Friday, September 29, 2006

Switching from PC to Mac

By Janie Blank

I was a consultant for much of my career, at least the part when computers were used. We will not go there as to how we dinosaurs actually functioned prior to this! I consider myself to be only somewhat technical although I was in a technical field. I left all the computer code to someone else but I actually prided myself on being able to learn a program, usually on my own without formal instruction. This might sound easier than it actually was if you go back to Lotus 123 and Word Perfect. I think the software programs today are incredibly more user friendly. But again, we are talking dinosaurs and pre-Windows here.

Over time I went through a number of generations of computers, the last being a Windows 2000 operating system, although we do use XP on our laptop. My system had issues and it was to the point where I was going to have to get something new quite soon. I had already upgraded it as far as it could go. It was so slow I just could barely function. However since I retired it was no longer going to be used for business. I still was not thinking Mac. I had a nice 19 inch flat screen I was quite satisfied with as well.

One thing happened that changed everything though. We moved! The new house had room for my husbands PC and office but none for me. I was used to having my own PC and my own space. Granted I was no longer working but still I felt there were things I would be doing that warranted my own computer. How could I share with my husband? He is a computer geek so he would always be using it when I needed to check mail.

The logical place seemed to be the bar in the kitchen. There is a cable outlet there, the space is clean and big and it has a great window. I always thought it would be fun to pull up a recipe and just look at the computer screen for ingredients. I even have a cool pantry that can be divided so the lower half has a space for a little rolling file cabinet from the Container Store and all my supplies. Gee, things seemed to be looking up.

However, if I went to a PC what to do with the big bulky tower? My husband suggested we look at a Mac! A Mac, I questioned? Aren’t we a little too old to learn new tricks I wondered? We decided to go to the Apple Store and ask some questions and see what they had to say. We know a number of Mac users and all are just fanatic in their love for their systems. But still, they had been with Apple since the dawn of computers. We were confirmed PC users and frowned on their enthusiasm.

The Apple Store was nice. Very young and perky kids wait on you and they seem to be quite knowledgeable. I immediately took a dislike to the big white model that has the drive and the screen all in one. The bottom is several inches of white and I thought it would just not go with my stainless steel appliance look. Okay, I am sorry if you are offended but my kitchen is open to my dining and living area so looks are part of the package.

The other option was the Mac mini. It is about the size of a big Mac container at a McDonalds drive-through. Well, maybe I am exaggerating just slightly but it is miniature, especially when you think of a PC. Maybe 6x6x2 inch square. This seemed like the answer. They did point out it is a little slower than you can get the all in one model, but realistically speaking, compared to what I had it was light years faster. I mean how fast do I really need to look at that recipe?

My husband decided we could get a Sony LCD and along with our cable system use the screen for both computer and TV. Wow! Now you are talking! I can flip from computer screen to Fox News with a flick of the remote! If I could learn old DOS software I could surely convert to this Mac mini. I mean, has not everyone always said Apple is SO much easier? Lets go for it I said! We got it loaded and upgraded to the fastest Mac mini they had. It has a DVD burner and it came with lots of nice software like iLife and Microsoft Office. This will be a breeze!

Maybe I am naive but I surely did not expect the learning curve it came with. I was not even familiar with being able to drag things to and from the desktop! My AOL looked totally different and is not even close to being as robust as it is on a PC. One thing I do incessantly is take digital pictures and email them and my recipients were not even be able to open them! I was a prolific right clicker on my mouse and I had NO idea that you had to do a control right click on the Apple. I was freaked out for a week over that one! We ended up buying a regular mouse but it would freeze up and eventually I just started to automatically do a control right click and I think nothing of it now.

I finally broke down and bought a book to help me with iPhoto and that helped a lot. It gave me some tips and I started to get the hang of it. My niece uses an Apple and she came home from school and showed me a few tricks. Another friend was visiting and he set up a few things for me and I began to make some progress. But then we went to Mexico for the winter and I used a PC laptop and got completely out of the habit.

When we got home I settled down in earnest and started to like a lot of things I was learning on the Mac. My niece was getting married in the summer and asked me if I would do her slideshow since I had the iDVD software and burner. This motivated me to make an appointment with an Apple Genius at the Apple Store that was free since I had Apple Care. He was a big help and I bought the iMovie and iDVD book as well. I had a few problems but called Apple Care and they walked me through loads of issues and I not only learned a lot about iDVD but also about the Mac itself.

I became best friends with several Apple Care technicians because of a problem I had burning the iDVD slideshow for the wedding. On my Mac it was a sight to behold but when I burned the DVD it would not play on any other machine but the one it was created on. I spent countless hours and each new tech had a new brilliant theory that sounded good to me. In the end I only managed a ten minute slideshow that others thought was great but did not come up to my standards.

I still have the problem with my DVD burner and I have a problem with backing up my pictures so I need to find the time to work with another Apple Care expert but right now you could not get me to even think of going back to a PC! It is hard to describe the little things that make the Mac more fun to use. And of course the fact that I have this little tiny box hidden behind my screen on the counter that is both a computer and TV instead of clunky PC says it all. Whenever I must use my husbands PC now I find the commands cumbersome. But we will be traveling out of the country for four of the next six months and using a PC so I guess I am just going to have to be satisfied that I am multi-computer lingual if not multi-language lingual!

The Man Skirt

Recently, I was downtown in my city (my city is fairly large and quite diverse in ethnicity), I was heading towards the library on a warm summer day and in front of me was a man (I would guess his age as thirty something) and he was wearing a skirt. No, it was not a Scottish kilt or cute frilly number or anything, in fact the skirt that this guy was wearing was khaki and had a bunch of pockets with flaps like military clothing, it came to his knees and he was wearing a t shirt with it and I cannot remember what footwear he was wearing to be honest. The outfit the guy had on, kind of surprised me and well, after a second look, I got to wondering, is this normal or the sign of things to come?

Well, of course if you look back into history, you would see that men for centuries wore gown like clothing and different types of skirts (think Braveheart) and some still do so today (like Buddhist Monks for instance) and while during the last century, women have embraced pants and trousers (previously only men were allowed to wear) the average man on the street has yet to begin wearing a man skirt.

Sure you see the odd man wearing a skirt, maybe more in a larger city, but men opt to stay in their comfort zone and wear pants. Could you imagine farmer don baling hay while wearing a man skirt? Sometimes for men perhaps it is just not about how they look in a skirt; it is about practicality.

Several of the top designers have indeed designed skirts for man. Not the frilly frou frou type of skirt, but manly designs with manly fabrics (such as canvas or denim). Ashton Kutcher has been seen sporting a man skirt in and around Hollywood. Well, good for him, if he feels comfortable enough wearing it, then why not? I have heard it said recently that it takes a real man to be able to pull off the look of a man skirt. They are not afraid of what they look like nor of what others will think of them. I know that these guys are still manly, but want to wear a skirt for what ever reasoning they may have.

I wonder what the thoughts of men were when women started donning trousers. This phenomena became popular around the forties I think (I can still picture Katherine Hepburn in those front pleated trousers). While it now the accepted norm now for women to wear pants, what was it back then? Was it the same shock for the men back then when women started wearing pants as the shock that some of us feel when we see a guy wearing a man skirt today?

The footwear that guys wear with the man skirt is a different issue. They seem to wear socks and either running shoes or boots with them. Most of the skirts I have seen in my research are pleated and in a variety of colors, from navy to khaki green to grey. Kilts have been around almost as long as time itself and are still available for purchase for guys and with a little research; one can be had, even over the Internet. Sarongs seem to be a popular choice for the skirt-wearing male and can be purchased in south eastern countries such as Hong Kong. So, if a skirt is your cup of tea, a little research is all that is needed to make one your own.

Most men who wear skirts will say it is for comfort. Well, forgive me, but personally I totally think that wearing pants is way more comfortable than a skirt and I only wear skirts when I need to. Is it that men are wanting attention? Are they fighting for the rights of men world wide? I did a Google search on women wearing pants and came up with a site that shows there are verses in the Bible that show women should not wear pants. Give me a break. Why are men so concerned about women wearing male type clothing? Men have dominated women for so many centuries, it is about time that women come to their own and that should include clothing.

Frankly, I am confused what the big deal is. If guys want to wear a skirt, go for it. But about the sense of you guys being cheated? I do not agree with that sentiment. But in saying that women are the lucky ones, well I am not sure about that! So stop whining and complaining and put on your skirt!

Fashion Urban Legends

By Brandi M. Seals

There are several urban legends that surround the fashion world and I am not just talking about ones like the killer coat. If you are not familiar with the killer coat legend, supposedly a woman shopping a coat warehouse is bitten repeatedly by poisonous tropical snake babies while trying on a coat. Most of the urban legends in the fashion industry are not that overt. They tend to be more of supposed universal truths.

The Second Go Around

My favorite fashion urban legend says that everything comes back in style. It does not matter what the trend is or how long ago it was hot. Supposedly everything gets a second time through. While this seems to be slightly true in that what was once hot has a way of resurrecting itself again later. However, this is not a universal truth.

Capris came back, so did flair pants. The giant purse is suddenly hot again as is the over sized glasses. However, the legend clearly is not true. Even if someone somewhere is sporting some tacky thing from days gone by does not mean that the trend will ever really hit again. Certain things that were big back in the day will inevitably come back, but not everything will. I think it is safe to say that hyper shirts (those that change colors as ones body temperature rises) are long gone. The big, stiff bangs from the 80s are probably gone for good unless someone someday decides that hair should be a giant teased mess that does not move is the way hair is supposed to look.

This and That Go Together
There are odd pairings out there that some people will say go together, when in fact they do not. For example, skirts and pants. Some people actually think it looks good to wear a skirt over a pair of jeans or leggings. Trust me on this one; they are wrong - very wrong. I cannot really imagine anything that could look worse together. I could maybe deal with a skirt over leggings, but over a pair of jeans? Come on. The only people that think that is hot are teenagers, clubbers, hippies or the homeless. It is not a good choice and it looks stupid.

Another bad pairing is jeans and high heels. I doubt they do this everywhere, but in some country areas it is not uncommon to see a pair of jeans worn with some high heels. This would not be bad if the jeans were dressed up with a sparkly tank top or a jacket. But, there are people that wear jeans and heels while sporting a tee shirt. That is right. I have seen people with a sports tee and heels. Needless to say that does not really go together.

I do not know how people get led so far astray on some of these parings. I guess the best thing to do is go with your gut instinct. If the first time you saw something paired together you thought the person wearing it may have escaped from the insane asylum, then perhaps that is not something you want to duplicate even if people around you think it looks good.

This is just as Good
Some people think all clothes are made equal. They see no reason to pay big money for a shirt when they can get one that looks just like it at the discount store. While each person's budget is different, it always pays to buy the best that you can afford. Discount store clothes tend to be made from blends, not natural fibers. They also tend to be poorly constructed and fade much quicker than higher priced items.

When buying something that is going to be a key piece one should always figure that it will need to be replaced within a year if it is a discount store buy. It may be cheaper in the long run just to buy something that is better constructed in the first place. Think about it. You may be able to buy more for your money at the discount store, but how long are those clothes really lasting you and how well are they actually fitting? Buy less items, spend a little bit more per piece, and come out better in the long run.

New Requirements for Runway Models in Madrid Spark Controversy

As spectators, designers, and models alike braced themselves for the main fashion events of the year and flocked to Fashion Weeks all over the world in popular cities such as New York City, Milan, and London, a larger issue was at bay that caused a tsunami-like wave in the fashion world. The issue at hand started over various individuals protesting that the underweight models were projecting an image that glorified being a size zero, and as a result, the speculation that young girls and women, were trying to achieve these small proportions and as a result, developing eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. In case you may not be familiar with either of these eating disorders, I'll give your a brief explanation. Anorexia Nervosa is a condition that is characterized by the individual having an intense fear of becoming fat. In order to prevent gaining weight and in hopes of shedding more pounds, he or she may use laxatives, excessive exercise, or just not eating to accomplish their desired weight. Despite the fact that the individual may dwindle to ridiculously low proportions, their distorted self-image constantly reinforces the fact that they must lose weight and the deeper he or she sinks into the illness the more intense the distorted self-image becomes. Friends, family, and close friends can all see that there is a problem and the individual appears malnourished and sickly, but the individual in the midst of the eating disorder only sees the distorted self-image. Karen Carpenter, a famous singer suffered from Anorexia and her losing battle with the illness opened the public's eyes to the severity of this and other eating disorders when she passed away in 1983 from cardiac complications. Individuals who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa also have the same fear of becoming fat; however, they will experience binging and purging episodes that consist of eating mass amounts of food and then once they have finished gorging themselves, they will self induce vomiting. Eating disorders are very difficult to overcome and the complications can potentially lead to death. Complications range from kidney damage, liver damage, a weakened immune system, loss of menstrual periods potentially resulting in infertility, anemia, malnutrition, destruction of teeth, rupture of the esophagus, and an irregular heartbeat which can cause the individual's body to go into cardiac arrest potentially resulting in death.

It is without at doubt that when someone says the word "supermodel", you think of an individual, either male or female, who has impeccable looks all packaged together with flawless skin, bouncy hair, fabulous smile and of course a slim and trim body. In the world of modeling, there are set expectations that one must meet in order to even have a remote chance of succeeding in the industry. One of these expectations is to have a slim or "toned" physique and eventually this expectation took an extreme and sparked a trend known as "heroin chic". Since its peak point in the nineties, the heroin chic look has been a staple in the fashion industry and is known for flaunting women with waif-like physical features, sunken in cheekbones, and dark circles under their eyes. The term "heroin chic" was given due to the fact that these models had physical features that resembled heroin addicts. While models are expected to maintain their looks and weight, they tend to be on the thinner side verses the meatier side. When I say meatier, I don't mean overweight. I mean slightly a little more curvy, probably what most of us would consider a sexy looking body with an hourglass shape. It is a well-known fact that the average American woman stands approximately 5'4 and weighs approximately 153 pounds. The average model stands approximately 5'9 and weighs approximately 110. To put this in perspective, the height difference is dramatic and the weight difference is significant therefore making the goal to duplicate the look of a model almost near impossible to do, yet alone do in a healthy fashion.

The new requirements for models started in Madrid, where organizers of the event made new requirements with the underlying goal being to not project a waif-like image (also known as heroin chic) but to display beauty while demonstrating a healthy body. Doctors were available at the shows to take measurements from the models and either declare them of a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) or declare them below the normal BMI and as a result, the model would not be allowed to walk the runways in fashion week. The models must have a BMI ratio of eighteen in proportion to the combination of their height and weight. Most models stand 5'9 and weight approximately 110 pounds. The new requirements would require a 5'9 model to weigh in at 123. That is a thirteen-pound difference and as many people would agree, thirteen pounds is quite significant on anyone, and even more so on an already thin individual.

When it comes to these new expectations that were put forth in Madrid, a lot of questions have risen to the surface challenging the fairness of these new requirements to the models, the designers, and the fashion industry as a whole. For example, since it is the designer's show, should the designer be allowed to decide whom he or she wants to serve as a model for their clothing? It is undoubtable that certain shapes accent certain styles to the maximum. So, the question at hand is does telling the designers that super thin models are unable to participate therefore thwart their attempt at maximizing the display of their clothes during fashion week? When it comes to the models, is it unfair to all of a sudden spring forth requirements that literally challenge what the expectations and standards have been for quite some time now? It is debatable whether or not that is discrimination against the models. Lastly, the fashion industry revolves around none other than fashion and they basically set the tone for fashion everywhere. The goal is to present fashions in the most complimentary way that is possible. If they are trying to maximize fashion and feel as though they are displaying individuals that are near perfection, no matter how thin they are, is it fair to blame them for the rise in eating disorders among young girls and women? All things considered, most interviews I've seen with supermodels usually consist of the typical interview question that asks, "How do you stay in such great shape". To my recollection, the usual answer promotes a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate amounts of sleep.

While it is easy to cast a stone solely at the fashion industry and blame them for the rise in eating disorders, I believe that the causes of eating disorders stem a multitude of things and if we are going to blame a particular industry, we should look at all the industries. The glorified size zero is a staple in most areas of entertainment from fashion runways to the red carpets in Hollywood. The problem is fueled by more than just the fashion industry. Everything from the pop music scene to glamorous Hollywood endorses a super-thin physique and in magazines weekly, there is always another observation that raises the question as to whether or not another actress displaying the heroin chic traits, possibly has an eating disorder. While every industry and individual may cast the blame elsewhere, it is important to recognize that the problem is influenced by various forms of entertainment and as long as actors, actresses, and singers are held responsible to display what has become classified as perfection, there will constantly be individuals striving to meet those physical measurements. So until society as a whole embraces a different mentality changing to different expectations and perceptions of physical beauty, the problem will continue to persist.

Can B-Boy Dress Make it In The Board Room?

For years, there has been a rift in the thought by some African-Americas as to what is professional dress. The sixties showed African American conforming to the social norms of the workplace. Straight-laced suits and ties fell strictly in line with their white counterparts. The 70's brought about a change, where afro's and bell bottomed pants dominated the professional African American dress. This was mainly because of the radical black power movement what was the love child of the turbulent fifties and sixties. The 80's showed a return to more subdued professional dress of the African American male with the 90's doing more of the same.

With the millennium came and resurgent of everything that was culturally relevant. African Americans felt more confident with themselves and were not as ashamed to relinquish our flare for color, style and glamour on the rest of the work. The surprising thing was, the rest of the society thought the same way. Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karen New York (DKNY) and other upscale designers saw that urban street where was not just adored on the street corner, but also embraced in the office place. This also led the way for many African American designers and labels to get their foot in the door.

One of our nation's fastest rising and most visible African American fashion moguls is Sean 'P.Diddy' Combs. Combs' clothing line "Sean Jean" was founded in 1998 and has taken on the likes of Tommy, Abercrombie, and Pierre Cardin in everything from sales to window time at Macy's. This line has become one of the most famous lines in hip-hop and un-arguably, that most famous launched by a celebrity, it was only a matter of time before the his hip and urban street savvy style surpassed it's urban street personal and bombarded its way into the suits and styles of business life.

If you choose to splurge and want to add a hint of street savvy the next time you give a presentation to the rest of your department, head to Macy and pick out a metallic orange Sean John Care Sateen Long-Sleeved Button-Down Shirt. The illusion of the stripe that is landscaped across this shirt shows a bit of preppy-ness without being too outlandish. Solid with contrast stripe lining at collar and cuffs and tonal embroidered logo on back yoke is a perfect addition to a pair of Sean John "Newton" Relaxed-Fit Basic Signature Jean. Jeans are not the first choice when trying to impress your potential buyer to invest 3.5 million into your new technology, but with the right expressions the Point collar, Two-button cuffs and Rounded hem may be the added 'ummph' needed to put you client over the edge.

Russell Simons is yet another established African American mogul who has taken the street wise street wear from the curb and into the business district. Some would say that being the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, better known as "Run" of Run-DMC would have given him and 'in' on discovering what was hip. That is not entirely the case. Simmons has street credibility on his own right. He began his career by promoting such famous rap act as Kurtis Blow and went on to found Def Jam Records where LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys became famous. Def Jam was not the only this that made Simmons famous. Been only one of his many companies, Simmons established Rush Communications to umbrella a movie production house, management company, advertising agency and a clothing company called Phat Farm. Thought the line is expensive it has found homage in the streets and has recently made its way into the boardroom. Speaking of the boardroom, the next time that you want to give a hint of street wise rhetoric with your presentation, make sure you dress the part. I would suggest a Phat Farm Striped Polo. This timeless style transcends the street and, Wear this pique cotton striped polo shirt under a blazer, can give you a professional look as well. Match this shirt with Phat Farm's Basic 5 Pocket Slub Denim Jean and perfect addition that will give you a head turning look weather you are on the street corner or in the office.

Romance Fashion Trend

If your eyes have been on Fashion Magazines or Fashion Television anytime lately, you would have noticed the Romance Fashion Trend which has swept Hollywood and Designers, and has now moved into Discount and Department store. Among all of the 80's styles of skinny denims and black pants, oversized, bright colored belts, and slouchy boots, has emerged a sophisticated, romantic, throw-back to medieval times, which fits every body type, and is now accessible to the masses at discount prices. Movies like Casanova and Tristan & Isolde birthed this trend back into the mainstream, and newer movies like Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst have pushed the trend even further into the limelight. There are a few distinct aspects of this fashion to look for if your unfamiliar with the style:

Fabric: Look for crushed velvet in deep, rich, jewel tones for the most authentic look. There is also synthetic velvet and velour for a less expensive alternative, and the style has branched out to include Earth-tones and black which aren't as authentic because they never would have been work in the 1300's. Also look for metallic piping, edging, and detailing, especially in bright gold for the real-deal look. The other fabric that shows up in the Romance look is Lace, in any and every color. The metallic detailing may also be done in some form of lace.

Shape and Waistline: A staple of the Romantic Fashion trend is the Empire waist. This is a waistline which sits just below the breasts and allows the fabric to "billow" out, hiding a paunchy stomach or just creating elegance and grace. This waistline can be found in shirts or dresses and looks fantastic on anyone and any body type. Shape has manifested into several types of garments - short or cropped jackets, flowing mid-hip length shirts, and long and short dresses. Cropped jackets generally have a fishbone metal closure up the front, with an Asian-themed short collar, and billowing longer sleeves, or short puffy sleeves. The flowing shirts always have a deep V-neck, and short puffy sleeves, and the dresses seem to look like an extension of the shirts.

color: As mentioned above, the colors of the clothing come in deep jewel-tones of every imagination - emerald, sapphire, amethyst, ebony, ruby, etc. Just recently, and as a sign of the times, even in a throwback to a different world, designers have infiltrated the past with Earth-tones, which have been so popular, as well.

Accessories: You can find a lot of medieval style, chunky metallic jewelry for cheap in almost any departments store. Make sure to match and not clash jewel-tones in jewelry and shoes to the Romantic color you are featuring. Matching a Jewel-toned shoe to a Jewel-toned jacket or dress looks fantastic and is a great way to pull an outfit together, and finish it off.

Now that you know hat to look for to be a part of this exciting new fashion trend, you have to know where to shop in your price range. If your filthy rich and live in California, any of the stores on Rodeo Drive will have what you are looking for. If you're a middle-class Canadian or American, department stores like, The Bay, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Sears, as well as fashion stores like Le chateau are some great options with wide selections. For the thrifty persons or students (like myself), stores like Wal-mart, Zellers, K-Mart, and Discount designer stores like Winners are always a great option, with a great range of styles and color to choose from so that you can select and add those beautiful, rich pieces to your wardrobe.

I suggest that if this designer trend is tickling your fancy, you rush out and purchase some choice pieces now before it's deemed "old" or a new trend emerges, and their impossible to find. I, for one, like to wear a style of clothing as long as I like, even after the trend has passed, so I'm stocking up on this imaginative style that fits every body so well. It may be decades before this trend circles back around, so it seems a sound investment, as long as your not a trend-junkie, in which case you'd probably only get a few month's of wear out of these delicious pieces. Go out there and enjoy the originality of this style and be one with the past.

The Shoe Mystery

It's an established fact that jokes about women and their shoes are so common that we hardly even notice them anymore. I have to say, this isn't a line of humor that was created entirely without reason- there are certainly some women on the planet who really do love shoes, just as there are men out there who love tools and kids who love video games. I have known some women who own more shoes than they do any other article of clothing, and that isn't considered unusual in the slightest. I've also known women who love shoe stores better than any other type of store. But I have to confess that when it comes to my own shopping excursions, the idea of choosing shoes just bewilders and frustrates me.

I'm definitely not saying that I don't have my own shopping, um, fixations. For me, it happens to be jackets and cardigan sweaters. I'm of the firm belief that you can never own too many of either, and I might already have a black cardigan but I might very well need two more because they have different buttons or they are a different length and I will need to have the option to choose which black cardigan I want to wear. I need that option! So, I do understand the theory of the shoe lovers... I just can't seem to get on board with the same topic.

I wish someone could explain shoes to me. I really want to like shoes. I think that shoes look absolutely adorable on other people, and I'm forever commenting on someone's cute shoes or noticing how the right shoe can pull together an outfit. But for some odd reason I just can't wrap my head around the entire concept when it comes to myself and my own sense of style.

I admit it, I have problems when it comes to choosing shoes, and that is probably why I don't particularly enjoy shopping for them or picking them out. Maybe I'm overly picky, or maybe I just don't have the right taste- you could call it "the shoe radar"- that so many other people have. It could, quite possibly, be because I am on the short side, so finding shoes that are the right height for me can be really difficult. Flat shoes cause my jeans to drag on the ground, but heels and platforms make me look like a little kid playing dress up. And nowadays it seems almost impossible to find a low heel that is actually attractive.

I thought I'd found my solution the other day when I ran across a pair of black kitten heeled pumps on clearance. It felt like a total score and the answer to all of my shoe problems. Here was something that wasn't a flat but that definitely wasn't a tall heel, yet it still had the appearance of a heel, and it looked grown-up and not like something a teeny bopper would wear.

But, needless to say, it didn't work out. My love for the kitten heel lasted until I actually put them on and wore them out. First of all, they are really difficult to walk in- at least I thought they were. But that isn't why I can't wear them- for the right shoe, I would be willing to learn a new way of walking. The problem was that they just didn't look good. I think the short heel makes my leg look stumpy. So I will probably never wear them again.

This is sometimes truly frustrating. Throughout the past several years, I've gotten by with a very limited selection of shoes. I was addicted to cheap flip flops for awhile, but because the soles wore out so quickly those didn't stay in my rotation for long. Nowadays, I alternate between Chuck Taylor tennis shoes or black boots with a low heel. And finding the right black boots is difficult, too- everything on the market either has a stiletto heel or a big, chunky Juniors-style sole.

Maybe I just need to be more open-minded when it comes to shoes. Maybe I need to stop worrying so much about silhouette and focus on the shoes themselves. Whatever it is, I'd really like to understand the appeal of shoes. I'd much rather have too many shoes in my closet than have to deal with the opposite problem of making two pairs work for every occasion.
-by bjp

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Staying Warm without adding Bulk

By Brandi M. Seals

As the temperatures drop it becomes necessary to dress warmer. There are sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, and much more that can be used to stay warm. But, while you may want to add warmth, you probably want to avoid adding extra bulk to your frame. No one needs to look larger than they are. Use a few key tricks to staying warm and avoiding bulky pieces.

Sweatshirts may be comfortable and keep you warm but they usually make the wearer look a little larger. If you are not willing to give up sweatshirts, you can do a few things to minimize their puff. Start by buying your size. Oversized shirts are comfy but they do nothing for your body. A shirt in your size will do a lot to help out. Avoid patterns that may make you look larger. You can also buy sweatshirts in sliming colors like black and blue.

Sweaters are an excellent wardrobe piece. They are warm and can be layered or worn alone. The common mistake with sweaters is finding ill-fitting pieces. Men tend to be the biggest offenders when it comes to wearing the wrong size. Do not over correct the problem. A tight sweater is not the answer. Find on e that contours the body.

Wear a button-up shirt with the collar and cuffs sticking out to dress up a sweater. You could also use light layers like tank tops or thin tee shirts underneath a sweater to add warmth.

In casual wear it is possible to pair a thin long-sleeved shirt underneath a nice tee shirt. Make sure the colors of the shirts coordinate together and are not the same. A lot of people do this look with sports tee shirts and use one of the team colors as the long-sleeved shirt. You could do that or just use any tee shirt. If the shirt is long or oversized, tuck it in. If it ends at the top of your pants, it can stay out.

Any long-sleeved shirt will actually help keep you warmer than a short sleeve. You could wear a plain button up shirt with long sleeves, long sleeved tee shirts, or anything else with sleeves that you have. Find what fits your style and use it.

Men and women can use dressy or casual jackets in any outfit to add some heat. It dresses up the overall look of the outfit and should keep you warm. Casual jackets are often made in corduroy or jean, but I am sure you will be able to find many options at stores near you.

Long Johns
Long johns are extremely warming. They are no long the as thick and scratchy as they once were. You can buy thin warm layers that are silky smooth. Brands like Cuddle Duds are popular because they are extremely comfortable and keep you warm. You can find them at just about any department store.

If you are a traditionalist and prefer those bland white long johns from your past, you can still find them in many stores.

Socks are an often overlooked part of the wardrobe. But, if you can keep your feet warm, it will do a lot to keep you warm. The thickness of the sock does play a part in how warm your feet stay, but really it is the fit that does the most. Tight socks do not leave much room for air to get around and warm your feet. Socks that are too big do not hold the air in well enough. It is the air that really insulates the feet.

Depending on what your activities for the day will be, I recommend wearing cotton socks or wool socks. Go for wool if you will be outside a lot on a cool day. Keep an extra pair on hand because wool socks will stay wet for a long time. Avoid unnecessary discomfort if your socks get soaked. Natural fibers really do work the best at keeping in the warmth.

When all is said and done most people know how to keep themselves warm. The hardest part is avoiding the added bulk. Finding pieces that truly fit your shape is the key to it all and avoiding puffy looking pieces. Always try clothes on before you buy them. Things look different on each person and they may not look as great on you as they did on the hanger.

Giant Bags

By Brandi M. Seals

Why is it that giant, shiny bags are taking over in the world of purses? I cannot even call these bags "purses." They are too big. One could fit a medium sized dog in there; or an outfit, makeup, and other items that would have previously required a gym bag to be transported.

Why does anyone need that much space? I know I do not. My purse is already bigger than it needs to be and it is less then half the size of most the new purses out there. I always keep on hand my wallet, pepper spray, a small notebook, a few pens, feminine hygiene products, assorted chapstick and makeup. Clearly I have a lot in there and I still have extra room. I would not know what to do with the added space a bigger bag provides.

It seems that young teens are attracted to the humongous bags. I guess they just see that they are really popular with celebrities. I have seen Paris Hilton, the Olson twins and several other supposedly hot young celebrities toting these things around. Of course, their giant bags are far more pricey than the ones most of us can afford. But, our knockoffs can still cost a pretty penny. I guess all that extra fabric raises the cost.

The non-teens who are rushing out to get the bags are either really in touch with what is in style now or are reminiscent of the giant bags that were big during the 80s. There is nothing quite like a blast from the past to get everyone to dive back in to old fashion mistakes. Giant bags are not the only thing trying to sneak back in. The skinny jeans, long shirt dresses, and I have even seen an occasional leg warmer out there.

I remember only a few short years ago when the ultra-tiny bag was the hot item to have. Barely anything fit in there. One could carry around a lipstick and a wallet. Nothing else would fit. I avoided that trend, opting for a bag just a bit larger. This time I have noticed to size of my everyday purse slowly increasing. It will never be the Texas-sized bags that everyone else seems to like, but I will attempt to bridge the gap.

I guess that is all anyone can do. You either cling whole heartedly to a new trend that is so different from the everyday life, or you adopt the concept of it in a small way. By not going full force into a new trend you can maybe avoid wasting money if the trend goes out quickly.

Think back to those tacky mesh or lace gloves that Lindsey Lohan tried to resurrect a couple of months ago. Some places began selling the gloves. Other places avoided them, knowing that the public was not willing to bring back that 80s Madonna-esq fashion statement. Those that avoided the gloves were happy. They did not catch on. Anyone who sunk money into them is probably wondering what they can do with them now other then donate them to a second hand store.

I do not know about the giant bags. It seems like they might be here to stay - at least for the next couple of years. I might even break down and buy one if they manage to hold out that long. I just know that I do not want to go drop money on one only to have it be tacky within a couple of months.

This is exactly how I felt about flair pants. I was convinced no one would get into flairs. I waited, they did not go away. In fact they took over the stores (at least in the juniors department). They were around for over a year before I tried a pair on. I avoided the giant flares but pretty soon I owned mostly flair legged pants. That worked out well for me as the pants style stayed on for so long.

When trying to decide whether or not to jump on the bandwagon of a new trend you can either dive right in or sit back and watch. If you are on a budget, I highly recommend the sit back and wait method. That way you can save your money if the trend does not pick up. If it is a resurrected trend you could try to find something comparable in a good second hand store.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ten Fashion Trends That Shouldn't Have Happened

It's a plain fact of the fashion world that almost everything is in style at some point. Looking back at the 1980s, for example, you can see that many things that are unacceptable today were totally cool and fashion-forward back then. Things like stonewashed jeans. Admit it- we all had a pair!

But if you dismiss the idea of current fashion and what's in versus what's out, and take a look at trends in general, it's easy to see that some of them are flattering or attractive, and some of them... are just plain atrocious and awful.

In the list below, I have outlined and explained the top ten fashion trends that I absolutely hate. Regardless of whether or not they're in style now, or if they ever were, I think these trends are absolutely wrong. I think they looked bad on everybody. And I'll never quite understand why they were ever thought of as a good idea.

I'm sure that after reading this you'll have your own additions to the list, or your own arguments. And that's fine... fashion is a matter of taste. Feel free to post in the comments!

1. Stiff hair.
Sometimes short hair is in style, and sometimes long hair is all the rage. Sometimes it's big and teased and other times it's 70's straight and flowing. But a look I've always hated is the look of stiff, immobile hair. Whether it's a short pixie cut sprayed into a helmet of hair, or a big bunch of 1980s bangs covered in an entire can of Aqua Net, it just doesn't look right. Hair is a natural extension of the body. Except on rare occasions (like maybe at a punk rock concert), I think it should move.

2. Tapered jeans.
I know- please don't remind me- that the skinny jean look is coming back. But regardless of what the runways and the clothes designers say, I will continue to state that this trend is one of the worst ideas ever. It makes even the thinnest of women look like they have big bottoms and huge hips. Why on earth would you want your ankles to be the smallest part of your lower body? Tapered jeans showcase the fact that our upper legs are larger than our calves, and according to beauty standards that's the exact opposite of what we want. These are just such a colossally bad idea.

3. Pleated pants.
In their unending quest to take over the world, pleated pants can still be found at every single Goodwill store and thrift clothing shop on the planet. I wish someone would round all of these things up and burn them in a big unfashionable bonfire. Pleated pants seem specifically designed to give you a puffy waistline and to make even the flattest tummy look bulbous and a little pregnant. Plus, they look like old man's pants. Plus, they are usually tapered. Ugh.

4. Shoulder pads.
Joan Crawford might have rocked them, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with them. Shoulder pads make small people look larger and they look unnatural, and those two reasons right there are enough for me to condemn them. Why do we want to add bulk to our bodies like this? I've heard the argument that shoulder pads help balance the top of the torso with the hips, and I think that's ridiculous. Since when should our shoulders and hips be in proportion? We're not mannequins. If anything, shoulder pads make everyone look like a giant box. Or a football player. There is simply nothing flattering about this silhouette.

5. Fake collars attached to shirts.
I really don't have an explanation for why I don't like this particular look. What I'm talking about are the shirts and sweaters that have a collar and cuffs attached to them so that it looks like the person is wearing a button-down shirt beneath the sweater. I just don't like this... there is something cheesy about it that I can't quite put my finger on. I understand the concept- these pieces are designed to create the layered look without adding bulk to the figure, and that is something I totally support- but for some reason they remind me of those tee shirts with the tuxedos printed on the front. It's a ruse that is fooling no one. If you really want the layered look, pick a thin button-down shirt and wear it under a loose-fitting sweater to avoid bulk. Because really, with the fake ones? People can totally tell that it's all one piece.

6. The raver look.
OK, so nobody has done this one in at least five years, and for that I'm grateful. But I remember a time when I was in school and the raver look was extremely popular, even among people who didn't even know what a rave really was. If you're unfamiliar with this style, it involved lots of plastic jewelry, bright colors, and... the worst part... childish accessories like teddy bear-shaped backpacks and pacifier necklaces. I really, really hated this. There were even a few girls in my high school who wore pacifiers all day and sucked on them during class, resulting in some teachers who were forced to confiscate them. My personal opinion is that if your high school teacher is taking away your pacifier then you have a maturity problem on your hands, not a fashion statement.

7. Billboard clothing.
Among pre-teens, it's pretty acceptable to walk around with the name of a clothing company emblazoned on your tee shirt, and I don't really have an argument with that. But as people get older I think this blatant advertising of who you're wearing becomes cheesy and more than a little inappropriate. Whether it's ten different items that are printed with the Adidas logo in one outfit, or a scarf and bag emblazoned with designer initials, if your clothing screams who made it then chances are pretty good people are looking at all the writing, not at you. And personally I think that's in bad taste. Who wants to look like a walking Nike commercial?

8. Fake retro tee shirts.
How can I describe how much I hate this trend without going into the fact that I do, in fact, like the retro tee shirt look? Wearing an old Little League tee or a shirt for a long-defunct company can be cute and gives you a vintage touch. But the problem is that as soon as the teenage-era clothing manufacturers figured out that vintage was in, they jumped all over it. And now you can't turn a corner in a clothing store without finding tons of tee shirts emblazoned with fake logos for ski lodges with cute slogans. Ugh. Some companies use double entendres ("Come dunk it at Dolly's Donuts!") to try and be ironic with their fake logos and it is just stupid and sickening. Those of us who actually value vintage clothing for what it is are somewhat annoyed by all these imitation old-style tee shirts out there. Anyone who knows what they're looking for can tell in an instant when someone is wearing an imitation retro shirt, and there's nothing more obnoxious.

9. Big boots on little people.
Without naming any names, I'm pretty sure everyone knows what boots I'm talking about when I mention big furry boots on little female celebrities. And the fact that these boots lasted so long, spawning millions of imitators and fashion mistakes around the world, is just amazing to me. They were just so blessed ugly. The look of huge boots of any brand, pulled over skinny jeans or, even worse, worn beneath billowy summer skirts is one of the most unflattering things I have ever seen. They cut the line of the leg and made everyone look like they had rushed out of the house during a fire drill in January.

10. Decorated jeans.
I'm amazed at how many people- full-grown adult women, no less- that I still see roaming the streets in hideously over-decorated blue jeans. I'm not talking about little rhinestones on the back pockets, although even those can be overdone. I'm talking about jeans that lace up the sides with leather thongs, or those that are appliqued all over with butterflies and embroidered along the bottom, or those with bright white bleached patches and dark blue dyed patches sewn together. More often than not, these jeans have an unflattering hip-hugger low-slung style, and the whole effect just makes everyone look bigger and a little silly. These jeans make everyone look like they've been wrongfully shopping in the Juniors' department... and ironically, they don't even look that good on Juniors. Blue jeans should make a simple statement and accent the body... not look over-accessorized all by themselves!

Those are just a few of the items on my list of trends that should have never happened. The more I look around me, the more I notice that fashion nowadays has loosened up somewhat... styles aren't as firmly outlined as they once were, and more and more people are feeling some freedom to wear what they want. On the one hand, that's good because it means we don't have to wear silly trends like these. On the other hand, it also means that as long as someone still likes this stuff, it will continue to show up on the streets. Which is fine, as long as I don't have to wear it!
-by bjp

Choosing a Tooth-Whitening Product

Everyone knows that having a bright white smile is a great way to look younger and healthier. What's more, it's a simple way to improve your overall appearance without much effort or expense. Nowadays white teeth are all the rage, and the past few years have seen an explosion in products that promise to whiten your smile without costing a lot of money. In today's market, there are so many products to choose from that it can be difficult to know which ones will work for you.

The information below is designed to help point you in the right direction. This is a complete list of the whitening options available for you and your teeth, from professional dentistry options to at-home kits and products. Based on this information, you should feel more confident when it comes to choosing your own tooth-whitening product. The key to getting the results you want is finding the method that works best for you.

Professional dentist whitening
Going to the dentist for tooth bleaching or whitening used to be the only way to get a whiter smile. Nowadays, there are many more options available, but a lot of us still turn to professional bleaching for the quickest and most effective results. Having your teeth professionally whitened can cost a lot of money, but the actual cost will vary depending on where you go and what type of procedure you get done. Most dental insurance will not cover tooth whitening as it is considered to be a cosmetic procedure; but if your teeth are badly stained and at-home products do not work for you, going to the dentist for a professional treatment can definitely be worth the investment.

Most dentists use what is called chair side bleaching, which takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour and sometimes requires more than one office visit. During chair side bleaching, a bleaching agent is applied to the teeth, and often a special light is applied to the agent in order to activate the bleaching process. Your dentist will cover your gums with a special protective gel that will keep the bleach where it's supposed to be and prevent residual damage to gum tissues. Most methods of chair side bleaching are approved by the ADA (American Dental Association) and will be effective for the majority of stained teeth. On each visit afterwards, another "layer" of color will be bleached away until your teeth have reached the stage of whiteness that you want. Cost of this procedure can vary widely, so it's wise to schedule a consultation with your dentist before your appointment so that you can get an idea of how many visits you might need and how much it will cost.

Some dentist's offices are also using a special laser procedure for teeth whitening. While lasers can be effective, they are not yet approved for teeth whitening by the ADA and are more expensive than chair side bleaching.

At-home bleaching solutions
At-home tooth bleaching solutions come in a wide range of options. All of them, however, rely on peroxide to remove stains from the teeth. Many individuals are sensitive to peroxide and may experience gum irritation or tooth sensitivity while using these products, so it's important to follow directions carefully. If sensitivity or pain occurs, cut down on useage or switch to a brand with a lower percentage of peroxide concentration. If the pain is severe enough you may need to consult your dentist.

The most convenient and simplest at-home bleaching kits are the strip variety. Tooth-whitening strips are self-adhesive and are coated with peroxide gel; they are designed to stick to the teeth for a certain amount of time each day in order to effectively bleach the enamel. You cannot eat or drink while the strips are on your teeth, but most people find them very comfortable and easy to use. The mess is kept to a minimum, since the peroxide gel is already on the strips and everything is pre-packaged and ready to use.

There are also tray-based home bleaching kits available. With these kits, you receive a bottle of peroxide gel and a soft mouth tray similar to a sports mouth guard. The gel is designed to be squeezed into the tray, and then the tray is worn for a specified amount of time. While these products can be just as effective as tooth-whitening strips, keep in mind that they can cause the same sensitivity problems as the strips do. Also, some people tend to find the trays uncomfortable. The tray takes up a lot of room in the mouth and the gel can sometimes ooze out, causing discomfort or a gagging reflex. On the plus side, however, tray bleaching kits are almost always cheaper than the whitening strips, and if you're in a hurry the bleach can be smeared directly onto your teeth without the use of the tray.

Whitening toothpastes
It seems rare nowadays to find a toothpaste on the grocer's shelf that doesn't advertise itself as "whitening." The truth is that all toothpaste is designed to remove surface stains, but nowadays toothpastes are being infused with many of the same ingredients used in whitening strips and gel products. Peroxide-based whitening toothpastes are usually gentler than the strips and gels, but they can still sometimes cause reactions in people who are sensitive to peroxide.

Some whitening toothpastes do not contain peroxide and will not change the color of your teeth, but they are designed to be especially effective at removing stains and discolorations. These toothpastes sometimes do advertise themselves as "whitening," but if peroxide is not listed on the label as an active ingredient then the toothpaste will not whiten your teeth- it will simply remove surface stains. These stain-removing pastes are also sometimes marketed as "polishing" toothpastes. The type of toothpaste you should choose will depend upon the kind of stains on your teeth and whether or not you really need a color change, or just a stain removal product.

When choosing a tooth whitening product, do keep in mind that not all teeth can be whitened. Bleaching products do not work on caps, bonding, fillings or false teeth, and some people have discolored teeth because of genetics or other reasons that are out of their control. On the other hand, if your teeth are discolored due to things like smoking, coffee, tea or even due to your age, it may be possible to get them several shades whiter with a few simple products and procedures. In general, yellow teeth bleach the best, while brown teeth bleach less well and dull gray-colored teeth are probably due to genetics and may not bleach. If you're unsure whether tooth whitening products will work for you, or if you need more specific advice, consult your family dentist for further information.
-by bjp


By Simon Woodhouse

In case you hadn't realized, men and women are different. They look different, and according to societies 'norms', they're supposed to behave differently too - men like cars, beer and sport, whilst women are supposed to go for clothes, dieting and emotions. It is all part of the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus claptrap. I don't support that theory, to me, we're all the same. Women get excited about cars, just in the same way men like fashion. But there is a limit to how far the crossover will go. Women might like cars, but they'll very rarely want to get under the hood and change the air filter. Men like clothes, but they'd be reluctant to admit they have an extensive wardrobe, with one exception - sneakers. Women like shoes, but men love sneakers.

It's easy to see why blokes and sneakers go together like politics and corruption. Men are supposed to like sport, and sneakers are a sporty thing. When you wear a pair of sneakers it's like sportyness by association, and not association with a subdued sport like golf. Sneakers are the lovechild of action sports - basketball, tennis, contests that involve lots of sweating and grunting.

The history of the sneaker goes to show when a basic design is right, it's right. One of the most iconoclastic pieces of footwear today, the Converse All Star, hasn't changed much since 1917. Another giant in the sneaker world, adidas (you're not supposed to spell it with a capital A), has also been around for nearly eighty years. But it's generally reckoned sneakers came of age as a fashion statement in the mid 80s. Celebrity endorsement is the name of the game if an everyday item wants to crossover into superstardom, but it has to be the right sort of celebrity, and one who'll appeal to the right sort of audience. Rap group Run DMC were already wearing adidas Shell Toe sneakers before the footwear giant started paying them to do so. However, who wouldn't want to be paid to wear clothes you already love? Sporting unlaced sneakers in all their 80s videos, Run DMC connected adidas with street-cool and a marketing match made in heaven was born. The band even wrote a song called My adidas

At around about the same sort of time, another behemoth in the world of sporting goods, Nike, teamed up with a rookie basketball player called Michael Jordan. This combination produced the legendary Air Jordan shoe. Now the world of sneakers had aligned itself with the bad boy image of rap, and the uber-athleticism of championship basketball. This two-pronged assault propelled the sneaker to the level of 'must have' accessory. These celebrity endorsements, though costly (Jordan received $47m over five years) are well worth it in an industry with a $13 billion annual turn over. In fact Nike has become such a massive brand, it no longer needs its name on its products, just the little curvy tick thing.

Some of this colossal sum of money comes from Sneakerheads, guys who've just lost it over sports shoes. These are the people who don't own one or two pairs, but forty plus. There are even magazines like Sole Collector and Complex, that are dedicated to nothing but collecting sneakers. Not happy with merely having celebrity endorsements as a means to push the brand, manufacturers now do what is called 'quick strikes'. This involves a small number of a limited edition shoe being delivered to a store at short notice. What follows is usually a feeding frenzy, in which ravenous Sneakerheads camp outside overnight and then almost beg the store to take their money. But these people aren't as daft as they seem, because like most in-demand, hard-to-come-by products, limited edition sneakers (as long as they're unworn) have a healthy resale mark up. Point in case being the release of Nike Pigeon Dunks back in early 2005. Twenty pairs were made available to a store in New York, but seventy people turned up wanting to buy them. This led to twenty satisfied customers, fifty not so happy shoppers, and the police being deployed riot-control style in order to make sure things didn't get out of hand. Later the same day a pair of the Pigeon Dunks sold for $2000 on eBay.

Exclusivity isn't the only thing new in the world of sneakers. Nike has just teamed up with Apple to produce the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit. Buy any pair of Nike+ sneakers and you'll find a little pocket built into the sole. Now buy the Sport Kit, and you'll get a tiny electronic do-hicky to shove in the pocket. The kit also comes with a small attachment that fits into the bottom of your iPod Nano. Start running and the sneakers will transmit information to the Nano, turning it into a hi-tech pedometer. But there's more. When you get home you can plug your Nano into your compy, and upload your exercise stats to a Nike website that'll even let you challenge other runners to a virtual race. Last but not least (and this is my favorite feature), as you're jogging your Nano will be monitoring your pace, if you start to flag a pre-determined 'power tune' will kick in and give you that much needed boost of enthusiasm. So don't be surprised, if you're out walking the dog in the near future and a weary jogger goes past, only to suddenly speed up and start singing Eye of the Tiger from Rocky III.

Shopping for a Men's Electric Razor

By Christina VanGinkel

I want to buy my husband a new electric razor for Christmas this year. He is terrible about spending money on personal items such as a razor, and the one he has been shaving with is probably a decade old. He did replace the head once, just a year or so ago, but the razor has more than outlived its life and it is time for it to be replaced.

I decided that I had better find out, as much about electric razors currently on the market before I shop, seeing as whatever I buy will probably have to last him for quite a long time! With that in mind, I decided I would share it here, for anyone else who happens to be considering such a purchase.

Expect to pay between two and three hundred dollars for a top of the line electric razor. If that is a bit much for your budget, there are electric razors for much less than that, you will just have to be diligent on choosing one that fits the requirements you set down for any model you might have under consideration.

Built in cleaning systems that not only wash, but also dry, the razor head are popular among higher priced electric razors. They assure the user of a clean head, for less chance of irritation from built up debris and bacteria. Some use alcohol to clean, while others use a water / detergent system to clean.

A rechargeable battery was available on nearly ever make and model of razor I looked at. (See note below) The differences amongst the batteries was mostly charge life, which could be important if the user traveled a lot and did not always have the time to recharge it each day. Note: I did find corded models that just plug in, as you need them. Unless you really dislike the idea of charging a battery though, forgo corded models for various reasons, including the safety of using one more corded tool in the bathroom, and just go cordless.

Depending again on personal preference, some razors shaved wet or dry. If your man only shaves dry, then paying extra for an electric razor that will safely shave in the shower in not needed. If he does though, this can be a great upgrade feature to shop for if the user's previous razor did not accommodate this personal preference.

Unbelievably, not all electric razors have a pivoting head. This makes shaving much easier and comfortable; following the contours of a face, and cuts down on missed spots and increases the closeness of the shave.

Multi stage cutting systems provide a cleaner shave by lifting facial hair, even short pieces, up, thus allowing the razor to cut as optimally as it can.

Ergonomics has a lot to do with how comfortable a razor is to use. If you happen to be the person who is going to sue the razor, pick up any that you might be considering and consider how each feels in the palm of your hand. If you are buying one for someone else, such as I am for my husband, ask how they like the current razor they have. Ask them if it is too bulky to hold, to thin or just right. Take the remarks in relation to their current electric razor into perspective when shopping for a replacement.

If your guy sports a mustache or sideburns that need trimming, check out a razor that has a built in trimmer just for such hair needs. While a trimmer can, be an inexpensive edition, to his essential bathroom tools, having one conveniently attached to his regular razor will cut sown on countertop clutter, and they often work just as well as a separate one.

Do pay attention to the warranty included with any razor you are considering. A stingy ninety-day warranty will just not do. Most razors come with a one or even two-year warranties so do not accept anything less, especially if you are paying over fifty dollars.

While picking out an electric razor might not be the easiest thing to do, what with so many makes and models to choose from, if you pay attention to some of these basic issues, you are sure to choose one that will last for a long time. Maybe not a decade, but then again!

Using Layers in a Fashionable Way

My mom does a lot of winter sports. So, she is very intent on having the proper clothing and making sure that you are properly layered up for the elements. I always thought that layers might feel good, and they might keep you warm, but they don't do much for your fashion sense! I always balked at the idea of dressing in layers, even though I live in a state where temperatures can actually get into the minus 60 and 70 degrees in the winter. We aren't known for our beaches here in South Dakota. But at any rate, I balked because I didn't want to look silly or stupid wearing lots of layers. But something changed my mind.

When I was abroad, it was very cold. I was studying in France and I had brought along a bout a month's worth of clothing for about 5 months of living. I began my studying in January, and even though I was supposed to be in a warmer climate, it turned out to be a super cold year, unexpectedly. I didn't expect it to be so cold, and neither did the French! So, pretty much, during the winter, I was wearing a good majority of what I had in my closet each day! :) I didn't really have any heavy winter gear, so I layered up, instead. My mom was proud of me!

Normally, I'm a very fashion-oriented person, so I was frustrated with the fact that I hadn't brought along more fashionable winter clothes and therefore was forced to layer up, and look a little silly. It was exactly what I had always refused to do back home. Then again, back home, I had a car with a heater to keep me warm. Here, I was on my own and walking everywhere, so I had to layer up, even if it did make me look crazy. However, I discovered something.

Layers can be SUPER fashionable, even in today's world of wearing next to nothing to go out. I tried layering different things over my clothes, and really got some cute outfits out of it. I had gone into the trip thinking I would have to forsake fashion for warmth, and that didn't turn out to be so! I was really able to make cute outfits up that looked great and were very fashionable.

First of all, I had brought along long underwear. This is a must have for any trip that takes you into cold places, but most especially when you are walking a lot. I was walking every day to school, I didn't even have a car, so no matter how cold it got, I was out there walking. Therefore a good pair of long underwear that can be worn close to the body is a must have. It is very important to keep yourself warm so that you can concentrate on other things. Long underwear is sheer, and it can be worn all the way to your ankles and all the way up to your neck. No one has to know you have it on, and it can make all of the difference! I was wearing mine almost every single day, and I don't think anyone ever noticed.

Next comes your socks. I always wore at least two pairs at a time, one tucked under my long underwear and one over the top of it. If it was really cold, I put on a third pair. Whatever was on top would be the color that I wanted people to see with my outfit for the day, and whatever was beneath didn't matter at all! If I was wearing tights or other kinds of socks that are meant to be seen, I was careful to make the layers on the bottom thin enough to look good. Its really not about the thickness, it's about the material. If you are using polyester instead of cotton, your layers will keep you much warmer, even though they are thinner.

I usually put jeans on over my long underwear. If it was REALLY cold and I was going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, I would put a pair of polyester jammie pants over the long underwear, and under the jeans. This can be very fashionable if you have jeans that are ripped or worn, because the pattern on the jammie pants will look like it is supposed to be there. You can use wild patterns or solid colors, depending on what look you want to achieve. My best pair of jeans for this trip happened to have a rip on the knee that was meant to be there. So I was sure to showcase this by always wearing something interesting underneath.

Regardless, jeans are an important part of layering up in fashion. You can even wear your ripped and torn jeans if you have something underneath, but jeans are heavy and will keep you warmer than other types of pants. Jeans are also very acceptable in most situations, unless you are going somewhere fancy or need to be dressed up. If you have a nice pair of jeans that doesn't look worn, you can even use these for those kinds of situations, especially if they are dark colors.

Next comes your tops. I was already wearing a long sleeve long underwear shirt, so I was always sure to wear at least two tops over that. My long underwear shirt was white, so it wasn't a problem with whatever I wore on top of it. For my first layer, I would wear a long sleeve, solid colored shirt made out of polyester. This would be something that would be meant to be seen, so I would make sure it was long enough to go over my jeans. Then, I would coordinate a button down shirt over this long sleeve shirt, making sure that the cuffs of the long sleeve shirt stick out over my hands, and that you could see the bottom of the long sleeve shirt underneath the button down shirt. I would usually wear printed button down shirts, with the same color scheme as the shirt underneath. This preppy and neat look is very warm and also very cute. A third layer on top of the button down shirt would be a cute t-shirt that matched appropriately. This was a lot of fun, because I had lots of cute t-shirts that were brought along but that I couldn't wear because it was cold outside. It's okay if they are a little small, because in order for the layers to work you have to be able to see the layers beneath the t-shirt. It also is only for fashion, so it doesn't have to serve a purpose.

My last layer, and actually, the thing that kept me the warmest and also in my own unique style, was usually a skirt overtop of my jeans. This last layer could really complete the outfit because you could choose from many different patterns and colors, and along with the shirts, it was easy to make an outfit that really matched and looked good. I had brought along a lot of skirts because I had expected it to be nice outside. I couldn't wear any of them because even if I wore tights underneath it would still be too cold. So I wore them over my jeans and completed that look with a big chunky belt tied across my waist.

To complete my gypsy-traveler outfit, I would wear lots of jewelry, and usually something tied around my head or ponytail. I would be sure to have a big thick sweater along, which only added to the attire. I wanted to look like I was traveling, and also have that gypsy-hippie type look that I like so well in my normal, every day clothing.

What I came away with is a great fashion idea. It is completely functional, because you will be warm and comfortable, and if you get too hot, you can always take off a layer or two. By making sure that all of your layers coordinate with each other, you'll have a great outfit that will keep you warm and allow you to enjoy your surroundings! Oh, and you'll have plenty of suitcase room on the way home, if you are wearing all of your clothing on your back! :)

I-Pods and MP3 Players

I am a gadget girl. I always have been. Ever since I got my first computer, I always wanted to get more. I like reading about new technology. I like trying out new things. I really do try and stay on top of all the latest electronics. Let me just say that by far, my favorite invention is the mp3 player. Well, any MP3 player is awesome but I personally own the I-Pod. I have one of the originals and it has lasted me almost three years now. Have mp3 player, will travel!
Let me tell you about some of the reasons I love my gadget so much. First, I am a huge music lover. I have always have tape decks and portable cd players. The I-pod is incredibly practical and light and travels much more easily than tape decks and cd players ever did. The nanos travel even better than mine does! Its light weight and compact design make it perfect for taking in a backpack, purse, on a plane or in a car. Many companies now market travel accessories for the device. There are sports arm bands that allow the player to be taken to the gym or for a job. I have the car adaptor, which plugs into either a tape deck or cigarette lighter. The music is played through your car speakers instead of headphones.
Mp3 players are incredibly durable. I have dropped mine no less than six or seven times. I seem to have this bad habit of dancing around my apartment while listening to it and it has slipped out of my hands a few times! It takes a lickin' and keeps on rockin'! I can use the battery power on it for several days, too, unless I go on an all day music marathon. And it has held up so well, even after all these of having it and traveling around with it.

They make a great gift! If you know a music lover, regardless of what type of music they love, they will always appreciate an mp3 player. It allows them the flexibility to take their music any place they go and the ease of sharing it with friends and other music lovers. A few weeks ago at a family get together; my cousin Tony and I were swapping headphones and listening to each other's tunes while the rest of the family chatted. It was fun and we got to explore some of what the other listened to.

Great features on the devices. I am so happy with the I-pod and its features. I have everything on shuffle all the time. This prevents boredom from setting in. It randomly shuffles songs and plays them. If I don't like the song or don't want to hear it, I just skip to the next one. But it also enables users to play songs from specific artists or whole albums if you want. So when I want to listen to U2, I just pick an album and listen or play all their songs. The display is really great too. You can see the artist name and the song title of what you're listening to. If you listen to music at night, there is a backlight that allows you to turn on a light and still see the display!

Another wonderful feature about I-Pods and MP3 players is the variety you can choose from. It's like picking out a cell phone. You can pick the color you want, the style you want and the size, along with memory and song capacity. My I-Pod is the original limited edition U2 ipod and it holds 5,000 songs. I have about 1300 songs on there now. The Nanos carry about 1000 and the shuffles about 100. So if you want something quick and don't ever download lots of tunes, the smaller units are good for you. My Cousin Tony's mp3 player holds about 250 songs and he told me he just periodically changes the library playlist when he gets bored with them. For me personally, I just keep adding songs and adding songs. I have another friend who has the video I-Pod, a new feature that mp3 players are now offering!! He can download movies and music videos and even TV shows. Project Runway on Bravo TV always people to download their episodes to their I-Pods. Also, if you're a person like me who is devoted to one band and always looking for new and odd stuff from them, this is the way to go. Many artists now are offering their entire album collection to be purchases from retailers like I Tunes or Yahoo Music. Some even provide preview albums before you can buy them in stores and others, like U2, allow some of their oddball songs to be purchased. U2 recently gave Rhapsody the right to sell the song they performed on Monday night football and all the proceeds from the sale of the song will go toward helping to rebuild New Orleans. So while you get the benefit of great music, great causes are being helped, too!

So as you can see, this is only a brief description of mp3 players and the I-Pod. For music lovers, they are the ultimate gift. Their design makes them easy to pack up and take anyplace. You have a wide variety of songs to listen to and different ways to select your listening choices. Many retailers such as I Tunes offer thousands of songs and videos to download. Everything a music lover could ever want or need is all in the palm of your hand now!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quirky Fashion Ideas That Work

Let's face it: sometimes we all have a horror of pushing the envelope when it comes to wearing stylish clothing. Yet, at the same time, almost all of us at some point or another have a strong desire to stand out in the crowd. The problem is that most of us aren't fashion designers, and there's no accounting for taste, and it's sometimes really hard to know where to draw the line. How do you look stylish and edgy and fresh... without looking silly and wishing you could go home and start over due to a major fashion mishap?

Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer that question. My only piece of advice is that no matter how silly other people might think you look, if you get caught out in public in a less-than-wise fashion choice, you'd better work it like you love it. But anyhow, that isn't what this post is about.

What this post is about, on the other hand, are a few interesting (quirky, if you will) fashion trends and tricks that I've either spotted on the street, seen in magazines, or done myself. And while these might sound a little odd- in fact, I think I've heard both of these ideas condemned in various articles regarding fashion do's and don'ts- my opinion is that these things really do work. I'll explain why.

Pants beneath a skirt.
I will defend this one until the day I die. I'm not sure why, but I love this look, and I think if it's done right it can honestly be one of the freshest, hippest looks around. And there are so many ways to do it that it's pretty easy to do it correctly as long as you keep things like proportion in mind. The key is to make sure that the skirt isn't too long- anything below your knee and you will start to look drapey and huge- and that the patterns and colors play into each other in a way that looks "on purpose." If you don't watch the styles and colors that you're combining, you might end up looking like you were sitting at home and you got cold in your skirt so you threw some pants on. So make sure to think over the combination before you step outside the door.

When you're trying to do this look, avoid straight-legged jeans. Go for either slim skinny jeans or fitted black leggings; or go the completely opposite direction and try it with bell-bottoms or super-flared jeans or pants. Also, make sure that the skirt has some shape to it- an A-line or flared skirt is best. This will keep you from looking bunchy around the waist and bottom.

Finally, have some fun with this combination. Try layering a long tunic or fitted tee shirt over the skirt, and then throwing on a short cardigan for a punk-rock look. Pair the outfit with ballet flats or chunky boots. Consider mixing up your genres with combinations like blue jeans and lacy dresses, or denim skirts and elegant black pants. Check yourself in the mirror before you leave the house and make sure your proportions and colors are working.

Underwear as outerwear (but not that kind).
Some people are going to read that heading and instantly get the wrong idea here, but I'm not referring to what you might think I'm referring to. No, I don't think that wearing bras and panties outdoors is a good fashion idea. I also don't think that anything that shouldn't be exposed should be shown off in the name of fashion. We're not talking about sleazy or skanky or inappropriate stuff here.

What I am talking about, though, is the use of some unexpected pieces in unexpected places. Specifically, take a look at your lingerie collection. You may have a few silky camisoles or half-slips, and chances are good that they're in soft pretty colors and have lacy trim and spaghetti straps. Great. Have you ever considered using them as part of your daily fashion?

Try putting on a normal white cotton tank top, and then layering two lingerie-style camisoles over it. The boutiques and clothing stores are selling these lacy-looking camisoles for a lot of money as outerwear; there's no reason you can't wear the ones you already have, as long as you're covered- and that's what the tank top underneath is for. This also has the added bonus of creating a fresh layered look that works wonderfully with jeans or a skirt. Throw a cardigan or small sweatshirt on top and you're good to go.

You can also experiment with half-slips and even underslips as dresses and skirts. The key is to layer them- on top of regular skirts and dresses, or on top of other slips- so that they're acceptable for outdoor wear. You'll create a slinky, waif-like fashion statement that will work surprisingly well in a casual environment.

One word of caution: make sure any camisoles or lingerie pieces that you wear outdoors are clean and in good shape. And unless your pieces really do look perfect, you might not want to wear them into an office environment. There are still some people who will accuse you of showing up in your pajamas. But if you're headed out to a concert, an art show or a coffeehouse... try this look. You'll probably start a trend.

Remember- when it comes to fashion, some things work and some things don't. But just because something doesn't work in someone else's book, doesn't mean you can't totally rock it.
-by bjp

Legendary Marvels

By the Recovering Collector

Many consider the Marvel Legends toy line, based on Marvel Comics super heroes, from Toy Biz to have some of the best figures ever sculpted for super hero toys. Since 2002, these highly articulated action figures have wowed collectors with the detailed sculpts, meticulous articulation that includes fingers, upper bodies and feet (according to the toy company the figures come with at least 30 points of articulation), some accessories depending on the figure and (for the earlier series) bases that made the figures suitable for display.

The roughly six-inch toys come in a hard plastic shell which allowed collectors to store the toys in them. They also include a reprint comic book about the figure to give buyers an idea of the figure's comic book background.

One other factor that makes this line unique to the delight or frustration of collectors is the fact that there are chase figures in the lines. That is a variant of a figure is made but in limited quantities so that anyone wanting a complete set will have to jump through hoops in order to obtain all of the figures. This first happened with the very first series when a variant of Iron Man was available. The variant figure differed from the basic Iron Man in that the armor came with a shiny look, still the figure was hard to find. Some variants were only available in Wal-Mart so depending on where one lives it shouldn't be that difficult to find the variants. Also some of the basic figures are in themselves hard to find such as the Thor figure from the third series or Phoenix, Juggernaut and Deadpool from the sixth series. So it's easy to see why completists would gnash their teeth over finding every single figure in each line.

An interesting feature of some figures was that they came with smaller figures as an incentive to buy them. Usually these figures complemented the primary figure since they were characters that were known to be together. For example, the Goliath figure came with smaller figures of Ant Man and the Wasp. But one of the more offbeat pairings had to be the Silver Surfer figure that was packaged with a small Howard the Duck figure. How are these two related? They're both not from Earth? Who knows what the toy manufacturers were thinking but they are good figures anyway.

Toy Biz released a boxed set in 2003 that included all of the figures released individually for a series. As an incentive some of the figures had new accessories and with the X-Men boxed set an exclusive figure, Rogue, was included. This year there are four boxed sets including one dedicated to Spider-Man's classic villains.

In 2005, the packaging changed for the series, the figure bases were replaced with pieces of a larger figure. From that point forward each series was identified by a giant character, such as the Galactus series or the Onslaught series. The idea is simple; each figure comes with say an arm or leg of the character Galactus for example. When a collector would finish buying the series, all the large pieces can then be put together to make up the giant alien Galactus.
This year, Toy Biz unveiled two new series to the line, the Marvel Legends Masterworks and the Marvel Legends Icons. Each Masterwork is a diorama that recreates a famous comic book cover or scene. The four dioramas are Hulk vs. Thing, Galactus vs. Everybody, Fantastic Four Number One and Marvels Number Zero, featuring Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin. Each intrinsically detailed diorama makes a beautiful display. The Icons series are humongous. Each standing twelve inches, the figures are incredibly life-like, detailed and articulate. Probably the most impressive figures in the line are the Hulk and Venom. And yes there are variants to this line (for Captain America, Wolverine and Iron Man; in these cases, the variants are of the characters unmasked).

The figures themselves are small treasures that are best cherished by kids who will actually play with them or by the young at heart who wish to fawn over them in their displays. Either way, few will disagree that in terms of super hero action figures, Toy Biz went out of the way in the variety of figures available and in their creation.

The Skinny on Skinny Jeans

The clock strikes 5 p.m. and my mind switches gears, instantly. I characterize myself as an illustriously articulate and successful career woman by day, and a perpetually evolving fashionista by night. I grab an empty lunchpail, my Ralph Lauren tote, and a stylish London Fog automatic umbrella that has been on my coat hanger for what seems like months, and bolt for the side door. It is time to do some shopping.

But today is different. Today, my friends, I am searching for a "change" in my current repertoire. Over the weekend, I was flipping casually through the pages of the latest Hollywood gossip magazines, and I saw them - the skinny jean. An 80s flashback. A 2006 must have. And so, today, I stride boldly toward the women's clothing store at the corner, uninhibited in my demeanor and driven by this one goal: must find a skinny jean that looks good on me. Yes girls, I said "looks good on me". I will take this opportunity to digress slightly and educate all of you on the cardinal rule in my fashion doctrine: Always make sure it looks good on you according to you. Would I find my skinny prize? With a name like "skinny", one thing was for sure. This jean would either give me the long and lanky legs of an America's Top Model, or reinforce my original self-perception of direly needing to be "skinny". The moment of truth was only two blocks away and counting.....

In the store, I try on several pairs of skinny jeans. Skinny jeans in black, indigo blue, and whitewash. Skinny jeans with an ankle cut. Skinny jeans at full length. The mirror in the fitting room and I were becoming adversaries very quickly. The combination of my narrow waist and curvaceous hips made the skinny jean my nemesis. It was war, surrender, or compromise, and I was still deciding how to respond. It is at this point that I decided it was time to inform my fellow bloggers on the basics of jeans. I like to call it "Jean-wearing for Dummies". Here we go:

1) You have no waist and no hips. Congratulations! I don't ever want to meet you because I might have to hurt you. (just kidding). But seriously, you are the skinny jean candidate extraordinaire. The skinny jean Queen. these jeans will give you longer legs and a slimmer appearance ( if you aren't already 5 foot 4 and 100 pounds, at which point you could wear anything and this article is going to help you in no way shape or form). Yes, no waist, no hips, women, say it loud, "Skinny jeans are for me!".

2) You have a larger waist and ample hips. The relaxed jean is your best friend. But please, no pleats. And save the buttons on the back pockets for your toddler niece's or daughter's romper wear. These pleats and buttons only accentuate your front and back, and in a rather unflattering way, might I add.

3) You have a narrower waist and ample hips. Along with being my partner in crime, you do have many choices, and none of them have to be tailor-made jeans. The low rise jean in a boot cut yields a J-lo effect. Since our waists are thinner, revealing the waist is both sexy and more importantly, visually acceptable to others.

Now we all know that it is impossible to narrow all jeans across all stores into three categories. And the same could be said for bodies as well. In fact, with all the jean consumerism and market choices, any "jean guide" is obsolete in a matter of months, anymore. Therefore, if nothing else, it is important to take away a few bits of information on "skinny jeans".

Skinny Jeans are:
• For the skinny ( both waistless and hipless)
• Best when worn with flats, but if you want to look "Fredericks of Hollywood", then go ahead and throw on those bright red pumps
• Looks good with the Pat Benetar sweater (the one that wears well with a striped t-shirt, hits below the hips, and if it is meshed, then you can hit anyone with your best shot.
• NOT AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY. Just because Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton are sporting skinnies like they are going out of style (which thankfully they will soon), it doesn't mean you have to. Viva la boot cut. Viva la flare. Viva what looks good on you.
So, I left the store disheartened but not defeated. I knew that there were other options for me. I knew that the skinny was part of what was "in", but it wasn't the only thing that was "in". I also knew that half of looking good is wear what I feel confident in. Coming to this resolution was surprisingly refreshing (almost like a $1000 shopping spree on jeans would have been). The question is, what can I look for now? What is the hottest fashion must have for me now? Hey, I am just a Midwestern born and raised self-proclaimed trendy diva. I can ignore current fashions because they look bad on me....most of us can...unless we live in NYC, LA, or Paris.

In the name of Skinnies, R.I.P. Until next time......

Shopping for a Birdcage for a Large Sized Bird

By Christina VanGinkel

I have been an owner/caretaker of a pet cockatiel for quite a long time, yet I never actually gave much thought to a cage for him, as I received one when I inherited him from a good friend. Large and spacious, it has served his needs quite well through the decade that he ahs lived with us. As our family has been considering the addition of another bird, a much larger one at that, to our family, a suitable cage and the cost of one has been under serious discussion. We have also had to consider where another cage could be situated both in relation to Troy, resident cockatiel in charge, and where there would be enough space in our house. We do not have large amounts of room, yet our simple floor plan and living style does make the most of what we do have.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, or buying a cage for your very first bird, I have assembled some of what I have learned as I research the addition of one more bird and cage, in hopes that it can help someone else too. I never realized there were so many options and choices when it came to housing a bird!

Birdcages are available in various sizes and across a wide range of prices. For small parakeets, it is possible to pick up a small cage for as little as ten dollars. For larger, stronger birds, such as an Amazon, cages can cost in the hundreds, even the thousands depending on the size of the cage, quality, brand, and from where it is purchased.

To start, you will need to determine the size of the cage you want. If the bird that will live in the cage is of a large variety, you will want as big a cage as you not only can afford, but one that is large enough for the bird to move about freely in. If that ends up being a cage more expensive than you can afford, you might wish to save a bit longer before bringing them home. This contradicts the often-heard phrase to buy as big as you can afford, for the simple reason that is not good enough at times. Birds can and do become stir crazy, so making sure the area they will spend time caged up, is more than adequate, is a must.

A second cage should also be considered. What for, you might be asking. For those times, his main caged is being cleaned, or if he is a very active bird, you might wish to buy a second cage so that he or she has one home for eating and playing in, and a second one for sleeping. If you want to provide a safe habitat outside too, consider a second cage for the outside that is large enough for your birds to enjoy. Some large ones are even manufactured that can be placed directly onto a cement or similar slab.

Construction of the cage will be as important a consideration as the size. Large birds are often quite crafty when it comes to getting out of places they do not want to be. Yet, there are times that you will need to be sure he or she is locked up for safety's sake. With this factor in consideration, be sure any cage you choose has a safety lock on the door or doors that cannot be opened by the bird inside. If you have more than one bird, be sure they cannot be picked from the outside easily either. Doors should also open large enough for you to take your bird in an out of with ease.

A larger cage should also be easy to knock down for cleaning. Diseases in birds do occur, and keeping cages as clean as possible can help alleviate many such issues. If you happen to move around a lot, a cage that can be disassembled with ease can save you many headaches.

If your bird is the sort to throw food, and many are, a bottom that is larger than the cage itself can help keep some of the mess under control.

Be sure to look over any cage you are considering for small or loose parts that your bird could easily choke on or any rough or pointy edges or protrusions that he or she could be physically harmed by. This is especially important if you are considering any used equipment.