Ten passport photos that look like mug shots

passport photos that look like mug shots - whoopsNo one really knows how to take the best passport photos. To smile, or not to smile? It’s a question we all ask ourselves, but usually not until we’re half a second from that snap of the camera which will define our official “look” for the next ten years. The result? We tend to look confused, undecided, and in some cases, mildly criminal.

Click through the gallery below for ten passport photos which look like they were taken in the clink, and the crimes the “offenders” look like they committed.

(Sorry, but if you post your passport photo on Flickr under the creative commons license, you are kind of asking for this):

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You can avoid this fate. While most of us go to the local drug store or the post office to get the picture done (we want to make sure all the guidelines are met), you can take the passport photo in the comfort of your own home. Here are the official passport photo guidelines (via travel.state.gov):Proper Lighting Arrangement

  • Position light sources on both sides of subject to avoid shadows on face.
  • Use a light source to illuminate background behind subject to avoid
  • shadows in background.

Camera/Subject Position

  • Place camera approximately 4 ft (120 cm) from the subject.
  • Have camera at subject’s eye level.
  • Position subject facing the camera.

Photograph Print Properties

  • Produce 2 inch x 2 inch (51 mm x 51 mm) color photo.
  • Print photo on thin photo paper or stock.
  • Ensure the print is clear and has a continuous tone quality.
  • Do not retouch or otherwise enhance or soften photo.

7 Steps to Successful Photos

  • Frame subject with full face, front view, eyes open.
  • Make sure photo presents full head from top of hair to bottom of chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 13⁄8 inch (25 mm to 35 mm).
  • Center head within frame (see Figure 2 in the pdf linked above).
  • Make sure eye level is between 11⁄8 inch and 13⁄8 inch (28 mm and 35 mm) from bottom of photo.
  • Photograph subject against a plain white or off-white background.
  • Position subject and lighting so that there are no distracting shadows on the face or background.
  • Encourage subject to have a natural expression.

Further instructions and a handy diagram can be found in the government pdf.

[Top image by mexican 2000 via Flickr, other images in gallery as credited.]

SkyMall Monday: Top ten things to stuff in the Turkey Cake Pan

SkyMall Monday Turkey Cake PanIt’s Thanksgiving time once again in the good ol’ US of A. That wonderful time of year when we slow down, take a break and acknowledge the people and things for which we are most thankful. Most people focus on the thanks. I like to focus on the ful(l). Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we love to stuff our faces on Thanksgiving. From stuffing to green bean casserole to, of course, turkey, Thanksgiving is a gut-bustingly wonderful holiday. Inspired by the impending feast, I searched for “turkey” on the SkyMall website. After wading through the various Turkish wraps, I found the delightful Turkey Cake Pan that you see demonstrated on the right. It’s breathtaking. It allows you to bake turkey-shaped cakes. But why stop there? What else could you stuff into that Turkey Cake Pan? Imagine molding your favorite foods to look like wild game. Are you imagining it? Well, let me help you. This week, we’re listing the top ten things to stuff in the Turkey Cake Pan.

10. Clay

Kids get bored at family get-togethers. The meals last too long, the strange relatives make bad jokes and all of their good toys are left at home. This year, let your kids paint a decorative clay turkey. Pop the mold into the oven on the self-cleaning cycle (it gets up to 900˚ in there) and the clay should set. Let the kids paint their turkeys and use them as centerpieces. What could go wrong?

9. Jell-O

Why have cranberry sauce when your side dish could be jiggling? Bonus points if you have giblet-shaped fruit floating inside the mold.

8. Stuffing

Let’s get one thing straight: Stuffing is far and away the best part of the Thanksgiving meal. It’s a scene-stealing side dish. Turkey gets all the attention though. Give stuffing the starring role it deserves by making it look like the headliner.

7. Ice cream

I mean, it’s ice cream. Do I really need to make the case for ice cream?

6. Butter

People are going to want butter for their mashed potatoes. People are going to want butter for their dinner rolls. People are going to want a giant butter turkey.

5. Fudge

Really pack it in.

4. Ice

Why should fancy gala events be the only places you see ice sculptures? Blow your guests’ minds with a turkey-shaped block of frozen holiday cheer on each and every table.

3. Chicken & Duck Cake Pans

Have you ever had turducken? Well, it’s amazing. Now imagine turkey-shaped cake stuffed with duck-shaped cake stuffed with chicken-shaped cake. Don’t forget to have mutliple flavors of icing in between each layer.

2. Whiskey

Ladle out some heaping servings of SkyMall Monday’s favorite medicine. It will make your family seem a whole lot more tolerable during those extended dinners.

1. Turkey

Let’s get meta. Stuff some ground turkey in there and make a turkey-shaped meatloaf. Throw some turkey meat in a blender and liquify it. Pour that protein shake in the Turkey Cake Pan and bake it until it reconstitutes into solid turkey. Even that sounds better than Tofurkey.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving. Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we’re thankful for all of you great readers with a sense of humor, our fantastic colleagues and editors at Gadling and, of course, SkyMall.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Top 10 ways Hollywood could make Sully’s movie more kickass

Samuel L. Awesome
As you’ve surely heard, Hudson River hero Captain Sully has been awarded the ultimate American prize: a movie deal. You know how sometimes people ask you “who would you want to play you in a movie?” Well, Sully is full-on asking himself that question for real.

We were discussing the movie and came up with one irrefutable problem: landing a plane in the Hudson River, while certainly impressive, does not a 90-minute film make. In fact, our resident pilot Kent Wien published a hilarious story just last month on what is surely the crux of the plot: avoiding the birds. Trying, then failing to avoid birds doesn’t really sound like a feature-length story, does it? Kent’s idea was to try and film it from the birds’ perspective, “Sort of like Jonathan Livingston Seagull but with a tragic ending.”

That would work, but it doesn’t make a hero out of Sully, and that is surely the point. We have faith that the masterminds in Hollywood can make a whopping three hours out of it if they put their hearts into it.

In case they have any trouble, though, here are some ideas.

Top 10 ways Hollywood could make Sully’s movie more kickass:

1. An epic bloody bird bonanza.

The moment the birds hit the engine is key. We’d like to see this achieved on a billion-YouTube-hits, Texas Chainsaw Massacre level. You know what would make it even better? Two words: 3. D.

2. Aerosmith.

This will be a hero movie, and every hero movie needs a power ballad. Perhaps Aerosmith could simultaneously release a music video of themselves headbanging and playing the song spliced with clips of the aforementioned bloody bird bonanza. Suggested title: What Goes Up Must Come Down.3. Emotional foreshadowing from friends and family.

Foreshadowing is essential to this genre of film, and pretty much all dialogue leading up the disaster should have enormously foreboding ramifications. We’re talking teenagers yelling “I never want to see you again!” and wives saying “I still get nervous every time you fly. Every time.” Bonus points if they have a pet bird that won’t shut the hell up.

4. Birds. Everywhere.

Another important foreshadowing element is the presence of birds in everyday life. Not only should there be a pet bird in Captain Sully’s home, but we’d like to see at least one avian actor in every shot. In the best case scenario, the birds would all be looking at him, all the time, Hitchcock-style.

5. Teaser in-flight malfunctions.

The flight is doomed from the start and everyone knows it, so there should be plenty of nefarious bumps and turbulence-related accidents leading up to the actual bird massacre.

6. The moment someone realizes the plane’s going down and gravely says “It’s birds.”

Picture this: no one can figure out what the problem is until a flight attendant sees blood spattered on the windows toward the rear of the plane. She walks briskly to the cockpit and bursts through the door. “Captain Sully,” she says, with the weight of the world in her eyes, “It’s birds.” Did this really happen? Definitely not. Does it matter? Definitely not.

7. Samuel L. Jackson rescues the hell out of everybody.

Truth: the plane landed in the water and a ferry going by helped the passengers to safety. Obviously, the main ferry passenger leading this effort should be played by Samuel L. Jackson, who specializes in ridiculous airplane films. If he’s busy, they should get Leonardo DiCaprio, who should at some point reach his hand out to a frightened woman and say, “Do you trust me?”

8. An arguing couple on the flight falls back in love.

To illustrate the point that all arguments seem petty in the face of danger, there should be a loud, arguing couple on the flight. By the time they are being ferried to safety, they should definitely be making out. This is Screenwriting 101.

9. The plane explodes.

In true blockbuster fashion, the story must end with a bang. We see this being best achieved by the plane exploding, preferably seconds after the final passenger disembarks — with her baby.

10. The hint of a sequel.

What? A sequel? That’s right. All good movies hint at a sequel*. Hudson River 2: The Reckoning (or whatever it’s called) should be hinted at by the glint in the eye of a nearby bird who just watched his broheim slaughtered. Can they get the bird to cry a tear? We hope so.

*false

[Photo by Sebastian Derungs - Pool/Getty Images.]

Top 10 jet lag strategies from Gadling readers

Jet Lag is real.
Jet lag is a complex problem. It can be embodied as an annoying propensity to yawn through some of the grandest experiences of your trip, an embarrassing incapacity to stay awake for drinks after a business dinner or a highly inconvenient invalidity upon returning home. It can cost you time and money. It can lose you a business deal or even cause you emotional distress. Everyone hates it, and while some say you can get used to it if you travel a lot, no one really knows how to cure, prevent or outsmart jet lag.

Like in the field of love, no one can be an expert in jet lag. It’s different for every body and every trip. What might work is to read how other people (real people) deal with it and find a plan that works for your style and schedule. We asked our sharp community of readers on Facebook about their jet lag strategies — and we hope one of these speaks to you!

Top 10 jet lag strategies from Gadling readers

  1. “Up til midnight local time, three espressos on day 2.” — Jana
  2. “‎(1) Try to adjust to the new time (meals and sleep time)
    (2) Eat lots of protein, avoid carbs
    (3) Drink lots of water” — Raul
  3. Carbs.” — Terry
  4. Take a pill on the plane and sleep most of the flight, and then stay up the first day to get acclimated to the new time zone. Eat an early dinner and get to bed around 9 PM. Also, no alcohol.” — Alyce
  5. Vodka.” — Kathy
  6. Massage.” — Lawrence
  7. Work out when you arrive, eat healthy instead of high sodium plane food, don’t get all boozed up, and make it to your first night without sleeping too hard during the day (Europe) or crash early and make yourself sleep in a little (Asia).” — Justin
  8. “Slowly adjust body time clock wk b4 u travel … Goin west go 2 bed later … Go east bed earlier … Break travels in 4 hour blocks …” — Troy
  9. “Plenty of water and vitamin B.” — Martha
  10. “A short sleep when I arrive, lots of water and an espresso to top it off. A good long walk always does one good.” — Laura

Got a better idea? Want to join in the conversation and see what today’s question is? Visit Gadling on Facebook.

[Photo by Skunks via Flickr.]

Top 10 blueberry destinations

It’s blueberry season again and if you haven’t already indulged at home, there’s still time to stain your hands and face out on the road. The high bush blueberry plant is native to North America but you’d be surprised by just how many varieties are out there and all the different places they grow. You might also be surprised to learn that in the United States, there are over 40 blueberry festivals per year. Picking the top ten poses a challenge (sorry, Indiana) but you can’t go wrong with any of the following:

Maine
Wild blueberry plants carpet much of Maine’s rocky terrain with reddish leaves and tiny, nibbly fruit that locals use in just about everything. Basically, you can’t go to Maine and not eat wild blueberries because you will be standing on them. Before you go, make sure to reread the classic Blueberries for Sal, inspired by the islands of downeast Maine.

Iceland Technically, Bláber are bilberries (not blueberries), but try telling an Icelander that the blue-colored berries that grow wild all over their country (and called blue-berries) are not blueberries. They’ll respond by informing you that Icelanders were calling them blueberries 500 years before America and it’s other brand of blueberries were discovered. Icelandic blueberries are small and very sweet, ranging from dark purple to indigo in color. Blueberry season runs from August to early September. Be sure and sample the traditional blueberry soup (the best bowl I ate was at the one and only restaurant in Suðureyri, West Fjords).

Québec Blueberries reign supreme in the the Saguenay-Lac St. Jean region of northern Québec. So much so that the local go by the nickname “Bleuets” (Blueberries) and blueberry pie is a mainstay on every menu in every town. What’s more, village bars brew their own blueberry beer, blueberry sauce is a common condiment and gas stations sell little packets of homemade chocolate-covered blueberries. Serious cyclists can even ride the 256 km “blueberry circuit“, a fantastic bike trail (with it’s own paved bike lanes) that weaves through the heart of Canada’s blueberry country.

New Jersey If you’re American and ate blueberries this week, chances are they came from Jersey. The Garden State grows more blueberries than anywhere else in the world. Jersey fruit are known for being plump, juicy and almost cartoonishly perfect, which is why we love them so. Next time you’re dreading the drive, why not drop away from the madness of the Turnpike and go pick your own? It’s easy, given the number of blueberry patches and farms, like this one. Nova Scotia The Canadian version of Maine is home to the Wild Blueberry Fest (which is on right now) and grows a significant amount for commercial consumption.

East Texas Why do I say “East Texas” instead of just plain Texas? Because East Texas is a state unto itself, with it’s own accent and culture and agriculture, of which blueberries are a big deal. Texas blueberry season runs earlier, from mid-May through July, and locals love picking their own by the gallon and freezing them for the rest of the year. Echo Springs Blueberries (outside of Tyler) is just one of dozens of pick-your-own plantations.

Michigan Home to the National Blueberry Festival, Michigan thinks it invented the blueberry. Just play along, enjoy the fruit and watch the festival parade that marches down the street in South Haven. You know they take the berry seriously when one of their largest farms is called Rambo blueberries. Michigan is also another great state to go and pick your own.

South Korea Who would have thunk it, right? But in all of Asia, it’s the Koreans that are blue for blueberries. Victims of aggressive agro-marketing, Koreans are convinced blueberries will grant them the health and longevity of their American friends. That’s why you’ll see Koreans mashing blueberries into rice cakes and using them in all kinds of strange ways at the Korean blueberry festival.

Poland You can’t be a real blueberry connoisseur until you’ve tasted blueberry pierogi (served with cream). They’re heavenly. Poland grows an abundance of blueberries that supply the rest of Europe with their anti-oxidants. Check out the country’s biggest farms or merely travel there in the summer when blueberries are just about everywhere.

Alaska The state that’s really a country loves blueberries so much they want to marry it. Arctic Americans boast their own native plant, the Alaskan blueberry (Vaccinium alaskaense) which is quite tasty and fairly unique-looking. Try catching the Ketchikan Blueberry Festival in August or go pick your own right outside Anchorage.