Archive for the ‘Boredom Busters’ Category

2010 Census Jobs: Earn Extra Money, Serve Your Community

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Local Census Office Accepting Applicants for Temporary Employment to Support U.S. Census Bureau’s Goal of a Complete Count

While the economy continues to create uncertainty, the U.S. Census Bureau is providing opportunities for individuals to supplement their incomes with flexible, good-paying jobs – hiring hundreds of temporary workers in the local area to ensure the 2010 Census is a success.

Census takers, also known as enumerators, are needed to conduct in-person interviews with community residents who do not return census questionnaires.  These positions need to be filled by individuals with flexible schedules as work may occur in evenings and on weekends.  Some positions may involve shift work.  Bilingual workers are needed in many areas.

2010 Census job applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number, be able to pass a background check, and complete a 30-minute, multiple choice employment test that measures knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a variety of census jobs.  More information, including a practice test, is available at www.2010censusjobs.gov.

In most cases, workers will also be required to possess a valid driver’s license and have use of a vehicle.  U.S. citizenship is required to work for the 2010 Census except in rare occasions when no qualified U.S. citizens are available.

All temporary census employees must be able to attend training, for which they will be compensated.  Most training sessions are held during the day on weekdays; occasionally, a session may be held in the evening or on the weekend.

For more information on temporary employment with the U.S. Census Bureau, or to schedule an appointment to take an employment test and submit an application, call the toll-free 2010 Census Jobs Line: 1-866-861-2010.  TTY Callers: please use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.

*Content provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Readers – I highly suggest you look into this.  With flexible hours and great pay, you won’t get another opportunity like this until 2020.  Give them a call!

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

We Feel Fine hits stores today!

I’ll see you on page 164. I think.

I hope you get a chance to pick it up. It makes a great coffee table book, and content is generated by bloggers!  I’ll be writing a review when I get my copy, which will probably be in a couple weeks. wefeelfine In the meantime, here’s the product description at Amazon:

“In this dazzling exploration of contemporary human feelings, digital whiz kids Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris use their computer programs to peer into the inner lives of millions, constructing a vast and deep portrait of our collective emotional landscape. Armed with custom software that scours the English-speaking world’s new Internet blog posts every minute, hunting down the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling,” the authors have collected over 12 million feelings since 2005, amassing an ever-growing database of human emotion that adds more than 10,000 new feelings a day. Drawing from this massive real-world stockpile of found sentiment, We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion presents the best of the best — the euphoria, the despair, the passion, the dreams, and the desires that make us human. At turns touching and thought-provoking, humorous and heartbreaking, We Feel Fine combines the words and pictures of total strangers to explore every corner of the human experience. Packed with personal photos, scientific observations, statistical infographics, and countless candid vignettes from ordinary people, We Feel Fine is a visual, fiercely intelligent, endlessly engrossing crash course in the secrets of human emotion. Are men or women happier? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? Is beauty the bridge between happiness and negativity? How do our emotions change as we age? What causes depression? What’s sexy? What’s normal? What’s human? We Feel Fine finally provides a way to answer these questions that is both quantitative and anecdotal, putting individual stories into a larger context and showing the stories behind the statistics — or as the authors like to say, “bringing life to statistics and statistics to life.” With lush, colorful spreads devoted to 50 feelings, 13 cities, 10 topics, 6 holidays,5 age groups, 4 weather conditions, and 2 genders, We Feel Fine explores our emotions from every angle, providing insights into and examples of each. Equal parts pop culture and psychology, computer science and conceptual art, sociology and storytelling, We Feel Fine is no ordinary book — with thousands of authors from all over the world sharing their uncensored emotions, it is a radical experiment in mass authorship, merging the online and offline worlds to create an indispensable handbook for anyone interested in what it’s like to be human.”

If you get a chance to check it out, let me know what you think!

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Potential Cash Saver – Screw the Gym

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I remember how easy it was in college to stay in shape.  As a member of the varsity women’s fencing team, I got at least three hours of exercise four times a week, plus all day fencing meets on weekends.  It was a no brainer – I had fun and never had to worry about things like calories, carbs, or scales.  Ah, the folly of youth.

A year ago I signed on to a trial gym membership.  I dutifully went almost every day, loved it, and then forked over a substantial sum to become a member.  I can count on my fingers the number of times I went back.  Because just like everyone else, I too am dumb.

I can’t afford a gym membership now, and I’ve proven that I wouldn’t use it like I should, anyway.  Seeing that I don’t know a bench press from a french press, I wasn’t sure what to do.  Jog?  Eh, I live in the city.  Bike?  Can’t – my bike was stolen.  Lift weights?  Sure, if I knew what to do with them.

Well, I do have a Wii.

Yes, a Wii is not the cheapest device out there.  It’s an investment, in a sense.  I decided to put it to work.  For around $50.00, I bought the EA Sports Active Personal Trainer kit.  Along with the workout game for the Wii console, the kit was complete with leg strap for the Wii nunchuck and resistance band for muscle training.

photo credit: easportsactive.com

photo credit: easportsactive.com

I started off with the 30 Day Challenge (I’m in week 2 now) and I was very pleasantly surprised.  The program is structured by two days of working out and one rest, repeat ad nauseum.  Per average workout, expect to run in place, kick box, lunge, and resistance train.  You’re guided along the way by a chirpy virtual personal trainer who is encouraging but is also quick to correct your form (with some help from the sensors in the Wii controller, which you hold in your hand, and the nunchuck, which is strapped to your right leg).  My trainer may get on my nerves, but I couldn’t do the workout with out some guidance.

You can select your level of impact and difficulty, and there are customized sessions beyond the aforementioned 30 Day Challenge (haven’t tried those yet).  My plan is to start slowly; I’m beginning the 30 Day Challenge on easy, and when that’s done I’ll do it again on medium and then again on hard.  I’ll post updates as I go along.

So far, I think this program has a lot of promise.  While it’s too early to really see much in terms of results, my aching arms, legs and back are testament to the fact that something positive is going on.  Really, I’m in pain.  And I can really feel the workouts.  When I’m done with a 25 minute session I’m left sweatier than I ever was at the gym, and I’m definitely sleeping more soundly at night.  In short, I think I’m on to something.

Does this completely replace the gym?  It’s too early to tell.  I can say this, though – I’ve used my EA Active Thingie more than I went to the gym when I was a member.  There’s absolutely no excuse for me to eschew working out when I can do it in the middle of my living room with bed hair.  I can even put the Pixies on my stereo and have Apply Yourself‘s mascot Willow cheer me on with extreme disinterest.  The point is, I’m now active, when I was happy to watch Buffy reruns when I should have been on the treadmill.

Fifty bucks is roughly twenty percent of what I paid for a year of gym membership, and I got nothing out of it.  With this kit, I’m more aware of my body, how I move, and I’ve even been inspired to cut meat out of my diet (I discovered that I actually really love tofu).  I’m healthier, I think.

To me, EA Sports Active is better than a gym, because I can afford it.  The initial investment of the Wii is steep, I know, but it’s much easier on the wallet than forking over a ton of cash to join the ranks of gym rats.  This is really something you can do at home, on your own, and in the long run, it’s a very economical choice.  It’s innovative enough that I felt it deserved a place on this blog.  If you can stick with it, it very well could be the perfect DIY home based workout.

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Boredom Buster: Learn to Knit

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The art of knitting has had a massive resurgence over the past ten years, especially with the twenty and thirty something age brackets.  It’s a fun hobby that runs from cheap (think acrylic yarn, like Red Heart) to costly (you can find wonderful yarn out there with price tags that could very well make you choke), affording you the wiggle room to decide what fits in your budget.  Making your own clothing and accessories to your personal specs is very alluring, and it’s something you can do with friends and several cups of tea (alcohol, not so much – trust me).  Knitting circles are wildly popular, especially in cities and college towns.  It ain’t just for grandma anymore, my dears.

Winter is coming, and if you have some time to kill, knitting is a fantastic way to occupy your hands.  Go find your

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman and Brandon Vogel

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman and Brandon Vogel

favorite sweater in your closet.  With enough practice, you can create a garment just like it, or something even better.

To the right is my super simple skinny scarf.  It probably took me three evenings total to create, though your mileage may vary.  There are a few reasons why this is a great beginning project:

Difficulty

This knits up in a garter stitch, which is the easiest stitch to learn.  No doubt it is covered in any basic knitting lesson.  The look gets a little oomph from the unique texture of the yarn.  The material also covers up any beginner mistakes, which are bound to happen.  And at only nine stitches across, it knits up quickly and shows results fast.

Cost

The scarf was knitted with one skein of yarn.  I think I paid a little over $8.00 per skein.  The scarf is to my unique specifications (I like ‘em long and skinny to loop multiple times around my neck), it’s nice and warm, and it cost less than a trip to the movies.  A lot less if you factor in popcorn.

The Yarn Makes a Difference

This yarn is 100% silk – silk is a fantastic insulator.  Soft and super warm, many folks prefer it over the feel of wool.  Even better though, is that it’s empowering!

This yarn is purchased from women’s cooperatives in Nepal and Indonesia, and is made from recycled sari scraps.  These coops are selected for their policy of paying a living wage, thus fostering independence and fair compensation in the community.  Many of these companies reinvest a portion of the profit back into the cooperatives, purchasing spinning equipment and sponsoring educational programs.  Before purchasing recycled sari yarn, I recommend checking that the above is part of the potential merchant’s practices.  A good place to start is Mango Moon.  Their yarn is fun on the fingers and they also have free patterns available on their website for all skill levels.

Where do you start?  There’s no set place to begin knitting.  Some folks find that formal lessons work best, and there are classes to fit most budgets (try Google or Yelp to find something near you).  If classes aren’t feasible, don’t fret.  I taught myself how to knit with a $3.00, thirteen page booklet that hadn’t been updated since the Carter administration.  Any crafts store will have something like it – you can learn at your own pace, and on the cheap.

Our blog mascot Willow models the Super Skinny Scarf.  Photo credit: Willow and Gwen Feldman, Brandon Vogel

Our blog mascot Willow models the Super Skinny Scarf. Photo credit: Willow and Gwen Feldman, Brandon Vogel

The internet is full of incredible resources to help you along the way, as well.  I highly recommend Knitting Help, which offers free video tutorials to help you master that one stitch that’s driving you batty.  Knitty.com is also a tremendous source, with articles about technique and free reader-submitted patterns (some of these are jaw droppingly gorgeous).  Of course there’s no way that I can forget Stitch and Bitch, which helped revolutionize the way we see modern knitting.

As the weather cools, try challenging yourself.  Knitting, crochet, learning a new language, and a bazillion things we’ll discuss – these are all things you can do on your own, with your SO or roommate, which is well, a great way to spend a staycation.