Friday, November 11, 2016

13 Movie Releases for 2008: Narnia to Sex and the City

The following information was compiled using the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and the Sex and the City Official Movie Web site (http://ift.tt/2fLkXg4).


“Horton Hears a Who”

(Blue Sky Studios) Release date 3/14/2008

Not yet rated (probably PG-13)

Starring the voices of Jim Carey, Steve Carrell and Carol Burnett, this Dr. Suess classic about and elephant (Horton) struggling to protect a microscopic community from his neighbors, who refuse to believe it exists. Can this tale make the leap from book to 1970’s animated television special (released by Chuck Jones Enterprises) to full modern day CGI film? Or will we be subject to another Meyer’s innuendo filled Cat in The Hat or the Carey’s lost love version of the “Grinch“? From all accounts, they are once more slipping sideways from the original Suess storyline, adding new characters and making some crude humor choices (which is not very Suess-ian of them). With a March 14 release date, we won’t have too long to wait to find out.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”

(Walt Disney Pictures) Release date 5/16/2008

Not yet rated (probably PG, for the violence)

The Pevensie siblings (along with the actors who played them I the previous movie) return to Narnia, where they are enlisted to once again help ward off an evil king and restore the rightful heir to the land’s throne, Prince Caspian. In London, only a year has passed since the adventure in the “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe“, where the Pevensie children first encountered Narnia. But in this fabled land it is now 1300 years later. Political / royal intrigue and subterfuge ensure as once more good versus evil fight for the land of Narnia. Liam Neeson (voice of Aslan) and Tilda Swinton (The White Witch) once more reprise their roles from the previous film. This second film in the adaptation of the C. S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series may prove to be more successful than the first. And look for the third in the series, Voyage of The Dawn Treader, due in 2010.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull”

(Paramount Pictures) Release date 5/22/2008

Not yet rated (but don’t expect anything less than a PG-13)

Well, he’s back. Both Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford, that is. In this age of recasting, it’s refreshing to see a beloved character played by the actor who made them beloved. But on the caveat side, Harrison Ford is getting up there in age. This having been said, who cares?! It is Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones, knee deep in adventure. In this Steven Spielberg epic tale set in the 1950’s, Indiana is back and he’s battling the forces of the Soviet Union over a mysterious crystal skull. Also appearing in the film will be many of Indy’s old flames such as Karen Allen and Cate Blanchett. Many question if Harrison and Indy still have it. They ask if nostalgia will be much of a box office draw. All I have to say to all that is, it’s Indy, Harrison and Spielberg. That’s a combination will be tough to go bad.

“Sex and The City”

(Darren Star Productions) Release date 5/22/2008

Not yet rated (but we can all guess it won’t be “G”)

OK, I’m not a big fan of the television series and I couldn’t understand why they would even be interested in making a big screen version of this. But they did. According to the movie’s “official” site, it will continue the adventure of the four women – played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon – living in Manhattan four years after the series ended. Reprising their roles as the ladies’ love interest will be Chris Noth, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler and Jason Lewis. Also joining the cast for this movie extravaganza will be Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls), playing Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant. Not much more can be said.

“Get Smart”

(Mad Chance) Release date 6/20/2008

Rated PG-13 (for some rude humor, action violence and language)

Maxwell Smart (played by Steve Carrell), Agent 86 for CONTROL, battles the forces of KAOS with the more-competent Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) at his side. Alan Arkin plays The Chief (originally Edward Platt in the television series) and Terrence Stamp has been cast as Siegfried (originally performed by Bernie Koppell, who is rumored to have a cameo). Rounding out the cast will be Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and Bill Murray. Don Adams made this role funny and enjoyable with his dry humor and slapstick antics. We will have to wait and see if Carrell can re-capture the charm of the series or if this will be a dud.

“Hancock”
(Forward Pass) Release date 7/2/2008

Not yet rated (but we will guess at PG-13)

A hard-living superhero (Will Smith) has fallen out of favor with the public. He saves the life of a public relations professional (Jason Bateman), who decides to repay this act by trying to repair his rescuer’s image. However, the superhero soon falls in love with and enters into a questionable relationship with the PR man’s wife (Charlize Theron). From all accounts, this movie may be a blockbuster not because of the superhero angle, but due to the humanistic aspects. Not to mention the sidebar effect of Will Smith joining force again with DJ “Jazzy” Jeff Townes during the promotion of this movie.

“The Dark Knight”

(Warner Bros. Pictures) Release date 7/18/2008

Not yet rated (but figure on PG-13, as that is what Batman Begins was rated)

This film continues the tale of how Batman began. After the fall of Carmine Falcone the remaining crime bosses try to pick up the pieces. However, someone is killing them off one by one. Batman (Christian Bale) and James Gordon (Gary Oldman) join forces with Gotham’s new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker (Heath Ledger), whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker’s crimes grow more and more deadly. Reprising their roles from Batman Begins are Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Michael Caine (Alfred) and Cillian Murphy (Dr. Crane / Scarecrow). Taking over the role of Rachel Dawes (originally played by Katie Holmes) is Maggie Gyllenhaal. If the previous addition to the Batman legend is any indication, this should prove to be a great, if very dark, movie. The only shadow hanging over this film is the recent death of Heath Ledger. This young and rising star had his job cut out for him, filling the shoes of such greats as Jack Nicholson and Caesar Romero. But now his performance will forever be prefaced by the fact of his tragic death.

“The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor”

(Alphaville Films) Release date 8/1/2008

Not yet rated (PG-13 most likely)

In the Far East, Alex O’Connell is tricked into unearthing the mummy of the first Emperor of Qin (Jet Li), the shape shifting Dragon Emperor, who had been intent on dominating the world but was cursed by a wizard (Michelle Yeoh) centuries ago to lie in suspended animation for eternity. So, once more, he must get the help of his adventurous parents to save the world. Reprising their roles from the previous Mummy movies is Brendan Fraser (Rick O’Connell) and John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan). The unenviable task of replacing Rachel Weisz as (Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell will fall to the talented Maria Bello. Newcomer Australian actor Luke Ford will take on the role of the now older Alex O’Connell (a role originally created by Freddie Boath, who did a splendid job as the son of two strong-willed adventurers). Can the O’Connell family, along with brother-in-law Jonathan Carnahan, save the world from this supernatural force? Will Rick recognize his wife? Will Jonathan find some new valuable artifact to distract him? Will Alex ever learn to stay out of trouble? Will the recasting help or hinder this third movie in the Mummy franchise? Maybe we’ll wait for the DVD to find out.

An Untitled X-Files movie

(Ten Thirteen Productions) Release date 7/25/2008

Not rated yet (Are you surprised? There isn’t even a title yet.)

Chris Carter has brought together David Duchovny (Agent Mulder) and Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully) to once more open the FBI files hidden in the deep dark basement. Also on hand will be Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly and Xzibit. Beyond all that, the secrecy continues. The only information on this movie is that it is a stand alone story and will not involve aliens or government conspiracies. It is promised that this movie will be more like the earlier X-Files episodes involving such things as cults, ancient curses, mutants, monsters and ghosts/paranormal. If true, this will be a welcome sight to many X-Files fans.

“James Bond: Quantum of Solace”

(Metro-Goldwyn Meyer) Release date 11/7/2008

Not yet rated (but expect a PG-13)

Not much on the story line of this one but it takes place one hour after the story in Casino Royale ended. With little known of the plot as of this date, what is known is that many characters reprise their roles in this 22nd Bond movie. Giancarlo Giannini as Rene Mathis and Jesper Christensen as Mr. White are set to return. As well, setting a historical note, Jeffery Wright will be back as Felix Leiter. This will be the first time that the same actor has been cast as Felix in consecutive Bond movies. (David Hedison played Felix in two movies, Live and Let Die and License to Kill, but not consecutively.) Daniel Craig (Bond) and Judi Dench (M), of course, are back as well.

“Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince”

(Warner Bros. Pictures) Release date 11/21/2008

Not yet rated (but will more than likely be PG-13)

Harry and crew are back in this 6th tale from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Now that everyone knows Lord Voldermort is truly back, things should get a bit easier for Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore, right? After all, now they can have more help. Not true. In fact, there is more danger afoot than ever. With Harry convinced that Malfoy has been up to something dastardly, Ron and Katie Bell nearly being killed, Lord Voldermort plotting Harry’s death and unexpected feelings for Ginny Weasley, Harry is up to eyeballs and elbows in all sorts of problems. And Harry finds a book titled “Property of the Half Blood Prince“, which gives him great insight into Voldermort’s history. On top of which, he has private lessons with Dumbledore, his regular schoolwork and is now captain of the Quidditch team. Expect more thrills, chills and dark dangerous spills from this next to last installment. (The final book, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows, will be made into a movie and is expected to be out late in 2010.)

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

(Kennedy/Marshall Company) Release date 11/26/2008

Not yet rated

This movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (a short story first appearing in the May 1922 edition of Collier’s Weekly), is the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences. Fitzgerald once said he wrote this after hearing Mark Twain remark that the best part of life came at the end and the worst part at the beginning. David Fincher (Panic Room and Alien3) is at the directorial helm of this picture, reuniting with his Fight Club and Se7en star Brad Pitt. Among this star studded cast is Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and Elias Koteas. This seems like it could be quite an interesting movie, almost like a Jack (with Robin Williams) in reverse, or inside out. I’m not sure. But I look forward to seeing how the filmmaker does it all.

An Untitled Star Trek movie (probably just Star Trek)

(Paramount Pictures) Release date 12/25/2008

Not yet rated (probably PG-13)

The only thing certain about this eleventh installment in the Star Trek movie franchise is that the story line involves the early adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and company aboard the starship Enterprise. There are rumors that it will also involve an elder Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) and a crew of Romulans traveling back in time to stop a Romulan attempt to distort the timeline. But what we do know is that Nimoy will be among the cast that includes Eric Bana (Nero), Zachary Quinto (young Spock), Chris Pine (Kirk), Winona Rider (Spock’s mother, Amanda), Karl Urban (“Bones”), Bruce Greenwood (Christopher Pike) and Ben Cross (Spock’s father, Sarek). An interesting note will be whether fans will accept a Kirk not played by William Shatner and a Spock played by the villain of the television show Heroes.

There are plenty more movies coming out in 2008, but these seemed the most intriguing. Hold onto your ticket stubs and keep the popcorn buttered.

Tags:13 Movie Releases for 2008: Narnia to Sex and the City

13 Budget-Friendly Home Improvement Projects

Home improvement projects can increase your home’s value, as well as make it a more enjoyable and personal space for you and your family. But when budgets are tight and money is short, home improvement may seem like an unnecessary expense. With these 13 budget friendly home improvements you can be sure you’ll spend less to make your home worth more.

  • 1. Kitchen Tile Backsplash- This budget friendly home improvement project is easy to install on your own and instantly personalizes any kitchen space.
  • 2. Engineered Wood Flooring- For less than $1.25 per square foot, you can install engineered wood flooring into any room in your home.
  • 3. Painting- Interior designers use paint as a cost effective way to change the look and feel of any room or space.
  • 4. Landscaping- Cost effective home improvement strategies that involve landscaping options are sure to increase curb appeal and homes value.
  • 5. Shutters- Save money on heating and cooling costs by installing interior window shutters. They also have an aesthetic quality that will increase your home’s value.
  • 6. Concrete Floor Stain- Transform decks, patios and garage floors into a brand new showroom quality floor overnight with this paint-on flooring solution.
  • 7. Cabinet Refinishing- New cabinets can cost a fortune. Have your old cabinets refaced for a fraction of the cost for the exact same effect.
  • 8. Front Entry Hardware- The front door of your home holds plenty of curb appeal. Increase its potential value by installing new door handles, hinges and house numbers for a cost effective home improvement strategy.
  • 9. Under Cabinet Lights- Under cabinet lighting can increase productivity and accent counter spaces without compromising your budget.
  • 10. Rescreening- New screens are an easy DIY home improvement project that can increase your homes curb appeal by changing out raggedy screens for new and neat window or pool enclosure screens.
  • 11. Concrete Pavers- Installation is easy and costs are low to install your own sidewalk, patio or pool deck using concrete pavers.
  • 12. Crown Molding- A very inexpensive yet elegant home improvement project; crown molding is sure to increase your home’s value without costing you a fortune.
  • 13. Solar Powered Security Lighting- Light you entire backyard for free and increase overall curb appeal. These lights will pay for themselves in no time at all!

More Home Improvement Related Articles by Eric Brennan

Tile your Backsplash in Four Easy Steps

5 Tools you didn’t know you Need

5 Reasons why Installing Siding is the Right Choice

Tags:13 Budget-Friendly Home Improvement Projects

13 Tzameti Movie Review

I think this stark, minimalist, debut thriller from Georgian director Gela Babluani would have been a bit hard to follow anyway, but with the added burdens of reading subtitles and trying to understand events in the context of a foreign culture, I’m sure I missed a lot of what was going on. (It’s also shot in black and white, making it even more of a struggle to watch.) I read a little more about this movie before watching it than I do for most movies I see, so I at least knew the general plot going in. Without that head start, I think I would have been a lot more lost for at least the first third or so of the movie.

A 22 year old man (Georges Babluani, the director’s younger brother) scraping by as a roofer overhears some conversations and figures out enough about the lives of the couple he’s working for to pick up on the fact that they are involved in some kind of nefarious activity for which they will shortly be paid a significant amount of money. He finds out that specific instructions are to arrive in the mail shortly. When the man he’s working for dies of a drug overdose, he intercepts the package and decides to take the man’s place so he can earn the money instead.

I don’t know what he thinks he’s getting involved in (I’m guessing he thinks he’ll be a drug courier or something), but he seems strangely calm about the whole thing as he follows the instructions and meets up with the bad guys.

Once he finds out what he’s volunteered for, it’s too late to back out.

It turns out he is one of a number of contestants recruited for a nightmarish Russian roulette-style game. The players are analogous to race horses, owned by a group of sadists who collect purses on them derived from high stakes wagering from spectators.

The players hold guns to each other’s heads, firing on a signal. The survivors move on to the next round. Of course, any player who refuses to follow the procedure is killed, so as bad as the odds are, you’re still better off participating. After several rounds, two survivors are chosen at random for a climactic “duel” where each person is now pointing his gun at the person who is pointing a gun at him.

It’s a monstrous enough situation that it can’t help but be at least somewhat emotionally powerful to observe. Not only are you watching this circle of players who know that most of them are about to die, but you also are provoked to contemplate just how depraved are the people who set up and run this game. (Though if you replace the contestants with workers, the owners with capitalists, the bettors with investors, etc., I suppose it’s not that much different from how real people behave in real life.)

But on the other hand, it wasn’t as powerful to me as it could have been.

For one thing, the main character just never seems to react all that strongly to his situation. Yes, he’s stressed, but there’s something unreal about his behavior. It’s not like I know precisely how a square would react to being dropped into this life-or-death situation unexpectedly, but I would imagine it would be something more than going along with it all and looking a little nervous doing so. Hard to say.

There’s also the factor that due to this being a movie, you can be pretty darn confident that the main character will survive to either be killed in the last round or not at all. (I’m reminded of an old Mad magazine parody of The Poseidon Adventure. Some of the passengers are struggling to decide whether to stay where they are, or to follow the Gene Hackman character and others in search of a speculative escape route. Then it dawns on one of them, “Come on! Of course we should go with the big name actors and not hang out here with a bunch of extras,” because the latter group is the one that will predictably get wiped out in the opening minutes of the movie.) So that lessens the suspense considerably, at least as to the fate of that specific individual.

I also found myself thinking about the flaws of the procedures established for the game. The main one that bothered me is that the arrangement encourages “false start” errors, which would really screw things up when they happen. I mean, think about how often sprinters false start in an infinitely less stressful situation. Here surely some people will “jump the gun” (so to speak) and fire before the signal, and because it can’t be undone the way the overeager sprinter’s error can be, there would be all kinds of problems grading the bets.

This would especially be an issue in the final, “duel” round, since that’s one-on-one. The other rounds you’re not really helping your chances by firing too quickly. You’re potentially taking out the player in front of you, but he’s not the one about to shoot you, the guy behind you is. Whereas in the final round, if you fire first, and there happens to be a bullet in your chamber, then you survive regardless of where the bullet was in your opponent’s gun. So there’s a huge difference between firing first versus firing second.

Anyway, I got caught up in the game somewhat, but not completely. And the parts before and after that didn’t hold my interest very well, and in fact I only could vaguely follow them.

So the game will probably stick in my mind for awhile, but the movie overall is not one I’d rate real high.

By the way, the title, which is based on the protagonist being player number 13 in the competition, doesn’t make sense. “Tzameti” is the Georgian word for “thirteen.” So the Georgian title should be simply Tzameti, and the English translation should be simply 13 or Thirteen. As it stands now, the title of this film is in effect Thirteen Thirteen.

Tags:13 Tzameti Movie Review

13 Most Common Superstitions

Webster define superstition as a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation (http://ift.tt/zutmZ8superstition) Superstitions originated centuries ago, our ancestors used them as a way to explain the unknown. Today we have more knowledge and understanding of these things, like mirrors and reflections. For people who still believe in these “old wives tales,” they are called superstitious. I am a very superstitious person, more superstitious than most. I think everyone has a little superstition in them. Have you ever picked a penny up only when it was heads side up? Avoid breaking mirrors at all cost? How about knocking on wood after saying something? All of these are superstitions, and most of us do at least one of them on a daily basis. Whether you are trying to achieve good luck, banish bad luck, or just curious superstitions have always come into play. I have compiled a list of the 13 most common superstitions, so let’s see what you believe.

13. Cutting bread uneven means you are telling lies

Okay so this one isn’t super common but I wanted to add it anyway, think of it as learning something new. I have been looking all over the place but cannot, for the life of me, find out the origin of this one, or why it came about for that matter.

12. How you start your year is how you will end it

When New Year’s comes you are supposed to be dressed nice, have money in your pocket and have your loved one close. This ensures that your year goes by the same.

11. Toss spilled salt over your left shoulder

This superstition may have stemmed from a couple of places. The first one is the last supper. During the last supper Judas is depicted as spilling the salt. Thanks to this, spilled salt is associated with treachery and lies. If you do spill salt, a pinch thrown over your left shoulder is supposed to blind the devil waiting there. The second comes from a time when salt was valued very highly. In fact, people were once paid in salt. So the spilling of salt was seen as a waste. Remember that if you do spill the salt you are supposed to pick it up with your right (good) hand and throw it over your left shoulder.

10. Putting shoes on the table is considered Bad Luck

This is considered a symbol of death. It all goes back to the 18th century for Men carrying out dangerous work (builders/miners). If a man died at work, his shoes were returned to his family and placed on the table. It was a symbol to show that the person had died. The reason his shoes were brought to his family were because shoes in those days were the one thing a man wore that could identify him clearly to his family without them having to see his body. This act died out in the early 20th century and soon after became a superstition. A shoe on the table was, and probably always will be associated with the death of a loved one.

09. Itchy Palms

A Sudden Itch on your palm is supposed to have something to do with money. The way that I heard it was that if your Left hand itches then it means you are going to lose money and if your right hand itches it means you are going to get money. Now as the superstition goes if your right hand does itch you are not supposed to scratch it because that will stop the money from coming in. If your left hand itches you can scratch away to try and stop the loss of your money. It is also said that if your left palm itches you should touch it to the wood as a transfer of energies and that is supposed to get the itching to stop and the money loss to stop as well. Researching this superstition however, I have found that in different parts of the world the hand changes. I have grown up with right-receive left- lose but some places are opposite.

08. Ringing or burning in your ears

Having a ringing in your ears is supposed to mean someone is talking about you. If you are having this problem, remember Left for love Right for spite. It is said that to stop the ringing you are supposed to say the name of that person and this will shut them up. Another way is said that you can list people, out loud, and once the ringing stops that is the person that was talking about you. You are then supposed to like your thumb and index finger and rub that ear, this it meant to make them bite there tongue.

07. Find a Penny Pick it up…

This is a common superstition that most kids were brought up on. As the saying goes find a penny pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck. The way I was raised the whole saying was find a penny pick it up all day long you’ll have good luck, find a penny upside down all day long you’ll wear a frown. Meaning that heads up was good luck tails up was bad luck. Looking into this superstition I have found a couple of origins to this very popular childhood saying. One is that metal was a gift from the gods and was supposed to protect man against evil, thus making it a good luck charm. The other one was that it originally was a pin. “Find a pin, pick it up all the day you’ll have good luck. See a pin let it lay, bad luck you’ll have all the day.” This is how the mother goose nursery rhyme goes. Some people think it came from a wiccan tradition were pins are used in good luck spells, so finding a pin made people hope that it too was used.Another idea was that back in the Middle Ages or medieval times pins were very valuable, for someone to find one was very good luck. As time went by the saying transferred from pin to penny and that’s how it came about for us today.

06. Knock on Wood

It is said to stop from jinxing yourself you are supposed to knock on wood. This comes up commonly on many everyday conversations (i.e. “I have never broken a bone, Knock on wood.)This superstition has many reasons it came about. The most common one had to do with the druids. They are said to have worshipped the trees. Whenever they were to say something they would knock on wood. This was said to perk up the spirits that lived in the trees so they would hear them and work in their favor. Another version says knocking on wood prevented demons from hearing them. This is another superstition that, depending on where in the world you are, changes in meaning and origin. Other ways of saying it is touch wood or touch iron.

05. The Infamous Number 13

The fear of Friday the 13th is termed paraskveidekatriaphobia. This is a very, very common phobia. With so many people afraid of the day you can’t help but wonder, how did this even come to be? Well from what I can see it’s not a single day that started this. This actually may have come from 2 different superstitions. Friday being a bad day and 13 being a bad number put that together and you get one really awful day right? Let’s take a look at it. Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. All this led up to Friday being considered a Very bad day. The number 13 is considered bad for a couple reasons as well. It is said that at the last supper there were 13 people. One of whom was Judas, who betrayed Christ. In Norse mythology it is said that there were 12 people invited to Valhalla, Loki decided to crash the party and mayhem ensued. 13 people together is called a devils dozen. It is said that today if 13 people are to sit at a table one will die within the year. The other theory is that it is a bad luck day because of the decimation of the Knights Templar, Oct 13, 1307. Whatever the reason is, Friday the 13th is probably one of most used superstitions we have today.

04. Never Cross a Black Cats Path

It has always been a common thought that black cats were familiars to witches. In the Middle Ages people believed that witches had the power to turn themselves into black cats, so if one crossed your path, chances were good that a witch had her eye on you. It is also thought that black cats were just evil and brought power to their masters, witches.

03. Opening an umbrella in the house is Bad Luck

Opening an Umbrella in the house is considered bad luck and many people believe this. In this superstition it is believed that doing so will cause anything from breaking things to a death in the family, but how did this come to be? There are 2 possible origins for this superstition one origin for today’s belief is the European umbrella that was popular in the eighteenth century. These umbrellas were larger than modern umbrellas and had hard metal spokes and spring triggers. The opening of these umbrellas could cause damage to objects or people that happened to be nearby. Therefore, it was considered bad luck to open an umbrella indoors, because of the many cases in which people broke something or injured someone with them. The other origin of this superstition was from ancient Egypt, long before the creation of eighteenth century umbrellas. In ancient Egypt, umbrellas were used to protect their users from the sun’s rays rather than from rain. It is believed that at this time, opening an umbrella inside was considered a sign of disrespect to the sun god.

02. Walking Under a Ladder is Bad Luck

Like I stated before, I am very superstitious. Not sure why, just the way I was growing up. I understand that these aren’t real, but why tempt it right. So with that being said I always follow this one. I never walk under a ladder, ever! Actually I won’t even walk under scaffolding either, but that’s completely different. Any who, if you are like me and refuse to walk under a ladder, you may be wondering where the idea came from. From my research I have found a couple different origins for this. One is that a ladder represents a trinity and breaking it (i.e. walking through it) would mean you don’t believe and you would then go to HELL. Another one is the ladders represent the gallows, A ladder would lean against the gallows to bring down a body after a hanging. So walking through one would bring ill Fate. The last one I could find is that in the old days they actually hung criminals from the 7th rung on the ladder and walking through one was considered bad because the spirits could still be lingering around

01. Breaking a Mirror gives you 7 years Bad Luck

This is probably the most common superstition I have heard. People are Scared to break mirrors in fear of bad luck. So where did this come from? Back before even mirrors people thought that reflections were actually glimpses into their souls. If they peered into a lake they saw themselves in the water, they also saw there soul. Once mirrors came about, that idea went with it. People could see there reflection, therefore see there soul. Breaking the mirror was thought to bring some bad mojo onto your soul. The Romans believed that the human body was physically rejuvenated every seven years, so that’s how long they figured it would take to get over breaking the mirror.

Tags:13 Most Common Superstitions

13 Problems with the First Draft of Avatar

The film Avatar seems to be an unstoppable force at the box office. While it continues to break records and win awards, Avatar almost wasn’t the great epic audiences are enjoying now in the theaters. We got our hands on the notes of the first draft of Avatar that studio executives gave to James Cameron.

James,

Had a look at the new script. Thank you again for resubmitting it on normal paper in the standard format. We know you went to a lot of trouble, but trying to read an entire screenplay in those pictures you have to stare at closely before the 3D images become visible hurt our eyes.

Anyway, we think Avatar has potential of becoming a great Epic. We just ask that you make the following changes:

-P. 1 – you state “this film picks up where Titanic left off.” The story of the Titanic didn’t leave off in the year 2154 in outer space.

p.3 – let’s lose the whole “Bertolli is ravaging the planet of Pandora in search of only the finest tomatoes for its sauces.” Aside from the fact that this could be grounds for a lawsuit, it’s hard to believe that tomato sauce could finance an intergalactic mission. Let’s use a fictional corporation instead.

p. 7 – you describe the Na’vi as being “10 feet tall and almost a half an inch wide.” The audience will have trouble seeing creatures this thin, especially from a distance.

p. 12 – it’s 2154. Why do the labels on all the avatar machines brag of being Windows 95 compatible?

p. 23 – while it worked for Clark Kent, we feel it far-fetched that dark-rimmed glasses would be sufficient enough of a disguise to fool the Na’vi into believing that Jake Sully is one of them, especially given the fact that none of the Na’vi wear glasses.

p. 26 – we understand the importance of using subtitles to translate Na’vi into English, but do we really need subtitles translating English into Na’vi?

p. 33 – While the concept of the Na’vi connecting with creatures of the forest is interesting, we don’t think that doing so via a “24 mps dial-up connection” is the appropriate method. Even more confusing, the Na’vi keep getting disconnected from the creatures when they receive an incoming call.

p. 42 – the script reads “interrupt the film to inform the audience that they’ve accidentally been given sunglasses instead of 3D glasses.” Despite the fact that the audience would probably have noticed this error much earlier than 40 minutes into the film, why would you plan to make such a mistake?

p. 58 – Initiation into Na’vi society should be more complex than through purchasing a $40 membership card.

p. 69 – Why is Jake trying to negotiate a deal for the Na’vi to leave Home Tree in exchange for them getting the Tonight Show?

p. 77 – it is difficult to believe the Na’vi would survive very long if the strongest weapon in their arsenal was wiffle bats and balls.

p. 88 – script reads, “the humans bomb Home Tree. Thousands of Keebler Elves fall out.” Where did they come from? You’ve made no mention of them up to this point and you make no mention of them after.

p. 120 – this ending needs to be rewritten. In the middle of the battle you write “James Sully wakes up. It was all just a dream. He was never Jake Sully at all. He’s Rose on board the Titanic. The Titanic sinks. The end.

Make these changes and you’ve got a green light my friend!

Tags:13 Problems with the First Draft of Avatar

13 Crochet Leg Warmers Legwarmers Free Patterns Steam Punk Ballet Jazz

If you think the 1980’s were the Decade of the Leg Warmer, you may be right! However, leg warmers or legwamers have been around for many years. Traditionally used by professional dancers to keep the lower extremities warm, when the movies Fame and Flashdance hit the cinema, young women everywhere added them to there fashion wardrobe. Leg warmers became a fad, and then died down by the 1990’s. BUT…They’re back! Usually made from wool yarn and a knitting pattern, crocheters have their way with this funky, functional accessory.

Simple

I have to admit that I made quite a few pairs of leg warmers using this pattern. You need 2 sizes of crochet hooks to shape the leg warmer. First you crochet a a few rounds of single crochet with the smaller hook, then, using half double crochet stitches, switch to a bigger hook for the rest of the piece. This pattern is very easy to do and I recommend it!

http://ift.tt/2fLq9R2

Designer Bobbi Anderson uses a novelty yarn called Kooky for her warmers. However, this yarn is discontinued but any bulky novelty yarn can be used. Made with a K hook and crocheted entirely in single crochet, this is another pattern that anyone can make. She recommends working a gauge swatch for accuracy. The pattern is in a pdf file, so look for the “Down Load” icon.

http://ift.tt/2fkUlnz

Naida from Naida’s Crochet works her leg warmer pattern vertically so that many sizes can be made, from adults to children. Worked in the bak loop with shaping done by the single crochet and half double crochet, you will have the freedom and versatility to use any hook or yarn. She uses a 5mm hook that is an H hook and worsted yarn. You’ll have fun with these.
http://ift.tt/2fLsThj

Lacy

Sexy, lacy leg warmers will get your significant other hot and bothered!

I just love Rheathylia’s take on the leg warmer, so very burlesque! Using the Lattice Stitch, it only takes a 7 oz. of yarn and a G (4.50mm) hook. Red Heart Super Saver comes in 7 ounce skeins and many colors. She is also kind enough to give symbol graphs and helpful hints.
http://ift.tt/1vRxOwA

Crochetville is pleased to host these Lacy Leg Warmers by
Dorothy “Dot” Matthews. If you think you’re not skilled enough to crochet anything but a simple pattern, the 6 close-up pictures and detailed instructions will soon have you strutting around, proud as a peacock.
http://ift.tt/2fLnwP9

Kitten, uses an open-work chevron stitch to give these leg warmers some pizzazz. Add the lace-up ribbon bow and to join the seams and you’ve got a pair of vintage-look 1940’s leg warmers.
http://ift.tt/2fkXKmo

Stripes

Using a multitude of colors and with a ribbed cuff, puff stitches and single crochet rounds top designer Mary Jane Hall, amazes us with her Funky Stripes Leg Warmers. Fun and playful, I’ll bet they will be a hit with any teenager.

http://ift.tt/2fLtlw6

Shorties

Not everyone wants a leg warmer, how about an Ankle Warmer? Kitten comes to the rescue again with her very easy pattern. It just takes a few ounces of yarn to complete these.

http://ift.tt/2fkX2FF

Yikes! Spats were popular with 1930’s gangsters. Fortunately, no one here has to rob a bank to make these steam punk chic Dawn L.E. Riden designed Tie Me Up Spats.

http://ift.tt/2fLt784

The vintage 1960’s design that Crochet Queen shares with us is made from granny squares! Each spat has 8 granny squares plus a special shaped instep granny. Groovy Baby!
http://ift.tt/2fl2ecB

‘Tweens and Children

‘Tweens are young ladies that are not quite grown up but getting there. Crazy, colorful fashion accessories make their lives a little brighter. Making them yourself will be as much fun as giving them away. This pattern also has a slipper pattern to match.
http://ift.tt/2fLqDH5

Lion Brand has a cute stpied version of leg warmers for kids. They use a wool yarn but I’m sure you can substitute acrylic for any allergies.
http://ift.tt/2fkV6wO

Design Your Own

These next two links are not exactly patterns but more like guides to help you make up your own pattern.

When Fran from Arlington, VA asked Thrifty Fun how to make leg warmers, Cylinda gave her a detailed answer. If you cam imagine it, you can crochet it!
http://ift.tt/2fLkZEO

Barbara Cedillo Alvarez gives 5 steps to make your own leg warmer. Because this accessory is uncomplicated, just by reading her directions, you can take them and run with them.
http://ift.tt/2fl4Eb5

If you would like to make the Old English Alphabet from charts
Please visit my slideshow:
http://ift.tt/26q8C5f

Tags:13 Crochet Leg Warmers Legwarmers Free Patterns Steam Punk Ballet Jazz

14 People Die in Anti-Tank Mine Explosion

On Wednesday a demining official stated that the explosion of the anti-tank mine in western cambodia killed all 14 people who were aboard the truck.

Chhiv Lim, project manager at the Cambodia Mines/ERW Victim information System, stated that details of Tuesday’s occurrence in Battambang were still unclear.

He was able to say that “the people were coming back from farming to their village in the truck when it ran over the anti-tank mine.”

“Among the 14 killed were some children, but we don’t know how many,” he said.

Police officer, Maj. Buth Sambo, said 12 of the 14 people were killed immediately, including a one-year old girl, and the other two died on the way to a hospital.

The police officer said the region was the location of fierce battles between the Khmer Rouge and government forces in the 1980s and eartly 1990s and as a result the area was seeded with multiple mines.

2.7 million mines and unexploded ordnance has been destroyed in conjunction with Cambodian and foreign deminers.

This tragic news has made me wonder how many countries currently have landmines and unexploded ordnance laying around. I thought there would be a few countries with the similar problem as in Cambodia but to my surprise I was wrong. Apparently there are many countries in the world that has landmines and unexploded ordnance scattered around. As I researched on this topic I came across an article on 10 Countries with the most landmines published by a Listverse contributor named rushfan, that describes in details the 10 most countries with landmines laying around. I had no idea prior to this incident that there were so many landmines and unexploded ordnance just laying around from past wars in numerous countries around the world.

It’s really dangerous having to live close to areas with such potential tragedy. I would not be able to live in peace knowing that there are many landmines and unexploded ordance close to my home. This is a much greater matter that needs to seriously be taken care of. There has been many accounts of landmine accidents involving many individuals including children.

My jaw dropped as i was reading a fact sheet on “Children & Landmines” developed by Lynn Dickson. It’s hard to believe that there have been 2 million chiildren who has died in the past decade because of these deadly landmines. Unbelievable to know that so many innocent children have died because of man-made wars. We as a whole should end all of these unnecessary situations. As a whole we need to make changes and improve our actions of how we do things

I thought I would share with the readers of how these deadly landmines work. They are mainly explosive devices that are made to explode when triggered by pressure or a tripwire. They are comonly found on top of or just under the surface of the ground. These seemingly small objects can actually cause a great amount of damage by the explosion or fragments that are released at high speeds.

Let’s save our children and form a better tomorrow by preventing future wars.

14 killed in Cambodia after tractor hits forgotten landmine, The Daily Record.co.uk

14 in Cambodia die in explosion of anti-tank mine left-over from civil war, Los Angeles Times

Tags:14 People Die in Anti-Tank Mine Explosion

13 Worst Animal Horror Movies: When Animals Attack (And We Laugh)

Sure animal horror movies can be scary (think ‘Jaws’), but sometimes it’s just hard not to laugh when animals attack the helpless, hapless humans of horror movies. So in honor of our slimy, feathered, and furry friends that aren’t exactly frightening, here’s a look at some of the worst animals featured in horror movies for having a good howl at:

The Killer Shrews (1959) – A shrew is a tiny, cute mouse-like critter with a mini anteater nose…until you blow it up to gigantic proportions. Then it becomes a venomous, man-eating monster! Of course this is by far one of the worst of the “when animals attack!” horror movies you’ll ever see, with a plot that involves a doctor’s plan to shrink humans to half their size in order to combat hunger (his experiments are what created the killer shrews). Fortunately, one filmmaker’s disaster makes a ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ treasure, and a little riffing makes it somewhat more bearable.

Pig Hunt (2008) – Obviously the filmmaker here got the idea for another of the worst animal horror movies from the film ‘Deliverance’, as this one is full of bad backwoods folk who have no problem with cold-blooded killing. But of course the star is “Pigzilla”, a giant boar with a taste for human flesh (maybe now you’ll think twice about having bacon for breakfast).

Night of the Lepus (1972) – When it comes to “when animals attack!” horror movies, this one is definitely competing with ‘The Killer Shrews’ for the title of the film with the least fearsome beast. Here the monsters are mutated bunnies, the result of an attempt to disrupt their breeding cycle through the use of a special serum. Instead of making the rabbits quit multiplying, the serum makes them super-sized, and they use their newfound stature to kill every human in sight. Of course there’s no way to make a rabbit terrifying unless the title of your movie is ‘Donnie Darko’, especially with the special effects budget this film apparently had. Maybe it was supposed to become an Easter horror classic with humans playing the role of Easter eggs? (Although I think I was actually more frightened of the Easter bunny as a kid than of this movie.)

Grizzly (1976) – And here’s one of the many animal horror movies that is an obvious ‘Jaws’ ripoff, replacing the shark with a guy in a bear suit; the water with the woods; and good actors with terrible ones. Not to say that bears aren’t scary (‘Grizzly Man’ proves just how frightening they can be), but even the Stephen Colberts of the world won’t be more afraid of going out into the woods alone after this one.

Frogs (1972) – This is one of the many “when animals attack!” horror movies with a message: don’t mess with Mother Nature. And frogs aren’t the only animals here that decide to get revenge on humans for trying to get rid of them; snapping turtles, birds, lizards, snakes, tarantulas, and leeches team up to form their own extermination team to try and rid the world of some of its most invasive species (even butterflies become baddies!). Unfortunately, the message in this precursor to ‘The Happening’ dies on the island with all the humans who were just so determined to have a frog-free Fourth of July (but at least Kermit’s brethren finally got revenge for being forced to play real-life Frogger all these years.)

Orca (1977) – I know ‘Free Willy’ didn’t exist when another of the “when animals attack!” movies here was released, but its existence (and that of Shamu) makes this blatant ‘Jaws’ ripoff even more laughable. But at least the movie tries to be a little unique with its tale of vengeance when a male orca targets the humans responsible for the death of his mate and baby (who is miscarried in a very bizarre birth sequence).

Cujo (1983) – This isn’t the worst of the animal horror movies here, but now it’s hard to see a St. Bernard as the bad guy, thanks to loveable movie mutt Beethoven (and those helpful hounds that carry barrels of medicine around on snowy mountains).

Strays (1991) – And if you think horror movies about man’s best friend are bad, you might want to check out this gem about man’s worst enemy. The killer cats here aren’t of the wild, large kind; nope, they’re just your average stray felines preying on a family sharing a house with them. You’ll really love the pussycat puppet paws used in some scenes, as well as how the cats seem more content to do cat things like attempt to take cat naps rather than to make the humans they’re supposed to be terrorizing take permanent naps (every now and then someone off camera will toss a cat at an unsuspecting human being for an attack scene, however). Looks like some kitties got hold of some bad cat nip (and the director here shared it with them).

Squirm (1976) – Okay, so worms are gross and they often have cameo appearances in horror movies, but these squirmy animals that make one macabre bowl of spaghetti don’t exactly have enough depth when they emerge from the depths to become horror movie stars. But, for what it’s worth, this movie does the most it can with its subject matter.

The Deadly Mantis (1957) – I’m sure I could do a whole other list of bad animal horror movies about some of the tiniest critters on steroids, but this is one of the more unique bugs to be blown up (plus the man-eating mantis is another of the animals here that MST3K has done battle with).

The Food of the Gods (1976) – Here’s one of the wildest “when animals attack!” movies, a tale of what happens when animals eat a marshmallow-y goo “from God”. The goo creates a KFC dream in the form of a giant chicken, but rats, worms, and wasps also partake in the foamy feast, ballooning into gigantic beasts. And of course human killing hilarity ensues. (When will filmmakers learn that simply making animals large doesn’t make them frightening?)

Monkey Shines (1988) – I’ll admit that monkeys can be pretty terrifying with their human-like features, opposable thumbs, and the calculating way the observe the world around them, but this movie just monkeys around too much with a crazy story to be all that creepy. A lab monkey seems to develop a telepathic connection with a paraplegic, whose angry thoughts lead the monkey to do the unthinkable. The monkey becomes disturbingly protective of her unwitting partner as he and his primate pal commit crimes with the dark side of his mind, but, like most of the animal horror movies here, even an original storyline can’t save this one from being laughable (maybe supersizing the tiny monkey would have made it scarier?).

Ticks (a.k.a. ‘Infested’) (1993) – Seth Green stars in this movie that features marijuana, sex, and giant, slimy ticks (and yes, you do get to see them explode). If you’re tired of vampires and looking for a different kind of blood sucking fun, you definitely won’t want to miss this one.

So what have we learned about when animals attack in horror movies? Well, in this case, fact is much more frightening than fiction, but it is fun to have a good laugh at these kooky critter depictions.

SOURCES:
http://ift.tt/2fl2RTr

Tags:13 Worst Animal Horror Movies: When Animals Attack (And We Laugh)

14 Days of Fun, Educational Activities for Kids During Winter Break

If your kids will be taking a winter break from school, it’s important that you learn some fun, educational ways of keeping them busy and their minds occupied while they are home for vacation.

Here are two full weeks’ worth of fun activities that parents and students can enjoy together during winter break. These educational activities will also stimulate the brain and help your student when he or she goes back to school after the break.

Day 1: Hangman- Here’s an oldie but goodie game to play during winter break. You can adjust the difficulty levels to suit the children playing. It’s a fun but simple way to challenge the mind and give them something to do when they can’t go outside.

Day 2: Jigsaw puzzles- These are also available online if you don’t have any actual puzzles to put together. You can use software or online tools to create a jigsaw puzzle from your photos or themes that are personal to you and your kids.

Day 3: Anagrams- These classic word scrambles can be found in fun winter themes to challenge your student’s mind and creativity.

Day 4: Learn native history- Take time to learn more about the people from where you currently live. What history do they have? How can your kids explore this native history?

Day 5: Learn holiday history- Winter break is most often a time of several holidays. Take this time to help your kids learn more about holiday history and how the holidays were celebrated locally traditionally.

Day 6: Build an outdoor fort/shelter- This is another fun activity that helps expand your child’s creativity and it gives them something really fun to play in once you’re done.

Day 7: Hold your own Winter Olympics- Learn about the winter Olympics and then hold your own mini-Olympics for fun and exercise.

Day 8: Create a reading corner with fun, educational books. Brew up some hot cocoa and sit and read together at least once a day during the winter break. Allow your child to read her favorite books to you in the reading corner as well.

Day 9: Create holiday cards to give to friends and family- Handmade cards are the best kind and you can work together to come up with holiday ideas, poems to go inside and much more.

Day 10: Create holiday origami- This is a fun activity that also stimulates the brain, encourages patience and creativity and also requires practice to get it right. You can also discuss the history of origami as you make your creations.

Day 11: Learn about and act out different holiday customs- It can be an awakening experience to help your school-aged children learn about different holiday customs than your own. Spend some time studying these other customs and then act them out in some way, if you can. Create crafts, put on a play or show, etc.

Day 12: Make holiday themed food from different parts of the world. In France, a dessert called the ‘buche de noel’ or ‘Christmas Log’ is consumed on Christmas. What other holiday themed foods can you find and can you try to make them yourselves at home?

Day 13: Create snowflakes- Hang them around your home to decorate and take time studying and learning about the snowflake while you make them.

Day 14: Do a good deed- Winter break is a great time to encourage compassion, understanding of others and selfless acts. Help your child to do a good deed by discussing what you can do or doing it together. You may volunteer at a food pantry, help the homeless find a warm place to stay, plant a tree or pick up litter in a public place.

Source:

Personal experience- mom to 4

Tags:14 Days of Fun, Educational Activities for Kids During Winter Break

14 Tips for Comfortable Long-Haul Flights

I frequently go on long trips across continents, flights totaling 10-11 hours at a time. It’s always exhausting, but I’ve gotten used to them. Here are some tips I’ve learned:

1. Sit in the aisle seat. The window seat is endearing for the view, but it’s not practical as far as room to move and potential trips to the bathroom. If I have the choice, I always sit in the aisle.

2. Wear thick socks. The outdoors all-seasons kind. And don’t be shy to take your shoes off if you have to.

3. Get a neck pillow. But don’t get an inflatable pillow, you don’t really want to be huffing into it and feeling lightheaded when you’re already high up in the air. The fleece ones are much more comfortable anyway, and very practical if they come with a hook for your backpack.

4. Sit back. This is one thing I always used to hesitate on because I didn’t want to inconvenience the people behind me. Everyone does it and there’s no problem because they can always lean back too.

5. Get up and stretch often. At least every 2 hours. Go to the bathroom when you have to as well.

6. Drink plenty of water. Buy a bottle from the airport after security and take the flight attendants on their offer of water everytime. Not only will you feel better for being hydrated, but after a sleep I always need to rinse my mouth out and it’s good to have a bottle handy.

7. Stock up on hard-boiled candy and gum. Sucking on candy helps with popping ears and gum helps with the taste in your mouth after a nap.

8. Empty your pockets. It creates unnecessary bulges in your pants that limit movement. Ideally bring a hoody with a front pouch to put things for easy access.

9. Wear sweatpants underneath your regular pants. I always underestimate how cold a plane gets mid-flight. Even if the trip to the airport is really hot and bothering, you’ll thank yourself later. There’s no need to buy a travel blanket because the plane provides a decent one. Your own could just be more of a nuisance than a luxury.

10. Bring some magazines. I tell myself that I’ll read a book but it’s difficult to get focused. A magazine is ideal when you’re at the gate and getting ready to takeoff because it’s an easy distraction but one you can break away from very easily, as music or a book would distract you too much.

11. Bring your own pair of headphones. Earphones can’t quite compete with the noise of a plane engine and the headphones they provide can be quite uncomfortable.

12. Make a playlist for flying. Since I travel alone during these flights, music is my best companion until the in-flight movies open up. Before every trip I make a big playlist of the most catchy and relaxing songs so I can shuffle them and be pleasantly surprised at what comes up but also very familiar with them, rather than a boring predictable playlist.

13. Stock up on your favorite TV shows on your iPod/iPad. I’ve been on a few flights where the entertainment has been really bad. Even one which malfunctioned completely and the only choices were horrible movies in bad quality. TV shows you’re familiar with are good to have because they’re so bite-sized. Saves on battery too if you only watch 3 episodes instead of a full movie. Make sure you keep your brightness down to preserve battery too.

14. Now here’s something most websites won’t tell you. It’s okay to relieve yourself. Gas pains are the worst on a flight. However, everyone gets them because the air pressure effects the stomach. Don’t be shy to relieve yourself of gas pains because it’s just pockets of air that don’t smell. Nobody can hear you anyway.

Tags:14 Tips for Comfortable Long-Haul Flights

13-year-old Wins Rotten Sneaker Contest

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Thirteen-year-old Katharine Tuck’s sneakers are equal opportunity offenders. They smell as bad as they look. Now, the Utah seventh grader is $2,500 richer because of it: On Tuesday, she out-ranked six other children to win the 32nd annual National Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest, stinking up the joint with a pair of well-worn 1 ½-year-old Nikes so noxious they had the judges wincing.

“I’m so proud of the little stinker,” said her mother, Paula Tuck.

Ah, the foul smell of success.

The contest, which was founded in 1975 as a sporting good store promotion and is now sponsored by the manufacturer of anti-foot odor products, pits children from around the nation who have won state-level competitions for the generally cruddy condition of their footwear.

Kyle Underwood, 9, was in from Las Cruces, N.M., with his low-cut black Starters, the ones with the blown-out toe on the right foot. “These are bad,” sighed judge Andy Brewer. “Ooh, these are really bad.”

Michael Nduka, 9, of White Plains, N.Y., was there, too, with his ratty black-and-white low-cuts, which – like the others – were passed from judge to judge for inspection. Judge William Fraser, who is Montpelier’s city manager, held one up using the tip of a pen, like a crime scene investigator trying not to taint the evidence.

Eleven-year-old Alex Clark’s sneakers had tape over the holes in the toes, and the instep of one was blown out. When judge George Aldrich took a whiff, he coughed and then handed the sneaker back to Clark. “I saw you flinch,” Aldrich said to him.

“As a parent, you want to hide,” said Kathy Midgley, 48, of Berkeley Heights, N.J., who was there to watch her 8-year-old son compete.

Clad in Odor-Eaters baseball caps and Odor-Eaters T-shirts, each contestant had to jump in place once and then make one full turn in place before taking off his or her shoes and handing them to the judges. It was 24 degrees outside, but only one of them wore socks – since foot sweat is a boon not a bane in this game.

Odor-Eaters paid to fly eight contestants – each with a parent – to Vermont, but not all arrived on time. Devin Koivisto, 12, of Phoenix, didn’t make it due to travel complications.

Tuck almost didn’t, either: Her flight to Newark, N.J., was delayed, forcing she and her father to miss a connecting flight to Vermont. They drove the rest of the way, but their luggage still hadn’t arrived Tuesday.

But her mother had the foresight to warn Tuck not to ship her prized shoes in her checked baggage, lest it get lost en route.

Mercifully for airport security screeners, she didn’t wear them, either, opting to carry them in her purse.

For these sneakers, the smell was only the half of it. Ripped on the right toe, with red and yellow duct tape holding one together and frayed laces on both, they looked like something from a landfill.

She has used them to play soccer, basketball and other sports, hiked in them and waded into the Great Salt Lake, where they became infiltrated with brine shrimp.

“People ask me why I don’t get new ones and why I would enter a contest like this,” she said before the judging started.

Once it did, she called her mother on a cell phone and kept the line open so Mom could listen in. Once Fraser got a look – and a whiff – of Tuck’s Nikes, he took the phone from her. “Do you actually let her wear these in public?” he asked her mother.

After the judges’ decision was announced, Tuck shyly granted interviews. Was she proud? “Yeah, I guess.”

“She’s going to put this on her first job application,” said her father, Michael Tuck.

“I am?” she said.

Tags:13-year-old Wins Rotten Sneaker Contest

14 Ways to Improve Gas Mileage

Around my house the gas prices have been sliding between $2.30 and $2.50 per gallon. These aren’t the crazy $4.00 a gallon prices we saw around here about a year ago but still high enough to warrant monitoring of my fuel economy. The price of fuel not only impacts your wallet, it can also as we’ve seen have a crippling effect on our nation’s overall economic health and security. Saving fuel also means less emissions being sent into the atmosphere, helping our environment out just a bit. Now, let us go through some important tips that when used in conjunction with one another can save you some money by improving your gas mileage.

1. Properly inflated tires- People laughed when Barack Obama made a statement about keeping your tires inflated for extra fuel savings. Well it turns out he was right. According to fueleconomy.gov, this simple maintenance tip improves mileage by up to 3%. Properly inflated tires are also necessary for safe driving so there is no excuse for not keeping them pumped up.

2. Fuel filter- Change it regularly, it helps the engine perform more efficiently.

3. Keep the lead foot to a minimum- Going the speed limit can dramatically increase your fuel economy. I know it’s not always fun or practical but think about what you can be doing instead with the money you save. Use cruise control if you have it while driving on the highway to keep yourself in check.

4. Remove any unnecessary weight- Simple enough just get the excess crap out of your car.

5. Use the car’s recommended grade of motor oil.

6. Plan ahead- By finding the most fuel efficient route and trying to avoid traffic jams around rush hour you can save a bundle. Combine errands to avoid driving all over town at separate times and try to shop as much as possible at the same place. Remember that a cold engine uses more energy than a warm engine so cut the short trips!

7. Don’t idle too long. If you’re going to be a few minutes don’t leave the car running.

8. Accelerate slowly- I try to keep it below 2,500 rpms when leaving a stoplight, it seems to work for me.

9. Coast when possible. If you have a long stretch of road before the stop light try to roll to a stop using the breaks lightly. Utilize hills to pull your car down without the use of the accelerator.

10. Change your oil! It helps with fuel and keeping your car running.

11. Cut your air conditioning use down. With summer it’s damn near impossible but on comfortable days you don’t need it.

12. Keep the windows rolled up especially at high speeds it increases the drag on your car.

13. New sparkplugs.

14. Use the recommended octane from your car’s manual.

When I actually listen to my brain and use these tips it usually saves me about a tank of gas a month which adds up to a few hundred dollars a year in savings. Drive safe and save some dough.

Tags:14 Ways to Improve Gas Mileage

13th Bay to Ocean Writers Conference Announces Date for 2010

The 13th Annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference, to be held February 20, 2010 at Chesapeake College, Todd Performing Arts Center, in Wye Mills, Maryland, will feature 20 speakers on topics ranging from writing craft to publishing. The writers conference is sponsored by the Eastern Shore Writers’ Association (http://ift.tt/2fl2fNH), a nonprofit organization supporting writers and the literary arts on the Delmarva Peninsula. Over 1,000 aspiring and established writers have attended the conference over its history. This year’s conference will feature the second Bay to Ocean Writing Contest. The contest, sponsored by ESWA and Delmarva Quarterly, will honor first-rate writing in short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, with submissions due December 1, 2009. For further information on the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference or the Bay to Ocean Writing Contest, visit www.baytoocean.com.

Tags:13th Bay to Ocean Writers Conference Announces Date for 2010

13 Werewolf Movies

Are you into werewolves? Do you want to watch a good werewolf movie? Here is a list of some of the best werewolf movies of all times.

1. “Underworld” series – A series where vampires and werewolves battle it out in modern day warfare.

2. “Twilight” series – A novel in which a girl is torn between her love for a vampire and her best friend who is werewolf.

3. “Teen Wolf” series – A teenager finds out accidentally that he is a werewolf and that it’s passed down from his father. When he turns into the wolf, he has skills and helps to take his team to the championship while still trying to battle with the social hurdles of high school.

4. “Van Helsing” – Van Helsing is a man of the church and is sent to Transylvania to battle the likes of Dracula and the Wolfman.

5. “The Monster Squad” – A group of kids form a club called “The Monster Squad” and battle the creatures of the night when they come to their town.

6. “The Wolfman” – A man returns to his father’s estate after his brother was killed, and ends up getting bit by a werewolf.

7. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – The prisoner of Azkaban has escaped and Harry with his friends must find out what significance this is to them.

8. “Wolf” – A down and out publisher regains life in himself after being bit by a wolf and turning into a werewolf.

9. “An American Werewolf in London” – 2 American travelers get attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit ever existed.

10. “An American Werewolf in Paris” – A group of American tourist stop a girl who happens to be a werewolf from falling to her death.

11. “Cursed” – 3 young adults track down a werewolf loose in LA so that they can get their lives back after being attacked by the creature.

12. “The Howling” – After a newswoman was attacked and sent to a rehabilitation center, she finds out that the residents are not what they seem.

13. “Silver Bullet” – A small town is threatened by a werewolf.

Tags:13 Werewolf Movies

14-Year-Old Singing Sensation Jillian Rae is Taking the Long Island Music Scene by Storm

Jillian Rae, a 14-year old Cold Spring Harbor High School student, is one of the brightest new artists to emerge from the Long Island music scene in recent years. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, a golden smile and a distinct, silky-smooth voice, Jillian Rae has dazzled audiences both locally and nationwide.

She has performed at the Huntington Tulip Festival, Countryfest 2011, Strawberry’s Bakery Bar and Grill, Tanger Outlet Mall and the main stage of the Huntington Fall Festival. After the successful release of her original songs “Just Another Day” and “Karma” on Itunes, she plans to have an album out in stores by the Spring of 2012. Here’s what the young star had to say during a recent interview:

How would you describe your musical style to those who haven’t heard your music yet?

Jillian Rae: “Pop with a country flair.. think Colbie Caillat, or Stevie Nicks.”

Tell me about the new album you’re working on. Where are you recording it? What is it called? When is it due out?

Jillian Rae: “The album is called Beginning. I have 3 original singles already on itunes. I work with DCity Production in Huntington, New York. The album will be out in Spring. I write all the songs and play guitar on it.”

You’ve had a lot of success for someone so young. Tell me about some of your favorite performances or career highlights so far.

Jillian Rae: “I opened for Nic Cannon at the Tanger Outlet. I was also a Friday night regular at Strawberry’s restaurant in Huntington, and did a set at the Countryfest in Sayville. I was also the top ten Northport Idol. I am playing the Bitter End in New York City in February of 2012. I have also been doing modeling and commercials since I was three. I have also done musical theater from a very young age.”

What artists are you mainly influenced by?

Jillian Rae: “Colbie Caillat, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Jewel and Joni Mitchell.”

At what age did you start playing guitar and singing?

Jillian Rae: “I’ve been acting since age three, singing since six and I started playing guitar about a year ago.”

Jillian Rae’s hit songs “Just Another Day” and “Karma” have resonated with audiences of all ages. Both songs are currently on sale on Itunes. Check here for videos of Jillian’s live performances.

Sources
Personal Source, Jillian Rae

Tags:14-Year-Old Singing Sensation Jillian Rae is Taking the Long Island Music Scene by Storm

13 Tzameti Plays Russian Roulette with the Plot

It’s challenging to build a movie around one scene and pull it off. Most films can’t do it, and “13 Tzameti” can be added to that list.
The French film tries to build a story around a gambling game of Russian roulette.

When poor worker Sebastien (George Babluani) stumbles upon a train ticket and cryptic message he decides to follow it in search of riches for him and his family.

The ticket and a phone call lead him to a game to the death. Wealthy gamblers with nothing better to spend their money on than the death of others recruit men willing to die for a good deal of money.

Sebastien is allowed to participate in the game. The movie is built around the scenes of Russian roulette. And those scenes are stunning and agonizingly suspenseful.

However, the opening is slow and tedious. The reasoning of Sebastien being permitted to participate is questionable.

Babluani is great. He does a wonderful job of portraying an innocent construction worker who finds himself a participant in an ever-increasing “game” of kill or be killed.

The game begins with all the participants standing in a circle. Each one gets one gun and one bullet. After spinning the chambers they hold the gun to the head of the player in front of them. When signaled, each competitor pulls the trigger hoping the person behind them does not have a loaded chamber.

The rich gamblers win every time their player survives and advances to the next round. They also win if their participant happens to fire a bullet into the brain of their preceding opponent.

Babluani shows his terror in the way his arm never stops shaking. Whenever he holds his gun to the head in front of him, his arm shivers uncontrollably.

The movie makes its money in these scenes. Between gun plays are questionable scenes showing how the players pass time before the next round. They all seem to be seasoned veterans who’ve survived previous battles. But with that many survivors how many have been willing to play and lost?

And still some lose it when playing. But if they’ve come this far wouldn’t they be nearly numb to the experience.

The film is shot in black and white, something that to me adds to the suspense of the film.

A few other plot holes keep this movie from getting off the shoulda coulda list.

But if you’re willing to forgive it for its flaws and able to stay patient for the first half hour, the movie will pay off in its suspense.

The gun scenes are great. And they’re great without being gory. Simple deaths make their point. No exploding brains or excessive blood. To have done that might have taken away from the film’s simplicity. Though to have added it, could have added more tension, giving Sebastien an insight into what could happen to him.

Writer/director Gela Babluani shows promise. And Pascal Bongard is great as the crazy but in charge master of ceremonies.

Rating: At it to your queue and movie it to the top 20.

Tags:13 Tzameti Plays Russian Roulette with the Plot

1492: An Examination of Three Distinct Cultures on a Collision Course

1492 was the year that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Being such, it is imperative to explore the major cultures of people who would be affected by the implications of European exploration of the New World. These groups, consisting of Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans, were ultimately brought together via the effects of the European’s voyages to the New World and Africa and development of the Americas; flourishing, trans-Atlantic slave trade of West Africans; and international markets that would soon be part of a vast network connecting the Old World to the New World. As one will find through an investigation of the religious, familial, political, and economical realms of the distinct populations to be illustrated in this survey, there were many different attributes that distinguished each society from each other. However, there were also aspects to be shared amongst these disparate peoples as well.

Beginning with religious matters, it is fit to begin with an examination of native populations of the New World. These peoples were practicing a number of spiritual religions that, while varying from tribe to tribe, largely involved the recognition of nature, icons, as well as the belief in gods. The Aztecs, whose people were flourishing in Tenochtitlan in 1492, were adherent to “sacrificing untold thousands of men and women to ensure agricultural fertility and the daily return of the sun,” while the last remaining vestiges of Mayans would extol their beliefs in religious centers (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil 9-10). Native Americans living in the present-day United States also had various means of religious worship and adherence. While the New York-region Iroquois based their rituals and religious practices on agricultural cycles, some of the remaining Mississippian region peoples, such as the Natchez, greatly revered the sun and utilized idols.

West Africans, in 1492 on the cusp of becoming entangled in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, practiced a variety of religions. These religious followings including animism, and those which recognized a “remote creator god”; a sizable sum of West Africans were Islamic, having “been converted […] By Arab missionaries,” (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil 22).

The Europeans, who, in 1492, were about to expand their reach to the New World via Christopher Columbus’ first voyage, followed Christianity, specifically Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church, who at the time was a leading institution in Western Europe, vastly touched society through its countless churches and strong hierarchal leadership consisting of priests, bishops, cardinals, and the pope.

As broadly different as these perspectives on religion are, amongst these varied followings there exists a number of parallels. Primarily, it is important to recognize that, while practices certainly differ, both the Islamic Africans’ and Christian Europeans’ theologies are monotheistic, and remain to be among the leading religions in the world (Britannica). Furthermore, all three societies had, at points either then current or already in history, experienced practices of animism. Most importantly, though, is that at the heart of each society, despite their differences in religious practices, were the common elements of religion and spiritualism being significant aspects of life.

Family life among these three groups in 1492 present another point for examination. In the case of many Native American family structures, such as the Algonquians, men were hunters and fishers; women were integral as farmers. Farming women played an especially vital role in the Iroquois, which upheld the matrilineal system, whereby mothers would hand down farming rights to their daughters. Furthermore, with the help of her brothers, mothers were usually at the helm of child-rearing duties.

African households usually saw the men prepare farm land while the women took on the role of planting crops and harvesting. Furthermore, African men and women belong to gender-based “secret societies,” where their respective members would be exposed to sexual education, participate in initiation ceremonies, and be subjected to enforcement of conduct and morality codes (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil 22). Slavery already proliferating in Western Africa in the early 1490s, children whose parents were slaves were normally free, however, both parent and child “were usually considered members of their [enslaving] society,” (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil 23).

In stark contrast to the matrilineal societies as seen in groups such as the Iroquois, European households were firmly led by fathers, many of whom would practice primogeniture, a system through which land would usually be granted to the first-born son. Most families were peasants, and these households saw contributions from all able family members. Life for these peasant families was taxing, and many found it difficult even to subsist. Their lives were literally based on the agricultural cycle, for while farm work usually occurred in warmer months and harvesting and celebrations during the cooler, even births and deaths happened in greater frequency during certain months. Many babies were born in late winter and early autumn, and deaths often were clustered during the peak of winter and late summer, as epidemics and disease claimed many lives.

It is important to note that, for the contrasts among family life within these varied societies, there were many shared facets as well. Namely, Native Americans and Europeans did live according to the farming cycles and the seasons. These agricultural families invested much of their lives to keeping up the household, tilling, plowing, planting, and harvesting-indeed central elements to the survival of these groups. While European women did have functional roles in their households and on farms, many Native American cultures and West Africans particularly had similar gender structures, where women in both societies held an especially important role. In both scenarios, females were normally responsible for planting crops and harvesting produce.

Political matters in these societies are varied indeed. The political scene among the natives of those in the New World included such social structures as seen in the Tenochtitlan Aztecs, where a hierarchal system was followed. These people were mainly ruled by priests and “warrior nobles,” who even went so far as to utilize many non-Aztec people for slave labor. Generally, though, tribes in North American did not necessarily follow such political models. Clans of people, “groups of related families with a common identity and a real or legendary ancestor,” were largely self-governing, being led by clan elders and chiefs (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil 10). These clans, which were devoid of social hierarchies, were led into battles by the elders and chiefs, and were instructed to marry outside of their own clan to avoid “inbreeding” (Henretta, Brody, Dumenil 10).

West Africans primarily lived in “hierarchal, socially stratified societies ruled by princes,” (Henretta, Brody, and Dumenil 21). Of the West Africans who did not live under the control of princes, many were ordered as to family and bloodlines.

European political structure during 1492 was by and large based on the rule of kings, who held most of the authority, controlled much of the land, headed military issues, and benefitted grandly from peasant labor. Kings, however, did not hold exclusive power. Nobles, while waning in control compared to decades earlier, held a considerable share of property, and oversaw many of the struggling peasants. These ruling bodies, along with the tight social structure of families, communities, and the Catholic Church, steadily guided much of Western Europe.

Despite the differences between the various political structures of the three continents, there are corresponding elements to be analyzed. Principally, societies such as those of the Aztecs, Western Europe, and even many parts of Western Africa, were based on stratifications. Power was conveyed by figures such as kings in Europe, nobles in Aztec culture and Western Europe, and princes in West Africa. North American native people, particularly “those of the woodland Indians of Eastern North America,” share similarities with some West African societies in that both peoples “dwelled in stateless societies organized by household and lineage,” (Henretta, Brody, Dumenil 21-22).

Finally, an analysis of thee three major cultures as they existed in 1492 would not be complete without consideration of the economic picture. Regarding New World peoples, the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan, a region of more than 200,000 people, led a very complex economy indeed. It was a strong and vigorous society replete with artists, merchants handling commodities from textiles to gold, and well-established trading routes that “crisscrossed the empire,” (Henretta, Brody, Dumenil 10). The economies of the northern natives were rather different from that of the Aztecs to the south. Unlike the elaborate goods sold in metropolitan Tenochtitlan, the basis of economies for peoples such as the Iroquois and the Cherokees was largely agricultural. Furthermore, Iroquois traded hand crafts and used wampum for currency, and the Cherokees were deft game hunters (Encarta).

European influence had already entered West Africa by 1492, introducing Western trade, largely based on produce, in the region. However, another market that had begun flourishing by the end of the fifteenth century was that which involved slaves. Arabs, Europeans, and Africans themselves had, by 1492, begun their involvement with African slaves, many being “held in bondage as security for debts; others [being] sold into servitude by their kin, often in exchange for food in times of famine,
While the Portuguese, a leading maritime trade force, were exploring Western Africa, and Spains’s Christopher Columbus had begun his commissioned voyages for riches in the New World, the rest of Europe’s economy, too, was on the verge of expanding. Though many of Europe’s poorer, agricultural regions were still based on the local exchange of crop harvests and practical goods, other parts of the continent, namely Italy, were at the forefront of the Renaissance, a profound intellectual, artistic, and economical movement that would eventually filter throughout Western European society. The Renaissance embodied the proud and enthusiastic reflection upon Greek and Roman intellect, connections to trade networks that reached from Asia to Africa and eventually to the Americas, and exposure to the cultures and thinking of diverse regions throughout much of the world.

Perhaps one of the most significant conclusions to draw from the state of the economies of the three continents in 1492 is that these distinct regions were already on a crossroads. For the most part, the complex trade dynamic involving the New World, Europe, and Africa was in its infancy, for Christopher Columbus and his crew had only just begun to introduce through the landmark 1492 trans-Atlantic voyage this particular tri-continental economical body. However, Europe had already well established trade with Africa by the early 1490s, and therefore these two peoples had, in a sense, a quasi-symbiotic economic relationship at the time. In 1492, some native people in the New World, particularly the Aztecs, also had a dynamic economy. Other natives, such as the Iroquois and Cherokee peoples, had economies largely based on the exchange of agricultural goods, which is similar in nature to the structure of European peasant economies that also were primarily reliant on the local markets of produce and functional goods.

As exhibited through this examination of Native American, African, and European cultures in 1492, while there were diverse perspectives on religion, family life, politics, and economical structures, throughout these three regions of the world, there were some common elements, too. For, as is seen during what was to become the European-led renovation of the New World, and broad utilization of African slaves for the more than three centuries to come, there were indeed vast, pervasive conflicts between the many diverse people and cultures that would play major roles in the development of the Americas.

The incredible and painful discords amongst the Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans during many of their struggles both with and against each other during the early history of the New World were protracted, often bloody, and scarcely resulting in mutual successes from the onset. However, the early strife, battles, toil, and sacrifices felt by all three groups would eventually lead to the development of many rich and diverse cultures and nations that abound from the tip of South America to the Northern Slope in Alaska. Though, perhaps the grandest result of New World development is the inception of a strong, enduring nation that would take on the many faces, flavors, and facets of the globe that it leads: The United States of America.

Works Cited

“Cherokee.” Microsoft Encarta. 2006. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 21 January 2007

“Christianity.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 21 January 2007

Henretta, James A.; David Brody; and Lynn Dumenil. America: A Concise History. 3rd Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.
“Iroquois.” Microsoft Encarta. 2006. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 21 January 2007

Tags:1492: An Examination of Three Distinct Cultures on a Collision Course

15 Easy Budget Stretching Rice Dishes

Many Americans are struggling to stretch budgets when it comes to food. Around the

world rice is an inexpensive grain that has a wide range of uses in our kitchens. It is filling and can be used in a variety of dishes.

With 15 ways to fix rice this can stretch the budget once or twice per week without giving up taste and nutrition. Fried Rice is an easy and tasty way to enjoy rice. The rice dinners can take on the tastes of the seasonings be it sweet or spicy as well as a wide variety of other tastes.

Beef Stir Fry. Combine in a small bowl 2 tablespoons corn starch in 2 cups of old water and add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mixing well and set aside. In a large skillet or rock stir fry 1 bunch chopped broccoli with 3medium carrots, julienned in a tablespoon oil until they begin to soften. Add a pound boneless beef that has been cut into strips and 3 cloves minced garlic, ½ teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Cook until meat is done (no longer pink) and set aside. In the same pan stir fry 2 medium green peppers and 2 medium red peppers that have been cut into strips with 2 medium onions (halved and sliced) and 1 yellow summer squash, sliced. Cook these until they are crisp-tender, return the beef to the pan and add the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, stir in a cup and a half of cashews and serve over hot cooked rice. This makes 7 servings which allows for a family of 4 to have leftovers for the adults to take “heat and serve” lunch to work the next day.

Rice can also be a side dish such as what could largely be home grown. Bring 3 ¾ cup water or broth to boil and stir in 2/3 cup wild rice and 2/3 cup long grained brown rice with ¾ teaspoon salt. Return to a boil then lower heat and cover, simmering for 40 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons margarine or butter and add a cup chopped red onion and ½ cup diced celery. Sauté until onion is golden brown, then add 2 medium tart apples that have been peeled, cored and diced and sauté another 5 minutes. Stir in the rice mixture and mix in 1/3 cup orange juice, 3 scallion greens that have been thinly sliced, ¼ cup currants, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and sauté on low, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. If needed add a little more liquid if needed. Stir in 2 tablespoons minced parsley and ½ cup chopped pecans.

Rice can also be used for dessert as rice pudding or other sweet treats. Here are some ways to enjoy this nutritious and inexpensive grain:

Rice pudding

Tomato & Garlic Rice

Rice Fritters

Cheesy Mexican Rice

Mandarin Orange Rice & Shrimp Lettuce Wrap

Spicy Jalapeno Rice

Chocolate macaroon rice pudding

Louisiana Dirty Rice

Mint leaves rice

Spanish rice

Easy Rice Bake Casserole

Spicy Thai Chicken salad

Rice doesn’t have to be bland or boring! Look at ethnic adventures in food like Indian, Chinese or Thai recipes. Save money, eat healthier and broaden culinary skills with rice in some of your meals!

Tags:15 Easy Budget Stretching Rice Dishes

14 Years Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Endless rituals and fearful thoughts are just a couple of compulsions afflicted on those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The psychiatric disorder affects 2.2 million American adults every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. I understand the compulsions associated with this disorder on a personal level, having suffered them since the age of 12.

My personal story
One afternoon while sitting in class, I impulsively began to tap my pencil on my desk. At first I didn’t pay attention to my new habit, until I noticed the pencil marks on my desk. I quickly learned that continuing this ritual of tapping a pencil on my desk exactly 3 times, just felt right. Not knowing it at the time, that was the birth of my OCD.

As the years passed by, I adopted some relatively tame new rituals, such as tapping the ground with my right foot as I walked or repeatedly curling my upper lip to reach my nose. I also had peculiar compulsions such as tapping my drinking glasses with my teeth, still tame, until one day it broke into a number of shards. My aunt who had witnessed this became worried and reported my behavior to my mother. After paying close attention, she noticed it for herself. She couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t stop repeating the sometimes “annoying” behavior, and she would yell at me to, “just stop”, completing my rituals She believed ordering me not to perform my rituals would put a halt to the behavior all together. When she saw that it wouldn’t, it just added to her frustration. I believe it was this that arose a slight rift between us.

I also dealt with some negative effects of this condition at my workplace. I used to perform surveys over the phone, a job that typically resulted in sharing close confines with other coworkers. Tapping on the desk would often be a disturbance to my coworkers. It was on more than one occasion that I had to explain myself to supervisors and promise to try to curb my behavior.

Completing rituals was the only way to rectify the urge. And my increased bouts of anxiety didn’t help the situation. I would suffer from anxiety attacks, with symptoms of racing heartbeats accompanied by a shortness of breath. Intense feelings of depression would always follow my attacks. The feeling wouldn’t last for long, but the emotional overload was enough to create a debilitating scenario for me.

Later I would learn that 40 million american adults are suffering form anxiety disorder, and OCD is just one branch of the disorder. While it is treatable only one third of the population who has it, is receiving treatment. At the time I wasn’t aware it was such a prevalent disorder and didn’t want to continue to be part of the two thirds of people left untreated, it was time to see a therapist.

The Real Cause
My therapist took time and hashed out the details with me to try to ascertain the true cause. And she believes the cause of my OCD is a certain trauma I experience when I was very young. When I was 7 years old, my father was murdered. The news was very sudden, I was a young second grader with only positive views of the world. I didn’t know how to cope with the situation so I developed a defense mechanism. I told myself it happened because I didn’t expect it to happen. I thought bad things only resulted when you didn’t prepare for them. So for years, I assumed the worse would eventually happen. Not knowing this was causing me to become a nervous wreck, the behavior continued until my symptoms of OCD arose.

Moving on
I’m 24 now, and knowing the cause of the anxiety and compulsions, has allowed me to make strides in overcoming them. I still have minor relapses where I’ll be overcome with anxiety or complete a repetitive ritual. But knowing what has caused this and that the issue is only in my head, helps reduce the behavior, and allows me to get back to my life.

Works Cited
“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Among Adults.” NIMH Statistics . Web. 16 Apr. 2012. .
“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” Document Moved. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. .
“Understanding Anxiety | Anxiety Disorders Association of America, ADAA.” Anxiety Disorders Association of America, ADAA. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. .

Tags:14 Years Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

15 Going on 16

Oh my God. I cut off my toes! There goes my summer vacation! And it hadn’t really started yet.

All I can see was my shoe full of blood and I was screaming for Delmer to stop! He finally heard me over the noise of the tractor but by then I had freed my foot from the gear and chain. Delmer managed to carry me across the road to a neighbors house and then ran down the highway to get his truck. He told Kay, the girlthat lived there to stay with me. Soon he was back sliding in the drive with his truck and loaded me up for the hospital. About a mile out of town I got feeling funny and everything was going white and Delmer shook me and said “Stay with me Kimmy!” I got my composure and was fine for the rest of the ride to the hospital. He ran the truck so hard it wouldn’t shut off when we got t here.

I laid in the emergency room for a doctor for what seemed like eternity. When he came in the room he said he had a problem. I was a minor. They had to find my parents. And I didn’t have any idea where they could be. So I got to lie on the emergency room table waiting for the doctors to find them. The shock finally wore off and I started feeling pain. The doctors were a little reluctant to even give me medicine for that but Delmer (the farmer I worked for) told him he would take responsibility, just get the boy out of pain. So they did and I laid there. After 2 hours my doctor finally called several other doctors in to discuss what they were going to do. They all agreed with what had to be done and with Delmer’s two cents worth they decided they were going to go ahead and get started without my parents permission. Then dad showed up!

They were out at Mick’s Lake having a picnic and fishing. That sounded about right! Make me come home from camping to go to work and where do they go? I was learning real early that life isn’t fair. Finally about 10 o’clock that night I got to go home. No, they didn’t keep me , they didn’t have any space, all the rooms were full.

I lost one toe and another one was mangled real good but the doctors decided that it would heal up. There were 36 stitches put in my foot and a big gash where the middle toe used to be . A third toe took a little but it pretty well returned to normal. I had to come back everyday to get the bandages changed for 2 weeks and then every other day and then 2 days until at last it quit draining and bleeding. I stayed pretty much on the couch for the first 3 weeks then I was able to let my foot down without it throbbing. I was on crutches for 2 months and about a week before school started I got released. Bummer! All summer!

However; I had purchased an electric guitar earlier that year and I got to learn how to play the guitar! I taught myself! I broke in on all them old Hank Williams songs. which later proved to be a curse for me also. I should have learned some good old rock and roll!.

School began and it was proving to be a bit uneventful. I wasn’t a freshman anymore so the seniors would be picking on the new kids. My dad went on strike at A. O. Smith and got a job working at the DX Station. So I started to spend time down there. That was actually the first time Dad and I had spent together for any period of time. It was a lot of fun. I really started feeling like I was someone in the community because people started knowing my dad and where I was coming from.

My classes at school seemed to get a little harder or I just wasn’t putting as much into them. I took English II, Technical Geometry, Biology, Industrial Arts II, Agriculture I, Chorus, PE, and even went out for track. But that was short lived as I pulled a muscle in my lower back running High hurdles. And I also took Drivers Ed. I started that at 6 o’clock in the morning. Rock (the drivers ed teacher) didn’t know what he was getting himself into until he rode with me for about a mile. He looked at me and said, “You’ve driven before.” I told him I’ve been driving for a couple of years, that I worked on a farm. He said “That’s enough for me ,”and told me to go to Lebanon and he kicked back and really relaxed.

I was a sophomore now and I started checking out the new blood the first day of school. You know–the under classmates, the new girls…like I would have a chance. .

There wasn’t really too much to choose from after all the upper classman (Junior’s and Senior’s) got done. I didn’t realize at first you had to go through the ranks, unless of course a girl started liking you. Fat chance that was going to happen! I still had to dress the way Dad thought I should and that wasn’t what was in style. But I did manage to get some interested. I thought maybe next year things will be better.

I went out about once a month with some friends to “The Park” in Collinsville at the teen dance they held. And the months we didn’t go there we went to the roller rink in another town nearby. It was a chance to get to know babes from other school districts.

Finally the day came when I got my license and I almost blew it. I made the same mistake twice. The driver instructor told me what I had done. I told him I did that after I had seen there wasn’t a car coming down the street. I had did it on purpose because I didn’t want to cut the corner to sharp and possibly take a chance on scraping a van which was illegally parked on the corner. He told me to go back to the drivers license station where he proceeded to chew my butt out because I came up there on my 16th birthday and expected to get my license. I explained to him that I worked on a farm and it would sure make it a lot easier if I had my license. After moments of silence he went ahead and approved it. Back then you didn’t get your license right away, it came in the mail. You got to drive on a temporary license. But I had it! Finally! And it seemed my life was making some changes right away. I became instantly popular. I was one of the first sophomores to get their license. I knew they were just using me but it felt so good to be with the “click” even if it was from the very edge of the crowd. I hadn’t had my license 4 month’s when I got pulled over for having 9 people in the car and going over the speed limit. Guess who paid for that fine? You guessed it. Plus I got grounded.

It was the end of the school year and not much really happened. No girl friend yet, but the neighbor girl and I was spending some time together. I flunked Biology (darn), I passed both shops with flying colors and did average in English and geometry. I made a step up end table in Woodworking shop for Mom. She still has it. I had gotten a nickname I couldn’t shake and my mom reported 3 older boys for cutting my FFA jacket and they swore they were going to get me, but they did pay for my new jacket and I got to keep the old one too. And they backed off when they seen how big my dad was. He couldn’t do nothing to them, but he was a little intimidating.

The last day of school all I could think of “Wow, I’m a Junior! Things are going to get better!”

Tags:15 Going on 16

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