Looking out my office window on a wintry Wisconsin afternoon, I can see the streets no longer glisten, despite yesterday’s fresh snowfall. Instead, the pavement bears a bleak gray quality that seems only to appear when the temperature drops to a frighteningly frigid level.
Today, the actual temperature is two degrees in my proverbial neck of the woods. The wind chill is way, way, way below zero.
Here are the top ten. (CTRL-click on the title link to view the full photo gallery in a new internet window.)
1. Fairbanks, Alaska
2. Grand Forks, North Dakota
3. Bismarck, North Dakota
4. Fargo, North Dakota
5. Watertown, South Dakota
6. Aberdeen, South Dakota
7. Laramie, Wyoming
8. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
9. Duluth, Minnesota
10. Butte – Silver Bow, Montana
Sarah Palin’s Wasilla, Alaska, chimes in at #14.
OK, so Wisconsin didn’t even make the list. Color me wuss. But cold is cold!
Here’s a favorite holiday oldie to warm your spirits, if not your fingers and toes. Just for fun, this truly weird cover version features rocker Rod Stewart with country music’s Dolly Parton. OK, they’re not exactly Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer, but it’s still fun.
This healthy holiday is America’s oldest drug prevention program, held during the last week of October every year. Folks wear red ribbons and participate in anti-drug education programs and events nationwide.
Did you know … ?
Red Ribbon Week honors Enrique (Kiki) Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent, who lost his life while on duty. Kiki Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and killed by a Mexican drug cartel he was investigating.
Each year, during the last week of October, Americans mark Red Ribbon Week as a time of raising awareness about drug abuse and fostering drug abuse prevention. How might you celebrate Red Ribbon Week this year?
Wear a red ribbon during Red Ribbon Week
Distribute red ribbons to customers and colleagues
Display a red ribbon decal on your car window or your home
Decorate your mailbox and porch with red ribbons for Red Ribbon Week
Attend a Red Ribbon Week drug abuse prevention program
Host a Red Ribbon Week parade or 5K run
Sponsor an essay or poster contest for Red Ribbon Week
Organize a Red Ribbon Week prayer meeting or gathering
Encourage young people to sign Red Ribbon Week drug-free pledges
12 Creative Costume Ideas for Trick or Treaters or Parties
Headed for a Halloween costume party, a classroom Halloween celebration, a costume parade or neighborhood trick-or-treating? Here are a dozen do-it-yourself costume choices. Most are extremely simple to make - at minimal expense - and with little or no sewing or crafting skill required.
Make your own Sal Monella, The Deviled Egg, costume. Salmonella scares have rocked the news in recent months and years. What could be a more appropriate scary Halloween costume than Sal Monella, The Deviled Egg? Here's how. It's easy and cheap ("cheep?").
Need a handy Halloween costume that won't break the bank? Don't hide in the garage on Halloween night, when you trick or treat in the hottest Halloween costume this year. Remember Falcon Heene, the six-year-old Balloon Boy of Fort Collins, Colorado?
Harry Potter and his Hogwarts pals Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, are popular subjects for trick or treat costumes. Ready-made Harry Potter outfits may cost $30 or more. Of course, clever trick or treaters may whip up their own character costumes.
Have some superhero fun for your trick-or-treating, Halloween events or other costumed occasions. Follow these simple instructions for a Spider-Man superhero Halloween-themed costume, including step-by-step Spider-Man Face-Paint Designs.
What will you be for Halloween this year? How about an iPod? Tuned-in trick-or-treaters of all ages will download lots of fun with the iPod Halloween costume. Make it yourself, using these easy instructions. It's nano-riffic!
Halloween is a big enterprise, as trick or treaters buy popular costumes. Among the perennial favorites for trick or treating are Star Trek costumes. Trekkies may design their own costumes, trick or treating as their favorite Star Trek characters.
Preschoolers to post-grads, girls love to dress up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween trick-or-treating. Costume shops offer Raggedy Ann suits, but you can also easily create your own rag doll disguise without sewing.
Raggedy Ann and Andy are popular trick-or-treating costume choices. Adults and children enjoy dressing up as rag dolls for Halloween parties, costume events and trick-or-treating. How can you make your own Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes for Halloween?
Psst! Wanna see something scary? How about dressing up as Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Joe Biden or another politician or celebrity for Halloween? Here's the simple secret to a no-sew costume of the Halloween headliner of your choice.
Trick-or-treat costumes are the hallmark of Halloween. What happens to all of those Halloween costumes after October 31st? Why not recycle those Halloween costumes? Here's a helpful handful of post-Halloween how-tos for recycling trick-or-treat outfits.
OK, this is one of those proverbial “man bites dog” stories, if I ever heard one.
How can a kid get stuck inside a vending machine?
Only in Mad-Town.
Yesterday (on October 3rd), a nine-year-old Wisconsin boy may have become a bit antsy, while shopping at a WalMart store near Madison with his parents, identified as Mr. and Mrs. Hanson.
Hey, it happens.
Apparently, Mom and Dad handed the kid a few quarters and sent him off to play with the toy vending machine. Perhaps they hoped the Giant Claw game would keep the lad busy while they finished shopping or checking out with the Walmart cashier.
But the boy had another idea. He crawled through the toy-drop slot and into the Giant Claw machine. (That hole is about 1’ x 1’ – so no one seems to know how he managed it.)
Finding the nine-year-old inside the toy machine, along with the Beanie Babies and plush animal prizes, WalMart staffers called Sun Prairie firefighters to extract him. In fact, the kid seemed to be having so much fun in his own private plaything paradise that he seemed reluctant to come out.
"We actually tried to get his attention a few times 'cause he was playing, so I mean he was happy to be in there, but I don't think mom and dad were too happy," said Lt. Dan Cotter of the Sun Prairie Fire Department.
Finally, the offer of two take-home toys seemed to satisfy the Hansons’ son. As the boy exited from the Sun Prairie Walmart with his parents, folks could see the printing on the back of the youngster's tee shirt, which simply read:
Parents everywhere may be scratching their heads at that one. What would you say to a child who pulled a stunt like that in a store?
We have all heard of folks being caught with their hands stuck in cookie jars … but kids stuck in vending machines? Where’s Mr. Ripley when we need him?
Unbelievably, this sort of thing has happened before:
What happened when a Colorado man and his cohort tried to break into a home? An apparent would-be burglar in Colorado stumbled his way to an arrest. The alleged burglar encountered his own children after allegedly breaking and entering.
Even during family gatherings at the beach, natural consequences may teach children important lessons of life. What happens when kids do not listen to adult instruction? Things can get a little scratchy.
The holiday travel season is right around the corner.
Many folks will plan holiday vacations, family get-togethers, holiday shopping trips and other excursions during this time of year. Although plenty of people will stay with relatives at their various destinations, lots of others will make hotel reservations instead.
Which are the best of all American hotels?
Travelers Choice 2010 listed the “Top 25 Hotels in the United States.” The choices may surprise many hotel patrons, as lots of the top options may not necessarily boast the most costly nightly room rates. In addition, the top 25 hotels selected include business, city and resort properties.
What’s more, the top 15 hotel properties listed also represent both independent hoteliers and major hospitality chains.
Here’s the lineup of Travelers Choice’s “Top 25 Hotels in the United States.” The roster merits review before making reservations.
25. Conrad Hilton Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN
24. The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge – Charlotte, NC
23. Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel – Pittsburgh, PA
22. Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center – Portland, OR
21. Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch – St. Louis, MO
20. Le Rivage Hotel – Sacramento, CA
19. Marriott’s Harbour Lake – Orlando, FL
18. Marriott Cleveland Downtown at Kev Center – Cleveland, OH
17. EPIC Hotel – Miami, FL
16. Residence Inn Denver City Center – Denver, CO
15. Marriott Minneapolis City Center – Minneapolis, MN
14. Homewood Suites Tampa Brandon – Tampa, FL
13. Pan Pacific Seattle – Seattle, WA
12. Royal Palms Resort and Spa – Phoenix, AZ
11. Doubletree Hotel Detroit/Dearborn – Detroit, MI
10. Sofitel Washington DC – Washington, DC
9. The Houstonian – Houston, TX
8. The Mansion on Peachtree – Atlanta, GA
7. Fairmont Battery Wharf – Boston, MA
6. Hotel Drisco – San Francisco, CA
5. Grand Hyatt DFW – Dallas, TX
4. Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA
3. The Talbott Hotel – Chicago, IL
2. Elan Hotel Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
1. Inn New York City – New York City, NY
Which are the worst hotels in the US?
On the other end of the scale, Travelers Choice also presented a list of the ten dirtiest hotels in the entire United States. Based on consumer reviews, here are the filthiest lodging houses in the country.
10. Continental Oceanfront Hotel South Beach – Miami Beach, FL
9. Desert Lodge – Palm Springs, CA
8. Capistrano Seaside Inn – Capistrano Beach, CA
7. Parisian Hotel & Suites – Miami Beach, FL
6. New York Inn – New York City, NY
5. Quality Inn – Stroudsburg, PA
4. Atlantic Hotel Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach, VA
3. Palm Grove Hotel and Suites – Virginia Beach, VA
2. Motel 6 Eureka – Eureka, MO
1. Heritage Marina Hotel – San Francisco, CA
Perhaps it pays to pre-site before making plans – particularly for group stays.
TV news shows shock us with close-ups of nasty microbes growing in hotel room carpeting, furniture, or even bed linens. Pricey hotels and discount dives alike may be over-run with bedbugs and roaches. How can you be safe from germs in a hotel room?
Holiday travel plans often visits with family members and friends. Pet owners wonder if they can take their cats, dogs or other animals along for such stays. Before packing the pussycat, pooch or other pet, a houseguest might consider these ten reminders.
Got travel plans? What about your dog, cat, bird, rodent or other pet? Will your pets travel with you, or must you leave them behind? If they cannot go along, what quality arrangements can you make for their care? Actually, travelers today have multiple options.
Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest travel occasion of the entire year. Orbitz forecasts America's busiest (and least busy) airports during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. How might this forecast help Thanksgiving holiday travelers plan air travel?