational, country-first thinking has been decidedly killed off by a macro dose of hostility, resentment and fear; fear that Americans will ultimately grow to love Obamacare once they get a taste... and that there'll be no turning back."

Regardless, the House's cuts seem to already be dead. The White House, in a statement, wrote, "These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work." Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the House's SNAP bill "will never see the light of day in the Senate."

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Source: Mintpressnews