Monday, August 24, 2015

Class is in session: Orkin Household Pests 101

** A Geek Daddy received complimentary products from Orkin for participating in the #LearnWithOrkin blogger campaign. Content & Prize supplied by the Sponsor **

It’s back-to-school time and class is in session … Orkin is back with Household Pests 101 – featuring some of Orkin’s scientific knowledge of pests. The Orkin Man is here to help you #LearnWithOrkin so you don’t get schooled by pest problems in your own home. Click on the images below to check out some helpful videos, download the “Protect Your Home” Checklist for valuable tips on keeping pests at bay, and then take the Pest Prevention Pop Quiz so when your kids complain about taking a test at school you can say you took one too.



We can't give you a report card with an A on it for acing this quiz, but A Geek Daddy does have an Orkin Back-To-School Prize Pack to give out to one of our readers who completes the Pest Prevention Pop Quiz.  You can earn up to 3 entries to win this great prize pack for parents who are busy and on the go by doing the following prior to 11:59pm EST on September 7, 2015:

EMAIL (1 Entry)  E-mail thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com your name and mailing address and share with us the most useful or surprising tip you learned from the quiz. Email subject line should be Household Pests 101. 

FACEBOOK (1 Entry) Visit our Facebook page and on the contest post submit a comment sharing your own household pest prevention story or tips.  Please include the hashtag #LearnWithOrkin in your comment.

TWITTER (1 Entry) Follow @Geeky_Dad on Twitter & tweet: I took the @AskTheOrkinMan Quiz on A Geek Daddy Blog ( @Geeky_Dad ) for a chance to win a Back-To-School Prize Pack #LearnWithOrkin [Ad]

All entries will be assigned a number based upon the order they are received and one lucky entrant will be randomly selected to win the prize courtesy of Orkin.  Emails will only be used to contact the winner and will all be deleted at the conclusion of the promotion.

The Orkin Back-To-School Prize Pack contains the following:

One (1) Silver USB Portable Charger - We know you're on the go from sun up to sun down and can't afford not to be accessible.  This emergency charger is small, sleek, and can help your phone keep up with your busy lifestyle.

One (1) Double Wall Stainless Steel Travel Mug w/lid - Your car isn't the only thing that needs fueling up in the morning ... this stainless steel travel mug is a great way to ensure your morning coffee is always within an arm's reach.

One (1) Orkin "Protect Your Home" PDF Checklist - this handy checklist from the experts at Orkin will help you think like a pest in order to help protect your home from them.



Disclaimer & Rules: You must be a US resident to enter over the age of 18. A Geek Daddy Blog will select a random winner on approximately September 8, 2015 ( 1 winner will be selected from a random draw of all eligible entries - each submitted entry will be assigned a number and a random number will be drawn to select a winner based upon total entries ). A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but ORKIN LLC is responsible for fulfillment and delivery of the prize. By participating in this contest you waive any liability towards A Geek Daddy Blog or its publisher that may arise from your involvement with this promotion. A Geek Daddy Blog hosted this contest and blog post based upon ORKIN LLC providing the prize to the selected winner. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Prize will be delivered by UPS or FedEx so no P.O. Boxes are allowed as mailing addresses. A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this giveaway as a benefit to our readers. Information for this post was provided by ORKIN LLC. A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any financial compensation for publishing this post but did receive one of the prizes for personal use.

DC Comics is going Looney in November


Comic book cover artwork is the big differentiator between print and digital publications. Collectors and hobbyists really want standout art that can be displayed or pulled out and shown off in a collection. Knowing that these covers play a big part in drawing customers into comic book stores and sustaining the market for traditional print comic books, publishers are commissioning more and more artwork for variant covers for their titles to keep fans satisfied and encourage them to buy multiple copies of the same issue just for the cover art. That's why you are starting to see issues more regularly with multiple covers and comic book publishers creating specialized marketing campaigns to promote the sale of variant covers. DC Comics for example likes to regularly have monthly themes where all their issues will have a corresponding variant covers featuring artwork tied to it.

For example in 2015, March was "Movie Poster" month with each title having a variant cover that was tied to a memorable movie. Aquaman was based off of "Free Willy", Batman & Robin was inspired by "Harry Potter", Green Lantern had a "2001: Space Odyssey" vibe to it and Justice League played off the popularity of "Magic Mike." In July all the variant covers had promotional artwork tied to the Cartoon Network's animated television series Teen Titans Go! which features youthful versions of DC Comics superheroes. August's theme is "Bombshells" which transformed DC Comics  characters into WWII pinup-inspired creations that grace the covers of 21 of its most popular titles throughout the month.  They'll continue their popular Halloween inspired Monster Mashups in October.

Fans of Bugs Bunny and his friends will want to pay special attention to the month of November as DC Comics variant comic theme is Looney TunesLooney Tunes, like DC Comics, is owned by Warner Brothers so there is some corporate cross-promotion going on here but I don't care because I like both of these brands and the pairing make for some wacky fun. There will be over two dozen hilarious variant covers that pair up DC Comics super heroes like Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman with the likes of the Tasmanian Devil, Wile E Coyote, Sylvester the Cat, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and numerous other Looney Tunes characters.  For non-regular comic book readers, just note that the art and script for the stories inside are the regular continuance of that title's story line and doesn't feature a special adventure tied to the cover artwork.  I've heard of parents picking up comic books with variant covers that would appeal to their kids only to get home and find out the story and cover didn't correlate.  These monthly themed covers are fun for displaying or for sprucing up a collection, but they most often don't relate to the stories inside.

Here are a few of my favorite Looney Tunes covers that are coming out in November 2015:



CLICK HERE for a gallery of all the variant Looney Tunes covers being published by DC Comics this November.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Announces Digital HD, 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand Release Dates in October for JURASSIC WORLD

** This post was sponsored by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.  A Geek Daddy is part of the #TeamJurassic blogger program & has been financially compensated **


Are you ready to hear the roar of dinosaurs in your home as they stomp around in front of you?  Universal Pictures announced today that the summer blockbuster which crushed the opening-weekend box office, scoring the highest domestic, international and worldwide theatrical opening of all time will be available for people to add to their home video libraries this October.  Shattering records globally, JURASSIC WORLD has taken in more than $1.6 billion to become the third-highest grossing film in history and now fans can experience its thrill and awe from the comfort of their own homes when it is released for digital download and becomes available for Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand viewing.  JURASSIC WORLD arrives on Digital HD on October 1, 2015 and on 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand on October 20, 2015.

Here's an updated trailer specifically for the Home Entertainment release of #JURASSICWORLD:



The #1 movie of the year proves that once again, dinosaurs rule the earth! Experience JURASSIC WORLD in stunning hi-definition via Digital HD or by picking up the movie on Blu-ray.  The DVDs and Blu-rays also have some great bonus features to enhance your appreciation of the motion picture.  Check out these special bonus features:

Blu-ray & DVD Bonus Features
  • DELETED SCENES
  • DINOSAURS ROAM ONCE AGAIN - Behind the scenes look at the making of Jurassic World's visual effects involving how the dinosaurs came to life and the way actors filmed scenes with them.
  • CHRIS & COLIN TAKE ON THE WORLD -  Actor Chris Pratt and Director Colin Trevorrow interview each other and discuss Jurassic World as well as the other Jurassic Park movies.
Exclusive Blu-ray Bonus Features
  • WELCOME TO JURASSIC WORLD - An in-depth take on the creation, look and feel of Jurassic World.  Director Colin Trevorrow and Producer Steven Spielberg discuss how the idea of the film came together and how the casting was decided with actors' commentary on their roles and filming locations.
  • JURASSIC WORLD: ALL-ACCESS PASS -  Chris Pratt and Colin Trevorrow discuss key moments in the film, supported by behind-the-scenes footage and VFX breakdowns.
  • INNOVATION CENTER TOUR WITH CHRIS PRATT - Chris Pratt gives a tour of the Innovation Center, a museum.exhibit built just for the movie.
  • JURASSIC'S CLOSEST SHAVES - Clips from all films in the franchise showing "near death" or extremely scary encounters with dinosaurs.
Plus keep an eye out for the limited edition Blu-ray Combo Pack in collectible steel packaging.



For more information, visit the official movie website: JurassicWorldMovie.com

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pledge to Encourage Kids to Engage in Imaginative Play

 ** This blog post was sponsored by the Toy Industry Association. A Geek Daddy Blog received financial compensation for its participation in The Genius of Play campaign**


How often do the children in your life play by spontaneously letting their imagination spur their play time adventures and activities?  Play time isn't just about fun and games - through playings kids learn how to interact with others and develop skills critical for childhood development.  Some of the important benefits children achieve through play time include improved cognitive abilities, honed communication skills, increased creativity, a better understanding of how to process and express emotions, increased development of coordination, balance and other physical skills and enhanced social skills.  Ensuring children get enough play time also can be an important factor in assisting children with problem solving, critical thinking, self expression and imagination.



Parents should be aware that child care experts are expressing concerns that today's children are not getting enough play time and that the amount of "unstructured free play" is in decline.  Unstructured play is a set of activities that children dream up on their own without adult intervention. This type of play rarely has predetermined goals or objectives but instead allows children to create their own rules and establish their own limits. Common reasons for the decline include safety concerns (stranger danger, crime, traffic), increasing time spent in school and on academic performance, and an emphasis on structured activities (sports, clubs, music lessons, etc.).  Recent research suggests that children should experience twice as much unstructured time as structured play experiences and touts the benefits of unstructured play on whole child development.

I remember as a child, there were multiple empty lots in our subdivision that were filled with grass grown out to about five feet tall where all the neighborhood kids would congregate to pretend we were jungle explorers, have massive battles with our collections of plastic green army men, or build tracks to race our BMX bicycles.  There also was a creek surrounded by some woods and fields where all the kids would go out to explore, build forts, or role play as Star Wars of G.I. JOE characters which were both really popular at the time.  We enjoyed what Dr. Michael Patte, a professor of education and child life specialist at Bloomsburg University, calls the "three frees"  -  free of charge, free to choose, and free to come and go as we pleased. He warns that kids are being overwhelmed by scheduled events and structured activities to the detriment of the development benefits derived from simply engaging in unstructured free play. Dr. Patte recommends parents understand times have changed since they were a kid themselves and encourages adults to make extra efforts to ensure children are getting enough unstructured playtime allowing for the imaginative and physically active play experiences that are vital to healthy child development.

Unfortunately, unlike where I grew up, our current neighborhood doesn't have the numerous open spaces or lots of similarly aged children living on the block to entice my kids to get outside and play the way I did when I was their age. So we've made it a family endeavor to explore the local parks for the most unique and interesting playscapes and frequently visit them to help instill with our kids a desire for wanting to get out and play.  They're always excited to go to one of these playscapes and I just sit back on a park bench out of their way and let them play.  Some of my kids favorite places to play are Metro Detroit area playscapes with barn, train, and wilderness themes.

Inglenook Park features a farm themed playscape complete with animal cutouts, two barn shaped towers, a windmill, and numerous features for children to bounce around, climb up, swing on, or slide down.  It also has a giant life-sized spider web with a trampoline in the middle for children to climb and bounce on.  My kids can spend hours playing here and still not want to leave when I tell them its time to go home.


 
David H. Sheppard Park features life size recreations of a truck, train, and boat for kids to play on.  My kids like to imagine themselves having Wild West adventures on the train and pretending to be ocean explorers cruising the seven seas on the tug boat.  They can be so creative as they play out some really interesting adventures at this fun park.




Waterford Oaks County Park's Paradise Peninsula is a Michigan-themed playscape that features an "up north woods" cabin, tree fort, sand dunes area, marsh with cattails, raised sand play area, and multiple climbing areas.  Colorful rubberized surfacing depicts Michigan's lakes, dunes, and forests.  My kids enjoy "rock climbing" the simulated cliff features, pretending to be on a camping expeditions using the log cabin, tree fort and row boat, and searching for the faux fossils placed around the play area.



Visiting a playscape is always a learning experience when it comes to social interactions because most of these cool locations are somewhat of a drive away from our house so my kids are always meeting new children to play with.  It's a great opportunity for them to get over being shy and developing socializing skills when it comes to meeting new people.  Sometimes there will be a child on the playground who is a bully, temperamental or just not very nice to be around and these situations also present "teachable moments" for the kids.  Learning how to make new friends and  dealing with people who don't want to be your friend are two valuable skills to have in life.

More importantly, spending time at a playscape gives my kids the opportunity to be creative through unstructured imaginative play and has them being physically active.  Once the kids hit the playscape, you never know what pretend adventures they may embark on or characters they might role play.  On our last few visits, I've observed my children make new friends and really be imaginative with their play while pretending to be dinosaurs, role playing Star Wars adventures, and engaging in a game of tag with each participant pretending they were a different wild animal. Plus a playscape provides obstacles and features that enhance imaginative play and get children running, climbing, jumping sliding.   With the American Heart Association recommending that children 2 and older should be involved in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activities each day to stay in good health that absolutely makes a visit to a playscape a good thing.

Join A Geek Daddy in taking the "Play Pledge" that you will make it a priority to encourage your kids to engage in unstructured imaginative play on the Genius of Play website.  If the website obtains a commitment from parents to support a million hours of play time for their children, the Toy Industry Association will donate $10,000 worth of toys to the Toy Bank, an international giving program that makes play possible for children in need around the world. CLICK HERE to make the Pledge by submitting your email address and selecting the number of hours between 1 and 40 per week your family will devote to making time for your children to play.  Taking the "Play Pledge" is your acknowledgment as a parent that you recognize the importance of play to a child's development and commit to ensuring that your child gets enough quality play time in their life.  When submitting your "Play Pledge" you can opt-in or out of receiving a monthly The Genius of Play newsletter filled with play ideas and tips from the Toy Industry Association.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is the not-for-profit trade association whose members include toy inventors, toy makers, toy sellers, and all other businesses involved in creating and delivering toys for kids of all ages.  TIA's 750+ member companies are responsible for about 90% of the estimated 3 billion toys sold in the U.S. every year.   The TIA's Genius of Play campaign provides families with the information and inspiration they need to make play an important part of their child’s day. Through its website and social media channels, parents can find facts, useful tips and expert advice on how toys and play can help kids build confidence, creativity, critical thinking and other skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Plus, you can get ideas on how to keep playtime fun and fresh!  You can follow The Toy Industry Association on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Comcast Bolsters INTERNET ESSENTIALS Program for Low-Income Michigan Families

Comcast is bolstering its Internet Essentials program for low-income Michigan families by doubling download speeds and providing routers for in-home Wi-Fi service at no additional cost to participants' existing monthly bills.  Internet Essentials provides low-cost high-speed Internet service for $9.95 per month plus tax, makes available multiple avenues to access free digital literacy training, and the option to purchase a low-cost Internet-ready computer for about $150 dollars.  To participate in Internet Essentials, a family must have at least one child residing in their household who is eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, charter, and homeschooled students.

Nearing its fifth year of availability, Internet Essentials has made the world wide web accessible to nearly 29,000 Michigan families.  The program was created to provide easier access to the Internet and close the digital divide that separates communities into information haves-and have-nots based on socio-economic conditions.  According to the Federal Communications Commission as many as 1 in 3 households do not subscribe to broadband service at any speed because of a lack of affordability and interest.  In Detroit, the numbers are even higher including seven out of 10 children not having access to the Internet at home, limiting their ability to take advantage of online resources for education, employment, and healthcare.

For more information or to apply for the program, visit www.InternetEssentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376, or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995. No credit check, no contract, no installation fee required. 

“The Digital Divide isn’t confined to certain buildings or neighborhoods in Detroit or in any other city or town,” said Comcast’s Heartland Regional Senior Vice President Tim Collins. “From day one, our goal has been to make Internet Essentials available wherever inequality exists, and to keep enhancing and expanding the program to serve the broadest number of families possible across entire communities, wherever they might be located.

Internet Essentials has been available in Michigan and across the United States in areas serviced by Comcast since 2011.   Since the program’s inception, Comcast has made 25 key enhancements to Internet Essentials, and this is the third time in four years Comcast has increased speeds for customers. The current speed is doubling to up to 10 Mbps downstream, which is enough to power multiple devices simultaneously. In addition, by offering Wi-Fi routers, customers will be able to connect any Internet-enabled device, including tablets and smartphones, which could help save money on monthly wireless bills.

To receive the faster Internet speed, customers simply need to reboot their cable modems. Existing customers who would like a Wi-Fi router just need to call the dedicated call center and either request to have one shipped to them for free, or they can schedule a professional installation, also for no additional cost. New customers will have the option to receive a Wi-Fi router when they sign up.


**Disclaimer** I have been provided a complimentary subscription to the Xfinity TV Go app and access to the Comcast cable programming lineup as part of the Xfinity blogger reviewer program.  #Xfinityreviewer

Talking Hot Dog is the Star of new Nickelodeon Animated Series: Pinky Malinky


What happens when you mix together aspects of television shows like Parks & Rec, The Colbert Report, and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives to create a new animated series that appeals to kids?  You get Nickelodeon's Pinky Malinky which follows the everyday life of Pinky, an infectiously positive hotdog living in a human world who shares his unique perspective through a mockumentary of a reality show.  Pinky and his friends will talk directly to the camera and audience to share their absurd and silly take on real life in a 20 show first season that recently received the green light to begin production and should debut on Nickelodeon sometime in 2016.

Co-created and co-executive produced by Chris Garbutt and Rikke Asbjoern (The Amazing World of Gumball) and executive produced by Scott Kreamer (Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness) the trio are a part of the Artist Collective, an internal diverse group of experienced creators who mentor and support up-and-coming talent while also collaborating to cultivate, challenge, and inspire Nickelodeon's development pipeline.  Pinky Malinky's creators understand that all children at some time or another feel like they don't fit in so they utilize Pinky's undeniable unique point of view as a literal wiener living among people to laugh at struggles they will be familiar with and enjoy a hot dog's unique perspective on being a school-aged kid.

video

"Pinky Malinky will offer original short form videos and content that will be produced in conjunction with the series for various social media platforms," said Russell Hicks, President, Content Development & Production at Nickelodeon in a press release provided to A Geek Daddy.  "In this fact-paced digital age, the online extensions in this brand-new series are another example of how Nickelodeon meets the needs of our kids who want to access content anytime and anywhere."

"We're really happy that Pinky has found a home at Nickelodeon," added Garbutt and Asbjoern. "We've been living with him ourselves for quite a while now, so we're very excited to finally get a chance to share the little fella with the rest of the world! By always reaching for the stars, Pinky pushes himself further than anyone could imagine and proves that being a 'wiener' is only one letter away from being a WINNER!"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

5 Interesting Facts About Strawberry Shortcake

I am a member of the Fox Home Entertainment Insiders blogger program and receive complimentary products for reviews and giveaways.


In recognition of our friends at Fox Home Entertainment releasing a new DVD of Strawberry Shortcake tales, I'm sharing some interesting trivia about the adorable red headed girl and her berry best friends plus a fun coloring page for A Geek Daddy blog readers to enjoy.  Here are five interesting facts that you might not know about Strawberry Shortcake:

  1. Strawberry Shortcake and her cat, Custard, were designed by greeting card illustrator Muriel Fahrion in 1977 and were part of  a popular line of greeting cards for American Greetings' Juvenile & Humorous card department featuring the characters. 
  2. Strawberry Shortcake toys appeared in 1979 when American Greetings licensed the rights to Kenner Toys who at that time also had the rights to another brand that was growing in popularity called Star Wars.  Kenner produced Strawberry Shortcake dolls that had hair that smelled like each character in the toy line,s fruit themed name until 1985, which also happens to be the same year that the toy manufacturer discontinued production of its line of Star Wars toys.
  3. Strawberry Shortcake starred in an animated feature film called The Sweet Dreams Movie that was released on October 7, 2006 and played in select theaters across the United States.  Fox Home Entertainment released the movie on DVD in 2007.
  4. From 1980 through 1985, back in the days when there were only a handful of stations you could watch on TV, Strawberry Shortcake and her gang of friends were featured in an annual television special.  Plum Puddin who is one of the main characters in the current run of Strawberry Shortcake animated programming including the newly released DVD Berry Tales was first introduced in the very first TV special as a boy.  The character then wasn't seen again in the television specials, toy line or any other licensed products until "he" was reintroduced as a "she" in 1984 with the introduction of a Plum Puddin  doll by Kenner and inclusion in that year's annual television special.
  5. American Greetings sold the ownership rights to Strawberry Shortcake in February of this year to Iconix Brand Group for $105 million dollars.   Iconix purchases ownership of iconic brands then manages their licensing to manufacturers, retailers, and television, movie and video game producers.  Some well known brands also owned by Iconix include Joe Boxer, London Fog, Ocean Pacific, The Sharper Image, Starter, and Umbro.  In 2010, Iconix partnered with the Charles M. Schulz family to acquire all the assets related to the Peanuts comic strip from its longtime owner United Media creating a new company to manage this brand called Peanuts Worldwide which is 80% owned by Iconix and 20% owned by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.  A 3D animated Peanuts Movie is being released at theaters across the USA on November 6, 2015.
On August 11, 2015, Fox Home Entertainment released on DVD some brand new animated adventures that provide a strawberry twist to some berry well know fairy tales.  Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Tales features some of my daughter's favorite bed time stories and if you have a little princess at home this is sure to delight her.  I'm sure little boys at home would enjoy it too.  This 71 minute long DVD is rated G and features three stories.featuring Strawberry Shortcake and her cast of friends. Please download and print out this fun Strawberry Shortcake coloring page from the DVD to enjoy:


In Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Tales, Plum Puddin learns to believe in herself when putting on a small and simple play for a young audience during the tale of "Snowberry and the Seven Berrykins".  The next tale is "Berryella and Prince Berry Charming" which focuses on guy friend Huck agreeing to act in a production of this berry tale then quickly realizing that he'd be happier working behind the scenes.  Finally in "The Littlest Berrykin" Strawberry, Lemon, and Raspberry star as three princesses on a quest to rule a kingdom that realize during their adventure that they can never succeed without kindness and generosity.