Children's Librarian

When reading books to young children (5 and under), make it interacrive. If you're reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?", for example, ask the kids what sound a duck makes when you're on the page that shows the duck. Get them to count with you during number books. Ask them to identify the items pictured for each letter in an alphabet book. If the book has a chorus, or a repeated phrase, have them to help you with it. With "Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom!", I tell the kids to clap their hands and yell "Boom boom" every time I read the "chicka chicka" part. They love that.

But do NOT ask open-ended questions of this age group, like "Have any of you ever seen a duck?" If you do, be prepared for long and rambling monologues about how once? This one time? My big brother petted a duck? And the duck's name was Quackers? And it bit him? And he had to go to the hospital? And he was very sad? But the doctor gave him a lollipop? And I like lollipops, but I didn't get one? Do you have any lollipops?

-- John C.


Late at night most restaurants adopt a "Seat Yourself" policy. Here's something you can do if you're working this shift and want to attract customers to your section.

When you see someone approaching the door, go to a table in your area of the restaurant and wipe it with a towel. Finish up just as they enter, straighten up the condiments, and walk away briskly. Nine times out of ten, they'd head right over.

-- Sean


If the animation you are working on just doesn't look right, get out of your chair and act it out yourself. If you exaggerate the movements, you'll eventually pick out the subtleties you were missing.

Even better, film yourself acting out these bits. Many digital cameras have a short video setting, and it can really help with the timing. Just make sure that these videos don't find their way onto the internet.

-- Will

Furniture Refinisher

Unusual tools do wonders.

  • To strip thick paint from a cove moulding, use paint stripper and a spoon. By tilting the angle, you can match almost any curve, and scrape out the paint without gouging into the wood. Once you have most of the paint removed, you can use steel wool to get the last of it.
  • The next time you're at the dentist, ask the hygienist if she has any old picks that you can have. Different types of picks are work great for getting into the tight spaces and corners of fancy moulding or carved designs.
-- M Blaze Miskulin

Home Cook

If you have an over-abundance of one particular ingredient and you would like to quickly find good, reliable recipes using that ingredient, search on the web for farm and trade organizations that represent the producers. Their websites will be sure to have many recipes that show off the item's diversity, and it's safe to say the recipes have been vetted by growers' families.

For example, if you want sweet potato recipes, look at the recipe page for the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission; for strawberries, check out the California Strawberry Commission; for avocados, try the California Avocado Commission.

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