Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New TV Series review, Make It or Break It

Make It or Break It, a new TV show featuring the drama surrounding national champion gymnast hopefuls, premiered last night on ABC Family. Of course, having a gymnast in the family, we couldn't wait to see this new show.

Like watching the Olympics, I enjoyed seeing the spectacular feats performed on the beam, bars, floor, and vault. Since I did not see a whole routine executed start to finish without a lot of flashes to the feet, I am curious who performs the routines for the filming. It requires great physical strength, balance, and poise to be a gymnast, and the exercises performed appeared advanced to me. I would love to know who the actual gymnasts are!

Although I missed the beginning and didn't see the complete episode, part of what I saw was a lot of cutthroat between the team members. The show appeared to be as much drama as gymnastics, and heavily geared to the teen viewer. My daughter said she really liked the show, and I am reserving my opinion until after I've seen a full, future episode.

My hope is that the show will continue to feature amazing feats that will lure more spectators and participants into the sport of gymnastics. Even for kids not competing at a national level (lets face it, most of them aren't), the physical benefits of gymnastics are easily evident. My daughter is in excellent shape as a result of the sport.

Did you see Make It or Break It? What did you think?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Keeping Cool When the Temperature Soars

What do you do when average daily temperatures are in the upper 90's, high humidity makes those temperatures feel even higher, and your central air conditioner breaks? I recently experienced just that, and here's what I learned are the best ways to stay cool when the A/C is broke and the temperature's sizzling.
  • Under no circumstances should you use the oven
  • Close the blinds to reflect the sun away
  • Open all your windows
  • Use your ceiling fans and get the air moving
  • Keep oscillating fans on you in the room you are in
  • Dress skimpily
  • Take cool showers
  • Rinse the dishes in cool water
  • Take the kids to the swimming pool (this one gives you great brownie points with the kids)
  • Go shopping - your A/C may be broke but it isn't broke at the mall
  • Run errands - any excuse to get into the air conditioned car
  • Keep the lights turned off as much as possible
  • Hair up or in a ponytail
  • Light, cool meals are best - simple sandwiches, fresh fruit, cucumbers in olive oil & vinegar
  • Better yet - eat out!
Any other ideas or suggestions? These helped for me, but I'm sure there are more great ideas out there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writers Group News and Success!

I’m pleased as punch to share some great news from my writers group, Humble Fiction CafĂ©.

Publishing Success!

Death by Dorlana Vann
Representing the death card in Tease Publication’s Dark Tarot Series, this is a two-in-one novel containing Jaclyn’s Ghost and Passage to Mesentia. Two great paranormal novels in one book, click here for details and brief descriptions of both stories. Available now at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II by Colleen Sell
This is a collection of fifty great dog stories. Susan H. Miller contributed The Dachshund That (Almost) Conquered the World, a most enjoyable story for dog lovers everywhere. Available now at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

I encourage you to purchase these books and enjoy the talent of both Dorlana and Sue!

Other Success!

Kelli Meyer was accepted into the esteemed Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. They only accept 16 students each year, so it’s quite an accomplishment to be accepted into this six-week writing program.

Way to go Dorlana, Sue and Kelli!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Handling all those Twitter Tweets – TweetDeck versus Seesmic

Hello. I'm Sheryltut, and I'm a Twitter user. Hi Sheryl.

If you are like me and have been listening to various sources extol the value of social networking, then it's likely you've also jumped on board some of those sites, including Twitter. At first I wondered, what's the point? Who really cares what I did this morning or what I'm doing now in 140 characters or less, but then I learned it's much more than that. Twitter provides an easy way to stay connected with people and to learn about topics of interest. It's a tool to listen to what is being said.

I signed up July 2008, but didn't really start using Twitter until 2009. What I quickly learned is that it's impossible to read all the tweets posted by the people you follow. Yet I knew that if Twitter was this great tool for listening and communicating like everybody says, then there had to be a way to capture and manage those tweets you wanted to read.

And there is, although I'm still learning these tools.

Following are the pros and cons of two tools I've tested for organizing and managing tweets. I've had more time with TweetDeck since I discovered it first, and I'm still on the fence as to which one to use going forward. I would appreciate any and all additional feedback in the comments.

TweetDeck - Click here for more information or to download TweetDeck.

TweetDeck Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Simultaneously tweet and update Facebook, or select which application to update
  • Allows for grouping
  • Search keywords (search becomes a group)
  • Free
  • Auto shorten tweets (helps to fit within 140 character limit)
  • Shorten url links using one of several built-in choices
  • Drop-down box for recent hashtags
  • Integrates with Facebook

TweetDeck Cons

  • Only allows for 10 columns
  • No way to move pop-up notifications and for me they pop-up in an inconvenient location
  • No help feature (or at least not easily evident)
  • Frequently run out of Twitter API

Seesmic - Click here for more information or to download Seesmic Desktop.

Seesmic Desktop Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Tweet or update Facebook
  • Allows for grouping
  • Search keywords (search becomes a group)
  • Free
  • Auto shorten tweets (helps to fit within 140 character limit)
  • Shorten url links using one of several built-in choices
  • Integrates with Facebook
  • Allows for many columns (not sure if there is a limit?)
  • Columns can be static/detached or viewed with a click

Seesmic Desktop Cons

  • Allows Tweet or Facebook update, but not both simultaneously
  • No help feature (or at least not easily evident)

Pretty evenly matched in the pros and cons. And as I mentioned, I'm still on the fence and not sure which application to use.

The big thing I like about TweetDeck is the ability to simultaneously update Twitter and Facebook. The drawback is the 10 column limit.

What I like most about Seesmic is the unlimited columns and easy viewability. What I don't like is that you can't update Twitter and Facebook together.

So what I like about one is what I dislike about the other, and vice-versa. So, which is the best tool?

-------> June 25 UPDATE - Seesmic has added functionality that enables users to post simultaneously to facebook and twitter. A big plus!

-------> July UPDATE - Tweetdeck has removed their 10 column limit!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time Management Tools Needed

Help, please!

Lately, I've been pulled in multiple directions. Between the kids, part-time job, contract work, blog creation and writing assignments, work on my novel, my husband's cleaning business, girl scout leader responsibilities, and editing the church newsletter, I barely have time for housework, reading, or _______ (fill in the blank - just about anything else fits here). I look back and wonder, how did I used to handle a full load? And I ponder, how do others do it?

I remember when I worked for AT&T Microelectronics years ago, I utilized a Day-Runner calendar and time management system. It was a paper system, but it worked, only now I would prefer something electronic. My Palm Zire 31 (older model without telephone) is great for contact and calendaring functions, but I haven't utilized the tasks portion of the device. I'm going to give it a try.

What's out there for time management solutions, and what works well? Your ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

* Photo courtesy of bigfoto.com.

I read the blog Rants & Ramblings by Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. She posted a great article on time management. Her article is not about the tools to use for time management, but rather the importance of continually prioritizing. Enjoy!