Is Your Child or Teen Obese?

There is growing concern around the world about obesity. Being overweight is bad for your body in a number of ways, including negatively impacting your blood pressure and heart function, as well as leading to diseases like diabetes.

While weight problems are occurring across all age groups, there is particular concern regarding children. Diabetes used to be a disease that affected people in middle age, but now some children are getting Type II diabetes. It is a true shame that anyone should have to deal with the scourge of diabetes, but to have it at such a young age is truly tragic.

CTV News reported today that the childhood obesity rate is ten times what it was in 1975. If that were not disturbing enough, should the trend continue upwards at this rate, it will not be that many years before there are more obese children than those at their proper weight.

There are a number of factors that can lead to childhood obesity. In decades past, the finger was usually pointed at television for making children sedentary. Now, of course, there are a multitude more entertainment options, including computers, videogames, and smart phones. The result is more and more children spending less time playing sports and exercising in favour of sitting in front of a screen and not working off those extra calories.

Experts have wrestled with what the right answer is. If it is such a challenge to get children more interested in physical activity, then it would seem that the only answer is to strictly police their diet. That means a proper and nutritious menu of food, with little or no junk and excess sugar. As anyone who is trying to lose weight will tell you, it takes tremendous willpower, so it is tough to imagine that most children will be able to adhere to such a plan, sadly.

The Changing Retail Landscape

By Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Even if you have not been paying close attention to the news, we are sure that you have noticed the retail landscape is changing. Gone are the days when people did the majority of their shopping at brick-and-mortar outlets, while saving online shopping for either emergencies or special occasions. If anything, things are the opposite of what they used to be. When Amazon first appeared, it was primarily a book retailer. Now they sell everything you can think of and some people take advantage of that fact several times a week. The convenience is difficult to argue and the price is often lower than what you commonly see in a regular store, due to their business model.

This has resulted in a distinct change of habits when it comes to shopping for many people. Some people only go to brick-and-mortar stores now in order to try products out. Once they are satisfied that the item is what they want, they then buy it online at a lower price. As you can imagine, that has drastically cut into the bottom line of many retailers that rely on the majority of their sales from physical locations.

The number of retailer bankruptcy in 2017 has been staggering, including such major chains as Sears and Toys “R” Us. As difficult as it is to imagine that retail landscape without such prominent players, this is increasingly becoming the norm as more and more people do their shopping from home. It is likely to increase in the future as so many young people are increasingly used to online shopping, so they will be very difficult to lure into a physical store going forward.

“Adapt or die”seems like a blunt way to put it, but it really is the case. Expect more retail giants to fold their tent and leave town before the decade is out.

Tips That Can Help You Live With Anxiety

Do you find yourself feeling anxious? Frankly, we would be very surprised to hear someone claim that they never experience anxiety. It is a very normal part of living, but also something that most people get over pretty quickly or only experience on occasion. Anxiety becomes a genuine problem when you experience it on a regular basis and it has a negative impact on your quality of life and/or ability to work.

Here are some tips that can help you to successfully live with anxiety:

Seek professional help

If you feel that anxiety is creating substantial problems for you, it never hurts to get a professional opinion. Anxiety is a very common problem, so you should not feel bad about seeing a therapist for it. One advantage that comes with this being such an everyday issue is that the therapist will have many ideas on how to tackle the problem. The two of you will work together and come up with the treatment plan that will make anxiety less of a problem for you.

Employ distractions

If you feel anxiety coming on, try doing something that will occupy your mind so that anxiety will be shuffled off into the background of your mind. Music, movies, reading, socializing…these are just a few things you can employ.


Study after study reveals that the average North American does not get enough exercise. As it turns out, exercise can benefit not only your body, but also your mind. Exercising produces “feel-good” endorphins, which are brain chemicals that improve mood. These can help you to relax, and, in doing so, reduce anxiety.

Take deep breaths

It sounds simplistic, but taking deep breaths can really help to slow down your blood pressure and reduce anxiety. This is also something that you can do quite easily and anywhere.

Do You Binge Watch?

The VCR revolutionized the way we watched TV. Not only could we record something and then run it later, but it was also now possible to save a bunch of episodes from a show and watch them back-to-back.

Home video companies started releasing TV shows on videocassette and this practice intensified dramatically with the arrival of DVD. That format’s capacity meant that many episodes of a series could fit on a single dual layer disc. Depending on how long a series lasted, you could conceivably include every show in one just boxset. The capacity increased even further with the arrival of Blu-ray.

Streaming services like Netflix made it even more convenient to go nuts and binge watch, particularly since the site is designed to automatically start playing the next episode whenever you finish one.

For some, this became the most common way to digest television. On the plus side, watching one episode after another can keep up the suspense and interest. It makes a television series seem almost like an extra long feature film.

On the downside, binging can become a major time suck, taking up many hours of your day, week, or even month. There are so many options available, you can theoretically go from one binging situation to another.

Of course, another reason many people binge is to avoid commercials. DVDs, Blu-rays, and streaming services are usually commercial free, and you can always record shows and then easily skip over the ads.

The way we consume media has changed in ways that few could have imagined. It used to take years to watch a show, one episode at a time over a period of weeks. Now, it possible to binge your way through a series in only a matter of days!

What is your preference? What is the best series you have ever binged?

Why Do People Love Cottages?

I don’t know about you, but my idea of the perfect vacation involves me doing as little as humanly possible. That includes anything that has to do with cleanup and maintenance of where ever I am staying. Owning your own cottage sounds quite romantic and fun, but there is also a great deal of work and responsibility that comes with this northern prize.

And yet, many people accept that and are quite happy with their cottages. Here are a few reasons why:

A Home Away from Home

While there is nothing wrong with letting other people do the work for you, some people just to have a second home away from home. That means knowing precisely the environment they are coming to and having full control over it.

That familiarity allows them to enjoy a predictable environment away from their regular one. That sense of comfort means that they can more readily relax and take in the pleasures of this alternative location.

Relaxing by the Lake

People who lived near a lake may come to take its pleasures for granted. But for those who spend their time in the rat race of the city and the suburbs, a lake is a peaceful oasis of calm in an ever-rushing world.

Water lapping gently against the shore can bring about a sense of relaxation and peace of mind. Those are two very desirable states for most people after surviving the work week.

Bonding with the Kids

Many cottage owners have families and this getaway place provides a perfect opportunity to play and bond with their children in an environment that is quiet, safe, and filled with natural beauty.

It can be a great place to learn new skills such as swimming, canoeing, and hiking. Or you can simply practice older skills and become more proficient at them.

What to Do When You Feel Alone and Unwanted


Very few human beings can do without other people, even individuals they hardly even know. We often think things like, “Life would be so much easier if I didn’t have to deal with so-and-so; I’d be better off alone.” However, absolute loneliness is quite unhealthy and unnatural. Human beings are social creatures that do their best when they socialize and work together.

Because this is our natural state, loneliness can be difficult to deal with. If you are feeling lonely and unloved, here are some things to remember that can help:

You Will Get Through This

Remember times in the past when you have faced bad situations. You got through those, right? They might have seemed impossible at the time, but you powered through and a solution eventually presented itself. Keeping this in mind can help you to endure other similar moments of loneliness.

Put Your Feeling on Paper

Sometimes letting everything just pour out of you on to a piece of paper (or your word processing program) can make a real difference. It is like a weight falling from your shoulders. The problem might still be there, but you may be in a better state of mind to deal with it once your negative emotions have poured out.

Ignore Your Inner Critic

You know that inner voice that pops up from time to time in your head and says things like, “You’re not good enough,” “No one could ever love you,” or “You’re a phony and everyone knows it”? That’s your inner critic speaking and it is the voice of irrationality. You should never listen to your inner critic, especially when you are feeling down. However, this can be quite tempting because you are at your most vulnerable. When these thoughts arise, dismiss them as the untruths that they are.

Should You Share Your Password With Your Partner?

Relationships are about trust and sharing: sharing your feelings, sharing your responsibilities, and sharing your love. Increasingly, it is also about sharing your passwords. These could be for e-mail, social media, banking, etc. Giving your loved one access to all aspects of your life seems like the ultimate gesture, but it is also one that can backfire badly and lead to terrible consequences.

Relationships usually seem rock solid at the outset; you can often imagine spending the rest of your life with this person. However, not all of them do last and some become quite acrimonious. At that point, all bets are off: lawyers are called in, reputations are questioned, and things become quite ugly.

The internet has added a whole new wrinkle to this issue. Those who have had longtime access to their partner’s online activities often run across things that sour the relationship. It could be the partner having regular contact with a former lover or using the internet to hook up with other people, sans permission. Misuse of money can be another issue that drives couples apart, particularly when one is putting finances towards something that both parties have not agreed upon.

It also never hurts to have a measure of privacy, even in relationships where trust seems absolute. Even those with very stable partnerships might make an offhand comment in an e-mail to someone else that their loved one was never meant to see. This can cause wounded feelings and, potentially, a domino effect of constant snooping and suspicion.

The ideal compromise would seem to be finding a proper middle ground. For example, sharing the banking password, but allowing each party to have sole access to their own social media and e-mail accounts. No relationship is perfect and the majority do not last forever. It’s important to keep both of those factors in mind.

What to Do When You Have Writer’s Block

Whether you write for a living or just as a hobby, you have probably dealt with the dreaded writer’s block at one time or another. It can be especially frustrating when the words don’t flow, even more so if you write for a living. There are various things you can try to get back on track; here are a few suggestions:

Walk Away

Get up from your computer and leave the writing behind. Do other things you enjoy, run some errands, go for a walk…do anything other than write and don’t spend any time thinking about it. It might take a bit, but your inspiration will eventually return.

Try a New Space

Is your writing being compromised by distractions? If you are unable to concentrate, it can be difficult to get a flow going. Even if there are no external issues, sometimes you can get a creative boost from simply trying out a new spot.

Just Write…Anything

If you can’t concentrate on the desired subject, just start typing anything. Random thoughts, pointless rambles, anything that comes to mind…and then walk away from it. When you come back to this “mess,” chances are you will find some worthwhile content to extract and/or build upon.

Switch Up Your Writing Tool

Do you usually write on a computer? Switch to a yellow legal pad for a while. Do you usually write longhand? Switch to your computer for a bit. It seems like a very simple step, and it is, but this can actually make a difference.

Change Up Your Schedule

Many writers develop a set routine for their writing because that’s what works for them. When it stops working, you need to come up with a new one. For example: Do you usually write in the evening? Switch to first thing in the morning.

Home Security Code Tips

Home security systems have been a boon for all manner of dwellings during the past two decades. If someone should break in, the system will alert both you and the authorities with great speed, which is important when it comes to apprehending those breaking in. Today’s systems are so sophisticated, you can even program them using your smartphone while in another city.

Like your phone, you need to come up with a code. Here are some tips to think about when choosing your home security system code:

Don’t Pick a Code Already in Use

It can be very tempting to use the same code across all of our devices, but it’s a very bad idea. If a hacker figures out that one code, everything is vulnerable. When creating your security code, come up with something different from your usual method.

When choosing, try to avoid numbers that can be easily tied to your identity. For example, if you have your birthday year as the code and that information is already out there on social media, you might as well not even have a code. Take the time to come up with something unique that you can easily remember.

Periodically Change That Code

Never use the same code for too long. Change it up every six months at the most.

Give Everyone Their Own Code

Some families all use the same code, but it is actually a wiser idea for their to be several codes in use. This would not apply to young children, but having, for example, teenagers with their own code would allow you to check the system and make sure that they are remembering to re-arm it. You can also see whether they are adhering to your rules regarding how late they can stay out and when they should be at home.

Forget 1080p, Think 4K

Technology waits for no one and that is increasingly true right across the board. Let’s take television: Cathode Ray Tubes and a 1.33:1 display were the standard for over 50 years. In 1997, DVD arrived and sets soon became a bit wider at 1.78:1. A few years later, progressive scan replaced interlaced images and resolution began to march upward. From a standard of 480i, we soon reached Hi-Def 720p. Then that game way to 1080p. And now we have the next step: 4K, which offers 3840 pixels × 2160 lines.

All of those years where we were happy with standard def seems like another lifetime. TVs have gotten bigger and bigger and thinner and thinner. The images are now incredibly sharp and realistic, sometimes to the point where the program or movie you’re watching suffers under such intense scrutiny (many sets and types of make-up were designed a certain way because the makers knew there would be a certain lack of clarity to hide flaws – not anymore).

It can seem confusing for those of us out there who only think about TV specs every few years when we need a new one (I won’t even get into the current OLED vs QLED debate), but it always boils down to personal preference. How much space do you have for your set? How much money do you have to spend? What type of things do you watch?

Many people have money on their minds constantly and, as a result, are reluctant to splurge on big ticket electronics. However, as technology advances, prices come down. I paid over $1000 for my first DVD player back in 1997; now I can buy one for $30 that is just as good or better.

Large format TVs used to be the sole domain of the rich, but prices continue to drop. If you want an especially large 4K, that could set you back $10,000, but if you only need, say, 40″, you can grab one for less than a grand.

What do you need? Shop around for prices, size, and format. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.