Friday, July 22, 2016

14 Sai no Haha: For All Teens Considering Pregnancy

In late June of this year, people around the world were abuzz with a teen pregnancy pack at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, USA. While many parents blame recent popular films such as Knocked Up and Juno, whatever the cause the fact that remains true is that underage teen pregnancy is rising.

Unlike the Hollywood instant hits Juno and Knocked Up, Japan came out with an alternative to better inform teens of the struggles that are endured with being a pregnant teen. To an American, the movie may be a slight exaggerated however nonetheless true to the point that the television series doubles as a great birth control.

14 Sai no Haha (14 Year Old Mother) is a television series that came out on television in 2006 but is now available on DVD in some locations. The story starts out with an average teenage middle school student that is 14 years old; years younger than the common 30 years of age that most Japanese woman plan for their first child. The 14 year olds’ name is Miki Ichinose played by Shida Mirai who suddenly meets up with another classmate called Kanako Ichinose played by Misako Tanaka one day while skipping school. They are two lost teens that need comfort from each other and end up going farther than expected of anyone in their teens.

Ichinose ends up being pregnant after her first encounter with activity of this nature. The television series truly starts at this point when Miki starts to be introduced to the struggles that must be endured as an expecting teen mother. Some of the things that Miki and her family have to consider are:

1. Risks of teenage pregnancy:

2. Telling the rich teenage father about the pregnancy

3. Dealing with society’s sneer

4. Deciding if the two parents want to keep the baby

5. Schools disapproval of having a baby while in school

6. Hospitals declining services to an underage mother

7. Legal forms that are not geared towards younger parents

8. Dealing with the future

9. Premature Babies’ birth

10. Lack of milk supply produced by the underage mother

Although Japan may have a lower rate of teen pregnancy and stricter society influence, this television is still important for all teens to watch. Unlike Hollywood films, 14 Sai no Haha deals with the true facts and struggles that are to be endured by all underage teens planning on having children. So, if the new ABC television series “Supernany” or NBC’s “Baby Borrowers” were not enough birth control for your children or you want to introduce the facts to a teen, I suggest watching this Japanese television series. It holds the facts but does not run along the lines of being corny or X rated. It is clean material for all ages to watch but does deal with the facts of being an underage teen having a baby.This NTV television series comes in a box set of 11 episodes.

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136th Kentucky Derby Underway on Saturday

This Saturday, May 1st marks the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchhill Downs. The ladies will again be donning their loveliest dresses and adorning their heads with the most fashionable hats, and many attendees will be sipping the traditional mint julep. Many men will not be spared fashion and will show off their handsome side in the best attire. “My Own Kentucky Home” will play as the horses get ready to run the two minutes that most of their lives have been spent preparing for.

This year’s race has a chance of rain, making the course conditions a cause for concern. Contenders for this year’s race and the $2,000,000 purse, in order of post draw according to Kentucky.com , are:

1 Lookin’ At Lucky
2 Ice Box
3 Noble’s Promise
4 Super Saver
5 Line of David
6 Stately Victor
7 American Lion
8 Dean’s Kitten
9 Make Music For Me
10 Paddy O’Prado
11Devil May Care
12 Conveyance
13 Jackson Bend
14 Mission Impazible
15 Discreetly Mine
16 Awesome Act
17 Dublin
18 Backtalk
19 Homeboykris
20 Sidney’s Candy

The Kentucky Derby website reports Lookin at Lucky as the favorite with 3 to 1 odds. With 5 out of 6 wins as a 2-year-old, and hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert in the mix, this horse is a good bet to win. Still, there is a bit of doubt out there with this horse coming in at third in April’s Santa Anita Derby. Garret Gomez for jockey does help to settle it, even with the post draw at gate 1. Sidney’s Candy comes in as a second favorite, with 5 to 1 odds.

Endorsement and Interactif are out of the race, which brought Backtalk in. Endorsement suffered a fracture and may have to have surgery. Interactif’s owners chose not to enter, although he was 16th in winnings on the Derby list of 20.

Backtalk is sitting with 50 to 1 odds at gate 18. For some reasons, this is still the one I like. Of course, with this horse’s impressive pedigree including Smarty Jones and Elusive Quality, among other great horses, what’s not to like? Again, though, this horse came in 3rd in April’s Illinois Derby. Overall, this horse’s wins carry some pretty good weight. These have included the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchhill Downs, Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, and Sportsman’s Paradise Stakes at Delta Downs. Certainly, this is one to keep an eye on. With trainer Tom Amoss’ background, and extensive horse experience behind jockey Miguel Mina, the question is, can he do it Derby style?

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14 Can't Miss Quotes for Christmas Gifts and Cards: Humorous, All Occasion and Religious

Christmas is one of my favorite seasons. I don’t think I am different from many people in this. One of my favorite activities is to create my own Christmas greeting cards, but it can be difficult to find just the right quote to use in your cards. Here are a few of my favorites and why:

All-Occasion Christmas Quotes

Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas. ~Dale Evans This one is lovely, Christmas can be year round. If you think of the joy you get when a person you care about opens their gift and you see the joy and delight on their face. I wish I could bring that joy every day. With our children, maybe I do. Maybe we can all try to give just a little more to someone who really needs it.

Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day. ~Helen Steiner RiceSame concept, living the life we live at Christmas, the joy of the season, the gift of giving, the sounds, scents and smells. If only each day could be a little more like these, then may be there could be more peace on Earth.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the word repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Many of the sounds of Christmas, carols, bells, organs, piano’s as well as each of the song’s lyrics, whether old or new, religious or not, send the sweet sounds of peace, harmony, love and joy, as well as caring and kindness. Let’s not forget these attributes throughout the year.

Sadly this Christmas passes away, so let us give thanks today, as we prepare for the year anew, with faith and hope to see it through.”~ Author unknown It’s a fact; the Christmas season comes and goes. Would it be as special if it was celebrated every day? The actions and attitudes should last the whole year through, but the joys of the season may simply be the food we need to revive our attitudes and keep us loving and caring. The Christmas season truly does bring about a whole new beginning of attitudes of hope and faith as we see what so many people are truly capable of.

“At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.” ~Thomas Tusser During these few days every year adults can be children once again, as they celebrate the excitement of giving and sharing and relieve happy childhood memories.

A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away.
~Eva Logue
Your gifts don’t have to shout it out, they can be homemade, or collected the whole year through. The beauty is in the gift, not in the pomp and circumstance of giving and hoping to get gifts.

Humorous Quotes for Christmas

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.” ~Bernard Manning Anyone who has waited until the very last minute to assemble that one very special gift that their spouse, friend, significant other, or especially their children had been wanting for months can understand this quote! Not to mention the 10 page long list that I usually get from my children, I admit there are moments when I want to give them a card saying the same thing. Relieve the stress to your friends who are parents by including this quote in their card. It will get a laugh.

“About all you can do is dream of a white Christmas, for it seems like it always leaves most of us in the red.” ~Author unknown Since I now live in Texas, the thought of a white Christmas will definitely put me in the red, not only would I have to buy gifts, but travel on Christmas too! We all know the “joy” of maxing out or credit cards, spending each paycheck and even using our savings to get the perfect Christmas gifts, relieve some of the stress and laugh about it. Or create home made gifts and get back in black.

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice. ~Author Unknown I avoid the mall at all costs during the Christmas season, but sometimes there is just no other way to get the special gift on my list. So, I drive with all the other crazy’s, park about 10 miles away, not to get the exercise, but because there is nowhere else to park and join the swarms of people, strollers, shopping carts and crying children who are all “celebrating” the season.

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin. ~Jay Leno Need I say more?

Religious Quotes for Christmas Cards

That brings God close to you” ~Ann Shultz Many feel that the season of Advent and Christmas brings us closer to God. It celebrates the birth of Christ as well as reminds people of many Christian concepts and practices. It also proShultza period of time for spiritual renewal through special family religious practices.

“Great little One! Whose all-embracing birth lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth.”
~Richard Crashaw
A celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas gives Heaven and Earth a place to meet.

“Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.”
The ultimate gift of his son, just as many other special gifts, is only truly complete when it is accepted.

“Love came down at Christmas; love all lovely, love divine; love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign.”~ Christina Rossetti My favorite part of the nativity story is that of the angels singing and the bright star. It expresses how even nature and the world celebrated this very special day in their own way, just as we can whether it includes religious practices or not.

You don’t have to limit yourself to greeting cards, use these quotes to sign your cards, create calendars for the month or even an advent calendar using some of the religious quotes. They are perfect for adding to gifts, in many different ways such as a creating a book of quotes that you create and print, or using each quote on a 13 month calendar you create to share your love of the season and a memory of the whole year. You can have them engraved or printed onto plates or cups. There are just so many reasons to have that special Christmas quote for you to use, so keep this list handy. I have a collection of books with quotes for many different occasions, and find that it is nice to always have that perfect quote at the tip of my fingers.

Just remember the reason for the season whether it is religious or simply kindness, caring and occasions and try to take a little bit of Christmas joy and hope with you each day to share.

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14 Tips to Protect Senior Citizens from Elder Abuse Identity Theft

Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be able to be a “Terminator” of financial scams and crimes against the elderly but as California Governor Schwarzenegger signed into effect two laws to help the elderly. The first, SB1343 permits senior citizens to have a friend or family member in the courtroom for support.

“By allowing a friend or family member in the courtroom while giving difficult testimony, elderly and disabled adults will feel more comfortable coming forward and pressing charges to allow justice to be served,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “This legislation not only protects this vulnerable community, but helps to prevent these types of crimes from happening again.”

The second law to protect seniors is SB 612, which provides victims of identity theft the opportunity to have their cases prosecuted in the county that they live in, which is not always the county where the crime occurred. This law provided victims making it much easier for victims to file charges and have the crime prosecuted without the added expense and burden of travel.

What can you do to protect yourself or your elderly loved ones?

Stay educated about identity theft, recent identity theft scams, identity theft laws, your rights, remedies and so on. Here’s a great list of resources to check out and save.

Trusted Sources for Helpful Information on Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft:
A. AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons offers tips through their magazine and their website.
B. IDtheft.gov is the federal government’s website resource.
C. The non-profit organization, Identity Theft Resource Center, has information on their website, as well as a toll free number, 1 (888) 400-5530.
D. The US Department of Justice
E. Visit this website to learn more about the Older Americans Act,
If you’re not internet savvy, your local library can assist you with internet research.

Many seniors have carried their social security card and number around for decades and it is a hard habit to break but seniors need to understand that today the practice simply isn’t smart or safe. Medicare card numbers put seniors at risk too. Instead seniors can leave their cards secured at home and instead carry a copy of their Medicare card with them, with the SSN blacked out. This will help you get the medical treatment you need in case of emergency and but still keep your information safe in case of a theft. Hospitals will not deny treatment based on carrying a copy of your Medicare card. The real card can be presented later.

Do not give out information over the phone, especially bank account or credit card information. If someone calls and claims to be from a bank or credit card company, hang up and call the institution back at a number you already have on a statement. Real institutions will not ask you for sensitive information over the phone and will already have the answers to the questions scammers are fishing for.

There are so many worthy charities out there and unfortunately so many charity scams that want to prey on the generosity of the elderly. CharityNavigator.org is a trustworthy site for researching charities before giving.

Invest in a shredder and a lock safe box. Keep and lock up tax returns for seven years but you have 15 year old tax returns, it is time to shred them.

Wayne Stenehem, the North Dakota Attorney General, spoke at the West Central Vulnerable Adults Coalition event and shared, “Certainly things you need to keep indefinitely like your marriage, divorce, other family, military records. Those kinds of things you keep forever, but your bank accounts and your telephone accounts, those kinds of things can be destroyed.”

Shred all pre-approved credit card offers. They put you at risk for identity theft.

Never sign the back of your credit cards. Instead write photo i.d. required. This makes a stolen credit card less useful in retail stores or banks, although it could still be used for on-line or phone shopping.

Signing up for the Do Not Call Registry can help protect your phone number from scammers.
-Opt out of receiving offers based on your credit report by calling 1-888-567-8688, the Federal Trade Commissions “opt out” line.

Review your financial records including banking, credit card, Social Security benefits, insurance statements and Medicare statements as they arrive for inaccuracies.

Use passwords but choose carefully. It’s tempting to chose an easy to remember number like the last four digits of your social or your birthday but these are too easy for identity thieves. Also, don’t write down and keep your passwords on your desks, in your purse or address book. Lock these away in your lock box too.

Don’t carry credit cards with you that you don’t need. Be sure to make copies of cards and have all phone numbers on file in case your card is stolen or accessed.

Protect your mail from identity thieves. Use a locking mailbox and cancel mail delivery through your post office when you will be away.

Don’t put your trash out way ahead of time for curbside pick up and make sure any trash bins you store outside aren’t easily accessible without being seen. Dumpster diving is just one small way identity thieves go treasure hunting but it still happens..

Lastly, be very careful when issuing a power of attorney. Don’t make a quick, rash or emotional decision and be very suspicious of new acquaintances or newly interested relatives that offer to be your power of attorney. Power of attorney really does offer a lot of power.

Your local police department can help you file identity theft charges but there are many steps that you can take to prevent identity theft and also to stop the crime from continuing if you have become a victim. Unfortunately, you can’t ever “retire” from protecting yourself from identity theft.

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15 Beauty Resolutions for 2011

As you make your New Year’s resolutions for 2011, do you have any beauty resolutions on your list? Print out this list and check off those that apply. This is the year to be a healthier, more beautiful you!

1. I will not go to bed wearing makeup. Sometimes you’re tired. But going to bed with makeup on means you are not only not cleaning your skin properly and setting yourself up for clogged pores, you are also neglecting a nighttime skin regime. Use a mild cleanser like Dove Beauty Bar.
2. I will find the right products for my skin type. Oily, combination, sensitive, acne-prone, dry, aging … maybe you even have rosacea or eczema. Regardless, there are skin care products out there designed specifically for you. Visit a dermatologist if you aren’t sure what you need and talk about what products or treatments are right for you.

3. I will not blindly follow trends. Glitter, smoky eyes, matte skin, glossy lips … some trends are super cute on some people, not so much on others. Find out what looks good on you and what doesn’t. It’s ok to add a trend as a highlight, but if something just doesn’t look or feel right for you, skip it.

4. I will learn to apply makeup in a way that flatters my face shape and coloring. If your makeup constantly looks or feels dated , you may need a refresher course in application techniques.

5. I will get regular trims. Whether you’re growing out your hair, you are hair-lazy, or you just lack the time, this is one area in which you really have to change. Regular trims mean your hair spends less time in ponytails. It will look and feel healthier, have more bounce, and be more manageable. Be kind to yourself Head to the salon and do it for yourself. If not yourself, do it for your hair.

6. I will exfoliate regularly. Exfoliation can be a luxurious once-a-week treatment or a daily part of your shower routine with a pouf. Either way, it removes dead skin cells, revealing fresh skin beneath, allowing for deeper penetration of lotions and moisturizers.

7. I will stop smoking. Smoking is one of the single worst things you can do for your looks. If you still smoke, please stop. Call 1-800-QUITNOW or talk to your health care professional if you need assistance.

8. I will buy a better toothbrush. Gingivitis isn’t pretty, but it’s estimated that 50% of American adults has it. A battery-operated toothbrush is a good investment. Try Crest Spinbrush , and don’t forget to floss and see your dentist every 6 months for an extra bright smile!

9. I will smile more. Speaking of smiles, few things make a person more attractive than a real, honest-to-goodness smile. So smile more often!

10. I will be more confident in my looks. Women are notoriously hard on themselves, but when it the last time you chose a friend solely for the way she looked? In truth, your looks aren’t nearly as important to anyone but you. Be neat, be clean, and respect yourself, but stop worrying about the things you cannot change. You are wonderful the way you are.

11. I will not compare myself to anyone else. You don’t look like Beyonce or Alessandra Ambrosio? Huh. Neither does the vast majority of the female population. You look like you. And that’s ok. Rock your looks. Be proud of them. No one else can look exactly like you, you know. And that’s a good thing.

12. I will live a healthier lifestyle. Join a gym. Eat a healthier diet. And find time to relax.

13. I will moisturize and treat as necessary.

14. I will see a dermatologist and learn to check my skin for suspicious spots, moles, and changes. Skin cancer affects as many as 2 million Americans every year. It is most treatable if caught early, and the only way to catch it early is to see it. Look at your skin and see your derm every year. Don’t let skin cancer disfigure or kill you. (learn more at The Skin Cancer Foundation ).

15. I will always use sunscreen.

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14 Great Tips for Better Holiday Photos

14 Great Tips for Better Holiday Photos

14 Great Tips for Better Holiday Photos
By: Sean McCarthy

Do you want better holiday photos? Are your snaps a bit of a let down? Follow my 10 top tips to get photos that will live up to the memories. You’ll be amazed how good they’ll look and your friends and family will too.

1. To get clear photos avoid camera shake or moving the camera as you take the photo. Squeeze the shutter gently and steady yourself against solid objects.

2. Frame the shot carefully to get well framed photos and keep fingers and other items away from the lens. Obvious but true and yes I have done it.

3. Experiment with compositions. Use roads and paths as strong lead-in lines, use objects in the foreground to add interest and tilt the camera for added drama.

4. Look for details. Often close-up shots of local objects can say as much about a location as scenic panoramas.

5. Take photos in the early morning light or the hour before sunset, know as the ‘Golden Hours’, for dramatic lighting.

6. Get up early and capture your holiday destination with a different character, empty of tourists and peaceful.

7. Really fill the frame with your subject for extra impact. Get close and then closer still. Move around and take photos from different angles.

8. Ask permission first if you want to take photos of local characters to avoid causing offence on cultural, personal or religious grounds.

9. Take photos on bad weather days. Some great atmospheric shots can be achieved when the weather is bad especially with stormy seas.

10. Frame your subject through doorways or windows to create a frame within a frame. Street entrances or trees can also work.

11. Photograph the old next to the new, modern next to the traditional or poverty in the midst of riches. These statement making photos will really stand out.

12. Look for strong graphic images such as sunset silhouettes or combinations of colour and form.

13. The sky can often be as dramatic as the land. If it is include more sky or even just the sky.

14. If you’re shooting digitally check your shots as you go to make sure you get the best ones.

My final words are experiment, get involved, have fun. Don’t be too stiff, relax and get into it. With digital cameras you can take as many photos as you want and just keep the good ones.

Author Bio

Sean McCarthy is the Marketing Director for the Help-Me-Park.Com and a keen amature photographer. Get a great start to your holiday by booking meet and greet airport parking at Gatwick with Help-Me-Park.com. Save money and book airport parking across the UK in advance with – http://ift.tt/2aigYIO

Article Source: http://ift.tt/XYahyA – Free Website Content

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14 Unique, Challenging and Exotic Sexual Positions You Can Try Today

Have you ever wanted to try something new and spicy when it comes to sexual positions? Unless you’re a Kama Sutra professional, more than likely you may have never heard of these positions before. In fact, there are over 100 positions that a couple can entangle themselves in when it comes to sex. Discussing all the positions would go beyond the depth of this article, but listed below are 14 of the most unique, challenging and exotic positions a couple can try.

The Acrobat:

This position can be quite difficult, but it is sure to please those who experiment with it. To do this position, the man needs to lie on his back with the woman on top. The woman is also lying back so that her back is touching the man’s chest. The woman’s legs are either bent back, or if that is too difficult, they can be straight out. The man is the one who will have to do the thrusting for this position, as well as using his hands to be all over his woman. A lot of women like this position as it frees up the man’s hands to be all over them.

The Arch:

This position is much simpler than the acrobat position. The woman starts off by lying on her back with her hips arched up. The man is on his knees between the woman’s legs and thrusts his penis into her. He can use his hands to help the woman hold her hips up or he can use his hands to rub the woman. The arch position allows for excellent penetration.

The Ballerina:

The ballerina is a standing up position, which requires a lot of flexibility and stability. Basically, all that is done is the woman has one foot on the ground and the other one straight in the air. The man holds on to that foot while thrusting into the woman. If the woman is not capable of holding the leg straight in the air, she can try just lifting the leg up with a bended knee and the man can hold on to the knee. This ballerina position allows for the couple to have a lot of face to face contact during this intimate rendezvous.

The Butterfly:

If you are looking for a position that can be done with an “edge”, try the butterfly position. The butterfly position can be done on the edge of the bed, couch, or anywhere else that has an edge. To get into position, the woman lies on the edge with her feet planted firmly on the ground. The man gets on his knees on the floor between the woman’s legs and thrusts his penis into her. This position is a favorite among many.

The Cross:

To do the cross position, the man lies on his side. The woman lies on her back perpendicular to the man with her legs over his hips. The man then thrusts sideways into the woman. The cross position offers a unique way to penetrate the woman.

The Deck Chair:

This position is pretty much a variant from the missionary style position. The deck chair is a great position to penetrate the g-spot and prostate gland. To get into position, the woman lies on her back with her hips pivoted in the air. The woman’s knees are bent and the man is kneeling while penetrating the woman. This position is a favorite among many men!

The Head to Toe:

The head to toe is another position that is unique, yet can be challenging. To get into position, the man is lying on his back. The woman sits on top of the man and bends forward towards the toes with her feet toward the man’s head. Either the man or the woman can do the thrusting with the position. The head to toe position offers a great sensation for both partners.

The Lap Dance:

The lap dance position is not what you get when you go to a strip bar. This is a position that actually requires sexual intercourse, not just an exotic dance. The position is quite simple. All that has to be done is the man needs to sit on the edge of something such as the bed, a couch, et cetera. The woman basically sits on top of the man, facing away from him and takes control of the thrusting.

The Lotus:

This position is a very intimate one as the couple is close to one another and holding on to each other. To get into position, the man sits with the woman sitting on top of him, her legs wrapped around him. The two are facing one another, holding on and enjoying the ride. Again, this is another favorite position of many.

The Suspended Mastery:

The suspended mastery is quite a lot like the butterfly, but reversed. This time the man is sitting on the bed near the edge. The woman sits on top of him and is leaning back, her upper body off the bed. The man would obviously be doing the thrusting and can help support the part of the woman who is off the bed. This position is exotic to say the least.

The Pearly Gates:

The pearly gates position is another favorite of women for it allows the man to be all over her. To get into position, the man lies on his back with the woman on top of him also lying on her back. This time the heads are next to each other instead of on the opposite side. Basically they are laying the same way. The man has his hands free to roam all over his woman’s body.

The Pirate’s Bounty:

This position is another way to get a deep penetration. The woman lies on her back with one leg in the air held up by the man and the other leg spread open. The man is on his knees thrusting into the woman. Many people like this position because of the deep penetration that it provides.

The Side to Side:

The side to side is another intimate position for a couple to interlock into. To get into position, basically do as the title says. Both partners need to be on their sides facing one another. Either partner can do the thrusting with this one. Both partners also have one free hand each to do as they please.

The Stand and Carry:

This position requires a strong man because the man is standing holding onto his woman. The woman has her legs wrapped around the man’s middle and arms around his neck. The man uses his legs to thrust in and out of the woman, providing an intimate experience.

As I mentioned before, there are over 100 different positions that a couple can try. These are 14 of the most unique, challenging and exotic ones; however, the others are just as fun. I encourage you to do a little research and try something new tonight. Your partner will enjoy the experience!

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14-Day Rule of Second Homes and Federal Income Tax Advantages

Second home purchases have become increasingly more common in the last 12 months now that the economy is making an up-turn and real estate investments are beginning to rise. If you are considering a second home purchase, especially for the purpose of bringing in a supplemental income, it is important to also consider how this second home may lower your tax liability and consider how that liability will be affected using the 14-day rule under federal income tax provisions.

Deductions on your income tax for a second home can include deductions for interest on the mortgage, deductions for property tax you are paying on the second home, deductions for homeowners’ insurance on the second home, and deductions for repairs and any depreciation that is a result of the aging of the home. To determine if you can claim any of these deductions on your federal income tax, you’ll first need to consider whether or not your second home is considered a business entity under the provisions of a federal income tax laws.

At the time of this writing, this federal income tax provisions essentially require that your second home be used less than 14 days for personal use by your family, or extended family, or less than 10% of the time that it is available for rent by a third party. In other words, in order for these various expenses associated with owning a second home to be eligible for IRS deduction, your second home must be considered a business entity. To meet the test as a business entity, your home must be used for business 365 days out of the year less 14 days in which your family is able to use it for vacation or personal use.

When considering whether or not you meet the 14-day rule, you will want to meet with a financial counselor or a tax accountant prior to purchasing the second home and work out the details as to whether or not this home can become a tax investment for you as well. Second homes are a great purchase – they bring in additional income, but you will want to make sure that you take advantage of the federal income tax deductions that you might be able to recover. If you plan to use the home more than 10% of the time is it available for rent, or if you plan to use it for personal use more than 14 days out of the year, the home will not produce as great of a tax incentive and, thus, may not be a great investment in terms of financial assets.

Sources: Second Homes for Dummies, by Bridget McCrea, pp. 203-206.

Tags:14-Day Rule of Second Homes and Federal Income Tax Advantages

15 of the 33 Miners in Chile Have Been Rescued

15 of the 33 miner have been rescued from the collapsed mine in Chile. Wouldn’t you like to know a little bit about these men who survived against such unimaginable odds. Jimmy Sanchez is 19 years old. He is the youngest of the 33 miners. While in the Chilean mine that collapsed, Jimmy became a father. The baby is now one month old. Carlos Barrios is 27 years old. Mining is not Carlos’ only profession. He is also a taxi driver. One of Carlos’ favorite thing to do is watch horse racing. Carlos Mamani is 24 years old. He is from Bolivia where he was a farmer. Carlos Mamani only worked 5 days in the Chilean mine before it collapsed. Osman Araya is 30 years old. He is married and has three children. He did not plan to work in the Chilean mine very much longer because of the risk involved. Florencia Avalos is 31 years old and is married. He is second in command of the miners and was chosen to be the first man rescued because he was in the best health. Alex Vega is also 31 years old. Alex is married and has two children. He was saving the money that he was making in the Chilean mine that eventually collapsed in order to buy a house and move out of his parents house. Victor Zamora is 33 years old. Victor was a rural worker before he began working in the Chilean mine that eventually collapsed. His interest include soccer and horse racing. Edison Pena is 34 years old. Edison requested that the rescuers send down a picture of the sun for him to look at. Claudio Yanez is 34 years old. Claudio has other jobs other than the working in the Chilean mine. His interest include classic rock music and soccer. Mario Sepulveda is 40 years old. Mario is also married. He is known to have charmed the Chilean people with his personality in the videos that were send up from the collapsed Chilean mine. Estaban Rojas is 44 years old. He is married. Esteban is a mechanic. Jose Ojeda is 47 years old. He was married but is now widowed. Jose is a master at operating a drilling machine. Victor Segovia is married and has 5 children. Victor kept a journal while being trapped down in the collapsed Chilean mine. Juan Illanes is 51 years old. Juan was a soldier and while he was in the collapsed Chilean mine he encouraged the other men to be disciplined and organized. Jorge Galleguillos is 56 years old. Jorge maintained courage despite that fact the he has hypertension and broke a rib and hurt his back earlier this year. Mario Gomez is 63 years old. Mario has been working in the mines since the age of 12. He is also the oldest of all of the miners that were trapped in the collapsed Chilean mine. There will be more to report of the miners as soon as they get rescued.

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15 Characteristics of a Successful Homeschool

Homeschooling parents have the delightful task of teaching their own children. They get to watch as their child takes their first step, be there when their first tooth falls out, see when their brain makes connections, watch them read their first novel, hear them recite poetry that they have learned, and watch as they explore the broad knowledge that is found within life itself. We also have the task of ensuring that our children are literate, skilled, capable and happy.

If you want to have a successful homeschool in which these things occur, here are 15 characteristics that you should develop within your homeschool:

1. Make sure that the reason why you are homeschooling your child is because you think it is a privilege and a good idea to do so.

2. Express affection for your child by learning with them.

3. Understand that giving knowledge is like a great big hug. Whenever you homeschool your child with this in mind you will create an environment of mutual respect and good will.

4. Be enthusiastic about whatever it is that you are learning together. Show your child that you are interested.

5. Children need a variety of new information so you really should not keep repeating the same thing over and over again. When you are continuously teaching your children about new things their knowledge will continuously expand.

6. Keep your learning materials organized in such a way that they are always readily available. You do not want to have to search for your materials every time it is time to do some learning. Instead, keep a supply of books, materials, games and kits readily available and put these things back where they belong once you are done using them.

7. Ensure that your environment is free from distractions. Your homeschool environment can become chaotic due to all of the stimulation that is going on. So, whenever it is time to do schoolwork, make sure that you turn everything off.

8. Teach your child whenever they are in a good mood. This means that they are rested, fed, feeling good and being happy. Go along with your child’s natural body clock and your family’s natural rhythm and routine. Do not insist upon doing schoolwork whenever your child is cranky, hungry, tired, sick or in pain because you cannot teach anyone anything if they are miserable. Since learning can happen any time, you should use the good times to your advantage.

9. Once your child understands a topic, move on. Listen and trust your child when they tell you that they understand something, otherwise you are only insulting their intelligence. Children learn fast. Leave your child wanting more information, not being frustrated. If your child is in tears about something then suggest moving on to something that your child enjoys and is good at.

10. Make sure that whenever you are learning together you are relaxed. Take breaks and take them often. Be open to alternatives even when it means getting rid of something that does not work. Flexibility is the key to success here. Things that worked yesterday may not work today because your child’s body, needs, abilities and interests are growing and developing. Be willing to start each day off with a new child because they have changed over night.

11. Do not harp about the fact that your child gave you the wrong answer. Instead, give your child the right answer. When this is done in a positive way your child will delight in the fact that you provided them with a piece of information that they needed.

12. Make sure that you keep are honest and keep the promises that you make to your children. This is how you will gain their respect.

13. Trust that your children will learn and trust that you can facilitate this learning. You took a lot of effort to ensure that you prepared materials and explained the concept in a supportive and loving way so trust that your child knows what you have taught them. Your child may not tell you what they learned right away but if you are observant you will discover that they did learn what you taught them. If you doubt your child’s ability to learn or your ability to teach them then you should not be homeschooling.

14. Be sure to give factual, clear and honest answers to your child’s questions. Show them that you think it is important to answer their questions. If you do not know an answer, then help your child find the answer. Empower them by teaching them how to use the Internet, Encyclopedia or library to find their answer. Even really little children can watch you find the answer for them. When these questions come up at inconvenient times, write down the question and follow up on it later. This will show your child that their questions are important and that their love of learning is appreciated. If you add your opinion to something, make sure that your child knows that it is your opinion. Facts mixed with opinions teach children to develop critical thinking skills and the importance of discussions.

15. Above all, remember that you are not only teaching your child but you are teaching them how to teach their own children some day.

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15 Easy Weight Loss Tips

Planning to lose a few pounds? Here are 15 easy tips that will help you get your body into better shape for the summer.

1. Take one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day to burn body and belly fat. This fact was confirmed by a study. People who followed this advice lost a significantly more weight than people taking no vinegar despite having the same diet plan.

2. Drink more water. People who drink more water while following a weight loss program may lose an extra 2.5 pounds.

3. Motivation is crucial for successfully losing weight. People with strong autonomous motivation (desire to make changes for personal reasons without outside help) were better in adhering to a diet and in sustaining the weight loss.

4. Create a fitness program that will include all major muscle groups. Exercise each group for 30 to 60 seconds in a workout session that should last 10 to 20 minutes.

5. Consume a white-tea extract, not green or black. People who drink white tea have fat cells that are radically less fat.

6. Omega-3 fatty acids help greatly fuel fat metabolism in the body. Fish oil contains the enzyme called lipase that is responsible for breaking down fat.

7. Pay attention how you eat. Do not eat fast. Brain needs some time to receive information that your stomach is full.

8. Stressful job can make you overweight. High workplace stress level has a huge effect on your weight, according to a recent study. People under stress usually drink and eat a lot. They also do not have enough sleep. So, it’s imperative that you relax your body and mind in order to lose weight.

9. Some people believe that smoking can help weight loss. A new Spanish study found that the nicotine in cigarettes causes people to gain weight rather than lose it. So, break free from your nicotine addiction.

10. Keep a food diary. Doing this will double your weight loss success, according to a recent study. Another study found that photographic food diaries (taking photos of your meals) are capable of producing even better results than using written diaries alone.

11. Want to double your weight loss? Add small amounts of the amino acid, Leucine, to your everyday diet. Recent studies have found that Leucine causes a reduction in calorie intake. That is not all. It also causes a drop in hunger pangs and increases energy. In addition, the amino acid will help you lose subcutaneous fat very quickly.

12. Counting calories is not enough. You must take into account caloric density as well. Caloric density is the number of calories found in one gram of food. Two components are important: water content and fiber content. Foods that are rich in water and fiber have lower calorie density. These are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. These foods will keep you feeling full. So, if you desire to lose weight, create a diet plan filled with low calorie dense foods.

13. Snacking is a way to weight loss! Add snacks and mini meals in-between your meals. This is the best way to build “self-control”, which is no needed when it comes to losing weight. Why is this important? When you go too long without eating, you become really hungry and end up eating too much. What do you snack on? Snack small portions of foods that you usually eat when dieting.

14. Researchers at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition found that hot peppers can help you lose those extra inches around your waistline. The food scientists say that hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin. It causes the body to produce heat that can help burn away the fat and lose those extra pounds. If you do not like the “burn” of hot peppers, get plants that have a non-burning version of capsaicin called dihydrocapsiate (DCT).

15. You must have enough sleep to lose weight. It was recently discovered that people who sleep less eat more. People who sleep less, eat about 22 percent additional calories the next day. How much sleep in enough? In general, most humans need eight hours of good sleep.

Bonus tip. Become a politician. Today’s politicians are very concerned about their physical appearance. Remember Mike Huckabee’s spectacular 120 pound weight loss! Voters do not want to see someone whose belly is huge.

And now the most important tip – dieting alone will not cause significant weight loss! American researchers found that reducing calories by 30 percent does not result in weight loss. They revealed that diet and exercise must be combined in order to achieve this goal.

Source: Lose Inches Fast

Tags:15 Easy Weight Loss Tips

14 Weeks Pregnant: How Big is My Baby?

Are you fourteen weeks pregnant? Congratulations! You’re now well past the high-risk stages of pregnancy, and your odds of having a healthy baby are not excellent. However, it can be hard to envision your baby before she is actually born. Fetuses develop so rapidly that it may be difficult for you to visualize your little one’s growth and development. Here’s what your 14-week-old fetus looks like now.

The Baby’s Exact Size

Your baby is growing fast; she’s now 3.42 inches long from crown to rump. This week, she will jump in size by more than half an inch– by the end of the week, your baby will be a full four inches long from the top of her head to her butt. She’ll also gain an entire ounce of weight, growing from 1.5 ounces to 2.5 ounces over the course of just 7 days. Get ready for the belly-swelling, if it hasn’t started yet!

A 14-Week-Old Fetus is the Size of…

You can’t always visualize a size based on numbers alone, but comparison might help. At 14 weeks, your baby is roughly the same size as an orange or a small apple. Her total length from head to toe (remember that she is curled up in a fetal position) would measure about as long as a CD or a ballpoint pen. She’s gaining more weight every single day!

What the Baby Looks Like

No doubt about it– your 14-week-old fetus now looks like a baby. She has distinct facial features and is beginning to make expressions. She can squint, frown and even make a face similar to crying. She’s also drinking amniotic fluid and extcreting it as urine. If you could look inside right now, you might even see your little one sucking her tiny thumb. You’re only a few short months away from the final stretch now. Good luck!

Source Used: BabyCenter

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15 of America's Most Haunted Cemeteries

There is always speculation surrounding the existence of ghosts in cemeteries, but those who have witnessed strange phenomenon and ghostly apparitions will assure you spirits dwell near their final resting places.

In an effort to determine the location of haunted cemeteries in America for myself, I’ve compiled a list for all paranormal investigators to use. Also keep in mind that permission to investigate these sacred grounds may be (and most likely is) necessary. Also, entering and investigating these cemeteries is done at your own risk.

1) St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many ghosts are believed to haunt this cemetery but Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, is the most infamous. As the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery is a ghost hunters dream with ornate tombs built above ground (due to the marshy land) and mysterious mausoleums. Visitors have experienced the sounds of weeping coming from within the tombs, as well as seeing transparent figures walking among the crumbling memorials.

2) Resurrection Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Home of the famous urban legend “Bloody Mary.” Mary was murdered along an avenue next to the cemetery. She was leaving the funeral of a loved one, one cold, rainy night. Bloody Mary roams the highway, always hitchhiking, asking to be let off at the gates of the cemetery. Once there, she disappears before the driver’s eyes.

3) Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois. A ghost boy named Michael walks among the graves in this cemetery. Sometimes he can get very angry and run up to a visitor and punch them, or try to knock them down. The ghosts of flood victims are believed to haunt this cemetery as well, particularly a girl named Maggie Jane, who follows visitors then wave goodbye to them as they leave. A witch is also believed to haunt this cemetery.

4) Acacia Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Haunted by The Christmas Tree Captain, Herman Schuenemann captain of Rouse Simmons. Though Schuenemann’s body is not buried at Acacia Cemetery due to his ship having been lost at sea, his wife is buried here. The smell of fresh cut spruce and balsam is said to emanate from her gravesite.

5) El Campo Santo Cemetery in San Diego. Many folks have reported sightings of Native American ghosts, supposed park employees dressed in period costume, a woman in Victorian costume and apparitions slipping between and through tombstones. The cemetery, built in 1849 was partially covered by a street and still other graves have been desecrated in one way or another over the years. Such turmoil is believed to anger and stir up the dead, which leads to an increase in ghostly activity.

6) Salem Cemetery in Hendrysberg, Ohio. The ghost of Kirkwood Township’s first murdered citizen haunts this cemetery, Louiza Fox. She has been seen crying at her grave and has been seen at the site of her murder. Hounds from Hell, or ghost dogs are believed to roam and growl their way through this cemetery. Some believe they exist to keep the ghosts from escaping.

7) Stull Cemetery in Stull, Kansas. Some believe Satan himself holds meetings here with his lost worshippers. This cemetery has been called “The Seventh Gate to Hell” as well as “The Cemetery of the Damned.” A legend exists regarding this cemetery and the burial of Satan’s only half-human son. Having died at a mere 10 years of age, this “boy” can present himself as a dog, cat or wolf. At the Spring and Autumnal equinoxes, lights and evil forces are supposed to materialize above this boy’s unmarked grave.

8) Garden of Hope Cemetery in Gautier, Mississippi. During the late 1970’s, a family of five was murdered. This murdered family was buried in the Garden of Hope Cemetery and the three children have been seen playing among the tombstones here. There is another story of a man who climbs out of his grave, only to steal the flowers from other graves to grace his own.

9) Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Access to this cemetery is gained only by a narrow road, as it is no longer in use. This cemetery has numerous sightings of full-bodied apparitions as well as a ghostly farmhouse. Never seen in the same place twice, the house is said to be white with pillars, have a porch swing and one single light burning in the window. This ghostly farmhouse always disappears before the visitor can get close to it. Bachelor’s Grove was also a known dumping ground for Prohibition Era gangsters.

10) Forest Lawns Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Rocky Marciano, the “Greatest Boxing Champion” of all time was buried in this cemetery, along with his wife, Barbara. Orbs have been seen around their graves as well as photos taken of ghostly Rocky. A woman named Diane, dressed in a long pink gown is known to have no care for moving vehicles within the cemetery and floats right in front of cars, only to disappear right before she is hit.

11) Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Home of “The Italian Bride.” A girl named Julia is buried here, having died from complications during childbirth, alongside her stillborn infant. After her death her mother had recurrent dreams about Julia, who visited her in these dreams pleading with her to exhume her body. Upon doing so, Julia was found to be uncorrupted by death and looking as natural and pure as the day she was buried. Some believed this should secure her sainthood. Regardless, her ghost has been witnessed roaming the cemetery grounds, as well as the surrounding buildings and streets around the cemetery.

12) Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Previously known as Hollywood Memorial Park, this cemetery is reportedly haunted by Virginia Rappe, Clifton Webb, and the “Lady in Black” is oftentimes seen nearby Rudolph Valentino’s crypt. Definitely a more publicized, touristy location than the average ghost hunter might prefer. However, the beauty and rich history of America’s dead entertainers in this cemetery is bound to satisfy anyone’s (even a ghost hunters) curiosities.

13) Peck Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois. Strange lights and apparitions are said to have been witnessed in this cemetery. Blue light has been seen flickering above and weaving its way around gravestones, only to disappear in the nearby woods. Occultists are believed to meet in this cemetery, which, some believe, stir up the dead and make ghosts more active.

14) Western Burial Ground, Westminster Presbyterian Churchyard in Baltimore, Maryland. Famous folks such as Edgar Allen Poe, son of Francis Scott Key and assorted American politicians have been buried on these grounds. There are catacombs located beneath the church, and it is said that some people were buried alive and appear in the catacombs to relay their tale to the living. Edgar Allen Poe is said to roam these grounds, especially around his birthdate, January 19th.

15) Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Exeter Rhode Island. This cemetery boasts the ghost of Marcy Brown, a poor young girl who died in 1892. Supposedly, she visited her father every night after her death, pleading with him for food. The father grew to believe his daughter had become a vampire, and convinced the local officials to exhume her body and drain it of remaining blood and remove her organs. This violating act may just be the reason Marcy Brown haunts this cemetery day and night.

SOURCES:
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15 Considerations when Choosing a Property Location

Choosing the right property location is an important consideration when building a home. My husband and I invested a significant amount of time investigating properties before we found one that was suitable for our proposed home. During the process, we spent money and time on a property that we later learned possessed a problem that would prevent us from building our home. This article intends to share with you the knowledge that my husband and I learned during the property site selection process.

When shopping for a property location for your new home, I strongly recommend that you consider the following:

1. Property cost. You should not eliminate a property simply based on its list price. You might be able to negotiate a better price for the property by finding the answers to the following questions: How much did the current owner pay for the property? How long did the current owner own the property? What did neighbors pay for their land? What are other properties of similar size selling for in the area? You might be able to determine some of this information from public records, from newspaper listings, or from neighbors.

2. Property fit with proposed house. Imagine what your proposed home will look like on the property. Your house should look good on the property that you choose. It should also look good next to surrounding homes. This is important in case you sell your home.

3. Property survey. Again, you need to imagine your proposed home on the property. Do the property dimensions allow you enough space in your front, back and side yards? Is the shape of the property (rectangle, square, pie, etc.) acceptable to you?

4. Existing easements and/or covenants. Easements and covenants can affect how you can use the property now and in the future. Are there any restrictions on how you can use the property now? Do you have to get someone’s approval when you want to plant a tree, purchase a pool, or do landscaping?

5. Utility availability. Don’t assume that the real estate listing is accurate regarding utilities. Instead, verify that you can get all utilities to your proposed house. Call the water, electric, gas, and sewer facilities in the area. Tell them the location of the property (i.e., it is between 219 and 211 Main Street), and ask if utilities are available for the property.

6. Utility connection cost. Being available and being financially reasonable are two different things. Even if gas is available for a property, for example, it might cost thousands of dollars to extend the gas line from its current location to your property. Verify that you can purchase a sewer tap-in for the property, since sometimes tap-ins are restricted because of sewer capacities. You don’t want to buy a property and then not be able to build on it, because you can’t connect to the sewer. If this occurred, you might not be able to resell the property, either, since other property owners would encounter the same problem with the tap-in. Determine the cost of the sewer tap-in and the expiration date of the sewer-tap. Determine if a storm sewer services the property. If not, you might need a sump, which could be expensive. How deep is the sanitary sewer? Do you need a sewer pump? If using a septic system, did the property have a recent perk test? What were the test results? How much will it cost to install and maintain a septic system?

7. Mine cover. Contact your local department of mines to determine if the property is built over a mine. Take the time to investigate the amount of cover (land) on top of the mine. In general, the more cover over the mine, the better protected you are if the mine walls would collapse. Discuss the findings with a representative from the department of mines. At this point, you will also want to investigate mine subsidence insurance.

8. Title search results. Perform a title search yourself or hire someone else to do one. Make sure you review the title search before the property’s scheduled closing date. Also make sure your sales contract includes a clause that lets you cancel the sales agreement if the title search uncovers something that you do not like about the property. Some properties have building restrictions attached to them that are specified in the property deed (or contained somewhere within a former owner’s deed and binding upon future buyers).

9. Neighbor input. Talk to neighbors about the property. Ask them what they know about the property. A neighbor might tell you information about the property that the real estate listing agent doesn’t know and the property seller won’t volunteer. This also provides you with an opportunity to meet your future neighbors and determine if the neighborhood is a good fit for you.

10. Estimated and interim taxes. Taxes affect your monthly mortgage payment, so you need to find out how much they will cost you for the proposed value of your new home. You also need to know if you will be subject to a supplemental or interim tax after you move into your dwelling. Some municipalities offer a tax abatement available for new construction, so be sure to ask about it.

11. Potential Extra Building Costs. Have your potential builder evaluate the property for situations that could substantially increase your building costs before you sign a sales agreement. Certain degrees of sloping, for example, could require either an expensive retaining wall or a grinder pump. Grinder pumps are used to make water and/or sewerage travel uphill. A relatively inexpensive property can quickly become very expensive after you include costs for purchasing, maintaining and replacing a grinder pump.

12. Potential Area Changes. Decide what you like best about the property. Is that feature likely to change in the future? For example, a property might be located on a quiet road because it is surrounded by farmland. When the farms sell and new homes are built on the farmland, however, the road will become much busier.

13. Quality of Neighborhood and School District. Learn about the neighborhood, school district, and crime rate. Visit the public library. Determine if public transportation is available. Because of the expenses relating to building, you probably won’t be moving again soon. Now is the time to determine if you will be happy in the area.

14. Probable School District Changes. Before purchasing a property, attend a school board meeting or review recent meeting minutes. You might learn about future building projects or other problems that will influence your taxes and the quality of education that children receive.

15. Convenience to Shopping, Highway, etc. Finding a remote spot might be what you envisioned, but spending a large time driving just to buy gas or groceries may get tiring after a while.

Exploring these 15 considerations now can prevent problems later in the building process. It is a lot of work, but you will find that it is worth the effort. Good luck with your property search!

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140 Characters Are Worth a Thousand Words

Journalism has always had restrictions. There is always the constant struggle to find the newsworthy over the unremarkable, the ethical over the unethical, and the truth over falsified information. Lately, journalism has added another restriction to the list: 140 characters.

Micro-journalism, in the last 3 years, has become something of a mainstream addition to news and broadcast journalism. Twitter, a micro-blogging social network that allows users to communicate with other friends, known as followers, has been on a shocking rise since it’s inception 3 years ago. With it’s ease of use and it’s ability to connect people instantly on the computer and on the phone, it is no surprise that Twitter has seeped into the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

News and journalism have always had a knack for clinging on to instant communication. The faster the information can be provided to viewers, the more journalists admire it. It is no wonder that Twitter has affected the broadcast journalism world heavily.

Los Angeles journalist Erin Kotecki Vest is very familiar with the infusion of Twitter and Journalism.

“Twitter was a game changer for me. While blogging was an effective form of communication, twitter took that power and multiplied it times 50. Now I wasn’t just blogging politics, I was tweeting back and forth with politicians.”

And the buck did not stop there. Politicians were just part of the new wave of public officials using Twitter. Celebrities, athletes, corporations, local businesses, journalists, and most importantly, the public, were pouring in. Comscore Inc., the renowned internet marketing research firm, confirms a 1,271% increase in unique visitors between October 2008 and October 2009. This soar in users can be blamed upon various media events in the past year, but none more than the 2008 Presidential Elections and the Iran Elections.

When asked about the possibilities of Twitter as a news reporting service, Ohio State University social media guru Forrest Kobayashi said, “Twitter has had a profound impact on journalism and the news media. Its slowly become a medium for citizen journalists to spread their message in real-time. The possibilities are incredible and will continue to grow. As more and more people sign up for the service, there will be a dramatic shift towards citizen journalism as a big way in how we receive our news.”

In the past two years @BreakingNewsON, a radical news breaking service that trends to report breaking news from around the globe before any other media organization, has become the go to spot for “news junkies” and twitter users. Working around the clock, the hundreds of journalists across the globe are able to “tweet” in Breaking News as it happens, keeping tabs on any new developments.

“The Internet has been known to deliver the news faster than a newspaper or other printed material, but Twitter has made this all possible in a relatively fast and concise manner. When an airplane fell into the Hudson River in New York City, the first photo of its landing appeared on Twitter. It goes to show that 140 characters or less can sum up most, if not all, situations,” says Mashable.com Events Director Brett Petersel.

With more than 7+ million views a month and more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter according to Alexa rankings, Mashable has bookmarked its name as the top social media news blog on the globe.

Twitter’s impact on Mashable has been huge. Every reporter on the site constantly updates their Twitter accounts, adding links and articles to make sure followers are always up to date on the new developments in the social media world. Mashable, however is not the only group to use Twitter to spread news feverishly.

CNN was one of the first news organizations to see Twitter’s ability for what it was and harness it. During emergencies, it was useful for CNN to keep their eyes locked on tweets pouring in. In October of 2007 government emergency services would tweet constantly abou the California fires, alerting homeowners and regions of the flame’s proximity. Local police would use Twitter to evacuate regions in danger of being consumed by the flames while relief organizations like The American Red Cross posted sites where relief camps had been set up.

The 2008 Mumbai attacks brought upon a new surge of Twitter use. With thousands of Indian civilians and tourists caught in the middle of the terrorist plot, Twitter was the fastest way to spread information. CNN referred to the crisis as “the day that social media appeared to come of age.” Twitter user naoimeve wrote: “Mumbai is not a city under attack as much as it is a social media experiment in action.” At one point, the Indian government asked for live Twitter updates from Mumbai to cease immediately, as the updates conflicted with security efforts.

Twitter’s reach extends even into the last frontier, as International Space Station astronaut Mike Massimo, better known as @Astro_Mike would tweet from outer space, constantly sending photographs of the Earth horizon and his crew.

Now the only question remains, where does Twitter go from here? After extending to 60 million users this past September, experts say it’s still only up from here. Experts like MSN Money’s Andrew Jeffery.

“Twitter will be remembered as the peak of the social networking bubble. Basic information [on Twitter] appears in triplicate upon triplicate, and the chore isn’t finding a piece of data, but figuring out if it’s worth, pardon the expression, the paper it’s printed on. By giving every human with access to the Internet a voice and concurrently allowing each of those humans to ‘listen in’ on the thoughts of other humans, Twitter allows each of us to construct our own condensed version of the rest of the world. Citizen journalism will evolve beyond reason.”

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15 Dirty Santa or Whte Elephant Gag Gift Ideas for Your Christmas Party (AKA Chinese Christmas Game)

The White Elephant Christmas Gift exchange game is a big hit at most Christmas parties. Whether it’s for your sorority, college group, neighborhood party, family or a group of friends, it’s sure to be quite entertaining. This article provides several ideas for the White Elephant Christmas (or “Dirty Santa”) gift exchange game.

If none of these work for you, read this article with alot of ideas and this one too.


Memento T-Shirt

Grab an old white t-shirt, a sharpie marker and right something like “I went to a Christmas party and this is all I got.” It’s funny and cheap.

Old Used Toy

One excellent idea for a white elephant Christmas gift idea is to go to a thrift store and pick out an old used toy. It could be a hit for guests who are parents. One clever idea is to get on eBay and buy a toy that was popular when you were a kid, but they don’t sell them now. (One idea is a pogo ball.)

An Assortment of “Cream of” Soups with Recipe Ideas

For this gift, purchase about 10 cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups. Put it in a nice box and add some recipe ideas. If you need some recipes, read “5 Great Casserole Recipes for Potlucks.” You also might try “5 More Great Casseroles for Potlucks.”

A Collection of Used Gift Bags

If you recently got married and had a Bridal shower, or if you just had a baby, you probably have a plethora of gift bags. Put all of them into one big give bag, cover it with tissue paper, and you’ve got an excellent white elephant gift!

Denture Cleaner

This one’s funny and perhaps someone who wears retainers at night will be happy to have it!

A Variety Cookie Mixes

Buy an assortment of cookie mixes. This gift probably won’t be something that everyone will gag at, but it’s a nice gift exchange gift!

A Little White Elephant Trinket

Search for “White Elephant” on eBay and several cheap items will appear. There’s even a little white elephant necklace currently selling. It would be a cute gift.

Bag of “Mini Reindeer Noses”

For this gift buy a packet of red hot candies. Pour them in a ziplock bag and attach the poem “I was going to bring a dozen roses, but since it’s a Christmas party, I brought a bag of Reindeer noses.

Dog Shampoo

Someone with a dog might be happy to receive this bizarre gift!

Old Stonewashed Jeans from the Late 80’s/ Early 90’s

Go to a thrift store and see if you can find a pair of stonewashed jeans, which were very popular many years ago. This will bring some laughs for sure. You might also search on eBay for them. (I just searched and found three pairs.)

A Half Empty Bottle of Mouthwash

This is a hilarious cheap gift!

Firefly Cage

This is definitely a gag gift. Wash out a jar, poke several holes in the top, and label it as a “firefly cage”. If that’s not a ridiculous white elephant gift, I don’t know what is!

Silly Socks

Buy a pair or two of cute socks. You can find them at Old Navy, Walmart and other stores. You can find them with butterflies, frogs, etc.

Old Exercise Video

Find an old exercise video, such as a “Sweating the Oldies” tape. You might include it with a bag of cookies or doritos. It will be something a little different.

A Jar of Loose Change

This will probably be the gift that everyone tries to steal and fight over! Wrap it in ugly wrapping paper, like a big brown paper bag, sealed together with duct tape.

Random Kitchen Gadget

Go through the kitchen section of your local Wal-Mart or Target and pick out whatever gadget you think would be the most unusual. This could be a very practical gift for someone!

Happy Partying! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tags:15 Dirty Santa or Whte Elephant Gag Gift Ideas for Your Christmas Party (AKA Chinese Christmas Game)

15 Best Platinum Xbox 360 Games of 2009 and 2008 Under $20

We all want to save money, especially in these rough economic times. But we also want our video games! You don’t need the latest, newest $60 video games to have fun though. Chances are you haven’t purchased every hot new game that has come out in the past. Maybe you’ve wanted it but the news of brand new games and the hype that comes along with them have probably led you to forget about them. Over the years great games have come by and over time their prices have dropped. You don’t need the newest, hottest games to have fun or be entertained. For the same price as a new game it’s possible to get 3-4 games that are just as great. Not only this but as a consumer you know that overtime the $60 game you bought, in a few months won’t be $60. So why not wait for its inevitable drop and in the mean time spend those 60 bucks on games that will give you a better bang for their buck. You can even save more cash by buying a used, guarenteed to work game from Gamestop. If your a devoted gamer and your able to beat that used game in a week, you can return the game and get a new one! The 15 games aren’t listed in any type of order so it’s up to you to decide which ones you want.

1. Half-Life 2 The Orange Box– $20 New , $18 used.
A compilation of five great games from valve into one small box. Enough Said.

2. Viva Pinata-$15 used.
Unique gardening experience filled with humor and fun for everyone. An insanely addicting and fun game where you try to kind of grow your own farm and garden attracting rare animals like doenuts.

3. Rainbow Six Vegas 2-$20 New, $18 Used.
Intense Shooter with a great Multiplayer experience and a good story. I haven’t play this myself but I’ve heard a lot about it and it sounds pretty good.

4. Saints Row 2-$20 New, $18 used.
A hilarious game where you can customize nearly everything about your character including voice face coloring etc mixed with some intense shooting action.

5. Grand Theft Auto IV- $30 new, $13 used.
One of the greatest sandbox games of all time where you can literally do anything for pool, to poker to watching television ads. The story line is great and the gameplay is almost flawless.

6. Mass Effect– $10 Used.
A great game with a high replay value. Choose many types of starting classes and experience a unique story and dialogue depending on your actions, choices and things you say.

7. Halo 3-$20 Used, $30 New.
One of the greatest games of 2008 with an extremely fun four player online co-op campaign as well as a great Multiplayer system with rankings. Customizations of maps also make this game a blast.

8. Gears of War 2-$20 Used, $30 New.
An intense shooter with a great story. One of the best things about this game is a Multiplayer mode called the horde in which you and your friends/teammates try to survive against waves of aliens for as long as possible. Insanely fun and addicting.

9. Fable 2-$20 New, $18 Used.
One of the best RPG’s of 2009 in which nearly everything you do affects your appearance and gameplay. Choose to be evil and your body will take revolutionary changes to make you look like a demon. Be Good and the citizens will cheer as you walk by. Your decisions really affect this game and there are just so many ways of playing it that you’ll want to beat it more then once.

10. Fallout 3– New $30, Used $20.
One of the most highly acclaimed games of 2009. Explore the wastelands after nuclear war and choose a play style ranging from stealth where you set off mines leading enemies into traps or talking your way out of nasty situations. Your choices truly effect your gameplay and the environment around you with decisions you make such as the destruction of an entire town. The story is also great in fallout 3 and will keep you captivated for hours.

11. Dead Rising– $20 New, $18 Used.

12. Crackdown-$13 Used.

13. Bioshock-$15 Used, $20 New.

14. Assasin’s Creed-$20 Used.

15.Ninja Gaiden II-$18 Used.

Hope you enjoy this list and Happy gaming!

Tags:15 Best Platinum Xbox 360 Games of 2009 and 2008 Under $20

15 Easy, Inexpensive, Recyled Gifts and Crafts to Make with Children

Got bored kids? Here’s a boredom busting solution: set up an old craft table and put them to work making gifts and crafts for any upcoming holiday. Here are 15 easy, inexpensive crafts and gifts, using recycled supplies. Great for grandparents, care-givers, Godparents, teachers, pastor or priest and the mail carrier. Deliver them to the local senior care facility along with bright smiles.

Window clings: Craft stores sell special paint for windows. Make your own by adding tempera and glue. Draw simple patterns on piece of recycled Styrofoam. Children fill in pattern with paint. The paint does not mix, so they can put one color next to another. It dries clear and can be peeled off from the plate and stuck to any window.

Decorated picture frames Any plain wood or cardboard frame works fine. Use ribbon, foam shapes, faux jewels and craft paint to decorate. Paint simple flower patterns by dabbing a ring of five single-color dots and placing an alternate color dot in the center. These look like forget-me-nots.

Decorated treasure boxes Paint and decorate small, wooden or cardboard treasure boxes available for under a buck at Joanne’s Fabrics and Hobby Lobby.

Flavored coffee Mix instant coffee crystals, hot cocoa mix, creamer and cinnamon. Fill sanitized, recycled jars and tie with a decorative ribbon.

Recorded stories Tape children reading their favorite stories. These make good gifts for younger siblings. Burn on CD and put a copy of the book and CD in a zippered bag.

Holiday ornaments using these recycled materials:

-foam cut-outs decorated with glitter, sequins, buttons and ribbon.

-pipe cleaners twisted into candy canes or strung with beads to make a wreath or star

-plastic or metal lid with a picture of the child cut to fit inside; decorated with ribbon, lace, paint and glitter

Bead jewelry, necklaces, earrings and bracelets Use glass, wood, bone or metal beads, buttons, leather lacing or waxed cord. Bead jewelry kits are available at Walmart for under four dollar per set. I encourage the older kids to follow a pattern for best results.

Refrigerator magnets using recycled materials:

-metal or plastic lid picture frame (like the ornament described earlier); attach a piece of magnetic adhesive strip

-clothespins decorated with yarn and fabric pieces made into dolls

-plaster of Paris molded into shapes and painted.

Children’s artwork. Have children write a note on the back of pictures they have made. Use as holiday greeting cards, or frame the art.

Greeting cards Use folded construction paper or recycled paper. Decorate with 3-D tissue paper designs. Draw a basic holiday shape on the front of the card. Cut tissue paper cut into one inch squares. Place a piece of tissue paper over the eraser of a pencil. Fold down. Dip in glue. Stick inside the design and repeat to fill in a the design, using different colors. Make a star, bell, poinsettia, angel or Christmas tree design.

Videotape. Have older children videotape of your family and create a movie from Windows Movie Maker or other computer’s media player. Use stills from a digital camera. Kids will enjoy using special effects, music and design tools. This project gives them experience and fun of film making.

Calendar. Here are free printable calendars. Print and attach to construction paper, one for each month. Have the kids make a picture or scene for each month. Use glitter for fireworks, cotton for clouds or snow, feathers for birds, fabric or wallpaper scraps. Let your imagination be your guide.

Bird treats Roll pine cones in peanut butter and bird seed. Place a piece of ribbon around it to hang it by.

Pet Treats Mix flour, dried milk and tuna or chicken broth. Knead the dough into shapes and bake until firm.

Stuffed Snake Teach the kids basic sewing practice by making a snake. Cut a long, narrow piece of fabric. Sew right sides together along the long edge to form a tube. Sew one end closed. Turn right side out and stuff. Sew end closed. Decorate by drawing eyes and adding a tongue.

For more crafts and activities for kids, visit my linked blogs.

Tags:15 Easy, Inexpensive, Recyled Gifts and Crafts to Make with Children

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