Friday, December 19, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Make the Most of Your Holiday Season – Part Two

by Paul M. Carhart

Last time, we took a look at five ideas to help spread the holiday cheer in your life. Now, let’s cap off the list with the final five.

Let your tree reflect you
A Christmas tree can be decorated in an infinite number of ways. Indeed, I can do an entire tree with Disney characters. When we got married, Lori introduced musical ornaments into the mix. When we had Melody, we started a yearly picture ornament. Together, these ornaments will trace her through the years. We know people who travel and pick up a new ornament wherever they go. Others get the kids into the act too, decorating to the kid’s tastes as well with Spongebob and Dora ornaments. The point is, adorn your tree with ornaments that reflect you and your interests. It could be sports, the Victorian era or Star Wars. It doesn’t matter. But when someone looks at your tree, they should be able to tell whose hand was involved. After all, most trees look the same when you buy them. It’s how you decorate it afterwards that makes each one unique. And put every present under it whether you’re giving or receiving. As you exchange presents with your friends and family members, the mix of presents under the tree will change. What a great way to decorate under the tree too!

Hearth and home
The tree is only the first step in decorating your house. There’s stockings, candles, placemats, wreathes, bells, lights, holly, etc. Again, you’ll want to tailor these decorations to your own tastes. Usually, we have a cardholder to hold all of the cards we get. We have stocking holders that go on the mantle and Lori will change out the placemats on the kitchen table (and probably the towels in the downstairs bathroom too). Lori even hangs an advent calendar she used to use in her classroom. Everything gets the festive touch.

Decorate the outside
A lot of people will go overboard this year with their exterior decorations. That’s okay. You don’t have to spend a fortune to tastefully spread some holiday cheer with the rest of the world. We’ve moved a lot over the past few years but we usually manage to pull out a few of the basics no matter where we are. Usually a Christmas wreath will replace our Thanksgiving harvest wreath on the front door. And we almost always put up lights, at least around the windows, to remind us of the season. Whatever the case, put something outside. After all, Christmas isn’t just for us. It’s for our neighbors too.

Cheer up your office space
And in the same vein as the previous tip, share the season with your co-workers too. Of course, make sure you don’t offend your colleagues with your own brand of seasonal cheer. Usually a “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” will suffice. You can give cards, cookies, gifts or simply hang one red glass ball ornament over your desk. Participate in the office Secret Santa if they have one. Attend the holiday party. Whatever strikes your fancy!

Share it with those you love
The giving of gifts is a given. Do so liberally. But make sure you share the joy of the season with those who are closest to you. Christmas can be one of the most romantic times of the year, which is another great reason for the fireplace. Snuggling up to watch classic seasonal films is a great time to remind your spouse of your love and just isn’t the same by yourself. Caroling is another great holiday activity that’s better with two. And don’t forget the mistletoe! Use your creativity to secretly hang it and ensnare your lover. It’s your holiday. So make the most of it!

As that Dickens classic touts, the world is indeed a better place thanks to the Christmas season. So no matter what holidays you celebrate, just make sure you’re not a Scrooge.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Make the Most of Your Holiday Season

by Paul M. Carhart

Lots of people revere the holiday season as their favorite time of year. And I’m right there with them. So here are a few ideas to help spread further the holiday cheer.

Understand the reason for the season
There are many holidays celebrated during this time (Chanukah, Kwanzaa, etc.). Whatever your beliefs, you should always take a moment with your family to acknowledge why we celebrate. Christmas, for example, celebrates the birth of Jesus the Messiah. For Christians, this is an important time in history when everything in Christianity started. There’s nothing wrong with also partaking of secular Christmas traditions as long as you keep it in perspective and acknowledge the real reason for the season.

Start early
For the die-hards, the holiday season can’t come soon enough and it always ends too early. My family celebrates a wide array of holidays at the end of the year. We start in October with harvest-type decorations. We celebrate Halloween in our own way, allowing Melody to dress up without over-emphasizing the darker aspects. Later on, Lori and I sometimes cuddle up on the couch and watch a spooky movie. Once November starts, it’s popular nowadays to put up the Christmas decorations. However, Thanksgiving is important too and we don’t want it to get lost in the Christmas hype. So, although the jack-o-lanterns are retired, Lori usually continues with the harvest-style d├ęcor right on through Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving is a great time to go all out for Christmas. It’s always a Friday and usually a paid holiday. If you don’t mind the crowds, you can cash in on the sales by getting a head start on your gift buying. It’s also the perfect time to break out all of the Christmas stuff and a good day to go pick out and bring home your Christmas tree. By the end of the day, your home can be transformed into a Winter Wonderland that’ll last through the New Year.

Let the music play
Decorating the house is also the perfect time to break out all of the Christmas CDs that you’ve had in storage. If you don’t have any, it’s easy to spot the Christmas section in any department store. We put them in a CD changer and hit the “random” button. It’s a great way to jump-start the season while you’re doing your decorating duties and throughout the season whenever you need a burst of Yuletide cheer.

Soak up the classics
Every year we put on classic Christmas films. It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street are two of Lori’s favorites. I can’t get enough of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Melody loves Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas. Of course there’s Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, Bill Murray’s Scrooged and Will Ferrell’s Elf to contend with as well. Love Actually is a modern favorite for later at night. Don’t forget all of the great Christmas TV specials from the 70s starring Rudolph, Frosty, Heat Miser and Charlie Brown that are now freshly available on DVD. No matter who you are, there are great holiday films to remind you why it’s such a special time of year.

Feed the fireplace… and your face
It’s cold during the holiday season, so it’s only natural to introduce some warmth into the fray. In our family, we like to put a log in the fireplace and let it glow, let it glow, let it glow. Fireplace or not, ‘tis also the season for baking. Cookies, cakes and pies are welcome treats in addition to the usual candy canes, fudge and all other things chocolate. Keep up that workout though or when you get too cold, you won’t need a fireplace. You’ll have your extra girth to keep you warm.

So enjoy the season. Own it and bring it to all you come in contact with.
Next time, we’ll look at five more things you can do to extend your holiday reach.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Five Steps to a Slimmer Zoomer

by Paul M. Carhart

With Thanksgiving and then the Christmas holiday season coming upon us, I thought this might be an appropriate topic. - Ed.

I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my adult life. I’ve never fully conquered the beast, but I’ve learned a lot along the way.

A Little Goes a Long Way
First, combat an increasing waistline by simply cutting back. Instead of two cheeseburgers, get one. Eat slower if you must. If you normally order the large french fries, get a medium or even a small. Round out your meal with roughage. At family functions, belay the second helping. Three cookies? How about savor just one?

Work Out
Action. Movement. It always works. Whether you do aerobics or you’re running down the street, getting your body moving and blood pumping not only burns calories and fat while you’re doing it, but keeping at it consistently (say 4-5 times a week) will raise your metabolism so your body continues burning away the bad stuff during every day life. Even on non-work out days, you can maintain an active lifestyle. There are plenty of fun active things to do. Biking. Tennis. Hiking. Sex. You get the picture. If you sweat, you’ll lose. Which means you win!

Low Fat = Low Flab
I can tell you from experience that a low fat diet will work. After all, if you control the amount of fat you take in, you will by default control the amount of fat that is added to your frame. Right? Provisionally so. You see, in a low fat regimen, you’re counting fat grams. It doesn’t matter how much sugar you eat. Under this mindset, frosted flakes, chocolate syrup and your favorite cola turn out to be low fat foods. Sugar is not by definition fat. But sugar will turn into fat if it isn’t burned off. So a low fat diet really only works in conjunction with a good exercise program. Together though, they’re a powerful one-two punch to your gut.

The Lowdown on Low Carb
Popularized by Atkins (The Zone and The South Beach Diet are also variations on the low carb diet), the basic theory is that the body burns two types of fuel: carbs first and then, when you’re out of carbs, fat. The idea is that most people eat so many carbs (sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice) that they never get around to burning fat. And if they don’t burn the carbs, those turn to fat too which is what causes the increase. If you eat enough less carbs, your body will revert to burning fat (a state known as ketosis). In this scenario, your body is burning fat at all times. Can you actually lose weight by chomping cheeseburgers (sans the bun) and guacamole (sans the chips) for dinner? String cheese in the morning? Pepperoni snacks? Eggs galore? The answer is yes. And even though vegetables are technically carbs, the greener they are the more fiber is in their make-up. And you can subtract fiber grams from the carb intake! The big enemy here is refined sugar. According to the Atkins book (which really has a far better explanation as to why the low carb diet works), refined sugar provides zero benefit to the body. But these instant carbs will throw your body back into carb-burning mode. If you have a sweet tooth, there are low carb alternatives that are surprisingly tasty thanks to sugar alcohol (too much will give you the runs though) and the aspartame-free Splenda sweetener. I can testify. It does work. Atkins defends the diet as healthy but I suspect only time will tell how healthy the low carb diet really is.

Snacks Are Your Friend… Sometimes
It’s better to snack a little throughout the day than to binge on treats at night. A few nuts or grapes can go a long way. Just don’t snack after eight o’clock. It’s okay to be a little hungry when you hit the hay. Let breakfast take care of that.

The key is to stick with what works for you. It’s persistence that ultimately pays off.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Keep Yourself Safe When
Zooming Thru Inclement Weather

by Paul M. Carhart

Sometimes we get into patterns that become etched into our psyche as we go about business. The automatic pilot is on. But when the weather is bad, it's our job to break out of our rut before we snap someone's neck. Maybe even our own.

Slow Down For Crying Out Loud
We all live on-the-go lifestyles, which sometimes means zipping from here to there at a breakneck pace. Unfortunately, the reality of today's freeways more resembles a parking lot than a throughway where forward motion is actually expected. And when the traffic finally opens up, we like to take advantage of that. But when it's raining or snowing, the cardinal rule is to slow down. Set a maximum speed for yourself and adhere to it. If your mph starts sliding upward, throw your vehicle into second gear if you must. Of all of these pointers, if you can keep only this one, you'll probably save your life.

Not-For-Bottom Cushions
Remember your Driver Ed class? Put at least four seconds between your car and the one in front of you. It’s called the Safety Cushion. Does anyone do this anymore? Apparently not. But when the road you’re on is slippery, you won't know it until you apply the brakes. That's where the space between you and the next guy could be the difference between a close call and a fender bender.

Keep Your Equipment Current
When your windshield is constantly getting pelted, it's important to have wipers that can do the job. They should be replaced every year or two. Sooner if you live in a particularly dry climate. Tires are commonly overlooked for replacement. You should always have a quarter-inch tread on your tires. If you know you're going to experience snow, there are snow tires that will better help you get around. However, these tires aren’t very good on everyday streets. You can also improve a standard set of tires for bad weather by siping them. This inexpensive process creates small horizontal cuts in the tire that work like squeegees against the road surface.

Get Gas
I’m not talking about stopping off at the local Mexican place either. When the weather sucks, so does the traffic. And if you’ve got a paltry eighth of a tank of gas before hopping onto the freeway, even though it might normally get you home, you could find yourself stuck in a bumper-to-bumper nightmare. The last thing you need is to run out of gas, thus becoming a contributor to the problem even after the original blockage is cleared. A good rule of thumb in inclement weather: keep it at a half tank.

Pay Attention
Watch where you're going when driving. It should be a given. If you're rubber-necking at accidents or checking out the hot young things strutting along the sidewalk, you're just asking to rear-end the guy in front of you. But where you might by pure luck escape unscathed on a bright and sunny day, your attention focused firmly on the road during bad weather might just save your life. This goes for shaving and applying make-up as well. And especially for mobile phones. It doesn't matter if you're on a headset or not, if you're carrying on a conversation over the phone, you're not present on the road.

Strap Everyone In
Even if you do everything you can to keep yourself safe, you can't control everyone on the road. Accidents happen. So strap everyone in! Then you can go about your business assured that you and your loved ones are tucked away as safe as they can be.

Despite all this common sense, we still see folks tearing down the freeway in the rain, sleet and snow. As they zip past me, I wonder how many of them will actually make it to their destination on time and unscathed. Trust me, when the weather is bad, it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Enjoy Your Cubicle Job While Building A Reputation As The Most Industrious Employee At Your Firm – Part Two

by Paul M. Carhart

Last time we reviewed a few ways to keep stagnation at bay in the office. Here are a few more ways to keep things fresh so you can stay passionate about your work.

Podcasts, Podcasts, Podcasts
There’s a new medium of delivering content to consumers and it’s called a podcast. Basically a podcast is an mp3 audio (or in some cases mp4 video) file that is delivered in a serialized format. There are now podcasts on every subject from political science to basket weaving. Some are very professional and some are homegrown, likely recorded in the garage or spare bedroom. You can subscribe via Apple’s iTunes or other aggregator applications, allowing automatic downloads of the latest edition of each podcast whenever it’s ready. Many people listen to podcasts on their iPod (thus the name, podcast) or portable MP3 player. Most computers these days also play MP3s and iTunes is a free download from Apple’s website. If your company doesn’t mind you highjacking the bandwidth in short bursts, you can download podcasts at work and listen directly from your office computer in headphones while you diligently whittle away at your workload.

Audio books, Audio books, Audio books
Audio books have been around for awhile, first on audio cassette and then on CD. But now even books are being serialized via podcast. And often at no cost. Check out to discover what’s available for free. Even books put out by traditional publishers sometimes make it into audio format, even if it’s not via podcast. You can listen to an audio CD on your computer through headphones or you can copy the contents of the CD into a program like iTunes and listen to it directly off the hard drive.

Decorate for the Holidays
Everybody decorates for Christmas. But if you really want to inject fun into the workplace, consider decorating for obscure holidays like Ground Hog Day, Box Day and Chinese New Year as well as the old stand-bys like Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Eventually your co-workers will try to figure out what on earth you’re decorating for. You can even offer a prize or some candy to the person who first guesses correctly.

Instant Messenger is your Buddy
Some places I’ve worked prohibit the use of Instant Messenger type programs. Others have embraced it. Indeed, I’ve worked at places where it was a primary means of communication between co-workers on different floors and even in offices in different states. Just make sure you won’t get in trouble before embracing the wonders of Instant Messaging technology. The most popular version is probably the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) which also interfaces directly to AOL. Microsoft also has a version. Whichever you prefer, now you can type real time messages to anyone you have a “buddy name” for (AOLese for username). You can chat, send pictures, share files, even bring in multiple “buddies” to chat. And, unlike e-mail, it’s all in real time. The best part though is that the casual observer probably won’t know if you’re chatting with a co-worker or your girlfriend. And, also unlike e-mail, there’s no record of the conversation unless you choose to save one. Did I mention it’s all in real time?

Express Yourself
Part of what can make your work day so stagnating is the fact that, usually, nobody talks about anything other than work. So try this. Put up pictures of your kids or props and posters from your favorite movies around your desk so there will always be other topics of conversation. It’s a great way to derail boring shoptalk to something you actually care about.

So there you have it. You won’t have less work to do and you’ll still have to put in your time, but maybe you won’t get burned out so easily if you can exercise a few of these workplace distractions.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Enjoy Your Cubicle Job While Building A Reputation As The Most Industrious Employee At Your Firm

by Paul M. Carhart

Sometimes working the same office job day after day is a recipe for stagnation. Here are a few things you can do to spice up your day.

Surf the Internet
This is the obvious means of wasting time in the office. Be careful though. Some companies monitor their web network religiously, logging every single thing you do. Still others take a more cavalier approach. Be mindful of which camp your employer falls into. And never view anything on your work computer that you wouldn’t mind the world knowing about. Because someday they just might.

Look Out for the Catered Lunches
If you’re a mover and shaker in your firm, you’ll probably attend your share of catered lunches. Even if you’re not, you can keep your eyes peeled anyway. Some companies will make leftovers available in the common area. This might sound vulturish, but try to make friends with the person who orders said lunches. You might occasionally get a few items added to what’s delivered or even pull off first dibs on the leftovers before word gets out. Whatever the case, some extra chow can hit the spot during a long day.

Removable Media is Your Friend
A great way to use your office computer for your own nefarious purposes is to bring a small flash drive to work with you. You can easily store small MS Word and Excel documents on these tiny USB devices and access them during slow points of the day. Not only will you be able to type away on a private project or balance your checkbook, but you won’t look like you’re idle either, thus perpetuating the illusion of your steadfast work ethic.

Play Practical Jokes
We, as a society, probably take ourselves a little too seriously. I mean, can anything really be more important than your family and children? No one on their death bed wishes they spent more time at the office. So why not inject a little fun into your co-worker’s day? Remember to be benign. Don’t damage property or harm someone. But you can come up with funny things to do and say that will make every one’s day a little less bleak. Including yours. And remember, sexual harassment is against the law, but just plain old ordinary harassment isn't.

Web Mail is Your Friend Too
It has been said not to put anything in an e-mail that you don’t care if the whole world reads. I heartily agree. Do yourself a favor. Don’t ever use your office e-mail for personal reasons. Everything that goes in and out of your office e-mail account is considered the property of your firm. Copies of your e-mail are likely backed up and precedent has been set to have them brought into light for court cases that involve your company… or virtually any other reason. If anything, the amount of personal e-mail you generate could be put in front of you during a review or used as an excuse to fire you. So, never ever mix personal and business in e-mail. Period. That said, there is a safe way to access your personal e-mail account over the web from your office computer. It’s called Web Mail. There are a few companies who will let you do it and it’s usually free (I use You use the settings from your personal e-mail account to access your personal e-mail via a web browser (many of the larger e-mail hosts such as AOL also provide a means to check your account through their website). Now you can check your e-mail, send new e-mail, forward e-mail, etc., all of a personal nature from your office computer via the Web. When you’re done, make sure you erase the browser’s history and empty the cache to prevent others from accessing your account. What a great way to stay in touch with non-work associates, friends and family!

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Propel Your Personal or Business Image
Into the Stratosphere

by Paul M. Carhart

It’s been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I agree and would take it further. We all have multiple means of making a first impression and it’s impossible to know where the first point of contact will be. That’s why it’s best to have all avenues covered.

These methods could easily be used to promote a book, a business or yourself for a potential job. It doesn’t matter. The elements of a refined image are the same.

Your Personal Image
When you’re meeting people, you want to be clean. You want to be well dressed. Your hair should be trimmed and combed. You should be clean-shaven, beard trimmed or make-up applied (whichever is applicable). Your fingernails should be trimmed and clean. Deoderant? Yes, please. Studies have also shown that people discriminate against overweight people. So, If you struggle with your weight, start the diet and workout now. And take a mint or chew a piece of gum. Anyone’s lunch can come back to haunt them at an inopportune time.

Your Print Image
You may think you don’t need a print image. But trust me, you do. Everyone needs at least a business card. If you’re not a designer and you don’t want to pay to have a unique one created, you can access the ever-changing library of business cards (some are even free) at They’ll even set you up with additional matching print materials if you like. If you’re promoting yourself for a potential job, you’ll need a resume too. Whatever the case, you should always leave something behind after you’ve met someone, be it resume, company brochure or a business card.

Your Digital Image
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it is essential that you have a presence on the Web. What form that presence takes depends on what it is you want to accomplish. Companies should have a website with a dedicated domain name. More budget-conscious folk can start a free blog at such places as or set up a MySpace page. Make sure you populate your pages with content that is applicable to what you want to accomplish. Assume the people you most want to impress will read your pages and then tailor your content accordingly. If you’re looking for a job, don’t post on your blog about how you like to drink at work. If you’re presenting your company, don’t put up a page about your weekend tennis matches. Also, set up a suitable signature in your e-mail application complete with tagline relevant to your venture, your Instant Messager address, e-mail address, and mobile phone number. Now every time you send an e-mail, you’re spreading the word.

Your Mobile Image
Make sure to keep your mobile phone nearby. No one likes to get voice mail every single time they call. Still, make sure you only answer when you can actually talk. No one wants to try to carry on a conversation with you while you’re ordering at the drive-thru either. Like it or not, this makes catching your voice mail inevitable. Your answering message should be clear, concise and professional so when your callers can’t get you, they’ll feel reassured that their message will be addressed.

Second Impressions
Follow-up is the key with any contact. If you’re organized, you’ll be easily able to chase down leads without losing them. Make an attempt to memorize names. One trick I use is to immediately associate a new person’s name with someone else I know who shares that name. Give it a shot. It always works for me. Believe me, nothing is more insulting than having someone call you by the wrong name. Just try it with your spouse next time you’re making love.

If you can recognize the importance of these elements and give them the proper attention, everything will come together. And when that happens, there can only be one word for the end result. Impressive.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Go Green At The Office

by Paul M. Carhart

Rising fuel costs and energy bills are forcing people everywhere to "go green." People today want to do their part to save the planet. There are things we can do as individuals but what if you could organize others? Here are a few ways you can lead the eco-charge in your workplace.

Do You Need To Print That?
There are a lot of documents that float around an office. Microsoft has based its entire line of software on just this kind of information and, more often than not, people feel compelled to print these documents. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely times when it is important to print out information. But what if we asked the question, "Do I really need to print that?" If it's something you can just as easily view on your monitor and you don't need to mark it up, perhaps you don't need to print it. Perhaps you could save paper, toner and the energy the printer would have used to print it if you just made a minor adjustment to your everyday work habits.

Print On Both Sides
As previously stated, there are always times that you must print documents. For those times, most modern business printers of note are set up with the ability to print on both sides of the page. If you're not sure how to do this, have your handy IT guy do it for you. If you're going to expend the toner and the energy, you might as well save some trees.

Recycle The Paper
Even the most vital of documents are not needed forever. When it's time to retire your printed pages, put them in a paper-only bin and recycle them. You'll see that every page adds up.

Recycle Cans And Bottles
I've never worked in an office where caffeinated drinks were not the order of the day. Coffee is common, sure. But aluminum soda cans are nearly just as common. For that matter, standard water bottles are the flotsom and jetsom of the office. Get another bin and start filling it up.

Turn Off Unneeded Lights And Devices
So you think you're doing everything you can, eh? Does the light in the bathroom need to be on when no one’s in it? Probably not. Do printers, fax machines and computer monitors need to be on overnight? Doubtful. Start turning these devices off whenever you can. You'll not only save your company money but you'll outdo your colleagues in your quest to save the planet.

Enlist Others
Speaking of colleagues. Once your strange behavior starts getting noticed, encourage your friends to take part as well. It’s sorta like a high school dance floor. No one may be dancing at first but, as you start doing your part, others will step up and do theirs. Before you know it, you’ll inspire a company recycling program.

You may not single-handedly stop Global Warming, but a minor tweak in your everyday office behavior might be the first step in starting a national "go green" revolution. You've got nothing to lose and we've all got everything to gain.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Keep The Pages Turning On
Whatever Book You're Reading
– Part Two

by Paul M. Carhart

Last time, we went over a few tips for getting quickly from the front cover to the back cover of your latest favorite book. Here are a few more ideas to help you cut through those paragraphs.

Reading and walking
Not everyone can accomplish this feat with the same level of finesse. However, I’ve been known, especially when reading something particularly gripping, to make the journey from the parking structure to my office desk with my nose in a book. In my youth, I lived close enough to work to walk and read the whole way in both directions. So I guess I’ve perfected the task. I can see how one might get a headache or even motion sickness, so attempt with caution. But if you can accomplish it, depending on the length of your trek, you can pull down a page or two in each direction.

Feeding on pages
By law, just about every working individual gets a lunch. If you’re not spending the entire time grabbing something to eat and sucking it down, clock in some quality time with your favorite book. Or if you brown-bag-it, you’ll save money and have more time to read. I’ve been known to lay a stapler across the pages so they won’t close on me while whipping my sandwich out of the plastic zipper bag. Or you can get the handy-dandy book holders available at to keep your reading hands-free.

Lining up
It seems like everywhere we go, we have to stand in line. The grocery store. Restaurants, especially of the to-go variety. The movie theater, indeed at the ticket booth, theater entrance and concession stand. I’ve even been known to have a book on hand at Disneyland, where you’ll find lines to get onto the tram, lines at the security checkpoint, lines to get into the park, lines for attractions, lines for eateries, lines for stage shows and parades, lines for bathrooms and lines to leave the park when you’re done. If your book is your constant companion, you’ll be prepared to whittle away the time in line with something enriching. Of course, don’t be rude. If you’re with your family, talk to them. But if you’re alone in line like I am when I pick up dinner on the way home from work, you’ll spend less time thinking about what you’re waiting for and more time hacking through those book pages.

When you’re stalled
I must admit from the outset that I do not practice what I preach in this instance. However, if you’re one of those guys who take an entire newspaper or magazine to the bathroom with you, why not substitute whatever book you’re hacking through? Just don’t drop it into the bowl. The pages will never again be the same.

The waiting room
Your dentist has one. Your doctor has one. Your barbershop or hairstylist has one. Your auto mechanic has one. The room has one purpose, which can be found in its very name. It is the room in which one waits. Each of these rooms are equipped with several chairs and an array of shallow magazines, none of which you would ever subscribe to, much less read. And yet, when you visit, you inevitably pick one up and thumb through it. Why? Because you have nothing better to do! Ah, but if your book is your constant companion, not so! Delve in and enjoy.

Read only what interests you
Life is too short to read a book only because you started it. Don’t waste your minutes on this planet plodding through something that bores you to tears. Follow this simple rule: If you can put it down, you probably should. Then, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, read something enthralling. Something that captivates you. Something that you can connect to. Something that speaks to your heart. Something you cannot put down. That’s what reading should be about.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Keep The Pages Turning On
Whatever Book You're Reading

by Paul M. Carhart

I used to read a lot. I guess I can blame The Hobbit for that. I encountered that book in seventh grade and I’ve been a sci-fi and fantasy reader ever since. I also like to read nonfiction on subjects dear to my heart. Indeed, like many writers, I read what I write. However, I have found it harder to find time to read, especially since adding a family to my adventures. And yet, friends still ask me how I manage to get through one book and into the next, as if I actually am making headway. Of course, to me, it doesn’t really seem like I am making headway. But I’m still burning through books faster than most people I know. So here’s a few of my tips to help get you more quickly from front cover to the back.

Your constant companion
Carry a book with you wherever you go. I’m serious. My wife often gives me “that look” when we’re going out to the car and I have my book in tow. But you never know when you’re going to end up with idle time to burn through a few pages. Just don’t read when people are talking to you or replace family time with reading time. Save your book for when “they” aren’t looking. If you’re afraid of screwing up your new paperback book by dragging it around your world, you can pick up protective covers to keep your books pristine (check out If you don’t bring a book with you wherever you go, the rest of these tips will be useless to you. So bring it. You’ll be glad.

Brought to you by…
So you’re watching your favorite television show and suddenly you’re hit by those obnoxious louder-than-usual-TV intrusions into your privacy known as commercials. Rather than mindlessly flip channels, it’s a perfect time to scoop up your book and get through a few pages before your show returns.

In the sanctity of your car
It’s bad enough that your commute to work is time out of your life that you’ll never get back. Stoplights are even worse. What a waste of time! It’s part of your commute and you’re not even commuting! But if you have a book along for the ride, you might get through a page before the light changes in your favor. Just don’t try to read and drive at the same time. Also, if you arrive early for work or a meeting, it might be worthwhile to spend a few extra minutes in your favorite fictional world before taking care of business in the real one.

Flying solo
There are plenty of times when we’ll be out and my daughter will fall asleep in the car. Rather than try to move her when she’s asleep and chance waking her, Lori will sometimes dart into the store, leaving me to watch over our little angel. This is the perfect time to lock the doors and whip out a book. I stash mine in a pouch on the side of the car door. Sometimes I can even get through a whole chapter before my wife comes back.

Into the darkest hours
We usually wind down at night with something on TV. Even so, Lori will inevitably hit the hay before I do. Here’s yet another time to plow through another chapter or two in your book. It’s a lot less noisy than flipping channels so she probably won’t complain. The down side is that you need to keep a lamp on. This is fine when your spouse faces the other direction. But when she decides to roll over… well, it’s nighty night time. Of course, there’s a wide variety of book lights available. But sometimes it’s best to let sleeping wives lie.

Come back next time when we’ll look at another batch of tips that will keep your pages turning just as fast as your time seems to fly.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Take a Day Off to Refresh,
Regroup, and Rejuvenate

by Paul M. Carhart

Most people with a standard 9-to-5 job get vacation days and sick days. Sick days, in fact, are often not bankable from year-to-year where vacation days sometimes are and are even can be paid out when you switch employers. If you’re self-employed, hopefully you’re busy enough to make a successful living but still not too busy to take time some occasional time off. The point is, it’s important to have down time, even when you’re on-the-go most of the time.

So we’re in agreement, taking time off from work is important. If you can afford it, take your allotted days a week at a time and journey to some foreign land. But not everyone can afford to do that, especially in the budding years of parenthood. Whether you’re using your vacation days here and there or taking a sick day when you’re not really trying to sleep off a bug, here’s a few things that you can do during your day off to help you regenerate your batteries.

Sleep In
You don’t have to sleep in until noon, but there’s a certain joy to sliding out of bed after your work shift has actually started. Just knowing that all your colleagues started their wage-slavery an hour before you hop in the shower is somehow satisfying.

Grooming Thru Life
Having a day off is a great time to get your haircut, trim finger and toe nails, etc. Ladies, make manicure, pedicure, waxing, tanning or hair appointments to make the most of your time off. When you return to work, it will be evident that you have recharged.

Spend Time With Your Family
Work is there for you to have a life, not the other way around. So, if you’re married and you have kids, you probably don’t see enough of your family. Take the day to go out for lunch, go shopping, visit a playground. Hold hands with your significant other and tell him or her you love them. After all, we’re not on this planet forever. Let them know they matter.

Get Your Oil Changed
Have you ever seen the line at Jiffy Lube at about eleven o’clock in the morning? There’s no one there! Don’t waste your weekend on this chore. Drop your car off and, if it’s going to take more than fifteen minutes, come back for it later.

Knock Out A Few Small Projects
I don’t know about you, but my daughter is always bringing me something to fix. And usually I say, “Okay, when I can get to it.” Then it goes on the shelf with the other four things I’m supposed to fix. Most of these items just need a little glue and to sit upright overnight. Take an hour or so on your day off to address a couple projects you’ve been putting off. It’ll feel good to have them done and, if it’s something for your kid, you’ll have fostered eternal gratitude by keeping your word and actually “getting to it.”

Cleaning Time
Whether your spouse also works or stays home to do the most important job (raise the children), he or she would naturally love your help around the house. So be proactive! Volunteer to take out the trash, dust the piano, vacuum the dining room or fold a load of laundry. The goodwill you will generate will be profound and your spouse will probably grateful enough to extend your daytime frivolities well into the night.

But that’s another article.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Return to the Nostalgia of the
Drive-In Movie Theater

by Paul M. Carhart

As we zoom through our on-the-go lives, it’s nice to occasionally stop and smell the roses, catch a concert or play, or even check out a movie or two. We on-the-go humans need some down time!

Used to be you could catch two movies at a drive-in and watch them in the comfort of your car, your arm securely around your significant other, kids in the back seat chomping on popcorn brought from home. While common knowledge seems to avow the extinction of the drive-in movie, I’m here to testify. Although it differs somewhat nowadays from its portrayal in Grease, the drive-in movie theater is not dead.

Sound Improvements
First of all, if your car doesn’t have an FM radio, don’t visit today’s drive-in theater unless you bring along your ghetto blaster. That’s right! No more tin cans dangling from your window. Nowadays, the movie soundtrack is delivered in vibrant stereo directly to your receiver of choice. The better the car stereo, the better your listening experience. This also opens up some interesting viewing options. Now, if you bring the appropriate stereo, a camping chair and enough batteries, you can watch your movie out under the stars if you prefer the open air to the confines of your automobile. I’ve seen kids sitting on top of truck cabs, whole families perched around the front of their SUV in camping chairs as well as the expected romantic dalliances veiled behind steamed-up windows.

Pricing Differences
The days of paying by the carload are gone. But in most drive-ins, kids under twelve are still free and your ticket price, which is usually about the cost of an indoor movie ticket, is most often for both films. On weekends, the theater will often repeat the first film so you can watch it again for the same price. Be aware, however, that there are a few drive-ins out there that are now ticketing each film separately. Not that it’s a rip-off per se, but you should know what you’re getting in to.

Security Concerns
For the most part, patrons of modern drive-ins are family folk, hoping for an enjoyable night at the movies. However, the drive-ins I’ve been to in recent years are, admittedly, just a tad seedy. Stray from your vehicle at your own risk. Because it’s possible to bring in whatever “beverages” you want from the outside, it is common to smell alcohol and pot as you pass by various open windows. Some drive-ins prohibit drinking on the premises and employ roaming security guards to enforce their stance.

Snack Bar and Bathroom Advice
If you insist on paying through the nose for the nasty fare served at the snack bar, get in line well before the movies start. Every drive-in I’ve gone to in recent days has had a ridiculously long snack bar line. We always bring a cooler full of drinks, pre-popped popcorn and a few of our own candy bars and/or chips when we go. The bathrooms aren’t much better. Use them early or they are not going to be suitable for use at all. I don’t think anyone cleans them over the course of the night. Still, they’re probably not much worse than the restroom at your local Wal-Mart.

If you can get over some of the downsides of the modern drive-in theater, you’ll enjoy sinking into your seat cushion, cranking up the stereo and catching a couple movies with your spouse and kids. We always look forward to it.

Keep in mind, the above was true when I lived in Colorado and it’s true in Southern California… two very different urban landscapes. I can only assume, no matter what state you’re in, if you scour the Internet hard enough, you’ll come across your own hidden drive-in theater. You may have to drive an hour each way, but I bet you’ll find one.

Then only you can decide if it’s worth it to give it a try.

Bonus: If you live in Southern California, check out the drive-in we often frequent: The Vineland Drive-In.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Zooming Thru Life:
Strategies To Beat The Summer Heat

by Paul M. Carhart

No matter how often you're on-the-go, when it's sweltering hot, it sometimes feels like there's no place to go. Here's a few things you can do to beat the heat.

The Hydration Solution
No matter what, if you don't take any of these tips to heart, remember this: You've got to stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water. Americans already don't drink enough H2O. When you're hot and you're sweating, it's even more important to replenish your body's fluids. Drink it warm. Drink it cold. But drink it and drink it often.

Fight The Sun
First of all, the sun is your enemy. And he's bigger than you. In order to do battle, you'll need weapons. If you're going out in the sun for any time at all, sunscreen is imperative. Likewise, don't spend your days squinting. Sunglasses are required attire for recreation or work. Hats can also be found for every occasion. One of my favorites is an Australian outback suede hat with a wide brim and mesh in the crown to let the air flow through… perfect for the hottest of days.

Shop Til You Drop
Air conditioning at someone else’s expense is always a good idea. Department stores, restaurants and shopping malls will keep it nice and cool in order to entice refugees from the sun like you into their web. Why not be a willing participant?

Water, Water Everywhere
Or you can let more conventional wisdom prevail. Park swimming pools and the beach are great, if not crowded, places to cool off. Or take a shower in the middle of the day. At night, relax in the tub.

Cold Intake
On top of the water that you're already drinking (right?), feel free to supplement your fluid intake with ice cold drinks, floats, shakes, smoothies, even an ice cream bar or sundae. You've worked hard, treat yourself!

Get Outside At Night
The end result of a hot day is a hot home at night. If the aforementioned shower or tub soak doesn't do the trick, go for a walk. Once the sun goes down, it's inevitably cooler outside. If you have a convertible, take a drive with the top down and if you don't, just roll down all the windows and let the wind blow through your hair. Some cities still have drive-in movie theaters too. You can get two movies for the price of one and since the sound is now broadcast on an FM station, you can bring a camping chair and catch a couple flicks out under the stars.

Wet Washcloth
When it’s all said and done, you still have to go to sleep at night. And if it’s still too hot, dropping off can seem like an impossible task. I’ve found that if I take a simple washcloth, soak it all the way through, wring it out and fold it over my forehead, it will cool me enough to drift off to sleep.

And tomorrow is another day. Perhaps it won’t be so insufferably hot!

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Introduction To Zooming Thru Life

by Paul M. Carhart

I think you can agree: We all live on-the-go lifestyles to one degree or another.

August, 2009 will see the release of my first nonfiction book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle (Blademaster Press), hereafter referred to as ZTL. In it, I share what I've learned about the increasingly common on-the-go lifestyle that I know I share with your readers.

Over a decade ago, as a “flakey artist” turned just-out-of-school Art Director, I had to come to terms with my new on-the-go lifestyle. As I climbed corporate ladders and traveled around the world, I discovered little truths that made things easier, more efficient or saved me time and/or money. These are the morsels that make up my book.

However, as I was writing ZTL, I came across other tidbits that were also worth sharing. Items that were more than what the tip-based format of the book would handle, yet too small to warrant a book or even a chapter of their own. And these chunks of wisdom just continued to come to me!

The final tip in ZTL is “Share What You Learn.” So, I took my own advice. Rather than let them fall by the wayside, I've compiled these nuggets into shorter stand-alone pieces. What better purpose for a blog?

So each week, dear readers, you will discover fresh ideas for making the most of your on-the-go lifestyle. Reader participation is always encouraged, so please leave your comments and questions. I'll be monitoring and am always delighted to respond to feedback.