Feb

18

Decorate and Furnish a Sports and Game Room

Do you have an extra room in your home that you could turn into a sports and game room? It's nice to have a room dedicated to the sports and game enthusiast in your family. Read on for tips on how to decorate your own sports and game room.

WALLS: Hanging jerseys on the wall can be a quick and easy way to decorate the walls in your sports and game room. Get some frames and place the jerseys in them to hang on the walls. Buy posters of your favorite sports or your favorite sports players to hang on the wall. Place team flags and bumper stickers in a frame to hang on the wall, you could even add some news clippings to the frame for an interesting collage.

COLOR: Decorate the room with your favorite team's colors. Paint the walls your favorite team's colors, just be careful not to make the room too dark or it could appear smaller. You could also put in colored light bulbs in the color of your favorite team.

APPLIANCES: The most important thing in your sports and game room will be the TV and the entertainment center. You will also need to have some type of gaming system, like XBox or Playstation for gaming fun. If you are able to, get surround sound and a radio for the ultimate gaming and sports experience in your sports and game room. Get a refrigerator to keep beverages cold and a microwave to warm up dips and snacks to munch on during the endless games that you will be watching in your new sports and game room.

FURNITURE: Place a team couch and chair in your sports room. If you cannot find a couch and chair for your team, simply buy them in your team's colors. Place a pool table and a dart board in your sports and game room, if you have enough space. You could also put a sports bar in your sports and game room, if you have enough space.

Once you have your sports and game room up and running, invite some friends over to watch the "big game" on your TV. You can have a game party and invite some friends to play games on your XBox or Playstation, play some pool or darts, while they snack on some food and beverages and just hang out for some fun.…

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Feb

18

Book Review: Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse

Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse is a historical fantasy book for young adults. It is a companion book to The Coming of the Dragon. It is about inner strength and doing what is right, even when it might go against personal desires. Hild is sixteen and is thrilled that she is starting to be seen as more than a child by her uncle, the king. However, when she saves her cousin's life and kills the traitor in the process the war favoring adviser plants fear of her reasons behind the action in her uncle's ear. Events lead her on a dangerous journey as a promise to peace to an enemy king.The journey is hard, and there are creatures of legend living in the wood and treachery lurking behind the scenes. Hild faces many choices, will she risk everything for the greater good and the destiny she did not choose or will she choice her childhood dreams.

Peaceweaver is a wonderful young adult novel, which could also make a great read for older children and adults. The world building and reveal of the larger picture are beautifully done. In fact, even after moving on to me next read, I keep going back and thinking about the book. The characters are strongly developed, and even the characters that do not get much time in the story, feel whole when they have a role to play in the story. Hild is eager to help her family and country, she wants to help weave peace in an era where conflict seems constant. She has great hope for the future, even a hope for romance. But when she is shown to have a special gift, the men that love war and have the ear of the king nurture fear and distrust in her, changing her path. Her fears, hopes, and doubts are all believable and understandable for the reader. I loved the building of legend into the world and story. I felt so much a part of the book that I was very sad to see the last page. The story is so well woven, that I actually dreamed about the story for a few nights.

My only disappointment is that I have yet to read anything else by Rebecca Barnhouse. I greatly enjoyed Peaceweaver, and will be reading The Coming of the Dragon as soon as possible. Some reviews have compared Barnhouse to a favorite author of mine, Tamora Pierce. I do think that fans of one will enjoy the other, and that several factors are similar, such as strong female characters and the lack of sexual situations that might bother readers or make the story inappropriate for younger readers. However, both writers have unique voices that sound different to me, but are both fantastic. I am thrilled to have discovered another author I can recommend to children that are bored with books in the children section, but are still unprepared for the sexual situations and violence can appear in young adult novels.…

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Feb

16

Recreational Bowling Tips

Bowling is a sport despite what others may call it – "recreational sport," "recreational past-time," or "entertainment." It is a sport in spite of the fact that it is not listed under the "Sports" category of many of the news pages on the internet. In any event, here's my "Choc-List" for the recreational bowler who wants to enjoy their time with their family and/or friends throwing a few bowling balls down the lane::

1) Never assume you can just walk into a bowling center at any time and get a lane to bowl on. Make a call to the bowling center to check on availability of lanes. The majority of establishments have regular leagues, tournaments, and special events going on throughout the day so "Open Bowling" could be restricted at the time you want to go. Reservations may or may not be taken. This one phone call could save you from making a long drive for nothing and also, disappointment to the group as a whole.

2) Individual game and shoe rental costs vary depending on the time of day. Prices are cheaper earlier in the day and more expensive in the evenings and on the weekends. The game price is per-person, per-game and the rental shoes are a one-time charge. Be sure to ask about specials because bowling alleys always have them but, may forget to mention them to you.

3) Always look for the control desk when you enter the bowling center. In a large percentage of houses, they are directly visible as you enter the front doors. If not, they are easy to recognize since they have a long counter with a visible microphone and of course, a counter-person behind it. If you can't spot the counter easily, ask someone to point it out to you. Like the front desk of a hotel/motel, this is where you will check-in, check-out, and be the central point for reporting any problems or if you have any questions.

4) Always be safety-conscious in the bowling center. You are using specially soled shoes that you have to slide with so make sure you check them regularly and that nothing (like water) gets on them – if you stick, you may find yourself spread-eagled on the lanes. You are moving yourself forward and taking steps (called an "approach"), in order to propel a hard-surfaced ball down a 60-foot lane – do not "horse around" with the bowling ball nor interrupt your friend when they are in the middle of their approach. Many injuries, both minor and major, occur in recreational bowling because of "horse-play."

There is a lot of literature at the bowling center to help you learn about all aspects of bowling. Also ask your control desk person about any rules, etiquette, and other courtesies which will help you enjoy bowling better.…

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Feb

12

Overfishing, it Needs to Stop: The Effects of Human Demand for Seafood

Many people don't have the urge to fight for the defense of fish populations. One of my close friends once said, "I am a pescetarianism because fish aren't cute, they're ugly." Many people feel this way, but isn't that the opposite of what you were taught? Treat others equally, no matter what the shape or size. Everyone wants to save the Chinese Panda, dolphins and snow leopards, but has everyone turned their backs on the tuna? Believe it or not but, tuna canners actually supported the dolphins and required that their Tuna be caught in a "dolphin safe" manner because dolphins were often drowned because of certain tuna fishing nets. The public out cried for the dolphins, but didn't care at all for the actual fish being canned, described in the book Song For The Blue Ocean. How could people really not even give some thought to it? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tuna are majestic animals. Bluefin tuna, if allowed to, can live up to twenty years. It takes them twelve years to become mature and they wait for a group of tuna to form before reproducing. They grow to be 1,400 lbs and are quick learners. Many have learned to avoid any kind of boats if they come within a hundred feet of them writes Mr.Safina, author of Song For The Blue Ocean. They migrate for thousands of miles and move in synchronization,like the cute little fishes in the dentist's aquarium, except their enormous. This migration can take up two years to complete.
According to Mr.Safina and the N.O.A.A., because of the bluefins rarity and size, the market value for these fish are unfortunately the highest in the seafood market and at least half of the United States tuna are exported to foreign countries, especially Japan. Fishermen are making millions of dollars off these fish, and their populations are on the brink of extinction.

The next time you go to your grocery store's fresh seafood section, or your local fish market, think twice about what you are buying. I recently did some research on the local grocery stores around my hometown in Latham,NY. I found that one grocery store is actually partnered with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Linda Greenlaw, a fisherman that writes about commercial fishing. This greatly differs from another store which talks of no such partnerships, but instead emphasizes their use of state of the art technology 'flash freezing' and their use of farmed raised fish that have been scientifically fed to give consumers the texture and taste they expect. Try researching what you are buying, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Printable Seafood Guide available at montereybayaquarium.com, just click on seafood watch.

Sources:
Song For The Blue Ocean by Carl Safina
montereybayaquarium.org
noaa.gov
hannaford.com
pricechopper.com…

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Feb

04

Striped Bass and Bluefishing Outer Gloucester Harbor in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Anglers looking for striped bass along the coast of Massachusetts have a long list of places and gear to look at: the bucktails and tube-and-worms of Boston Harbor and the South Shore, the shads-and-jigheads of Duxbury, Plymouth and Marshfield, the wire-line and hoochies of Cape Cod from Orleans to Eastham.

One recently emerging trend in gear is the so-called Cape Cod rig: a seaworm, willow leaf spinner and barrel weight trolled close to shore slowly enough that the bait follows the contours of the shoreline at a depth of between twenty four and thirty six inches.

The results can be impressive: tiny gear on large bass, especially during the fall run and at night or at dusk, when larger bass press in to feed close to the shore. The rig is less expensive than tubes-and-worms and lead core and yields a lively fight on non keeper-sized fish.

One area with consistent underpressured, high water-column striper fishing, a good place to try the rig, and with good access for small boats, are the western shores of outer Gloucester Harbor from Stacy Boulevard to Norman's Woe.

With free parking at the boulevard and an asphalt ramp behind Gloucester High School on the Annisquam River and a deep variety of structure that includes rocks, boulders and ledges, the area is largely overlooked.

The area's two distinct coves– Freshwater, at the base of the former Cardinal Cushing villa, and Norman's, at the base of Hammond Castle — are especially productive and offer proximity to open water past the dogbar breakwater. The area is also productive on bluefish.

Large rocks out jut from these shores, as do numerous underwater trenches and deep drop-offs from steep-sloping ledges. Collectively the area presents a highly irregular, rocky coast whose features change every dozen yards or so. The place is good striped bass territory; trolling it offers the kind of low-key, nearshore trolling many anglers relish: peace and quiet only occasionally intruded upon by the sound of a lobsterman's engine or the thrum of a Gloucester partyboat or whale watching boat making its way to Stellwaggen Bank or Caches Ledge.

Outer Gloucester harbor's eastern shores, in short, are a fine place to take your first crack at trolling for stripers with a Cape Cod rig and to get the nearshore fishing grounds that extend from Eastern Point to Kettle Cove, off Magnolia.

The area is good not only for the consistency of its catch but also because it rarely sees sea conditions kicked up into much more than a gentle swell, at the mouth of the harbor, so long as the wind isn't hard from the east or south.

To get to the area's three access points, Stacy Boulevard, Stage Fort Park, and the Dun Fudgin' trailer ramp, take route 128 north to the West Gloucester Route 133 exit. Follow 133 east, to the end. When you see Gloucester Harbor open up in front of you, take a left to use the kayak and carry-in boat put in at the end of Stacy Boulevard. Or, alternatively, take a left onto 127 and follow it a quarter mile to take a left into Stage Fort Park where the parking (seasonal) and put-in (a longer carry) are a little trickier.

If you're a powerboater, take a left onto Stacy Boulevard at the end of 133, then an almost immediate left, at the drawbridge. Gloucester High School and the Dun Fudgin' boat ramp lie about a quarter mile down the road on the left.

You may find that small human-powered boats are the best bet with a trolled Cape Cod rig. For example a kayak's shallow draw (6") lets you troll much closer to the shoreline, in water shallow enough that, if you're wearing polarized sunglasses, you'll see the fish you're about to catch.

The striped bass fishing here is most productive in late May and early to mid-October, especially in the early morning and at dusk, when larger striped bass prowl these shores in search of forage. And that these waters lie a scant three miles from the well-known commercial striped bass area off Eastern Point's groaner buoy render your chances of catching a striped bass 36"-plus that much greater. This is, in short, a shoreline fine to learn to troll for stripers along structured waters that are near to parking, relatively mild, and very much overlooked.…

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Jan

20

Recreation in the Recession

In the troubled economy, Americans are still spending money. Some limit their funds to the basics – things like toilet paper, groceries, gas, and bills. But others find it in their budgets to invest in fun. Industries like movies, recreation, and lotteries are booming in these hard times. The "discretionary dollar" is being spent here and there on things that end up making millions and billions of dollars. Last year, the business was worth $55 billion dollars alone.

But what if nobody invested in the lottery? The dollars that go to state-sponsored lottery programs end up giving high school students scholarships for college, among other things. Some claim that the lottery is one big hoax, and that new marketing schemes make it impossible for the average Joe to get a slice of the pie. But either way, the lottery is an important part of the American economy, both on the state and national level. The industry creates new business, and maintains the clientèle it has seen for years. Men and women alike have confessed to spending upwards of $25,000 over the years on lottery tickets, with receiving little to no cash in return.

Likewise, the movie business is booming. In times past, the movie industry was popular during hard times. The Great Depression saw the rise of Hollywood's Golden Age, and in the current American recession, movie sales are generally up 15% from this time last year. One has to wonder – is this rise in sales because of the weather, the time of year (because students are on spring break), or are we as a population seeing more movies in theaters? In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I live, the price of a movie ticket has gone up two dollars from two years ago. Similarly, the "rush hour" price has been discontinued, and the deal they offered to movie-goers of student age is no longer available. It makes sense that people would avoid the theaters, and yet, even our local movie business has seen a jump in sales. Analysts in marketing trends are beginning to wonder if we are in fact entering a revival of the 1940's power hour of Hollywood.

Recreation in the recession – a marketing man's challenge, proving to be worth it entirely. Americans are spending money on the things they used to love, and now need. Time and time again civilizations have shown that watching film, plays, and shows help ease tough times, and the other miscellaneous things we can do in life also help to take our mind of the things we cannot avoid. The lottery is said to give citizens hope. By spending a dollar here, and a dollar there, people are able to hope that one day in the near future they too will be millionaires. Unfortunately, those dollars may be better spent helping the economy by investments or savings accounts.…

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Jan

15

Panfishing in New York's Grafton Lakes State Park

Panfish often get derided by anglers as being "kids fish" or something that is best tossed back. The lure of the lunker bass or trout has blinded these folks from some really fun fishing and good eating. Ironically, many of those same anglers will enthusiastically go ice-fishing for other smaller fish such as yellow perch. Panfish not only are "kids fish", they are also fun for the adult and delicious on the dinner plate (they are as easily filleted as perch). If you ever find yourself vacationing in Upstate New York or Western Vermont, consider coming to New York's Grafton Lakes State Park for some good old-fashioned pan-fishing.

Grafton Lakes State Park, is located about 20 minutes outside of Troy, NY in New York's Capital Region and is along the way if you're traveling to the Adirondacks or the Green Mountains. Open for day trips, the park has several ponds – the largest of which is Long Pond which has a very large maintained swimming beach with 5 separate swimming areas, boat rentals, picnic areas, and other modern amenities. Motorized boating is prohibited so you'll need to leave your bass boat behind in the parking lot. If you are traveling with a family or group that contains some non-anglers, Grafton is a very good spot to consider for a day of relaxation. For the angler, the park is a smörgåsbord of fishing opportunities.

The trails around the ponds are well developed and many are handicapped accessible. The end result is quality paths for anglers to utilize in order to fish from shore – where one can hook into stringers-full of Bluegills, Pumpkin Seeds, and Rock Bass. Black Crappie are rumored to be in the lake but the author has yet to hook into one. As an added bonus to panfishing, trout can be caught all year long. Rainbow and Brown Trout are stocked and can be kept as long as they are 12" long. There is a 3 trout daily limit, however. During the ice-fishing season, Yellow Perch are plentiful. Bass can be caught all year long with artificial lures but can only be kept during bass season.

Utilize the trail system around the ponds to find a suitable location for panfishing or rent a row boat. Look for structure but the panfish seem to prefer the weed beds near rip-rap and boulders. Having said that, there is almost no location on Long Pond where decent sized panfish can't be caught. The best rig to use is the good old bobber and hook but there are some tricks that might increase your catch. Use a slip bobber and attach your mainline to a 18" 4 or 6lb-test mono or flurocarbon leader on to which you've snelled a #6 or #8 hook. A sinker can be placed on the leader to help minimize tangling during your cast and to help the bait sink faster. Casting is simpler with a slip bobber than with the clip variety and depth can be easily adjusted should the fish not be biting where you've set your bait. Bait-keeper hooks seem pretty effective but the newer styles will almost certainly be effective.

The best bait to use are nightcrawlers – which can be purchased from almost any of the local convenience markets. Break off approximately 1/3 of the nightcrawler and hook it at least twice on to the hook and cast out as far as possible. If you use a weighted slip bobber, you should be able to cast well past any weed beds and into open water – where the trout might take notice. Take your time and slowly jig and crank your bait back to shore — pausing to let the bait have time to settle. Pay notice to where you start feeling strikes – this will be the zone you'll want to start casting to. There is no point in casting 20 feet into the lake if you only need to cast 8 feet! If, after 30 minutes, you haven't had any strikes, try adjusting the depth of your bait. If a front is about to or has moved through the area, you may want to consider casting further out and setting your bait deeper.

Hooking the fish is ideal for children. Panfish will often "catch themselves". Once the bobber submerges, take up the slack in the line and start reeling in! Those little fish can put up quite a fight! Make sure your drag isn't too heavy so that you don't rip the hook out of the fish's mouth. Keep a stringer handy because once you've hooked into one, there is almost certainly more nearby.

Grafton Lakes State Park is open from 8am to dusk all week long. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there is a parking fee of $6 if the swimming area is close and $8 if it is open. Plan ahead. Make sure you have a valid New York State fishing license! Both resident and non-resident licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores and Wal-mart and children under 12 can fish free. New York allows 3 hand lines but it is unlikely you'll need more than one. Should you decide you want to fish one of the ponds other than Long Pond, they are easily accessible as well. Additionally, there are nature trails and abundant wildlife for the family to enjoy. If you're a angler, though, you'll probably be looking at the shoreline.…

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