Thursday, July 23, 2009

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

by Paul M. Carhart

This classic Zooming Thru Life article, repeated from last September for your convenience, seems to be just what the doctor ordered in these stressful times. - Ed.

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, Winter 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

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

by Paul M. Carhart

My family spent last Friday night experiencing the fun of the drive-in theater. So here's another classic Zooming Thru Life article, repeated from last summer, so you can too! - Ed.

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, Winter 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zooming Thru Life:
Strategies To Beat The Summer Heat

by Paul M. Carhart

This classic Zooming Thru Life article, repeated from last August for your convenience, seemed to be the perfect answer to our current summer conditions. - Ed.

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, Winter 2009. Stay up to date:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Zooming Thru Life will take a short break this week to celebrate the Fourth of July. Please spend plenty of time with your family and enjoy the things that really matter. Then, join me back here on July 9th for the next Zooming Thru Life post.

See you then!

Paul M. Carhart
Author, Zooming Thru Life