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Family Fun, From Dawn til Dusk

No doubt by now, you've read the summer itinerary for family fun in this month's issue. With school's summer break upon us, it's great to know that there are all-day options to keep your kids occupied during these next couple of months.

Since we've already offered a fantastic guide for you in print (one which works wonderfully for us on the weekends), I'd like to give you my own personal itinerary of a successful summer day alone with three young children.

5:45 am: Pretend it's not 5:45 am. Hand over your iPhone, iPad, TV remote and all the money in your wallet to your children so that you can get just a bit more of that desperately needed shut-eye.

6:00 am: Get up. Drop a few f-bombs, out of earshot of the small tyrants, and make some coffee.

8:00 am: Frantically email or call all of your friends and ask what their plans are for the day, because there is no way in God's great land that you'll be taking them to the beach without backup. In fact, there's no way you're taking them to the beach at all.

8:30 am: Realize that goldfish crackers probably didn't constitute a solid breakfast for a 3 year-old and pop some frozen waffles into the toaster. And then give her a popsicle.

9:00 am: Pack no less than 3 bags of STUFF so that when you do finally get to leave the house, you never have to come back.

10:30 am: Leave the house. Call your friend that was supposed to meet you at 10 am and tell her you're running late (or, more accurately, on-time), but you'll bring her an iced coffee to make up for it.

11:00 am: Arrive at any destination that is, a.) fenced in, b.) has some kind of seat restraints or c.) just far enough away that one of your kids will fall asleep during the car ride there so that you'll be forced to sit in the parking lot, drink your friend's iced coffee and play on Facebook while you wait for her to wake up.

If option "c" doesn't occur, some favorite spots for our family that adhere to rules "a" and "b" are strawberry …   More


Cluck You

On Monday, May 13, Cluck!, the humble little urban farming supply store that’s caused the big controversy, was granted the zoning variance necessary for it to open at 399 Broadway – for the second time. Though the same variance was granted once before, it was appealed and overturned by a cabal of opponents whose motivations ranged from at best self-serving to at worst transparently spiteful and spurious. Now, proprietor Drake Patten once again has the green light from the Zoning Board of Review and has reached an agreement to assuage the concerns of one of the main objectors, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church across the street. If the subsequent 20-day appeal period passes without incident – which, at least for the moment, it seems as if it will – then Cluck! will be open for business.

I would like to use this column to send a message to those opponents: I suspect we haven’t heard the last of you, but for the moment it seems that you’ve lost your battle – and you deserved to. How could you not lose? Shame on you. This ridiculous charade you staged in order to get your way – raising trivial objections, speculating about unrealistic hypotheticals, trying to invalidate Patten’s progress on ridiculous technicalities and generally just braying like hysterical children – could not conceal the fact that you had painted yourself a rhetorical corner. You essentially forced yourself into the position of arguing that an abandoned gas station was somehow better for the neighborhood than a gardening supply store.

That a small business owner should have to endure months of legal fights, backbiting and fear mongering, rack up exorbitant legal fees and rally the support of hundreds of neighbors simply to earn the right to sell seeds and garden tools in a once blighted property that she has remodeled and revitalized is patently absurd and sends a terrible message about the cost of doing business in our fair …   More

PM Experiment

3D Printing in Providence

Over at AS220, a group of individuals calling themselves 3D Printing Providence (3DPPVD) are proving that the future is in fact now - and it’s all thanks to burgeoning 3D printer technology, which, according to 3DPPVD, may revolutionize how goods are crafted and distributed.

But let’s slow down a minute. What is 3D printing? And why does it matter?

In a nutshell, 3D printing is the process of manufacturing a 3-dimensional object from a digital model. Houses, toys, power tools - hell, even this very magazine you’re holding - can all be created via a 3D printer, so long as the printer is technologically capable and the digital model exact. (Which means, yes, you could in fact download a car. So take that, Motion Picture Association.)

As for 3DPPVD, these passionate individuals meet twice per month to utilize 3D printers and learn about this ever-expanding field. “When I first started [four years ago], 3D printing wasn’t a big deal,” says James Rutter, AS220’s lab manager. “You had to work on your own machine, fix your own drives and pulleys. It was a clumsy technology.”

As with anything technology-related, though, the industry quickly exploded. Soon the machines were more automated and less intimidating for the average individual. People grew more proficient, and thus printed products grew in popularity.

“The club meets the first Tuesday of every month, and it’s informal. What we say is, all members can come down and work, and we’ll have about ten members working on different projects. They’re socializing, just hanging out, no agenda, printing things.”

In addition, the club meets the second Wednesday of every month, and these, says, James, are the “formal meetings.” Each one focuses on a specific topic, pre- sentation or invited speaker, and the meetings are intended to teach members about the latest in 3D printing technology.

“These meetings …   More

Pink is the New Black

My mom is a breast cancer survivor.

I’ll never forget how I felt after she told my sister and me the news during my junior year of college. It was like our world had been knocked off its feet, because, you know, she was my MOM. She wasn’t supposed to get sick. These things weren’t supposed to happen to her. She needed to be around forever so that she could help me pick out the most perfect wedding dress or gently wrap her arms around my beautiful newborn baby or slap me (hard) after wasting two years of my life watching Jersey Shore.

I needed her. Any inclination of an alternative option simply wasn’t acceptable.

Luckily, she caught the cancer in its earliest stages and was able to treat it accordingly, which put her into remission pretty quickly and into full recovery. I completely realize that she was one of the lucky ones.

It was around that time that I started to pay attention to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Obviously, when your mother has cancer, you worry about the repercussions on your own genetic makeup, as her daughter. You then worry about the genetic makeup of your three daughters—her granddaughters—and where they fall into the defunct equation of flawless genes. You want to know your fate one day and then you want to run as far away as possible from it the next. But whichever path you take, you just want to figure out how to stop it from happening all together. Forever.

So, my family became pink. Well, maybe I became pink. And maybe that’s because while I bought into the united front against breast cancer, I also liked to shop. Let’s face it; at first, buying “pink” was a genius-marketing plan. I’ll admit that I am a marketer’s dream. I stocked up and hoped that every dollar I spent made some sort of impact for the Cure.

My mother didn’t. Throughout the years since her recovery, she felt that the organization was becoming too big. She was skeptical …   More

Representative Steve King Speaks Out

Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa spoke at Thursday's Conservative Political Action Conference and stirred the crowd with his fiery truth telling. Finally, someone had the courage and conviction to speak out against the communist menace of energy efficient lightbulbs. For too long these tiny flickers of anti-Americanism have been allowed to spark throughout our land, lighting the way for pinko commies, secret Muslims, tax-and-spend Democrats, liberal Nazis, vegetarians and other terrorist groups to wash away our God-given liberties using the slow, corrosive trickle of nanny state tyranny from their low-flow showerheards "I want my liberty back," King bravely declared.

According to

King compared the Capitol Hill janitors who replaced the lightbulbs in his office with lower-energy bulbs to the East German communist secret police, describing them as "Nancy [Pelosi]'s Stasi troops," and complained of a water-saving showerhead in his shower.

It's about time someone spoke out on this peril to our liberty. Liberals argue that energy efficient lightbulbs like LED (Light Emitting Diode, or as I like to call it, Liberty Eroding Disaster) and CFL (Compact Flourescent Light, or more accurately, Commie Friggin' Losers) save money over time as compared to traditional incandescent bulbs (the mom, baseball and apple pie of home illumination) and are better for the environment. They've even gone so far as to mandate that incandescents (the same kind our Founding Fathers would have used) be 30% more efficient starting this year. This amounts to nothing less than a full-on War on Liberty, threatening not just our desk lamps, but our entire way of life. We wouldn't stand for it if Hitler said he just needed to conquer 30% of Europe would we? What if Obama bin President dictated that 30% of America be governed by Shariah Law? What if his fascist health care plan called for 30% of our senior citizens to be summarily executed by doctors?

Of course, Nancy …   More

Tweet Seats at PPAC

“What’s a Twitter?”

It wasn’t that long ago that my father asked me this question. Without having to go into detail about how Twitter isn’t “a” thing, but rather “the” thing of our generation, I ended up just blurting out, “It’s what young people do.”

I realize that this explanation wasn’t entirely accurate, but this is a man who puts an “s” after every chain store name and still thinks text messages don’t require a response. He is OK with inaccuracy.

What I should have told him is that Twitter is an information highway that brings millions to its daily conversations, in social exchanges of endless information, shared interests, world events and random thoughts. That it’s a powerhouse marketing tool that allows the business world and brands alike to connect to real-time life and its consumers. That it’s a canvas for all ages to engulf themselves in and receive immediate feedback on culture, arts, fashion, technology, parenting, business and just about anything they can fit into 140 characters.

In other words, “a Twitter” is a modern-world, real-time life encyclopedia. And the new norm in social and digital media.

In recent years, theatres of performing arts across the nation are jumping on the Twitter wagon with their “tweet seat” program—in which a group of seats are set aside in the back two rows of the theatre for those who promise to live-tweet any aspect of the performance using a special hashtag—in hopes of engaging a broader audience while trying to discover where live arts belong in the realm of digital and social media.

Providence Performing Arts Center began its Tweet Seater initiative last April with the show Bring it On. I, along with a group of other local Twitter-fanatics, joined the initiative with its third live-tweeted show, Memphis, whose success was apparent in how quickly it began …   More

Five Reasons Parents Need Providence

So you tested your knowledge with this issue’s The Great Providence Quiz. How’d you do? Here, I drop some more Providence knowledge on you, but, this time, it’s for all of us moms and dads out there. And why we all need this awesome city.

1. There is a cupcake shop on almost every corner.

Cupcakes are an essential parenting tool. They either serve as an incentive (read: bribe) for your child to get his pencil out of his brother’s eye or as a reward for yourself after you’ve lost 32 new pieces of hair as a result of the hurricane of a day you just had. While a [delicious] cupcake may not bring your hair back, it will satisfy your stomach and make you dream of Ryan Reynolds later that night. (These side-effects have been documented.)

2. You will always look your best. Or at least pretend to.

Let’s face it; parenthood could crimp your style. While you once spent time beautifying yourself in the morning with the trendiest duds and loveliest locks, you now just might be lucky to have pants on as you leave the house to drop your kids off at the bus stop. And that disposable income you once took for granted? It now pays for disposable diapers. But, fear not, because Providence has more consignment shops per capita than any other city in the country! Ok, I just made that up, but, really, there are new fabulous shops popping up all over the place, with a vast array of brand-name items, gorgeous jewelry, and, even diaper bags.

3. Spike’s Junkyard Dogs.

Do I need to say more? (See: bribing your children with cupcakes, above.)

4. Big support for your budding artist. (Because, you know, each one of our kids is just that.)

If there were ever a place to raise a Picasso, it’s Providence. Between the art galleries and museums, art schools, and art sculptures gracing the streets of downtown, it’s no wonder your highly skilled children want to live here. I know that when my 2 year-old daughter draws …   More

The Malcontent

The Biggest Loser

After being overweight for the vast majority of my nearly 32 years, I recently began a diet and exercise program. It’s the first time in my life I have consciously and successfully lost weight, but it’s been long overdue. Being overweight is detrimental at any age, but now in my early 30s, I realize that with each passing year it becomes a little more difficult to lose the pounds and a little more harmful to keep them on. As of this writing I can proudly say that I’m down more than 20 pounds, and have enthusiastically taken up running and bicycling as hobbies to replace my old pastimes of drinking in bars and drinking in other bars.

So what finally brought about the change? First and foremost, I’ve had some powerful personal inspiration to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude, but there are other reasons as well. Health consciousness (I’ve struggled with high cholesterol), and a desire to look and feel better have all played a part. Those concerns have always been there, but prior to this they were never motivation enough to get my ass on a treadmill. I needed to make a profound mental shift in order to really commit to weight loss, and I eventually found my reason to do so: the opportunity to judge people.

As you might imagine, I’m in the habit of passing judgment. I’d like to think, however, that I take a more enlightened, humanistic approach to being an overly critical prick: I don’t judge people for what they are, I judge them for what they choose. And regardless of what that relative going for a second piece of birthday cake at a family party, or that coworker who thinks soda is an appropriate substitute for water, or that person spilling over into your seat on the airplane may say, being overweight is a choice. Every day I was overweight was a day in which I chose not to do something about it.

Now that I’ve made the choice to eat less and exercise more, it’s opened up a whole new world of …   More

Win a Date with Our Assistant Editor

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go out on a date with one of the editors of your favorite magazine? Well, unfortunately the editors at Cat Fancy are currently spoken for, but one of our editors is available — and for a good cause, too. Tonight you can stop by McFadden's at 7:30 to meet the lovely and talented Erin Swanson, chat with her, maybe offer to buy her a drink, and then get into a bidding war with that meathead down the other end of the bar as you both vie for her affections by donating money to charity. Yes, Erin, ever the good sport, has agreed to auction herself off to help Children's Wishes raise money to make sick children's dreams come true as part of the organization's third annual Dream Date Auction. Tickets are only $10, and you get the chance to bid on Erin, as well as a number of other sassy ladies and dapper gentlemen. Last year's auction raised over $7000 to fulfill the wishes of deserving children. And maybe you'll get to fulfill your wish of dating a sexy magazine editor. Oh, all that hot talk about dangling participles and assonance...   More

We Think Maybe the Abominable Snow-woman Isn't Getting What She Needs At Home...

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the Projo reports that a "ten-foot phallic snow sculpture" in South Kingstown has been getting some of the neighbors hot and bothered. The police came multiple times – though we think they might have been faking those last couple – to the home off Middlebridge Road where the sculpture was erected, but decided that they weren't at liberty to touch the owner's private... property. Though the person responsible claims the sculpture will last for days, we think that just leaving it exposed like that will lead to softening and significant shrinkage. Anway, here's a photo... you know you want to look:


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