Who said preparing for the Olympic Games should never be fun. Here is the 2012 USA Olympic Swimming Team making their own version of Carly Rae Jepsen's hit, Call Me Maybe.
Whole grains add their venerable name to the list of protective foods against heart disease. According to a recent new Harvard Medical School study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which involved more than 75,000 women, eating a diet rich in whole-grain foods like whole-grain breads, cereals and brown rice, may significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Harvard researchers studied dietary patterns of more than 75,000 women over a 10-year period. They found that women who ate about 2.5 servings of whole-grain foods daily might reduce their risk for heart disease by more than 30 percent compared to those who ate virtually no whole-grain foods. Women with lower risk of heart disease, such as those who have never smoked or are not overweight, may reduce their risk even further by including whole-grain foods in their diet.

Unfortunately, results of a recent survey of 1000 adults found that 65 percent of Americans do not eat three servings of whole grains daily, the amount having the greatest protective benefit in the Harvard study and the number of servings recommended by the American Dietetic Association. When asked why they don't eat more servings of whole grains, 22 percent of respondents indicated that they think they already eat enough grains and 12 percent of surveyed adults said they are not aware of whole-grain food sources.

I have always been a fan of Joss Whedon. I have enjoyed his whole body of work, including the X-Men comic book titles he wrote, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and series right up to the ill-fated action-drama series Dollhouse. So when Marvel announced more than a year ago that it would be Joss Whedon who will be at the helm of a first-ever The Avengers live-action movie, I was beside myself with excitement. If there is one person in the world today who has the comic book background, the wit and the visual talent to make a kickass superhero movie, it would be none other than Whedon. A few weeks ago, he proved me right.

I have seen practically every superhero movie that was ever released in history. In my opinion, none of them can ever come close to what Whedon has achieved in The Avengers. The first X-Men sequel was visually exciting, Spiderman 2 gave us compelling human drama, and the first Iron Man movie had us in stitches. Whedon’s The Avengers, however, had all that, and more.

There are a lot of things to love about The Avengers, but one fact stands out: the way Whedon balanced every single character, with neither one character nor another dominating the movie. They all entertained us in equal measure, from Tony Stark’s snarkiness to The Hulk’s LOL moments, particularly that one scene he had alone with the villain Loki. It is a priceless movie moment, just as the movie is a priceless work of art by itself. Now that is how a superhero movie is supposed to be done.
I work from home as a writer. As someone who writes for a living, I actually need to do some research with every piece that I compose. My editor and ultimately, my clients would be extremely unhappy if I turned in articles that are filled with inaccurate information or baseless speculation. I also happen to be a believer in the cliché that copying from one source is plagiarism, but copying from multiple sources is research. Kidding aside, I could not stress more how important research is for us tasked with putting together words and sentences that actually make sense.

When we do research, it is but normal for us to keep multiple windows open at the same time. There is nothing we hate more than opening just one or a few pages at a time because it really slows things down for us. If we work that way, it will take us forever to finish whatever it is that we are writing about. Still, working on a laptop faces a lot of challenges as far as keeping open multiple pages at the same time is concerned. After all, I only use one screen, and a relatively tiny one at that. Do you really think I can keep open dozens of pages on such a small screen at the same time? That is the biggest reason why I miss working at the office.

You see, our office provides each employee with three monitors each for work. Mounted on a triple LCD monitor stand, these three monitors are largely responsible for the increased productivity the company has been enjoying the past few years. Ever since they invested in more screens, there has been a palpable air of satisfaction among employees, who say having three monitors at the same time is the best thing that ever happened to them at work. I could never agree more. Why do you think I still work at the office two out of five days of the week?

Of course, I can always have the same setup at home if I wanted to. Actually, I want to, but I just could not afford it for now. Buying three LCD monitors and a good CPU is no laughing matter. I may have to save up first before doing anything like that. That day, for sure, will come. Once you have tried working on multiple monitors, there is no going back, I swear.
As a kid, I was a reading nut, thanks to my dad. It was really great that he actually subscribed to a lot of reading material. A significant part of my childhood was spent reading volumes of National Geographic, Time Magazine and Reader’s Digest. At such a young age, I was already exposed to real stuff. I never really read any of those titles in the Junie B Jones book list or other children’s books series. What I read was really adult material. As a child, I already understood how the nuclear arms race went, or how the Menendez brothers slaughtered their parents. Parents today might go off the rails upon reading this, but it was just normal for me, and my parents were really good people. I guess I just matured real early compared to most children, who were probably raised on a steady diet of Barbie dolls and Rainbow Brite cartoons.

In any case, reading books and any kind of reading material I could get my hands on has served me well my entire life. My only problem is that I haven’t done any real reading in the past ten years. Oh sure, I have read all the Harry Potter novels, but that, for me, was just for fun. Although the Harry Potter books were well-written, I never really took them seriously. Books like Sophie’s Choice by William Styron and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller are more up my alley, and I haven’t touched a single book that closely resembles them in scope and prose for the last ten years.

If you ask me, I’d probably blame my very busy working life for this. Then again, I’m a writer, so I’m supposed to do a lot of reading, right? Somehow, however, I just could not find the time to just curl up on my couch with a real book in my hands. Not that I’m working all the time. It just so happens that whatever spare time I get, I use for other stuff, like spending more time with my family or catching up on rest and sleep. For me, reading books has become a luxury, and it’s a luxury I really could not afford for now. Still, I’m hoping that one day, I will have more than enough time to enjoy the current crop of authors who my friends say are really good. I just can’t wait to get my hands on those books.