Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Caroll Spinney, Who Played Big Bird And Oscar On ‘Sesame Street,’ Dies At 85


December 8, 2019 3:52 PM ET


Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions.

“Caroll and Big Bird are very similar in their genuine niceness and sweetness and lovingness,” said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the Sesame Workshop said in a video tribute to Spinney last year. “He’s just so respectful and so nice to all the kids, and all that comes across in Big Bird.”

At a celebration for the show’s 15th anniversary in 1984, Muppet-master Jim Henson recounted how he and Spinney had met in August 1969 at a puppetry festival in Salt Lake City.

“He’s a very talented performer and he had a great sense of ad-libbing,” Henson remembered. “And he was doing this strange-looking cat on local television in Boston. And so we started talking at that point about doing this show, and I asked Caroll if he’d enjoy coming and being part of this very strange bird.”

But Spinney also played the character with the opposite of Big Bird’s sunny persona: Oscar the Grouch.

“I loved playing Oscar. He has a power I never had. … I can’t believe that Jim gave me two such characters that have become iconic, and are a part of so many people in America growing up.”

Spinney retired last year. As balance issues made the physically demanding role of Big Bird more difficult, the big yellow suit was taken on by another performer, Matt Vogel, while Spinney continued to voice Big Bird and Oscar.

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Wheel Of Fortune fans lend support to spinning star Vanna White as she steps in for host Pat Sajak

Wheel Of Fortune fans lend support to spinning star Vanna White as she steps in for host Pat Sajak

VANNA White took centre stage on Monday.

The Wheel of Fortune letter-spinner was seen for the first time in 37 years stepping into the host role.


Vanna White was seen hosting Wheel of Fortune on Monday, for the first timeCredit: Wheel Of Fortune

The 62-year-old beauty delighted fans of the show, as she filled the role in place of longtime host Pat Sajak – who had to undergo emergency surgery last month.

Vanna stepped into the breach, after Sajak, 73, went into hospital to correct a blocked intestine.

Filming had stopped for one day but resumed with Vanna in the spotlight.

The star was seen on screen with Minnie Mouse helping out with White’s usual role.

Wheel Of Fortune fans lend support to spinning star Vanna White as she steps in for host Pat Sajak


The 62-year-old beauty delighted fans of the show, as she filled the role in place of longtime host Pat Sajak – who had to undergo emergency surgery last monthCredit: Getty

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Looming Changes to Military Medical Care Cause Uncertainty

Looming Changes to Military Medical Care Cause Uncertainty

By Jennifer Barnhill, Navy Spouse

See this article inside the December issue of Military Spouse Magazine.

Looming Changes to Military Medical Care Cause Uncertainty

With the threat of losing 18,000
uniformed medical billets over the next few years,
frustrations at the lack of
health care continuity may be exacerbated for military families. Couple this
cutback with a lack of program clarity, and many beneficiaries feel as though
their care might suffer. 

Uncertainty in Change

On a good day, trying to negotiate the intricacies of a
public or private health care system can be irritating. Dealing with one when
you are mid-Permanent Change of Station or in a health crisis can result in
chalkboard-scratching, hair-pulling frustration.

Military families are among the
most vulnerable when it comes to continuity of care related issues. Moving
every two to three years requires families to start over, searching for new
health care providers, homes, schools, jobs, and friends.

In December 2016, Congress passed
the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act, the driving force behind
numerous changes to TRICARE and the Military Health System (MHS). Changes
already in effect include increased pharmacy copays and civilian-style open
enrollment period restrictions.

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Five Tips for Financing Investment Property

Five Tips for Financing Investment Property

Interested in Investment Properties? Five Things You Should Know

In today’s financial climate, investing in the stock market can be an uncertain venture at best. For this reason, many investors are looking to the real estate market as a fairly reliable, steady of passive income. To be certain, investment properties can have lucrative returns. However, most buyers simply don’t have the cash necessary on hand to purchase a rental property outright. All but the most established rental property investors will need to finance an investment property. Even if you’ve already undergone the process of securing a personal mortgage for your own home, you’ll find some significant differences when it comes to financing investment property. Learn a few key tips regarding procuring financing for your investment. 

1. Prepare a Significant Down Payment

Unlike traditional home mortgages, which may allow mortgage insurance in exchange for a relatively low down payment, investment properties do not qualify for mortgage insurance. For that reason, you’ll likely need at least 20% down to secure financing from a lender. However, that 20% is on the low end of the spectrum; the more you can contribute to the down payment, the better. 

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Opinion: A year in review


I’d like to celebrate some of the special people I interviewed while doing my weekend segments on WISH-TV in 2019.

Gregg Bell is 90 and still practices dentistry and is director of that department at Logansport State Hospital. But wait, there’s more! In 1953, Bell won the Olympic gold medal in long jumping in Melbourne, Australia. When I interviewed him, I asked him to show me the 26-foot, 5.2-inch distance that won him first place. He eyeballed the floor and walked it off within a quarter of an inch.

At the age of 18, Carmel resident Ashton Gleckman wrote, filmed, edited and produced an incredible documentary about Holocaust survivors that was featured this year at the Heartland Film Festival. He learned to do all this from YouTube videos. Not to brag, but I learned from YouTube how to use dental floss to get a stuck ring off my stubby finger.

Senior pickleball player Ralph Fowler is the star of the Monon Center pickleball league, and I was there with TV cameras to surprise him for his 90th birthday. He plays every bit as well as people half his age. He beat me in a game. I’m sure I could have beaten him if there had been a rematch, but I was too tired to play again.

Lonnie Bedwell lost his vision in 1997 when his best friend accidentally shot him during a hunting trip. The story of his adventures while blind include kayaking down the Colorado River, climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and skiing down the world’s most challenging slopes. “I wish I had my sight back,” Lonnie said during our interview, “but I wouldn’t trade the last 23 years for anything.”

Stan Smith / December 05,2019

Virtual Maps of Kenyan Parks Go Live


Google has officially launched its virtual maps alias street view feature on maps for some Kenyan parks and conservancies. The move will, therefore, enable tourists all over the world take virtual tours around Kenya.

Some of the parks which have been scheduled for the service are Amboseli, Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru, Hell’s Gate, Mt Kenya and Samburu National Reserve.

The virtual maps will improve KWS’s brand identity, develop a ready and accessible information hub for customers, better target audience reach, and thus build a virtual shop for KWS products.

With 82% of travellers undecided on a destination and 74% of them starting their research or inspiration online, it’s critical that we have Kenya online.

Google Kenya country director Charles Murito 

The virtual map captures 360-degree ground-level imagery, enabling users remotely explore landmarks and park features.

The capture of images was done through a collaboration between Google, the Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Wildlife Services, the county governments of Narok and Samburu and also Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Street View, by Google Maps, is a virtual representation of our surroundings on Google Maps. It consists of millions of panoramic images. Street View’s content comes from two s – Google and contributors.

Stan Smith / December 05,2019

Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Switch is Getting a Physical Release from Limited Run Games


If there are any acclaimed, massive RPGs from the past few years worth digging into, surely Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin 2 would rank high on that list. The acclaimed RPG took over PC and consoles in the past two years, and with its recent release on Nintendo Switch, an upcoming physical release of the game will pack in the massive RPG on a tiny cartridge for your collecting pleasure.

Limited Run Games announced that the company will be offering a physical release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Nintendo Switch in 2020, with pre-orders for the physical edition of the game now available on their website and running through early next year.

According to Limited Run, the physical Switch release for Divinity: Original Sin 2 will retail for $59.99 and include the base game alongside all previously-released free DLC. In addition to the game and DLC, the physical release from Limited Run will also include a 52-page game manual and color interior print with reversible cover art.

Pre-orders for the Switch physical release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 are available now through January 3, 2020, with shipments expected to go out 2-4 months after the pre-order window closes. According to Limited Run, physical copies of the Switch version may also make their way to Best Buy stores in 2020, though the retailer warns that the deal has not been finalized yet and that purchasers may “wait at their own risk.”

Stan Smith / December 05,2019

How To Make Your House Soundproof?

How To Make Your House Soundproof?

Sometimes the only thing you crave in your house is a moment of perfect silence, which you expect to find in the comfort of your home. Home is supposed to be the sanctuary where you get the much-needed rest after an exhausting day at work, but for some homeowners, it’s just not possible. 

There’s always some disturbing sound which pierces through your ears; whether it’s the traffic taking place on the street below your window or the curse of having the noisiest neighbors in the building, the final outcome is still the same. You are sleep deprived and your agitation gets worse by the minute.

Fortunately, there are some alterations which can be done in your home in order to soundproof it from the outdoor noise, thus making your everyday life more bearable. This soundproofing project won’t take up plenty of your time and budget, as you simply need to employ certain cost-effective tricks to make your home a less noisy place. 

In case you don’t have the vaguest idea on how to commence your soundproofing journey, you can always do research online and learn more from Soundproof Pros. The following tips will turn your home into the oasis you’ve always wished it to be.

Check your doors

Doors play a significant role in blocking sounds, so your first task would be to inspect their condition and replace the ones which have a very low soundproofing effect. If your interior doors are of the hollow core type, you should definitely consider purchasing solid core ones. 

The former is more affordable, as their core is filled with paper and air which transmit the sounds easily, unlike the latter which are costlier as they’re filled with wood, which serves as a better noise blocker. 

Stan Smith / December 05,2019

Rise in Phone-related Injuries Linked to iPhone, Pokemon Go

Rise in Phone-related Injuries Linked to iPhone, Pokemon Go

Cell phones are really hurting people badly as researchers have found that head and neck injuries incurred while driving or walking with a cellphone are on the rise – and correlates with the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and release of Pokemon Go in 2016.

“Injuries from cellphone use have mainly been reported from incidences during driving, but other types of injuries have gone largely underreported,” said study author Boris Paskhover from Rutgers University in the US.

“We hypothesise that distractions caused by cellphones were the biggest reason for injury and mainly affected people aged 13 to 29,” Paskhover said.

The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, reviewed 2,501 emergency department patients who sustained head and neck injuries resulting from cellphone use between 1998 and 2017.

They found a steady increase in injuries over that time, along with the notable spikes. Pok�mon Go is an augmented reality-based game that requires players to track animated characters on their phones in real locations.

Rise in Phone-related Injuries Linked to iPhone, Pokemon Go87 per cent of the children exceed the recommended screen time. Pixabay

The injuries included cuts, bruises, abrasions and internal injuries, especially around the eye and nose.

More than 41 per cent occurred at home and were minor, requiring little or no treatment. About 50 per cent resulted from distracted driving and one-third from distracted walking, the study said.

Stan Smith / December 05,2019

AP: US firms keep hiring, easing worries of weakening economy



WASHINGTON (AP) — American businesses have complained for years that they can’t find the workers they need to fill available jobs. November’s robust hiring gain suggests that at least some have found a way to do so.

With the unemployment rate now at a half-century low of 3.5%, many economists have also warned that hiring would soon slow simply because there are fewer unemployed workers available.

That day may still come, but it didn’t in November. Employers added 266,000 jobs last month, the most since January. Monthly hiring has, in fact, picked up since earlier this year: It averaged 205,000 for the past three months, up from a recent low of 135,000 in July.

Friday’s jobs report largely squelched fears of a recession that had taken hold in the summer. Steady job growth has helped reassure consumers that the economy is expanding and that their jobs and incomes remain secure. That should boost spending and growth in the months ahead.

President Donald Trump seized on the strong jobs report as he tries to focus voters’ attention on the state of the economy rather than the impeachment inquiry being led by House Democrats. The latest numbers also come as Trump’s trade war with China had prompted companies to cut back on their investments in plants and industrial equipment, slowing growth.

“Without the horror show that is the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, the Stock Markets and Economy would be even better, if that is possible, and the Border would be closed to the evil of Drugs, Gangs and all other problems! #2020,” the president tweeted.

He returned to the report later Friday, tweeting: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”