Do a Good Deed Today: 10 Steps to Becoming a Happier and More Positive Person

Let’s face it. Humans are becoming more and more disconnected from one another. Even though the internet has bridged distance and time zones, it’s this obsession with mobile phone, gadgets, and work that appears to have made tempers shorter. Our interactions with fellow humans are often rushed or hurried because we’re always trying to get somewhere – really fast.

Image Courtesy of Pexels

According to Psychology Today, people don’t realize that they are becoming rude to one another. In the frantic pace of the day, people rush past others, shove others on the subway, or never bother to hold a door open for a senior citizen. We get it, people are busy. People need to work. But hey, don’t forget that the part that makes us all human needs to be nurtured too.

From Competitive to Compassionate

In the beginning of time, man had to fight and kill for survival. It was a cruel and harsh environment they were in, and “kill or be killed” applied to everyday life. However, civilization has advanced so much that people don’t have to fight in order to live another day. We’re not in a “#Hunger Games” or “#Game of Thrones” scenario. Life is technically easy and more pleasant now that people have jobs that earn them a living, and they have money to buy the things they need.

In recent decades though, the increase in material wealth and preoccupation with work, earning a living, and raising a family, has caused people to neglect their relationship with others. True, they keep relationships with family, friends, and co-workers alive (or do they?) but they forget the all-important aspect of empathy towards others.

Doing a good deed to a stranger, such as buying a suspended cup of coffee or meal, may make you feel good and honorable for a while. But don’t let that end there. Experts say that doing an act of #kindness to someone random, like a person we meet at the grocery checkout line, can help anyone feel more positive. It is in fact, therapeutic and could spell the difference between feeling angry, left out, and depressed to being truly #happy.

If people did small, random acts of kindness to another person every day, it could become an outlook-changing experience for a lot of people.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you’re up for the challenge, here are 10 simple acts of kindness you can do for someone else:

  1. Do not cut someone on the road. Trying not to be late for work on a Monday can truly be exhausting and can test a person’s patience as well as manners. If someone is trying to cut ahead of you on traffic, let him pass. Better yet, don’t be that person who tries to cut another motorist. You’re already late, do you need to be a bad person too?
  2. Apologize for small things. You could be right and the cashier or barista may need to get his act together. But if you yelled at him or her for not getting your order correct or your change right, apologize. It will help you feel better immediately instead of you carrying the negativity all day.
  3. Greet someone. It’s a simple hello, good morning, or good afternoon. Hearing a polite greeting does amazing things to someone’s day.
  4. Give a compliment to someone who needs it. Is there someone at work or at school who isn’t popular, or isn’t very well liked? Take the time out to give this person a sincere compliment. It can be as simple as saying, “hey, nice dress today!” or “I really like your shoes”.
  5. Ask about another person’s life. How long has it been since you’ve had a meaningful conversation with your co-workers or schoolmates? Ever bother to ask the security guard at your building how he’s doing? Strike up a conversation and make someone else feel important. Instead of bragging about your new purchases, sincerely ask someone how he is and how his family is doing.
  6. Smile at the delivery guy or the meter maid. People who do manual labor are often treated gruffly and are almost “invisible” to others. A simple smile and thank you goes along way for both the giver and the recipient.
  7. Let someone go first in a queue. If you’re at the grocery checkout and the person next to you is only buying a couple of items, let him or her go first.
  8. Help the elderly. It can be with crossing the street, opening a package, carrying something, or striking a simple conversation with them at the park. You know they’re lonely and in need of human assistance as well as interaction. Remember that we all grow old someday.
  9. Give your seat to a pregnant woman or someone with a child. Commuting can be stressful and we all want to be comfortable. However, a woman who is pregnant or travelling with a child will greatly appreciate being able to sit down. You can make a new friend by the end of the trip and have made someone else feel better too.
  10. Share food. A lot of people are hungry not because they don’t have money to buy food, but because they also don’t know how to prepare meals for themselves. If you have a co-worker who is always buying take out from fast food, try sharing some of your home-cooked meal with him or her. It makes a huge difference and will make you feel better too.

These are 10 simple things you can do to change the course of your day and invite more positivity. The universal law of karma ensures that you feel better and lighter after doing small and random acts of kindness. These could be strangers or people you are already working or going to school with. Everyone needs a little hug, or an extra ray of sunshine to brighten their day.

Why not try to be that person? Spread #happiness all around!

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5 Fitness Classes That Truly Transform

Tired of aerobics? Is running too lonely for you? Are you someone who hates going outdoor to exercise? Then maybe joining a gym is the right move. Modern gyms have been opened up to welcome people from all walks of life and fitness levels. It has evolved from a torture chamber to a place where people go to have fun and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you’re planning to join a gym, here some classes to consider:

1. Spinning Classes


Stationary bikes have become lean and mean workout machines because of spinning classes. They usually run for an hour and is accompanied by music. However, this class is no casual afternoon bike ride. The music dictates the pace and intensity of the workout, and students find themselves drenched in sweat after each session.

2. Zumba Classes


Zumba combines dance, fun choreography and major aerobic exercise. It is a mixture of latin dance, hip-hop, reggae and some others. The pace usually starts slow during the first couple of songs but the workout increases in intensity as the class progresses. The good news is that this class is also kind to beginners. You can work at your own pace and just have fun dancing. This is a popular class at the gym, so you might have to sign up for class an hour or so ahead of schedule.

3. Yoga Classes


Yoga has transcended the meditative monk image and is now popular even among young adults. Apart from relieving stress and tension, yoga also tones the body and makes it limber. People who take yoga classes several times a week have enjoyed a happier disposition, healthier immune system, and a very toned physique. It may take a while for you to get used the poses or asanas in yoga class, but practice does makes perfect.

4. Pilates Classes


Like yoga, Pilates is another strengthening exercise that involves a routine of poses and movements. Pilates will correct your breathing as well as your posture. This class is recommended for people who need to work on strengthening their back and abdominal muscles. The equipment used are medicine balls, rings, and other small objects.

5. Boxing Classes


Boxing classes are not just for men who need to punch something at the end of a long, stressful day. Women sign up for boxing classes too as a form of self-defense training as well as to get fit. For beginners, bulk of your training will include cardiovascular exercises like jump rope, spinning, running or swimming. Boxing classes are normally one-on-one and may require a small additional fee.

These five are just some of the classes or activities that you can enjoy when you sign up for gym membership. Choose carefully don’ t be afraid to be behind the pack. Be kind to yourself and try to have fun. Going to the gym isn’t supposed to be some form of torture. Loosen up and enjoy!

5 Affordable and Creative Wall Décor Ideas

There comes a point in every homeowner’s life when he or she gets tired of staring at that blank wall. Painting the walls is always a good option, but it needs something to more to make the space look lived-in. If only it were that easy to call a decorator and give him instructions to fill the walls with priceless works of art.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have that kind of money to spend on wall decor. You can, however, be a little creative and decorate the walls in the different areas of your home based on your personality.

Here are 5 affordable and tasteful wall décor ideas:

1. Framed Maps

Maps aren’t boring and antiquated. You can use colorful frames with different textures to frame maps of places of you’ve been to or travelled to as a family. You can personalize it further by adding snapshots of your travels. You can display this prominently at the living room or by the staircase. It’s not only nostalgic; it also serves as wonderful conversation piece when you have guests over.

2. Coffee Filter Art

If your breakfast nook or den looks bare, you can have some fun with coffee filter art. Basically, you can color or paint coffee filters with different colors. You can choose to cover just the edges or the entire thing. The painted filters can then be arranged to make any shape or object you like. It’s fun to do, it’s colorful, and is relatively inexpensive. If you have kids, this can be a fun project to do with them.

3. Cork Board

The staircase wall is normally a neglected section of the house. It can actually become eye-catching and functional by adding a corkboard to the wall. It doesn’t matter if it’s being used as a study area or a small office, the corkboard is a great way to post projets, bills, reminders and other important lists for everyone. If you have a large family, you can divide the cork board into sections: to-do, to-buy, go-to etc.

4. Inspiration Quotes

Quotes are always great wall decor ideas. Nowadays, you can get large sticker-like ones which are very easy to attach to your walls. This is better than actually painting the quotes on the wall. You can also have them printed on a tarpaulin so you can add an image to the inspirational quote you like. Another place that would be good to have this would be your home gym or workout area.

5. Baskets and Hats

Straw or woven hats and baskets add a lovely touch to bedroom walls. You can make this more personal by hanging hats you’ve collected on your travels. Alternatively, instead of baskets you can also use colorful scarves.

There’s no right or wrong way to decorate your home. Some people like showing off deer or moose heads, and that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is to make the place all about you and what you stand for. Decorating is not about what’s chic or what’s expensive, it’s what makes you long to come back for home at the end of a long day.

Photography Articles

Tips for Grabbing a Toddler’s Attention During a Shoot

Taking snapshots is very different from taking artful photographs. Professional skill is needed to come up with great-looking photos that can be proudly displayed on frames on top of mantle pieces. There’s no problem when shooting adults. However, taking portraits or fantasy shots of young children can be doubly challenging.

How do you work around it? Any photographer worth his salt knows that making young kids at ease during a photoshoot is the first step to taking good photos. More often than not, photo studios do prepare kid-friendly sets to catch a child’s attention. Colors, shapes, animals or other fun themes are among the top choices.

Toddlers can be very temperamental and moody. Toys always help them be more cooperative during a shoot. Plushies are for younger children though, toddlers prefer toys that move, have lights, or sounds. One good choice would be wind up toys or mechanical ones. While you set up to take a picture, another person can hold the toy in front of the child to catch his attention. Normally, it’s the parent who does this while the photographer takes the shots.

Having a musical toy also gets a child to look at a certain direction, and can be more easily prodded to smile or pose. Alternatively, the photos can be taken while the child is actually playing with the toys. Playing danceable tunes can also work if the child likes dancing. Get other children or the parents to dance along for more fun, candid shots.

These are just some tips for sustaining a child’s attention during photo shoots.
Can you make money as an amateur photographer?

By definition, an amateur photographer is someone who engages in photography but is not paid for it, or who does not earn his daily living from taking pictures. However, you can still make money as an amateur photographer.

Compared to professional photographers, amateur photographers may or may not have the latest and the most photography equipment. Most amateur photographers who continue to develop their craft, develop their photography into a hobby. Hobbyists, by their nature, usually have as much knowledge, if not the experience as professional photographers.

Making money as an amateur photographer has gotten easier in recent years. This is due to the internet. The internet has created a level playing field for professionals and amateurs in the sense that they can both post their images online for everyone to see. This includes posting in online stock photo sites. The photographer sends his pictures to the stock photo site, and buyers browse the images and buy them for use online or for print. The pictures are not physically bought, but are licensed for use. A single picture can be licensed and used by different buyers.

The price per license may seem small at first, however, the way to go around this business is to send a lot of quality pictures. Stock photographers typically have thousands of pictures listed with stock picture companies. This ensures that they have a bigger chance of getting their images chosen by buyers. When you produce quality images, which the buying public wants, it becomes a numbers game: the more high-quality pictures you produce, the more fees you earn. An amateur photographer can do that, and he can continue adding to his portfolio.
5 Easy Photography Tips to Take Better Pictures

A recent infographic showed that based on the number of images taken each year, the number one camera in use today is the iPhone. This has resulted in pictures being taken by people who don’t know how to take a good picture. The following steps will help you take better pictures no matter what camera you use.

1. Avoid bright backgrounds. Whatever camera you use, you need to make sure that the foreground (the object you want to shoot) is brighter than the background. Check that the light is from the front pointing at the object, and not from the back. If it could not be avoided, use a flash instead.

2. Find the right distance. Selfies are the most common kind of pictures being taken speccially if the uses has a camphone. The problem with a selfie is that it is usually taken up close. This results in pictures where the face is slightly wider and distorted. This is called “barreling”. For cameras with small lenses, the only solution is to take pictures from farther away. You have to experiment with the right focusing distance to capture flattering selfies.

3. Capture the light and shadows. Another problem most users encounter is that they don’t pay attention to picture contrast. This results in images which are either too dark (not enough light), or too bright (awash with light).

4. Frame the shot. Use natural lines and curves to create a frame for the shot. The lines made by a room’s corners, or curtains, or the curve branches of trees can be made to frame an image.

5. Find lines to point to the image. Lines of objects can be used to point to the image you want to focus on. Using this method, the eye is drawn to where the lines are pointing to.
4 More Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography has never been so easy. A lot of cameras, including camera phones, allow users to point and shoot without worrying about the image they are taking. The following are some more photography tips for beginners to take better pictures with whatever camera they are using.

1. The rule of thirds. Beginners are usually intent on taking pictures where their object is at the center of the picture. This results in static images and limits the scope of the picture. Without going into the theory behind this rule, suffice to say that the best way to improve your pictures is not the center them. Instead, try to imagine the image as divided by lines into 9 equal rectangles (a 3×3 grid). Frame your image such that the focus is on one of the intersecting lines. You should see an improvement in the quality of your pictures when you start shooting off-center.

2. Candid shots. You would think that with a smaller camera (specially in a camera phone), that candid shots would be easier to take. However, since people know that your phone has a camera, they are always ready to pose in an instant. Capture candid shots of people who are not looking at the camera, but instead are doing something they are engrossed in.

3. Zoom out. Take the bigger picture. Bigger pictures also tell a bigger story. There is more context and explains the picture better.

4. Take landscapes. Most beginners use a camera phone, and they shoot pictures holding it like a phone. Turn the camphone on its side and start taking landscape oriented pictures. You would be surprised at the new pictures you take.
Digital Photography Tips

Digital photography is growing by leaps and bounds. Camera phones are trying to catch up with compact point and shoot cameras, while high-end DSLRs are becoming cheaper and easier to use. Here are some photography tips you can use when shooting with digital cameras.

1. White Balance. Setting the white balance to auto usually works for most occasions. However, when possible, choose the right white balance on your camera. This will result in correct color capture, and less color corrections when you edit.

2. Use a Tripod or a monopod. The smaller your camera, the more camera shake will occur. This also happens more often when you have a long lens. Camera shake happens when the camera moves while you press the shutter. The easiest way to prevent this from occurring, is to shoot with a tripod, or a monopod.

3. Go Wide. Wide pictures offer a different angle than zooms or normal lenses. The larger picture area also allows more light. In addition, there is more depth of field with wider shots. All in all, resulting in less blurred shots.

4. If possible, use RAW. If your camera supports RAW (like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), use it to take your pictures. RAW has more image information which you can use when editing the picture.

5. Use sports mode for low light. Using night mode for low light sets the camera shutter speed for longer exposure. This results in ghost images and blurring. Choose sports mode instead. This means that the exposure is faster, less blurring but with more grainy pictures. To counter the graininess, resize from the full size to social media size of 1200×800 or 1800×1200.
More Digital Photography Tips for Beginners

Digital photography has taken over the internet and the professional photographt scene. It has made photography accessible to the ordinary person who could not afford expensive professional cameras, and film. Before digital photography, pictures were taken sparingly because of the cost of film and developing. Those who wanted to have good quality photos went to studios to have their portraits taken by professionals.

Fast forward to a few years and we now have young kids snapping pictures using their mobile phones. Selfies notwithstanding, mobile photography has given way to more interest in photography. DSLR cameras have since become more affordable and you would see people with no professional training readily taking photographs with their big cameras.

How different is digital photography nowadays and what should beginners remember?

1. Read or Watch Tutorials on Youtube

The internet has made knowledge easily accessible to anyone, and this includes photography lessons. Tutorials and tips are available on YouTube and they cater to different kinds of cameras: mobile phones, digital cameras, or DSLRs. These tutorials teach about lighting, framing, composition and other essentials.

2. Find Interesting Subjects

Cats, dogs, fashion, flowers, events and food are among the most common subjects that you can find today. Most bloggers take their own photos to accompany their blog posts, and most of them do these using their cellphone cameras.

The different between digital photography and traditional photography is that people now take photos to share via social media. It is more important for them that their friends and family like or react to the photos they post.

Tips for Improving Your Holiday Photos


The holidays are fast approaching. It’s a season of merriment, reunions, parties and of course – tons of photos. Whether you’re a professional whose shooting weddings and other important occasions, or the designated family photographer, here are a few tips you can use to make taking pictures more fun.

1. Have a Theme

Kick party planning up a notch with a theme. Have everyone come in costumes or color-code each family. This would make group photos easier and more lovely to look at. You can take photos of each family first and then take a photo of everyone together. The different colors will make a nice rainbow effect on the photographs.

2. Use a Backdrop

Christmas trees and fireplaces are overused backdrops. Create one for your party or reunion and have everyone pose for photos there instead. It can be a tarp with the family surname, or logo. You can also add graphics to it and make it more interactive with props – very much like a photobooth set up.

3. Use a Tripod and a Remote

The problem with taking photos during the holidays is that the person taking the pictures always ends up not in them. Add yourself to the holiday festivities by investing on a tripod and a remote. You can set the timer on your digital camera. This will give you enough time to walk into your desired spot or place in the family photo. You can take several shots using this.

Alernatively, you can also use a selfie stick with a shutter. Have fun and go as wacky as you want with friends and family during the holidays.
Tips for Photographing Your Pet

Pet memes, GIFs, and other photos are very popular on social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest. Some pets, in fact, get a large following and their owners are obliged to take more and more photos each day. Sharing photos of your pets is also a fun way to ineract with other people online and gain new friends. There are online groups that exchange photos, stories, as well as tips and advice on being a pet owner.

Here are three tips to take better photos of your pets:

1. Natural Environment

Posing pets or dressing them up may be fun for a few pictures, but not all the time. It is the best to take pictures of your pet in their natural environment. Take the shots indoors, while playing or walking at the park, or while eating. It will also be fun to take pictures of them while they goof around or interact with other pets and members of your family.

2. No Flash

Bright lights can hurt your pet’s eyes so be very careful when taking photographs with the flash on. You can adjust the lighting by drawing back the blinds or curtains before taking the pictures.

3. Get Action Shots

Take pictures of your pets running, fetching, jumping or doing some other activities that they do so adorably. You can adjust the settings on your digital camera or mobile phone to take action or sports shots. Doing this will ensure that there is no blurring in the photograph. For DSLRs, you can adjust the shutter speed to take photos of animals while moving.

Have fun and keep shooting those photos!

5 Tips for Photographing Your Dog

Everyone loves dogs! The abundance of dog pictures online just goes to show how many people have a deep love for these four-legged creatures. Dog photos can brighten someone’s day or cheer you up when you’re particularly low. Most singletons display photos of their dogs on their desks at the office, here’s how you can have a great photo of man’s best friend as well.

1. Wait for the Perfect Time

Action shots are not easy to capture. It takes a keen eye and perfect timing to make this happen. If you want portrait type pictures, wait until after your dog’s daily walk or run. He or she would have already expended a lot of energy by then.

2. Let the Dog Get Used to You with a Camera

Dogs will see the camera as an alien object if he is not used to you taking his photos. For starters, you can use your mobile phone and take some pictures. After he has warmed up, switch to a digital camera or a DSLR for better photos. Don’t stress your dog out by yelling commands while taking his photos.

3. Take Lots of Pictures

More photos means plenty more to choose from. Experts say your chances of getting that one amazing shot increases the more pictures you take. When shooting photos of your dog, it would be good advise to bring extra batteries for your camera, or bring an extra camera if you have another one.

4. Time Your Shoot

Since dogs don’t like camera flash, it would be best to schedule your photo shoort in warm, natural sun. The best time for a photoshoot would be mornings; or in the shade if the day is sunny or bright.

5. Go Down on All Fours

Here’s a great tip to avoid cookie-cutter quality dog photos: go down and be at the same level as your dog’s. Most of the photos online are of owners looking down on their dogs. So being at the same level as your dog will give the photos a different perspective.

These five tips are certain to bring out the pro in you!
Top cameras to use for at home photography

Whenever home photography is discussed, there are some limitations which also have to be defined. The following are what I consider as delimitations for home photography:

  • A handy camera. That means that you can leave the camera lying around and ready to take a picture at any time.
  • Low light capability. The use of flash is optional, but it has to be able to take pictures indoors. Using flash sometimes creates flares and unexpected bounce backs which you want to avoid.
  • Tripod might be necessary. The camera might need to be placed at odd places where you cannot see the viewfinder. Or you might want to take a picture of yourself lounging on the sofa.
  • Remote control capable or a timer.

With the above in mind, there are only a few cameras which fit the bill:

  • Samsung Galaxy S6. Samsung camera phones are noted for their image quality. The Galaxy S6 is not exception.
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus. It has optical image stabilization which results in less camera shake. The low light capabilities are also some of the best among camera phones.
  • Canon 760D. This is an entry/level camera for the beginner/enthusiast. Easy navigation and a great learning curve.
  • Nikon D7000. This is one of the oldest camera models on the list. However, it is noted for the fast focusing, and low light capabilities.
  • Sony Cybershot R100V. This is a compact camera that may be more expensive than the Nikon and Canon DSLRs listed above. However, the form factor, and size makes this a very handy camera to have around the house.

Having a Great Date Even on a Tight Budget

Romance and love can flourish even while saving up for the future. Dates and gifts don’t have to break the bank but can still be meaningful and memorable. This article discusses how.

Date Even on a Tight Budget

I’ve always thought that dating was part of the dance that built romance and love between two people. Men and women have been doing this dance since the dawn of time and I’ve seen the prospect and face of dating evolve from the more formal, demure musings of a man trying to sway the woman she desires to the more laid back, coffee dates that everyone seems to be into these days. Getting to know someone you like is really amazing, and I personally feel that it doesn’t matter how you ask or get asked out on the date, but it’s what the date entails that really matters. I prefer going on a memorable date that doesn’t necessarily mean the other person spending a small fortune to impress me.

I think that dating can be pretty tricky. It is not all about flowers and impressing your date with a whole bunch of extravagant gifts and gestures. Aside from the date itself, it naturally makes both parties identify and have various expectations in order for the date to be considered a success. I think that when it comes to dating, you should always keep an open mind because it won’t always be successful – you will find, as I have experienced that some of the best dates you will ever have might not necessarily start off on the wrong foot.

Of course when someone asks you on a date, its important to feel comfortable and relaxed around that person especially during the date proper. There are so many activities available and places to go to, which can be anything from a picnic in the park or a swanky dinner in a restaurant. I’ve noticed that going out on a date can be pretty expensive these days, and it doesn’t matter if you are the one asking or being asked; both parties spend a considerable amount of dough to prepare for that special fun day. But like what I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to spend a lot to be ready for your date.

What to Think About When Planning a Date

If someone asks you on a date, I think its important to reach out to that person and let them know about your interests and preferences so that both of you don’t end up having a horrible time. Dating these days are practical and straight forward, a guy won’t be put off if you tell them that you are vegetarian or that you prefer to go to a gluten-free restaurant. It’s better that he knows what he is in for and prepares to have an evening that is mutually enjoyable. I’ve made the mistake of not saying anything during a date and it has gotten me in some pretty silly situations. I understand that as women, we want to be wooed and its really nice if the guy takes the initiative to ask us about where we want to go and what we like for the date, but let’s face it 90 percent of men will never ask and will only do good if you guide them. Take advantage of the date to do something that you would enjoy personally.  This will help you be more relaxed around your date and will help lighten the atmosphere.

What Not to Do on a Date

Going on a first date with someone is always an awkward and nerve wrecking thing to experience, no matter how exciting and potentially fun it is. Since this is a getting-to-know you phase, there are things that should be best left to the imagination or maybe reserved for the 6th or 7th date. I personally think that you should observe dating etiquette on the first date since you are still trying to “feel out” your date’s persona and attitude. Play it safe so that your date doesn’t get the wrong impression about you.

I think that hand-holding on the first date is asking for trouble. You don’t want to start out really intense especially because holding hands puts that pressure of the date getting serious. You don’t know what’s going to happen after two or three dates so stick to a casual interlude and don’t act too needy or clingy. It doesn’t matter if you are dating a man or woman, no one likes a cling-wrap date who invades personal space.

I wouldn’t recommend talking about your ex. Its common decency, no one likes to listen about how your ex-beau hurt your feelings or how they used to do this and that for you. Frankly its pretty pathetic and a major turn off. The person you are on a date with will think that you aren’t over your ex and that you can be a pretty bitter lover. If the other person casually mentions their past relationship don’t play into the “overshare” and just nonchalantly address it without harboring any negativity or bad mouthing.

I don’t recommend getting plastered on your first date. You don’t want to reveal your alcoholic tendencies to the date of your dreams right away. Habits and booze binging is better reserved when you have been with the person for a while. Don’t use alcohol as a defense mechanism because chances are, if you get drunk you will end up saying something that you’ll regret in the long run.

What Presents to Give or Ask for

We live in the modern age where giving a gift to your date or asking for one isn’t construed as weird or imposing. Men and women are confident enough that they won’t feel dominated if you decide to give them a nice present, as not only does it convey your interest but it’s also thoughtful and sweet. The trick to gifting for your date or asking for a special treat is to not go overboard, you want to be perceived as thoughtful but not desperate. You don’t need to spend a fortune as well, keep your gifts casual and not too personal. I recommend going for something economical but not homemade, you don’t want to seem like a creepy hippie. I think anywhere from $3 to $8 should be sufficient.

Something sweet. I think that chocolates are a nice gift to receive or give, and they do not cost much. You can easily buy a box of 6 pieces of brownies at the mall or a small sized cake as a gift to your date. A box of brownies will cost about less than a hundred bucks while a small cake has a price range of about $5 to $10. Not only are sweet treats yummy, but your date will appreciate the extra effort. Of course if your date asked you out to dine at a restaurant, don’t buy them these sweet things, it will just spoil his/her appetite plus it seems weird that you are gifting them food when you’re already going to eat-out.

A simple bouquet. I think that asking or expecting flowers when going on a first date is a given for women, so men should have the initiative to be sweet and buy a dozen of something fragrant and cute. Personally, I prefer if my date doesn’t give me roses, but something more unique and thought of. In the old days, the flower that you sent to someone would convey how you feel about them. Of course there’s probably no guy in the planet these days who would know what it means when you send a woman pink lilacs, so the customization of a bouquet is enough to show your date that you think they’re extra special.

A CD of your favorite jam. I am not talking about the marmalade treat that your grandmother makes. Why not let the other person know about your musical interests and make a mix CD of your favorite tunes? A mix CD gives your date a glimpse of your taste in music as well as your personality. This is probably the most inexpensive but still meaningful gift that you can give to your date.

Things to Do and Places to Visit

I’ve gone out on fabulous dates that didn’t cost more than a thousand pesos. It’s true that you want your date to be a bit mysterious and the thought of a surprise romantic location sure is fun. But if you are the practical dater, I suggest working with your date on setting up the perfect and cost effective date so he doesn’t blow his budget and you have a memorable and fun time. If you are asking someone out, there are more than quite a few inexpensive locations where you can have a great first date.

The Movies. Thankfully, watching movies these days is still quite affordable. I have had a lot of first dates where my date took me to a movie theater. You can watch a nice movie with comfortable seats for as little as $5. Personally I’d prefer it if my date wasn’t completely cheap and would actually spend for reserved seating, which is only an additional $1 aside from the ticket price. If someone asks you on a movie date, don’t hesitate to tell them what movie genres you enjoy and what you hate.

The Arcade. Going on a date is all about fun. If your date is not so picky about where to spend the date at and is game for anything, it would be a great idea to relax and have a fun time at an arcade. Who wouldn’t enjoy a nostalgic time playing all those cool and fun video games right? I think that the atmosphere at the arcade won’t be so awkward and you will actually get to enjoy each other’s company.

Amusement Park. Another great place to spend a first date at is an amusement park. I had such a great time when my date took me to Star City. There were a lot of fun rides and booths that sold delightful souvenirs. What I like about theme parks is that it has the best of both worlds – you can ride all you want and there is everything from the nerve-racking caterpillar rides to the fun and whimsical tea pot.

Exhibits at a Gallery. I think that going on an artsy date is also a great romantic experience and is equally as fun as say, going to a theme park. Enjoying the local art scene will give you a better perspective of your date’s appreciation for the finer things in life, if any, as well as provide you with a more robust medium of conversation. There are a lot of places in the metro where you can go, such as museums and cultural centers.

Where to Dine

If you want to be practical and not spend a fortune on your date, then consider these dining options that are equally as satisfying but is less heavy on the wallet. Of course if you are the person being asked on a date, its best to have a more street-smart expectation so that your date doesn’t feel pressured to spend half their salary on fine dining. Its important to voice out your dining preferences as well, especially if you only eat certain types of food. A lot of people may think that restaurants with expensive prices and a high class atmosphere would be best for a first date but I beg to differ. These places can be quite uncomfortable and could make a date more awkward. If you truly want to get to know a person I think a date that’s set in a comfortable and inviting location is just the ticket.

The Food court at the mall. If you are planning a date wherein you would be watching a movie at the mall or simply playing video games at the arcade, the most practical place to grab a bite is at the mall’s food court. Yes it can be quite noisy and overcrowded but the good thing about eating here is that you get to choose from a wide variety of cuisine and the prices would range from $2 to $4 per meal which would really fit into your $10 to $20 budget. I think that chowing at the food court keeps things casual and light, no one will feel the pressure to ask for a salad fork or review for a four course meal.

Restaurants near various Universities. In my experience, local restaurants, especially ones near universities, offer budget prices without sacrificing taste and portion size. These places have to serve big and yummy to keep students coming back and the college atmosphere is enough to keep your date hip and interesting. Restaurants within close proximity to schools will naturally offer cheap prices and would be a great place to look for a place that fits your budget.

Chinatown in Binondo. Chinatown is known to sell food and other goods at cheaper prices so do what I do, and make your way there to enjoy some good food at really affordable prices. Many restaurants such as Wai Ying, Quick Snack and Eng Bee Tin provide an authentic Chinese cuisine experience at prices which cost less than $2.50 pesos per entree. In my experience it’s a great place to have a meal you’re your date because you can take a stroll to burn off the calories after, with a lot of specialty shops and flea markets in the vicinity.

Weekend Food Markets. I feel like these flea market type food stalls are the new craze when it comes to late night chow-downs and casual dinner dates. Prices range from $3 to $8 per meal, so a $20 date budget will definitely be more than enough.

Where to Go After Dining

I’ve had dates that extend well beyond the basic two course meal and an hour’s worth of getting to know you. Its natural to want an extension of your first date if things go well and you hit it off with the other person. For these moments, you don’t have to worry about your date extending their wallet capacity to cater to your extension requests. Take the initiative and suggest these meaningful yet affordable locations for that night cap.

Neighborhood park. After dinner, why not visit the neighborhood park or club house and spend a little time getting to know each other even further. A park is casual enough to make the other person open up while keeping things light and fun. You can opt to sit on the grass or take a leisurely stroll. I think that it’s important to let your date see you in a relaxed and truly laid back setting because it will be easier for them to open up and find more things you both may have in common.

Free concert at a bar. I’ve gone out on a date with the other person taking me to an open mic night and I thought it was interesting and unique. After dinner, one way to experience an inexpensive way to spend the evening with your date is to go to a bar or restaurant that has a live band. There are a lot of bars these days that have entertainment with drinks that are moderately priced. Enjoy the music, talk about your interests and be careful not to get plastered so you can keep a great first impression on your date.

At the end of the day, the important thing is that you have a lot of things in common and you both have a positive attitude about your first date. In my experience, the kind of date doesn’t really matter in the end – it was more of whether or not I found common interests with the other person and hit it off.

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Why Lottery Should Be Taken More Positively

The lottery industry has been seen in a negative light for the longest time. What most people don’t know is that they have been helping millions of people all over the world by funding projects and supporting various charitable institutions.

mega millions lottery

I am not really into gambling because I believe that I have bad luck when it comes to any game of chance. I don’t win in any raffle during Christmas parties. In the few times that I went to the casino to play the slot machine, I lost more money than I actually won. My biggest winning in the slot machine was $50 in dimes which occurred when I was down to my last few coins after wasting something like $80.

I play the lottery once in a while, getting a little bit more frequent whenever I hear that the jackpot runs into hundreds of million dollars. Usually, I play the office pool as there is always somebody at the office who collects money when the jackpot goes big. Even if I am hesitant to play, I always think that I must play because I do not want to be left out if my office mates won. I can imagine them quitting their jobs because the lottery made millionaires out of them and I will continue working because I did not play.

Outside the office pool, I also play the lottery whenever I get the chance, especially since there is a lottery outlet where I go grocery shopping. I usually buy a ticket each of California Super Lotto, Mega Millions, and Powerball. That is spending $4 every time I play – a dollar each for Super Lotto and Mega Millions and two dollars for Powerball.

Once in a while, lady luck smiles at me and make me fortunate enough to win a dollar or two. In all the years that I had been playing the lottery, in the office pool or when I chance upon an outlet and there is loose change in my wallet, the biggest amount that I ever won was $15. I could not even remember now what that lottery was or the year when I won that “big” amount.

Everybody Is Playing

I notice that almost everybody around me is playing the lottery especially when the jackpot becomes big. I always hear how the lottery fever grips the city and actually see the long lines outside the lottery betting stations. I also observe that the people who lined up to get their lottery tickets come from all walks of life. I see well-dressed people, office workers, blue collar workers, and even street bums holding on to their precious bills for the lottery tickets.

My curiosity is always piqued. I always wonder how much money they are throwing into the lottery game. However, I found it improper to go look at how much each lottery player was betting. I asked my friends who were into the lottery game for a long time and learned that it is common for people to spend twenty or so dollars on lottery tickets. When the jackpot gets really big, like hundreds of millions of dollars, there are people who will throw away hundreds or thousands of dollars for the chance of winning the big one.

The idea that people could actually throw away hundreds or thousands of dollars for lottery tickets is quite shocking to me. But then, a lot of people spend more than those amounts gambling in the casinos. That really shows how deeply-ingrained gambling is in the mindset of people.

People Actually Get Rich

There are lots of newspaper and magazine articles about lottery in particular and gambling in general. One thing that stands out is that people actually get rich gambling or playing the lottery. The world is very rich in stories of how people on the short end of luck suddenly strike big when they won a lottery jackpot. The stories of overnight riches seem to be the big motivator for people to throw in their last money into a lottery ticket.

If one will be reading the stories of how people suddenly found financial salvation by winning lottery jackpots, he will be inspired to start betting on every lottery draw and pin his hopes on a better future on the balls during lottery draws. I understand a lot of people have this mind set. After toiling the whole day, every single day of their lives, many people still find themselves wallowing in deep poverty. Don’t ever tell these people that hard work is their ticket to a better life because they will tell you that they not only work hard, they are killing themselves working and still there is no hope in sight.

There was that delivery truck driver in Northern California who had been buying tickets at every stop he makes. Then he heard over the radio that one of the two winners of the $648 Mega Millions jackpot has yet to show up. It dawned on him that he stopped by to buy a ticket in San Jose, the city where the winning ticket was purchased. He looked for the ticket from the stack of tickets he had previously played and checked his computer for the winning numbers. He was the other winner! He just left a message on the voice mail of his employer that he is not coming back to work ever because he won the jackpot.

Big Lottery Games and Jackpots

Lottery keeps on inspiring people to play, in the hope of striking it rich one day, with the record jackpots paid out by many of the lottery operators worldwide. There is no better advertisement for a lottery game than the announcement of a multi-million jackpot actually winning.

The Spanish Christmas Lottery, popularly known as the El Gordo or the Fat One, is arguable the world’s largest lottery with the largest first prize jackpot. The December 2013 draw sold tickets worth €3.2 billion with a prize payout of €2.24 billion that was shared by millions of Spaniards.

The Mega Millions lottery in the United States paid out on March 30, 2012 the largest cash payout in the world’s lottery history – $656 million. Three lotto players shared this jackpot. Gloria MacKenzie of Florida won $590.5 million on the Powerball jackpot on May 18, 2013.

EuroMillions, a pan-European lottery, paid out a record £161.7 million or US$260 million to a single winner on July 12, 2011 in the United Kingdom. It is Europe’s biggest lottery game, played in different European countries. There are two giant EuroMillions jackpots every Tuesday and Friday, with the draw usually taking place in Paris, France. Matching five numbers and two Lucky Stars drawn on the raffle night pays the player the big jackpot prize.

The Irish Lottery, officially known as the National Lottery of Ireland, was founded in March 1987 to support government initiatives in the areas of health and welfare, the arts and national heritage, sport and recreation, and the Irish national language.  On October 8, 2004, Ireland’s National Lottery joined the transnational EuroMillions lottery. On June 28, 2008, the Irish Lottery paid €19 million or US$ 30 million, the largest single-ticket jackpot in Ireland, to a group of sixteen quarry workers in County Carlow.

Through the years and in different countries in the world, big amount of lottery jackpots had been paid out to lucky winners, some of which just bought their lottery tickets for the first time.

Probability of Winning

Aware that real people won lottery jackpots all over the world, my curiosity was focused on the chances of actually winning one too. I know that people around me won minor lottery prizes but even those were few and rare. If one will add up the cost of tickets purchased, winning a minor prize once in a while is still a losing proposition. The real motivator really is hitting the big jackpot.

Irish lottery Results Checker

Lottery results are now easily accessible via internet, so you can check anywhere and anytime you are online. At you can check if your numbers have won any prizes over the last 100 draws.

In the most basic lottery game where players have to choose 6 numbers from 49 numbers, the probability of winning is 1 in 13,983,816. In the Mega Millions lottery, a multi-state game here in the U.S., players have to choose 5 numbers from a group of 75 and another 1 number from of group of 15. The probability of winning in this lottery is 1 in 258,890,850.

Winning a lottery jackpot is quite a tall order but then, people always think that somebody has got to win and it could be them.

Euro Millions Results Homepage

You can see how much you’ve won – even a small division prize is worth checking – the image above shows euro millions results provided for free by

Pros of Playing the Lottery

Taking a deeper look at how lottery games impact the society, I could not help but notice that there are indeed benefits derived from playing the lottery.

Lotteries have inherent social benefits, in addition to the economic benefits awaiting the lucky winners. Most lotteries are run or sanctioned by governments and they are used to support programs in the fields of education, public safety, public health, and infrastructure development. The main argument in support of lottery games is focused on their importance as a revenue source for various government programs, contributed by players who voluntarily spend money for the chance to win big. In many states, such as California, big chunks of lottery income is earmarked for supporting public schools. Developing countries that are financially challenged get a financial boost from lottery income, which is then channeled to social amelioration projects.

Income generated by government-operated lotteries is huge and it continues to go up as more and more people invest their hard-earned money in pursuit of the dream jackpot. The operation of the lottery is in itself a catalyst of economic activities. Employment is created when lottery betting stations are established. The government’s share of the lottery income translates into projects and other economic activities that require production of goods. The movement of billions of dollars in lottery sales will create economic opportunities in all sectors involved.

Then, there are the expected personal benefits to people who are lucky enough to win lottery prizes. It may not be the big jackpot but lower tier prizes in the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars could make a big difference in the life of a lottery player.

I could not imagine enough how a multi-million jackpot can be a game changer in the lives of people. Thinking about this very slim possibility is more than enough reason for people to scrimp on other expenses in order to buy a ticket or two of the day’s lottery game.

Cons of Playing the Lottery

There are two sides to a coin. While I am aware of the benefits that lottery games bring to the society, there are also downsides to playing the game.

Lottery games gives false hope to the people. While the chance of winning is very real, it is incredibly so slim that a person has a greater likelihood of being struck by lightning than hitting the jackpot. And yet, Americans spend billions of dollars every year chasing that dream. Many people, I am sure, have spent thousands of dollars in their lifetime but die without winning any significant amount.

The lottery game is addictive. When people notice that they are “that close” to winning the jackpot, they keep on playing. When they keep on getting a dollar or so here and there, they keep on thinking that the winning trend will ultimately lead to that elusive jackpot. They look for ways to increase their chances of winning such as playing in syndicates or pools. Go to any workplace in the U.S. and you will find workers’ syndicate playing the lottery. This is evident in the fact that many jackpot winners are syndicates or pools of workers, friends, or family members.

The sad thing in playing the lottery is that there are instances when the family interest is sacrificed for the sake of the game. The common excuse is that they sacrifice a little but when they hit it big, it will tremendously benefit the whole family.

How I will Play the Lottery

I am still confused as to whether playing the lottery is beneficial or not. While I don’t mind spending a few dollars once in a while for lottery tickets, I am still in doubt if I spend my money judiciously. Of course, the equation will change if I won the jackpot although I still don’t feel I am lucky enough to hit the big one. But I am careful enough to know when to go indoors whenever a storm starts brewing.



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How to Shop Like A Pro Online

Online shopping is one particular shopping method that has gained popular following these days. It is a relatively easy and convenient way to shop because it does not require a person to physically head out and brave the daily traffic just to get to a mall. However, while convenient, shopping online can also be quite unnerving. That’s why online shopping, just like regular shopping, also requires some skill.


Online shoppers do not get to actually see the product they are purchasing and must simply rely on the seller to follow through with the transaction. For this reason, it is important to take some precautionary steps to ensure a worry-free and successful way of online shopping.

Below are some tips to keep in mind when you go online to shop.

Do your research.

When you shop in malls for presents, it is most likely that you visit several stores or at least check out a number of display racks and shelves. As much as you can, you try to scrutinize different brands and scout for budget-friendly prices before making a purchase. The same practice should apply for online shopping. You should accomplish the necessary research before finally committing to a purchase at an online store.


If there are any online reviews about the site, that would be even better. Make sure that the online shops that you will entrust your hard-earned money to have a “good reputation.” Read reviews and comments from previous customers shown in their website and social media pages such as Facebook or Instagram.

Also look not only for the contact details of the online shop, but also for the latest news and blogs about it. You might find necessary information (such as the shop is already closed or that the customer service is poor) that could help you when deciding to commit to an online purchase.

Review the payment options.

Credit Card payment is not the ONLY payment option. A lot of people make use of their credit cards because it is naturally an easy and convenient way of paying for a purchase. While it is safe to do so in general, this type of payment is more exposed to online scams.

Some online shops do not have the necessary security measures to protect their customers from online deviants. And if their site is not secured, other people with enough hacking skills can easily steal sensitive information online which could lead to credit card fraud and other scams. For those who are too scared to use their credit cards, but would still like to shop online, other payment options are provided by many online shops.


Bank transfer is a relatively easy way to pay for purchases. Many online shopping sites accepts payments thru deposits to different bank accounts.. The downside to this is that one would have to physically head out to the nearest bank branch to make a deposit if they do not have online banking access.

The best alternative would probably be Cash on Delivery service. This payment option is most likely the best one because it allows you to receive the product before letting go of your money.

Do not believe pop-up messages.

While shopping in various online sites, one is most likely to receive pop-ups or links to pages that say that you have won something. Some pop-ups even request for you to answer a survey in exchange for money or a job. These pop-up messages are most likely scams that trick people into giving out their personal and sensitive details which will be used without their knowledge. In addition to this, these pop-up messages can also include malwares which could infiltrate your computer and plant a virus. Be safe online and never surrender to these obviously devious tactics.


Practice shopping in reliable online stores.

For first time online shoppers, only trust reliable and well-known sites. Those who have been shopping online for years have already become pros in choosing which online sites to trust. But for those who are relatively new to the whole online shopping experience, it is wise to take baby steps to ease into the process.

Look for online shopping sites that have great presence. Established online shops such as Zalora, Lazada, and, among others, provide quality customer care and delivery services. They have already established credibility so you know you can trust them with your hard-earned cash. Once you have gotten your feet wet so to speak, you can finally start looking for smaller online shops that carry that unique product you are looking for. With careful research, you may discover that these shops are just as reliable.


Just like regular shopping, shopping online should be done in a smart and careful manner. With proper research and a little bit of healthy paranoia, one will be able to have the most efficient and successful online shopping experience.

Originally published at:!/read/2016/01/09/how-to-shop-like-a-pro-online