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Dog Day Care Job: Think Twice

I have been working for a pet care facility for a few years which offers boarding and dog day care. In those few years, I have been working in the dog day care department which the company I work for likes to call “Doggy Day Camp” and those who work in dog day care are given the title of “Camp Counselor.” When I first started out as a camp counselor, I thought it would be great. I liked the idea of being left alone and not under the constant watchful eye of my manager and loved the idea of becoming familiar with the different personalities that are specific to each individual breed. I also liked the simplicity of it. I had to read a company manual on canine body language, how to break up dog fights and what toys were permitted in the room. The only thing that I wasn’t to keen on was the camera’s that were on either side of the room because I had no idea when an owner might be on the company website watching my interaction with their pooch. But at the same time, I believed the owners had the right to check in and make sure that their beloved pooch was being treated nicely and getting adequate attention. I also did [google_bot_show][/google_bot_show]check over here for some tips on how I could properly take good care of dogs. It is important that as a dog day care, you somehow know about the breeds of the dogs, their behaviors and the things that you should do and should not do.

As the days, weeks and months dragged on, each day began to blend into one another. Spending five days a week in a room full of dogs for up to 5 or 6 hours was no longer enjoyable. There were many factors that played into this sudden change. One of the factors was having to stand in a room watching dogs wrestle, chew on bones, bark incessantly or just sit in a corner only observing became one great big bore. As a camp counselor, you are not allowed to read or have any earphones in your ears. The reason being that you are on camera at all times which owners can watch in real time. If you have earphones in your ears, you can’t hear a dog if it’s in trouble and if you read anything it will look bad if an owner is watching. To add to this, my manager moved small dog day care to a new room right next to the lobby which has a big window. Anytime clients come in, they can not only watch the dogs but look at you. The new room was also installed with a new camera. Talk about really being under a microscope. However, I was met with some relief when the company bought us a sound system for us camp counselors so that we could attach our iPods or smart phones to it and fill the room with music. Eventually playing music through out the room became phased out.

Then summer time came around which is the peak season for the company. My co-workers and I got hit with a huge surge of campers and play and stays (boarding dogs that are allowed to attend camp for only 4 hours). There were days when I had anywhere between 30 – 56 dogs in the room. As always, I was by myself and responsible for looking out for the well being of all these dogs. When the play and stays would arrive, they would urinate and eliminate right away. Many times I had multiple dogs going potty at once and had to run around like a chicken without a head to scoop and mop up the mess before another dog would eat poop or roll in it. Then there were dogs that would hump (a sign of dominance among dogs that can lead to aggression) other dogs. When that would happen, I would have to stop whatever I was doing spray the dog with water and give it a time out in a crate for a couple of minutes. I had to prevent all of this because first and foremost, the room must be clean and humping does not look good for the clients and owners. It was and is very stressful to have to take care of that many dogs alone and to be in so many different places all at once.

I’ve also had to listen to dogs bark and whine incessantly for numerous hours only to spray them with water which may or may not silence them. When I complain to my manager about certain dogs that do not stop barking no matter what I do, she says “We can’t kick a dog out just because it’s noisy.” In other words, I’m not in the room and I don’t care that you are tired or frustrated of listening to the barking. Whenever I and my fellow co-workers have complained about certain dogs, management only placates us and only tells us what we want to hear. It is very difficult for a dog to be pulled out of camp. We have a Yorkshire Terrier that was very aggressive and caused fights. The manager still allows this dog to attend dog day care. She tells us camp counselors “If she misbehaves, call the lobby and we’ll put her in the kennel.” I don’t understand why they put that dog in camp when she is always the cause of a fight. That and the simple fact that she can and has gotten injured as a result of fighting. She has also injured other dogs and bitten us counselors.

I am now resigning from my position. I no longer enjoy it. It has become tedious and frustrating. It has been over six months of telling my manager that I would like to work in a different position or at least not work in dog day care every day. I have tried to climb the corporate ladder. When I heard from a co-worker that an office related position opened up, my manager told me that she had already hired two other people. She didn’t even notify me of the opening of the position when she knew that I was already disliking dog day care and virtually isolated in that room since I’m not allowed to leave it unless someone else is in the room.

After months of going nowhere in terms of outcomes, I have told my manager that I am leaving the company for a new job. I am very happy to be leaving dog day care behind. As much as I love animals, I do not want to work with them in that context. All in all, dog day care was an eye opener.

Do You Have What it Takes to Own a Siamese Cat?

With big blue marble eyes, a creamy coat and tipped ears, tail, face and paws, the Siamese cat is among the world’s oldest and most loved cat breeds. These pets are loving, active and smart. But they aren’t for everyone. These little love bugs will likely capture your heart while knocking over your grandmother’s favorite vase that she left you in her will. If you’re looking for a new cat and you want to add a little excitement to your life, consider a Siamese. If not, it’s not the cat for you because with a Siamese, there’s never a dull moment.

Now Siamese cats are different from normal cats as they are quite overenthusiastic in nature and quite clever in comparison to other breeds which is why they are most preferred as pets which you can [google_bot_show][/google_bot_show]check over here at a website titled something like ‘cats breed’ where you can find all the relevant info pertaining to Siamese breed of cats.

Troublemakers:

The Siamese cat is among the most lively of breeds. Coupled with their inquisitive natures, they tend to get themselves into trouble. For instance, my Siamese cat has never seen a glass he didn’t want to dump over. I lost a Mac computer that way when he dumped milk all over the keyboard. Also, whenever I’m missing an earring, the first place I look is in what I call his stash, located in his pop-up blue mesh cat house. On any given day, you’ll find a collection of cufflinks, bottle caps or knitting needles that he’s stolen.

Cry like a baby:

One of the most notorious qualities of these cats is their distinctive high pitched sound, which is similar to a baby’s cry. One time I was on the phone when my cat wanted me to pay attention to him, so he cried and cried and cried until the person on the other end of the phone said, “I’m sorry, I’ll let you go. I can heard your baby is crying.”

Lovebugs:

These cats are quite affectionate. Because these cats crave affection coupled with assertive personalities, they will demand to be picked up, cuddled and loved. After his daily nap, my Siamese will trot over to me and expect to be picked up. If I’m sitting down, he’ll slink into my lap as if he’s entitled to it. If I’m busy while sitting down, I’ll gently move him away, but after while, he’ll creep closer and closer until he’s back in my lap.

Don’t ignore me:

One time I made the mistake of locking my Siamese out of the bedroom at night. I did that because he insisted on sleeping on my feet while I was in bed. When I locked him out, he cried and cried and cried, but afterwhile he stopped – to change tactics. He decided a better way to get my attention was to slap the watercolor paintings on the opposite side of my bedroom wall, creating a banging, banging banging, until I relented. He still sleeps on my feet to this day – I’ve just learned to live with it.

Mr. Smartypants:

Siamese cats are among the smartest cats around. Mine is no exception. One of the first things he figured out after I took him home from the shelter was how to open and close doors. Also, if he’s doing something naughty, I’ll gently tell him, “Sweetheart, don’t do that.” More times than not, he’ll immediately stop what he’s doing and strut over to get a better look at me. Sometimes, he’ll “talk back” and we’ll have some kind of cat conversation that only he understands.

Show me the money:

Because Siamese cats are purebred, they can be expensive with some costing thousands of dollars from top breeders. But there are plenty of Siamese rescue groups that adopt these cats out at much cheaper prices, depending on age and special needs.

Also, every so often, your typical domestic cat rescues have purebred cats. That’s where I found my little gem hiding in his litter box, looking quite terrified. When I took him out of his cage to get a better sense of him, he just stared at me with his big blue eyes, seeming almost paralyzed. I finally said to him, “So, do you want to give it a try?” With that, I took him home after paying the $130 shelter adoption fee.

Goofballs: Because these are active and smart cats, some like mine can be quite eccentric. Every so often, my Siamese locks himself in my bathroom. He’ll open the door, walk inside and shut the door behind him. Of course, now he’s stuck, which leads him to cry…like a baby. When I let him out – and if he’s not quickly distracted by something else – I’ll hear the door shut and he’s stuck in the bathroom once more.

Ryan Air is Great for Short Flights

Sooo we got really bored one day and decided to randomly check out plane fares to various places we eventually wanted to see. We ended up on Ryanair.com and could hardly believe our eyes when plane tickets to London from Malmo, Sweden came up as being only 1sek each way per person. That is correct. ONE Swedish Kron. That’s like 17 cents or something. We decided to book that immediately, of course… but I’ll get back to that pricing in a bit. heh.

The Ryan Air site itself is a bit busy and, quite frankly, screams rip off to me rather loudly. It just looks… hmmm… shady. Maybe because of all the info blaring out at you in too-bright colors. They list prices in Euros, but you can have it convert those for you easily enough. There are all kinds of sweet deals listed on that front page flying out of a number of major cities in Europe. You can also do an easy search in the side panel for exactly what you want.

Once you book a flight here, you can also go back and change the details later if you need to… for a fee. It is very easy to rearrange things from the site, I’ll give them that much. They make it easy because they like getting those crazy fees for the changes…

So. Yes. We booked the flights to London for a total of 4sek for 2 round trip tickets. The next page gave us the whammy. There was an additional 500sek each for various booking fees. Now, the truth is, that’s about 60 bucks each US, which is still a hella deal. It irked me to be duped like that, though. I mean we’da still booked had they been up-front on the actual costs. No need to be all sneaky at all. Still. Sixty bucks. And I would get to see London. We went ahead with it.

Then they suggested very strongly that we add on Flight Insurance for an additional 100sek each. I snickered and said ummm NO. Lars, being a male, clicked YES. I rolled my eyes. This is not insurance to protect you. It is insurance to cover your luggage. Silly to pay that. Whaddya gonna do though? He’s a guy…

So now these 4sek tickets were up to 1204sek. We’re still at a pretty good rate, really… but wait! There’s more! Oh yes indeedy!

The male decides he would rather fly out early in the morning the same day so as to have an extra whole day in the pubs. So he goes in and changes the outbound flight info for about 7 hours earlier. BAM! That cost us an additional 400sek each. That’s roughly 50 bucks, folks. Each. Now we’re up to 2004sek total for both tickets, or about (oh hell divide by about 7.06 to figure out the US price, I haven’t had enough coffee yet!) Suffice it to say that we were waaaaay above the initial price. But, by this time I am by gawd going to London and I don’t give a rat’s patootie how much it ends up being. Know what I’m sayin? heh.

So yeah, they bait-n-gouge a bit, but at least they do tell ya that they’re doing it as ya go along. It isn’t like they wait and get your CC number and then sock it to ya without tellin ya. So yeah, it’s annoying, but…

They are, however, very spot on with email. They immediately send you a confirmation of the reservations, and a re-confirmation when ya change anything. They give ya a break-down in the email on all those silly charges, and it is very easy to check your reservations at their website. They do ask you to reconfirm 48 hours before the flight. That’s good. You should do that anyway.

Now that they have all of our info, we never have to input it again. Some folks don’t like their info being saved, I do. Next time I am thinking of a short holiday, I will prolly at least check their website first because I know it won’t involve a bunch of typing and hunting for the card and alla that crap. I’m alllll about easy. As to the flight itself, you have to realize that Ryan Air is a no-frill airline. That means small seats and no extra goodies. If you want something to eat or drink you are going to have to fork over some money. I have no complaints at all about the short flight on this airline. If I were travelling a longer distance, I would not fly with them, but for short hops they are the way to go for sure.

I have to end up at about 3 stars for Ryan Air. They are slightly sleazy, but it’s all so easy and they’re honest about the sleaze charges. Well, they are! I’m saying check them along with many others next time you need a short flight. I will. Just be aware going in that the first price you see is not likely the full price you will be paying…

Our Florida Vacation Nightmare

In February of 2006, my husband and I went to St. Petersburg, Florida to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We had planned everything out well ahead of time, with the intention of having the best vacation ever. It was only to be a long weekend, but we had high hopes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case. Everything you could think of went wrong. We should have stayed home.

To begin the trip, our flight was delayed over 10 hours. We should have flown out of Midway Airport in Chicago about 1pm, landing in Tampa at 4:30pm. Instead, our flight was postponed due to weather. We were now to depart about 4pm. OK, no big deal. We ate a little lunch, had a few drinks in the bar, and before you know it, it was time to board the plane.

We boarded, and then taxied out to the run way, where we sat, and sat, and sat. After 2 hours, the pilot came over the intercom, and told us his time had expired, and we had to go back to the gate. Are you kidding? Nope, he wasn’t. The flight was in need of a new pilot. We sat at the gate for another 2 hours, tired, hungry, and frustrated. Mind you, I had coughing, smoker, hacking guy next to me. When I told him I had a headache, he offered me 2 Tylenol that he pulled from his back pocket. I politely refused. Can you blame me? They weren’t even wrapped. Thank God the flight attendant had some. My head was pounding.

We were allowed to leave the plane at this time to get food. It was now about 8pm. My husband ran to McDonald’s to grab us dinner. When he sat back down on the plane, and opened the bag, he noticed that we were only given half of our order,1 cheeseburger and 1 French fry. We had to share, and we were starving. We should have been in Florida eating a great, homemade, Italian dinner.

Shortly after eating our shared dinner, the pilot came over the intercom again. He told us his copilot’s time had expired as well – I could only shake my head at this point. But, a new copilot was currently running down the concourse to meet our plane at this very moment. Whew, what a relief! It was now 9pm.

 

We finally took off at 9:30pm. We were to land in Tampa at 1am. We called my husband’s parents to tell them to meet us at the airport then – We left a message, because no one answered the phone. We landed, and no sign of the in laws. They never checked their messages, and thought we weren’t coming. We waited another half hour for them to show up.

Exhausted, all we could do was climb into bed once we arrived at my in law’s house. We thought we’d have a good night’s sleep, then off to the beach in the morning. It was suppose to be a beautiful day. Sadly, that wasn’t to be the case. We both ended up with the flu. We were stuck in bed, at the in laws, trying to re coop, so we could fly back home.

The only upside to this whole disaster, was that the airline gave us free flight vouchers to use any time we wanted for our inconvenience. We flew back to Tampa in June, and had a wonderful 10 day vacation on the beach.

Is There a Condo in Your Future?

As the real estate market changes dramatically, condos pique the attention of first time buyers who fear or who have no time for home maintenance. The prices are realistic, locations are often extremely convenient to work, shopping and recreation.

Condo life can be wonderful. It can be a nightmare. Do your homework.

An attorney once said, “Condo Boards are magnets for middle management executives who never achieved the status they think they deserve.” The result finds you living in a mini Gestapo.

The CC R;’s and By Laws, often referred to as ‘The Documents’ are the legal papers that guide the operation; outline the rules and administration; describe what you are responsible for and what the ‘Association’ or ‘Board’ is responsible for.

Not all condos are the same. Many are configured like apartment buildings. Others are more like individual attached homes. The difference in construction or configuration has an impact on how the monthly fees are assessed.

Often monthly dues are based on equal payments by the residents. Others are based on the square footage of the individual units.

The argument for equal payments is that the exterior common area benefits each owner equally. An example is that a 3-bedroom residence pays the same as a one bedroom. This seems to make sense in an apartment building setting.

Dues based on square footage pertain to the interior square footage. The owner is responsible for the interior and the Association is responsible for the exterior. So, this requires careful consideration depending on the configuration of the complex and the location within the complex of the individual unit.

For Example: An interior unit, one surrounded on the top, bottom and three sides by other units, has less exterior walls, roof etc., which the Association maintains. However another unit with the same interior square footage my be an end unit with exterior decks, resulting in considerably more area the Association maintains.

Dues are issues to be carefully analyzed.

Over all, it is important to make sure the ‘Documents’ have certain protections for buyers/owners.

  1. Mandatory Non-Binding Arbitration is critical. Without this clause, an owner at odds with the Association or the Board has only one opportunity to have their case heard. Hire an attorney for several hundred dollars an hour. The more desirable alternative of Non-Binding Arbitration ensures your issue can be heard and resolved inexpensively and timely. If one party or the other is not pleased, they still have the option to bring litigation.
  2. Board Directors may not be elected by PROXY. Owners are required to vote in person or by written ballot.
  3. Directors or family members may not vote PROXIES.
  4. Maintenance request must be responded to within 3 days and resolved within 30 days. The timing may be different but it must be specified that the Association will in fact perform requested maintenance in a timely manner.
  5. Note the number of full time residents. A complex with more than 50% of the residents part-timers or seasonal occupants indicates less interest in the quality of the project maintenance.
  6. Take the time to be aware of the maintenance of the building and grounds. Speak up, give written suggestions. Keep a notebook that contains copies of the documents, all notices, meetings and correspondence pertaining to the complex.
  7. Ask the seller to provide you with copies of the prior 2 years financial statements and meeting minutes. If there is a history of ‘Special Assessments’, beware. This is generally a sign of poor management.

If all this seems intimidating, consult an attorney who specializes in Condo Law. In smaller cities you may find only attorneys who specialize in real estate. Lastly, consider sitting on the Board.

How to Prepare Your House for Sale in Today’s Real Estate Market.txt

It is crucial in today’s real estate market to properly prepare your home for sale. The day’s of just calling your Real Estate agent and listing your home on the multiple listing are long over. Properties have been languishing on the marketing for months and the property prices are plummeting.

You do not have control over the economic climate that our country is facing. The Case-Schiller price index for your region is also well beyond your control. After you have purchased your home you do not have control over the location of the property either.

As a seller you should focus on what you can control. There are a few things you can control, the local listing price, and your property conditions are within your control. You can also decide what the final terms and conditions of the purchase and sale are.

The following are some pricing strategies that you want to consider. You need to be aware of your local towns sold homes prices and property inventory. Prior to calling a real estate agent to come out to your home to conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) for your home, do your property research on line.

Here in New England you can look at the Bankers and Tradesman on line magazine listings. That magazine keeps records of recently sold homes, and mortgages that either were a refinance or a purchase of the home. The Bankers and Tradesman will cover the Mass, RI, and Conn areas. You can also look up on Zillow.com what the sold homes have gone for. Contact your Registry of Deeds, to view the sold homes that closed in the past 6 months. Also review your local newspapers real estate section under sold homes.

After you have completed your on line research, contact your local real estate agent and have those agents do a free comparative market analysis (CMA) for your property. Compare your on line research with the results of the (CMA). You can get a pretty good idea of what price range your home should be in.

Property condition is also crucial to your success in the selling of your home. Your properties condition can either increase the value of your home or it can dramatically decrease the value of your home. The property condition can also cause a purchase and sale to collapse due to findings in the buyers home inspection report. It would be a wise thing for a seller to consider hiring their own home inspection prior to listing the home for sale.

That home inspector could discover major hidden defects in the property that were not visible to the home owner. Some major areas to be concerned with are the electrical systems. Make sure that you are up to your local code standards for GFE protectors in your kitchen and bathroom areas. Also check your heating and air conditioner systems and other major kitchen appliances. As a home owner you want to address those issues prior to your listing your home.

As a former real estate agent my self, I still keep my Real estate sales license active and up to date with continuing real estate education classes. I have witnessed many a deal fall apart due to home Inspection results. Better to be safe than be pound foolish. You do not want to loose a purchase and sale over something that can be easily prevented.

In addition to having a home inspection done, a home owner should focus on the landscaping and exterior of their home. What I am referring to is of course called “Curb appeal”. As a home owner you have the control over how your home appears. Keep your front lawn cut and trimmed. Ensure that there are no brown spots that are visible. If you need to hire a professional landscaping crew to keep your front lawn in good shape and your bushes trimmed and neat.

You should also focus on the side walks and your walkway entrance to your home. Make sure that those areas are fixed and kept cleaned and neat. Also look at your roof to see if it needs to be fixed. Keep your trim painted. Power cleans your homes exterior.

When your potential buyers and their real estate agents enter your home, when of the first impressions will be your entrance way. You want to keep that entrance way free of clutter as well as clean and in good working order.

As a home owner you want to keep your kitchen clean, uniformed and as up to date as possible. You also want to clear out the clutter in the kitchen cabinets as well. Your kitchen appliances need to be energy efficient as possible. If your appliances, washers and dryers, and heating and air conditioning systems are old; consider offering a 1 year home warranty. This will provide the buyer some piece of mind when they are considering your home versus another home.

Another thing that a home owner should consider is to hire a professional home design stage person. That way you can put a shine to your home. One of the free advice that I can offer is to keep your home and closets, free of clutter, and keep your home clean and painted with a neutral color.

Those cost of home repairs, the hiring of your home inspector, the home designer, the commissions from your real estate agent are all tax deductible items. Always consult with your tax adviser for the latest updates and tax rules.

One of the secrets to selling your home is for the home owner to be flexible with scheduling appointments to show their home to buyers. A seller also has to be flexible with the terms and conditions of the sale of their home. Property condition is a priority now days in determining the successful outcome of the sale of your home. It is the one thing that a home owner has full control over. Your pricing strategy is the second thing that is important as well.

Late Night Food Cravings: Fight the Snack Attack with Low Carb German Chocolate Cake

For those of us on a diet, the worst time for a snack attack is right after dinner. Since we probably are so used to having all sorts of desserts after dinner, when you suddenly cut those off, you’re just asking for trouble. Next thing you know, you’ve eaten half the kitchen and your whole day of hard work is gone. But fear not! I have come up with a recipe for german chocolate cake that will save you the calories, while still having a great taste.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Oat Flour
  • ½ cup of wheat gluten flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup of processed cocoa
  • 1 cup of Splenda
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 8 egg whites
  • ¼ cup of sugar free chocolate syrup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Start by greasing and flouring two 8″ or 9″ pans with the oat flour. You then will want to make sure to remember to pre heat your oven to 325°F. While your oven is heating, you are going to sift the oat flour, wheat gluten, almond flour, Splenda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa in a large bowl. Once that is done set it aside.

In another large bowl, you are going to take the egg whites and whip them until soft peaks form. You might want to use an electric mixer, simply because doing it by hand will probably cause you to pass out.

In another large bowl, mix the egg yolks as well as the sugar free syrup. Mix them well until they combine. Then add the oil, cream and vanilla extract to the mixture as well. Make sure they are fully blended together.

Take the egg yolk mixture and combine that with the flour mixture we prepared earlier. Beat together until the mixture is smooth. Next, add half of the egg white mixture to it and beat it until it is well mixed. Make sure you do this no longer than one minute. After that is done, add the rest of the egg white mixture and blend it together.

Almost done! Pour the mixture into the cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes at 325°F. Make sure to keep an eye on them and don’t over bake it. The baking time can vary depending on what kind of oven you have, elevation, etc. The cake will be done when it is lightly brown on the top. Remove from the oven and cool for ten minutes. When done, assemble the cake with whatever sugar-free icing you like. Enjoy! And make sure to not eat the whole cake. There should be 144 net carbs in the entire cake. Cut into 16 pieces, that should round out to about 9 carbs per slice. This is great for a party, or just for your family. They might never be able to tell the difference. Everything in moderation is the key to a successful diet!

Men Intimidated by All Women Group Fitness Classes? Advice

Are you a man who’s intimidated by joining a group fitness class because you’d be the only man among all those women? We often hear of intimidation when it comes to women venturing in the free weights area of a gym. But men can be equally intimidated in a group fitness class, since these classes are often exclusively women: step, high or low impact aerobics, yoga, and of course, classes that utilize dance movements.

I spoke with three men who experienced that intimidating feeling when they ventured into a group fitness class. Guys can get bored with the same cardio routines on treadmills, ellipticals and jogging on a track, and thus may want to try a group fitness class. But let’s face it; it can indeed be intimidating and very awkward for some men to be the only male in a fitness class full of women.

Dan Collins was one such individual. He’s the senior director of media relations at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. The hospital had a step aerobics class a few years ago. “I was the only man in the room,” says Collins, who was 39 at the time. “And yes, it is a tad uncomfortable at first.”

I used to participate in step aerobics quite often at varying gyms, and sometimes there’d be a man in there. It wasn’t uncommon to see a man fumbling with the moves and getting confused and not being able to keep up, while the rest of the class — all women — followed the instructor in perfect unison.

Collins says, “There are ways to cope. One, all things being equal, I find women to be more self-conscious about their appearance than men. I’ve had many women friends tell me how they aren’t big fans of going to the gym because they feel they have to look great. So my message to men is, likely the ladies are going to be at least as uncomfortable as you are.”

“Secondly, some might say that that’s actually a plus for men, particularly single men — you are one man among all these health and fitness conscious women. No competition! What’s not to like about that?”

“Finally, it’s the kind of uneasiness that wears off in just a few minutes. Once you start the workout, I find the mind gets focused on the exercise.”

I’m a certified personal trainer. My advice to men contemplating foraging into that all-women step class: Don’t get ahead of yourself by setting your step platform higher than you can handle. If you’re not conditioned to stepping exercise (which includes uphill hiking), then use one “riser” level to start. Otherwise, two risers may tax you quickly, since many of the moves involve kicking the knees up high, pivoting and lunge motions.

Maik Wiedenbach, 34, owns Adlertraining TM in New York City, which services high-end clients. He actually experienced some intimidation when clients, who teach at Exhale Spa, invited him to take a class. “This caused me some anxiety,” says Wiedenbach, because he is much larger than the average woman — larger, as in gloriously adorned with rock hard muscle.

However, he also has this to say: “I was worried about being perceived as a ‘weirdo’ who is looking for a date in class (I am happily married). So I entered the spa, being the only male in sight, and yes, I did draw looks, but nothing as I expected.”

“The class itself was fun. However, things like ‘Hold your arms over head’ are harder when you are 230 lbs. Then there is the flexibility issue. My advice: Girls just are limber, so do not try to do everything they do. Overall, it was a fun experience, which I intend to repeat.”

Berj Alexanian was 19 when he ventured into a spin class for the first time. Alexanian, an account executive from Chicago, says, “Going into the room on the first day was definitely intimidating. As I walked into the class the majority of people there were women that I could tell right away took this class very seriously. I felt awkward walking into the class with just a t-shirt and gym shorts while everyone else was wearing compression shorts and special bike jerseys.”

For guys who feel awkward about the idea of trying a spin class full of women, nowadays more and more men are participating in spin classes.

Alexanian says, “My advice is to do some research into what the appropriate attire is for these different types of group exercise classes. Also, it is important to focus on what you personally want to get out of these sessions, as it will help you feel less intimidated if you have a specific game plan coming in.”

So You’ve Just Bought a PS3, What Can You Do with It?

From the beginning of this generation’s line of consoles, gamers far and wide have been flocking to the Xbox 360. Not only did it sport an excellent multiplayer network, great visual graphics, but a price tag that even a humble gamer could afford.

We all can recognize the “Five-hundred ninety-nine dollars” fad that has been circling internet groups regarding the price point of the Playstation 3 at launch and even worse, the “PS3 has no games” fad concerning the lack of appealing exclusive titles for the system. These two things alone have left the Playstation 3 lonely and depreciated for the last few years, with few straggling fans trying to give the console life.

With the coming of the new “slim” Playstation 3 CECH-2000 model announced by Sony during its Gamescom conference on August 18, 2009, the company hopes to change all of this. If you’ve seen the most recent commercials for the system, no doubt you’ve heard their phrase, “It only does everything.” And while this might seem like nothing more than a clever marketing ploy by Sony’s advertising team, there actually is a great deal of truth to this. Listed below are some of the PS3’s greatest assets, and a showcase of all of the things the PS3 can do natively, and do well.

  1. Every PS3 has the capability to play PSX games. They’re cheap, fun, and great for nostalgia moments. Go pick some up. Unfortunately, only certain older models of the PS3 can play PS2 games. Check here to see if yours is compatible.
  2. The PS3 Media Server is a free and excellent application that allows you to stream audio, video, and photo files from your computer to your PS3.
  3. The PS3 is compatible with a myriad of computer accessories, such as:
  • Bluetooth Universal Remotes
  • Bluetooth Cellphone Headsets/Mics
  • Bluetooth Keyboards/Mice
  • USB/Bluetooth Headsets
  • USB Keyboards/Mice
  • USB Webcams
  • USB Hard-drives
  • USB Memory Devices
  • USB Card Readers (Note: Older PS3 models already have these readers built-in to the system)
  • USB Wi-Fi Dongles (Great if you want 802.11n connections, so long as the dongle supports it)
  • USB Controllers (This includes PSX, PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube controllers, so long as you buy the appropriate USB adaptor for each)
  • USB Printers (In particular, Canon has special PS3 options)
  1. The latest PS3 firmware (Which is optional) supports PSP Emulation. However as of now it is limited to PSP Minis. It is also possible to play your PS3 over the internet with your PSP.
  2. If your PS3’s colors seem a bit off, you can go into the Video Settings and enable “Full Range RGB” and “Super White”.
  3. The PS3 supports the following disc formats:
  • CD
  • Super Audio CD (Older PS3s only)
  • PSX Discs
  • PS2 Discs (Older PS3s only)
  • DVD
  • DVD-Audio (Given there is a video file of some kind on the disc)
  • Blu-Ray
  • Blu-Ray Audio
  1. The PS3 supports the following Audio/Video filetypes natively:
  • AVI
  • AVCHD
  • DivX
  • Memory Stick Video
  • Motion JPEG
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-2 PS
  • MPEG-2 TS
  • MPEG-4 SP
  • MPEG-4/H.264 AVC High Profile
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • VC-1
  • WMV
  1. The PS3 has a slideshow feature in its Photo Section that is easy to use, can be supplemented with audio, and is well-presented.
  2. The PS3 hard-drives can be replaced with any standard laptop hard-drive (The Xbox 360 has a unique hard-drive specifically for its console), and Sony encourages you to buy your own and replace your own (Check your user manual).
  3. CD-Audio can be burnt directly to the PS3 hard-drive.

These are some of the most unique features the PS3 has to offer. I particularly am fond of the PS3 Media Server since I spend a great deal of time watching movies through my computer. It saves you the hassle of having an entanglement of wires to deal with when connecting your PC to your TV or PS3, and truly makes the PS3 into a multimedia console that can “do everything.” I’d certainly challenge the Xbox 360 to natively do this, and do so without having to undergo an ordeal and massive headache just to accomplish the same tasks.

Review of the Fight: Lights Out for the PlayStation 3

The Fight: Lights Out is PlayStation 3 exclusive game. It is a PlayStation Move enabled game. Its original release date was November 9, 2010. You can do single player, split screen multiplayer, or fight against someone online. The game does require two motion controllers per player.

The game starts out with a tutorial, done by Danny Trejo. Some of the tutorials seemed a little over the top. He is trying to be a “tough guy” though. A few of the moves were a little difficult to do correctly. I’m not sure if that is because of the move controllers or the camera not picking up what I was doing. Calibrating is pretty quick and easy, although you do have to do it before every fight or training session. I haven’t been able to get the camera to do head tracking correctly. So, I always just leave head tracking off. My lighting is always excellent.

You get to create your character. You set his height, weight, body type, etc. After you start getting into the actual fights, you are then able to unlock other things to further customize your character. You also unlock other moves that you can do in fights like a headbutt, elbow strikes, or grabbing your opponent and punching them in the face. These are considered “dirty” moves.

When you start fighting in single player mode, the tournaments are in a pyramid. You have to fight your way to the top in each venue. There are 12 venues to fight in and 10 fights per venue. By “nailing” each fight you unlock all of the items for that particular fight. You can do clean fights or fight dirty. You also earn cash in the fights so you can heal your character or train him some more. Training session include: sparring, heavy bag, speed bag, target practice, and endurance training. The training session is how you increase your characters overall stats.

The fitness report, tells you how many calories you burned in your session, what you average per session and your overall calories burned. The Fights does have fitness mini games that you can purchase from the PlayStation Store. I have not bought them and probably won’t.

Overall, The Fight: Lights Out is fun to play. The fights are a little repetitive but I still enjoy playing. However, it’s not a game that I play for hours on end. After the first few times I played it I was a little sore. I would definitely recommend not over doing it the first few times that you play. Having to calibrate after every fight, tutorial, or session gets a little old. There were some instances where the camera had my hands nowhere near where I was holding them, which made fighting awkward. Recalibrating fixed the issue though. At this point in the games life cycle there doesn’t seem to be much for opponents online, so if you purchase The Fight expect to be doing mostly single player or split screen fights.

I picked the game up for $19.96 from Walmart online. It’s a decent game for the price. If you are looking for a game to burn some calories or just want to fight some people, then this is a good game for you. If you’re looking for online fights or a game that will make you want to play for hours and hours, then I wouldn’t recommend this game. I’m rating this game a five out of 10.