Monthly Archives: June 2007

39 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

Written by Leo Babauta

live life“The proper function of man is to live – not to exist.” — Jack London

Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before it.

That’s fine, and comfortable, until you have gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life.

That’s fine, until you have reached old age and look back on life with regrets.

That’s fine, until you see your kids go off to college and realize that you missed their childhoods.

It’s not fine. If you want to truly live life, to really experience it, to enjoy it to the fullest, instead of barely scraping by and only living a life of existence, then you need to find ways to break free from the mold and drink from life.

What follows is just a list of ideas, obvious ones mostly that you could have thought of yourself, but that I hope are useful reminders. We all need reminders sometimes. If you find this useful, print it out, and start using it. Today.

  1. Love. Perhaps the most important. Fall in love, if you aren’t already. If you have, fall in love with your partner all over again. Abandon caution and let your heart be broken. Or love family members, friends, anyone — it doesn’t have to be romantic love. Love all of humanity, one person at a time.
  2. Get outside. Don’t let yourself be shut indoors. Go out when it’s raining. Walk on the beach. Hike through the woods. Swim in a freezing lake. Bask in the sun. Play sports, or walk barefoot through grass. Pay close attention to nature.
  3. Savor food. Don’t just eat your food, but really enjoy it. Feel the texture, the bursts of flavors. Savor every bite. If you limit your intake of sweets, it will make the small treats you give yourself (berries or dark chocolate are my favorites) even more enjoyable. And when you do have them, really, really savor them. Slowly.
  4. Create a morning ritual. Wake early and greet the day. Watch the sun rise. Out loud, tell yourself that you will not waste this day, which is a gift. You will be compassionate to your fellow human beings, and live every moment to its fullest. Stretch or meditate or exercise as part of your ritual. Enjoy some coffee.
  5. Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, worried about what might go wrong. Be bold, risk it all. Quit your job and go to business for yourself (plan it out first!), or go up to that girl you’ve liked for a long time and ask her out. What do you have to lose?
  6. Follow excitement. Try to find the things in life that excite you, and then go after them. Make life one exciting adventure after another (with perhaps some quiet times in between).
  7. Find your passion. Similar to the above tip, this one asks you to find your calling. Make your living by doing the thing you love to do. First, think about what you really love to do. There may be many things. Find out how you can make a living doing it. It may be difficult, but you only live once.
  8. Get out of your cubicle. Do you sit all day in front of computer, shuffling papers and taking phone calls and chatting on the Internet? Don’t waste your days like this. Break free from the cubicle environment, and do your work on a laptop, in a coffee shop, or on a boat, or in a log cabin. This may require a change of jobs, or becoming a freelancer. It’s worth it.
  9. Turn off the TV. How many hours will we waste away in front of the boob tube? How many hours do we have to live? Do the math, then unplug the TV. Only plug it back in when you have a DVD of a movie you love. Otherwise, keep it off and find other stuff to do. Don’t know what to do? Read further.
  10. Pull away from Internet. You’re reading something on the Internet right now. And, with the exception of this article, it is just more wasting away of your precious time. You cannot get these minutes back. Unplug the Internet, then get out of your office or house. Right now! And go and do something.
  11. Travel. Sure, you want to travel some day. When you have vacation time, or when you’re older. Well, what are you waiting for? Find a way to take a trip, if not this month, then sometime soon. You may need to sell your car or stop your cable bill and stop eating out to do it, but make it happen. You are too young to not see the world. If need be, find a way to make a living by freelancing, then work while you travel. Only work an hour or two a day. Don’t check email but once a week. Then use the rest of the time to see the world.
  12. Rediscover what’s important. Take an hour and make a list of everything that’s important to you. Add to it everything that you want to do in life. Now cut that list down to 4-5 things. Just the most important things in your life. This is your core list. This is what matters. Focus your life on these things. Make time for them.
  13. Eliminate everything else. What’s going on in your life that’s not on that short list? All that stuff is wasting your time, pulling your attention from what’s important. As much as possible, simplify your life by eliminating the stuff that’s not on your short list, or minimizing it.
  14. Exercise. Get off the couch and go for a walk. Eventually try running. Or do some push ups and crunches. Or swim or bike or row. Or go for a hike. Whatever you do, get active, and you’ll love it. And life will be more alive.
  15. Be positive. Learn to recognize the negative thoughts you have. These are the self-doubts, the criticisms of others, the complaints, the reasons you can’t do something. Then stop yourself when you have these thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts. Solutions. You can do this!
  16. Open your heart. Is your heart a closed bundle of scar tissue? Learn to open it, have it ready to receive love, to give love unconditionally. If you have a problem with this, talk to someone about it. And practice makes perfect.
  17. Kiss in the rain. Seize the moment and be romantic. Raining outside? Grab your lover and give her a passionate kiss. Driving home? Stop the car and pick some wildflowers. Send her a love note. Dress sexy for him.
  18. Face your fears. What are you most afraid of? What is holding you back? Whatever it is, recognize it, and face it. Do what you are most afraid of. Afraid of heights? Go to the tallest building, and look down over the edge. Only by facing our fears can we be free of them.
  19. When you suffer, suffer. Life isn’t all about fun and games. Suffering is an inevitable part of life. We lose our jobs. We lose our lovers. We lose our pets. We get physically injured or sick. A loved one becomes sick. A parent dies. Learn to feel the pain intensely, and really grieve. This is a part of life — really feel the pain. And when you’re done, move on, and find joy.
  20. Slow down. Life moves along at such a rapid pace these days. It’s not healthy, and it’s not conducive to living. Practice doing everything slowly — everything, from eating to walking to driving to working to reading. Enjoy what you do. Learn to move at a snail’s pace.
  21. Touch humanity. Get out of your house and manicured neighborhoods, and find those who live in worse conditions. Meet them, talk to them, understand them. Live among them. Be one of them. Give up your materialistic lifestyle.
  22. Volunteer. Help at homeless soup kitchens. Learn compassion, and learn to help ease the suffering of others. Help the sick, those with disabilities, those who are dying.
  23. Play with children. Children, more than anyone else, know how to live. They experience everything in the moment, fully. When they get hurt, they really cry. When they play, they really have fun. Learn from them, instead of thinking you know so much more than them. Play with them, and learn to be joyful like them.
  24. Talk to old people. There is no one wiser, more experienced, more learned, than those who have lived through life. They can tell you amazing stories. Give you advice on making a marriage last or staying out of debt. Tell you about their regrets, so you can learn from them and avoid the same mistakes. They are the wisdom of our society — take advantage of their existence while they’re still around.
  25. Learn new skills. Constantly improve yourself instead of standing still — not because you’re so imperfect now, but because it is gratifying and satisfying. You should accept yourself as you are, and learn to love who you are, but still try to improve — if only because the process of improvement is life itself.
  26. Find spirituality. For some, this means finding God or Jesus or Allah or Buddha. For others, this means becoming in tune with the spirits of our ancestors, or with nature. For still others, this just means an inner energy. Whatever spirituality means for you, rediscover it, and its power.
  27. Take mini-retirements. Don’t leave the joy of retirement until you are too old to enjoy it. Do it now, while you’re young. It makes working that much more worth it. Find ways to take a year off every few years. Save up, sell your home, your possessions, and travel. Live simply, but live, without having to work. Enjoy life, then go back to work and save up enough money to do it again in a couple of years.
  28. Do nothing. Despite the tip above that we should find excitement, there is value in doing nothing as well. Not doing nothing as in reading, or taking a nap, or watching TV, or meditating. Doing nothing as in sitting there, doing nothing. Just learning to be still, in silence, to hear our inner voice, to be in tune with life. Do this daily if possible.
  29. Stop playing video games. They might be fun, but they can take up way too much time. If you spend a lot of time playing online games, or computer solitaire, or Wii or Gameboy or whatever, consider going a week without it. Then find something else to do, outside.
  30. Watch sunsets, daily. One of the most beautiful times of day. Make it a daily ritual to find a good spot to watch the sunset, perhaps having a light dinner while you do so.
  31. Stop reading magazines. They’re basically crap. And they waste your time and money. Cancel your subscriptions and walk past them at the news stands. If you have to read something, read a trashy novel or even better, read Dumb Little Man once a day and be done.
  32. Break out from ruts. Do you do things the same way every day? Change it up. Try something new. Take a different route to work. Start your day out differently. Approach work from a new angle. Look at things from new perspectives.
  33. Stop watching the news. It’s depressing and useless. If you’re a news junky, this may be difficult. I haven’t watch TV news or read a newspaper regularly in about two years. It hasn’t hurt me a bit. Anything important, my mom tells me about.
  34. Laugh till you cry. Laughing is one of the best ways to live. Tell jokes and laugh your head off. Watch an awesome comedy. Learn to laugh at anything. Roll on the ground laughing. You’ll love it.
  35. Lose control. Not only control over yourself, but control over others. It’s a bad habit to try to control others — it will only lead to stress and unhappiness for yourself and those you try to control. Let others live, and live for yourself. And lose control of yourself now and then too.
  36. Cry. Men, especially, tend to hold in our tears, but crying is an amazing release. Cry at sad movies. Cry at a funeral. Cry when you are hurt, or when somebody you love is hurt. It releases these emotions and allows us to cleanse ourselves.
  37. Make an awesome dessert. I like to make warm, soft chocolate cake. But even berries dipped in chocolate, or crepes with ice cream and fruit, or fresh apple pie, or homemade chocolate chip cookies or brownies, are great. This isn’t an every day thing, but an occasional treat thing. But it’s wonderful.
  38. Try something new, every week. Ask yourself: “What new thing shall I try this week?” Then be sure to do it. You don’t have to learn a new language in one week, but seek new experiences. Give it a try. You might decide you want to keep it in your life.
  39. Be in the moment. Instead of thinking about things you need to do, or things that have happened to you, or worrying or planning or regretting, think about what you are doing, right now. What is around you? What smells and sounds and sights and feelings are you experiencing? Learn to do this as much as possible through meditation, but also through bringing your focus back to the present as much as you can in everything you do.

Guide On How To Keep A Girl For Gamers

Written by William


Sometimes gamer guys spend too much time studying game strategies and forget how to keep their girlfriends. I was browsing through bulletins on Myspace and came across this helpful list on how to keep a girl. It was posted by a fellow gamer, so of course it’s a completely truthful list. If you guys go out there and actually attempt anything on this list, we are not responsible for the results. This is strictly for entertainment purposes and the actions should only be attempted by professionals like myself. I realize this isn’t big gaming news, but it’s Sunday and sometimes I just like to have fun with articles on slow weekends. If she happens to be a total psycho, then some of these things may actually work. If anyone ever needs advice on psycho girlfriends, I’m the guy to come to. The great list follows the break.

1. When she asks how she looks, shrug and say “could be better.”
This will keep her on her toes, and girls love that.

2. Never hold her hand. This can be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
If she grabs your hand, squeeze hers really hard until she cries (this
will impress her by showing her what a strong man you are).

3. Once a month, sneak up on her from behind and knock her over. Girls
are like dogs; they love to be roughed up.

4. Call her in the middle of the night to ask if she’s sleeping. If
she is, say “you better be.” Repeat this 4 or 5 times until morning. This will
show her you care.

5. When she is upset about something, suggest to her that it might be
her fault. This will pave the way for her own personal improvement, and
every girl needs some improvement.

6. Recognize the small things, as they usually mean the most. Then
when she’s sleeping, steal all her small things and break them, because
jewelry is for wussies and Asian ladies.

7. If you’re talking to another girl, make sure she’s looking. When
she is, stare into her eyes, mouth the words “**** you” and grab the other
girl’s ass. Girls love competition.

8. Tell her you’re taking her out to dinner. Drive for miles so she
thinks it’s going to be really special. Then take her to a burning tire yard.
When she starts to get upset, tell her you were just kidding and now you’re
really going to take her to dinner. Then drive her home. When she
starts crying and asks why you would do something like that, lean over and
whisper very quietly into her ear “?because I can.”

9. Introduce her to your friends as “some chick.” Women love those
special nicknames.

10. Play with her hair. Play with it HARD.

11. Warm her up when she’s cold?and not by giving her your jacket,
because then you might get cold. Rather, look her in the eye and say
“if you don’t stop bitching about the cold right now, you’re going to be
bitching about a black eye.” The best way to get warm is with fear.

12. Take her to a party. When you get there, she’ll have to go to the
bathroom (they always do). Leave immediately. Come back right when the
party is dying and yell at her the whole way home for ditching you all

13. Make her laugh. A good way to do this is if she has a small pet.
Kick the pet. Guys always find stuff like that funny?why shouldn’t girls?

14. Let her fall asleep in your arms. When she’s fast asleep, wait 10
minutes, then jump up and scream in her ear. Repeat until she goes
home and you can use your arms for more important things (like basketball).

15. Spit often. I hear girls like guys that spit.

16. If you care about her, never ever tell her. This will only give
her self-confidence, then you can never turn her into the object she deep
down desires to be.

17. Every time you’re in her house, steal one of her shoes, earrings
or anything else that comes in pairs. Only take one of the pair. This
way, she’ll go crazy.

18. Take her out to dinner. Right when she’s about to order, interrupt
and say “no, she’s not hungry.” Make her watch you eat. Girls love a guy
that speaks for her.

19. Look her in the eyes and smile. Then punch her in the face. Girls
love a spontaneous guy.

20. Give her one of your t-shirts, and make sure it has your smell on
it (but not a sexy cologne smell?a bad smell. You know what I’m talking

21. When it’s raining, keep asking her if she’s crying. She’ll say
“no, it’s just the rain.” Ten minutes later, turn to her and just scream at
her to stop crying. Girls like a tough man.

22. Titty twisters and plenty of them.

23. If you’re listening to music, and she asks to hear it, tell her
no. This way she’ll think you’re mysterious.

24. Remember her birthday, but don’t get her anything. Teach her that
material objects arent important. The only thing that’s important is
that she keeps you happy, and your happiness is the greatest present she
can ever get.

25. When she gives you a present on your birthday, Christmas or just
whenever, take it and tell her you love it. Then, next time you know
she’s coming over on a trash day, leave the trash can open and have the
present visibly sticking out of the can. Girls actually don’t like this one
that much, but guys think it’s funny.

26. If she’s mad at you for not calling her when you say you will,
promise her that you will call her at a certain time of the day. This will
make sure that she waits by the phone. Tell her when you call that you’re
going to tell her a special surprise. Now she’ll be really excited. Don’t

The Ten Most Common Photographic Mistakes

Written by Andre Gunthery

Here is a quick rundown of the most common mistakes people (like me) make that mess up a good photo or prevent us from taking a good photo. It is a big leap for me to start talking about taking photos, since it is so much more subjective than writing Photoshop Tutorials. I am on a journey and often times I look at older pictures on this site and wonder why I even took the photo (at least I have some negative examples to show you). I am taking the easy way out, starting with things that can go wrong, to kick off this series on photography techniques.

1. Images are too cluttered (less is more)

In Photography, less is often more. Before pressing the shutter, ask yourself what you first noticed in a scene that made you want to take this photo. Then try to isolate whatever you saw, without including too much in the scene. Otherwise the viewer will get confused and will start wondering what you wanted to show and why you bothered taking the photo in the first place.

Compare this photo of Downtown Philadelphia…

Philadelphia Downtown Cluttered

Philadelphia Downtown Cluttered
This image outlines how tight the space is in the city.

Philadelphia Apartment Bulding Philadelphia Reflections Philadelphia Reflections Philadelphia Apartment Bulding

…with this photo of the reflection of an old building in a new building (left).

The second image (left) is contained within the first image; however, the second image really brings out what I wanted to show – the contrast of old and new. Most “snapshots” would include a lot more of the scene than even the first image shows, dwarfing the actual subject even more.

The human eye and mind tends to see a 3-dimensional scene differently. You automatically blend out things you don’t care about. In a photograph its exactly the opposite.
The things you didn’t even see in the first place tend to pop out and come right at you: Wham, in your face viewer.
The first image is still a good image if you wanted to show how space is at a premium in large cities and how tight the buildings clinch together. For that matter, I didn’t even bother correcting the perspective (narrowing down towards the top of the image) as it tends to increase the feeling of tightness.

Even though the photo of the Apartment Buildings (right) is not exactly a photographic masterpiece, it shows exactly why I even bothered to look at the building (repetitive pattern of windows).
Had there been more in this picture, it would be a lot less interesting.

Here is an example of too much going on:

Bruhls Terrace Dresden

Bruhls Terrace Dresden
If someone even bothers to look at the picture, his eyes will start to wander. Once you are at the parachute in the lower left corner (your eye is almost out of the picture now), you start to wonder about the person that’s not even in the picture anymore and you are out of the picture. A good photo however, should draw the viewer in.

2. There is no Bad Weather in Photography

This is a myth. For Photography there is no such thing as bad weather. In fact, I have consistently taken my best photos in what most people consider bad weather. Some places look “just right” with thick thunderstorm clouds, like this image of Half Dome:

Half Dome Winter Storm

Half Dome during a Winter Storm

That day I saw many tourist leaving the park in disappointment while many others like me took photos with an umbrella and rain gear.
Often I hear comments by people complaining that they don’t have a clear blue sky (I call it a boring sky) and that their photos would look dull. Most don’t even bother to take a photo. Big Mistake!

3. No Patience

Sunset on El CapitanSunset and Storm with El CaptianVernal Falls with RainbowVernal Falls with Rainbow

Patience is a virtue. I took one of my best images in Yosemite in Winter. Winter can really be testing your patience. The whole day was rainy, foggy, and overcast and not very interesting in terms of photography (even half dome was hidden in the clouds). However, I stuck around hoping for a clearing and it really happened. I was rewarded with a dramatic shot of El Capitan peeking through the clouds, bathing in golden sunlight (left).

I admit, sticking around for a whole day is a bit extreme. Here is another example (right).

I knew that if I waited long enough for the sun to set behind me, a rainbow would show up in front of Vernal Falls. I had to wait 90 minutes for this to happen (and it only lasted a minute or so). While I was standing there in the cold mist, wondering if the rainbow would ever show, I was passed by many other photographers who stood around for a while, wondered what I was looking for, got bored and left.
Two more guys, who joined me after a while, held out with me and we had a wonderful reward.

4. The Digital Attitude

Digital Photography is a blessing. You can take as many photos as you want without paying a dime and you can get instant feedback in the field.
However, people often use the feedback the wrong way. When you ask ten people with a “digicam” what they like best about their camera, a large percentage will tell you that the best feature of digital cameras is that they can delete pictures they don’t like !!!!!!
Since when is deleting a picture a good feature?
The quality of a picture can only be judged on a large screen, and unless something is really wrong (e.g. someone walked into your frame while you pressed the shutter), you should NEVER delete a picture in the field.
Correct exposure can only be judged by means of a histogram (those screens are not calibrated and may not look right in the bright sun).
Only use the metrics (histogram, exposure, aperture, ISO) to judge your image exposure.
Never judge by how it appears on the camera screen. You can always delete the pictures at home (if you are trigger happy), but I usually keep everything. Flash Memories are incredibly cheap. I usually carry an image tank with me; this way I can back up my cards and never have to delete anything.

5. The Photoshop Attitude

I recently wrote a post about this: Photoshop it Later. A “photographer” took a photo of a group and noticed that the flash hadn’t fired. He put the camera in his pocket with the comment “I’ll photoshop it later”.
There are so many things wrong with this (read my post if you want to know more), but even if he could solve all his problems with Adobe Photoshop (he would at least get increased noise levels), he would need to spend a lot of time on the photo.
Taking a second shot with the flash enabled would only take a few seconds. So if you think a photo didn’t come out right and if you have the chance, always take another one (but don’t delete the first – see 4, someone might have their eyes closed in the new one or there might be some other reason the previous shot turns out better).
Photoshop is an invaluable tool for photographers (I even wrote some Photoshop Tutorials myself); however, it is not a remedy for everything and you cannot turn bad photos into good ones with Photoshop alone.
I am a technical (computer) geek and we used to say, Garbage in – Garbage out. The same applies to Photoshop.

6. Unwanted things in a scene

Polynesian Idols with cluttered background

Polynesian Idols with cluttered background

Polynesian Idols

Polynesian Idols Isolated

Often you thought about everything and you think you got the perfect shot. When you review the photo on your computer you see an ugly tree branch, a power line or something else that you didn’t recognize while taking the photo. Just as it was true in mistake number 1, the brain plays tricks on us. Before pressing the shutter, take your time and scan the scene through your viewfinder. Scan it with your eye from the upper left all the way to the lower right, focusing your mind on trying to find these items.
Often times a slight change in angle or a step left or right can solve the problem and make a photo so much better.
In the two pictures above, I had shot the Polynesian Idols as I approached them. I quickly realized that the background was competing with the figures. This is due to the fact, that the three dimensional scene is mapped to a two dimensional photo. The background distracts too much from the idols. Taking two steps to the left allowed me to isolate the subjects.

7. Always shooting from eye level while standing up

Often times a scene can be much more interesting if photographed low (on your knees or belly):

Oregon Dunes Grass Bush

Oregon Dunes Grass Bush

I took this photo lying on my stomach.Lying on the stomach close to the ground, I could make the small bush dominate the entire picture and show the curvy windswept texture of the dunes.

Here is another Example from Baltimore.

For other photos consider climbing to a higher vantage point:

Nevada Falls - Yosemite

Nevada Falls – Yosemite

Shot from the trail Often you won’t have the choice of a much higher vantage point. You can climb on a tree or stand in the doorframe of your car (the picture above was shot from the trail though).
It is just a matter of deciding to go the extra few steps and climbing a nearby mountain to gain a slightly different perspective that may work much better. It won’t always work out, but you will soon learn to appreciate seeking different angles and Points of View (POV). Those will make much more interesting and less static images.

For this image of Cusco Peru (left),
Cuzco Plaza de Armas

Cusco Plaza de Armas

It wasn’t easy to find the perfect vantage point for this photo. I walked around for a while, always keeping in mind how I wanted to photograph the city.
Rattle Snake

Rattle Snake

I kept searching for a good place that would let me include the market, the two churches and the hill with the writing, but however much I kept wandering around, my sight was either blocked or I couldn’t get everything in the picture I wanted to include.
After a while, I found an old abandoned church and a little girl was friendly enough to guide me up the spire (she was somewhat the unofficial keeper of the key).
I repaid her with a tip for her kindness and both of us were very happy.
I was able to get a photo that noone else had, because I spent the extra time looking for a better vantage point.
In fact it is very hard to photograph the city square from anywhere else, since there is no open view.

For the image of the rattlesnake, getting down eye to eye with the snake made it that much more dramatic than just standing up (a glass window kept me save, the image was taken in the Zoo, thanks for being concerned 😉 )

8. Placing People in the Picture

Most people don’t take a single photograph without posing in front of a perfectly good scene. Don’t get me wrong, its nice to see someone was somewhere, but how many of those can you really look at and stay interested. The pictures feel extremely static and people always pose the same way. You might as well pose in front of a blue screen.
I don’t mind a few vacation snapshots and some of them can be quite funny, but I think it is a much better idea to capture the moment. People laughing and joking or having fun going after some activity is much more interesting than having them pose together in front of the camera.

9. Not including other people

This one is a 180 degree turn from the previous item on the list. There are perfectly valid reasons to include people in photographs. Often I wait for people to leave the picture, not realizing that they belong in the scene. For reasons of copyright, I usually only publish images of people whose face cannot be recognized or who agreed at least orally to being published.

The three most common reasons to include people:

  1. Guiding the Viewer into the Scene. Placing a person outside of the main area of interest and having the person look into the photo. The viewer can identify with the person:
    Condor Viewing in Peru
  2. Giving a sense of scale. Only with the person in the scene can a viewer truly grasp the size of Delicate Arch in this scene:
    Visistor at Delicate Arch

    Or giving depth to a scene:
    Hikers in Death Valley

  3. The Person is part of the scene itself, an actor or the person is the scene (sports)
    Actor on the Mayflower
  4. Documenting the life of people, the person being tightly related to the scene:
    Girl on Taquile Island - Peru

    Quechua Boy

10. Wrong Perspective

Your camera has a zoom function, doesn’t it? Use it!!!!

Again coming back to the tourist photographs. Most people that pose in front of a great scene, let’s say a mountain, get their photo taken from up close. In the photograph the mountain scene will be dwarfed by the size of the people in the scene. If you step back as far as possible and zoom into the scene, the size of the people in the scene will still be the same (you can zoom in until you are satisfied).
However, since you zoomed in, the mountain will now be much bigger, making the whole photograph appear much more dramatic. Everyone of your friends will envy your great photo, since it is not just another face shot, but it also has another big and interesting subject (the mountain).
The same is true for photographs without people. If you have a foreground and a background subject, move away from the foreground and zoom in. This will accentuate the background much more, yielding a much more balanced shot.

Santa Ines Mission with small cross

Santa Ines Mission with small cross

Santa Ines Mission with large cross

Santa Ines Mission with large cross

The only difference in the two images above is where I am standing. The cross and the bell tower are at the same distance in both images, but the image to the left compresses the depth between the tower and the cross (too much for my taste, so I stepped a little closer). Often the situation is exactly the opposite, and by stepping back you can bring the background closer.

Moving close to the cannon, accentuates the cannon and dwarfs the fort in the background (in this case the desired effect, since I wanted to show the size of that cannon):

Cannon Baltimore Fort

A cannon at the Baltimore Fort


Art is not something we can grab and hold in our hands. There are no rules and there is no right or wrong. Rules are meant to be broken and often some of the most amazing pictures I have seen did not abide by any rules. This article is meant for novice photographers to inspire the process of thinking.
I am still learning and developing my style, too. In no way do I claim to take perfect photos. Some people like them, others don’t.
However, I have made the first baby steps, and I am more than happy to share my insights with my readers.

This article will be the first in a series about Photography. So far I have focused my writing mainly on tool tips and technology.
Nevertheless, we are all first and foremost trying to improve our skills as photographers and artists.

During the next months I hope to write a lot more articles about Photography, trying to dive deep into the techniques (Exposure, Depth of Field …) the artsy aspects (Composition, Format, Placement …) and the more elusive (what to keep, how to predict the conditions …).

I hope to see you back soon.

100 of the Best Legal Free Full Version Games You Can Download Online

Written by PC Gaming Blog

Over time I have found many fully functioning games that are free to download in various places across the web. Here are 100 of these great full games that are free to download online. They range from independent games, to games that were once commercial but are now free, free to play MMO games (some of the MMOs do have the option of purchasing in game items, etc.), free action games, 3rd person games, games designed by hobbyists, and many more!

If you know of others, please leave a comment with the URL.? I?ll approve comments as I have time. The graphics do not need to be the most up to date or have the most advanced physics engine.? The requirement I?m looking for is that they are fun to play! I want to create a single source to find these free games so that others don?t need to scour the web for them like I did.

100 Free Full Games to Download Online:

  1. Allegiance
  2. America?s Army
  3. Anarchy Online
  4. Armada Online
  5. Assault Cube
  6. Bang Howdy
  7. BloodLust Multiplayer Online Vampire RPG
  8. BOTS
  9. BZFlag
  10. CodeRED: Alien Arena
  11. Conquer Online
  12. Corum
  13. Cube 2
  14. Cube
  15. Daimonin
  16. Dark Space
  17. Darkeden
  18. Darsana
  19. D-Day Normandy
  20. Deicide
  21. Digital Paint: Paintball 2
  22. Dungeon Runners
  23. Entropia Universe
  24. Eternal Wraith
  25. F.E.A.R. Combat
  26. Faldon
  27. Fishing Champ
  28. Flyff: Fly For Fun
  29. Freeciv
  30. FreeStyle Street Basketball
  31. Frets on Fire
  32. Gekkeiju Online
  33. Glest
  34. Global MU Online
  35. Golf?
  36. Graal Online
  37. Grand Theft Auto 2
  38. Grand Theft Auto
  39. Gunbound
  40. Gunror
  41. Gunz The Duel
  42. HaloZero
  43. Hero Online
  44. KAL Online
  45. Knight Online World
  46. Kuma\War
  47. Last Chaos
  48. Lunia
  49. Maple Story
  50. Marathon Trilogy
  51. Martial Heroes
  52. Mixmaster
  53. Myth War Online
  54. N
  55. Neverball
  56. Nexuiz
  57. Orbiter Space Flight Simulator
  58. Parsec47
  59. Pirate King
  60. Plasma Pong
  61. Purge
  62. Puzzle Pirates
  63. Racing Pitch
  64. Rappelz
  65. Risk Your Life 2
  66. rRootage
  67. Rumble Box
  68. Rumble Fighter
  69. Savage
  70. Scions of Fate
  71. Scorched 3d
  72. Secrets of Mirage
  73. Shadow Armada
  74. Shadowbane
  75. Shattered Galaxy
  76. Silkroad
  77. Space Combat
  78. Space Cowboy Online
  79. Starsiege: Tribes
  80. Steel Panthers
  81. Strange Attractors
  82. Tantra
  83. Thang Online
  84. The Battle for Wesnoth
  85. The Dinohunters
  86. The Elder Scrolls: Arena
  87. The New Satan Sam
  88. Tickster
  89. Tobolo
  90. Torus Trooper
  91. TrackMania
  92. Transfusion
  93. Tremulous
  94. Tumiki Fighters
  95. Turf Battles
  96. Urban Terror
  97. War Rock
  98. Wild Metal
  99. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
  100. Xiah

10 Ways to Make Laziness Work for You

Witten By Leo Babauta Image from iStockPhoto

You’re feeling lazy right now, and reading blogs instead of doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s OK – we all do that. We’re all lazy, in different forms, at one time or another.

But let’s look at how to make that laziness work for us, and how to turn lazy into productive.

We often beat ourselves up about our laziness, even though it’s a natural condition that every human being gets to some extent. It’s time to stop the self-criticism and see how laziness can actually be a positive, no matter what society tells us.

Here’s an observation: often the smartest people are the laziest ones. They’re always looking for ways to get out of work, or do make something easier, and their creative ways of doing that have come up with some of the most ingenius, productive inventions: the computer, the microwave, the car, the Clapper, to name but a few.

Now, I don’t know about you, but laziness doesn’t seem so bad to me when you look at it that way. Let’s see how laziness can actually be productivity if you use it the right way.

Make not doing it harder. We lazy people hate doing hard stuff. So let’s use that for us. Let’s say there’s something hard that I need to do right now. Of course, I don’t feel like doing it. But if I put up obstacles that make it harder NOT to do it, then I’m going to do it, because I’m too lazy to do the even harder stuff. For example, if I’m prone to watching television instead of working, and I put the remote on the roof of my house, well, it would be too hard to get a ladder to get that remote. And being lazy, I hate to watch TV without a remote. So I’ll get to work instead. Same concept could be applied to the Internet – take your cable modem’s cable and give it to someone to hold until after lunch. Or tell people that if you don’t complete this project on time, you will wash their cars. Engineer a solution that will make you more likely to actually do what you need to do.

Be productive to avoid doing something. Now turn that concept on its head. It’s an idea called Structured Procrastination, and written about much earlier by Robert Benchley in a great article called Getting Things Done from 1949. The basic concept is that in order to avoid doing something difficult, you’ll do a bunch of other things instead. A lot of those other things might also be important too, so you’re being productive because you’re too lazy to do the most important thing on your list. So, to implement this, put one really hard task at the top of your list, and a bunch of other important stuff below it. Now, tell yourself you really must, must get that first task done right away. If you’re feeling lazy, you’ll do the other stuff on the list instead. Now, when more important stuff comes up, the first item of the list gets pushed down and will get done.

Delegate. Lazy people like to become managers, so they can delegate things to others and look productive while doing that. Even if you aren’t a manager, learn how to delegate to your coworkers or even to your boss. Look at your to-do list and see if you can delegate half of it. If in doubt, route it and ask for input. Now you can cross off half the items on your list and you haven’t done anything!

Automate. Instead of doing the same things over and over, see if you can find a way to automate it. This will require that creativity that lazy people have. You can find ways for the computer to automate it, or give others the authority to do something following certain rules without your approval, or outsource something you really don’t want to do all the time. Great! Cross off more items from your to-do list without actually doing anything.

Eliminate. Now look at your remaining items on your to-do list (assuming you weren’t too lazy to write out a to-do list – if you are, it can be something you do to avoid doing something more difficult). How many of these items absolutely have to be done? Is there any way you can eliminate some of them, especially ones that you really don’t want to do? You can always go and ask to be removed from a project for one reason or another, or say that you have too many commitments and can’t do this right now. OK, more items off your list without doing anything!

Stall. Another good way to cross things off your to-do list without actually doing them is to not do them until they are no longer needed. I’ve done this many times – I stall and delay and procrastinate on something, doing other things I’d rather be doing, and then in a week or two, those things I was procrastinating on are no longer necessary. Turns out they didn’t matter anyway.

Simplify. If there’s something that you do that is complicated and difficult, find ways to make it easier and simpler. List out the steps, and see which can be eliminated or streamlined. Which steps can be done by someone else or automated? What is the absolute easiest way to do this?

Wait until the last minute. Sometimes when you stall (see above), it turns out that the thing you’re stalling on is really important, and needs to be done. If so, you will find this out when someone else who needs it done gives you an urgent call and 10 emails, asking for it to be submitted. This is when urgency comes into play, and it’s a great motivator. You’ll get the thing done. But that urgency didn’t exist until you stalled for a week. So the trick is to wait to do things until the absolute last minute, when you will be super motivated to do them. So don’t schedule some of your tasks until the last possible time you could start them and still get them done before deadline.

Lazy reward. I like to reward myself by telling myself that if I just do this work, I get to be lazy. This will motivate me, because I love being lazy. In fact, if I can finish the next item in five minutes, I get to go watch an episode of Gilmore Girls.

Go with what excites you. If you are too lazy to do something, it’s probably because that something seems boring to you. If so, move on to something more exciting. Come up with a list of things you could do that are important and productive and still exciting. And go with those tasks. You will be avoiding something boring, sure, but you will be motivated to do the other, more exciting stuff. Now, if you still need to do the boring stuff (and can’t stall, eliminate, delegate, or automate that stuff), then find a way to make it exciting. Rewards of sweet treats or laziness can make something more exciting, or try this technique: instead of thinking of how hard something is, think about all the benefits that you’ll get from doing it. Money, fame, gorgeous women, snacks ? these exciting things can all be yours by accomplishing this task.

OK, now off to watch that episode of Gilmore Girls.

10 Surprising Nutrition Facts

Written By Brad Lemley

The American diet circa 2007 is a disaster – but positive change has begun. Those were the twin themes of the “Fourth Annual Nutrition and Health Conference” held in San Diego, Calif., May 14-16, 2007. The conference was sponsored by the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in conjunction with the Program in Integrative Medicine (PIM); PIM was founded and is co-directed by Dr. Weil.

The three-day event brought together leading nutrition researchers from around the world, bearing plenty of both bad and good news. Some highlights:

Bad News:

  1. Hunter-gatherers in the Australian outback today live on 800 varieties of plant foods. Modern Americans live principally on three: corn, soy and wheat.

    From the presentation, “Phytonutrients: Nature’s Bonus from Plant Foods” by David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

  2. One third of Americans get 47 percent of their calories from junk foods.

    USDA” Trends in the United States – Consumer Attitudes and the Supermarket, 2000. From the presentation, “Phytonutrients: Nature’s Bonus from Plant Foods” by David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

  3. The average American is eating 300 more calories each day than he or she did in 1985. Added sweeteners account for 23 percent of those additional calories; added fats, 24 percent.

    Putnam et al. USDA. From the presentation, “Cultivating the Common Ground of Food, Nutrition and Ecological Health,” by David Wallinga, M.D., Director, Food & Health Program, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minn.

  4. Vitamin D deficiency is widespread. The following health problems have been linked to vitamin D deficiency: type 1 and 2 diabetes; multiple sclerosis; rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, periodontal disease, increased susceptibility to infection; osteoporosis, low birth weight infants; low seizure threshold; cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, pancreas and ovary; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure; wheezing in childhood, and compromised muscle strength and falls in the elderly.

    From the presentation, “Vitamin D Deficiency: The Cause of Everything?” by Louise Gagne, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept. of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

  5. In real dollars, the price of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen nearly 40 percent since 1985. In real dollars, the price of soft drinks has dropped 23 percent. The reason unhealthy foods tend to be less expensive on average than foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables has much to do with American farm policy.

    Condensed from “Food without Thought: How U.S. Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity” Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Environment and Agriculture Program, from the presentation, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Searching for the Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World,” by Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.

    Hopeful News

  6. Ten cups per day of green tea delayed cancer onset 8.7 years in Japanese women and three years in Japanese men.

    From the presentation, “Beef or Broccoli? Nutrition and Breast Cancer” by Victoria Maizes, M.D., Executive Director, Program in Integrative Medicine, Assoc. Professor, Clinical Medicine/Family & Community Medicine, the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Ariz.

  7. Three meta-analyses of randomized, placebo-controlled trials found a 5-12 percent decrease in cholesterol levels in hyperlipidemic patients after at least 30 days’ treatment with 600-900 mg of garlic extract.

    Warshafsky S., et al Ann Int Med 1993; 19;599-605; Silagy C, et al. JR Coll Phys Longdon 1994; 28:2-8; Ackermann RT, et al. Arch Intern Med 2001: 161: 813-24. From the presentation, “The Medicinal Spices” by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., Education Director, Program in Internal Medicine, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

  8. Maternal limitation of seafood consumption to less than 340 grams per week during pregnancy did not protect children from adverse outcomes. In contrast, this observational study [Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children] showed beneficial effects on child development when maternal seafood consumption exceeded 340 grams per week, with no upper limit of benefit…

    Hibbeln et al., The Lancet, 17 Feb., 2007. From the presentation of Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., Senior Clinical Investigator, Sectional of Nutritional Neurosciences, Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, Md.

  9. “I see a lot of hopeful trends, including the rise of alternative agriculture: organic, local, biodynamic…There are now over 4,000 farmers’ markets in the U.S. The number has doubled in 10 years.”

    From the presentation, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Searching for the Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World,” by Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.

  10. Chocolate…may have a mild hypotensive [blood-pressure lowering] effect.

    From the presentation, “The Medicinal Spices” by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., Education Director, Program in Integrative Medicine, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine, The University of Arizona, Tucson. Ariz.

Worst 007 Gadgets

Written by Sean Hall

Q Main Image

Thanks to Q and M, Bond had access to a constant supply of gadgets that conveniently saved our hero from whatever jams he got into. Without the gear, James would never have gotten close to Goldfinger, Blofeld, or Dr. No. That being said, not every device introduced was a home run. For every garrote watch, exploding toothpaste, and GPS phone, there was at least one item that made you wonder what really was in the pipes of the team at MI6. Did he really need grappling suspenders or a submarine that looked like an alligator?

Our list of the Eleven Worst Gadgets ever introduced in 007 movies:

Goldeneye – Phone Booth Trap

The telephone booth has an airbag inside that expands, trapping the occupant against the glass. Now, how to get your target to make a call from the booth, wait for Mothers Day?

phone booth

It only happens when you make calls to France.

Live and Let Die – Brush Communicator

The brush has a hidden morse code transmitter. Paging Maxwell Smart, we have found your luggage.

Brush Communicator

“No, I said extra anchovies and a side of pomade.”

The Living Daylights – Sofa

The revolving sofa swallows whoever sits in it. This weekend only, free delivery by MI6 commissioned movers with purchase.

Revolving Sofa

“Now, that’s plush.”

The Living Daylights – Ghetto Blaster
A boom box that can fire a rocket. For discriminating audiophiles.

Bond Ghetto Blaster
“My name is cool James, I devastate the show. But I couldn’t survive without my radio!”

Goldeneye – Wheelchair and Leg Cast Missile

The leg cast hid a missile that could be fired from the seated position. The recoil on this must have felt like ? oh, being stuck on the front end of a semi traveling at 50 MPH.

Goldeneye Wheelchair

“Yowza! You replaced your leg with Chuck Norris’s!”

Diamonds Are Forever – Pocket Snap Trap

A trap hidden inside the pocket that would snap on the fingers of someone conducting a search. Also good for killing body lice.

Bond Mouse Trap

“Ah, gawd! I only wanted a cigarette.”

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Radioactive Lint

The lint is a cleverly disguised homing device so Bond can be located anywhere he may be. This was before we understood cell phone radiation causes brain cancer and kills bees.

Radioactive Lint

“Well, doctor, first I thought it was the Viagra, but now I’m thinking my penis is growing its own penis.”

Diamonds Are Forever – Slot Machine Ring

The ring ensures a jackpot from a slot machine every time. Early retirement?

Bond Ring

“Be honest. It’s going to take more than a fancy ring to loosen up your slots, isn’t it?”

Die Another Day – Surfboard

Has a hidden compartment containing weapons, explosives, and communication equipment. And it floats!

Bond Surfboard

“Oh, damn. I locked the keys in the surfboard again.”

The Spy Who Loved Me – Tea Tray

The tray, when thrown, can decapitate an opponent. For the afternoons when you’re sitting down to tea with your deadliest enemies.

Tea Tray Bond

It’s the hot tea in the face that really hurts.

The Spy Who Loved Me – Seiko Quartz Watch

This watch had a teletype that printed out messages from MI6. Handy for labeling kitchen spices too.

Bond Seiko Watch

Nothing says “Top Secret” like a good paper trail.

Top 5 Novels That Should Be Games

Written by David

It’s no secret that, traditionally, video games have crappy plots. It seems that more and more video games are full of Clich? protagonists, mixed with forgettable backdrops, and campy villains. There have been exceptions to the rule, and with the upcoming release of “plot heavy” games like Mass Effect and Bioshock, it seems that the gaming industry is making strides in the right direction. So what else can developers do to improve the entire game experience? Without hiring vast teams of writers, how can they portray a quality story? To find that answer, all they have to do is look towards the movie industry.

The movie industry is also known for cheap, unbelievable plots. So, how do they deal with it? They use critically acclaimed novels as the basis for their movies. It makes perfect sense. This method works well for the most part, but sometimes the true spirit of the novel gets lost in translation. Yet, those same movies that fail to grasp the spirit of the written literature are used as the foundation for video games. Titles like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others are guilty of failing to inspire the same passion as the original written works. So what you are left with is a game that was based off of a movie, based off of a novel. Why does the gaming industry need the middle-man?

So without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, here are my top 5 novels that should be made into games. Check the list after the jump.


#5: The Eye of the World – by Robert Jordan

Basic Premise: The return of the “Dragon” means both liberation and destruction. The forces of good and evil are preparing for the final battle, and three friends from a small town are caught up in the conflict. This is the first in the acclaimed “Wheel of Time” series.

Why it would be awesome: Robert Jordan’s richly-crafted world stands arguably at the top of modern fantasy work. Jordan’s use of magic in his world is incredibly compelling, and the execution of those ideas would make for a really incredible RPG experience. Too many games have you learn a spell by reading a “book”, (Basically just double clicking on an item? hey! I know how to throw fireballs out of my hands!) Jordan’s method of “weaving” would greatly improve the way we learn spells.

Why this novel over others? The Wheel of Time series has already been realized into a video game. There may be arguments against the series being on this list, as George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series is considered superior by some. I chose Wheel of Time over the others because the previous game made for the series merely hinted at the greatness that a true rendition of the novel would produce.


#4: Starship Troopers – by Robert A. Heinlein

Basic Premise:
In one of Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry.

Why it would be awesome:
The suits worn in the novel are basically “powered-suits”. These suits enable the soldier to hover for short periods of time, fire flame-throwers out of their arms, and shoot nuclear-powered rocket launchers. You are basically the basic Terran Marines from Starcraft, only much cooler.

Why this novel over others?
This choice might be harder to understand. Yes, they made a movie. Yes, they made a game based on the movie. Do me a favor, go read this book, and tell me if the movie does it even an iota of justice. It’s hard to really put into words how much better the book is than the movie. Let’s put it this way, if you took the novel by Heinlein, and then had your dog eat it, the remaining parts you would find in the yard represent the movie.


#3: The Gunslinger – by Stephen King

Basic Premise:
The Gunslinger is the first volume in the Dark Tower Series, which King considers to be his “Lord of the Rings”. The story centers upon “the gunslinger”, who has been chasing after his adversary, “the man in black”, for many years.

Why it would be awesome:
Roland, the gunslinger is an interesting and unique character that would translate well into the gaming world. Imagine a western shooter, with fantasy elements. The draw here is that you could basically have the visual quality of Frogger, and the story itself would still bring an amazing experience.

Why this novel over others?
The western genre in gaming has never really hit its stride. While a few developers have tried to catch the “Clint Eastwood” quality in their characters, nobody embodies those traits better than “the gunslinger”. Even for those of you that are not fans of Stephen King’s horror work, the Dark Tower series is an amazing joy to read.


#2: I Am Legend – by Richard Matheson

Basic Premise:
The book opens with the monotony and horror of the daily life of the protagonist, Robert Neville. Neville is apparently the only survivor of an apocalypse caused by a pandemic of a bacterium the symptoms of which are very similar to vampirism. He lives in a house fortified against nocturnal attacks by the roaming infected, and sallies forth by daylight to kill the sleeping vampires.

Why it would be awesome:
Racing against the clock to fortify your house and supplies during the daytime, along with Neville’s solitary-induced psychosis would promise a thrilling experience. The real beauty here is that you would really feel like your home in the game is your only true “safe” place, and would immerse the gamer into the world like never before.

Why this novel over others?
It’s been stated that “I am Legend” is the basis for all current zombie material. Countless books, movies, and games have been based off of themes portrayed in this classic novel, but none have really done it justice.


#1: Ender’s Game – by Orson Scott Card

Basic Premise:
In a future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by the “buggers”, an insectoid alien race, the world’s most talented children, including the extraordinary Ender Wiggin, are taken into “Battle School” at a very young age to supply commanders for the expected Third Invasion.

Why it would be awesome: The true experience of “Battle School” centers around a game played in zero gravity. In the simplest terms, this game is a zero-g version of laser-tag. While that might not sound like much, the execution of that idea in the book makes for one of the most interesting ideas for a video-game that has yet to be realized.

Why this novel over others?
While not only being a classic of modern science-fiction, Ender’s Game itself is suited perfectly for the world of video games. Video games show up all over the book, from the game the cadets play, to all aspects of battle school life. The world crafted in Ender’s game is the most obvious choice for a game adaptation, thus making it #1 on my list.

So there you have it. I’m sure this will spark much debate over what other novels should be considered. But if you take nothing else away from this article, I urge you to read all of these books. The fiction market is saturated with crappy literature, and these books really stand hands-above so many others.

27 Confessions Of A Former Circuit City Worker

From Consumerist Photo: VincenzoF


I had worked at Circuit City for quite some time, until recently when I could no longer stand the shady operations of its business. While working at Circuit City I worked in the Media and Technology department. I believe there are a few things that people should know about Circuit City…

1. When buying any product, expect the salesmen to tell you that after around 13 months, a certain part or battery will need replacing. The common manufacturers warranty only covers 12 months parts and labor, so the customer is pushed to buy the extended warranty under the impression it will fail later…


2. If you do get an extended warranty (Circuit City Advantage Protection Plan), push for a lower rate. Nearly half of the cost is profit, so if you’re buying a 2 year plan for you laptop that’s running you say 200 bones, you could easily talk them down to 170, possibly 150.

3. Every salesman is ranked individually (unlike Best Buy) by the number of accessories they sell. When you pick up that desktop, salesmen are expected to add several hundred dollars in accessories and protection plans. If you opt to buy just the computer “naked” (meaning no attachments or extended warranty), prepare to be hammered. While being asked to buy certain items such as a wireless mouse, ask for a discount. Also, as for a “deal” on the protection plan covering it. For the salesman, it’s a win-win situation; all the salesman has to do is discount that 30 dollar mouse 5 dollars or so, and throw in the protection plan. This brings up the next point.

4. Every salesman is ranked by the number of protection plans (or extended warranties) that they sell. At my store all the time we would throw on scratch protection plans to CD’s, since they’re only a buck, most people don’t notice. During the $9.99 CD special days, customers who weren’t aware of the sale were easy prey.

5. If you get an extended warranty, for the remainder of the manufacture’s warranty you will be asked to ship it to them. We have all been trained to tell people to ship their defective computers back to the manufacturer, claiming that it will be “quicker.” If the customer refuses, we may send it back to the manufacturer, only on the customer’s part. Also, to avoid having to pay for fixing the computer themselves, see the next point.

6. For Compaq and HP computers, the “firedog” (Circuit’s answer to Geek Squad) technicians are now certified to work on them, all paid by the manufacturer. For any defective Compaq or HP computer that is still under manufacturer warranty, you can take it in to Circuit City for work free of charge. HP pays “firedog” to work on their customers’ computers. So whether you buy that extended warranty or not on that HP or Compaq of yours, for the remainder of the manufacturers warranty you have free rights to the technical use at “firedog.” If you purchased a laptop, feel free to ask for accessories such as a remote or headphones, we can order them for free. This applies to mice, keyboards, and sometimes remotes for desktops.

7. If you want to try and save money, get an expensive protection plan and return it. The most expensive protection plan I remember seeing on a laptop was around $600, and when thrown on ask for a big discount, expect up to 150 to be knocked off the price of the computer. Then as soon as possible, return the protection plan, and keep the discount on the computer. All discount will always be applied to the product, not the protection plan itself.

8. When being pushed for additional products and services, there are a few different tactics. One is that once you refuse it, it is thrown in anyways. The other is one common at Best Buy, called “Code Green”, in which we have another associate ring you up, and hammer harder to get the additional plans or accessories. Also while pushing sales associates will say that they’re not on commission (true) and it’s all from personal experience (not true).

9. When pressing customers to buy a software installation, we would tell a customer that they need to buy it because it has the AntiVirus and Personal Firewall by Norton, and Spysweeper by Webroot, all for $110. In reality if you want the firewall, you must pay additionally for Norton Internet security. Also, it’s $110 after mail in rebates. The mail in rebate requires that you had purchased their software before or a competitor’s, and have the UPC to mail in. When you’re spending a grand, you will probably not notice an extra bit of a charge.

10. When buying a PC you will be asked to have a backup DVD made for a charge of $30. This is done through an application found on all computers, sometimes hidden. You could do it yourself for free. Also, it was very common to sell this on Toshiba laptops. Little do the customers know, it’s already in the box. So we would charge, and do nothing.

11. Don’t bother calling in to check if we have a CD, DVD or game in stock, chances are they’ll say “no” regardless whether we have it or not. Just laziness.

12. Tags are often in the wrong place, so miss-tagged items are very common. You can use this to your advantage, and move some of those high speed SD cards onto a peg of cheaper SD cards. Customer service associates ringing up customers don’t know jack about anything, so they will follow you back to the product, and then apologize and give you the right discount, just you may need to look a bit upset. Biggest discount I witnessed was an item that was $69 discounted to $12. Also you can look behind the tag on the peg, often people just put new tags in front of old, and leave the sale prices in the peg. Use that to get the (old) sale price.

13. When looking at computers, make sure that the tag you’re looking at matches the floor model you’re testing. We often would only put the faster computers on display that looked the same, so the customer would think that they’re getting this fast computer when in reality, it’s for the tag 3 feet away, and it’s twice the price.

14. All protection plans are replacement plans. Which means it’s a one time use. If you break your computer within the first year on a 4 year plan, you just wasted 3 years of the warranty, and might as well have gotten the 2 year plan, and if needed add the additional 2 years after the plan’s up.

15. All accidental protection plans cover an additional month past what’s advertised. (2 year plan covers 2 years and one month, 4 year covers 4 years and one month.)

16. Don’t buy the protection plans just for the unlimited batteries, you can find laptop and camera batteries online for much cheaper.

17. Sales from ads primarily work off the bait-and-switch tactic. It’s most likely that the item you’re looking for is out of stock or no longer carried. It is hoped that since you came in to buy one and can’t, that you will find a better and more expensive alternative.

18. I’ve seen in the past of people hiding the less expensive speaker wires for car or home theater, or other such cables in the back warehouse. This makes customers buy the more expensive cables, assuming it’s all there is.

19. If you’re buying an item with multiple gift cards, check to make sure that you’re given back the gift card with the remaining balance. Several times I’ve seen associates give back the empty card, and keep the card with the remaining balance.

20. If you don’t get the accidental coverage on the item you just purchased that’s coming from the warehouse, it may be “accidentally” dropped a few times. It’s believed that when the customer comes back in with the messed up computer, that they will then opt for the coverage.

21. Our price guarantee says that we’ll beat any competitor’s price by 110%. In reality, we just beat 110% of the difference in price. Say you were buying an item that’s 110 bucks at Circuit, 100 at Best Buy. The difference is $10, and we will beat that by 10%, which means you only save a dollar by buying it at Circuit City.

22. Real names are not commonly used when answering the phone, just to avoid the chance of getting in trouble for bad customer service. Often used are other associates’ names.

23 . When returning items, with every return possible, we will label the item as defective. For that 3k plasma TV you just “changed your mind on”, it’s most likely that instead of selling it as an “open box”, that it will be shipped back to the manufacturer with some bogus explanation of why it’s no good. Something like “fuzzy picture every now and then”. Marking it down and reselling loses money.

24. Circuit City has violated “minor labor laws” to the extreme. I know of 16 year olds who worked 50 hour weeks, when it was only legal for 20.

25. Circuit City has laid off over 4 thousand employees recently to hire cheaper workers. They fired associates who were highly ranked in sales and service, and paid well for that reason.

26. Stores will keep great coupons such as “$10 off when you spend $100” up at customer service next to our ads that we give out. Sometimes they’re only for the next week, encouraging that you come back Also almost everyday we were given a 10% off coupon to keep in our pocket in case we needed to give a discount to close a sale, making it look like we’re making some special deal for them when really, it’s just a plain old coupon that they could have brought.

27. Another shady fact that may not mean much to others is that they would send out 16 year olds to deliver tvs and computers. That’s strictly against company policy, you’re supposed to be 18 to assist or 21 to drive to a customer’s house.

Goodbye Circuit Shitty.

– Anonymous

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27 Skills Your Child Needs to Know That She?s Not Getting In School

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Everyone knows that our school system, in general, is not giving our kids the basic reading, writing, ‘rithmatic and science skills needed to be competitive in the high-tech workforce of the upcoming generation (at least, that’s the general assumption, and we won’t argue it here).

But there’s much more to life than those basic subjects, and unless you have an exceptional teacher who is willing to break out of the mold, your child isn’t learning the crucial things he or she needs to learn in life.

Think about your own experience for a moment. When you got out of high school, did you know everything you needed in order to survive in life, let alone succeed? If you were lucky, you knew how to read and had some basic history and math skills, and if you were even luckier, you had good study habits that would serve you well in college.

But were you prepared for life? Most likely not, unless you had parents who did you that favor. In fact, many of us screwed up our early adult lives because we didn’t know those skills – and we’re paying the consequences now.

That’s a part of life, you might say, learning these lessons. But it’s also possible to prepare your child a bit before they go out on their own, and if we can’t get the schools to teach these skills, then let’s do it ourselves.

What follows is a basic curriculum in life that a child should know before reaching adulthood. There will probably be other skills you can add to this list, but at least it’s a starting point.

A note on how to teach these things: These subjects should not be taught by lectures or textbooks. They can only be taught by setting examples, by conversation, by showing, and by allowing the child (or teenager) to do these things on their own (with supervision at first). Once you’ve talked about the skill, showed your child how to do it, and let them do it under supervision a few times, give your child the trust to do it on his own, and to learn from his own mistakes. Check back every now and then to talk about what he’s learned.


  • Saving. Spend less than you earn. It’s such a simple maxim, and yet very few young adults understand it or know how to follow it. Teach your child from a young age to put part of money he receives or earns in the bank. Teach him how to set a savings goal, and save for it, and then purchase whatever it is he was saving for.
  • Budgeting. Many of us dread this task as adults, and suffer because of it, because we lack the understanding and skills necessary to make budgeting a breeze. Teach them simple budgeting skills, and what’s involved, and they won’t have problems as an adult. You could wait until teenage years to do something like this – but it’s a good thing because this shows them why basic math is necessary.
  • Paying bills. Give them bills to pay and have them pay it on time, online or in the real world. Learn how to write a check, paper and online, and how to make sure that you’re never late with bills again – either pay them immediately or automatically.
  • Investing. What is investing and why is it necessary? How do you do it and what are different ways of doing it? How do you research an investment? How does it compound over time? This is a good conversation to have with your teen.
  • Frugality. This is something to teach them from an early age. How to shop around to get a good deal, to compare between products of different prices and quality, to make things last and not waste, to cook at home instead of eating out too much, to control impulse buying. When we go out and do a shopping spree, including before Christmas, we are teaching them just the opposite.
  • Credit. This is a major problem for many adults. Teach them the responsible use for credit, and how to avoid it when it’s not necessary, and how to avoid getting into too much debt, and how to use a credit card responsibly.
  • Retirement. Is it better to work hard and retire or to take mini-retirements throughout life? That’s a personal question, but your child should be aware of the options and the pros and cons of each, and how to do each. Why it’s important to start investing in retirement when you’re young, and how much of a difference that can make through compound interest. How to do it automatically.
  • Charity. Why this is an important use of your money, and how to make it a regular habit. This should be not only a financial issue, but a social one. Show them how to volunteer their time and effort as well.


  • Critical thinking. One of the most important skills not taught in school. These days, we are taught to be robots, to listen to the teacher and not to question, to accept what we are told and not to think, to be good employees and to shut up. If you’re an employer, you might want your employees to be like this, and if you’re a politician, you might want your citizens to be like this. But is that how you want your child to be? An unquestioning, naive, ignorant citizen/employee/student? If so, carry on. If not, just start introducing the habit of questioning why? And the skill of find out the answer. And how to question authority – there is no one right answer. Conversation is a good way to accomplish this skill.
  • Reading. Sure, we’re taught to read. But schools most often make this boring. Show your child the wonderful imaginative worlds there are out there. And show them how to find out about stuff in the world through the Internet, and how to evaluate what they read for credibility, logic, factualness.


  • Positive thinking. While critical thinking is an important skill, it’s also important to have a positive outlook on life. Sure, things may be screwed up, but they can be changed for the better. Find solutions instead of complaints. And most of all, learn to believe in yourself, and to block out negative self-thinking.
  • Motivation. Learn that discipline isn’t the key to achieving a goal, but motivation. How to motivate yourself, different strategies, and how great it feels to achieve a goal. Start them with small, easily achievable goals, and let them develop this skill.
  • Procrastination. It’s a problem we all deal with as adults (and even as kids). Now, I believe that there should be a time for goofing off, being lazy, and having fun. But when there’s something to do that we really need to do, how do we get ourselves to do it? Learn the reasons behind procrastination, and how to address them. How to beat procrastination.
  • Passion. One of the most important ways to be successful is to find something you’re passionate about, and do that for a living. Your child won’t know the answer at a young age, but you should show her how to find her passion and how to pursue it, and why that’s important.


  • Anti-competition. As kids, we’re taught how to be competitive. In the adult world, that’s how we behave. And that results in back-stabbing, undercutting, feelings of resentment, and other life-affirming things like that. Instead, teach your child how there is room for many people to be successful, and how you’re more likely to be successful if you help others to be successful, and how they’ll help you in return. Learn that making friends and allies is better than making enemies, and how to do that. Learn cooperation and teamwork before competition.
  • Compassion. Not taught in the schools at all. In fact, instead of teaching children how to empathize with others and try to ease their suffering, our schools often teach children to increase the suffering of others. Learn to put yourself in the shoes of others, to try to understand them, and to help them end their suffering.
  • Love. Compassion’s twin brother, love differs only in that instead of wanting to ease the suffering of others, you want their happiness. Both are crucial.
  • Listening. Are our children taught how to listen in school? Or how to talk at someone. Perhaps that’s why many adults don’t have this critical skill. Learn how to truly listen to someone, to understand what they’re saying, to empathize.
  • Conversation. Goes hand-in-hand with listening, but the art of conversation is something that isn’t taught in school. In fact, kids are taught that conversation is bad in most cases. But in most cases, a conversation is what is needed, not a lecture. This is an extremely important social skill that should start in the home. Learn to converse with your child instead of talk at him.


  • Auto. Why cars are needed (no, not to look cool), how to buy a practical car, how to take care of it. How the engine works, what might break down, and how it’s fixed. Should be taught to both boys and girls (that should be obvious, but I had to say it).
  • Household. How to fix things around the house and keep things maintained. Plumbing, electricity, heating and cooling, painting, roofing, lawn, all that good stuff. The tools and skills necessary to do just the basic maintenance and repairs. And how to know when to call a professional.
  • Cleaning. Too many adults grow up without knowing how to do laundry, to clean a house properly, to keep the house clean and uncluttered, to have a weekly and monthly cleaning routine. Teach your child all these things instead of just telling her what to do.
  • Organization. How to keep paperwork organized, how to keep things in their place, to to keep a to-do list, how to set routines, how to focus on the important tasks.


  • Be present. For some reason, this extremely important skill is never taught to us when we’re kids. In truth, the younger we are, the more natural this skill is. As we get older, we start thinking about the future and the past, and the present seems to slip away from us. Some skills for living in the present would go a long way.
  • Enjoy life. Kids don’t have much of a problem with this, but some awareness of its importance and how to do it, even as an adult, would be helpful. Set a good example of this, and your kids will follow.
  • Find purpose. Whether this is a higher religious purpose, or the purpose of making your family happy, or the purpose of finding your calling, having a purpose in life is extremely important. Teach your children the importance of this and show how to do it yourself.
  • Develop intimate relationships. The best way to teach this is to develop an intimate relationship with your child, and model it with your spouse or other significant other (within appropriateness). Teach them the skills for developing these types of relationships, talk about the importance of it, and how to get through the bumpy parts as well. There are bad times in every relationship, but with the right skills of communication, empathy and compromise, they can get through them.

Do you have any skills to add to this list? Let us know in the comments.