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Contest winner: You're all invited

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When we saw the first entry in our "create a new holiday" contest, we were tempted to award it first prize then and there:

"I hereby propose a holiday honoring one thing we all have in common, and something that, without which, we would not be here. The placenta. So let's have a happy Afterbirthday! The traditional celebratory decoration calls for water balloons."

Here's the thing, though -- the more we got to thinking about our first Afterbirthday Party, the more we were plagued by visions of Tom Cruise at the buffet table and worried about excluding potential non-mammal guests. What to pick instead? Should it be "Make Love Not War Day," on which sex is encouraged, or "Malthus Day," on which it's taxed? Perhaps Sunday Punday, "where you can only speak in really bad puns and cliches for a day?"

Finally, we settled on a holiday we could really enjoy, partly because we like drinking mead and marauding, and partly because it gave us a chance to link to our very favorite Joel Veitch animation -- Adrienne's "Viking Day."

viking.gifCelebrate the people who really discovered North America (or Vinland). We'll drink mead out of tankards, wear horned helmets and blonde braids. Prizes will be given for the best mustache (Ben Davidson and Sam Elliot can judge), most lutefisk consumed, funniest Ole joke, and at the end of the day, instead of a Burning Man, we'll set fire to a boat and have a true Viking funeral for the end of summer vacation. ... The holiday should be observed on August 21: two months after Summer Solstice, four months before Winter Solstice, and one month before fall begins. Minnesota will host the main celebration but each state will have its own festival. Part of the fun for the Minnesota Viking fans will be lining up in Duluth, finding Green Bay fans and "doing the Braveheart:" mooning the Cheeseheads across the border.

We're sad to report that our party-planning for this one also hit a bump: We had our costume all ready and then we discovered that Viking battle helmets didn't actually have horns. But we're going ahead with it anyway (Adrienne, send us your contact info so we can invite you and send you your book!). We sure hope there are no problems with our plan to signal that it's time for guests to leave by having a fat lady sing.

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A Simple Way to Charge Your iPhone in 5 Minutes
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Spotting the “low battery” notification on your phone is usually followed by a frantic search for an outlet and further stress over the fact that you may not have time for a full charge. On iPhones, plugging your device into the wall for five minutes might result in only a modest increase of about three percent or so. But this tip from Business Insider Tech may allow you to squeeze out a little more juice.

The trick? Before charging, put your phone in Airplane Mode so that you reduce the number of energy-sucking tasks (signal searching, fielding incoming communications) your device will try and perform.

Next, take the cover off if you have one (the phone might be generating extra heat as a result). Finally, try to use an iPad adapter, which has demonstrated a faster rate of charging than the adapter that comes with your iPhone.

Do that and you’ll likely double your battery boost, from about three to six percent. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of extra juice might keep you connected until you’re able to plug it in for a full charge.

[h/t Business Insider Tech]

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Trying to Save Money? Avoid Shopping on a Smartphone
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Today, Americans do most of their shopping online—but as anyone who’s indulged in late-night retail therapy likely knows, this convenience often can come with an added cost. Trying to curb expenses, but don't want to swear off the convenience of ordering groceries in your PJs? New research shows that shopping on a desktop computer instead of a mobile phone may help you avoid making foolish purchases, according to Co. Design. Ying Zhu, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, recently led a study to measure how touchscreen technology affects consumer behavior. Published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, her research found that people are more likely to make more frivolous, impulsive purchases if they’re shopping on their phones than if they’re facing a computer monitor. Zhu, along with study co-author Jeffrey Meyer of Bowling Green State University, ran a series of lab experiments on student participants to observe how different electronic devices affected shoppers’ thinking styles and intentions. Their aim was to see if subjects' purchasing goals changed when it came to buying frivolous things, like chocolate or massages, or more practical things, like food or office supplies. In one experiment, participants were randomly assigned to use a desktop or a touchscreen. Then, they were presented with an offer to purchase either a frivolous item (a $50 restaurant certificate for $30) or a useful one (a $50 grocery certificate for $30). These subjects used a three-point scale to gauge how likely they were to purchase the offer, and they also evaluated how practical or frivolous each item was. (Participants rated the restaurant certificate to be more indulgent than the grocery certificate.) Sure enough, the researchers found that participants had "significantly higher" purchase intentions for hedonic (i.e. pleasurable) products when buying on touchscreens than on desktops, according to the study. On the flip side, participants had significantly higher purchase intentions for utilitarian (i.e. practical) products while using desktops instead of touchscreens. "The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers' favor of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers' preference for utilitarian products," Zhu explains in a press release. The study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on "experiential thinking" than subjects using desktop computers, whereas those with desktop computers demonstrated higher scores for rational thinking. “When you’re in an experiential thinking mode, [you crave] excitement, a different experience,” Zhu explained to Co. Design. “When you’re on the desktop, with all the work emails, that interface puts you into a rational thinking style. While you’re in a rational thinking style, when you assess a product, you’ll look for something with functionality and specific uses.” Zhu’s advice for consumers looking to conserve cash? Stow away the smartphone when you’re itching to splurge on a guilty pleasure. [h/t Fast Company]

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