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11 Workshops from the International University of Santa Claus

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The concept might not be enough to warrant immediately rewriting the Christmas carol songbook—"He's reading his notes, checking them twice / Gonna find out if he needs to study all night / Santa Claus is coming to class"—but aspiring Kris Kringles and Mrs. Clauses alike can enroll in one- or two-day workshops with the International University of Santa Claus for a crash course on all things related to playing jolly old Saint Nick.

Helmed by Tim Connaghan—who has suited up in the big guy's red suit for the past 45 years and is an inductee in the International Santa Hall of Fame—more than 2500 Santa wannabes have earned their diplomas. But what prerequisites does Santa Claus need to graduate? Here's a snapshot of 11 workshops covered in the IUSC's official textbook, "Behind the Red Suit—The Business of Santa."

1. The History of Santa Claus

Grounding future Santa Clauses in the figure's historical roots, the seminar covers the evolution of Saint Nicholas, boasting that the segment spans "17 centuries in 45 minutes!"

2. The Basics of Being Santa or Mrs. Claus

Including how to make a visit from Santa memorable, learning how to make a proper arrival, and probably the most vital tool in any good Santa's arsenal, "Your Ho-Ho-Ho's."

3. Posing Techniques

Just because the International University of Santa Claus insists that "Today's Santa needs to do more than just say 'Cheese!'" The workshop features a more participatory approach, as student Santas are asked to showcase their own posing techniques to spur discussion and criticism from classmates.

4. The Entertaining Santa

Fielding gift requests from children isn't the only talent a wannabe Santa needs to have. This course covers how to make Santa Claus a more multifaceted performer, particularly by adding "storytelling, singing, magic, and balloon art" to his repertoire.

5. Enhancing Your Image as Santa

Covering the quintessentially important basics of "styling your beard or mustache," the seminar also instructs (with demonstrations, the schedule affirms) future Kris Kringles how to stroll the Santa Claus way—"Acting like royalty!"

6. Talking With Children

Besides giving a resolution to the age-old quandary of how Saint Nick knows all, Santas-in-training are equipped to deal with pre-teens and teenagers, armed with the knowledge of the hottest kids toys on toy store shelves, and grapple with the burning question of whether to greet visitors with "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays."

7. Mrs. Claus

For Mrs. Clauses looking to entertain around the holiday season independently of a hubby, the IUSC includes a workshop on "marketing the solo Mrs. Claus," with tricks for "storytelling, cookie decorating, face painting, and arts & crafts," sans (or collaborating with) Santa.

8. There is More Than Just Sitting in a Mall

A lot more, according to the class description offered by the IUSC's workshop schedule: For "Santa 24/7/365," (as noted in the workshop guide) there are parade opportunities, conventions, company parties, tree lightings, and charity events, oh my.  

9. Working in a Photo Set

Much of the class includes safety precautions of working a photo session, fielding media questions, and teaming up with helpers, but it almost goes without saying that the highlight here is "The do's and don'ts of sitting in the chair."

10. The Year-Round Santa

When Santa's out of work after the two months of Christmas' commercial viability, the workshop spotlights some possible promotions for a summertime Santa Claus, from "modeling" to "advertising and commercial work." Who says Santa needs to go out of season?

11. Get a Head Start For the Holidays

The course description speaks for itself, making the course sound just as applicable for non-Santas as it is for students set to earn their International University of Santa Claus diplomas: "Planning and scheduling your time so you can also enjoy your work, have time for family and reduce stress." 

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From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
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There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
PlayNJ
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20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
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They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

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