Thursday, April 28, 2011

Take a Hike!

This is such a beautiful time of year and in most parts of the country, the weather is perfect for some outdoor fun and activities. Why not take a hike? There are lots of state and national parks that are just waiting to be explored. What? Never been hiking, you say? Well then, let me give you some basic pointers because, even though it may seem that you are simply walking outdoors on a trail, there are a few pieces of knowledge that will make the experience so much more enjoyable and safer.

  • Don't travel alone. There is truth to the old adage about safety in numbers. If you hike with a partner, there is someone to help should you become injured, ill or if you become lost. It just makes good sense to have a friend along for the hike PLUS it will make it a more fun experience.
  • Know where you are going. Maps and field guides are essential when hiking in a place that you have never visited before. Most state and national parks have a headquarter office where you can pickup a map on the way into the park. Take a few minutes before you begin your hike to do some map reading to familiarize yourself with the location.
  • Take basic gear. A few essential items to have in your backpack are matches (preferably waterproof) or a lighter, a knife or multipurpose tool (like a Swiss Army knife), first aid kit, flashlight, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, a hat, a rain poncho, extra clothing and an extra pair of socks. I personally take along some emergency blankets (you've seen them - they look like giant pieces of tinfoil). A cell phone or GPS is also good to take along.
  • Take basic provisions. Water, water, water. In case you didn't get that, take water with you. The last thing you want is to get dehydrated while out on the trail. You will want to pack foods that won't spoil. Things like dried fruit, granola, trail mix, crackers or pretzels, peanut butter, jerky, tuna (in vacuum packed pouches, not the canned stuff), carrots, apples, bananas and cheese sticks are all good options.
  • Always carry out what you carry in. Take an extra plastic bag with you so that you can put trash in your pack. The last thing you want to do is litter the beautiful trail you are on. Keep your trash with you and dispose of it properly when you return to the headquarters.
  • Pace yourself especially if it's your first hike. You will be eager to take in the views along your hiking route but you should guard against using all of your energy early into your hike. It's always good to take things slow and conserve energy because you don't know what you are going to encounter along the trail (you might need to run from a ferocious squirrel!!). Let the slowest person in your group be the lead hiker and set the pace. Keeping the slower hiker in front helps in terms of keeping your hiking group safe and to ensure that no one gets left behind. Be sure to take breaks as needed.
  • Exercise common sense. If you don't know what it is - don't eat it. If you don't know what kind of animal or insect it is or whether or not it's poisonous- don't touch it. If you are tired - stop and rest. If you are hungry or thirsty - eat or drink a little. Think before you act and you will be fine.
  • ENJOY!!!!! There are very few things that are quite as awe-inspiring as getting back to nature and realizing what a great place we are fortunate enough to call home. Take in a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the wide open spaces.
Until next time, keep it clean!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Play Ball!!

Springtime always makes me think of the beginning of baseball season. There is nothing like going to a baseball game on a warm, sunny afternoon to sit and cheer on the home-team with while munching on peanuts and hot dogs. Baseball is, afterall, considered to be the great American past time and has a very rich, colorful history.

The origins of baseball are subject to lots of debate. Early on, Americans played a version of the 19th century English game called "rounders" or "town ball". Throughout the early 19th century, small towns formed "town ball" teams and larger cities formed baseball clubs. Alexander Cartwright is credited with setting must of the baseball code that is still used today (and he did that waaaay back in 1845!) Talk about carrying on tradition! The first organized baseball "contest" took place a year after the rules for the game had been adopted. Cartwright's team was called "The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City" (imagine that on the front of a t-shirt!) and they lost to the "New York Base Ball Club". The game increased in popularity and players and teams got together for a convention in 1857 to discuss rules and other issues. By the following year, the first organized baseball league was formed and was called the National Association of Base Ball Players.

By 1871, amateur baseball began to fade and the best players were being groomed to play professionally. Shortly after, the National Association was formed and was comprised of 9 teams and grew to 13 teams less than four years later. The National League took over the game beginning in 1875 and took control over policies regarding ticket prices, game schedules and player contracts. It wasn't until 1901 that the American League was formed (they squired away many of the National League's best players). Welcome to professional baseball as we know it!

Hope you enjoyed a brief glimpse into the history of baseball. Trust me, this is just the tip of the baseball iceberg but at least you know know how it all started!

Enjoy your weekend and until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, April 15, 2011


It's finally here! The day that most of us look forward to all week - FRIDAY!!! Friday is the greatest day between Thursday and Saturday (hee hee!). It's the beginning of the weekend and our time to relax and unwind. Fridays bring a smile to our face, a spring to our step and a sparkle to our eyes. The troubles of the week melt away and we are faced with the vast opportunities that the weekend ahead has to offer.

Wondering what to do on a Friday night? There are so many possibilities! Get together with friends. Catch a movie at the theater. Visit family. Go to dinner. Go for a walk at a neighborhood park. Play some board games. Go dancing. Catch a live sporting event (it is baseball season!). Put your feet up on the sofa and read a book. Bake cookies. Go bowling. Play miniature golf. You are only limited by your imagination! Whatever you do, make it something fun and enjoyable.

Until next time, keep it clean!!

Friday, April 8, 2011


This is the time of year that makes us want to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. It's all about getting out to smell the flowers, right? You pick that flower, bring it to your nose and then......AACCCCHOOOO!!!! I don't know about you but pollen and various allergens in the air can really put a damper on my outdoor activities. It starts with a nice, relaxing walk out on a trail and ends with itchy, water eyes and sneezing. Who wants to deal with that? According to the FDA, Spring is traditionally the main season when allergies blossom because of new growth on trees and weeds. But fall, with a whole different set of blooming plants as well as leaf mold, is a close second.
Here are a few ideas on how to curb your allergy issues:

  • Check the pollen count. Most local news stations will have pollen count information during their weather-cast. You can also visit to get the latest on the pollen count in your city. The website will even give you a 4 day forecast so you can plan your outdoor activities.
  • Keep your home clean. Regular dusting and vacuuming can greatly reduce the amount of dust and pollen in your home. Changing your air filter on a regular basis can also help to keep allergens from taking over your home. Keep your windows closed on days when the pollen counts are high (another good reason to check out your local newscast!). Wash your bed linens every couple of days to keep the allergens from effecting you during your sleep. And as nice as it is to hang laundry outside, avoid doing that on high pollen days. Stick to using your indoor dryer (perhaps your AZUMA Leasing dryer??).
  • Minimize your morning outdoor activities because this is when pollen counts are typically highest.
  • Wash your hands, change clothes and shower after outdoor activities to avoid bringing those allergens into your home. Don't forget to give your pets a wash if they have been outdoors, too. Pollen can collect on their fur and when they shake, all of those spores will go flying around your home!
  • Use a neti pot or saline spray to rinse out your nose after being outdoors. This is a simple, effective way to keep the allergens from taking over your nose.
  • Consider getting a HEPA air purifier to keep indoor allergens at bay.
  • And if things get REALLY bad, visit your doctor. A doctor can run a series of allergy tests on you to find out specifically what you are allergic to so that you can avoid it.
Hope these tips offer some relief if you are dealing with allergy issues during this time of year. Until next time, keep it clean!! No, really, keep it clean so it doesn't collect pollen and dust and you won't have to keep sneezing!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day!

Happy April Fool's Day!! Rather than try to play a prank, I thought I would give you a little bit of info on this silly little day. April Fool's Day, sometimes known as All Fools Day, is a day where people play jokes on each other (some big, some small) and sometimes concoct elaborate hoaxes to catch a "fool".

Some see April Fool's Day as a turn in the seasons while others believe that it's related to the adoption of a new calendar. Many cultures including the Romans and Hindus celebrated their new year on April 1st. It wasn't until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian calendar) to replace the existing Julian Calendar marking January 1st as the first day of the new year. Many people refused to accept this new date and continued to celebrate on April 1st by sending traditionalists on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing false stories. The practice spread all over Europe.

Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, provided another explanation on the origins of April Fool's Day in an Associated Press article published in 1983. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine when a court jester named Kugel told the Roman emperor that he could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine was amused and allowed the jester to be king for one day. Kugel passed a law calling for absurdity on that day. The custom caught on and became a yearly event.

There was only one catch to Boskin's theory: he made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke themselves.

Here are a few famous pranks that have taken place on April Fool's Day -

  • Taco Liberty Bell (1996) - Taco Bell took out an add in the New York Times announcing that the restaurant had purchased the Liberty Bell to help reduce the national debt.
  • Burger King (1998) - The "Home of the Whopper" announced a specially designed left-handed burger so that the condiments would drip out the right side. Yes, customers actually ordered the left-handed Whopper.
  • In 1983, Australian millionaire Dick Smith claimed to have towed an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney Harbour. He used a barge covered with white plastic and fire extinguisher foam to convince onlookers that he had indeed towed an iceberg.
  • A Dutch television news station fooled viewers in the 1950's into believing that the Tower of Pisa had fallen. The news station received numerous phone calls from concerned citizens.
So keep on your toes today!!! Keep the pranks light-hearted and fun and until next time, keep it clean!!