Friday, March 3, 2017

All-Natural Mosquito Repellent Reviews and Recommendations

In the part of the country that I live in, mosquitos represent a very real and very deadly threat. West Nile Virus and other mosquito transmitted diseases are infecting more people every year. According to the Department of Public Health for my county, there were 98 diagnosed human cases of West Nile last year. As a father of small children, protecting them from mosquitos becomes a very important issue. Unfortunately, many of the commercially available mosquito repellent products contain DEET and other chemicals that may be harmful to my children as well.

In fact, researches at the Duke University Medical Center found that exposure to DEET can impair brain function and cause memory loss and problems with muscle coordination. What is a father to do when the protection is as dangerous as the threat? Luckily, there are a number of all-natural mosquito repellent products available . I have tried many of them and found them to be effective. I also can read and understand many of the ingredients which eases this parent’s mind.

General Tips for Choosing All-Natural Mosquito Repellent Products

There are some natural mosquito repellent ideas such as cinnamon oil, castor oil, or clove oil. These do work, but are also very strong odors, and they can stain. Commercially available, all-natural mosquito repellents are formulated and tested to not stain or burn your skin. You should let the companies do the trial and error research to figure out what works best.

Just because these products are completely natural, it doesn’t mean that they are harmless. Always test any chemical or solution on your skin or a child’s skin to test for allergic reactions or irritation. Different people will react differently to any substance – natural or not.

Combine all-natural mosquito repellents with strategies to avoid mosquitos. In general, mosquitos are attracted to dark clothing, floral or fruity perfumes, and by moist skin. Also, mosquitos will avoid the hottest part of the day, and they come out when the temperatures cool. The best way to protect yourself from mosquitos is to avoid them.

Any liquid or spray can stain clothing. With DEET, stains are guaranteed , but you should still take care with the all-natural products on clothing.

Recommended All-Natural Mosquito Repellents

Product Name: Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent
Effective Time Frame: I found it effective for about one hour – I had to reapply it on my child hourly.
Special Features: Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent has a generally pleasant odor. It tends to smell a bit like a citronella candle. The product is also not tested on animals and is available in a recyclable aluminum container. It is also effective on ticks – not just mosquitos.
Active Ingredients: Lemongrass Oil (3.20%), Citronella Oil (.40%), Rosemary Oil (40%)

Product Name: Buzz Away Extreme, Natural Insect Repellent
Effective Time Frame: Label says that it is effective for up to 8 hours. I have not tested that amount of time, but I did find it very effective for at least 3 hours.
Special Features: It is long lasting and very pleasant smelling. It has a bit of a cedar smell to it, but it is not overwhelming.
Active Ingredients: Soybean Oil (3.0%), Geranium Oil (6.0%), Castor Oil (8.0%), Cedarwood Oil (1.5%), Citronella Oil (1.0%), Peppermint Oil (0.5%), Lemongrass Oil (0.25%)

Product Name: All Terrain Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Spray
Effective Time Frame: I found it effective for approximately two hours.
Special Features: All Terrain Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Spray is also water and sweat resistant. The bottle advertises that it has a time-released encapsulation so it will last longer. I did find that it was longer lasting than the Burt’s Bees formula, but it was not amazing.
Active Ingredients: Oil of Citronella (10.0%), Oil of Soybean (5.6%), Oil of Peppermint (2.0%), Oil of Cedar (1.50%), Oil of Lemongrass (1.00%), Oil of Geranium (0.05%)

Product Name: Badger Anti-Bug Balm
Effective Time Frame: 2 hours. The lotion seems to work very well at defending against mosquitos, I have not tried it with ticks.
Special Features: This is more of a lotion than a spray. Because of that, it applies with little waste and you know that it is covering well. Also, because it is a balm, it can feel oily on your skin if you are sensitive to such things. I didn’t find that it had much of an odor at all. It is my personal favorite.
Active Ingredients: Citronella Oil (5.0%), Cedar Oil (2.0%), Lemongrass Oil (2.0%), Rosemary Oil (1.0%), Geranium Oil (1.0%)

Labels: All-Natural Mosquito Repellent Reviews and Recommendations

Acute Gouty Arthritis: How Gout Patients Can Obtain Early Screening

Arthritis is a complex health condition that can plague older adults for a variety of reasons. If you are concerned about the complications you suffer from a diagnosis of gout, it is important to become familiar with the risks and symptoms of acute gouty arthritis ‘” a condition that can be debilitating if not well controlled.

Gout is a complication that involves pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. As a condition that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the body, a person who suffers from gout can develop permanent complications of the joints that can reduce mobility and lead to a decrease in quality of life. It is important, therefore, for patients with gout to aggressively manage their uric acid levels through diet, exercise, and medications.

If you live with gout, it is important to speak with your doctor about the signs of acute gouty arthritis. Because gout causes pain in the joints, many gout patients are not aware that they are developing arthritis in the joints until such time as the pain is so severe and no viable treatment can be reversed to improve overall function of the joints. Using a type of blood screening, commonly referred to as an arthritis panel, most gout patients can obtain the early indications of acute gouty arthritis development.

While arthritis medications may prove beneficial to patients who have a positive arthritis panel for acute gouty arthritis, most gout patients benefit best by using physical therapy and rehab services. So, when your gout complications seem to be aggressive, ask your physician for a physical therapy referral as this will help to mitigate the risk for arthritis setting in. Just like complications involving acute pyelonephritis ‘” a condition of the kidneys ‘” any complications involving the filtration of toxic substances from the body must be managed: uric acid is such a toxin.

Gout is a condition that can be effectively managed in patients but requires an aggressive approach to changes in daily living. Without proper management of the uric acid in the joints, arthritis can set in and lead to significant pain and debilitation. If you have a complication involving gout, always be sure to ask about physical therapy and arthritis panel screening to ensure you get the best possible early screening for acute gouty arthritis complications.

Sources: Getting Rid of Gout, by B. T. Emmerson

Labels: Acute Gouty Arthritis: How Gout Patients Can Obtain Early Screening

6 Things You Must Do Before Submitting to Article Banks & Directories

With the rise in unemployment, gas price fluctuations and the ability to travel less and less appealing more people are turning to making a living online by building websites for various niche products and services.

The Internet Has Become The Convenient Second Job

The Internet has become the easy-to-do second job. With a little ingenuity and some basic creative writing skills, there are a number of part-time, schedule it yourself, freelance positions waiting for writers with skills. This niche has grown out of the need for people to have original content for their website. These people don’t need help building their websites, but they need help populating their niche with unique, engaging content that will make visitors return time and again.

Must Do #1 – Remember, Article Directories Are Great, If Used Correctly

As a result, article directories have grown and blossomed where webmasters can shop for content that will make their websites more interesting. There are directories that have articles for just about every niche out there from penguins to handbags. When it comes to submitting your creative works to article directories, there are three things to remember that will make you quite successful.

The best article directories that will give you the most exposure include Ezine Articles, Article Dashboard, Buzzle, GoArticles, ArticlesBase, IdeaMarketers and others.

Must Do #2 – Remember, Article Marketing Is About Helping People

Before we get to the tips, first let’s cover a few basics that will make your writing a lot easier. The articles that you create are for the purpose of allowing others to take them and post them on their website with a linkback to your website. With that said, you want to create quality articles that are helpful and useful to the person reading them.

Must Do #3 – Keep Your Article Length Under 1000 Words

You also want to keep them short about 500 – 1000 words for the average length. Most articles are around 600 words except for the highly technical ones where the people reading are motivated to read long text. People reading on computer screens will get lost in a 2500 word article, and you’ll loose readers unless you put breaks in and use other web design techniques to give their eyes a break.

Must Do #4 – Stay Clear About Why You Are Writing & Submitting The Article

Article writing for the purpose of marketing and exposure is for three key benefits: branding of your website, gathering leads and promoting your site to the world. In order to effectively accomplish this, your article must be focused on one primary goal – to inform and educate your readership on a specific point.

Before you writing anything, figure out what the main purpose of the article and what the reader will benefit by reading your article. While it should be interesting and engaging, most people arrive at your website via a search engine. They come to your site because they have a question about something. Your article must answer that question. With this in mind, writing an article becomes relatively easy.

Must Do #5 – Maximize The Promotional Opportunities Of Your Website

Think about it. You are bringing people to your website by answering questions and solving problems. By submitting articles to article directories, you are increasing exposure to your site, and hopefully you have an Author’s Resource Box that includes a Call-To-Action and a link to your website.

Once they arrive, you should have a website optimized to offer a solution to the problem beyond the article. Whether it’s a e-zine signup form, free report that goes into more detail about a niche product or a product and service that is designed to help the visitor out.

Must Do #6 – Always Publish Content That Will Help Out Your Reader

While you want to get links back to your website from article marketing, remember that what you write is a statement about who you are. As a result, if you throw up a bunch of articles that are low quality, don’t meet the basic purpose of why someone would read it or is just badly written crap, you will be defeating the purpose of writing. You might as well stop and do something else, because your reputation will slowly go down the drain.

With these three things in mind, you should aim your article marketing efforts to the point where you will only want to write articles that are useful, interesting and helpful to the people who will ultimately read your stuff. Submitting lots of articles to article banks and directories is one of the best, free methods for promoting your product or service. Take care and write well. You will see the rewards for your efforts in increased visitors and more sales for your products and services.

Labels: 6 Things You Must Do Before Submitting to Article Banks & Directories

A Guide to Informing DFAS When You Change Banks

Active duty and civilian personnel have an obligation to inform DFAS (Defence Finance Accounting Service) when they change banks, so that their pay can be sent to the correct bank or financial institution when it is due. However, it is not just active duty and civilian personnel who need to keep in contact with DFAS whenever they change banks. Military retirees and annuitants must also inform DFAS of a change in banks so that their pay can be deposited into the correct account. Here’s how.

Retiree Requirements

Retired military personnel who change banking institutions must complete a Standard Form 1199A, Direct Deposit Sign-up Form, which is a 4-page form that must be carefully filled in and then sent to DFAS as soon as possible. Pick up this form at any banking institution or online at After you have completed the form, the financial institution must then verify the information you have included on the form before sending it to the following address:

Defence Finance and Accounting Service,
US Military Retirement Pay,
P.O. Box 7130, London KY, 40742-7130.

Standard Form 119A can also be Faxed to (800) 469-6559, or commercial, (216) 522-5955.

Annuitant Requirements

Annuitants, such as widows and widowers of military retirees, must also contact DFAS whenever they change financial institutions by using the same form that retirees are required to submit. Download the form from and submit the completed form to the following address:

Defence Finance and Accounting Service,
US Military Annuitant Pay,
P.O. Box 7131, London KY, 40742-7131

Or Fax Form 1199A to (800) 982-8459, commercial, (216) 522-5955.

General Instructions

Be sure to read all instructions on the Standard Form 1199A, Direct Deposit Sign-up Form so that you fill in the form correctly. Some portions are marked “payee”, while others are for the financial institution to complete. If you are a joint account holder, make sure you read the special notice to joint account holders and then certify the form.

Further Information

If you need further information about submitting Standard Form 1199A or have any questions, contact a DFAS representative toll-free at (800) 321-1080.

Keep DFAS informed of a change in bank or financial institution so that funds directly deposited into your account, such as your retiree or annuitant pay, get to you on time, every time without being sent to the old account. That is why it is so important to fill in the Standard Form 1199A, Direct Deposit Sign-up Form each time you change banks or financial institutions.


Air Force Retiree Services

Labels: A Guide to Informing DFAS When You Change Banks

Alessi Bakery in Tampa, FL: Famous for Great Food and Scachatta

Tampa has a few restaurants and food establishments which are considered historic to the city; Alessi Bakery is one of those select few places that help make Tampa the city that it is. Alessi Bakery dates back to 1912, and has been an institution in the city ever since.

Alessi’s is well known for many delicious foods, including authentic Cuban sandwiches, deviled crabs, a wide variety of pastries, and the bakery is popular for its high-quality wedding cakes. But one thing you must get when you stop by Alessi Bakery is its scachatta.

About Alessi Bakery’s Scachatta

What is scachatta? Scachatta is a type of flat, square pizza. Alessi’s scachatta is made with a very soft, even-textured bread. However, unlike what you might expect of typical pizza bread, this scachatta bread is moist, not chewy. Unlike most pizzas where cheese is scattered all over the top of the pie, Alessi’s scachatta cheese is scattered on the top and simply complements – does not dominate – the overall flavor of the pizza. The original scachatta comes with ground beef.

In fact, what you really taste with Alessi Bakery’s scachatta is the delicious, unique tomato sauce mixed with an incredible blend of herbs and spices. It is very important to note that the overall flavor of the scachatta is neither spicy nor tart. In fact, it actually is an inimitable blend of sweet and spicy pizza flavors that have easily endured a century’s test of time.

Other Great Foods at Alessi’s

You could go to Alessi’s just for the scachatta…and many people do. But I never leave with just one item when I go to Alessi’s. In fact, I really cannot pay for my order and drive away without ordering a real Cuban sandwich (the kind with ham, salami, Spanish pork, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, and true Cuban bread.

Deviled crabs and papa rellena (“stuffed potatoes”) are two staples at Alessi Bakery and absolutely must be purchased if you have an appreciation for that type of food. I never forget the Texas Pete hot sauce packets on the way out of the bakery!

Of course, no stop at Alessi Bakery is really complete without a pastry item. Their famous chocolate brownies, with chopped nuts and a light dusting of sugar on the bottom is a real treat. But we can’t forget the cold éclairs, authentic flan, assortment of chocolate mousse desserts, tasty cupcakes, or put-a-smile-on-your-face cookies – all of which take on a holiday theme throughout the year.

Oh, and if you are a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football fan, be sure to take home any of the red- and pewter-colored cookies, cupcakes, or other Bucs-themed desserts you can often find during the fall.

Nothing beats the friendly staff at Alessi’s. I have not come across one irritating associate there in all my years of going to the bakery. I grew up going there and continue to shopping there and enjoying their food to this day – my family has been Alessi Bakery fans for decades.

Visiting Alessi Bakery

Alessi Bakery is located at 2909 West Cypress Street in Tampa. The store is about two miles west of Downtown Tampa, and about two miles south of Raymond James Stadium. It is easily accessed from the Armenia/Howard Avenue and Himes Avenue exits along Interstate 275.

If the weather is nice, be sure you take some time to enjoy your meal with family, friends, or by yourself on the covered deck attached to the west side of the bakery or under the shade of the store’s covered front walkway – you will find plenty of tables and chairs in both locations. And if you are heading to the Florida State Fair in February, be sure you stop by the Alessi Bakery stand in the Expo Hall!


Personal and first-hand knowledge

Labels: Alessi Bakery in Tampa, FL: Famous for Great Food and Scachatta

Advice for Parents and Children About Summer Jobs, Chores and Finances

During each summer our youngsters will always choose different ways to enjoy themselves. Parenting often becomes stressfull at times, especially if children decide to stay at home or seek an holiday job. In either case, there are “trouble signs” to look out for. If you are a parent (or parents) who will always have an open mind to good and creative advice, then you will inevitably reduce your personal family parenting stress.

For those parents who will have teenagers seeking after “holiday work” this summer, in 2004 the National Consumers League published some extremely importnat information to protect your teen from making the very serious wrong decision (or mistake)to choose the most unsuitable summer job. “Teen Workers: Beware …These Five Worst Summer ’04 Jobs” will interest all parents with teens seeking jobs this summer, and during other summer times ( The “Five Worst Teen Jobs” and related detailed information reported by the National Consumers League include: (1)Agriculture. Agriculture is the most dangerous industry for young workers. (2)Working Alone and Late-Night Work in Retail. (3)Construction and Work in Heights. (4) Driver/Operator of Forklifts and Tractors and (5) Traveling Youth Crews.

While the full details are accessable online at may I say that the essence of this information is to protect our youngsters from very serious dangers and loss of their lives. Fatalities and injuries are very common among our teenagers and youngsters. Working in summer may seem to be a nice way to get some cash in summer, but if our youngsters choose the wrong jobs, they may not return to school after the summer or go on to college. While some will say there is no best job, parents can look at basic factors concerning their children (like their sex, age, physical structure, personality, peers, intensions, and others) in helping them decide. They are still children and do come under your responsibilities, even while they may be working or enjoying themselves. So looking-out for their welfare is still critically important.

While some children will seek work in summer, others (like the younger pre-teens) may decide to stay at home our in their neighborhood this summer and create their own style of fun. An issue that oftens becomes problematic is “Chores.” As adults, we may remember our own summer and the issuse of extra house work. While I had mixed feelings about doing chores, others (boys and girls alike) may just hate them. Nevertheless, “Studies have shown even simple, regular household responsibilities can enhance a child’s self esteem and self confidence, and help them connect more closely with their families” (Berkenkamp and Alkins 2003, page 93). Here I am looking-out for the parent and child in mutual family harmony.

Berkenkamp and Alkins have stated some basic features to adhere to in achieving the above harmony. Such as, keep the children chores and your expectations age-appropriate since some children will not be able to do beyond what they are capable of at their age; show the kids what you really want to be done so achieving it will not be stressfull; let the children know they have done a good job (of course your discretion will be very critical here). I believe psychologist will call this “positive reinforcement or reward.” Showing sincere appreciation, I believe, will always be welcome by anyone including kids. Keep the youngsters responsible for their contributions, since ultimately rewards will usually be in proportion to effort and mistakes will need have owners before they can be corrected. And, remember that Chores assignment by parents is work for the parents, so be very organised in delegating duties. If your family home situation fall in the above, then these ideas from Berkenkamp and Alkins will certainly help. Applying them will require your appropriate discretion, but as summer comes and go, you will remember them year after year.

While emphasing the youngsters, the parents often need a little direct advice. None of the above, and others you will encounter on your own, will be of much successful use if mutual parental support is not there – in the home. “If you are not getting the support you want in your relationship a significant reason may be that you do not ask enough or you may ask in a way that doesn’t work. Asking for …support is essential to the success of any relationship” (Gray 1992, page 245). In a two-parent home some meaningful support and assistance in managing youngsters (especially teens) will always require both persons. Even if you are a single parent, some aunt, uncle, sister, brother, and so on, support will be necessary. Summer and teens/youngsters will bring different dimensions to family life as the daily home and school routine take a rest. Both parents will need each other, and outside help. Ask, seek and hopefully fing a good neighbor to help. Support for each other and from the broader family will be important to you and the children.

Summer and parenting finances also require some assistance. Summer (like other holidays) will end. Family spending and money management will always need attention. “While it may be tempting to simple ignore debts and hope for a miracle, denying your financial dues will only add to your stress….Directly and honestly dealing with your debt load gives you a sense of control and helps to ease anxiety” (Remedies for Financial Holiday Hangovers at I have always been a believer that good basic management of our monies will significantly reduce parenting stress and enhance family harmony. There are different ways to “manage the money” but o ignore our spending (especially in summer) will not help. Responsible Parenting includes better money management for our youngsters welfare and family benefits.

I sincerely hope the above will be of some help. Many kids and parents alike are not aware many of the above comments. With a little open mind approach and practise parents and youngsters can enjoy a more fulfilling summer relationship that will last year after year.

Labels: Advice for Parents and Children About Summer Jobs, Chores and Finances

9/11 Remembrance Quotes: We Will Never Forget September 11, 2001

9/11 remembrance quotes remind us of a fateful day in 2001 where many innocent American lives were lost. When Americans read over the following 9/11 remembrance quotes, they need to really think about what happened. When the massive towers of the World Trade Center fell, America was brought to her knees. Immediately thereafter, we joined together. Patriotism and love for our country was at its best. People rushed to join the armed services.

9/11 remembrance quotes are needed so that we never forget what happened. As time has gone on we have slowly slinked back into our old ways. No one seems as proud to be an American as they were eight years ago. People are not flocking to join the army.

The following 9/11 remembrance quotes were stated by world leaders and well known icons. These 9/11 remembrance quotes were uttered to help bring America together, and help us to understand the tragedy.

If the culprits are Muslim, they have twisted the teachings of Islam. Whoever performed, or is behind, the terrorist attacks in the United States of America does not represent Islam. God is not behind assassins.
— Muhummad Ali

Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. Freedom will be defended!
— President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

We must not descend to the level of those who perpetrated Tuesday’s violence by targeting individuals based on their race, their religion, or their national origin. Such reports of violence and threats are in direct opposition to the very principles and laws of the United States and will not be tolerated.
–John Ashcroft, Attorney General

The following 9/11 remembrance quotes are inspirational. These words were uttered to help people cope with losses.

Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.

— Charles Reade
I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.
— Leo Buscaglia

Whatever it is that I have lost (or must give up) I must grieve. If I do not do my grieving about the old hurts and insults, then, when I am faced with a here and now grief experience, I will end up having to dredge up all that old energy along with the current experience.
— Elaine Childs-Gowell

We never need to forget 9/11. Keeping these 9/11 remembrance quotes near to our hearts is important. We should not allow this fateful day to slip from our memory. In the words of Former President George W. Bush: “These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of America’s resolve.”

Labels: 9/11 Remembrance Quotes: We Will Never Forget September 11, 2001

A Cat Autopsy and Animal CSI: What I Learned from Animals

Losing a pet can be traumatic, but when one pet kills another it’s almost a Cain and Abel scenario.

In my case, a sister-against-sister canine-versus-feline spat left me with one less mouth to feed and a mystery that had to be solved to see if the canine culprit could stay – or be sent to a shelter

One day in 1997, I came home from my job in Hailey, Idaho to a quiet house

This was not normal

Normal meant two dogs barking, eager to be let out for exercise and fun, and two cats in the window

Instead, no cats watched from the window and no sound greeted my ears as I turned the key, opened the door and eyed my beloved cat “Kitty Gurl” lying dead in the middle of the living room.

My Rhodesian Ridgeback Rosie shied away from me on my entry to the crime scene – living room, couch, coffee table, dead cat in the middle of the floor.

No blood showed anywhere.

I stood stunned for a moment taking the scene in.

My diminutive cat, all black except for a white chest, lay motionless.

I convicted Rosie of the crime. Her companion George, a sheepdog/Springer spaniel mix with a happy-go-lucky attitude, seemed eager to turn her in and testify as a witness.

My other cat – Thomas, the Grey tabby – was nowhere to be seen – probably afraid of becoming the next feline fatality.

As I investigated the crime scene without moving the body, I began to try and determine if this had been a pre-meditated murder or crime of passion.

Had Rosie been biding her time? Had she waited years to pounce on my stray cat taken in years earlier and before the big dog? Or had she killed the cat by accident?

Like most animals in my life, Kitty Gurl was given to me.

She’d been a stray roaming the parking lot at the newspaper I worked at, the Waco Tribune-Herald, and another reporter put the cat on my car. I could not resist and took the cat home.

At the time I lived alone with no pets in a one-bedroom apartment. Kitty Gurl earned her keep by munching anything insect and leaving rodents on the rug at the entrance.

She became my closest confidante.

As my fortune improved, so did her fortune.

I bought a house. She got a kitty condo.

Soon, she got another human to live with who brought along George.

Two more strays joined the menagerie – Thomas the tabby and Rosie, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy abandoned because she did not meet AKC standards for the breed.

From the beginning, there had been an uneasy truce between Rosie and Kitty Gurl as Rosie tried to show she led the pack.

Kitty Gurl, all of five pounds, suffered Rosie’s presence as a pup and then frequently fended off the full-grown 106-pound canine.

The cat kept her claws due to the fact she sharpened them on a scratching post and not furniture. With those sharp claws, she managed to keep the dog intimidated. George, did not care about pack leadership and was more into play as was Thomas, the male cat, who had his claws removed due to his lack of restraint in using them on furniture and screens.

The animals got along fine in wide-open quarters in a three-bedroom house.

After the move to Hailey, Idaho, and two-bedroom house, close quarters resulted in more tension and sometimes bloody encounters.

One, between George and Rosie, left me with a scarred forearm from Rosie’s bite when I reached between the two dogs to break up the fight.

Dad always said “never try to break up a fight between animals – throw water on them.”

Wish I’d listened to dad.

Instead, I wound up scarred.

Later, I found myself investigating an apparent fatal face off.

I wanted desperately to believe the feline’s murder was catslaughter – an accidental death.

Carefully, I picked up Kitty Gurl’s remains. The felt so light, airy and missing her aloof personality. I moved her onto a cookie sheet.

I took her body to the refrigerator and slipped her inside, making the appliance into a sort of a makeshift morgue.

Then I called the veterinarian.

I went straight to the point – I wanted him to perform an autopsy on Kitty Gurl.

He answered with no surprise in his voice, telling me it would cost about $100.

The vet knew all four of our animals. He said he figured sooner or later some mishap would come from keeping two large dogs and two feisty cats in a two-bedroom house.

He called me at work a day after I’d dropped my cat’s body off.

Autopsy results showed my cat died of a blunt trauma to the head and a skull fracture. Tiny puncture wounds around the neck indicated the cat had been picked up by the dog.

Using the location of the cat’s body near the coffee table, the vet and I were able to conclude Rosie had picked the cat up and shaken her. The cat’s head had struck the coffee table and the blow fractured the skull.

The vet theorized Rosie had probably been trying to warn the cat – otherwise a stronger bite to the neck would have finished the job.

Therefore, I could only conclude Rosie had no murderous intent toward the cat and the dog had been asserting her position in the pack.

Now the point of this story – other than the lengths some pet owners go to in order to prove a pet’s innocence or degree of culpability – is what did I learn?

This story came about when Bob at Middle-Zone Musings asked for it here He hosts a “What I learned from…” each month and this time out it was “What I learned from animals.”

Well, the first thing learned was that when there’s two or more animals living together one has to assert their dominance.

The second thing – keep two large dogs and two cats in a small house and havoc ensues.

Third – let it go long enough and ignore the warnings and it’s bad enough to clean up after messes made, but having to bury a pet just comes down to no fun at all.

Labels: A Cat Autopsy and Animal CSI: What I Learned from Animals

African Films: From Hollywood to Nollywood (and Ghallywood and Lolliwood)

Films made in Africa used to be made almost exclusively by Hollywood studios. Not any more.

A fascinating report in Britain’s Economist magazine describes the recent explosion of popular African film-making, chiefly centred in Nigeria. Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is referred to, is suddenly big business. Film makers are turning out around 50 full-length feature films each week in a new industry which is focusing on quantity rather than quality. Only India’s Bollywood produces more films each year than Nigeria.

No wonder there’s a buzz about Nollywood – Nigerian film-making is generating employment and dollars. The Economist reports that Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, is perpetually thronging with camera crews, actors and actresses shooting on location. The films go – deliberately – straight to DVD to be watched in homes across Africa. African audiences don’t have the money to travel to cinemas or buy cinema tickets whereas they can buy the new films for a dollar. Market traders sell (and often produce) Nollywood’s films and sales of each title can reach a million. The Nollywood film industry, street- and market-based, is strictly no frills. It has no studios, no lots and no luxury trailers for the stars. Scenes are shot on location, on tight budgets. The finance comes mainly from traders in the Lagos market, Idumota.

Nollywood films are shot on digital videocameras and it’s the new camera technology which has allowed the industry to take off. Camera work and film editing are rough and ready. Scripts and dialogue are improvised. The lack of professionalism doesn’t stop Nigerians, and Africans elsewhere, buying the output of the new industry though. Poor state-run television programmes, slow internet connections (and poor access to the web anyway) leave millions of Africans with limited options for entertainment.

If customers are queuing up across the African continent to buy Nollywood films it’s partly because the film makers are choosing popular themes. One God One Nation recounts the story of a Muslim man and a Christian woman who long to marry. Caught in the Act is a drama in which a woman is falsely accused of kidnapping a child. Nollywood films relate to their African audiences, depicting ordinary Africans who struggle to make their way in the world. The stories are about hope, despair, trust and betrayal.

The history of cinema in Africa was obviously, until recently, European and American. European rulers imported films for entertainment and later Hollywood arrived on location to make films like The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. During the struggle for independence many of those Hollywood films came to be seen by Africans as racist or simply irrelevant. African audiences now watch far more Nollywood films than either American or European films. As the Economist reports: “The overarching theme of Nollywood films is Africa’s troubled journey to modernity. Because Hollywood films tend to show people at the other end of that journey, they fail to resonate.”

While Nigeria’s film makers and customers are happy about Nollywood’s success, there are many critics within the continent. The intellectual elite in Africa condemn the films as badly made and full of superstitious nonsense and sorcery. Outside Nigeria, there are fears that the films will project Nigerian culture at the expense of other national cultures. Some fear Nollywood is leading to the ‘Nigerianisation’ of Africa.

Nollywood’s new film moguls are perfectly blithe about the criticism. Ernest Obi, who is head of the Lagos actors’ guild, retorts: “We give Africa development and knowledge. We teach people things. If they call us colonial masters – too bad.”

In amongst the criticism there is of course some jealousy on the part of other African countries. Nigeria’s success in film-making has inevitably prompted its African neighbours to get into the film business too. South Africa, Tanzania and Cameroon are already turning out hundreds of films each year and some Kenyan films have lifted trophies at Nigeria’s awards ceremonies. Ghana and Liberia are touting the creation of film industries in their countries too: “Ghallywood” and “Lolliwood” are in production!

There is another interesting aspect to the African film industry – a linguistic one. I’ve travelled and worked in African countries in the past and I remember more than one heated debate, at the Zimbabwe Book Fair in Harare, about African publishing. The debate was whether or not books should be published in the old colonial languages – principally English and French. The problem for those Africans who preferred local languages was that it was thoroughly uneconomic. Nigeria, for example, has over 520 languages. Imagine the translation costs and the different – tiny – print runs. The same applies to film. Since so many Africans speak English, and African film makers want large audiences, films are being made in English rather than in local languages. Nollywood – and Ghallywood and Lolliwood and the other African film industries – are spreading the English language ever more widely.


Labels: African Films: From Hollywood to Nollywood (and Ghallywood and Lolliwood)

Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage: Juicy, Gluten-Free Sausages You'll Enjoy

I was making a mock-German dinner the other night and wasn’t too impressed with the nutrition labels on the bratwurst and knockwurst packages, so I started looking around at the other similar products there in the meat case. That’s when I saw Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage. I was delighted to flip over the package and see that Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausages are gluten-free sausages that contain no MSG, was relatively low in fat, and contain no hormones.


I know what you’re probably thinking – how could chicken sausages taste good? That’s the thing that surprised me, I must confess. I figured I was buying a “healthy sausage” that really wouldn’t taste as good as beef-based sausages.

Let me tell you, Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausages are impressive! They’re so juicy, flavorful, and truly enjoyable to eat – especially when realizing that the ingredient list consists of chicken, dried apples, fruit juice concentrate, salt, and spices. There’s also sodium nitrate and pork casing involved, too.

When I cut open my sausage, I noticed chunks of apple inside. This helps make the sausage taste flavorful and juicy.

It’s when I eat things like Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage that I begin to wonder why we have to be eating sausage that contains tons of fat, MSG, grease, and all the other things that make sausages truly challenging for our bodies. Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage reminds me that sausage can be (relatively) healthy and taste great and juicy.


OK, I won’t say Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage is something you should be eating everyday, but if you’re going to buy and prepare sausage, then consider buying Aidells sausage. Yes, there is sodium nitrate in Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage, but think of all the terrible things you are NOT getting in Aidells sausage. The ingredient list is largely composed of things any of us can actually grow in our backyards!

Here’s a rundown of the nutrition label on the Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage package; one 3-ounce sausage link is a serving:

Calories 180
Calories from Fat 110
Total Fat 13 grams
Saturated Fat 4 grams
Trans Fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 80 mg
Sodium 690 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3 grams
Dietary Fiber less than 1 gram
Sugars 2 grams
Protein 14 grams

I say go out and compare some sausage labels and you’ll see why I’m a fan of Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage. When you see just how tasty and juicy these sausages are, you’ll become a fan, too. I bought a 12-ounce package of Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausages at a Central Florida Publix in January 2010 for $5.99.


Personal and first-hand knowledge and experience
Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage package

Labels: Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage: Juicy, Gluten-Free Sausages You'll Enjoy

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...