Saturday, February 18, 2012

How to "O"rganize a Nerf Punk photo shoot

Yes, it's finally hear by popular demand.  Many of you have requested an article on the classic art of photographing a "Nerf Punk" shoot.
Nerf Punk became popular once again in 2009, when the Nerf Dart Tag, World Championship was held to celebrate Non-Expanding Recreational Foam's (NERF) 40th year anniversary.  This photo style has become so popular that Nerf executives are in talks to start a line of Nerf Punk action figures. 

A photo shoot of this caliber is no easy task to pull off.  The setting must be right.  Not to mention careful selection of the proper model.  She (yes she, as this contrasts earlier Neft Punk photos, where the model was always a male character), must be strong, attractive and even a bit of a ham.  Modern Nerf Punk characters are always female. 

The setting and dress must be classic, yet modern.  Not overly bright, but colorful.  Too bright and you will wash out the beauty of the Nerftastic instruments, too dull and you will void the character.
Finally. as with all photo shoots, the model must be well fed, kept warm, and treated with the up most respect and privacy.  A steady supply of donuts, and ice cream, warm blankets, as well a privacy tent will help you to achieve this.
As an ode to both the classic and new, repeat these sayings to the model through out your session:
  • There's Only one Nerf
  • It's Nerf or Nothin'

Well, that's about it.  Don't be fooled by its simplicity.  It's harder than you think.

The above blog is meant as fun and does not represent views or beliefs of Hasbro.  This blog is a mixture of fact and fiction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to "N"AME a Drug (if you are a pharmaceutical company)

Believe it or not, drug companies spend millions of dollars in research to give drugs their names.  Here we are talking about Trade or Brand names, not generic.  For example, a popular blood pressure medicine is Lisnopril.  It is in the family of drugs called an ACE Inhibitor, which helps to dilate the blood vessels, thus reducing the stress on the vessels from the force of the heart pumping. Lisinopril is the generic name, while it also goes by two other "Trade" names, in the US.  They are Prinivil and Zestril.
How do the drug companies come up with these new names? Do they have any other meanings?  Is there a psychological component?  Yes to all of the above.
In more recent years many drugs have been named with "high tech" sounding names.  If a company includes less popular letters, like Z, X, V, or Y, you may think that this will be a very important drug.  The mind can also play tricks on you.  The harder the name is to pronounce the more effective it must be. It can speak of power and strong purpose.  Xanax and Zyban are not typical sounding names, but they do seem powerful and effective, due to the strong lettering.
A good example of a drug with multiple branding implications is Viagra.  The Vi makes it stand out and sound powerful.  Also standing for Vitality and Vigor. Viagra also sounds like Niagara (Falls), indicating mighty flow.
Cultural implications must also be taken into choosing a good name.  In South America it is known as Eviva.  It sounds like Revive and also brings to mind Eve (of Adam and Eve). To me this is a much better name than the alternative that they were thinking of naming it, Tarzia, having to do with feeling like Tarzan while you are using it.  The middle east seams to go straight to the point with the name Erecto.
If you are trying to go after a certain gender, maybe you want to make the drug sound more calming, smooth or even poetic.  Take Femara for example. It rolls of the tongue and has a Female sounding name.  This drug is used to treat Breast Cancer.  Or Truvada, which just seems to slip out, making you feel comfortable and peaceful.  This drug is used as a prophylaxis for HIV in men.  Better sounding than Truhomo, or gayvada.
When naming a drug, as in the middle east version of Viagra, maybe you just want to get to the point and put the drugs purpose in the name.  Flonase  helps to decrease the flow of mucus in the nose.  Lunesta, derived from "Luna" which means sleep in Latin, is a well known sleep aid.
So as a drug company, there a many things to think about when naming a drug.  The names are never random and are always there for one purpose.  To make their drug stand out so that more people will buy them.
Lets say you are tasked with naming the new trade name for the latest drug that will help avoid a newly discovered problem in 2020.  People are being born with 3 eyes and your drug will stop this from happening.  What will you name it?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to "M"AKE a Flyless Latrine

If anyone has ever traveled to a third world country (or maybe just used a poorly maintained port-a-potty) you know how important it is to have a fly-free experience.  After all, who likes to let flies make a landing strip of your posterior? Gross, creepy, and just plain old unsanitary.
We will look here at a few of different options regarding "improved latrines" as they are also called.  Bits and pieces are taken from my personal experience as well as a experimental study an organization called WaterAid conducted in Mozambique, Africa. As well as ESTAMOS, which is a Mozambique NGO (Non-governmental organization).

How hard can it be to put a hole in the ground, and turn that space into a modern toilet, much less a hole with some sort of shelter?  First you need to consider financial impact.  Modern facilities can be fine, but you will need to consider where the waste will go, how to get a water source, and what about parts when things break or wear out.  The other thing you must consider, is that many areas do not have the luxury of a backhoe or modern tools to dig a huge hole, and furnish it.  In many villages, families farm for a living, while maybe the leader of the house hold is gone for long periods of time finding other work.  This usually leaves a mother, taking care of her kids and any other relatives in the house.  She must also tend the farm, wash the clothes, cook the food, etc.  By herself, this can be quite an intimidating task.  Often it is much easier to just "help yourself" by finding a spot away from your house, that you feel will not effect you.  Of course we know that this can be the cause of water contamination, sickness, worms, or even death.  Village cooperation and know how become valuable in making this work, no only for the betterment of the individual, but the health of the community. 
Improvements in sanitation, can be a huge source of family pride, as they begin to realize, they are becoming a more healthy and productive member of the community.  As you will see later this can also be a valuable tool in maintaining a healthy environment.  Not only in bringing health, but becoming a player in their farms growth and giving back to the environment in the form of shade and food producing trees.
Now on to the latrine itself.  I will try to list a few different methods, and give the main ideas behind a flyless latrine.  There are many ways to do the same thing, but some basic principles stand.
A good location is a must.  Keeping a good distance away from a water source is key.  This also includes not digging into the water table.  All your work trying to make a more healthy environment can go down the drain (no pun intended), if everything leeches into the water supply.
In general 1.5-3 meters is the approximate depth to dig.  There are also arguments that up to 5 meters can be appropriate, but this is a pushing the maximum.  Some will line the pit, to keep the contents from escaping into the surrounding soil.  If you are able, this can be a good idea, but not necessary if a good location is chosen.
Another basic element is darkness.  Flies love light.  Building your facility with a walk around door can help some light from entering.  You want any flies that would end up in the pit to be drawn to a single light source, not the bright shinning around your posterior.  This light source should be in the form of a vent pipe.  A vent pipe has multiple purposes. One being an escape for the smell.  Another being a death trap for flies.  the vent trap should be covered with a mesh that allows in maximum sunlight, but doesn't allow flies to escape.  Flies will be drawn up the pipe, by the light.  They will not be able to escape thru the top. And by a very intelligent design, flies are not able to fly straight down, in such a narrow tube.  So by nature they will continue to try to "reach the light" wearing themselves out, thus dying and not becoming that torturous Airbus looking for a landing strip.  The hole where the waste is deposited should be covered, usually with a plug.  Many consist of a wooden block that covers the hole with a stick attached to it for easy moving, without getting too close to the opening.
Another factor that can assist in keeping a flies to a minimum is covering up fecal matter after each use. A generous covering of a soil and ash mixture will decrease the odor, dry the contents of the pit and increase the PH level which will accelerate the destruction of pathogens that cause harm.
Its helpful if the covering over the pit is made out of some material that can easily be washed to maintaining a clean environment.  Typically a cement slab is used. 
Three versions listed here are common for design and sustainability of the latrine.  The second and third seem to be the best for the good of all.  One way is to dig your hole, and when it gets close to being full, deal with what to do with it and where to build the new one.  This way is quite common, but not the best when thinking for the future.  Another way, which takes some know how and teaching, consists of a larger structure covering two pits.  This method is preferred as the latrine can be used indefinitely, with benefits for the whole family, even the community.  One pit is always covered, for safety.  When the first pit nears full, it is covered with soil, ash, kitchen waste, etc.  Then left to compost while the second pit is in use.  By the time the second pit it full, ideally 12-18 months, the first is composted and its contents are able to be removed and used as compost for the farm.  Done the right way, this can be a safe and nice alternative to needing a new location after use.  One of my favorite ideas, has a multi purpose to it as well.  The pit is dug approximately 1.5 meters deep.  When the pit is 2/3's full, it is covered with soil, ash and kitchen waste as well.  The plot is watered down well and the next day a tree is planted on top.  This way the ground used up will be put to good use, and the family will have a new shade and/or fruit bearing tree for the future.
Local and cultural regulations must always be considered, before any new latrine in constructed.  Always use any experts advice, and follow all laws regulating building and use.
Done right the improved latrine can be a safe, and productive addition for the family and community.  It  provides valuable resources for the future and meets an immediate need.
Dig a hole today, have a Mango tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to "L"ook for Parking

There are more than a few suggestions to finding a place to park.  Usually "finding a place" isn't the trouble.  "Finding a good place" is often what people are talking about when they say, "I can't find a place to park", or "I cant find any parking".  Most often this is exaggerated because we want to find the "best" place.  We always want a deal.  When you go into a store you have your eye out for the best product for the best price. Many times in parking, we treat this as if we are shopping.  Expecting something for nothing, is one of our first mistakes.
Urban planners, when designing city parking, as well as parking lots, attempt to maintain a maximum 85% capacity at any time.  This should leave 15% of parking freed up.  Of course, there are those times where a huge event is happening, and those percentage points will go down quick.  Nevertheless, the majority of the time there will still be parking available.  It is a matter of what you are willing to do for it.  You want that "deal", you want a spot, well you will have to do some work for it.  Its not just a matter of circling the lot 50 times hoping some poor soul will be locked in your cross hairs as you follow them to their car. 
It may take a bit of ingenuity, or effort.  The easy answer is to park at the back of the lot and walk...I know, Shock and Horror, of the thought of having to walk 100 feet extra to the door.  Although this plan, right off the bat will likely save you time and money of having to circle the acres of Walmart parking lot, but some of the thrill of the chase will be lost.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they approach parking.  Again, this is assuming normal parking conditions, and no major event, like an American Idol audition is being held at your local drugstore.  Three types of people surface when looking at this, all with pros and cons.
Type 1:  The Practical Person-Head in to the parking lot, find the first available space and park.  It may be a bit of a walk, but the time and gas saved will make you feel victorious over those poor, lazy people just circling the lot for "days", causing "Climate Change" (or Global Warming for those who aren't up on the latest lingo).  You will be in and out usually before others even put the parking brake on.
Type 2: The Dreamer: Some may call it lazy, but to this person, they are just trying to save a few steps.  After all, why waste all that energy on walking, when you should save it for shopping. Perhaps it is all a big challenge to them to become the Victor or King of the Parking Lot Mountain.  You probably scoff at those Practical folks who just are just lazy, choosing the first spot they see.  Whats the fun in that.  Once this person finds the "right" spot, they enter the location with pride, honor and a feeling they they really accomplished something. Not a lot of others would have the patience for this, of course. You know others are drooling at you, when you step out, with head up high, because you...yes You, have the best of the best.  When you return to the car, you take a little extra time getting yourself situated, adjusting mirrors, checking again to make sure the trunk is closed, all in an attempt to show off your "spot finding" skills.  The pride builds up again, as the line up for your spot takes place.  You drive away, smile plastered on your face, run out of gas before leaving the parking lot, because you wasted it all circling the lot for a hour.
Type 3: Probably the "real" practical person, and the one to be if you really want to find a spot so you can get in and out.  To be this person, you are in for an initial challenge, but are satisfied just to get a spot, so you can be in, out and on your way.  Lets use your average Walmart for an example.  Enter the lot. Don't choose the first row or last row, as this is the most likely path most will wander.  Instead travel about a third of the way across the isles and enter a row. Maintain patience and an eagles eye at the same time for that "miracle" spot, or for someone who is just pulling out.  Beware it may be the Type 2 person, just pulling your leg, by pulling out then in again, just for laughs.  If no spots are seen go down a couple of rows, just out of your previous view, to head towards the back.  This way you are covering new ground and can still find the closest spot without all the stress. If no spot comes easily, just park where you can.  This will satisfy the Type 1 and 2 person in all of us.  You will get the adventure and thrill of hunting for a spot. Victory is yours if you get a spot, but will save on time and gas by not wasting time you don't really have searching for ever.  You will walk in to the store, knowing you have a knack for adventure, for you are not willing to shy away from a challenge.  And you will have the quiet pride that you have saved time, money, and yes for you "greenies" the Planet.  The exercise will also do you good.
Be who you are and be proud of it.  Just realize, there is more than one way to do things. You can even mix it up, if you are willing and able.
Side note: If it happens to be raining as you make your way in from the "back 40".  You will get just as wet, running for the doors as if you walked in at a reasonable rate.  But, that's another blog.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to "K"now how many teaspoons of surgar are in your drink

As long as you have a lable on your drink, this is a quick, easy approximate way to know how many tsps of surgar you are loading up on when you "just have a Coke".
The math is pretty easy.  Just take the total number of grams of surgar (remember a bottle of something usually has two servings), and divide it by 4.  This will give you a close enough estimate to think about making a healthier choice.
Lets look a four different beverages or sizes:
  • 12oz can of Coke=30.9g or approx 10 tsp of surgar
  • McDonalds large Coke=86g or 21 tsp of surgar
Or maybe you would like to go "healthy":
  • Jamba Juice original size Bannana Berry=84g or 21 tsp of surgar
  • Snapple Peach Ice Tea=48g or 12 tsp of surgar
I know, I know many people would say, "I dont need to count calories in my drink, I only have one Coke a day". But consider that if you have a large Coke at McDonalds that is approx 1/6th your total recommended daily calories for the day.
Hmmm..what to do with the rest of the calories...maybe a quick stop by Jamba Juice for a snack before lunch.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to "J"udge distance walked

Handy for shorter distances, like how far to the corner, but can be used to measure longer walks and hikes.
First start out with a tape measure.  Put a marker (stick) on your start point. Then measure out 100 ft. Place another marker at the end.  Then start walking at a normal relaxed pace from one stick to another. Each time your left foot hits the ground, that will count for one, or one pace. (Right, Left = One).  Do this 3-4 times to establish a reliable number.  You can then take this too anywhere.  If you counted out 20, then you know every 20 paces is 100 ft.  Going up or down hills will effect the number slightly, but you should be within about 5 feet every 100 paces.
Cheap and easy...who needs a pedometer?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to "I"dentify pills

Ever found a pill in your medicine cabinet and wondered what it was?  Ever gathered all your pills together, put them in your hand, popped them in your mouth, only to have one fall out?   You have searched the floor to finally find the pill, but have no idea which one of the 10 pills it was.  Sure the easy answer would be to look in the pill bottle and match it up to others that look the same.  Problem is, many pills look alike, or you could have taken the last ones in the bottles.
Almost all legal drugs, as some illegal, have marking, letters, numbers, symbols on them which make for easy identification.  Lets say you some accross a pill in your cabinet that has an imprint code of M357.  This can easily be identified as a pain medicine know as Vicodin. 
How can we be sure? has a great section called "Pill identifier".  You can go here, enter in its imprint, or even color and shape and right away you will have what it is and a picture to go along with it.
This can be super helpful for parents, if you happen to stumble across a mystery pill in your childs room.
Some medicines can be easily identified and are easy to remember.  For example Ibuprofen.  The imprint will most commonly read "I-2".  The "I" is for Ibuprofen and the "2" is for 200 mg, which is the common, over the counter strength.
Marks nursing side note here:  For headaches Ibuprofen can be a great drug to take, but there are some things to consider when taking.  This medicine works as a blood thinner as well, so be cautioned that it may cause bleeding, or other serious complications.  Another things is that most people will pop 3-4 of these babies for a headache, not realizing that headaches are a side effect of Ibuprofen.  This can actually make matters worse.  Try just taking one, give it time to work and only if things do not get better try one more.  You will be amazed at how one pill can be just as, or more effective that 3-4.
So now you know, and that mystery pill will be a mystery no longer. Just use your computer and start typing away.  Who knows, it may even be fun!