Friday, February 14, 2014

Have You Got the Right Mascot for Your Team?

Olympic fever is in the air and everyone's stricken. People don't need to be sports fans to watch; national pride has folks from border to border, of every age, ethnicity and culture rooting for their home team.

Whatever the event. It is during the Games that you can see testosterone-stoked hockey devotees stealing glimpses at ice dancers, and gentrified curling buffs intrigued by the dazzling stunts of slopestyle skiers. The Olympics bring diversity together for one common theme — the hope of winning gold.

But it just wouldn't be human nature if we didn't reserve some of our interest for appearances.  It's not only about noticing who's attractive, who looks like a skater or skier, but from the moment the official ceremonies began, rooms of people had opinions to give on the official outfit for each nation.  And why wouldn't we? We do it with regularity in our own world,  commenting on  what 'they're' wearing, whether it's  celebrities or the regulars at Walmart.

Whether we choose to judge them for it defines the type of people we are. But, we can't deny that what people wear does say a lot about who they are.  The same can be said of sports teams where logos are created to exemplify the prowess and power of the athletes they represent. In the time of political correctness, my alma mater stood firm and stuck with The Lords for its sports teams — a nod more to alliteration given the hometown's name, I suspect, than to making a statement. I always thought Lions would have been more appropriate.

Finding a 'mascot' that represents the spirit of your team is important. Certainly, the image you present to opponents is unlikely to intimidate them, but you don't want to look silly either. (I've never quite recovered from the choice of Ducks for an NHL team.)  These illustrations, great starting points for any team logo design, should help avoid that.

iCLIPART.com Mascots

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Take Better Vacation Pictures

There are no warm fuzzy feelings brought on by the view out the large picture window at work. Moments to daydream don't take me out to the land of ice and snow I see before me, but to faraway places where sun soothes achy muscles and stiff joints.  My mind fills with images of white sands, blue waters, swaying palms and swinging hammocks.

If you're Canadian and it's February, there's really only one place to be — south. People in our little village are flocking south of the border, and beyond,  to chill out far away from the monotonous deep freeze of our winter.  To romantic resorts and tropical climates they flee to soak up sun and restore  depleted stores of Vitamin D.  They return looking refreshed — a condition that fades about as quickly as the acquired tan in this bleak climate.

Unless you're a Snowbird, able to spend the entire season in warmer places, feeling the afterglow of a much needed break can be short lived once your home to the reality of winter.  Thank goodness for those pictures you snapped that let you relive your moments.  You want to make sure then, no matter where you're sojourning, that the photographs you take have the power to pull you back. Here are some links to sites with helpful tips on getting the best vacation photos:

Photography Talk Taking Great Vacation Photos

wikiHow Take Better Travel Photographs

10 Tips for Great Vacation Photos

dummies.com Take Better Vacation Pictures

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

So Whose Game Is It?

I live in Canada. Contrary to popular belief it's not always cold and snow here. We enjoy lovely springs, hot and muggy summers,  glorious autumns.

But winters? They can be mean. Sure, we sometimes enjoy those picturesque wonderlands when the sun lays pinpricks of sparkling light on the blanket of snow.  Generally however, we look forward to white and grey, damp and cold.

It's little wonder that we had to find a way to make the most of it. In the 19th century a game involving sticks and balls was adapted for Canadian ice,  and hockey had arrived.  Unquestionably from ocean, to ocean,  folks here love their game. Arenas in small communities fill as parents lace up Tykes,  and teenage Midgets brimming with testosterone, bring their passion for the game to the rinks.  Fans crowd stadiums in city centres for Junior and NHL games.

And now it's the Olympics. While every event of the games is important, while every Canadian participating has our respect, make no mistake. Hockey is the highlight for Canucks and winning is not just nice but a matter of national pride.

This morning at work, as the Canadian women faced off against their American counterparts, employers and employees were watching  We waited, often tensely, as these worthy  opponents fought it out in a tight match that finished with our squad taking a 3-2 victory.

Still basking in the win and savouring hopes of Olympic gold for the Canadians playing our game in Sochi, it seemed fitting then to offer today some terrific hockey illustrations I found:

iCLIPART.com Hockey Illustrations

Acclaim Images Hockey Clipart

ClickArt Online Hockey Illustrations

ClipartGuide Hockey Images

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's Your Idea of Romance?

Three more days until Valentine's Day. There is probably no other 'holiday' that so polarizes society than the one intended to honour two souls coming together. On the one side you have the people who participate to the mushiest extent, with accolades of adoration or over-the-top gifts.

Then you have the other side, the people who see it as commercial bait, set out by florists and card companies to make a buck or two in the slow winter season.  Romanticism, they argue, isn't something to be delivered on one specific day, but rather a continued practice.

I guess my argument with that is that sometimes, even for the most romantic of couples, life can hit the skids. There are unique stresses putting extra pressure on all relationships these days and it's easy to take each other for granted. Personally, I don't need the grand gesture; expensive jewellery is appreciated, but not required. But the way I see it, a reminder, a day set aside specifically to appreciate a loved one, can't be a bad thing.

As for what I expect, I reiterate that it's not much I need from my honey. Sure I'd take a card. I'd take a diamond or two. I'd take a bouquet of long-stemmed roses, one for each year we've been together. But I'm also happy if he puts down his crossword puzzle and shares a little quiet conversation with me over a bottle of wine. Or snuggles up with me on the couch and watches a chick flick. If he cares to step up his game, I wouldn't say no to a nice dinner out, not fancy, just charming. 

Being romantic should be a constant, but if you can't manage that doesn't it make sense to give it a try at least once a year? Maybe these great photos can provide a little inspiration for you:

iPHOTOS.com Romance

iCLIPART.com Love and Romance Photos

Monday, February 10, 2014

Who Inspired Today's Image Collections?

To play a little with a well-known quote by  German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, I'd like to say that without Beatles music life would be a mistake.

Nietzsche had it right, of course. Music of any kind is one of the most beautiful gifts we've been given. My grandparents, despite a humble, hardworking existence, loved music, humming and singing everything from Chopin to Jolson. My paternal grandmother played the organ; my maternal grandfather was master of the impromptu ditty.

My parents, then,  brought music into our home, singing along with it in church choir or on long road trips, dancing to it in halls and at country frolics. Late Saturday nights, their gang would gather around our piano and their harmonies drifted up through the vents filling my room with country classics.

My older sister, a teenager at the twilight years of poodle skirts and saddle shoes, loved the silky smoothness of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis, the light-hearted Neil Sedaka and of course, the gyrating excitement of Elvis.  Two years younger, my brother listened to Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot, the Beach Boys  and Chuck Berry.  Thankfully, on Sunday drives or trips to the cottage, Mom and Dad always acquiesced to youth and tuned the radio away from country to the popular pop sounds.

It was my brother who, in February of 1964, brought home an album by a group that was going to be appearing on the Ed Sullivan show that weekend. I, at nine years of age, took one look at those four mop-topped young men on the cover and was intrigued. After the show, I was a goner. That performance was, as everyone knows, 50 years ago this past Sunday and every day of that half century I've been a dedicated Beatles fan. Watching the Grammy special held in honour of this milestone last night, I was reminded again, what an incredible catalogue of music they gave us.

To paraphrase the end of their Abbey Road album —  in the end, the love the Beatles took was equal to the love they gave us. These collections of illustrations celebrate the gift of music and pay tribute to the boys in the band that were an inspiration to so many young musicians:

iCLIPART.com Bands and Music

Acclaim Images Bands and Music Clipart

ClickArt Online Music and Band Illustrations