Monday, April 3, 2017

A Photographic Journey into the Heart of Bolivia

Ron Dubin wanted to get away. He’d had a trying year: Moving across country, from Los Angeles to Florida, coupled with the illness and death of his mother, Dubin was ready for something else.

“(If I had been offered) an assignment in Pompeii the day before it got buried I would have asked if I needed a visa,” says Dubin in the forward of his book, Bolivia, A Journey.

Ron is a man of many photographic talents. Over the last four years, his images have been featured in food and travel publications, regionally, nationally, and online. Dubin has also shot in Peru, France, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and extensively in the U.S.

Dubin’s book, 86 pages of extraordinary photographs and the stories behind them, offers readers a look into Bolivia’s diverse scenery and people. His landscape images are striking: Bold mountains under remarkable skies. The local creatures, llamas, snakes, and flamingoes, have also been photographically captured in their native habitats.

The photographs of the people, going about their daily lives, give readers a revealing look into Bolivian life. The images document small-town residents going about their daily routine. These images, captured by an impartial observer, offer a glance into another place and culture.

Dubin’s image, The Sisters, captures two siblings at Isla del Sol. According to Ron, they were the most frightening thing about the town. The encounter resulted in him purchasing two palm fronds from the pair.

“She kicked my butt… There are three-card Monte dealers in New York that could learn a thing or two from them,” he says.

The architecture: Basilicas, moments, and ruins, were not overlooked by Dubin’s lens. The buildings, combined with the wide blue sky, are a visual pleasure to view. The images of the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana, near the banks of Lake Titicaca, illustrate the sacredness of the site to both the indigenous and Catholic people.

Built in the 16th century, Dubin explains, “It is a popular custom to get your car blessed in front of the church which considering the roads, couldn’t possibly hurt.”

Dubin admits to knowing little about Bolivia before setting out on his expedition. “What I did know couldn’t fill up a trivial pursuit card,” he says. He did know about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. One of the final images in the book is of Ron brandishing the famous outlaws’ pistols.

Bolivia, A Journey can be purchased at Blurb. Ron Dubin maintains a photo blog at

Labels: A Photographic Journey into the Heart of Bolivia

5 Tips for Meeting a Shy Dog

Whether you’re a meeting a friend’s furry companion or working as a pet care provider, at some point you are going to encounter a dog that is not immediately enamored of you. Some dogs have past trauma that has made them distrustful of new people, while others were simply born less outgoing than the average canine.

If you spend much time around dog owners, particularly those who are active in obedience and agility clubs, you’ll hear the terms alpha and omega get thrown about. An alpha dog is a natural leader, with a dominant personality. These dogs can be challenging for first-time dog owners, because they try to make their own rules, which may not agree with their human’s boundaries. Conversely, omega dogs are at the other end of the spectrum. They are easily cowed, submissive, and are sensitive to loud noises and other unexpected events. Dogs like this can be loyal companions, but require some extra care, especially at the beginning of the relationship.

As a lifetime pet owner who has accumulated over 9 years in professional, hands-on animal experience through employment, education, and volunteering, I have compiled 5 tips to help you put your new acquaintance at ease. There is nothing more rewarding than getting an exuberant greeting from a dog that was once withdrawn.

1. Eye contact When dogs meet for the first time, they try to determine who is more dominant. They may do this by affecting an aggressive stance, barking, or other posturing, but one of the key behaviors is eye contact. Just as children hold staring contests to determine a winner, the dog who maintains eye contact longer is dominant. If you are encountering a shy or nervous dog, do not look directly at her for more than a couple seconds. You don’t want to start a staring contest with Annie, which would make her more upset, and could, in extreme cases, cause her to react defensively, perhaps even trying to bite.

2. Get down Particularly for small dogs, a person standing over him can be quite intimidating. Adult humans are not only taller, we outweigh most dogs by a significant amount. For domestic canines, humans make up part of their pack, or family group. Dominance in canine packs is determined by strength and leadership, so a larger, heavier individual has an advantage over a smaller one. Since you are not trying to assert dominance over Scruffy, get down on his level. Sit on the floor, and watch his reaction. In some cases this is all it takes to win over a shy dog.

3. Bribery If you’ve been warned ahead of time that Shelby is shy about meeting new people, bring an extra-special treat! Salami, cheese, or hot dogs are something she likely doesn’t get on a regular basis, and if she associates you with yummy treats, she’ll soon be wagging at the door when you arrive. Be sure to clear any treats with her owner before-hand, you certainly don’t want to cause her a tummy ache, if she has a sensitive stomach. Our dogs have always enjoyed carrots, which are an inexpensive, healthy treat you may already have in your refrigerator, and our veterinarian agrees that vegetables are a great addition to their diets.

4. Slow and steady Some dogs, like some people, have high startle reflexes. If Buddy is already nervous, he’s not going to react well to sudden movements or loud noises. This can be a hard lesson, especially for children, who are themselves bundles of energy, and move erratically. You’ll also want to keep your voice low and soothing. It’s okay to say things that would normally sound silly. Buddy can’t understand what you’re saying, but a soft “Gooood boy, Buddy,” can reassure him that you’re not someone to fear. Using his name reinforces that you are part of the pack (at least peripherally), because you know the name his family calls him. I tend to talk a lot to new dogs, whether they’re nervous or not, so they get used to the sound of my voice.

5. Don’t force it You’ve tried everything you can think of, and still the dog is cowering behind her owner, or worse, in her crate, and wants nothing to do with you. That’s okay! The worst thing you can do in this situation is to force attention on Roxi. So ignore her for a few minutes. Talk to her owner, look out the window, and most importantly, put some distance between the two of you. This will let Roxi calm down, and after a few minutes, she may come out of her shell, especially if you still have that yummy-smelling treat (dog treats in the pocket work wonders).

It may take repeat visits before the dog accepts you, but with these tips in mind, you’ll have some ideas for approaching the dog positively. If you have other suggestions, please comment, I’d love to read your experiences and feedback.

Labels: 5 Tips for Meeting a Shy Dog

5 Tips for Maximizing SEO with Images and Photos

Images and photos are often overlooked when optimizing a website. Although they don’t carry as much SEO weight as they used to, it doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Here are 5 tips to maximizing results through images and photos:

  1. File Name

    The file name is the name of the image or photo that is stored on your computer (i.e. BopDesignLogo.jpg) and is often overlooked when uploading photos to websites and social media platforms. The file name field can provide SEO assistance for your target keywords. Before uploading images or photos to your website or social media profile take an extra minute to include target keywords in your image. Don’t be spammy about the file names. Instead, focus on generating an image file name that describes the image.

  2. Alt Tags

    Alt tags are meant to be an alternative information source for people with screen readers, for users that have chosen to disable images in their browsers, and search engines. The keywords that are included in alt tags are less important for SEO than they used to be, but leaving them empty can negatively impact your website ranking. So take a minute to include an alt tag with every image on your website.

  3. Image Title

    Image titles are the descriptive pop-ups that are displayed when you hover over an image on a website. This is more for website design than for SEO, but it is important to do correctly if implemented. If you are using image titles on your website be sure to keep them short, relevant, and catchy.

  4. Photo Sharing

    Starting up a Flickr, Picasa, or other photo sharing account for business photos and images can provide SEO benefits to your website. Within these accounts you can often add geo-targeting to your albums and target keyword phrases both the captions and descriptive fields. This tactic requires little maintenance and is easy to implement.

  5. Photos on Facebook

    Uploading photos on Facebook is not only a good way to generate communications from followers, but they also open the opportunity to spread awareness. After you have uploaded photos to Facebook it is beneficial to go back and tag people, places, events, or businesses in the photos or images. Tagging your photos will help to get the Facebook page more exposure in other news feeds.

Photos and images will always be important to the design of your website and social media platforms, so take advantage of them by implementing the above optimization techniques.

Labels: 5 Tips for Maximizing SEO with Images and Photos

A Separate Peace Literary Analysis - Symbolism

John Knowles effectively incorporates many varied examples of figurative language in his novel, A Separate Peace, one of which being symbolism. Knowles lays this symbolism in intricate patterns, sometimes making the use of the symbols obvious; and at other times, quite unapparent. His expressions of symbolism are found throughout the novel. His symbolism is revealed in different manners – sometimes through the use of nature, and at other times through the actions and dialogue of the characters. In Knowles’ A Separate Peace, there are many evident accounts of symbolism, including that of the tree, Phineas’ pink shirt and similarity to ancient Greeks, Leper’s name, the Devon and Naguamsett Rivers, and the peace brought upon by the Devon School and its students.

One of the primary pieces of symbolism revealed regards the tree from which Phineas and Gene jump from. Biblically, the tree refers to the Tree of Knowledge. This tree “is the means by which Gene will renounce the Eden-like summer peace of Devon and, in so doing, both fall from innocence at the same time prepare himself for the second world war” (James Ellis 34). Both the tree at the Devon School and the Tree of Knowledge can refer to recollection of implied judgment: Adam ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, even though God directly forbade him to do so and Gene climbs and jumps from the tree, ignoring his conscience and judgment, ultimately due to his ego and Finny’s mocking. In addition, the tree can be thought of as a parental figure for Gene. Gene’s description of the tree was: The tree was tremendous, an irate, steely black steeple beside the river (Knowles 14). When Gene visited the school as a thirty year-old man, his perception of the tree was: “It seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are absolutely smaller, shrunken by age. In this double demotion the old giants have become pigmies while you were looking the other way” (Knowles 14). Likewise, as a child, parents seem to be “giants of your childhood,” however, as the child gets older, the parents seem to have less significance. For instance, teenagers may spend less time with their parents and will not rely on them as much as they had in the past. Gene was scared of the tree because he didn’t want to jump off of it. This can be compared to how many children are scared of their parents in the sense that they will obey what they say and be afraid of punishment a parent may give. Furthermore, the tree taught Gene a lesson, as a parent teaches his child(ren) lessons: “The more things remain the same, the more they change after all” (Knowles 14).

Another example of symbolism displayed in A Separate Peace pertains to Phineas’ pink shirt. The shirt symbolizes Phineas’ personality. During the time at which the novel was published, 1959, colored dress shirts were rarely worn, let alone prink dress shirts (H.B. Bryant 140). It symbolizes Finny’s fearlessness, especially due to the impacts of the setting, Devon School. At the Devon School “suspicion of masculinity was something to guard against” (H.B. Bryant 140). This was because of the time period and the whole prospect of the Devon School preparing students for war. The act of wearing this shirt shows how unique Finny is and his high self-esteem; he didn’t care about what others would think about his appearance. Moreover, wearing this shirt shows Phineas’ cleverness. He states, ‘”Well we’ve got to do something to celebrate. We haven’t got a flag, we can’t float Old Glory proudly at the window. So I’m going to wear this, as an emblem'” (Knowles 24). Not only does Phineas display cleverness, individualism, and self-esteem in this act, he also shows his resourcefulness. Because he didn’t have a flag to use to celebrate, he chose the next best thing available, a pink dress shirt.

Not only are Phineas’ actions symbolic, the creation of his character and his traits have a deeper, symbolic meaning as well: Phineas shows several semblances and references to the ancient Greeks (Marvin E. Mengeling 84). For instance, “Phineas is described as Greek inspired and Olympian” (Marvin E. Mengeling 84). Primarily, his name refers to the Greek god Phoebus Apollo – “god of light and youth, represented in art as handsome, young, and athletic” (Marvin E. Mengeling 84). Phineas displays all of these characteristics. In addition, Phoebus Apollo helped the ancient Greeks get rid of their fear; Phineas is the force that helps Gene jump off of the tree. Furthermore, Phineas wished to participate in the Greek-created Olympics: “Did I ever tell you that I used to be aiming for the Olympics?” (Knowles 117) Moreover, Phineas was quite athletic, as were the ancient Greeks, and had won several sport awards: “He had won and been proud to win the Galbriath Football Trophy and the Contact Sport Award, and there were two or three other athletic prizes he was sure to get this year or next” (Knowles 51). Additionally, he created Blitzball, just like the ancient Greeks created and popularized many sports, such as boxing.

Another character whose name was derived from another word is Leper. The name Leper comes from the word “leprosy.” Leper is considered an outcast and is teased by his peers. His behavior can be deemed odd and unusual in relativity to the other students’ behaviors. Correspondingly, many people with diseases, such as leprosy, or other defects/deficiencies are unfortunately teased and not included in activities.

One of the more evident pieces of symbolism in the novel concerns the two rivers, the Devon and Naguamsett. “Gene remembers the freshwater Devon River fondly, for this was the body of water that he and Finny had leaped into many times from the tree. Ironically, after Finny’s accident, Gene does not remember the Devon River with fear or disgust; the river to him symbolizes the care free summer days, a peaceful time” (Telgen 249). The Nagamsett, on the other hand, was nearly the exact opposite:

We had never used this lower river, the Naguamsett, during the summer. It was ugly, saline, fringed with marsh, mud, and seaweed. A few miles away it was joined to the ocean, so that its movements were governed by unimaginable factors like the Gulf Stream, the Polar Ice Cap, and the moon. It was nothing like the fresh-water Devon above the dam where we’d had so much fun, all the summer (Knowles 76).

Gene seems to associate the Naguamsett River with war (Telgen 249). Gene falls into the Naguamsett after a fight with quarrelsome Cliff Quackenbush. The war is always a fear in his mind. Geographically, the Naguamsett is opposite the Devon River, the Devon School in between. If the Devon represents the summer session, the school can be thought of as representing the winter session, and the Naguamsett as the war – Gene’s final destination.

The summer session is a period of escape for Devon’s students, and can thus symbolize Devon as a separate peace. There is a big “contrast between the war being fought abroad and the relative tranquility of the Devon School, particularly in its summer session.” Gene and Finny’s summer at the Devon School “denotes illusion” (Telgen 250). As a whole, the summer session symbolizes how the Devon School is a separate peace. It is apart from the war, although it trains for it. Whilst in Devon, the students are safe and taken care of. For example, by completing his final year at the Devon School, Gene is avoiding military service. Still, he and his classmates realize they will be enlisted or drafted in only a matter of time. The war is “a harsh reality that schoolboys, like Gene, must eventually confront.” (Telgen 250) In this way, the Devon holds the last few years of peace for the upper-middlers and upper-seniors. In Devon’s only summer session in history, the students “defy many rules, still maintain the faculty’s good will, create new games such as ‘Blitzball’ and begin unheard-of clubs such as the ‘Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session'” (Telgen 250). During the summer session, the Masters were much more lenient as compared to the winter session.

“They seemed to be modifying their usual attitude of floating, chronic disapproval. During the winter most of them regarded anything unexpected in a student with suspicion, seeming to feel that anything we said or did was potentially illegal. Now on these clear June days in New Hampshire, they appeared to uncoil, they seemed to believe that we were with them about half the time, and only spent the other half trying to make fools of them. A streak of tolerance was detectable” (Knowles 23).

In this separate peace, Phineas seems to be the leading power of this source of peace.

“The Devon faculty had never before experienced a student who combined a calm ignorance of the rules with a winning urge to be good, who seemed to love the school truly and deeply, and never more than when he was breaking the regulations, a model boy who was most comfortable in the truant’s corner. The faculty threw up its hands over Phineas, and so loosened its grip on all of us.” (Knowles 23)

Although Phineas is the prime example of peace, the whole class, and generation as a whole, for that matter, reminds adults of peace. “I think we reminded them of what peace was like, we boys of sixteen. We were registered with no draft board, we had taken no physical examinations… we were careless and wild, and I supposed we could be thought of as a sign of the life the war was being fought to preserve… We reminded them of what peace was like, of lives which were not bound up with destruction” (Knowles 23-24). As war veterans, the parent generation was “bound up with destruction” and could at times forget the meaning of peace, its importance, or even simply what it was like to be at peace with oneself. Sixteen year-olds were not yet in the war and were free. They were cheerful and “careless and wild.”

Ergo, A Separate Peace by John Knowles is chock-full of symbolism, including the tree, Phineas’s pink shirt and Greek background/references, Leper’s name’s derivative, the Devon and Naguamsett Rivers, and the peace of the Devon School and its students, especially during the summer session. Knowles introduces these pieces of symbolism in a variety of ways, such as the landscape and the characters’ actions. A Separate Peace is overflowing with symbolism, among other figurative language, and Knowles has efficiently integrated it to bring his novel to its highest possible extent.

Works Cited

H.B. Bryant. “Phineas’s Pink Shirt.” The English Record Vol. 18 (1968): pp 5-6. Rpt. In Bloom’s Guides. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2008. Pp 140-142. Print.

James Ellis. “Interconnected Symbols.” English Journal Vol. 53: pp 313-318. Rpt. In Readings on A Separate Peace. Ed. Jill Karson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999 pp 33-41. Print.

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. New York: Scribner, 1987. Print.

Marvin E. Mengeling. “A Separate Peace: Meaning and Myth.” The English Journal Vol. 58 (1969): pp 1322-1329. Rpt. In Bloom’s Guides. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2008. Pp. 84-91. Print.

“A Separate Peace.” Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 249-250. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.

Sister M. Nora. “Symbolic Landscape.” Discourse Vol. 11 (1968): Rpt. In Readings on A Separate Peace. Ed. Jill Karson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999 pp. 30-32. Print.

Labels: A Separate Peace Literary Analysis - Symbolism

A September Challenge: Read "The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope"

As I pen this column, there are about 70 days left until the United States presidential election of 2012. We will then have a reprieve from watching political commercials. Although a financial boon for television and radio stations, I tend to get headaches from watching people sling mud at each other. Then at the end of many of them we hear those magic words, “I am John the slick politician and I approved this message.” Will they really do all they say they will do? Or is it just another political season where the candidates throw darts at the wall to see which ones will stick and translate to votes in the voting booth?

Because of the upcoming election, I have purposed that in September I am going to read a book that I originally read about 8 or 9 years ago. James Robison, the Texas-born evangelist, published “The Absolutes: Freedom’s Only Hope” in the aftermath of the 911 terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the doomed hijacked plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. As Robison expresses in the Introduction to the book, the premise of his book is that “the absolutes are the foundation stones of our society-and these same principles have been foundational to all stable societies throughout history. When these societies begin to depart from the absolutes, they also begin to decay.” He further invites the reader to explore history. By embracing the moral absolutes of God’s word a society “invites prosperity, success and the blessings of freedom”. Whereas, Robison asserts that when a society ignores them their actions “fly in the face of reality and courts disaster.”

In my weekend radio broadcast on KTLF in Colorado Springs, I have challenged my listeners to join me in reading “The Absolutes” during the month of September or at least some time before the election. I gain nothing from recommending his book. I have only spoken to James Robison a couple of times in my life. Once we spoke at his television tapings of the possibilities of conducting Christian concerts on military bases throughout America. Once played in a golf tournament with him and spoke with James for about 10 minutes. But, if Christians across our land would read “The Absolutes” it would provide a great reminder of those moral absolutes that have made our country great.

I have come to really love social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. I have used them as tools to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, I am also astounded at how many people have no respect for God’s word…the Bible. It is more than just a guideline for living. The Holy Scriptures are more than an advice column or some archaic codex of proverbs. They are God’s living word to us that is amazingly powerful. If you talk to anyone who has come out of a dark past, you will likely hear of how passages in God’s Word gave them strength for living. Hebrews 4:12 speaks to how exciting a book the Bible can be in our lives. Talk to a born again Christian and ask them how important God’s Word has been in their life. Get ready to hear some thrilling stories of how the Bible was used by God to change their life.

I can’t stress enough my recommendation that you read “The Absolutes” in September. But, I encourage you to read God’s Word everyday of your life. My pastor, Dr. DL Mitchell recommends you read a chapter from Proverbs each day and three chapters from Psalms. If you use that method, you will read through the Psalms and the Proverbs once a month…12 times in an entire year. And, it will only cost you about 15 minutes a day. I am sure glad Jesus Christ isn’t up for election. He is Lord of Lords and Kings and that will never change. He is the only one that has ever walked this earth that is truly undefeatable. And, He has given us the moral absolutes that will keep our country great…but, only as we cling to them uncompromisingly.

Labels: A September Challenge: Read "The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope"

A Child Called "It" Book Review

Despite how much there is to absorb and realize in Pelzer’s autobiography, it was unbelievably traumatic to read. At first, when reading about the severe punishments and pain David’s mother inflicted on him, I could not bring myself to believe and understand that these events were factual and really did take place in his childhood. The mother’s methods of brainwashing him were so gruesome, I nearly had to pretend it was all fiction to bear it. I don’t think this book should be read in one sitting but rather over a few days–unless you have a very, very strong stomach. But after I came over the shock that it in fact was true in its entirety, I realized how ignorant I was to the fact that David Pelzer was not the only victim to such child abuse. There are unfortunately many like himself who are or have previously gone through such experiences. All throughout the book, I though to myself, “Why doesn’t he just run away? Why doesn’t he tell an official and not return?”. I now can see how insensitive it was to think it would be that simple. People in such a situation are seemingly under constant stress and pressure and without much help. As seen in David’s case, he did not receive the needed recognition until eight years later. That was more than half his life (at the time) that he had dealt with the unbearable treatment by his mother.

It seems that schools are the only way abused children will get attention away from home–and that’s if they have responsible, caring teachers. This book made me think not only that I am grateful to have the family that I do, but what we can do for others who have families such as David’s. All it takes is to pay attention and take a caring interest in your peers. There were many signs in not only David’s physical appearance but also his behavior. Unfortunately the teachers saw his poor behavior called for more discipline. Little did they now he acted that way for a reason, which I don’t believe was his fault. I am absolutely positive that if he were to have been raised in a nurturing environment, he would not only have been well-behaved, but he would also have excelled in school because it took both determination and a great deal of wit.

I recently found out that there are two sequels to this book (The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave). I read a couple summaries on them. Fortunately, all turns out well. In The Lost Boy, Pelzer tells about his search for a foster family. A Man Named Dave is about his adult years, including his enrollment in the Air Force and his eight-year-long marriage. It was somehow reassuring to find out that he is alright now and leads a good life. For further reading, I was slightly intrigued to find that David’s brother, Richard, wrote a book titled A Brother’s Journey. I wonder what he could have written about, but it should be interesting.

Labels: A Child Called "It" Book Review

Adopting a New Pet

When thinking about adopting a new pet such as a cat or dog, there are several things to consider before doing so. Considering all the obligations and requirements before making a commitment is an important first step.

Can I Afford a New Pet?

Pet care can be quite expensive. Besides the obvious requirements such as food and grooming supplies, pets require routine vet examinations and immunizations. Don’t consider getting a new pet if you are financially unable to meet basic veterinary care requirements.

Just like people, pets don’t always remain healthy. They sometimes require vet care other than normal routine exams and preventive measures. If you adopt a pet and can’t afford health care for that pet, you may be faced with an agonizing decision. People who can’t afford expensive treatments and medications are often forced to put sickly or chronically ill pets to sleep.

Do I Have Time For a Pet?

Pets need love and attention just like people. Unfortunately, people who really don’t have time for pets often adopt them anyway.

All pets need attention, but if you work extended hours and can’t be home enough to give a new pet a lot of attention, consider adopting a cat. Cats are independent creatures that don’t usually mind being left alone for several hours at a time. Felines don’t have to go outside, they are content to sleep most of the day, and they have no problem entertaining themselves the rest of the time.

Dogs, on the other hand, are very social creatures. Don’t get a dog unless you have plenty of time to give them the attention they require. It wouldn’t be fair to the animal. Dogs of course must be let outside at regular intervals, and they require lots of love and attention. Some breeds require more attention than others, but dogs in general need to exercise and play on a daily basis.

People sometimes adopt a dog and either chain it up for hours on end or keep it locked up in an outdoor kennel. Don’t get a dog if you are going to ignore it outdoors. Bringing a dog food and water on a daily basis isn’t enough. There is nothing wrong with keeping a dog outdoors as long as it has adequate shelter from the elements, but keep in mind that outdoor dogs still need love, attention, regular nutritious meals, and lots of exercise.

Pet Shops

Some pet shops sell puppies and kittens on a regular basis. Don’t assume that a pet is healthy because it is offered by a pet shop. Most pet shops have a pet’s best interest in mind, but there are those that buy pets from puppy mills in order to make big profits. If you are thinking about adopting a pet from a pet shop, make sure its health is guaranteed in writing.

Private Individuals

Numerous pet ads can be found in newspapers across the country. Sometimes pets are given away for free, and others are sold for profit. Generally a pet can be obtained from a private individual for a fraction of what pet stores charge. Puppies and kittens offered by private individuals still need initial examinations to ensure good health.

When older animals are offered by private individuals, find out why the animal is being given away or sold. Pet owners who love a pet for years don’t suddenly get rid of it without reason. Sometimes older pets are adopted out due to landlord issues, allergies, and other legitimate problems, but older pets are also sometimes given away or sold because of behavior problems, health problems, and litter box issues.

Animal Shelters

The best place to find a new pet is at your local animal shelter. Animals there are desperate for homes. There are “no kill” shelters, but other animal shelters, due to lack of funds and overcrowding, are forced to make the sad choice of euthanasia. When you adopt a pet from the animal shelter, you are saving a life.

Animal shelter employees and volunteers can provide you with the history of the animal you are considering for adoption. Some shelter animals were surrendered by their owner and others were brought in as strays. These animals are all hoping for a loving new home.

Adoption fees vary from shelter to shelter, but most provide first shots, and some include spaying or neutering. Only healthy animals are put up for adoption.

All things considered, adopting from your local animal shelter is the best choice. You will be giving an animal a second chance at life, and you are guaranteed a healthy pet.

Labels: Adopting a New Pet

Apple Cider Vinegar: Nature's Amazing Cure-All

The old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away definitely rings true for the apple’s cousin, namely Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). For a while when I had first taken up running I started suffering from painful Charlie Horses that would wake me up in the dead of night. When I told my mother about these awful leg craps, she suggested that I might be deficient in potassium and that I should consider taking ACV a few times a day mixed with water to boost my potassium levels and get rid of the cramps. It worked!

Not only did the ACV help me get rid of painful leg cramps, but I noticed that after a month of taking it I was starting to lose weight. I have never been a fan of dieting so I was pleasantly surprised that I was shedding some unwanted pounds before my upcoming trip to model in Japan. After doing further research about ACV I found out that it not only helps with muscle pain but is also a natural diuretic reducing water retention, increasing metabolic rates and aiding to break down fat from the foods we consume. The more I researched the more I knew that I wanted to keep ACV as a regular part of my diet.

The health benefits of adding ACV to your diet are seemingly endless. ACV has also been touted as a natural cure-all for centuries in Europe. It can be used to reduce the inflammation and infection in insect bites, eczema and acne when used as an astringent and applied with a cotton ball several times a day. When applied to the scalp it can eradicate embarrassing dandruff, and if you mix 50% water with 50% ACV and used as a foot soak it can kill the fungus associated with Athlete’s Foot.

I also discovered that ACV is not only useful as a remedy for skin problems, but when taken as a tonic before each meal can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The pectin fiber found in ACV helps bind excess fat in your body while flushing it out, it also contains high levels of potassium and magnesium which help relax blood vessel walls thus lower blood pressure. Amino acids in the ACV can also help lower dangerous LDL cholesterol.

While ACV can flush out harmful fat from your body, I found it interesting that it can actually aid in building bone mass therefore fighting the threat of osteoporosis. Since ACV is full of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium it helps extract the calcium from the foods you eat which is perfect especially if you don’t always remember to take a calcium supplement. If constipation is ever an issue, ACV works wonders as it helps enhance your digestive enzymes making for less bloating and discomfort. It’s easy to see why ACV is considered a cure all!

When it comes to choosing the right type of Apple Cider Vinegar it is really important to make sure that you are buying it in its purest form. It is preferable to buy vinegar that comes from the double rather than single fermentation of the apple. It is essential that the vinegar also not be distilled or filtered because those processes destroy the nutrients that make the ACV so curative and beneficial. Look for a product that is brownish in color and cloudy. Clear versions are far too processed, and chances are that they won’t work as well as the purer forms of vinegar.

My mother suggested taking 2 teaspoons of the vinegar in a 6-8 oz. glass of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner, and that is what worked for me. Others suggest mixing the vinegar with honey to make it more palatable and also because honey has its own health benefits. Either way you choose to mix it, it is best to stick to 2-3 teaspoons in 6-8 ounces of water. Using too much ACV can lead to very loose stools and temporary acidic reflux. As goes for everything, moderation is key! You also want to make sure to rinse your mouth out after drinking this mixture because the acidity of the vinegar can deteriorate the enamel of your teeth just as lemon juice would.

If the smell and taste of apple cider vinegar is not at all appetizing to you, you can now find it in pill or tablet form in most health food stores and vitamin retailers. I still use ACV every day since high cholesterol, osteoporosis and high blood pressure run in my family and have recently started using it in tablet form. I find it a lot more “user friendly” since I’m not always in the mood to drink a glass of water with vinegar right before a meal, and it is easy to pack for traveling. I am convinced that ACV is what helped me lose all my baby weight after both of my pregnancies.

While I can’t say that I am glad to have suffered from leg cramps, I can say that I’m glad that because of them I found out about Apple Cider Vinegar and all of its amazing health benefits. It is cheap, healthy and one of nature’s great multitaskers. If you take a multivitamin every day, try taking some ACV to enhance your health. Your body will thank you!

Labels: Apple Cider Vinegar: Nature's Amazing Cure-All

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Review of Splendid Taxi Cab Company in White Plains, New York

I have been using Splendid Taxi in White Plains, New York for over a month now. I am so glad that I found this company. They have been my source of getting to work each day. Due to a medical condition, I am not able to drive all the way to work. I drive myself for about 10 minutes in the morning. Then I call this company to take me to work the rest of the way which is about another 10 minutes.

Before I discovered Splendid, I was using another local company and I was spending $47 for one way from my house to where I work. That adds up to $94 a day, $470 a week and $1880 a month. I realized that I will go broke and not have a lot of money left over from my paychecks, if I do not think of something else fast. I had a feeling when this medical condition started, that it may last for a few months or more.

I called a few cab companies to get some prices and I found that Splendid had the best prices. I had also heard that from someone else. If I were to take a cab from my house to where I work, it would cost me about $30 one way. That is a $17 difference from the other company. I am able to drive myself half way to work so I am saving even more money. I am paying $17 one way including tip. That adds up to about $34 a day and $170 a week as compared to $470 a week.

I also like this company for other reasons. Every time I call, they send someone within 10 minutes. I never have to wait a long time. They are very reliable. I find that the drivers are very nice, friendly and sociable people. I feel very comfortable driving with them. They are all good drivers and they always follow the traffic laws. All the cars are very well kept. I do not fear that one of them will break down and that I will be late for work.

I highly recommend this company for the reasons stated above. Definitely check them out if you are in need of a cab service. Their number is 914-682-2222. I am sure that you will be very satisfied.

Labels: A Review of Splendid Taxi Cab Company in White Plains, New York

A Taste of Dry Cereal

The lady in the supermarket handed me a sample of a chocolate-flavored cereal and as I walked along munching it, I thought, “This is really good. I could eat this right out of the box as is!”

Dry cereals really haven’t been around very long. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg ( yes, he of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, etc.) made the first ready-to-eat flaked cereal in 1894.

It all started when Kellogg prescribed Zwieback(super-hard) toast for an elderly lady, who sequentially broke her false teeth from attempting to eat it. She then demanded $10 in damages.

Acting upon an idea that came to him in a dream, (The doctor fell asleep thinking about how to introduce more of his cereals to his patients without any further tooth damage.) Dr. Kellogg boiled some wheat until it was soft, then used a doughnut-rolling machine, rolling the wheat mixture into a thin film, scraped the flakes off with a knife, and then baked them in the oven. That was the first of the modern-day breakfast cereal; Dr. Kellogg later went on to invent 60 more.

Since then, there have been countless refinements of this method used. Cereal has been shredded, shot from guns, toasted, puffed, dressed up with fruit, nuts, and/or marshmallows, and sweetened (And it’s much more expensive, of course.)

Cereal is the favorite breakfast (This word actually means to “break the fast”, referring to the late evening to very early morning hours, when one normally wouldn’t be eating. But times have changed; often, “having breakfast”is at the whim of your schedule!) of many Americans and is often eaten for dinner or as a snack. Many a childhood memory has involved cereal eating. You often gulped down some cereal (usually with orange juice) before walking to school or taking the school bus.

During weekends, holidays, and summers, one could leisurely sit and relax, bowl in hand, and enjoy the Saturday cartoons, holiday specials, or summer shows while chomping away to your heart’s content. Cereal never filled you up (by noon you were ravenous with hunger!), but it was always fun to contemplate the unique shapes, textures, colors, tastes, and sometimes, sounds (You can actually hear Rice Krispies “snap, crackle, and pop”) of whatever brand you were eating.

As you get older, your concerns run more to “how much fiber is in this?” Cereal does contain some fiber and is enriched with vitamins and minerals. And it has hardly any fat, except for granola. But many cereals are a poor value for the money. (When you were a kid, it didn’t matter, did it?) Several of its ingredients, such as sugar, salt, grains, and vitamins are fairly cheap in themselves; consumers are paying for gimmicks and advertising. And some cereals have given children a sugar dependency (which can lead to obesity and other health issues).

For those who need or wish to limit their sugar or sodium intake, two classic cereals contain neither-Nabisco Shredded Wheat and Quaker Puffed Wheat. Another cereal, Cherrios, is light on sugar content, but has a high sodium level (nearly 300 mg per serving).

Cereals made from whole grains will contain trace minerals that are not added when they are fortified. Look for the words “whole wheat” or “whole grain” (they will have more fiber). Wheat flour isn’t the same as the former two nutritionally; some of the fiber and nutrients have been refined out. Overall, fiber is an important part of the diet at any age.

Read the side of the box carefully when selecting cereals. For example, the phrase “all natural” has no nutritional meaning. “No cholesterol” is often advertising for products that are already cholesterol-free by their nature.

By law, ingredients must be listed in the order of their quantity in the product. A grain is usually listed first, but sugar is nearly always second and may also be present in other forms, such as honey, corn syrups, or anything ending in “ose.”

Don’t choose a cereal just because it contains all of the recommended daily servings of minerals and vitamins.

You don’t need to consume your daily serving allowance at one sitting; strive for eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day. (And take multi-vitamins.)


Labels: A Taste of Dry Cereal

A Taste of Fair Appalachia in Ripley, West Virginia

To say that Ripley, West Virginia is off the beaten path is to assume that path is the road not taken by Robert Frost. With a grand total of five traffic lights and a population of just over 3,200, New York City it ain’t. But don’t let the small size of this place fool you – when it’s time to celebrate the birth of our country, Ripley can “put on the dog” like nobody’s business.

The Fourth of July festivities in Ripley are legendary locally and surprisingly well known nationally. The Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair that takes place the first week in July just outside of the city limits at Cedar Lakes Conference center attracts not only vendors but visitors from all over the United States. Featuring handmade items proudly displaying Appalachian craftsmanship, tasty Appalachian food, lively music and tons of other exhibits and activities, the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair allows you to take a welcome step back in time and experience a taste of life in Appalachia, with all its rich flavors and history. Speaking of flavors, I highly recommend you forget the diet while you’re here and enjoy some of the finest food that Appalachia has ever produced. From homemade jams and jellies to buckwheat cakes and fried green tomatoes, you can literally take a bite out of Appalachian history. And what a bite it is! Growing up in Ripley, and being a lifelong devotee of the Arts and Crafts fair, I can tell you from experience that your taste buds will love you forever, and your hips will forgive you.

As a local, the thing that has always most impressed me about the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair is the feeling it evokes. While the crowds are large, there is a prevailing thread of fellowship that seems to envelope you and carries you back to a time when things were simpler, and people weren’t so harried. I suppose it’s hard to be grumpy when you’re surrounded by friendly people with your belly full of fine food and the sound of rich Appalachian music in your ears.

The Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair, which started in 1963, is ranked in the top five Arts and Crafts Fairs in America, and is also listed in Travel Guide as one of the Mid Atlantic Region’s Best Festivals. It has been written about in the Miami Herald, and is probably the best kept secret you and your family will love. And, according to Bob Wines, who is both Vice President of Marketing and Publicity for the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair as well as a member of the Division of National Resources, this year’s celebration will be even bigger and better than before, with more vendors and artisans than ever.

With handicapped access and free golf cart transport around the grounds for those that are mobility impaired, the people at the fair have made it easy for the entire family to come out and have a good time. And pets are welcome on the grounds as well, for those of you that want to include Fido in your travels.

The 2009 Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair begins on Thursday, July 2nd, and runs through Sunday, July 4th. It opens at 9:00am and closes at 7:00pm daily. For lodging, maps, photos or more detailed information please visit the website at

In addition to the fair, Ripley also boasts a carnival downtown during the week-long Fourth of July Celebrations. With rides and games and live performances from local as well as nationally acclaimed artists, it’s just another part of this wonderful week in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia that you won’t want to miss.

So come one, come all! Stay a while, “set a spell” and make a few friends. After all, you’ll be seeing them again when you come back next year.

Labels: A Taste of Fair Appalachia in Ripley, West Virginia

A Day Trip to Kandy, Sri Lanka During Esala Perahera

At first I thought it was a joke. An ancient “tooth” relic in “Kandy”? “I’ll bet it’s got one heck of a cavity!” I laughed heartily.

Rukman’s facial expression did not concur. In his almost perfect English he stated, “We will go to the Esala Perahera today. It is your last chance before you go back to the States. We are having reservations on the express train.” I silently pondered the sentence. Using “are having” in reference to reservations started to seem logical since we were still having them until they were used. His accent reminded me of my friend Mody from Pakistan.

“Esala Perahera?” I asked.

“It’s like Mardi Gras Sri Lankan style.” he smiled calmly. “It goes on a few weeks every year in July or August. Depends on the moon. Supposedly the tooth is Buddah’s canine smuggled into Sri Lanka by a princess. I don’t particularly ascribe to that version but it is quite an event anyway.”

“Sure,” I shrugged my shoulders. Still chuckling to myself about the irony of the worship of an ancient tooth in a town called Kandy. Rukman was quiet and I wondered if perhaps I had gone to far with my careless joke.

The train from Colombo to Kandy took a little less than three hours. Then just a short albeit packed bus ride to the temple from the train station.”So what religion do they follow here? Muslim?” I asked.

“There are a few Muslims and Christians. Some Hindus…but most of us are Buddhist. Buddhism is not really a religion though. It is more a code of life. You have to do the work in your head.” I recalled where I had heard about Buddhism before. My mind wandered to the movie about Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” There is a scene where she is chanting and somehow that gave her the power to take on her abusive husband and the strength to eventually leave him. Rukman continued, “It’s philosophy with a twist of Do-it-Yourself. You Americans like DIY don’t you?” He smiled.

After walking through the temple we wandered through the city then went to the parade route for the Esala Perahera. I wanted to get there early so I could be right up in front against the barrier. The crowd grew around us within the next hour until Rukman and I were pressed in against the barrier, which was nothing but a string of bicycle racks lined up along the curb. As the day darkened into evening we could hear drums approaching. The crowd began to bustle and we could see twirling flames nearing us from down the street. The flames turned out to be men twirling fire on the ends of sticks, followed by stilt walkers, dancers in elaborate costumes and elephants draped in luxurious fabrics, jewels and lights.

I began to feel cramped and nauseous, the drums were becoming too loud for me.”There is the tooth!” called Rukman in an excited tone.The procession came to a standstill while the deafening beat of drums continued. We turned to look at the elephant just in front of us shaking his head up and down, trunk in the air. I wondered if he was dancing to the rhythmic beating of drums but then immediately recalled mad elephant footage I had seen once on the nightly news where an elephant killed its trainer – using its front legs to pin the poor man and then headbutting him into the pavement. The sensation of my hair standing up felt strange in the warm humidity of the evening and my legs stiffened, ready to bolt through the crowd. I backed up and stepped on someone’s foot “Uh…sorry.” I turned back, to look at the elephant again, his head was still bobbing. I desperately searched for a quick way out of the crowd but I was trapped against the barricade. The only quick way out would be to climb the barricade which would only put me closer to the bobbing elephant. Just before panic overtook me completely, a man on stilts walked over to the elephant and patted his head. The procession began to move again.

Rukman had noticed my discomfort and was amused. “Those rich adornments usually blind tourists to the elephants’ plight.” He said. “They are not always as happy and tame as they look. There is a shortage of tame elephants but the Esala Perahera is becoming a great tourist attraction. So elephants are illegally poached or bought on the black market, many times by those inexperienced and unqualified to care for them. There are certainly a few half-wild ones in there.” He laughed.

Gazala Anver; “The Hunt for a Stolen Elephant” The Sunday Leader; September 25, 2011
Ruwini Jayawardana and Asela Kuruluwansa; “Finding Elephants for Perahera a Jumbo Issue” Sri Lankan News; August 2, 2011
Rathindra Kuruwita; “Elephants not Mated; now for Illegal Logging” Lakbima News; January 22, 2012
Jayantha Jayewardene; “The Care and Management of Domesticated Asian Elephants in Sri Lanka” Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations; 2002
Ravi Nessman; “Buddhist Festival Parades are Sri Lanka’s Answer to Mardi Gras” USA Today, July 25, 2008
Sri Dalada Maligawa Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic Website; copyright 2012

Labels: A Day Trip to Kandy, Sri Lanka During Esala Perahera

A Day Trip into Amish Country in Middlefield, Ohio (Geauga County)

The tough economy has made it impossible for many of us to afford away-from-home vacations like in years past. But don’t let that be a negative, there are many things to do right in your own back yard. If you live near Middlefield, Ohio in beautiful Geauga County (a little more than 30 miles east of Cleveland and 76 miles west of Erie, PA) there are many things to see and do. Our family planned this “day-cation” as part of our “stay-cation” and wanted to explore other worlds just outside our front doors.

According to the Geauga County’s 2009 Visitor’s Guide, “Geauga County is home to the 2nd largest Amish population in the state and the 4th largest in the world!” This Visitor’s Guide and website are full of ideas for lodging, dining, shopping, and much more. Be sure to stop at for more information, maps and ideas.

We started our journey in the heart of Middlefield at Routes 608 and 87. We headed north on 608 (past the Geauga County Tourism office…I hear they are very friendly and helpful) to our first stop with a picnic lunch at Eagle Creek park and their new “Sprayground Park” located on North Springdale Avenue just east from 608. This place is really cool, and I mean really cool. It has two splash pad areas, a playground area, paths and gazebo. There are picnic tables all over. The “Sprayground Park” is open from 10 am until 8 pm during good weather. There is no lifeguard, so please watch the children closely.

Once we were full to capacity and dried off it was onto our next stop – back to 608 and heading north, the Middlefield Cheese House at 15864 Nauvoo Road. We enjoyed the museum and the film about the history of cheese-making. We really enjoyed the free samples.

Right behind the Cheese House on Nauvoo is Settler’s Village. This lovely group of shops includes a craft shop, a quilt/fabric store, a couple of antique shops and an art gallery. We noticed that they have many different activities throughout the year; we will have to come back for a special event and meet the Ole Western Marshal (I hear he is just great and full of fun stories).

Continuing east on Nauvoo, we passed a few more unique shops (jewelry and more antiques) and the Middlefield Market at 15848 Nauvoo Road. Every Monday (8 am to 3 pm) and Saturday (9 am to 3 pm) they have live auctions and a flea market. We missed that the day we went exploring, but that could be another whole trip in and of itself.

Driving down Nauvoo, you are in the heart of an Amish community. The white houses, the curtains drawn to the side, the gardens, children playing, the horses and the buggies are all so different from our lives, but beautiful in their differences. Driving among the Amish takes patience, but when you think of how hard it must to be stay so strong to one’s convictions during these modern times, I found it a breath of fresh air to be patient and to slow down.

When we reached Route 528, we headed south again and turned back onto Route 87 heading east. Our next stop was the Amish Home Craft Shop at 16860 Kinsman Road (Rt. 87). There we found quilts, wall hangings, many handmade items, baskets, herbs, jams and jellies, toys and more. Most days you can find homemade baked goods too. As with all Amish businesses, they are closed on Sundays.

Back to 87 and continuing east just a little further, we stopped at the Middlefield Original Cheese Co-op. You can see how the cheese is made through the big windows inside their store. They offer many different kinds of cheeses and other predominately Amish food items.

On Route 87 again and still heading East, our next adventure is at Ridgeview Farm (about 3.5 miles east of Middlefield). Here we toured the farm, visited their Amish Cultural Center, enjoyed their petting farm and much more. They, too, have many activities planned throughout the year. Strawberry picking in June, Fall Fun Weekends, corn maze and pumpkin patches.

Next stop was the End of the Commons General Store (6 miles east of Middlefield). The End of the Commons in Mesopotamia is Ohio’s oldest general store and it is full of great items from your childhood. Everything can be had from penny candy, soda pop in bottles, bulk food items, popcorns and so much more. They even have delicious hand-dipped ice cream.

Heading back to Middlefield, it is dinner time and time for Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen. Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen at 14743 North State Street (Rt. 608 again, just about where we started the day). The food was awesome, home-style and there was lots of it. My only piece of advice: Save room for pie!! Their gift shop was fun to go through also.

As our day came to a close, we laughed and talked about hour adventures. We reflected on the different culture we saw and how a little understanding goes a long way. We also realized that there is much more to see in this area. Lots to do in Burton, Chardon, alpacas to visit, stores to shop at and much more, but it will have to wait for another day.

We did not need lodging options, but Geauga County offers some of the best lodging around. Be sure to look at the Punderson Manor House, the Red Maple Inn and the Bass Lake Inn if your travel requires lodging.

Labels: A Day Trip into Amish Country in Middlefield, Ohio (Geauga County)

7 Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu And Cold Season

It’s that time of year again parents, the dreaded flu and cold season. Many thousands of Americans will be affected by the flu or flu-like symptoms. If you or any family member has suffered with the flu you know exactly how taxing it can be on the victim and the loved ones around them. It’s our jobs as parents to protect our children from any harm and danger if possible. During this time of year our children come into contact with many types of germs that can harm them and our whole family if they bring them back into the home. So this year let us be proactive in protecting our families. Here are 7 tips to protect your child from sickness and disease this season:

Tip 1

Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently. Remind them to slow down, use soap and warm water to kill the germs. Many stores also carry the mini bottles of hand sanitizer, so get one for your child to carry in their backpack to have at school when needed.

Tip 2

Be mindful to feed your children a well balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. This will help their bodies remain strong to ward off germs and disease.

Tip 3

If you are not already doing it, give your child a daily multivitamin. Pick one that is all natural and free of preservatives, this will help the body with needed vitamins and minerals.

Tip 4

Assure that your children received 8 to 10 hours of sleep anight. A well rested body can better fight disease.

Tip 5

Keep plenty of liquids available for consumption. Your children will need to remain well hydrated during the flu and cold season. Avoid caffenated drinks which only aide in dehydration.

Tip 6

Keep cans of chicken soup handy, or cook a big pot and freeze some. The contents of this soup along with the broth aid in assisting the body to get well.

Tip 7

If your child complains of an itchy or sore throat, threat it immedicately with honey and lemon mixed with warm water. This will soothe the itchy throat.

Above I have explained 7 tips to help you keep your children healthy this flu and cold season. If you will practice these tips along with common sense, you child may be able to avoid the perils assoicated with the flu and colds. A sick, unhappy child is an unpleasant sight for a parent. So teach your children to take a part in keeping themselves well. Consult your physican in determining if the flu vacine is appropriate for you and your family members.

Labels: 7 Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu And Cold Season

A Basic Guide to Setting Up a Paludarium

A paludarium is a tank consisting of land, water, and air elements. Often paludaria contain live plants and animals. It is an attempt to put an ecosystem in a container. Paludaria are ideal, fairly low maintenance projects that can satisfy adults and children alike. They can be especially fun for home schooled children or those who have an interest in ecology and biology.

The Idea

What you plan to include in your paludarium most dictates the materials you will need. Do you plan to use it for a snake or anole? Would you like fish or amphibians? Would you like a “community tank” with several different types of animals? Do you want to focus on a particular geographic region?

The internet is a good place to gather information regarding various types of fish, amphibians, and reptiles. By researching as much as you can to begin with, you can develop a balanced community plan. Try to choose plants and animals that have the same requirements, that way they can all coexist with minimal stress.

The Tank

The tank is the most basic, and probably the most important, piece of equipment. Within it you will have a small world. For this reason, you need to choose the tank that best corresponds to your needs. For instance, if you plan to have tree frogs or other animals that prefer to climb you will want a tank that is taller than it is wide. If instead you wish to have a ground dwelling reptile or large fish, you will want a large bottom surface area to give it maximum space.

While acrylic tanks are increasing in popularity, they can wear down fairly quickly. Glass tanks are much sturdier in the long run, although the extra weight is certainly a downside. In addition to the tank, you will want a stand that has been designed to support your tank’s weight and style.

The Hardware

The other hardware you need for your tank is dictated by your preferences and your animal’s needs. If you have a reptile, you will need a heat lamp or warming pad to provide a basking area. Any water element should have a small filter to prevent fouling. If you have any tropical amphibians or fish it would be wise to buy a small heater as well. Just for fun, you can buy a small water pump and some airline tubing to create a small waterfall or river. Waterfall kits can also be purchased from online suppliers.

Basic Décor

Try to keep your paludarium as natural looking as possible. Use rocks and driftwood to arrange a setting where there is land emerging from the water. You can either use natural stones and driftwood, or you can purchase the extremely life-like resin replicas made by aquarium companies. Either will be appealing to the eye.

Substrate will be dictated by the needs of your animals. If you plan to plant live plants, use a plant substrate such as Flourite. Naturally colored gravel is also an ideal bottom for you water element.

Setting up

If you have an animal that requires a land area and separate water area, such as a reptile, you can divide your aquarium with a Plexiglas or acrylic divider epoxied in place. Make sure the epoxy or sealant used is aquarium safe. One side can be water and the other land, with no mixing between them.

An easier method is the emergent land method as mentioned above. The rocks and driftwood can be stacked so that there are islands of land coming out of the water. This is ideal for small amphibians such as salamanders, newts, or frogs.

After putting down your gravel substrate, stack your rocks and wood in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Also put your tank hardware in place at this time. Play with several designs until you find one you like. Also, make sure everything is either well balanced or well secured so that nothing collapses on your animals. When this is done, you may add your water.

Adding Greenery

Greenery can either be live aquatic plants or the skillfully made silk variety. Either way, you are striving for a natural look so avoid the cheap hard plastic plants. If you are obtaining live plants, make sure that they are meant to be aquatic or in high humidity environments. Plants sold at some nurseries are not truly tropical and will die and decay rapidly in your paludarium.

Arrange your plants at the bottom of the tank as well as on the driftwood and rocks. If you have climbing vines you can place them on the sides of your tank so that they give an appearance of a plant covered cliff or wall. If you have critters that like to climb, you may need extra fastenings as opposed to just the suction cups supplied. Apparently, fishing line does well although I have not used it myself.

Adding Critters

Now that you have a habitat set up for your animals you can move them in. So as not to overload your filter, only introduce a small number at a time. Additionally do not overstock your tank. If you crowd too many animals into too small an area you will struggle with cleanliness, parasites, and illness.

My Paludarium

As an example, I will explain my own set up. I am using a twenty gallon glass tank to contain my paludarium. The back wall is made of natural cork bark attached with liberal amounts of aquarium sealant. My method was the emergent land technique, which can be seen with the stacking of the rocks, as well as the cork bark island. This paludarium has been functioning well for one month.

The aquatic plants, which are slowly establishing themselves, are in a substrate of Flourite. You can see Anacharis in the back, dwarf hairgrass in the front and Anubias on the driftwood. There is also Java Moss under the rock.

Land plants include Pilea cadieri at the top of the rocks and lemon button fern in a planter on the back wall. Hopefully, both plants will fill out to increase the amount of greenery on the land. I also have some mosses that I gathered from my pasture, which are filling out nicely on the rock.

For hardware I have a small filter, heater, and submersible pump to power a waterfall. The waterfall also acts to aerate the water for the fish.

Residents are a black mystery snail, six rosy red minnows, and two fire belly toads.

Some Advice

There were some things no one mentioned when I was doing my research. Here is what I have discovered.

Make your hardware accessible: If you construct a cave over your pump, you will not be able to reach the pump to clean it or adjust the setting. It seems obvious now, but apparently not when I was in the construction phase.

Bugs happen: I had to pull my fish out of the tank to treat them for itch. When they were gone there was no one to eat the mosquito larvae. (This was prior to adding the toads.) I was breeding mosquitoes until I was able to re-introduce the fish into the system. Some visitors will move in on their own, you can solve those problems according to your inclinations.

Labels: A Basic Guide to Setting Up a Paludarium

A Visit to the Doctor in Colonial Times

Does your health plan include wig powdering? A visit to the restored Hugh Mercer Apothecary on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg, Virginia is a step back to times when doctors used blood letting, purging, and amputations to cure their patients.

The recovery rooms upstairs allowed patients to rest and rearrange their clothing so they were ready to walk out onto the street. The men who needed their wigs powdered so they were respectable enough to be seen in public could lean their heads through a hole in a door and have the servant on the other side powder away without mussing the gentleman’s clothing.

The sick person in Colonial times had some of the same difficulties as people have now when choosing care. The poor and rural residents had fewer options, and often could not find or afford adequate care. Those red striped poles outside the local barber shop were a sign that the barber would also provide dental services and take care of cuts and injuries. The rich and powerful had better access to trained doctors, such as Hugh Mercer, a Scottish medical school graduate and military doctor. Dr. Mercer was the physician for Fredericksburg home town of George Washington’s mother, Mary Washington, and his sister.

Tours of the restored shop are conducted by ladies in colonial dress, right down to their hair tucked into mob caps. The ladies laugh when they explain that these wealthy people could even have their pills coated with elegant silver, which sometimes made them “reusable” pills. Not all of the old treatments have been discarded, however. Even modern hospitals stock leeches like the fat black ones swimming in Dr. Mercer’s jar, and the chemical in ground willow bark is still used today, although we call it aspirin. There is an herb garden next to the Apothecary Shop where some of these useful remedies are still grown. At the beginning of the tour, small samples of herbs and medicines are passed around for visitors to see and smell. The large stone water filter was used to filter river water in several stages so it was clean for concocting medicines.

Perhaps these remedies worked, because after a blood letting or purging, some people would say, “I’m fine now, thank you!” rather than submit to more treatments.

Dr. Mercer served in the Revolutionary Army with George Washington. The story of his life and illustrious military service is told in the museum in the Apothecary Shop. Visiting Fredericksburg today is simple, and hotels and bed and breakfast places abound, but for more about travel and life in Colonial times, wander along the Caroline Street a few blocks to the Rising Sun Tavern.

Labels: A Visit to the Doctor in Colonial Times

Amusement Parks: Best Places for Summer, Family and Affordable Fun

Amusement Parks are a great place for summer, family, and affordable fun. Well known amusement parks such as: Disney World, often seem expensive. In actuality, those well-known amusement parks have a lot of great deals to help off-set the cost.

Disney World, for example, is offering free admission on your birthday in 2009. Did you go to Disney World a few years ago, but did not use all of your passes? If so, I would check and see if they are lifetime passes. Of course, lifetime passes mean that you can come back in another year and use them. For more information go to:

Disney, of course, is not the only amusement park out there. There are countless amusement parks in the U.S. Some of the best values at Amusement Parks are right in your backyard.

I live somewhere in the tri-state of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Holiday World, Kings Island and Six Flag Kentucky Kingdom are three amusement parks in that tri-state. All of which have great values.

At Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, guest that buy their tickets online will pay the kid price of $24.99. Anyone with a season pass can bring a friend for free. Besides access to rides, guest can also enjoy concerts for free with their passes. Raven Symone and Jesse McCartney will both be at Kentucky Kingdom during the month of July. Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is located in Louisville, Kentucky. For more information go to:

At Kings Island, guest that buy tickets online will save fifteen dollars off general admission. General admission is $47.99; online admission will be $32.99. Kings Island also has a special for the 2009 season. Guest that pay the regular admission price of $47.99 will be able to come back on another day for free. Kings Island also has the “starlight” discount. After 5pm, guest can go to the park and pay a discounted general admission fee of $24.99. Kings Island is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information go to:

Holiday world is home to the new Pilgrims Plunge. The Pilgrim Plunge is thought to be the World’s tallest water ride at 131 feet. It is also home the roller coaster, The Voyage. General admission is $39.95. Tickets for guest under 54″ and seniors that are 60 years or older cost $29.95. If you come one day and decide you want to come back the next, you can buy a next-day ticket for $20.00. Holiday World also gives out a lot of freebies. The freebies include: sunscreen, parking, inner tubes (for the water park), and unlimited soft drinks. For more information go to:

Amusement Parks are number four (4) on the list of the best places for summer, family and affordable fun. Be sure to read about the #5 best place for summer, family and affordable fun. Make sure to come back for the top three best places for summer, family and affordable fun!

Labels: Amusement Parks: Best Places for Summer, Family and Affordable Fun

Monday, March 20, 2017

Apolo Anton Ohno - a Profile of My Favorite Sports Figure

I have great admiration for Apolo Anton Ohno, not only for his athletic agility but also for his personal attributes which are over and above those which are commonly seen in other champion athletes.

The 27-year-old Apolo competes in short track speed skating in which he has won eight Olympic medals – two gold, two silver, and four bronze. This year, he surpassed Bonnie Blair as the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time. He might have achieved a ninth medal in 2010 except that he was disqualified for interference in the Men’s Short Track 500 meter finals. He and many others, including myself, do not believe that he should have been disqualified. Apolo explained that he had put his hand out for protection, not to interfere with the skater’s performance. Having seen the clip several times and sensing Apolo’s penchant for honesty, I feel certain that this is an accurate summation of his actions. To his credit, Apolo accepted the ruling with grace and dignity.

Apolo is truly a role model for younger skaters as well as all young people who need to identify with a celebrated human being. In a TV interview, he related to Bob Costa that as a youngster he rebelled against his father’s training him as a skater. His father took Apolo out to a cabin in the woods, told him to decide what he wanted to do with his future, and left him there for several days. Chastened a bit from the ordeal, he made the decision to continue on with his skating career.

After the 2010 Olympics, when interviewers prodded him to reveal his plans for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Apolo seemed to sidestep the possibility of competing again in 2014. He instead said that he might be involved in other pursuits and cannot guarantee that he will go to Sochi. He hinted that he might like to pursue some sort of career in the entertainment field. This is understandable since Apolo was a winner in 2007 of the reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”

Several national and international companies have sponsored Apolo’s Olympic efforts. These include McDonald’s, General Electric, Vicks and Coca-Cola. He has his own charity, the Apolo Anton Ohno Foundation which discourages underage drinking and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

It is small wonder that I, and many others, look to Apolo to spread the news of the benefits of his mode of existence through his many appearances on TV, visits to children’s venues, videos, and his charitable causes.

We love you, Apolo. Keep up the good work!


NBC TV – XXI Winter Olympics

Labels: Apolo Anton Ohno - a Profile of My Favorite Sports Figure

Appendicitis or Ectopic Pregnancy

My appendix began rupturing in the middle of the night when I was 20 years old. I woke around 2 a.m. with sweat rolling off me. It was an unseasonably warm night in early September, so I did not think much of it. I stumbled to the window to turn on the air conditioner unit, grabbed a towel to mop the sweat from my face as I moved back to the bed. Jump forward to 7 a.m. I woke with a start. Before I opened my eyes, I realized I was in pain. Not normal ‘I have a headache’ or ‘must have pulled a muscle’ pain – this was something more intense than I’d ever felt in my young life. Panic tried to take over, but I knew I had to figure out what was happening. I tried to take inventory, make a mental list of what I was feeling to hopefully reconcile the symptoms with a cause. No luck. All I knew was that I had an intense burning pain in my stomach/abdomen area. And again with the sweating. I finally realized I was sweating from fever, not the unseasonably warm temperatures. It didn’t take long to figure I needed to go to the doctor.

Trying to get dressed, I realized I would not be able to drive. It was a weekday morning, so I jumped on the telephone trying to reach any of my friends who may have not already left for work. No luck, but did finally reach a good friend who was running late for a class – and managed to talk her into skipping class to take me to the doctor.

I couldn’t bear to put jeans on; the pain around my middle was too intense. I think I ended up in a pair of over-sized sweatpants and t-shirt. I guess I’d scared my friend on the phone. She was there to pick me up in minutes flat. Not sure where to go, we ended up at the neighborhood urgent care center.

I guess I looked pretty bad because they took me right back, immediately taking blood samples. Within minutes a doctor came in holding a clipboard of papers and asked if I was aware I was pregnant? Now the interesting thing here is that I had been sure I was pregnant, about four months along at that point, but all pregnancy tests I’d taken showed negative. I’d scheduled a doctor’s appointment for later that week to investigate. But here I was, in the urgent care, doubled over in pain so strong it really hurt to even breathe. I told the doctor I had thought I might be. He shook his head and said that it was not good news; he believed I had an ectopic pregnancy and that it was rupturing. I really had no idea what this meant; I just needed someone to make the pain stop. The doctor asked if I wanted to go to the hospital by car – or if I wanted him to call an ambulance. This was my first clue how serious this really was.

A painfully slow 10 minute car ride later, I was at the hospital, being examined by what felt like every doctor in the building. Plus a few extras they called in just for me. Apparently a rupturing ectopic pregnancy and appendicitis have similar symptoms. And they were having trouble deciding which was happening to me. I like to think the doctors finally listened to my request but am sure it was the only medical option they had at the time, but when I finally very loudly requested they just cut me open and take a look – well, they did.

Because I was pregnant and there was a chance it may still be a viable pregnancy, they did not put me under general anesthesia. So a few short hours after waking in excruciating pain, I found myself in the operating room, head propped on a pillow, arms tied over my head, and a curtain hung across my chest to block my view as they cut into my stomach – while I was wide-awake. Pretty cool from what I remember. I could feel everything they were doing, but without the pain (thanks to a local anesthetic.) I actually carried on a conversation with the surgeon. He was irritated with me at one point because I kept begging the nurse to move the curtain and let me look. How often do you get the chance to look inside your own body?? Of course they said no.

When I woke that morning I had no idea I was in such serious condition. If it had taken minutes longer to get into surgery and the rupture had been complete, massive amounts of infection would have been sent coursing though my body. That can be fatal. Luckily, mine did not have the opportunity to reach completion and a simple oral antibiotic for several days after surgery was all that was necessary to clear infection.

I was left with two souvenirs of that day, just in case I ever forget the details. One is a six-inch long, one-inch wide scar across my lower right abdomen. I was never shy about showing my scar by wearing a bikini to the beach. If anyone had the curiosity to comment on it, I’ve had a great story to tell. The second souvenir is my son, who turned 26 earlier this year. Thankfully it was my appendix that was rupturing; my pregnancy was safe and sound in my uterus as it should have been. As the incision healed and turned to a scar, my belly was growing with the baby inside. This caused the scar to stretch as it healed; now looking quite as bad as the story sounds. I don’t mind at all.

Labels: Appendicitis or Ectopic Pregnancy

A Review of Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt: High in Calcium

I enjoy trying different brands and flavors of yogurt. It seems that the flavor choice grows larger every day. I recently came across Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt in the yogurt section at my local grocery store. I decided to purchase this fruit flavored treat, try it out and write a product review all about it. Here is what I discovered!

Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt is very affordable, I discovered. This product usually costs around seventy cents a cup at my favorite local grocery store. It is also often on sale and that is nice. The creative dessert flavors that Yoplait offers are really special, in my opinion. Key lime pie, Boston cream pie, strawberry shortcake, these are just a few of the fantastic fat free yogurt flavors. I love blueberries and when I saw Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt, I knew that I wanted to try it. I thought the name “blueberry patch” was really cute. Maybe soon, there will a blueberry pie or blueberry cobbler flavor offered as well.

When I tasted Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt, I was impressed. This fat free yogurt does not taste fat free at all. This yogurt is rich, sweet and creamy. It is full of blueberry flavor. It is delicious. If you are a blueberry yogurt lover, you will love this. Very fruity and bursting with blueberry taste. I rate Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt four stars out of five stars. I will be buying it again. This brand is high quality and also very high in taste. Many of my relatives and friends love this yogurt.

Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt has only one hundred calories. True, some other brands of yogurt have less calories but, in my opinion, Yoplait has better taste. This yogurt is fat free, gluten free, high in calcium and vitamin D, it has active live cultures and it equals only one skim milk on the diet exchange. All of that information is great for dieters. This yogurt tastes like a rich and fattening dessert. I love that!

One serving of Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt contains one hundred calories. Zero of these calories are from fat. One serving has zero grams of total fat, zero grams of saturated fat, zero grams of trans fat, less than five mg’s of cholesterol, two hundred and fifty mg’s of potassium, eighty-five mg’s of sodium, nineteen grams of total carbs, fourteen grams of sugars and five grams of protein. This yogurt has vitamins A, D, calcium and phosphorus in it.

I enjoyed trying Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt and writing a review about it. You can find this yogurt in many grocery stores. For more information about this and other Yoplait food products, you can visit the web site.

Labels: A Review of Yoplait Light Fat Free Blueberry Patch Yogurt: High in Calcium

A High Hematocrit May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

If you have a high hematocrit, you may be at greater risk for heart failure. According to new research, men and women with hematocrit levels at the high end of normal may be at risk for heart problems.

High Hematocrit Count: Does It Increase the Risk of Heart Failure?

When researchers looked at hematocrit levels in 3,523 healthy people between the ages of 50 and 65 as part of the Framingham Heart Study, they found a linear relationship between hematocrit level and their risk of heart failure.

Those with a high-normal hematocrit had twice the risk of developing heart failure relative to those with a low hematocrit level. Women with a hematocrit count greater than 46% and men with a level greater than 50% were at higher risk for heart failure irrespective of other factors. The higher risk of heart failure among those with a high hematocrit or high-normal reading held true even after researchers controlled for other factors that could affect heart failure risk.

Why Would a High Hematocrit Level Be Linked With Heart Failure?

Researchers don’t know for sure why high hematocrit levels and heart failure are linked. One theory is that a high-normal hematocrit reduces the ability of blood vessels to expand. This would put additional strain on the heart and increase the risk of heart failure. A high hematocrit also increases the viscosity of the blood, which means the heart has to work harder to pump the thicker blood through the body.

More research is needed to find out whether this association holds true in larger populations. The limitation of this study was that it included a large number of smokers, which researchers adjusted for, but it still isn’t representative of the average population.

If these results hold true in future studies, it’s possible that doctors will recommend that people with high-normal hematocrit levels donate blood to bring it down. Quitting smoking will also help reduce high hematocrit levels. Some people have elevated hematocrit levels due to dehydration, so drinking more water may help.

The Bottom Line?

If you have a high hematocrit, talk to your doctor. Certain medical conditions can cause hematocrit levels to be high including polycythemia vera and chronic lung disease – and it’s important to treat these conditions if you have them.


Family Practice News. February 1, 2011. page 22.

Labels: A High Hematocrit May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

A Living Wreath: Quick and Easy to Make

Living wreaths hung beside the front door or on the patio create a gorgeous display of fresh flowers or herbs, but can be expensive to purchase. Fortunately making your own is not that difficult to do and you can tailor it to fit your individual style and taste. With a little time and patience, you too can make a living wreath with a simple wreath frame and some cuttings from your favorite plants.

Purchase or make a wreath frame. You will need a beveled frame designed for flowers. You can also make a simple frame with plywood and create the planting area with chicken wire. Simply cut the wire with wire cutters and bend into a dome. Check that the form is uniform in shape.

Insert a layer of moistened sphagnum moss to cover the bottom and part of the sides. Add lightweight potting soil such as seed starter to fill the cavity. Cover the soil with more moistened sphagnum moss. Attach the edges of the chicken wire to the back of the plywood with staples for homemade frames, or secure the moss to purchased wreath frames with floral wire.

Cover the outside of the wreath with sheet moss. You can purchase this from the florist or in craft stores, but natural moss from outside is a great alternative, if you have access to a wooded area. Look for moss on rocks, trees or in shaded areas beneath trees. Areas near streams are usually moss covered.

Use U shaped floral pins to anchor the moss to the wreath. This provides a green background for your plants. Although plants will fill in the areas as they grow, a moss covered background camouflages the wreath base until lush new growth occurs.

Select small seedlings or plant cuttings for your living wreath. Consider ivies, vines, and small flowering plants like petunias, impatiens or orchids. Coleus also make a beautiful multicolored wreath. Cuttings should be dipped in rooting hormone prior to planting.

Lay the wreath down on a flat surface. You will need to leave the wreath in this position until the cuttings or seedlings are established. Choose an area that receives filtered light and is protected from harsh weather or temperature fluctuations.

Arrange plants on the wreath before you begin planting. Try out several arrangements until you find the look you desire. Keep in mind that as plants grow they will fill in the entire area. Experiment with color and texture. Small sections of ivies or ornamental foliage between flowering plants adds interest and texture to a living wreath.

Make a hole through the moss and into the soil with your fingers or pencil. Work the soil away from the sides to allow room for the roots of your plant.

Insert the root ball into the soil and firm the soil around the plant. Secure moss around the base of the plant with florist pins.

Mist the wreath with tepid water to keep the soil moist and to increase humidity. Living wreaths must be established before hanging. Allow roots to form and seedlings to become accustomed to their new home. Generally, your wreath will be ready for hanging in about a week. Test to see if plants have established roots by tugging gently. Resistance to your tugs indicate roots have formed.

Hang in the desired location. Mist daily to maintain moisture. To water, lay the wreath flat and pour water into the soil. Allow to drain and rehang the wreath.

Making your own living wreath provides the opportunity to customize it for your own personal tastes in plants and flowers; and creates as a beautiful hanging garden to display as a welcome to your home, or to bring nature to any deck or patio. Although they may look complicated and difficult to make, you can do it yourself in a few hours. Living wreaths are the perfect decorations for outside weddings and summer parties. With a little care, they will last all season long.

Labels: A Living Wreath: Quick and Easy to Make

April Fool's Day Lesson Plan Ideas for ESL and ELD

Help your ESL/ELD students get the most out of their first April Fool’s Day jokes and fun with these language building activities. These sites are all geared to the older ESL and ELD students: junior high, high school, and adult learners will all benefit.

An introduction to basic April Fool’s Day vocabulary is a prerequisite for all of these activities. Here are a few basic words and phrases used on April Fool’s Day: April Fool’s Day, prank, practical joke, joke, gullible, fool, hoax, play a joke (on), jokester, joker, laugh, laughter, giggle, funny, hilarious, chuckle, crafty, kidding, just kidding, humor, humorous, clever, April, surprise, annoy

Worksheets to Teach April Fool’s Day Concepts and Vocabulary

Once you have introduced basic April Fool’s Day vocabulary, has a nice selection of skill building worksheets. All of the worksheets are ready to print, but you must have the Flash 10 plug in installed on your computer in order to view and to print them. Worksheets are all April Fool’s themed and include: alphabetization activities, word searches, crosswords, and more. To access the worksheets, click here.

Another website with free worksheets is April Fool’s Downloads are divided into lesson plans, clip art, worksheets, and other. For’s collection of worksheets, click here.

April Fool’s History has a brief history of April Fools’ Day on its website. To access the site, click here. A short video on the topic of April Fool’s Day is also available on by clicking here.

April Fool’s Writing and Speaking Topics for ESL and ELD students

Journal and discussion topics can be used to assess students’ understanding of the culture and history of April Fool’s Day. Sample questions include:

How do you thing April Fool’s Day began?

What is the funniest practical joke you have ever heard about?

Have you ever fooled anyone on April Fool’s Day? What did you do?

Have you ever been fooled on April Fool’s Day? What happened?

Are practical jokes ever wrong? When?

Teaching Jokes on April Fool’s Day

Jokes are one of the signature features of April Fool’s Day. ESL students will enjoy decoding a few jokes for April Fool’s Day. For a full lesson on teaching jokes in the ESL classroom, click here. One of the best websites to find jokes for teaching ESL or ELD classes is on the Internet TESL Journal. Jokes on this site are submitted by ESL teachers who have used the jokes in their classroom already. Joke books found in children’s section of the bookstore are also a source of appropriate jokes for students.

More Holiday ESL/ELD Lesson Plans by this Author

Easter Lesson Plan for ESL and ELD Students

Valentine’s Lesson Plan for ESL and ELD Students

St. Patrick’s Day Lesson Plan for ESL and ELD Students

Thanksgiving Lesson Plan for ESL and ELD Students

Christmas Lesson Plan for ESL and ELD Students

New Year’s Lesson Plan for ESL and ELD Students

More ESL/ELD Vocabulary Lists by this Author

140+ Winter Vocabulary Words for ESL and ELD Students

Giant Fall Vocabulary List for ESL and ELD Students

Giant Spring Vocabulary List for ESl and ELD

Easter Vocabulary List For ESL and ELD Students

100+ Valentine’s Day Vocabulary Words and Activities for ESL and ELD

Labels: April Fool's Day Lesson Plan Ideas for ESL and ELD

After Fukushima: Monitoring Radioactive Contamination

Months after the earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Daiichi nuclear plant at Fukushima, local Japanese people living in the area took to monitoring radioactivity levels themselves.

Lack of faith in the Japanese government and its assurances that radioactivity around Fukushima remained low meant that locals sought independent information about contamination.

The New York Times (NYT) reported in August 2011, that many Japanese residents in the stricken areas doubted that the government’s standards were rigorous enough and that state bureacrats were testing for contamination thoroughly.

The Japanese are not used to taking such matters into their own hands. In normal times, government officials would be expected to handle civic matters such as health and safety. After the tsunami and earthquake though, faith in politicians and government fell. One radiation expert who worked for the Japanese Health Ministry quit his job when he realised the state was responding inadequately to the danger posed by radioactivity after the nuclear disaster. Shinzo Kimura began instead to help local officials in Fukushima to carry out their own monitoring procedures.

Confidence in government was not helped when a senior government adviser resigned in tears after a news conference on safe radiation levels for children. He quit, saying he couldn’t accept that children should be exposed to such levels of radiation. Fears about contamination were further increased when it was found that radioactive beef from cattle raised near Fukushima was on sale in food stores.

One local woman who began using a dosimeter was Kiyoko Okoshi. Living within 20 miles of the Daiichi nuclear plant, she stayed in her home after the disaster. Her daughter left, however, taking her young sons with her. Although the family quickly wished to reunite in Mrs Okoshi’s home, the two women were not reassured by official statements that contamination around Fukushima was below dangerous levels. Mrs. Okoshi bought a dosimeter and began using it to check cesium levels on forest roads and in rice paddies around her home. The dosimeter detected up to 67 microsieverts of radioactivity per hour – a level potentially harmful to health.

Kazuyoshi Sato is a councillor in the Fukushima region. He was concerned by the cesium levels detected by Mrs Okoshi and sent Shinzo Kimura to investigate further. Sato knew that dosimeter measurements have limited validity. (The machines only measure one kind of radiation emission.) Sato had seen a map of airborne and soil contamination which was produced by the United States Department of Energy. It revealed dangerous levels of radioactive isotopes cesium 134 and cesium 137 around Mrs Okoshi’s home. Shinzo Kimura subsequently verified that those readings were accurate. Worse, he found that soil samples from one area near Fukushima revealed levels of radioactive contamination equal to those found in the evacuation zone around the Chernobyl nuclear accident site in Ukraine.

The Japanese government was undoubtedly overwhelmed by the scale of the twin catastrophe in March 2011 and by the nuclear disaster unleashed by the earthquake and tsunami. The authorities need to get to grips, however, with the ongoing dangers posed by radiation levels in air, soil, water and food if they are to offer protection to the Japanese people currently at risk. For those in the worst affected areas, near Fukushima, the fear must be that a realistic response – if and when it comes – may be too little, too late.


Labels: After Fukushima: Monitoring Radioactive Contamination

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