Saturday, December 17, 2016

4 Most Essential Auto Features for Child Safety

Car safety features are of the essence when making a buying decision. Do not fool yourself into thinking that only new car buyers have the luxury of opting for secure vehicles. Find the four most essential auto features for safety also on the used car lot.

1. Emergency trunk release

One of the best car features to look for is the emergency trunk release. Auto World announced a while back that Ford decided to pioneer in the field of car safety features and include them to be standard. There are retrofit kits available; negotiate with the car dealer to only show you cars that have the emergency release handle — or throw in a kit for free as part of the purchase.

2. Shift interlock

One of the most essential auto features — and also frequently taken for granted — is the shift interlock. Until the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was signed by President George W. Bush, the brake transmission shift interlock was largely a voluntary feature by manufacturers — even though it had been around for a good long time.

Now mandated, there are still some cars on the road that lack this function. It prevents a car from being put in gear without the brake pedal simultaneously being pressed. If you notice — while test driving a used car — that shifting is a snap with or without the brake pedal pushed down, pass on the car.

3. Automatic power window reversal

Moms driving around the kids already know that locking the rear power windows is a must for safe driving enjoyment. Of course, when adult passengers demand open windows, mom might disengage the window lock. Forget to re-engage it, and children are at risk of opening the windows, letting arms hang out or getting fingers pinched when closing the power windows.

The aforementioned piece of legislation also instructed car makers to include an automatic window reversal if there is resistance to its closing. Needless to say, only few cars made before 2010 actually have this most essential of auto features. If you have the option of buying a later model used car, it may be very advantageous to do so.

4. Blind spot reducers

Car safety features that fall into this category include the oversized rearview mirror, the backup camera and also Volvo’s blind spot information system. Car and Driver shows that the latter is only available in select new Volvo models, but if there is a chance to make this investment, go for it. In the absence of an inexpensive used 2010 model Volvo, opt for the other car features that help to take the guesswork out of lane changing and backing up.

Labels: 4 Most Essential Auto Features for Child Safety

5 Ways to Get Your Kid to Eat Green Vegetables

Do you have a hard time getting your kid to eat green vegetables? You can bargain with your kid or order your kid to eat green vegetables, but why waste all that energy when you have more persuasive methods available to you? Here are 5 ways to get your kid to eat green vegetables:

You eat greens. A kid likes to mimic an adult, so eat green vegetables in front of your kid and brag to your kid about how good (and good for you) eating green vegetables can be for your health. You can even serve up a story with a helping of greens. For instance, if you serve turnip greens, then you can tell the all-famous story of how your ancestors claimed to have found you in a turnip patch. This gives your kid something to think about while eating greens and chance are that your kid will favor the greens that evoke the best stories.

Share Popeye. Let your kid watch a Popeye cartoon and then serve up some Popeye Spinach. Many kids these days want that super human strength that they can so readily find in action heroes. While you know that such super-human strength is a myth, your kid can gain some nutritional strength from eating Spinach (or other green vegetables), so serve up some Spinach for your kid and emphasize the muscle potential available as a result of eating Spinach.

Serve ants on a log. Green celery is not a snack that a kid will readily choose, so liven it up for your kid by making Ants on a Log for a snack. Just clean a piece of celery and cut it into manageable pieces. (You can also remove the strings from the outer case for easier eating.) Smooth on some peanut butter and top with raisins or red grapes. Stand back and watch your kid eat up these Ants on a Log. This surely offers a good alternative to a candy bar.

Make Green Bean Casserole. Many kids love Cream of Mushroom Soup, so make Green Bean Casserole, using this soup. Just follow the directions of the outside of the can of French Fried Onions and serve up a healthy, hearty portion of Green Bean Casserole. Your kid will likely not realize he/she is eating so healthy.

Sauce up Bell Pepper. If your kid likes crunchy food, then take the seeds out of a green bell pepper and cut into long, thin strips. Serve these thin strips of sweet bell pepper up with a dollop of Ranch Dressing for dipping.

Labels: 5 Ways to Get Your Kid to Eat Green Vegetables

5 Tips for Choosing the Best Smart Phone for Your Budget

My contract with Sprint is nearly up, and I’ve found myself in the market for a new phone. My previous phone, a Samsung Rant was great for texting, navigating, and had some internet capability, and up until recently, I was satisfied with its performance. It’s been dropped a few times and is beginning to show its age due to poor battery performance and shutting off for no apparent reason. Rather than purchasing another cheap flip phone, I’m ready to step up and get a smart phone. If you’re considering a new phone, but like me, are on a budget, here are five tips to help you pick the best phone on a budget.

Web Browser Functionality

As an Internet writer, the ability for me to access full Internet is essential. If you do a lot of web surfing, you’ll want to make sure the phone you are looking at isn’t limited to the web browser that comes with the phone. Many sites use a mobile version, which is a compact, mini-version of the full Internet site. Originally designed to be easy to display on small screens, these mobile versions are often scaled down versions of websites and usually lack some of the functionality you’d see on the full version. Even with hand held pc’s, you’ll often get the mobile version. This is unacceptable to me, as an Internet writer. You can often get around the mobile version of a website by installing a different browser, such as Chrome. This will be one of the top qualifications for me in selecting a new phone.

Internet Speed vs. Price

I’m currently on Sprint, and am considering one of their 4G phones. I live in a place with only 3G access, with 4G set to arrive in some undetermined future. What irritates me to no end is that if I buy a 4G capable phone, Sprint requires me to pay an extra $10 for 4G service that I can’t get but for maybe half an hour per month when I’m driving through a 4G area (and unlikely to be surfing the web while driving). Lesson to take away from this: Read the fine print regarding service costs. Sprint may lose me because of this.

Data Usage Limits

Another thing to consider is data usage limits. It won’t do to select a phone based on your budget, and then realize once you’re locked into a service for two years that you’re going to hit a low data usage limit every month and have to pay overages. That’s one thing that Sprint has going for it that I’ve been very happy with. With Sprint’s data service only costing another $20 per month over the texting package, and no artificially imposed usage limit, there haven’t been any unforeseen costs.

Cost of the Phone

If you are not on contract, thanks to sites like Amazon Wireless, you can purchase great quality smart phones for as low as $0.01. Phones like Sprint’s Epic and Evo regularly sell for $100, bringing smart phones down to the best phone for most budgets. Anymore, only chumps buy phones from the local dealer and pay a large upfront cost with a mail in rebate. Unfortunately, if you’re on contract already, and looking to upgrade your phone mid-way through your contract, your options are limited. If you buy from the local dealer, or carrier’s website, you’ll usually get a small incentive of between $100 and $200 off your new phone. However, as retailers want $500 or more for smart phones, this may break some budgets. If your contract is close to being up, you might consider scaling your service down to the minimum and purchasing a new phone and service via Amazon Wireless.

Screen Size and Ease of Use

Naturally, if you’re going to buy a new phone that you’ll be stuck with for up to two years, you’ll want it to be easy to use and look at. A large screen makes websites readable. Ease of use means you won’t spend days reading a weighty instruction manual just to figure out how to go to your home screen. It’s better to make sure you’re comfortable using the phone before you take it home than it is to try to get out of your contract afterwards.

The Smart Phone for My Budget

All things considered, I’m probably going to stick with Sprint and get an Epic. I can purchase it from Amazon Wireless for $100 with a new service contract, and can even get an employee discount because my employer has negotiated for discount rates with Sprint. It meets my requirements of having a decent screen size, Sprint’s lack of data usage limits, and web browser functionality. It also fits within my budget for a new smart phone. As for that $10 4G service fee, you can bet I’m going to call Sprint and complain about it. It never hurts to try!

Labels: 5 Tips for Choosing the Best Smart Phone for Your Budget

An Analysis of William Butler Yeats' "When You Are Old"

In William Butler Yeats poem “When You Are Old,” an anonymous narrator requests of a former lover to remember her youth and his love for her, creating a surreal sense of mystery that only reveals some shadows of his own past love life.

Yeats’ diction changes as the poem progresses from stanza to stanza. In his opening, he instructs an “old and gray” woman “full of sleep” to “slowly read” a book of memories from her youth. She is comfortable and lazy in her age, now living out her days dozing idly. These words soothe and ease the reader into a likewise comfortable state to better their understanding of his intention, which becomes clear later in the poem. As he moves to the second stanza, Yeats reminds his former lover of her “glad grace” that was loved by many in contrast to the “sorrows of [her] changing face” in her “pilgrim soul.” Loved by many as a happy and beautiful person, the aged woman is asked to recall the only man that loved her for who she was. Moving on, he speaks of more and more vague memories that become mere vapors of thought when describing what eventually happened over time. The once warm and reminiscent old woman is reminded of an eerie and faded love that was never brought to resolution, a faded love that may indicate a hidden feeling of remorse from the narrator.

Yeats’ diction and detail have similar effects-forcing the reader from their comfort to a chilled state of mind. As the woman is “nodding by the fire,” she leafs through the book and recollects times of her “soft [looks]” and “sorrows” as she changed. She remembers her faded beauty that was admired by many, but then remembers the only man, the narrator, that loved her for her unique soul. He loved her even as she grew less beautiful and as her being changed in the fullness of time. However, Yeats calls the old woman to “Murmur a little sadly” about those bygone days now that he is through with “[pacing] upon the mountains overhead” and has now “[hidden] his face amid a crowd of stars.” These said details provide a peak into the narrator’s torn-apart heart as he evokes from her memories how patiently he waited for her as the sorrows of time wore away at her fragile beauty. His unconditional love for her was ignored and eventually forgotten as just another one of her “false” and “true” loves among the stars in the night sky.

The narrator seems to be full of regret that, with the passage of time, she never took advantage of his love for her, and that he had to watch her age without his unconditional love from afar.

The most telling component of this poem is, of course, the point of view. This narrator is calling upon a woman that is not yet through with youth to, once past her prime, recall the days he was in her life and very much in love with her. Obviously, he wants her to remember him for his unique and unqualified love for her, and how she is choosing to ignore it in the present. By writing this poem in this fashion, the narrator could possibly hope to achieve either of the following: a) The woman, once old, will remember the days when she was young with happiness but grow regretful that she did not take advantage of his love, or b) The woman, in the present, will see what an opportunity she is missing by ignoring his love for her and leaving him to fade into the past. Yeats chooses not to directly say that he is the narrator to match the mysterious qualities of the third stanza, but in doing so, he has allowed the reader to interpret some secrets of himself. He fears that his lover will not act upon his love for her and that she will only remember him in the book of memories. He hopes that if, once old, she pulls down the book, she will grow chilly and sorrowful that she did not see how steadfast his love was but how foolish she was for taking no notice of it. He is already fearful that she will grow old without him, and this can be seen as he requests that she remember him “a little sadly” and as a missed chance to have a happy future.

This sad and reminiscent poem is not designed primarily to make an old woman regretful, but to keep a young woman from ignoring the narrator and making the wrong decision. Yeats hopes that the distressing ending to his poem will cause the reader to reconsider her future and not to grow old without him by her side.

Labels: An Analysis of William Butler Yeats' "When You Are Old"

America's Best Places to Raise a Family: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

9. Montgomery County, Pa. Population: 775,688

Following close behind sister county, Chester, in the Forbes listing of America’s Best Places to Raise a Family, is Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Created in 1784 out of land originally part of Philadelphia County, it is rich in history and opportunity for everyone. Montgomery County is a suburban county northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and offers expressways to Philadelphia, New Jersey and many other towns.

Home to such dramatic historical settings as Valley Forge and historical figures such as abolitionist Lucretia Mott, inventors David Rittenhouse and Thaddeus Lowe, artist Thomas Hovenden and generals Winfield S. Hancock and John F. Hartranft, history is no stranger to Montgomery. The county offers sights such as Valley Forge National Historic Park and many annual Civil and Revolutionary War re-enactments. offers several different itineraries for the traveler with many tastes. There is a Historical tour, Gardens, Fall Foliage, Family Fun, Biking tours and Grandparents and Grandchildren itineraries.

The historical tour focuses on various aspects of Pennsylvania and Montgomery County’s contribution to the development of the United States. Such tour topics include, women in war time, Pennsylvania German heritage, battlegrounds and encampments, French connections, African American historic discoveries and historic homes.

The gardens tour includes a look at the elegant mansions and gardens surrounding them in Montgomery County. Other aspects of the tour include the various gardens around the museums and arboretum.

The fall foliage tour takes you around the county to all the best places to see the flashes of color that only come with the arrival of fall. Touring the farms, mansions, parks and farmsteads reveal the beautiful landscape of Montgomery County in fall.

The family fun tour takes you across Pennsylvania’s rich countryside as well as through its museums in search of adventures the kids will love. A trip to the Northbrook Canoe Company, the American Helicopter Museum, the Red Buffalo Ranch and the Colonial Theatre are only a few of the exciting things to expect along this itinerary.

Biking tours take you along the many rivers and mountain trails that have been such an important focus in Montgomery County. The Grandparents and Grandchildren itineraries include snapshots of history that young ones can understand and appreciate. Visiting stops on the Underground Railroad, jumping aboard vintage trolley cars and enjoying Valley Forge National Park, the itinerary brings history to life for children and grandparents alike.

The parks and trails of Montgomery County are truly something to be explored. Montgomery County’s Parks Department has been in place since 1939 and it is easy to see their dedication to their work. With over six thousand acres of open space, eight parks, five historic sites and over 34 miles of existing trails, it is obvious that exploring and protecting nature is very important to the people of this county.

Even with all the history and attention to nature, Montgomery County still has a great modern twist. Containing some of the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, there are shopping opportunities galore, including the King of Prussia Mall, the largest shopping center on the East Coast.

With 22 public school districts, 41 private secondary schools, and twelve colleges of varying specializations (including Optometry and Art), Montgomery has high points across the board as far as the value of education.

Historical, but still tied close to the modern world, Montgomery County allows for the family who enjoys ties to the past and relishes the closeness of the modern present.

Zack O’Malley, America’s Best Places To Raise A Family,

Montgomery County Official Website

Historical Society of Montgomery County Official Website

Valley Forge Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

Labels: America's Best Places to Raise a Family: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

5 Reasons You Absolutely Can't Be Your Real Self on Facebook

Have you ever noticed that you’re a tad bit phonier on Facebook than you are in real life? You’re all “lol,” “rofl,” “omg,” and “thx” on Facebook, but in real life you’re sarcastic and love laughing at people that fall and walk funny. Following are five reasons you’re completely full of crap on Facebook.

Friend approval pressure

If you want to avoid a creepy prick that wants to be your friend in real life, you can just avoid them by hiding under a table or closing your eyes (if you can’t see them, they can’t see you) whenever they are around, but on Facebook, you’ll be forced to be fake or outright deny friending someone (who’ll just keep sending invites until you concede). Heck, I have people waiting in Facebook friendship purgatory right now, because I’m hoping they’ll give up without forcing me to reject or accept them.

Your friends list is filled with bad first dates, college and high school rivals, ex girlfriends and or boyfriends (depending on how you swing), and that guy from high school that attracted flies. If you never saw these guys again in real life, it’d be too soon, but on Facebook you “lol” it up and keep it real fake with these “jive turkeys” because you’re a big fat Facebook phony.

“Like” is the only option

Remember the saying your mother used to always tell you? No, not “stop picking in your nose”, but that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” On Facebook, this parental warning (threat) holds true because the Like button is the only option when viewing someone’s status. What kind of Nazi-like conformity is this “Like” button nonsense? I’d rather have no button at all, than have an automatic phony cheerleading button.

The like button automatically makes you a fake if you want to follow someone’s status, but don’t totally agree with what’s being said. Simply adding a “dislike” or “what the hell are you talking about?” button to Facebook’s interface would make Facebook less fake, but until we get those other two buttons, Facebook will continue to make you a phony slob by forcing you to lie to your entire Facebook network.

Fall in line or seem extremely rude

Because of the “Like” button nonsense on Facebook, Facebook makes people act a bit more chipper (fake) than they would in real life and if you so much as pause before slobbering and smothering your Facebook friends with phony praise, you’ll be seen as a “Bahumbugger.”

We’ve all been in awkward Facebook situations like when a friend posts the ugliest newborn baby photo ever seen to their Facebook profile and everyone is all “aweing and ooing” and you’re forced to leave a phony remark like “cute”, “awe”, or “congratulations” – this is being fake by Facebook popular demand.

Facebook forces you to be fake by biting your tongue as to not offend everyone else who’s also keeping up with the phony charade. You’ve seen typos and philosophical fails on Facebook, but have said nothing, but in real life, you’d be all over your friends like flies on a turd if they so much as stuttered or used the wrong word in a sentence.

The family is a-watchin’

Now that your entire cat-forsaken family is on Facebook, you’re forced to be even more phony than you’d normally be on Facebook. Now that mom, pops, and aunt old fashioned are on Facebook, you’re forbidden to post drunk pictures, semi-nude photos, or express your real personality in any shape form or fashion. In real life, you are the master of keeping your different worlds apart (school, work, recreation, family, romance, etc.), but Facebook smashes all those worlds together, forcing you to be as fake as a politician to please all onlookers (judgers).

Facebook spills into real life

Most people fear being their real self on Facebook, not because they are afraid of someone hating them on an online social network, but because “keepin’ it real” on Facebook can lead to real life ramifications. People portray fake and phony personas on Facebook because being too honest and “real” has lead to being fired, divorce, being beat the crap out of, and even murder.

Facebook is not just a place to escape life with no real world consequences like an MMORPG or a game of Yahoo Spades. On Facebook people are phony because if they aren’t, they’ll spend the rest of their lives trying to live down something they did on Facebook.

For more read 5 Idiotic Human Actions People Tried Hard to Blame on Facebook, Failbook: 5 Wrong Ways to Use Facebook and Guarantee Failure, and 5 Relationship Don’ts After You Survive a Facebook Breakup.

Check out my blog for the latest tech news.

Labels: 5 Reasons You Absolutely Can't Be Your Real Self on Facebook

A Movie Review: Anne of the Thousand Days and Mary, Queen of Scots

The story begins with the familiar story of Anne Boleyn, a story made even more familiar by the recent rash of adaptations of this story. Before The Tudors and before The Other Boleyn Girl, there was the 1969 Anne of the Thousand Days. King Henry VIII’s (Richard Burton) wandering eye has just fallen on Anne (Genevieve Bujold) and he is determined to thwart her pending marriage and take her for his own. What follows is a tale of jealousy, intrigue, and the death of a controversial queen. Anne left behind only her daughter, Elizabeth.

In Mary, Queen of Scots, Anne’s daughter Elizabeth, now Elizabeth I of England (Glenda Jackson), is a strict and matronly monarch. Her adversary: the newly-widowed Mary Stuart (Vanessa Redgrave) who is on her way back to Scotland from her married home of France, there to reclaim her Scottish throne. Elizabeth is afraid that those who would still argue that Anne Boleyn was never truly Queen of England would recognize Mary’s own claim to the throne, and she is determined not to give Mary the chance to take England. Meanwhile, Mary is facing her own troubles in Scotland as the Catholic queen of a Protestant country. Mary’s half-brother, James (Patrick McGoohan) thought that he would be able to use Mary as a puppet queen and is sorely disappointed.

Both of these movies are extremely impressive for their time. Even the film quality seems much better than the late 60s/early 70s, and the costumes and sets are superb. The production value one finds in some of these older movies is quite amazing, coming from a time when a movie had to actually be high-quality to succeed.

I think it speaks volumes for the casting that now, 40 years later, many of the actors are still active and popular (those that are still living). Other than the ones already mentioned, these casts also boast the likes of Sir Ian Holm, Nigel Davenport, Timothy Dalton, Irene Papas, and Elizabeth Taylor. These were obviously well-acted movies, and each actor matched their character wonderfully.

Pacing was done very well on both movies, adding in just enough detail to keep the story moving along. As for accuracy, I can say that Anne of the Thousand Days was pretty historically accurate with only a couple minor chronological errors noted. I really can’t say much of anything about the accuracy in Mary, Queen of Scots because I haven’t studied that period on history very much.

Overall, if you’re a fan of historical dramas, this 2-pack is an excellent choice for you. These movies are available on the market separately as well, but the combination of the two makes for a fuller story and a most enjoyable movie night. If you’re getting tired of movies with the same shallow plots that rely on good-looking actors and fun special effects rather than actual substance and talent, older movies are the way to go. Personally, I would gladly add these two to the personal collection as they were done well enough to enjoy seeing over and over again.

Labels: A Movie Review: Anne of the Thousand Days and Mary, Queen of Scots

A Review of the Novel "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" by Nancy Horan

Fanny Osbourne is running away from America with her three children. She’s had enough of her husband’s cheating ways; surely Antwerp is far enough away. But when her youngest son falls ill and then dies, she’s encouraged to recuperate in provincial France. There she meets Robert Louis Stevenson, who immediately falls in love with her. As he’s several years her junior, she doesn’t initially return his affections. But soon she’s under his spell, and thus begins the whirlwind lifetime of land and sea, from frozen mountains to tropical rain-forests, in sickness and health, for richer and poorer and until death did them part. This is Nancy Horan’s “Under the Wide and Starry Sky.”

The sweeping proportions of this story are almost incredible. We see these two through their travels across England, America, Europe and even the South Seas, where they eventually wind up on the island of Samoa. The amazing amount of miles they covered – together and separately, both on land and on sea – are even more astonishing when you consider that most of their lives the two of them were desperately poor. All of this, together with the startling number of bouts of illness that Louis suffered through as well as Fanny’s emotional breakdowns seems like something that could only happen in an epic novel.

This is probably the reason why Horan chose this subject. The scope here is so enormous that there is plenty of drama. With so much of the facts available, clues to what might have been were probably bursting at the seams. It is no wonder that Horan’s imagination could easily fill in the gaps and turn an ordinary biography into a piece of historical fiction. It is also not surprising that it took almost a full 500 pages to properly tell this tale.

Of course, this does beg the question if Horan didn’t bite off a touch more than she could chew, by not limiting herself to only a certain period or few periods in their lives. The problem with that, of course, is trying to decide which periods to keep and which to be left out. While I initially balked at the length of this book, I personally couldn’t find more than a few paragraphs here and there that could possibly have been superfluous. Taking those out would maybe (and I repeat, only MAYBE) have reduced this by only 50 pages at the very most. Not a huge difference, so I’m guessing Horan decided it wasn’t worth further editing. However, I’m positive there are many things that didn’t make the final cut.

In Horan’s previous novel “Loving Frank,” about architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his relationship with Mamah Borthwick Cheney), Horan focused more on Mamah than she did on Wright. Here, however, she carefully divides her focus between Fanny and Stevenson, using both their voices rather than using just one or the other. This could be the reason for this book’s length, and is the only thing that I would criticize about this work. My feeling is that had she concentrated on only Fanny’s story, this book might have been just a bit more powerful. This isn’t to say that the final product is weak, but that its strength seems slightly diluted than it could have been.

What keeps this lengthy story from becoming a tiring tome is Horan’s writing. The fluidity of her prose has been carefully matched to the era of the story, making it feel as if Fanny and Stevenson are writing it themselves. Of course, that’s the whole point. If you can’t make a fictional account of real writers sound like they do in their own works, you’ve taken on the wrong subjects. So in this Horan succeeds in spades, which does a great deal to keep the story moving ahead, despite all the details that needed to be included. We are enchanted by the poetic feel of these two people and are carried away to their harsh and exotic worlds. Horan’s prose is simply gripping, as if we’re reading one of Stevenson’s adventure stories, and we become that anxious to find out what comes next (despite knowing the outcome from the start).

All told, Horan has given us an ambitious work that brings a beloved writer and the love of his life out of the dusty pages of literary history and into the bright light of day. We become familiar with the man behind the words and the woman who kept him alive long enough to make them available to the public. For this, we are thankful that Fanny was there with all her Indiana stubbornness to keep him going. What’s more, she allows us to discover not only the parts of these two people that endear them to us, but also their darker sides with all their demons. For all of this, I have to give “Under the Wide and Starry Sky” four stars out of five and sincerely recommend it.

“Under the Wide and Starry Sky” by Nancy Horan was released on January 21, 2014 by Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Labels: A Review of the Novel "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" by Nancy Horan

Analysis and Paraphrase of Mirror by Sylvia Plath

The mirror does not judge, nor has any “preconceptions.” It observes its own role in an aging woman’s life and how the woman searches for identity. As it begins its narrative, the mirror notes its own faithful nature. It reflects reality the way things are. For most of the time, the mirror sits in a room meditating on the “opposite wall.” At times, however, people come into the room and look at themselves in the mirror, separating the mirror’s long meditations from what it calls “a part of my heart.” When night comes, it likewise separates the mirror from its pondering. The mirror then sees itself as a lake, and a woman looks into it, searching for a genuine reflection. The woman seems to search for answers, perhaps to life’s enigmatic questions. The woman then turns to the candles and the moon, which the mirror calls “liars.” As the woman turns away, the mirror faithfully reflects the woman’s back, as any good mirror would. When the woman turns back, the mirror notes how important the mirror is to her. The woman “comes and goes,” appearing every morning to see her reflection. Because time passes rapidly, the once young girl in the mirror, is become an old woman. The mirror likens her now unpleasant appearance to a “terrible fish.”

The poem is a contemplation of life as people go through struggles with identity and changes from youth to old age. The mirror is an unchanging reflector of what happens in life. As the young woman grows older, she begins to realize that youth is not eternal and even beauty fades away. She has difficulty adjusting to that notion. Her struggles add up, as she also seems to have problems in her romantic life, symbolized by “candles” and the “moon,” which the mirror calls “liars.” They never seem to satisfy her thirst for identity. As she grows older, she turns more and more to the mirror, perhaps in search of a hope for better life. Though she continuously searches for the authenticity many people desire, she only finds the truth of change the mirror reflects. In her aging process, she never seems to find an indirectly alluded to objective of contentment. The poem is therefore a call to higher purpose. People cannot find satisfaction in fleeting beauty, for the young girl will inevitably drown. Even with perfect reflection, and a constant looking back to the mirror, there is no explicit meaning for which to live, as far as reality. The poem states the truthfulness of life, and questions its lack of meaning. However, a search for any identity cannot be a search for anything less than a loftier purpose, because any other objective does not satisfy that thirst. It is therefore a thought provoking story, that the reader may question his or her own objectives in life, and understand that a purpose higher than oneself is the only purpose for which it is worth living. The poem is effective in detailing the general struggle which many people go through, searching for a place in life, whether among acquaintances, friends, or a spouse. The ultimate meaning however is not found in reality, even when we understand it perfectly, but in a purpose higher than oneself.

Labels: Analysis and Paraphrase of Mirror by Sylvia Plath

6 Tips for a More Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

When you’re traveling across different time zones and facing multiple layovers, make sure you’re well-prepared for that long-haul flight. Flights and trips lasting more than eight hours can take their toll on your health and leave you stressed, frazzled or tired. If you don’t get enough rest on the flight or end up missing meals, you could be setting yourself up for a very uncomfortable trip. Not all long-haul flights have to leave you feeling lousy. Taking steps to get some quality sleep and even eating certain foods before and during the flight can make the experience much more enjoyable.

Here are six tips for a more comfortable long-haul flight:

#1: Bring Your Own Blankets and Pillows

Neck pillows, blankets and even a pair of slippers you can slip into after takeoff can help to make your flight that much more comfortable. Most planes aren’t stocked with enough pillows and blankets for everyone – and are also a hotbed for germs – so make some room in your carry-on for these essentials.

#2: Drink Electrolyte-Infused Drinks the Night Before

Skip the nightcap before the day you fly and opt for water and drinks with electrolytes. Staying well-hydrated is one of the best things you can do for yourself when flying for several hours. Dehydration can make you feel tired, groggy and you might even have difficulty falling asleep. You can also sip on these drinks before boarding but will want to avoid drinking more than a few cups or your you’ll need to run to the bathroom during takeoff.

#3: Start Taking Melatonin a Few Days Before the Flight

Prepare your body to doze off easily with melatonin supplements a few days before your flight. Melatonin is a natural substance that triggers sleep. You’ll find it easier to fall and stay asleep on that long-haul flight when you take the right dosage of this supplement. Controlling your sleep cycle can also make it easier to beat jet lag.

#4: Pack an Eye Mask

All of those flashing lights from the screen and sunlight from the windows can make it very hard to relax. This is where eye masks can help. Eye masks can create an artificial environment of darkness no matter what time of day it is. Some airlines provide them but you’ll be better off packing your own for that long-haul flight.

#5: Skip the Caffeine Until Arrival

Avoid caffeinated beverages that can leave you dehydrated and anxious – especially when you’re sitting in one place for hours on end. Being so high strung without anything to do can make your flight less than comfortable and you’ll also find it difficult to relax and unwind during the trip. If you’re arriving at your final destination first thing in the morning, go ahead and enjoy the cup of coffee to get you going.

#6: Take Frequent Stretch Breaks

Even if you don’t need to go to the bathroom, plan on taking frequent breaks over the course of the flight. Lack of circulation in your legs can be one of the root causes of deep vein thrombosis and can also make you feel more tired and lethargic. Get up and walk up and down the aisles at least once every one or two hours, and choose an aisle seat to make this easier.

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Labels: 6 Tips for a More Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

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