Tag: Entertainment

Valentine’s Day By the Numbers (Infographic)


Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine’s Day, Hallmark Day, Singles Awareness Day (SAD) . . . whatever you wish to call it, February 14th is almost upon us. It’s a day of love and frustration, of first dates and heartaches, of proposals and breakups. An evening of cocktails and dinner, jewelry and candy, and unmet expectations. Celebrated by some, while loathed by others . . . it is inevitable to all.   How will you celebrate this year?


According to the Perry-Castaneda Library, University of Texas, Valentine’s Day was first romanticized in both Chaucer’s poetry and Shakespeare’s work, as a result it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of the Europe.  At the time, handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.  Eventually, the tradition of Valentine’s Day made its way to the New World.  In the 19th century, the industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri, first offered Valentine’s Day cards and began mass producing them in 1916. February has not been the same ever since.


In 1849 Esther A. Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts, began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures.  She is also known as the Mother of the Valentine. Here is a verse from one of Howland’s valentines:

Oh, could I hear thee once declare
That fond affection lives for me,
Oh, could I once delighted share,
The sweet return of love from thee. 

Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.


Let’s break down the mystique of Valentine’s Day with the most romantic way – with cold, hard facts and figures.


New Year’s Resolutions by the Numbers (Infographic)

https://pixabay.com/en/sparklers-hands-lights-celebration-923527/A New Year Brings a Fresh Start!

Each January, approximately 1 in 3 Americans resolve to better themselves by making New Year’s Resolutions.  A much smaller percentage of individuals successfully achieve what they set out to do at the start of the year and make good on those resolutions.  While 75% of people stick to their goals for at least 1 week, less than 46% are still on target 6 months later, according to a study conducted by University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Losing weight was ranked number 1, followed by getting organized and spend less, save more. You can see the Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions list and the success rates in the infographic below.

The dismal success rate may lead some of us to conclude that making New Year’s Resolutions is, in actuality, counter-productive. After all, who wants to begin the year in defeat?

Will You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2016?

People who make explicit New Year’s Resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions,” according to The Journal of Clinical Psychology.

That may just be the trick to achieving your New Year’s Resolutions this year!

Be a Part of Star Wars Box Office History


The Force is strong with this Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force is strong with this Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a new U.S. opening weekend record of $247 million.  According to BuzzFeed News, The Force Awakens tops domestic opening weekends of all time – surpassing Jurassic World and The Avenger respectively.  Until now, studios would never expect a summer blockbuster-style box office opening at the end of the year, when holiday shopping and travel naturally draw away potential ticket buyers.

Confucious once said, “Study the past if you would define the future . . . .”  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the predecessors of The Force Awakens.

Star Wars Box Office Diagram


Note: Inflation-adjustment is mostly done by multiplying estimated admissions by the latest average ticket price. Where admissions are unavailable, adjustment is based on the average ticket price for when each movie was released (taking in to account re-releases where applicable).  To see how Star Wars ranks against the top 200 movies of all time go to All Time Box Office: Domestic Grosses.

With the largest second weekend of all-time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has now grossed more than $544 million domestically and another $546 million internationally, totaling over $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales in just twelve days.” – according to Box Office Mojo.

Disney, Lucasfilm, and the Future of Star Wars

The initial success of The Force Awakens is great news for Bob Iger, Disney CEO.  Back in 2012, Iger purchased Lucasfilm from Star Wars creator George Lucas for $4.05 billion. A few months later, Lucas retired and handed the reins of the company over to Lucasfilm cochairman, Kathleen Kennedy.  Kennedy, a veteran producer, has made some of the biggest blockbusters in history, including Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones series.  If analysts’ projections are correct, The Force Awakens will be her biggest moneymaker to date.

George Lucas & Kathleen Kennedy Discuss Disney and the Future of Star Wars

Since Lucas and Kennedy’s discussion in 2012, many advances have been made regarding the future of the Star Wars franchise.

The company intends to put out a new Star Wars moving every year for as long as people will be tickets. . . . put it another way: If everything works out for Disney, and if you are old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one.  It’s the forever franchise. . .” according to a recent Wired interview with Kennedy.

Star Wars Release Calendar Diagram

Star_Wars_Release_Calendar_ til 2020You just saw The Force Awakens and want more next-gen Star Wars. Well, you’re going to get more. Learn more at Entertainment Weekly.

Feast on These Thanksgiving Facts & Figures (Infographic)

Thanksgiving is almost here and that means millions of Americans throughout the country are preparing for the most coveted meal of the year. . . Thanksgiving Dinner.   Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie will all grace the table as friends and family gather to celebrate this joyous occasion.

Just how much of these Thanksgiving foods are consumed and how much are we spending?  Take a look at these jaw-dropping Thanksgiving fun facts and figures.  There may just be a fact or two that you can use to break the awkward silence or simply as entertainment for your family and friends at this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.

final_thanksgivng post4

SmartDraw Power User Shares Her Horror Movie Collection

Your costume is ready, cobwebs are hung, pumpkins are carved, and a bowl of candy is placed by the front door.  Now all you need to make your Halloween complete is a good horror movie.   Fear not, we’ve got you covered.  With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d have our resident horror movie buff and SmartDraw Power User, Vanessa Neidermayer, share her collection with you.


Being new to the program I spent quite a lot of time using SmartDraw for everything I could think of to really get to know the ins and outs of the tool. I quickly realized that SmartDraw was extremely powerful, allowing me to create anything from a party plan to landscape design of my backyard. Using SmartDraw as frequently as I did, I quickly became a Power User.  As a SmartDraw Solutions Analyst, I am not only able to assist customers, but colleagues as well.


When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my Grandma. My memories of that time consists of baking in the kitchen, learning how to clean, and playing with her golden retriever, Homer.

One of my most prominent memories I shared with my Grandma was the time we spent watching horror movies!  The first horror movie I remember watching was The Blob (1958). At the age of 4, I was hooked.

Before the days of steaming movies on such sites as Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, I wanted to have a variety of movies at my disposal.  I am a lover of all things art, but movies and music hold a special place in my heart.  At home we have all genres of movies ranging from documentaries, comedies, dramas, etc.  Being that horror is my favorite movie genre, I first focused on collecting all of my favorite scary movies.  Eventually my collection turned into what I have today.  There is no doubt that I am a Netflix Binger, yet I still love having my collection.  If I am being totally honest, I doubt I will ever stop collecting.


It’s always been difficult having guests select movies from my collection due to the number of movies. They are often overwhelmed as they look through the shelves of movies. In the end, our guests would eventually give up and have me pick a movie for them. During my 1st month working at SmartDraw I realized that I could use the software to tackle this problem. I used two different visual templates to easily catalog my movie collection.


Horror Movie Timeline

Maybe you want to watch an original monster movie from the 30’s or something that has the latest special effects.  The timeline template allowed me to easily group my movie titles by era or decade.

My favorite part about creating these visuals was the ability to be totally creative.  I played around with editing existing symbols available in SmartDraw and importing outside images as well. Importing fonts and applying different effects like inside and or outside glows was a lot of fun as well.

horror movie timeline

Click here to download a pdf version of the Horror Movie Timeline.

SmartDraw Advanced Tips & Tricks
  • Custom Glow:  In the Effect drop-down menu, select Glow. The standard colors and glow size appear.  If you prefer to customize the color and size of glow, select More Glows. In the Glow Dialogue select the appropriate color and size of glow.  This can be done for inside or outside glows.
  • Setting Transparencies:  The ghosts in the background of the timeline are pre-existing SmartDraw symbols. To make them appear more ghost-like, applied a transparency.  Select the appropriate symbol or shape.  Navigate to the Fill drop-down menu to select the level of transparency.

Horror Genre Mind Map

The Horror Movie Genre can actually be broken down into more specific genres such as Slasher, Supernatural, Campy, or Comedy.

I thought, what better way to show my guests what I have then by breaking them down into sub-genres? Sometimes you are in the mood to be scared and sometimes you want to have a good laugh, it all depends. So I created a mind map that broke the main genre of horror down into many levels of sub-genres, containing movie titles.

horror movie genres

Click here to download a pdf version of the Horror Genre Mind Map.

SmartDraw Advanced Tips & Tricks
  • How to set a background image & why:  Instead of bringing in the blood splatter image through the Insert Tab feature, I set it as the background.  Right-click the background of the Work Area.  Navigate to the Page Tab.  In the Background drop-down menu select Picture. By embedding the image in this way, you ensure that the image will always be centered.
  • Title Font: To recreate the 3-d effect of the title, simply duplicate (Ctrl+D) the text box several times and changed the font colors. Place each text boxes on top of the other but offset a small amount.  Then aligned and grouped them together to ensure that they stay in place. 


Adult Viewers



My recommendation to new SmartDraw users is to explore the software! Something that really helped me when I first started using SmartDraw was clicking on each tab in the top ribbon and figuring out what the function of each button in the tab was.


To learn how horror movies are made, read Film and Video Production: How Wes Craven Does It (And So Do We).

5 Tips to Conquer Chaos & Maximize Your Convention Experience: SDCC 2015


People participate in conventions for a variety of reasons.  Some attend to be inspired while others join to learn, network, promote their business, or simply have fun and play.  Despite one’s goals for attending a conference, the experience can be overwhelming.  The huge convention centers, the pushy sales people — it’s easy to find yourself mindlessly roaming the expo floor for days, leaving the convention exhausted, with sore feet and a bag of tchotchkes as your only takeaways.  But conventions can be a rewarding experience if you plan ahead and make thoughtful choices.

That was the case when my husband and I attended our first San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC) last year. From Betty White and William Shatner having a lively debate about zoos and ‘Blackfish’, to Buzz Aldrin‘s talk about his experience walking on the Moon, to attending panels of casts and writers from some of our favorite TV shows like Fox’s BONES, ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and CBS’s Big Bang Theory to meeting the founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell . . . our SDCC 2014 conference experience was amazing and truly one to remember.SDCC Schedule 2page_1

In this week’s post, I’ll share 5 tips to conquer the chaos of conventions so you can maximize your next convention experience.  To demonstrate, I’ll share with you our plans for participating in this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International’s off-site events.  An easy way to remember the 5 tips is C.O.M.I.C.:

  1. Create Your List
  2. Organize & Prioritize
  3. Manage Expectations
  4. Identify What You’ll Need
  5. Consolidate & Communicate


Researching the convention agenda in advance is the first step in taking charge of your convention experience.  Take a look at the key note speakers, find out who will be conducting the workshops and breakout sessions, and what organizations will be represented in the exhibition halls. Creating a quick list will make the planning process a whole lot easier.

SDCC listSmartDraw Tip: To create a mind map, navigate to the Popular Category.  Select the Mind Map template.


Once you’ve noted the sessions in the mind map, you can simply click and drag the shapes according to priority, day, time, etc.  You may also choose to add additional information such as meeting room, times, etc.

In an effort to stay up-to-date on the Comic-Con off-site events, I decided to capture my initial online research in an information hub (below).  An information hub is a diagram, in this case a mind map, that contains hyperlinks to different resources such as documents and websites.

SDCC infohubClick to download the SDCC 2015 Information Hub pdf with live links. 

SmartDraw Tip: To add a hyperlink, navigate to the appropriate shape or text.  Right-click and select Add Hyperlink.  Copy and paste the URL address into the field.  Click OK.


Convention centers and hotel meeting spaces vary drastically in size.  As a result, travel time between sessions may play a significant role in the selection of which sessions you will be able to attend.  You may need to reconsider and determine what is going to be realistic.  It’s best to find out in advance so that you can manage expectations and plan accordingly.

Generate a Data Map

Unlike most conferences, Comic-Con’s off-site events are decentralized.  There is no governing organization managing all of the events and schedules.  Since the off-site events span over an 8-block radius of downtown San Diego, I decided that the best approach would be to create a map.

Although I use SmartDraw every day, there are templates that I have yet to discover.  To be honest, I’ve never used the Data Map template until now.  Its so easy to use.  SmartDraw took the data from the spreadsheet and automatically placed visual indicators for each of the off-site event locations.  Once the markers were in place, I was able to compare venue locations against their respective schedules.

SDCC Data MapSmartDraw Tip: In the Left Pane, navigate to the Maps Category.  In the Popular Map Templates preview screen, select Data Map. 

Add Markers

Using the symbols found in the Library, I began to place markers on the map like chess pieces.  Within minutes, I managed to create our itinerary.

SDCC 2015 OffSiteEventMap

Click to download pdf of the SDCC 2015 Off-Site Event Locations Map.

SmartDraw Tip: To utilize a symbol from the Symbol Library, simply click and drag it into the Work Area.  
SDCC 2015 Restaurant Discounts

To save without a Comic-Con Badge, click to download Discount Coupons and the Map of Restaurants (diagram above).

SmartDraw Tip: To make the text legible, you may choose to fill the text box.  Click the text, navigate to the Ribbon. Click Home. In the Fill menu, select the appropriate color and transparency.

A special thanks goes to the San Diego Convention Center for making the discount coupons available.


Whether you’re attending a one day or week long convention, planning is the key to a successful convention experience.  That includes planning what you will have with you throughout the day.

SDCC 2015 Day Pack Checklist1

Click to download pdf of the SDCC Day Pack Checklist.

SmartDraw Tip: To achieve the diagram above, begin with the mind map template. To add a table, navigate to the Ribbon.  In the Table Tab, enter the appropriate values in the Rows and Columns fields.  Click the Table control. Click and drag the table to the appropriate shape.


Conventions are attended by like minded individuals, those who are in the same field of study, or who work in a similar industry.  As a result, conventions are an opportunity for reconnecting and networking.

By consolidating your convention schedule into a single diagram, such as a matrix, it can easily be shared with colleagues.  And with SmartDraw’s quick access controls you’ll be able to share any of your diagrams with just one-click!  It’s that simple.

SDCC matrix2

Click to download the SDCC 2015 Off-Site Schedule Matrix pdf with live links.

SmartDraw Tip: The matrix above was created from an existing sample diagram.  In the Left Panel select Forms. Navigate to the Quality Management Forms, select the Requirement Feature Matrix.  Modify as needed.  

Are You a True Soccer Fan? This Flowchart Has the Answer

https://pixabay.com/en/football-duel-rush-ball-sport-1331838/You own a Volvo station wagon. It has logged 187,000 miles on weekend soccer trips. The back seat carpets have been re-dyed in various shades of Gatorade.

Yet still you ask yourself, “Am I a true soccer fan? Am I ready to put my fanhood to the test as the best 32 national teams on Earth square off in the World Cup?”

That’s an understandable question. Maybe you haven’t quite mastered the hang of referring to “the pitch” instead of “the field.” Or when you see a ball lying on the ground, your first inclination is to reach down and pick it up, rather than flipping it into the air with your feet.

Well, fear not. We’ve created a simple flowchart just for you to determine whether you are a true soccer fan—just in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Are you a true soccer fan - flowchart

So, how did you do? Are you a true soccer fan? If so, you’ll definitely want to keep this 2014 FIFA World Cup draw sheet nearby to follow your team as it vies for the world title:

2014 FIFA World Cup draw

Whether you’re a true soccer/football fan or not, I am sure you’ll enjoy the amazing footwork shown in this video from McDonalds/GOL.