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WEDNESDAY July 11-18, 2012

Let’s play outside

By SYLVIA ANDERSON St. Joseph News-Press

Whether it’s a family reunion or Fourth of July party, make sure to have some lawn games on hand that all ages can enjoy. Croquet, volleyball and horseshoes are the standard fare but require space and time to set up. So we found some less traditional alternatives that you can set up quickly or even take with you to a tailgate party.

BEANBAG TOSS One of the most popular outdoor games these days is the beanbag toss, says Eric Marshall, community marketing manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods. “It’s fun for the entire family, and you can get people of all ages involved,” he says. There are different names for it, but essentially it’s a piece of wood with a cutout in it with beanbags. They vary in price depending on whether they’re made out of plastic or wood. Typically the game is played with two teams of two people. You get three points for getting the beanbag in the hole and one point for getting it on the surface. “It’s similar to horseshoes,” Mr. Marshall says. “The rules are different, but the same principle.” And unlike horseshoes, if you should accidentally hit someone with the beanbag, you won’t knock them out.

KAN JAM Kan Jam is a new kind of game for the good ole Frisbee. Instead of throwing a disc back and forth, this is a 4-player disc game, similar to a beanbag toss, where you play with a disc instead of beanbags and use teamwork to score. The object of the game is to score points as a team by throwing the disc in the goal (“kan”). “It’s kind of like a trash can where you throw it through the slot,” Mr. Marshall says. If you get good enough, you might consider attending the 2012 KanJam World Championship in New York on Aug. 11. Get more information and rules at

METEOR ROCKET Here’s some firework-like fun for kids that’s educational as well. The Meteor Rocket is actually a science experience where you can send a rocket more than 100 feet into the sky. “It’s powered by baking soda and vinegar,” says Pam Houp, owner of PBE’s Toys and Dolls. “You know how that stuff is kind of wild.” The baking powder and vinegar is the same combo you use for toy volcanoes and to clean your drains, she says. You can vary the altitude and speed with the proportions of the ingredients or by changing the fuselage length. There’s also a Rocket Car you fuel with baking soda and vinegar using the same principles. They both sell for $21.99 at PBEs Toys and Dolls in St. Joseph. You also can order them online at

GEYSER TUBE Another blast for the whole clan is the Geyser Tube. It’s essentially a tube you put in a bottle of diet soda then fill with Mentos candy. It creates an enormous geyser that erupts up to 25 feet in the air. You use diet soda so it doesn’t get sticky, Ms. Houp says. The Geyser Tube won the 2010 Dr. Toy top 10 activities games award and the 2010 Creative Child Seal of Excellence Award. It sells for $5.99 at PBEs Toys and Dolls in St. Joseph or online at

LADDER GOLF BALL This is another very popular game, Mr. Marshall says. As with the beanbag game, it’s also called hillbilly golf and a variety of other names. The game is played with two or more players or teams. Each player has three golf ball bolas. (A bola is two golf balls attached by a nylon rope.) The object of the game is to wrap your bolas around the steps of the ladder by tossing them. The ladder has three steps: a top, a middle and a bottom. Games are played to an exact total of 21. Get the official rules from Sylvia Anderson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPAnderson.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scratching the Surface Microsoft’s new tablet could change the way the company does business By SHEA CONNER St. Joseph News-Press


wo weeks have passed since Microsoft unveiled the Surface, the company’s first tablet. But the buzz hasn’t died one bit.

While the Surface’s specs and release date have yet to be announced, most reporters came away from the press event on June 18 feeling like Microsoft had hit a home run. Melissa J. Perenson of PC World was one of those who saw the Surface up-close and in action. She was very impressed with what she saw. “Microsoft truly has paid close attention to the details,” Ms. Perenson says. For starters, the Surface is one of the few tablets with a full-sized USB port. Ms. Perenson adds that the exterior magnesium alloy surface was smooth to the touch and finely finished, while the tablet’s case felt “silky and exceptionally solid.” Moreover, she says the Surface’s brilliant integrated kickstand “felt as stable as bedrock.” However, Microsoft’s tablet keyboard thrilled the critics more than any other aspect of the Surface. Many tablet keyboards perform atrociously, but not the one connected to the Surface. This ultra-thin keyboard boasts mechanical, pressure-sensitive keys and a multi-touch clickpad. Also, if you flip the cover around to the back, the built-in accelerometer will sense the motion and turn off the keyboard. That’s a pretty nifty trick, Ms. Perenson says. “The keyboard in Microsoft’s innovative ‘smart’ covers is the tablet keyboard you’ve always dreamed of: versatile, lightweight, functional and a true aid to your productivity,” Ms. Perenson says.


Both Windows Surface models will feature a 10.6inch rectangle display. The Surface RT will be released at the same time as Windows 8, with the Surface Pro (a slightly thicker and heavier model with a USB 3.0 input that is intended to operate as a full PC that rivals UltraBooks and Apple’s MacBook Air) coming “about three months later,” according to Microsoft’s team. But since Windows 8 itself has no firm release date, it’s unclear whether consumers will be able to get their hands on the Surface this year. While those who handled the Surface raved about the new machine, even Microsoft’s biggest detractors admit the new

tablet could be a big gamechanger. “The announcement of the Surface shows that Microsoft is ready to make a break with its history — a history of hardware partnerships which relied on companies like Dell, HP or Acer to actually bring its products to market,” says Joshua Topolsky of the technology news publication The Verge. “That may burn partners in the short term,” Mr. Topolsky continues, “but it could also give Microsoft something it desperately needs: a clear story.” Microsoft has made hardware in the past with mixed success. For Please see Page 3




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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Surface tablet could change things


Colleges move toward absolute smoking bans By JULIE CARR SMYTH

tem goes into effect in September, and the University of Missouri at Columbia is going smoke-free in 2014. Ohio higher education officials plan a vote next month urging all public campuses to ban tobacco use. That includes Ohio State, one of the nation’s largest universities, which currently bans only indoor smoking. According to the surgeon general’s report for 2012, tobacco use among people ages 18 to 25 remains at epidemic proportions nationwide. The review found 90 percent of smokers started by age 18, and 99 percent by age 26. About a quarter to a third of college students smoke, studies have found. The study found the U.S. would have 3 million fewer young smokers if success in reducing youth smoking by state tobacco-cessation programs from 1997 to 2003 had been sustained. Many of the programs have been hit by budget cuts. Health and education officials, anti-smoking groups and a generation of students who grew up smoke-free are increasingly united on the issue, says Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “There are many reasons why a college or university may choose to pursue this type of policy, whether secondhand smoke, dorm fires, or other issues,� he says. “They are also questioning what the role of tobacco is in this academic setting, where we’re supposed to be standing for truth and

Associated Press

example, the XBox 360 and Kinect were high points while Kin phones and the Zune were colossal failures. But unlike those pieces, the Surface will run Windows better than any machine on the market. For this reason, Microsoft’s new tablet could greatly improve the non-iPad market, contends technology columnist Joanna Stern of ABC News. “Other hardware manufacturers will still make Windows 8 tablets, laptops, desktops, and crazy computers but Microsoft’s Surface will be the reference design; it is the pinnacle of how Microsoft envisions its software and the hardware working together,� she says. “It sets the bar higher for the HPs, Dells, and other computer makers of the world.� Whether the Surface can compete with the iPad has been a popular topic of discussion since the platform’s unveiling. Considering businesspeople know how to manage Microsoft networks and may prefer integrating Microsoft products rather than Apple’s, the Surface boasts great appeal in the business world. But as Don Sears of CNN Money pointed out in a recent column, the Surface’s success probably should not be measured exclusively by how it fares against the iPad. The product is designed to compete against UltraBooks and tablets running Google’s Android operating system, which have fared miserably in the market compared to the iPad. We may still be months away from the release of the Surface tablet, but the device has clearly already made a significant impact in the world of technology. “Microsoft has put other tablet makers on notice,� Ms. Perenson says. “It will be interesting to see how the competition responds.� Shea Conner can be reached at shea.conner@newspressnow. com. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.

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ignated outdoor areas was impractical and couldn’t be properly enforced. Forbidding all tobacco use was deemed to be more effective than simply saying no to cigarette smoke, Patterson says. “When you go smokefree, you drive smokers to use smokeless tobacco, which is more addictive,� he says. Cigarette-size cigars containing candy and fruit flavorings, dissolvable strips and lozenges are among the smokeless tobacco products being targeted to youths, according to the surgeon general. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says studies show many smokers mix and match such products with cigarettes as they move from smoking to nonsmoking venues. Please see Page 4





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COLUMBUS, Ohio â&#x20AC;&#x201D; As a political science major at Ohio State University, Ida Seitter says, she lit up many a cigarette to help her through the stress of exam season. Right or wrong, they were her security blanket as she toiled through college. Seitter, now 26, was old enough by then to make her own decisions, she says. She opposes efforts by policymakers in Ohio, New York, California and other states to impose bans on tobacco use not just in buildings at public colleges, but also anywhere on the campus â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even in the open air. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just back away from me a little bit. I wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t blow it in your face and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll try not to be rude,â&#x20AC;? Seitter says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At the same time, I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a little discriminatory for a practice that is considered legal.â&#x20AC;? Bans on use, advertising and sales of tobacco in all its forms are being enacted or considered at perhaps half of campuses nationwide, sometimes over the objections of student smokers, staff and faculty. The movement is driven by mounting evidence of the health risks of secondhand smoke, the reduced costs of smoke-free dorms and a drive to minimize enticements to smoke at a critical age for forming lifelong habits. Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s state system will begin to bar tobacco use in 2013. A ban on use and advertising at the City University of New York sys-

training the next generation of leaders.â&#x20AC;? According to data kept by the nonsmokers group, campus tobacco bans have risen from virtually zero a decade ago to 711 today. That includes both four-year and two-year institutions, both public and private. One of the first campuses to ban tobacco was Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo., which endorsed the move in 1999 and put it in place four years later. The school also established a research center that works with other colleges and hospitals pursuing similar moves, now known as the National Center for Tobacco Policy. Ty Patterson, the centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director, says Ozarks quickly realized that its previous policy of allowing smoking in des-






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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Smoking bans becoming a reality CONTINUED FROM Page 3 Compliance with tobacco bans is generally voluntary, and violations come with few, if any, real penalties. Repeat offenders are sometimes subjected to university disciplinary policies, which vary by school. While precise statistics on the number of campuses curtailing tobacco are elusive, Patterson estimates that one-third to one-half of all higher education institutions have either made the move or are considering it. Smoking rights advocate Audrey Silk, founder of New York Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, says any outdoor ban â&#x20AC;&#x201D; whether for a campus, beach or public park â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is an attack on the rights of one segment of the population.


â&#x20AC;&#x153;This isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a health issue anymore. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a moral issue,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s absolutely zero reason for a smoking ban outdoors. They use it as a tool. Harm from smoke outdoors is an excuse to frustrate smokers into quitting because they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find a place to light up.â&#x20AC;? Silk says itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the place of schools to enforce health issues. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Schools are a business,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Who assigned them the role of behavior modification? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s their responsibility to educate. What theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing is indoctrinating.â&#x20AC;? Tobacco companies have also questioned the role of universities to take such steps. With limited lobbying power at the college level, they have pursued legislation in some states to pre-empt tobacco-control deciYOUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;LL LIKE WHAT YOU FIND AT



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sions from occurring at any but the state level. A spokesman for Philip Morris USA Inc., the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest tobacco company, deferred comment to the company website, which states that some smoking restrictions are justified but that all-out bans â&#x20AC;&#x153;go too far.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Smoking should be permitted outdoors except in very particular circumstances, such as outdoor areas primarily designed for children,â&#x20AC;? it states. Seitter, who now works as development coordinator for the Columbus Board of Realtors, says budding college smokers often took up the habit after-hours, at venues such as bars that campus tobacco bans donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t reach.





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