Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Toys and games going old-school amid COVID close-downs, says toy expert

With parents home with their school-aged kids during the social distancing age of COVID-19, it’s no secret they’re all looking for something to do, and according to toy sales, they’re going old-school.

“Board game sales are surging. We’ve never seen board games sell like this before — whether it be Monopoly, Uno, or any other board game,” Jim Silver, toy industry expert and founder of the toy testing website TTPM tells ABC Audio. “Parents… want their kids off screens. They want them thinking.”

Silver adds, “Another category that is doing very well in toys is the puzzle category. Now, this is not just kids. This is adults also. But puzzles sales are up about 300% over the last month.”

Hands-on activities are also doing well because of the quarantine, according to sales figures from the country’s three biggest retailers, Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart, Silver says. “Activity toys and arts and crafts, whether it be any compound, you have Play-Doh, you have slime, you have kinetic sand — all flying. These toy categories are having some of the best times they’ve ever seen.”

In spite of the news, Silver says, “[I]f you’re going to keep under quarantine, it’s nice to have a little fun, especially a family.”

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

Comic convention going virtual

Like other public events, pop culture conventions have been cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — after all, what could be worse for the situation than large crowds, sweaty cosplays, and celebrities shaking hands with total strangers?

However, one exhibitor knows the geeks out there are feeling the loss, so EXLEVELENT has announced plans for the first-ever Virtual Fan Expo, on May 2-3.

According to the company, the event, which is co-sponsored by the pop-culture website Collider and the fan-funded entertainment company Legion M, promises to bring the con experience to you — at a safe distance — from the comfort of your own home.

“VFE 2020 will replicate the Con experience down to an exhibitor floor via Auxxit, an innovative virtual marketplace, where attendees will have unparalleled ability to communicate with exhibitors and each other,” the website claims.

“The virtual convention floor will feature more than one hundred exhibitors and vendors offering the hottest merchandise typically found at well-known Cons and featuring VFE-exclusive items.”

The virtual experience will also feature classic convention attractions like celebrity Q&As — so far, True Blood’s Joe Manganiello has signed on — as well as costume contests and even a virtual cosplay ball.

As a side-note, one thing a virtual convention won’t have — which won’t be missed by die-hard convention-goers — is the infamously familiar “con funk” that stems from fans sweating in stuffy costumes all day.

That is, unless you’ve been the guilty party wafting around all along.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

New app guides you through calming hypnotherapy session while you’re on the toilet

For many, particularly those stuck at home with their kids and endlessly “touching base” with work remotely, answering the call of nature is their only respite. Such was the case for Kim Palmer, the founder of the therapy app Clementine.

As with many good ideas throughout history, she cooked up the idea for a five-minute, 18-second hypnotherapy session while in the bathroom, and thus Clementine’s new Loo-Break Breather was born.

“Juggling a busy work life, on top of trying to teach the kids, as well as lots of check-ins with loved ones through FaceTime, can be exhausting,” Kim noted. “I noticed the only break I was getting to myself was when ‘nature called.'”

The specially-designed session is meant to “guide the listener into a meditative place, similar to daydreaming,” when the brain becomes “receptive to new ideas by tapping into the subconscious mind.” That can help you de-stress, which in turn could help you tackle that thorny issue that may have just come up on a conference call.

Palmer says, “Trying to find extra time to relax during the lockdown can be a stress in itself. Getting motivated to do a 6am yoga session in the lounge or a midday step-class in the hallway is great, but I wanted to take advantage of a time that doesn’t involve adding even more to our busy schedules.”

She adds of her app, “Clementine is an app that helps you just kick back for a moment before life starts up again and you need to be all things to all people.”

Unfortunately for you Android users, the app for now is iPhone only.

News Around the World

“Officer, I was only speeding because I didn’t want coronavirus to catch me”

Ah, isn’t it great that even in the middle of a global pandemic, people still offer newsworthy excuses as to why they decided to speed down the freeway? Take it from some dude in Surrey, England who drummed up a topical-yet-pathetic excuse as to why he developed a lead foot.

Newsweek reports that the unnamed gentleman was caught speeding down the infamous M25 last week and was clocking speeds at 130 mph.

So, what excuse did this poor soul offer up to officers once he was pulled over? “‘I thought the faster I went the less chance I would catch coronavirus,” he reportedly said.

Obviously, police didn’t buy it and sent him off to court to settle a hefty traffic ticket.

Apparently, speeding has been on the rise over the globe due to quieter roads now that non-essential businesses have shuttered to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Because there’s less workers on the road, including heavy advisories against non-essential travel, some believe that now’s the perfect time to test how fast their cars can go.

So, on that note, please follow what Surrey police and their global counterparts have to say and don’t do that.

News Around the World

Toilet paper and cake save the day

Who would have ever thought that a virus that attacks the respiratory system would have toilet paper flying off the shelves but, alas, here we are.

Believe it or not though, what has left some individuals scrouging from store to store for something to wipe their bums has also proven to be the saving grace for one bakery in Finland.

The Ronttosrouva bakery was on the cusp of permanently shutting down their store after the COVID-19 pandemic caused people to cancel their orders in March, according to UPI. That was until a photo of their toilet paper cake went viral.

Bakery owner Sanna Lampinen shared that the tasty creation that pokes fun at the current lack of paper products resulted in hundreds of new orders.

Not only did this allow the bakery to stay in business and keep and pay all of her employees, but she was also able to hire two additional individuals to help her meet the increase in demand.


News Around the World

While jail time might not solve the problem, writing the same sentence 500 times might

When at first you don’t succeed… write and write again.

Ekiti Reporters came across an odd but effective punishment Indian officials dealt out to 10 tourists defying lockdown orders on Sunday.

The incident happened in Rishikesh, India — yes, the one made famous by the Beatles in 1968. Anyways, the country is enforcing a national lockdown and people are not permitted to leave their house unless it’s for essential business, like buying groceries.

So, frequenting a spot that Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon had a spiritual awakening at is definitely not on the list of essential business, which is why those 10 tourists — who were from Australia, Austria, Israel and Mexico — were tasked to write “I am so sorry” 500 times.

Actually, according to a local police officer, the full sentence was “I did not follow the rules of lockdown so I am so sorry.”

The officer continued that, in all, his force has apprehended about 700 foreign tourists since India enacted the national lockdown, which explains the creative punishment. He hopes the strict writing lesson will have a lasting effect in teaching people to respect the law.

India is expected to tack on an additional two weeks to the lockdown, which is supposed to end on Tuesday.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

AAA Weekly Fuel Gauge

The national gas price average has steadily declined for seven weeks, pushing the average cheaper by 61-cents to $1.86 today. During this timeframe (since late February), U.S. demand for gasoline has decreased 44% to 5 million b/d as gasoline inventories build across the country.

“We are seeing fast and furious gasoline demand destruction. The latest data reveals demand levels not seen since spring of 1968,” said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs. “Every U.S. region is seeing builds in gasoline inventories and crude storage, which is just driving pump prices even cheaper.”

On Sunday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus (OPEC+), led by Saudi Arabia, announced historic global crude productions cuts – nearly 10 million b/d in May and June.

“While the production cut is historic, it’s likely to not have an immediate impact on pump prices given the ongoing impact the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on crude oil prices and gasoline demand,” added Jarmusz.

At $1.86, today’s national average is 6-cents less than last week, 44-cents cheaper than a month ago and nearly $1 less than a year ago.

Wisconsin is not only experiencing one of the largest weekly decreases (-13 cents), but a monthly difference (-85 cents) and a yearly difference (-$1.50). It is also one of the least expensive markets ($1.30).

  Monday Sunday Week Ago Month Ago One Year Ago
National $1.862 $1.866 $1.929 $2.303 $2.823
Wisconsin $1.308 $1323 $1.436 $2.156 $2.801
Appleton $1.058 $1.075 $1.179 $2.050 $2.713
Eau Claire $1.299 $1.314 $1.417 $2.069 $2.895
Green Bay $1.137 $1.158 $1.264 $2.211 $2.755
Janesville-Beloit $1.200 $1.202 $1.259 $2.048 $2.714
La Crosse $1.118 $1.167 $1.345 $1.986 $2.837
Madison $1.295 $1.304 $1.424 $2.124 $2.752
Milwaukee $1.296 $1.312 $1.450 $2.079 $2.848
Wausau $1.528 $1.536 $1.664 $2.257 $2.764

Click here to view current gasoline price averages