• The Nerd’s Guide to Improving Willpower

    The facts behind why humans have trouble making meaningful change, and Dr. NerdLove’s guide for how to level up in your life.

    Every year we go through a familiar ritual that culminates with a failure of willpower. Everyone makes promises about how they’re going to do something better in the new year and then promptly forgets all about it before the month is even over. In fact, right now, I’m watching the usual influx of New Years gym memberships filter out after clogging the treadmills and weight machines for three weeks. Similarly, people are giving up on their promises to quit smoking, to eat better, to flirt more, to learn a new language – all of those self-improvement regimens that were supposed to make them better people in 2015.
    It’s not that they don’t sincerely intend to do better. It’s all because they lack the willpower.
    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that they’re weak or bad people. Most of us don’t realize that willpower is a finite resource. When you run out of willpower you fall into a state known as “ego-depletion” – it becomes incredibly difficult, almost impossible even, to control your impulses. This is why it’s so easy to let your resolution to hit the gym five times a week slip to three… then to two… then to “haven’t been in two months”. This is why when you’ve had a long day, all you want to do is collapse on the couch and zone out to a Castle marathon on Netflix. It’s why diets notoriously don’t work. You reach the limits of your willpower and your ability to resist the siren call of pizza evaporates into thin air like Green Lantern’s ring running out of power.

    Any form of self-improvement is dependent on willpower… so how do you make your will stronger?
    Willlpower Is Like A Muscle
    The first step in building up your willpower is to recognize that willpower isn’t unchangeable. When we hear people talk about people who are weak-willed or who lack willpower, we’re making the assumption that your willpower is static; some people have lots, others have little and there’s nothing you can do about it.
    (Rather like the belief that either you’re good with women or you’re not, actually…)
    But that’s not the case. Willpower is like a muscle; it takes work and discipline, but you can build your willpower up and make it stronger. And the key to building your willpower… is to use it to exhaustion as often as possible.
    Confused? Stick with me for a second as I vastly over-simplify things.
    Muscles grow bigger and stronger through exercise. By straining the muscle to its capacity to contract, you introduce micro-tears into the muscle fibers. When those tears heal, they increase the muscle’s bulk and elasticity, increasing its ability to bear more tension and weight. Taxing your muscles to exhaustion prompts the muscle cells to increase the amount of mitochondria – the power plants of your cells – which enables them to work harder for longer.
    Taxing your willpower to exhaustion works in a similar manner; draining your willpower increases your mental and emotional stamina. The more that you push your limits, the stronger your willpower becomes.
    The problem is that, in keeping with the muscle metaphor, we’re doing all the wrong exercises. Most of us are using our willpower in the wrong way.
    You Have To Use Your Willpower Wisely
    Part of the reason why we have such a hard time sticking to self-improvement plans is that we’re indiscriminate in how we use our willpower. We squander it on meaningless tasks and when when we need it, we find we’ve run out.
    To get nerdy for the moment, consider the Green Lantern Corps. Their rings can create just about anything they imagine, as long as they will it into existence. However, the rings have a limited charge; at a certain point, their rings run out of power and their energy constructs disappear. If you had a power ring and expend that power needlessly – showing off to your friends, say, by creating giant Hot Wheels tracks – you end up draining the tank and leaving yourself vulnerable when you need it most. If you’re careful with how well you expend your energy however, you’re able to to pull off some amazing feats when they count.

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  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review – Season 3, Episode 9: Return to New York

    It’s time to go back. Back to New York, that is. Echoing a classic storyline that has been replayed throughout Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history, the brothers are leaving the farmhouse and returning to the city.

    And there’s a lot to do. They need to find Splinter and Karai. Shredder is still out there with his mutants and Foot ninjas. And the entire city is under the control of the Kraang. No sweat, right?
    Let’s see how this “Return to New York” goes …
    Turtle-Powered Recap: Though the newscasts coming out of New York City assure people that everything is fine in the Big Apple, the Turtles know better. The first thing they need is a vehicle, so they set to work retrofitting an old van, and voila: Party Wagon! Michelangelo tells Ice Cream Kittie that it’s time to go home, Donatello bids farewell to Dr. Cluckingsworth and April says goodbye to the farmhouse itself.
    Leonardo says that the first order of business is to find Splinter, and then Karai. He thinks they should park outside the gate and sneak in, but that proves impossible, as soldiers have every entrance into NYC quarantined. April notices that the troops have Kraang mind control devices on their necks, so Casey simply floors it and the Party Wagon is able to smash through the gates.
    But, um, where are all the people? April says she is picking up thoughts from only a few hundred people, meaning there are millions missing. There are lots of Kraang, though, so the Turtles get to test out the Party Wagon’s soda cannons and stink bombs, both of which prove effective.
    The group does some effective ninja-ing, evading Kraang robots, Foot ninjas and mousers. Can April track Shredder? Maybe, but Leo decides to start searching at the lair.
    There’s no sign of Splinter, but the Kraang do have a crazy robot security system that ends up using four lasers to exterminate a poor rat. Mikey freaks out and wants to move back in, but that’s not an option. April gets a faint read on Splinter, who seems to nearby … but he’s different somehow. Everyone races over and we find out why he’s different — Splinter has gone feral!
    As they try to keep Splinter from chewing Casey’s face off and talk some sense to him, a Mouser calls for backup, and Splinter is captured by the Foot.
    Speaking of the Foot, Tiger Claw asks Shredder when they are going to take action. He still finds the Kraang useful, and his top priority is finding Karai. The Foot robots return with Splinter, who Shredder says has clearly lost his mind. Tiger Claw asks if he should put the rat out of his misery, but Shredder wants him taken to Baxter Stockman instead. The idea is that Stockman might be able to restore Hamato Yoshi’s mind, the better for him to understand what is happening when Shredder finishes him.
    The Turtles and company are on their way, and … hey, look! Mini Shredder! They manage to keep the little guy off of them as they descend into Baxter’s workspace, where they see the fly guy taunting Splinter. A rescue attempt is on, but Baxter spots them and unleashes all three of his Shredder mutants. Fans of the original Mirage comics will recognize this as a fitting tribute to that take on the same story.
    Amid the chaos, April tries reaching out to Splinter with her telepathy, encouraged by Donnie’s assertion that it might work. He begins to get flashes of his memories back, but he mistakes Casey for Shredder and attacks him. Also, Mikey accidentally sets off an alarm, because that’s what he does. Splinter ends up charging at and cornering April, but from that range, her powers work even more effectively, and while there’s still a nervous moment, Splinter is once again himself.
    Good thing, too, because the Turtles are losing their fights with the mutant Shredders, with Leo even losing one of his swords into a giant vat of mutagen. But with Splinter, they make short work of the mutants. Apparently his time without his mind hasn’t dulled his ninja skills any. Shredder and Tiger Claw arrive, but Splinter says this isn’t the time for a fight, and a ninja smoke bomb covers their escape.
    Except it doesn’t, completely. In the Party Wagon, they find Tiger Claw holding onto the roof, though a little visit from Sir Sizzlalot — that’s a flamethrower concealed inside a deer head that used to hang on the farmhouse wall — gets rid of him.
    The question now is where they will live while they continue their mission to free the city. Splinter says homes are transitory, but Leo points out they still need a place to hang their masks. Mikey has an idea, though, and for once it isn’t horrible. They’ll be working out of Antonio’s Pizza-Rama for the time being. Convenient, eh?
    April is still worried about her dad, and her power are giving her a weird reading on him and the missing people. It’s like they are right around them, and we briefly see what see sees: a bunch of people mind-controlled by the Kraang. Are they shifted between the dimensions somehow, so they’re int he same physical space but still elsewhere? That’s what it looks like.
    Favorite Moment: Definitely the three Shredders, which were the product of much weirder science in the comics. Here’s a look at what they resembled back in the day:

    Not exactly the same, but an obvious inspiration for what we saw today.
    Final Thought: Not a bad way at all to get us back into the overall story arc of this season after some wandering in circles, though it did feel a bit rushed to find and restore Spinter right away. It’s always fun to see your heroes overcome impossible odds, and the deck looks more stacked against the Turtles than ever right now.

    Tags: Baxter Stockman Shredder Splinter Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tiger Claw

    [Read More...]
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review – Season 3, Episode 9: Return to New York

    It’s time to go back. Back to New York, that is. Echoing a classic storyline that has been replayed throughout Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history, the brothers are leaving the farmhouse and returning to the city.

    And there’s a lot to do. They need to find Splinter and Karai. Shredder is still out there with his mutants and Foot ninjas. And the entire city is under the control of the Kraang. No sweat, right?
    Let’s see how this “Return to New York” goes …
    Turtle-Powered Recap: Though the newscasts coming out of New York City assure people that everything is fine in the Big Apple, the Turtles know better. The first thing they need is a vehicle, so they set to work retrofitting an old van, and voila: Party Wagon! Michelangelo tells Ice Cream Kittie that it’s time to go home, Donatello bids farewell to Dr. Cluckingsworth and April says goodbye to the farmhouse itself.
    Leonardo says that the first order of business is to find Splinter, and then Karai. He thinks they should park outside the gate and sneak in, but that proves impossible, as soldiers have every entrance into NYC quarantined. April notices that the troops have Kraang mind control devices on their necks, so Casey simply floors it and the Party Wagon is able to smash through the gates.
    But, um, where are all the people? April says she is picking up thoughts from only a few hundred people, meaning there are millions missing. There are lots of Kraang, though, so the Turtles get to test out the Party Wagon’s soda cannons and stink bombs, both of which prove effective.
    The group does some effective ninja-ing, evading Kraang robots, Foot ninjas and mousers. Can April track Shredder? Maybe, but Leo decides to start searching at the lair.
    There’s no sign of Splinter, but the Kraang do have a crazy robot security system that ends up using four lasers to exterminate a poor rat. Mikey freaks out and wants to move back in, but that’s not an option. April gets a faint read on Splinter, who seems to nearby … but he’s different somehow. Everyone races over and we find out why he’s different — Splinter has gone feral!
    As they try to keep Splinter from chewing Casey’s face off and talk some sense to him, a Mouser calls for backup, and Splinter is captured by the Foot.
    Speaking of the Foot, Tiger Claw asks Shredder when they are going to take action. He still finds the Kraang useful, and his top priority is finding Karai. The Foot robots return with Splinter, who Shredder says has clearly lost his mind. Tiger Claw asks if he should put the rat out of his misery, but Shredder wants him taken to Baxter Stockman instead. The idea is that Stockman might be able to restore Hamato Yoshi’s mind, the better for him to understand what is happening when Shredder finishes him.
    The Turtles and company are on their way, and … hey, look! Mini Shredder! They manage to keep the little guy off of them as they descend into Baxter’s workspace, where they see the fly guy taunting Splinter. A rescue attempt is on, but Baxter spots them and unleashes all three of his Shredder mutants. Fans of the original Mirage comics will recognize this as a fitting tribute to that take on the same story.
    Amid the chaos, April tries reaching out to Splinter with her telepathy, encouraged by Donnie’s assertion that it might work. He begins to get flashes of his memories back, but he mistakes Casey for Shredder and attacks him. Also, Mikey accidentally sets off an alarm, because that’s what he does. Splinter ends up charging at and cornering April, but from that range, her powers work even more effectively, and while there’s still a nervous moment, Splinter is once again himself.
    Good thing, too, because the Turtles are losing their fights with the mutant Shredders, with Leo even losing one of his swords into a giant vat of mutagen. But with Splinter, they make short work of the mutants. Apparently his time without his mind hasn’t dulled his ninja skills any. Shredder and Tiger Claw arrive, but Splinter says this isn’t the time for a fight, and a ninja smoke bomb covers their escape.
    Except it doesn’t, completely. In the Party Wagon, they find Tiger Claw holding onto the roof, though a little visit from Sir Sizzlalot — that’s a flamethrower concealed inside a deer head that used to hang on the farmhouse wall — gets rid of him.
    The question now is where they will live while they continue their mission to free the city. Splinter says homes are transitory, but Leo points out they still need a place to hang their masks. Mikey has an idea, though, and for once it isn’t horrible. They’ll be working out of Antonio’s Pizza-Rama for the time being. Convenient, eh?
    April is still worried about her dad, and her power are giving her a weird reading on him and the missing people. It’s like they are right around them, and we briefly see what see sees: a bunch of people mind-controlled by the Kraang. Are they shifted between the dimensions somehow, so they’re int he same physical space but still elsewhere? That’s what it looks like.
    Favorite Moment: Definitely the three Shredders, which were the product of much weirder science in the comics. Here’s a look at what they resembled back in the day:

    Not exactly the same, but an obvious inspiration for what we saw today.
    Final Thought: Not a bad way at all to get us back into the overall story arc of this season after some wandering in circles, though it did feel a bit rushed to find and restore Spinter right away. It’s always fun to see your heroes overcome impossible odds, and the deck looks more stacked against the Turtles than ever right now.

    Tags: Baxter Stockman Shredder Splinter Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tiger Claw

    [Read More...]
  • This girl turns herself in to Disney Princesses on Snapchat and it’s amazing

    Tumblr user Snapchat Mi is totally killing the Snapchat game. Oh yeah, you’re about to feel totally inadequate the ‘original snapping’ stakes, because this gal turns herself into actual Disney princesses using nothing but the paint tool on Snapchat.
    Take a look at some of our faves below, and check out the talented artist at snapchatmi.tumblr.com.
    Elsa

    Jasmine

    Snow White

    Mulan

    Maleficent

    Aurora

    Whaddya reckon – think you’ll be giving this a go, or gonna stick to making the dog look like he’s got devil horns? Let us know @sugarscape.

    [Read More...]
  • Hotel checkout: new Legoland Florida Resort accommodation to open in time for May half-term

    The new themed hotel at the Legoland Florida Resort near Orlando will open on May 15 in time for the May half-term.
    Families staying on site will be able to meet the park’s Master Model Builders and learn their brick skills in special workshops.
    And after a hard day’s activities in the park, guests can cool down in the property’s colourful pool.
    Rooms will have four themes – Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure and one yet to be revealed.
    New for summer 2015 in the park will be Heartlake City, based on the popular Lego Friends range and featuring a new Mia’s Riding Adventure ride as well as an interactive show.
    Hotel rooms will start at £183 a night B&B for a family room for two adults and up to three children, not including park tickets. LEGOLANDHotel.com
    Tea Rex? Try a glam rock treat at the K West hotel in Shepherd’s Bush, London
    *Break out your platform boots and silver jumpsuit – the K West Hotel in London has launched its Glam Rock Afternoon Tea. (Shouldn’t that be Tea Rex?).
    The Shepherd’s Bush property is a former BBC building that has played host to the likes of David Bowie and Roxy Music, and the £22.50 tea will be served on vintage record covers.
    Guests who want to release their inner rock star can swap the cuppas for tea-infused cocktails and enjoy the ‘Sweet’ treat from 10pm-1am. k-west.co.uk
    *Skiers catching the Eurostar direct to the slopes from London’s St Pancras station are being offered a special package at the five-star Great Northern Hotel in the adjacent King’s Cross piazza.
    The deal runs to April 11 and includes an overnight stay, à la carte breakfast in the Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant, a takeaway artisan lunch, and “chalet boy” help with boot and ski bag transport to St Pancras. From £180 per person. gnhlondon.com
    *A new upmarket 43-room boutique hotel will open in the historic centre of Palma de Mallorca in March.
    Hotel Sant Francesc is a converted manor house which will feature a rooftop terrace with a pool and patio bar and join the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. slh.com
    Air update
    Nine new holiday routes are taking off from Leeds Bradford airport this summer.
    Jet2.com and Jet2holidays will now fly to Malta; Enfidha, Tunisia; Kefalonia, Greece and Antalya, Turkey – taking it 42 destinations
    Monarch and Cosmos Holidays have introduced a route to the southern Italian city of Naples for breaks in Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast, plus another to Alicante on Spain’s Costa Blanca, bringing their summer services to ten.
    Heraklion in Crete is new for Thomson Holidays and First Choice, while Omega Holidays has launched a Lakes and Mountains programme to Friedrichshafen, Germany. Latvia’s capital Riga is a new city break option from Ryanair for the summer.
    An airport spokesman said: ‘’There has never been a better time to choose Leeds Bradford, flying locally from Yorkshire.” leedsbradfordairport.co.uk
    Fortifying: the new Fortnum & Mason bar at Heathrow Terminal 5
    *Thirsty travellers with expensive pre-flight tastes and bulging wallets are now well-catered for at Heathrow Terminal 5.
    Posh people’s department store Fortnum & Mason has opened a bar selling champagnes, fine wines, cocktails, spirits, fresh juice, teas and coffee plus snacks including shellfish, caviar and charcuterie.
    And if you’ve still got some money to blow, the terminal has added luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Rolex and Bottega Veneta to its collection of 22 high-end retailers. heathrowairport.com
    *Icelandair is launching a twice-weekly service from Birmingham to Reykjavik on February 5 and adding a Saturday flight from Gatwick on June 6 to make it a six-times-a-week service. The carrier will also move from Heathrow Terminal 1 to 2 on March 25. icelandair.co.uk
    *Birmingham airport had record passenger numbers in 2014 with 9,707,449 travellers, an increase of 6.5% on the previous year. birminghamairport.co.uk
    A week’s holiday for £74
    Need sunshine? Bit skint? EasyJet holidays has put 250,000 bargain breaks on sale with deals starting at a massively wallet-friendly £74 per person.
    For that price you could spend a week in the Algarve on room only at the three- star AtlantiChoice Studio 17 in Praia da Rocha, departing from Luton on February 9. If Liverpool Airport is better for you, there’s a departure on February 7 for £91.
    Still at £74, you could explore exotic Marrakech on a three-night break at the four-star Ryad Mogador Menzah, departing from Gatwick on February 9.
    And if you need two weeks away there’s a 14-night, room-only trip to the three-star Ozlem 1 Apartments in Icmeler, Turkey, for £119, flying from Gatwick on April 21.
    Prices are based on two sharing and exclude transfers and baggage. easyjet.com/holidays

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  • JUST HUMOR ME: Room at the mop

    My son, Zack, backed away in fear. He’d never seen anything like it before.“What’s that?” he asked, peering around the couch, staring wide-eyed at the strange device I’d just unearthed from the deepest bowels of our home.“This, my son,” I told him, wielding the staff like a middle-aged mutant ninja turtle, “is a mop.”Silence. I could just as well have told him that it was a banjo. “What’s that?” he asked again.“You clean floors with it. Well, not you, but me. Actually, someday you. But we can build up to that. For now, just concentrate on not wiping your nose on our couch pillows,” I said.He sized me up for a moment, saw that the mop had no electrical cord that might indicate the imminence of scary noises, and went back to ignoring me, in favor of Captain Hook. Netflix only has two seasons of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” available to stream, but Zack has watched them enough times that, even though he was only partway through season two, he was really on season 64.“Blasted barnacles!” Captain Hook yelled, again. Zack crawled back to his spot on the couch, wiping his nose on the pillow as he went.“Avast, ye swabs!” I replied, squeezing the warm water into the bucket and taking a first swipe at the floor, enjoying the fresh scent of a pine forest enshrouded in a morning fog, a fog made of chemicals that don’t quite smell like a pine forest.Would I have done this for free? No way. Mopping isn’t something I usually get too jazzed about, but last weekend, I was getting paid good money to mop my own floors.How did I land such a sweet gig? It started several years ago, when our friends had an engagement party at their house. Continued…
    “Place looks great!” we said.“We had a cleaning lady come help. Her name’s Carmen. You should call her sometime,” they replied.And thus began our complicated relationship with Carmen. She’s been over a few times over the years, usually before a get-together at our house. She charges reasonably and does a great job, but I can’t shake the mental image of a vacuum cleaner reaching into our bank account and applying powerful sucking action every time she visits.I can stomach having some help before an event at which we are likely to be judged by our ability to not have dog fur on our kitchen counters, but my wife Kara wants more. She’d like Carmen to come over every two weeks, while I’d like to have her visit our house with the same frequency as Santa.“The house is a mess. I’m going to call Carmen,” Kara will say, periodically, the implication being that if I want to continue living in squalor (which I do), it’s going to cost us.Having someone clean up after you sounds awesome, in theory, like you can treat your house the same way Axl Rose treated hotel rooms in the ‘80s. But you have to clean up before they come over anyway, which defeats the whole purpose. Not very rock n’ roll at all.So I fend off Carmen the best way I know how, and my weapon of choice is a mop. I’d hate mopping if I had to do it for free, but since I’m getting paid by not having to pay someone else, the sheen across the floor takes on the aroma of fake pine chemicals and dollar bills.For other husbands in a similar situation, I hope this has been an inspirational tale. With just a little hard work, you too can train your wife to let you mop the floor.You can trash a hotel room with Mike Todd at mikectodd@gmail.com.
    My son, Zack, backed away in fear. He’d never seen anything like it before.“What’s that?” he asked, peering around the couch, staring wide-eyed at the strange device I’d just unearthed from the deepest bowels of our home.“This, my son,” I told him, wielding the staff like a middle-aged mutant ninja turtle, “is a mop.”Silence. I could just as well have told him that it was a banjo. “What’s that?” he asked again.“You clean floors with it. Well, not you, but me. Actually, someday you. But we can build up to that. For now, just concentrate on not wiping your nose on our couch pillows,” I said.He sized me up for a moment, saw that the mop had no electrical cord that might indicate the imminence of scary noises, and went back to ignoring me, in favor of Captain Hook. Netflix only has two seasons of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” available to stream, but Zack has watched them enough times that, even though he was only partway through season two, he was really on season 64.“Blasted barnacles!” Captain Hook yelled, again. Zack crawled back to his spot on the couch, wiping his nose on the pillow as he went.“Avast, ye swabs!” I replied, squeezing the warm water into the bucket and taking a first swipe at the floor, enjoying the fresh scent of a pine forest enshrouded in a morning fog, a fog made of chemicals that don’t quite smell like a pine forest.Would I have done this for free? No way. Mopping isn’t something I usually get too jazzed about, but last weekend, I was getting paid good money to mop my own floors.How did I land such a sweet gig? It started several years ago, when our friends had an engagement party at their house.“Place looks great!” we said.“We had a cleaning lady come help. Her name’s Carmen. You should call her sometime,” they replied.And thus began our complicated relationship with Carmen. She’s been over a few times over the years, usually before a get-together at our house. She charges reasonably and does a great job, but I can’t shake the mental image of a vacuum cleaner reaching into our bank account and applying powerful sucking action every time she visits.I can stomach having some help before an event at which we are likely to be judged by our ability to not have dog fur on our kitchen counters, but my wife Kara wants more. She’d like Carmen to come over every two weeks, while I’d like to have her visit our house with the same frequency as Santa.“The house is a mess. I’m going to call Carmen,” Kara will say, periodically, the implication being that if I want to continue living in squalor (which I do), it’s going to cost us.Having someone clean up after you sounds awesome, in theory, like you can treat your house the same way Axl Rose treated hotel rooms in the ‘80s. But you have to clean up before they come over anyway, which defeats the whole purpose. Not very rock n’ roll at all.So I fend off Carmen the best way I know how, and my weapon of choice is a mop. I’d hate mopping if I had to do it for free, but since I’m getting paid by not having to pay someone else, the sheen across the floor takes on the aroma of fake pine chemicals and dollar bills.For other husbands in a similar situation, I hope this has been an inspirational tale. With just a little hard work, you too can train your wife to let you mop the floor.You can trash a hotel room with Mike Todd at mikectodd@gmail.com.

    [Read More...]
  • ‘Frozen’ fans escape cold at library

    Bishop Nash/The Herald-Dispatch (From left) Hayden Grubb, 7, Willow Burchett, 4, and Bristol Gee, 4, of Grayson, Ky. group up for a photo with Elsa during the Cabell County Public Library’s Frozen celebration Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Huntington.

    Jan. 25, 2015 @ 12:01 AM

    HUNTINGTON — The cold certainly didn’t bother anyone at the Cabell County Library in Huntington Saturday morning, as young ones gathered to meet the ice queen herself, Elsa, from Disney’s “Frozen.”
    Complete with matching costumes, children had the chance to meet and get their photo with the famed Disney princess, who it would seem brought some snow along with her.
    Children also heard stories, played games, made crafts and had the chance to view the movie after Elsa left.
    The next event for kids at the main branch is 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28. Kids will mix art and science by building their own drawing robot. The event is for ages 6 and up. Registration is required. Call 304-528-5700.
    (u’addcomment’,)

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    Jan. 25, 2015 @ 12:01 AM

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  • NYC subway fare to soon increase

    Published: Sun, January 25, 2015 @ 12:00 a.m.
    NYC subway fare to soon increase
    NEW YORK
    The cost of traveling in New York City is going up.
    Beginning March 22, the cost of a subway ride will increase by 50 cents, to $2.75, under a package of fare increases approved recently by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
    The price of a 30-day MetroCard will increase by $4.50, to $116.50.
    Fares also will jump on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad, and tolls will rise on the MTA’s bridges and tunnels.
    Subway fares last increased in 2013, when the cost of a single ride rose from $2.25 to $2.50.
    Fall colors help boost park visits
    ESTES PARK, Colo.
    More than 3.4 million people spent time at Rocky Mountain National Park last year, the park’s highest number of annual visitors since 2000. Spokeswoman Kyle Patterson says glorious fall colors and good weather helped boost attendance.
    According to radio station KUNC, the main road through the park stayed open later than usual and there were a lot of people that were coming to get that last drive on Trail Ridge before it shut down for the winter.

    Legoland hotel to open in spring
    WINTER HAVEN, Fla.
    The Legoland Florida Hotel will welcome its first guests a month earlier than previously expected.
    During an announcement recently, Legoland executives announced May 15 as the revised opening date.
    The theme park will move its model-building workshop into the hotel, giving guests access to the employees who create the elaborate Lego designs displayed throughout the park.
    Executives also say the first-floor restaurant at the hotel will be called Bricks Family Restaurant, an eatery with low buffet tables to accommodate children.
    The Lakeland Ledger reports that a new section called Lego Friends Heartlake City is scheduled to open in the park this summer. That section is based on a line of Lego products aimed at girls.
    Geography quiz
    Q. Which state is nicknamed the Buckeye State?
    A. Ohio. The state Legislature proclaimed the buckeye the state tree in 1953 due to how common it was there. The tree’s name comes from its nut, which resembles a deer’s eye in shape and color.
    Combined dispatches

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  • Children, parents, and educators gathered at the Capitol Friday to rally for pre-k funding

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    Jan 23, 2015 6:06 PM by Zack Briggs – MTN News

    HELENA — Kids and their families filled the Capitol lawn Friday, all bundled up for a “Frozen”-themed rally in support of Governor Steve Bullock’s “Early Edge Montana” program.
    Disney princess “Elsa” and her snowy-acquaintance “Olaf” even made an appearance.
    Dozens of parents, educators, and business leaders expressed their views on Early Edge Montana before a House Appropriations committee of the Montana Legislature.
    Bullock’s initiative asks the Legislature to provide state funding for early childhood education.
    Montana is one of eight states without public preschool and not everyone is pleased with the statistic.
    Helena teacher Chelsea Seagrest said, “I know my husband and I are our children’s most important teachers but there are essential skills children need to develop that are more effectively taught in a pre-school setting.”
    Seagrest and other people who testified claim young children learn social, emotional, and physical skills when enrolled in preschool.
    Nava Connor is a Helena resident and parent of three-year-old Paetyn. Connor said it’s vital for Montana’s youth to be a couple steps ahead of the game before entering kindergarten.
    Connor said, “To have that pre-k to help them have that extra step to excel that much more is huge.”
    Bullock is asking the legislature for more than $35 million dollars over two years to fund Early Edge. It would cost approximately $30,000 for every ten students.
    Connor said she’s on board with contributing if it means bettering her daughter’s education. She noted, “I’d rather pay for it now than pay for it in the end when our kids aren’t as educated.”
    The Great Falls community has been running a preschool program using stimulus dollars since 2010. It serves the area’s five highest poverty-stricken schools out of 15 elementary facilities.
    Ruth Uecker, elementary assistant superintendent, said adjustments would be made if the legislature ultimately approved Early Edge funding.
    Uecker said, “We might work with our Head Start partners. We might fluctuate some enrollment areas within our building. We also have a center, a building that’s just for preschool right now and we can expand it as well.”
    Bullock voiced his stance on the financial feasibility of Early Edge Montana, saying it’s not all up to politicians to progress Montana’s education system for young children.
    Bullock said, “Those that say we can’t afford it, we can’t afford not to be making these investments. As Elsa might say, we let them learn.”
    The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will act on the Early Edge Montana funding request next week in an executive action session.

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  • Princess packs the house: Unexpected turnout at Cinderella event results in future shows

    MUSKEGON, MI– If Cinderella had a magic wand with her at Hackley Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 24, it’s safe to say she would have created an actual ballroom to accommodate hundreds of children and adults there to see her perform.
    Library officials estimated 600 people showed up for the event, many of whom were turned away at the door due to a lack of space and an unexpected turnout.
    Library director Martha Ferriby said the room of children had to be dispersed into two groups and the rest were turned away because it was a “hazard” to have so many in one room.
    “We anticipated 60 children and might have gotten as many as 600,” she said. “We had no idea so many people loved princesses.”
    The free event slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday featured Julia Steudle, of Fruitport — dressed as Cinderella from hair to slippers — there to read, dance and do crafts with the children.
    However, eager participants who were lucky enough to get there early, found the packed basement of the library where Steudle was performing much too loud for anyone to hear her.
    “I definitely wasn’t expecting that many kids,” she said. She was grateful so many were excited to see her.
    Some kids could get near Steudle, but most weren’t able to make it through the crowd.
    Hackley Public Library staff announced that those who missed the performance will have another chance to see Cinderella in the near future.
    “We will have signups for the next ones and we will post it on our Facebook page and our website and people can always call the library,” Ferriby said. “Cinderella will be staying here tonight and see every last princess even if her beautiful blue dress turns to rags at midnight.”
    Kristi Johnson, of Whitehall, had with her two children dressed as princesses – her 3-year-old daughter, Mallory Johnson, and her 8-year-old daughter, Makenzi Johnson – when they were turned away at the door of the library.
    The Johnsons were in a long line that snaked around the side of the library and down Third Street.
    “We’ve been looking forward to it all week. We are bummed,” Johnson said. “We got all dressed up and drove all the way from Whitehall.”
    Tonya Shackelford, of Twin Lake, brought her daughter, Eleanor Shackelford, 3, to the event. But they didn’t stay long either as the room continued to fill up.
    “She loves anything princess,” she said.
    Julie Woodrum and her daughter, Jade Woodrum, 4, also got a spot near Cinderella and stuck it out for most of it.
    Jade had recently had hip surgery and her mother thought the event would cheer her up.
    “She was in the hospital and I just wanted to get her out,” Woodrum said.
    Woodrum, also a Disney princess fan, displayed her princess tattoos on her arm.
    “I was a princess growing up, but also a Tom Boy,” she said. “I always tell my daughter that everyone has a beautiful princess inside them.”
    Heather Lynn Peters covers police and fire, and writes a statewide food column, The Spunky Kitchen, for MLive/Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at hpeters@mlive.com and follow her on Twitter @HLPNEWS.

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