Tuesday, August 28, 2012

6 Zany Zoos for Animal Antics 

6 Zany Zoos for Animal AnticsZoos around the country are packed during the summer months with families on a quest to satisfy their curiosity about animals.
Joseph A. Buckhalt, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling Psychology and School Psychology at Auburn University, says summer is a perfect opportunity for parents and children to learn together through family adventures. “Any kind of summer experience, grand or small, can be made fun and educational,” Buckhalt says. “We have found that activities where both parents and children learn new things are most rewarding and productive.”

Buckhalt suggests that parents find age-appropriate books for their children before taking a family field trip. Reading books about animals before a visit to a zoo can help to make the experience more meaningful for children. Whether you’re planning a cross-county trip to visit a zoo or a Saturday morning trek to your local zoo, the experience is bound to be exciting, educational, and filled with memories in the making. Just don’t forget to stop at the public library before you head out.
A few of the best zoos from around the country are highlighted below. The zoos range in size and price; each zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Jacksonville, Florida
This zoo is home to more than 1,500 rare and exotic animals. In the process of becoming officially recognized as a botanical garden, the 89-acre Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens boasts more than 1,000 varieties of plants. The zoo is moderately priced at $12 for adults and $7.50 for children and has recently added a water park, a hands-on stingray exhibit, and a giraffe overlook. Interactive educational programs include after-dark programs, home-school programs, day camps, preschool programs, and behind-the-scenes programs. Families living in Northeast Florida can take advantage of the annual family membership package ($85 for a family of six), which also allows families discounted rates at many AZA accredited zoos around the United States and Canada. Check out the 2008 list of reciprocal zoos, aquariums, and museums.

Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago, Illinois

This zoo is free to visitors, located just minutes from downtown Chicago, and is one of the nation’s oldest zoos. The Lincoln Park Zoo began in 1868 with a pair of swans and today has more than 1,100 mammals, reptiles, and birds. The zoo is located on 35 lakefront acres and attracts more than 3 million visitors a year. Aptly advertised as a place for children to “learn about the natural world in a living, breathing, and roaring classroom,” this zoo educates an estimated 1 million visitors each year through on-grounds activities and outreach programs. Former Women’s Board Coordinator and docent, Jodessa McSweeney, says, “The sea lion pool offers enormous entertainment for children and adults, and the beautiful botanical garden are lovely—delightful.” Just for fun, the Lincoln Park Zoo features an endangered species carousel ride, paddleboat rides around the South Lagoon, and an African safari simulated ride. Adult visitors should check out the Jammin’ at the Zoo concert series this summer. (The July concert features Fastball and Blind Melon; the August concert features Soul Asylum.)
Central Park Zoo
New York City, New York
Located in Central Park in New York City, this zoo is conveniently located and reasonably priced ($8.00 for adults and $3.00 for children). The Central Park Zoo unofficially began in the 1860s as a collection of donated animals. In 1988, the newly remodeled Central Park Zoo opened its doors, featuring a variety of habitats such as a steamy rain forest habitat and an icy Antarctic penguin habitat. The Central Park Zoo attracts nearly 1 million visitors each year and offers year-round educational programs, including a Wildlife Theater, toddler preschool programs, interactive family workshops, and after-school and weekend classes for school-age children. The zoo is committed to protecting and helping endangered species through the AZA. New York visitors and residents should check out the zoo’s 20th Birthday Celebration this August 9-10.
Montgomery, Alabama
The Montgomery Zoo is known in Alabama as the “perfect-sized zoo,” a zoo that can be visited in half a day. Conveniently located and reasonably priced ($8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children), this zoo features over 500 animals from five different continents. Visitors can casually stroll from “country to country” to view the animals in their natural, barrier-free habitats. The zoo offers a train ride through the 40-acre grounds, a reasonably priced restaurant, and a host of educational programs for children of all ages. A relatively new elephant habitat, complete with a baby elephant, wows visitors with elephants that dance in exchange for apples and oranges. The Mann Museum, on the zoo grounds, has more than 275 exhibits of wildlife, fish, reptiles, and insects. Zoo Weekend in April and ZooBoo in October (fun-filled nights of horror) attract thousands of visitors each year, and the Montgomery Zoo Summer Camp offers children behind-scenes tours and discussions with zookeepers, curators, volunteers, and zoo vets.
Washington D.C.
A part of the Smithsonian Institution, this zoo is located in the heart of Washington D.C. The 163-acre zoological park is home to over 2000 animals, representing 400 different species. Best known for its research, educational programs and conservation efforts, the National Zoo was one of the first zoos to establish a scientific research program. The zoo provides children and families opportunities to learn about wildlife and its conservation and to enjoy the peacefulness of the gardens in the Rock Creek Park. This zoo also has a variety of helpful online resources for educators, parents, and students, including fact sheets and publications. Best of all, the National Zoo is free to the public, supported by generous donations and volunteer efforts. As Stacy DeBroff, nationally acclaimed parenting expert and founder and president of momcentral.com, says, “This zoo rocks. It’s an amazing zoo—appropriate for kids of all ages.”
San Diego, California
Often referred to as “the world-famous San Diego Zoo,” this zoo is internationally recognized for its 4,000-plus rare and endangered animals, representing more than 800 species and subspecies. The zoo is located on 100 acres, not counting the Wild Animal Park, which has 1,800 acres of land, more than half of which has been set aside as protected native species habitat. The San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park is also home to the Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) research center. The zoo has a wide range of summer educational activities, programs, and events for adults and children, including Wild Animal Camp, Family Caravan Tour, Jumatano Roar & Snore Sleepover, and Fisher-Price® Play Weekend. The price of admission to the zoo is $34 for adults and $24 for children; 2-day admission is $40 for adults and $30 for children. Check the Web site for package deals for the zoo and the Wild Animal Park, as well as deals for nearby hotels.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Web Writing Tips: Zany or Serious

Web writing can be both zany and serious. Knowing which one you should choose can sometimes be a tough call. Some topics could use a little humor to spice them up. But at the same time, how far is too far? Are there certain topics you just shouldn't go there with? While mentoring fellow writers, I often get asked if being a little zany is okay, even with serious topics. Should your next article be zany or serious?

Consider the venue. Where are you publishing this piece of content? If it's going in a medical journal database, your best bet is to remain serious at all times. No one is going to trust a medical journal that it isn't strictly professional and serious. On the other hand, if you're writing an article for a quirky women's online mag, be as zany as you want to be, within their guidelines.

Consider the topic. Much like considering the venue, topic choice plays an important role in this also. If you're writing a news story about a missing child, you should state straightforward facts and be serious. But if you're writing about a person who robbed a grocery store for 50 bananas, being zany helps to illustrate the story to readers. It can be great to joke a little with certain serious topics. Just be careful how and when it's done.

Know your audience. Think about the type of people who are likely to read your work. What do you think their reaction would be? Gear the tone of your article toward your most common audience. If your readers are interested in your work for business reasons, you may not want to get too zany. This is not to say that business people don't want to joke about things. But there are going to be certain topics where people will not be amused if you get too lax on seriousness.

Be aware of your purpose. What is it that you want readers to gain from reading the content? Are you trying to give people a good laugh or are you trying to instill a fact? Purpose should be thought about long before you start writing. This will help you stay on track with what it is you are trying to convey to your audience. When you write with a specific purpose in mind, it's easier to decipher which articles should stay serious and which ones could use a comedy boost.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

8 zany tax deductions to avoid claiming

8 zany tax deductions for 2012Did you hear the one about the agoraphobic swimmer? The Brazilian art-supply run? The fully deductible boyfriend? The prayer room?

Behold Bankrate's annual installment of the year's craziest real-life tax deductions, extracted without anesthesia from the seasonal-affective-disordered minds of some of the nation's finest Certified Public Accountants, some of whom have requested anonymity to protect the innocent.

Past editions of our taxpayers-behaving-badly celebration have included such dubious deductions as pimped-out Amish buggies, souped-up breast pumps, tattooed derrieres and a full-service arsonist.
As always, there's a serious message behind this mayhem: Do not try these stunts on your own tax return. The Internal Revenue Service, while generally jovial sorts, won't let laughter stop them from tossing your return into the red flag file reserved for the scofflaws, pranksters and disoriented filers among us.
In the spirit of what not to claim (or what to claim with caution), we present Bankrate's eight zany tax deductions for 2012.
1. That deduction is starting to grow on me
1. That deduction is starting to grow on me
Most accountants are quick to notice when a client tries to shave a little off his or her tax bill. But Laura Cullen, a CPA in Fresno, Calif., admits even she did a double take when a new client tried to pull the hair over her eyes.
"We had a client that had been transferred to the U.S. from another country. He was an educated, likable, sharp guy," she recalls. "The first year I did his personal tax return, being aware that you could itemize your medical expenses, he asked me to expense his hair transplant. I had a heck of a time explaining why I couldn't."
2. Friends with tax benefits
2. Friends with tax benefitsThe changes to the traditional American household, played for laughs on the hit TV comedy "Modern Family," also make for some jaw-dropping -- and allowable -- tax deductions, according to Los Angeles forensic accountant Susan Carlisle.
"As I do most of my work in divorce, I was surprised to find that a husband, who had left the family home to live with his gay partner, (listed) both his wife and the partner, along with his children, as dependents on his tax returns in the same year prior to being officially divorced," she recalls. "In all likelihood, each one -- wife, live-in boyfriend and kids -- met the definition of dependents."
The wife and kids, sure. But the partner? It turned out the husband could claim the live-in boyfriend as a "qualified relative" since he: shared the same residence, was a member of the husband's household, earned less than the exemption amount ($3,700 for 2011), and derived more than half of his total support from his new partner, Carlisle says.
Modern families, modern tax laws -- hey, it's complicated.
3. The agoraphobic swimmer
3. The agoraphobic swimmerClients have long tried to talk Los Angeles CPA Rob Seltzer into allowing them to deduct their new swimming pools, but the strangest argument of all actually won over the IRS.
"My client was a very active individual and then incurred a severe back (and) neck injury," Seltzer recalls.
"After he had surgery, his doctor determined that swimming was the only form of exercise that he could do without risking further damage. In addition, if someone inadvertently collided with him while he was swimming laps, he could face reinjuring himself. So the only option that could give my client a safe form of exercise and rehabilitation was in his own lap pool. My client built the pool, a deck and a Jacuzzi, and we deducted the portion of the total cost that was attributable to the lap pool."
That would explain the absence of a passing lane.
4. Must be quite a set of spatulas!
4. You should see what he spent on the waffle makerUncle Sam allows us to deduct the money we spend on the tools of our trade, within reason. For instance, if you have a home office, you'll likely be able to claim expenses for things such as a computer, a printer, copy paper, furnishings and a helipad. Well OK, maybe not the helipad.
But Gail Rosen, a CPA in Martinsville, N.J., was blindsided by one eye-popping expense on a client's return.
"My client is a painter, and he gave us his airfare to Brazil as a deduction," she recalls. "When I questioned the airfare, he said he went to Brazil to get spatulas."
5. The Church of Bob the Self-Ordained
5. The Church of Bob the Self-OrdainedTax season may cause some of us to pray for deliverance, but one taxpayer took it one step too far with this now-former CPA, who requested anonymity.
"This client was in the fitness business. As we were going through his return, he says, 'Oh, and I built a prayer room that I'd like to take as a charitable deduction.' At first I thought he was joking, like OK, we'll take the bedroom and the swing set outside, too. But he was dead serious."
"I said, 'Well, it's in your house, right? And you're not a minister. So unless your religion is kind of unique to you and it's a recognized charity or church, those payments come out of your own pocket.' He got quite angry when I said there's just no way, dude."
"It's pretty straightforward: Just because people take their shoes off when they enter doesn't make your house a temple."
6. I thought the room service was a little goofy!
6. I thought the room service was a little goofy!Sometimes, even paycheck deductions can be confusing -- especially if you're a professional athlete, what with all those zeroes and all. Fortunately, they have guys like Robert Raiola, a sports and entertainment CPA in Cranford, N.J., to translate for them.
"I had a guy who played for the Baltimore Orioles, and he got traded to the Anaheim Angels who, at the time, were owned by Disney, and they put him up in a Disney hotel," Raiola recalls. "So he gets his first paycheck, and he calls me up all upset and says, 'Robert, there's a deduction on my paycheck for 'DIS-SUI.' I'm staying in a Disney hotel, but I'm not staying in a suite."
"I said, 'John, that DIS-SUI is state disability unemployment insurance.'"
7. We won't even ask about the mileage ...
7. We won't even ask about the mileage ...We've heard of some crazy attempts to deduct cosmetic surgery over the years, but we've never come across a better counterargument than this one offered by Sean, a Dallas CPA whose saleswoman client listed a $14,000 breast enhancement as a business expense.
"I explained that this isn't a business expense. Medical expenses are on Schedule A; they're itemized deductions, and this doesn't even qualify for that because it's elective surgery," Sean says. "She said, 'But that's why I spent so much money; I wanted to get the best I could!'"
"So I said, 'Look, let's approach this like you would a car. Do you have records of when you used them for business reasons and when you used them for personal reasons? Are there maintenance fees associated with them?' She said, 'What?! I can't tell you that!' and I said, 'Exactly. And we can't write them off.'"
"There are only one or two professions that are allowed to write those off, and there's no pole involved here," he added.
8. But I imagine it was delicious ...
8. But I imagine it was delicious ...One advantage of working with CPAs is the comfort in knowing they'll have your back in the event of an IRS audit. However, there are professional guidelines that dictate just how far out on a limb your accountant is willing to climb to rescue you from the taxman.
If you ever want to lose an accountant for good, simply list him as an accessory to tax fraud, as happened to New Brunswick, N.J., CPA Ed Mendlowitz.
"I dropped a client who was being audited and who produced a diary listing biweekly lunches with me to discuss her taxes and financial affairs," he says. "I never had lunch with her."





Saturday, June 30, 2012

zany sentence examples

  • Wednesday 28th december 2005 inspired by others, you might like to try being a little zany yourself today.
  • Zany antics are helping a very serious campaign against cancer.
  • Heather coleman in exeter has a wonderfully zany site but ( but beware the brain behind the fluff ).
  • Seeing a group of hamsters dressed up as zebras, frogs and lions is quite amusing and a bit zany.
  • Zany isbook collects some of his zaniest earliest adventures as they were first published in the 1940s.
  • Zany humor.
  • Sue has a slightly zany, self-effacing, bubbly personality, which opposes her meticulous, time-consuming love for something bright and beautiful.
  • Zany comedy, dark drama, adverts etc?
  • Even more, if it brings you business, you'd be quite zany to forget to buy the upgraded version next year!
  • Zany characters can grab the attention of media people.
  • Far from being a father figure, they looked on him as an endearing and rather zany elder brother.
  • Zany fun & lots of joining in for 4yrs upwards.
  • What, for example, is particularly zany, offbeat or fanciful about 5.30?
  • A television team was also in attendance, seeking out suitably zany people with which to film interviews.


Friday, June 15, 2012

ZANY (noun)
  The noun ZANY has 2 senses:
1. a buffoon in one of the old comedies; imitates others for ludicrous effect
2. a man who is a stupid incompetent fool
  Familiarity information: ZANY used as a noun is rare.

ZANY (adjective)
  The adjective ZANY has 2 senses:
1. ludicrous, foolish
2. like a clown
  Familiarity information: ZANY used as an adjective is rare.

ZANY (noun)
Sense 1
A buffoon in one of the old comedies; imitates others for ludicrous effect
Classified under:
Nouns denoting people
Hypernyms ("zany" is a kind of...):
buffoon; clown; merry andrew (a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior)

Sense 2
A man who is a stupid incompetent fool
Classified under:
Nouns denoting people
Hypernyms ("zany" is a kind of...):
fool; muggins; sap; saphead; tomfool (a person who lacks good judgment)

ZANY (adjective)

Sense 1
Ludicrous, foolish
Context examples:
gave me a cockamamie reason for not going / wore a goofy hat / a silly idea / some wacky plan for selling more books
foolish (devoid of good sense or judgment)
Domain usage:
colloquialism (a colloquial expression; characteristic of spoken or written communication that seeks to imitate informal speech)

Sense 2
Like a clown
Context examples:
a buffoonish walk / a clownish face / a zany sense of humor
humorous; humourous (full of or characterized by humor)