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Friday, August 30, 2013

[Keithville , Louisiana] Painting by Chimpanzee Wins First Prize in Art Contest

                              He's got the competition licked!

A chimpanzee named Brent, who paints with his tongue, has won an art contest held by the Humane Society.

The 37-year-old primate, who has lived at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La., ( 20 miles from  Shreveport,La.)since 2006, won a $10,000 prize for the sanctuary, which will be used to expand the facility and prepare for new residents.

Brent creates his unique paintings by applying blobs of child-safe tempera paints onto a canvas with his tongue.

"His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art," says a profile on the Humane Society website.

The retired laboratory animal – who "loves to laugh and play" – got the most votes among the more than 27,000 people who voted in the online competition.

The entries, from six primate sanctuaries, were also judged by primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, who selected a painting by Cheetah from Save the Chimps as her winner (Cheetah also came second in the public vote).

Painting is one of the enrichment programs that the sanctuaries use to enhance the lives of primates who are taken in after being used in research and entertainment or are former pets. The artworks are set to be auctioned off on eBay, with proceeds benefiting the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.

By K.C. Blumm

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I am in college  and I am in a relationship with a great guy. However , there is one huge problem : He is a Mormon , and he wants me  to become a Mormon as well . I have always  respected him  and his beliefs  because I love him , but I do not want to convert .
Deep down I find the religion somewhat comical . How do I tell him that I do not want to convert ? I am afraid it can ruin the relationship  and I fear that this will cause us to break up .
Not Religious
Dear Not Religious ,
As you contemplate your next steps , it is very important  for you to be  respectful of your boyfriend's religion . Right now  you are being judgmental , which is a surefire  way to end  your relationship .
I can tell you that many  people who are deeply religious  urge  their partners  to convert  to their religion . There is merit  in that ... it's easier  to build  a family  with shares values . Though you are in college  , since you are getting  serious  with this young man  you need to consider  what you what your future to look like . What are your values ? What is important to you  in a relationship ? As you think of family ? As you consider  how you want to live your life , talk to your boyfriend  about it . Whether  he ends up being the one  or not  , it is smart  for you  to be open  and honest  about who you are  and what matters to you .
Ask him  about his beliefs . Get him to talk to you about  his religion , what he believes and why . Without judgment , listen to see if there is common ground .

Dear Maxy ,
One of my best friends  is reallly close  with a girl I hate . She is inconsiderate  , obnoxious and condescending . Everone  else  who is also friends  with my best friend  cannot stand  the\is friend either . Recently , my best friend asked  why I always aviod activities  when we are  in a group setting . I don't know how to tell her that I want  to avoid  this girl .
Deear Alienated ,
Why not tell your friend the truth ? She may nnot realize  how uncomfortable  you and other friends  are  because of the other person's behavior . Let her know that  you do not like being  in this person's company  because  of her attitude . I would suggest  that there  is no reason  why you cannot speak  directly  to this other person . What you are now doing  is bottling  up negative enegry  about her . Saying that you "hate" her  is strong . Let go  of the hate  and empower  yourself  by speaaking  up to her  the next time  she says something  inappropriate  or insulting . Ask her to stop with the disparaging  comments  or keep her distance .

Dear Maxy ,
Last week , I walked into our computer room  to see my husband  trying desperately to hit the delete button  and get rid of an email  he did not want me to see . I managed to glance at the woman's name , however , and asked  him who it was . Well , she is the one I suspected  he hooked  up with at his 50th class reunion . There was about five hours  during  the weekend  that he could not account for .
His 95-year-old mother knows this woman  and says , "She such  a nice girl  and married , she would never do such a thing." And she says the same  about my husband  . I don't believe this . My husband can't keep his hands off  the waitresses  at our  favorite  restaurant  and he ogles every woman that past by .
I won't be going  to my 50th class reunion . I can't leave  him alone for a second  and I certainly don't want him running  off with one of my classmates. I don't want to go out of my house anymors  . What should I do ?
Humiliated Wife
Dear Humiliated Wife ,
Your husband  is in his late 70s. In some instances  , as a person ages  , early signs  of dementia  start to show up  and one of them  is the lost of inhibition . Unless your husband  has exhibited  such behavior  during your entire marriage  , I believe his problem  is age  related . This doesn't make it less irritating  or worrisome , but it's possible  he could be helped by seeing  his doctor  . Insist  that he make  an appointment  and go with him .

Monday, August 26, 2013

Transform an old chest of drawers into a new treasure

A chest of drawers can be remodelled with new paintwork, handles and stripes -

upcycled chest of drawers created by Jonathan Parkin and Jenny Lloyd - Furniture upcycling - Home makes - Craft -

This project can be simplified if you keep the top row of drawers instead of the bottom as you won’t need to fit shelves, assuming the existing base looks good without drawers.

You will need

● A solid wood chest of drawers – this one came from a thrift shop
● Screwdriver OR claw hammer
● Wood filler

To strip the drawers
● Sandpaper OR paint/varnish stripper
● An old 50mm paintbrush
● Fine and medium sandpaper (for finishing) OR dispense with the stripping and try no-preparation paint that doesn't need primer

For the shelves
● MDF cut to size
● small screws
● Hammer
● PVA glue

To paint the drawers
● Low-tack masking tape
● 250ml matt paint
● 25mm paintbrush
● Small fine roller and tray

To finish the striped and painted areas
● Wire wool
● Beeswax with lanolin – wax
● Soft cloths for applying and buffing
● Printed gift wrap paper – preferably stripes, or craft paper  or even wallpaper can be used
● 2 x 25mm paintbrushes
● Fine file
● Clear Lacquer Spray
● Drawer handles – try chrome D handles

Original Chest

To make

Remove the drawers and back of the chest, if possible, using a screwdriver or claw hammer. If fixed with nails or panel pins, tap out fixings from the inside first.

Remove the runners for the drawers you’re going to discard and fill the holes with wood filler.
Strip all surfaces with sandpaper or paint/varnish stripper, or a combination of both. Go over the entire area with medium and fine grade sandpaper for a smooth finish.

Measure the areas for the new shelves; a tight fit will help when fixing them. Match the thickness of the new shelves to the sides or top of the chest. MDF comes in different thicknesses and many lumber merchants and DIY stores offer a cutting service.

Replace the drawers and make a pencil line along the drawer tops inside the unit. Remove the drawers and mark points 2/12" in from the front and back on both sides, 3/8ths"  above the line. Partially screw in  the small screws,( making sure they don't come through the wood on the other side) into each mark, leaving about 1/4" protruding. These will support the shelves and allow running space for the drawers.

Apply PVA glue to the edges of the shelves and fix into position by sitting them on the screws, making sure they are flush back and front. Run glue into the joints with a finger and remove the excess with a damp cloth for a seamless join. If you decide to keep any areas of natural wood, mask the areas off.

Paint the rest, ideally with a fine roller on large flat areas, with at least two coats for a good dense colour. Sand and finish with wire wool between coats; you may find you can achieve a better finish by thinning the paint and applying more coats. If you’ve removed the back, paint it separately and refix.

Measure a horizontal line on the back to fix through into the new shelves with panel pins.
Rub over with fine wire wool before applying wax and buffing with a clean cloth.

Remove existing handles from drawers and fill holes with filler. Strip any varnish/paint on the fronts and sand smooth.

Cut the gift/craft paper to size, allowing 20-30mm extra all around. Mix some PVA glue with equal parts water. Apply undiluted PVA glue to the drawer surface (try not to go over the edges) and coat the back of the tissue paper with the 50/50 solution. This is easier with an extra pair of hands: align the first short edge and stroke flat with the wet 50/50 brush, then gently and gradually lower the paper down and brush flat, pushing any bubbles to the edge; don’t wrap the paper around the edges, leave it hanging over. Repeat on the other drawer.

Allow to dry – any slight imperfections in the surface should tighten when drying. Carefully file off the excess overhanging paper at a constant 45 degrees around the edges.
Spray with two coats of clear lacquer, following the instructions. Leave to dry before measuring and fitting the new handles.
Look what you made. You are a flippin Genius.

Spruce up Your Home With Vintage Luggage

Have a bunch of vintage suitcases and trunks inherited from your grandparents?
Instead of throwing them out, donating them or keeping them hidden away in the attic, use them as statement decor pieces to update your living space! Vintage trunks and suitcases are resurging in popularity -- not for travel, but for home decor!

Want a unique, vintage look for your living or dining room without spending a fortune on new tables? Dust off those old trunks and suitcases and get creative with your positioning.

Side, entry and coffee tables

Vintage suitcase table 
Take down those modern side tables and replace them with a set of three vintage suitcases or a retro trunk. If you have at least three different-size suitcases, stack them on top of each other to add a bit of height. If you only have one suitcase, you can still add height by placing it on top of an old director's chair or by screwing four legs onto the bottom of the suitcase.

Create a custom vintage suitcase entry table by stacking two sets of 5 suitcases (need a total of 10) on top of each other to form the supporting base for a long rectangular wooden tabletop (which can be as simple as a wide piece of refurbished plywood). Once your suitcases and trunks are set up, top them with your favorite decor pieces, like picture frames, candles or lamps.

Card or mail holder

Have a stack of old mail and catalogs taking up space on your coffee table? Use a very small vintage suitcase  as a card or mail holder to remove clutter from your table space. To add more feminine flair, line the inside of the suitcase with lace fabric and make a DIY "cards" or "mail" sign out of glittery construction paper. You can also completely remove all signs of mail by keeping a few of these mail- and card-holding vintage suitcases on your bookshelf. They'll be easily accessible and trendy to boot!

Pet bed

Give your little pup or sweet kitten a bed made for royalty by transforming an old vintage suitcase into a plush and comfy dog bed. All you need is a vintage suitcase, a fun, patterned cushion, screws, pine wood and small wooden furniture legs. To create your own vintage suitcase dog bed, follow this step-by-step tutorial, provided by Houzz. The great thing about this project, besides being very budget-friendly, is that you can completely customize the bed to your room decor by matching the suitcase color and the cushion to your palette.
Now, dig out those suitcases and get decorating!

Watermelon...Superfood..So Nutritious

Surprising Health Benefits of Watermelon

Some foods are fun to eat, and watermelon is definitely one of them.  That triangular wedge of bright red/white/green, sweet juiciness forbids us to take life too seriously and shouts, “SUMMER!!!” As if that weren’t enough, watermelon is packed full of nutrition, hydrates and is low-fat. While many of us think of watermelon as a great snack option, when you tally up its nutritive value, you might consider making this all-star a feature player in your cuisine.

Watermelons are an excellent source of several vitamins: vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health and is an antioxidant; vitamin C, which helps strengthen immunity, heal wounds, prevent cell damage, promote healthy teeth and gums; and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy.

Tomatoes have been highly touted as a great source for lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and several types of cancer — prostate cancer in particular.  Watermelon, however, has the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable.

If your little ones don’t dig into their swiss chard, lima beans or spinach — all great sources of potassium — consider offering them a serving of watermelon instead.  It is a great source of potassium, which helps muscle and nerve function, helps maintain the body’s proper electrolyte and acid-base balance, and helps lower the risk of high blood pressure. Watermelon also contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which can help maintain arteries, blood flow and overall cardiovascular function.

Alone or in a fruit salad are the most common ways many of us eat watermelon. While eating the meat of the fruit is the best way to take advantage of all of its nutrients, this is one of my favorite bits of summer refreshment. I get a version of this from my local burrito truck. The key to making this great: don’t oversweeten it. With just a touch of sweetness, it’s heavenly.

Watermelon Mint Smoothie

This refreshing smoothie could earn a well-deserved place in your regular diet, it’s so luscious–and it’s good for you, too. Watermelon Mint Smoothie makes a great breakfast, or a super pick-me-up snack anytime. Get the easy recipe here:
1 to 2 cups seedless watermelon chunks
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, or to taste
1 cup lemon yogurt
Dash cinnamon (optional)
1. Puree watermelon, honey, and mint in a blender or food processor quickly–do not over blend. Pulse in the yogurt and cinnamon just until smooth.

Wildfire Near Yosemite


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My daughter-in-law tends to go to her family . She says she is uncomfortable with my son's side . She has been rude to us since she married my son and she controls him  if he does not do what she wants .
My daughter had a fight with my daughter-in-law four years ago  and I just woke up to the fact that my daughter-in-law blames us for my daughter's actions . My husband and I tried therapy with my son  and daughter-in-law  but it made things worse . I left , saying that I am not happy with either of them and I just want to see my grandchildren . My son said that if I don't continue  with therapy  , I won't see the kids again . They are using the children as weapons to control us .
My new granddaughter  had a baptism and my daughter-in-law  told us it was only an occasion for her family. We was insulted  and hurt . I'm thinking of going to court and suing for grandparents rights.
Dear Trustworthy ,
Your son and daughter-in-law may not be behaving in a loving way , but there is room for improvement  on both sides  . They are willing to go for counseling to resolve  this , which is a good sign . But waling out on a counseling session  because you don't like  what you here  is not productive . The point of counseling  is to work through  the issues  that get in the way of a better relationship . Please srop trying  to get your son  to favor  you over his wife . If you want to see those grandkids  , I urge you to agree  to go back for counseling .

Dear Maxy ,
I recently married a man  who is quite wonderful , but he won't help out round the house . We have a child together  and I am the breadwinner . When I am not working , I am cleaning the house  and picking up after him .
We've had many talks about this  and he always agrees to do things when I ask . But I still  come home  from work  and find nothing done  and he always has plenty of excuses .
He will be 30 soon . He was not raised this way  and his mother has tried to help  , but we can't seem to make any progress . What can I do ?
Maid in Demand
Dear Maid ,
Can you afford periodic cleaning help ? Would you  be willing  to relax  your standards  ? Could you save the house-cleaning  for weekends  and make it a joint effort ? Sometimes this is simple a matter of disorganization , in which  case a list might  work . You cannot  force your husband  to grow up  , but you can help him understand  that this type of issue  will erode  a marriage  , making one partner  resentful  and turning the other  into a recalcitrant  child . He needs to step up .

Dear Maxy,
How do I get my child to practice good hygiene ? My 11-year-old son is going  to middle school in the fall . He has a tendency to not take regular showers . I told him multiple time  that if he doesn't bathe  in a reasonale amount of time , he might be punished  or there will be consequencws  . I am afraid he will keep up these habits  when he gets older .
Dealing with Dirt
Dear Dealing with Dirt ,
Talk to your son  about the importance  of regularly bathing  his body  and how it leads  to good health . Also , talk to him  about his changing body . He is soon to enter puberty , which means  he will be developing body hair  and will likely devolop body odor if he does nor regularly clean himself .
Educate  him on the young man he is becoming  . Empower  him with information  about himself . This may inspire  him to bathe  a bit more frequently .
You can absolutely also put your foot downabout how often he bathe .
If he refuses  , take away privileges  that he values  , such as video games , TV, Play dates , etc . Figure out what would motivate him to clean up because  he would hate  to lose aaspect of his daily life .

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Things to make with scraps of fabric....Egg Cozies..Teddies..Scrappy Mice...Patchwork Hearts

Enlarge template to approx 13cm (7 inches) high. Cut two egg-cozy pieces each from plain fabric, polyester wadding and printed fabric.
Trace heart on to Bondaweb. Iron on to reverse of printed fabric and cut out. Iron heart on to one egg-cozy piece and zigzag stitch in place.

Cut a 3.5cm (1 3/4") x 8cm (4") strip from printed fabric for loop. Press under 5mm (3/16") along both long edges, fold in half lengthwise and stitch. Fold to form loop. Tack to top of one egg cozy.
Tack wadding to wrong side of egg-cozy pieces. With right sides facing, stitch egg cozies together, taking 1cm (1/2") seam allowances. Repeat for lining, leaving gap for turning through. With right sides facing, stitch lining to egg cozy around lower edge. Turn right side out. Sew up gap in lining and tuck inside egg cozy.

Tiny Teddies

Step 1

Enlarge template by 200 per cent on a photocopier.

Step 2
Cut out two pieces from fabric. Pin and stitch together around stitching line, leaving a gap in side of one leg for turning through. Work a second row of stitching for reinforcement.

 Step 3
Trim seam allowances to 3mm and clip to stitching at all corners. Turn right side out. Fill with polyester toy stuffing and sew up gap in stitching. Using black thread, work a few straight stitches for eyes and nose where marked  or use tiny  black buttons or beads for eyes. Tie narrow ribbon around neck and stitch securely in place.

Scrappy Mice

Enlarge templates by 400 per cent. Cut one mouse from fabric and two ears from felt.
Fold mouse in half with right sides together and stitch around edges, stitching a 25cm length of cord or braided wool inside at top corner and leaving a gap for turning through.
Fold bottom corner as shown and stitch across for 2cm.

Turn right side out and stuff with polyester toy stuffing or scented lavender ( if you want to use them as sachets). Sew up gap.
Fold in sides of ears and stitch by hand to mouse. Attach black beads for eyes. Sew thick black thread through nose, leaving four long ends each side. Knot close to nose and trim ends. Finished length: 9cm ( 4 1/4")

 Patchwork  Heart

Hanging memory heart

Cut eight rectangles of fabric 12cm (6 inches)wide in random lengths between 4cm (2 inches) and 7cm (3 1/2"). Stitch together to form two strips. Press seam allowances open. Stitch the two strips together and press seam allowances open. Enlarge template to around 19cm (9 1/2") high. Lay template on patchwork diagonally and cut out. Fold a piece of string to form a hanging loop and tack to right side of heart. Cut second heart from one fabric. Stitch two hearts together around outer edge, leaving a gap for turning through. Trim seam allowances to 5mm (3/16"). Turn right side out and press, then fill with polyester toy stuffing  ( they can also be stuffed with lavender or other sweet smelling potpourri). Sew up gap in stitching.


How to handle a crush when you’re already committed

The new guy at work — what a catch! He’s cute, funny and oh-so considerate. Oddly drawn to this new colleague, you find yourself passing by his desk more frequently, exchanging “hilarious” email forwards, wearing lip-gloss for the first time in years and trading your standard work pants and cardigan for flirty summer dresses.

If you were single, all of these things could signal the beginning of a fun, flirty relationship. But you’re not single, you’ve got a loving committed partner and you want to keep it that way — the question is how?
Here are five tips from experts for ensuring that a harmless crush remains that way and doesn’t threaten your commitment to your partner.

1. Remember that it’s natural
Though you may think you’re the worst wife/girlfriend in the world for even thinking that someone else is funnier, cuter or sexier than your undisputed one true love, the truth is that you’re not evil, you’re just human. In fact, you’ve only succumbed to the same natural phenomenon as millions of other good, decent men and women.
“Developing a crush on someone other than your long term partner is normal,” says Vancouver-based sex therapist Teesha Morgan.
“Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you suddenly stop noticing beautiful people. Crushes on bosses, coworkers, cute coffee shop attendees, waitresses, neighbours and anyone else you come into contact with on a regular basis is bound to happen, and that’s OK.”

2. Have control
Now that we’ve established your fragile humanity, let’s get one thing clear: Fantasies are fine and so are butterflies in your stomach when you’re in the presence of your secret crush. It’s how you behave in the face of temptation that reveal your character.
“Butterflies in our stomach that jump and flutter when they enter the room isn’t something that can really be controlled. What can be controlled are your actions,” explains Morgan.
“If you are making regular coffee dates with your coworker crush because you just want to spend time with them for example, then you are beginning to cross that line between a normal crush from afar, to a slippery slope of emotional or physical infidelity.”
 Morgan’s advice is to cast a net over those butterflies. Let them flutter and flit internally until they die a natural death. Butterflies, both real and metaphorical, have a short lifespan
3. Take some time to look at yourself
Obsessive thoughts are the hallmark of an intense crush, but instead of fixating on the object of your longing, change tacks. Instead, consider all of those feelings as an opportunity to reflect on where you’re at emotionally and psychologically.
Obsessive thinking is a “red flag” says Toronto-based psychotherapist Aviva Mayers. “It indicates it’s time to reflect on our current, committed relationship and what may be going on there (or not going on) that is causing us to be so swept away by someone else."

For example, a crush may reveal that you’re not having as much fun with your partner as you used to and have fallen into bad habits. Additionally, it may indicate that you’ve allowed too much emotional distance to crop up between you and your partner, says Mayers. If that’s the case then there’s a solution. Spend less time thinking about that cute guy at work and more quality time with your partner and make sure it’s time spent laughing, talking, and confiding in one another.

4. Acknowledge if you’re feeling lonely
Keep your crush to yourself, but if you’re feeling lonely or undesirable or just missing some affection from your significant other, that’s information your partner should know.
“It isn’t necessary for our partner to know about the content of our fantasies, nor that we are even having them, but rather to be engaged in a discussion with them about what we are needing or missing in the relationship and how we can get it from them, in order that the two of us feel closer again,” says Mayers.

5. Remember that you’ve been through a lot together — and that should be cherished
Research into the science of commitment suggests that couples that grow together, stay together. Complacency is the enemy of development, so keep the love alive by continually experiencing new places, ideas and experiences with your partner. Don’t shut down or shut him or her out when you’re feeling isolated and confused, rather for the health of your union, draw your beloved closer and decide to take on the world — with all of its temptations, joys, sorrows and struggles — together.

Summer is still with us...Keep on Grillin'....Tex Mex grilled sausage

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Barbecuing Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 Servings

John Cullen







  • 1 1/2 cups corn niblets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 500 g  pkg Italian sausages, about 4
  • jalapeno, finely chopped
  • avocado, diced (optional)
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro or basil
  • 4  crusty hot-dog buns


  • Combine corn with onion, sugar, cumin and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 min. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Preheat barbecue to medium. Make several shallow slashes in sausages. Oil grill and barbecue sausages, lid closed, turning occasionally, until firm when pressed, about 12 min.
  • Stir jalapeno, avocado, lime juice and cilantro into corn mixture. Serve over warm sausages nestled in buns.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eclair Cake... Decadent


Pate Choux (crust):
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 (3.4oz) box French Vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 (8oz) tub whipped topping, divided
  • Chocolate Syrup
  1. Combine water, butter, sugar, salt & vanilla in a large saucepan.  Heat until boiling & butter has melted.  
  2. Remove from heat & add flour, stir briskly with a spatula.
  3. Using a hand mixer, quickly beat in eggs ONE at a time (so they don't scramble) beating well after each egg.
  4. Spread dough into a lightly greased jelly roll pan.  Bake at 400*F for 25 minutes.  The cake should puff up (it will be bumpy & uneven) & be lightly browned & crisp to the touch.
  5. While cake is cooling, whisk pudding & milk.  Let sit in the fridge until it firms up, about 5 minutes.  Fold in 2/3 of the tub of whipped topping.  Spread across the cooled cake.  
  6. Spread remaining whipped topping over the pudding layer.  Drizzle with chocolate syrup.  Cut & serve.
It is so gotta try it
    Thanx to: Dessert Now, Dinner Later.........

Big Mac Used for Minimum Wage Comparison...Worldwide

<div class="caption-credit"> Photo by: Credit: Lisa Cohen</div><div class="caption-title"></div><br>
<b>McDonald's Big Mac</b>
Ah yes, the one that started it all - the iconic Big Mac. Chef Devin Alexander, author of various cookbooks, including <i>The Biggest Loser</i> cookbook series, shares with us her version of the famous burger from her cookbook, <i>Fast Food Fix</i>.
<b><a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="">Click here to see the McDonald's Big Mac Recipe.</a></b>

The world, we're reminded once again, isn't a fair place. Riffing off The Economist's Big Mac Index, New York-based ConvergEx Group just released an analysis of minimum wages around the world, using the iconic burger as their benchmark.
Turns out it takes workers in India almost six hours to afford to bite into a Big Mac, and that's only if they're making what's held as the minimum wage – approximately 28 cents an hour. As low as that is, many working in India are taking home far less, at least according to textile-worker group reports.
But more on that later. In stark contrast, it takes roughly 30 minutes, on average, for an entry-level worker in Canada to earn enough to be McLovin' one of those sodium bombs.

This Big Mac as global indicator business all started in 1986 when The Economist magazine used the burger as a way to measure exchange rates, or more specifically, to determine which currencies were overvalued and which were pegged too low. It's long been a source of contention, for instance, that the Chinese government was aggressively undervaluing its currency as a way to goose exports and unfairly compete in world markets. The Economist's Big Mac Index has consistently supported this view, reporting in July that a Big Mac in Chengdu costs the equivalent of US$2.61 vs. US$4.56 in say, Cleveland. (Of course, you'll run across a lot more people in Ohio able to afford a Happy Meal than you ever will in Szechuan, but that's another story.

The ConvergEx research note sent to clients this week tweaks The Economist's approach, and uses the burger as a way to measure minimum wage rates, looking specifically at how U.S wages compare globally. They selected 22 countries -- drawn from every continent -- provided as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible.

The results are not altogether surprising. Workers in the West earn far more than their counterparts in Asia and Africa. And as with most things, the people of Sierra Leone and Afghanistan have it the worst. The hourly minimum wage in Sierra Leona is equivalent to 3 cents a hour (U.S. dollars), meaning it takes them the five-and-a-half-days to earn enough to buy a Big Mac. Not that there is a McDonald's anywhere near Sierra Leona, but you get the point. (For those who are interested, the closest would be in Marrakesh, 2,600km away). Afghans have it considerably better, but only by abysmal standards, as it takes the average worker there just over six hours to earn enough to buy a burger.

On the other end of the survey, are the countries from down under, where even a job at Burger King would be enough to finance three or four Big Macs an hour. Australia and New Zealand sit atop ConvergEx's list, followed by the French, the Brits, and then us,( Canada) in fifth spot. By rights, we really should be in the fourth spot, at least in Ontario, where the minimum wage is C$10.25 and a Big Mac costs only $3.99.

Of course, this is where stats don't always mesh perfectly with reality. ConvergEx's findings presuppose that people actually earn the minimum, which may be a safe enough assumption in the developed world, but is a perilous bet in many emerging economies, as it frequently reported by human rights organizations. But all things being equal, the report is reminder how wealth is distributed in the world.

Thanx Yahoo

Prince William and Kate Release Official Family Photos

Tilly, The Prince, Duchess and Duke of Cambridge and Lupo
It's Prince George – and the pups

On Monday, Prince William and wife Kate released two informal family photos at the place their month-old son spent the first weeks of his life – the Middleton family home in Bucklebury.

The pictures were taken by Kate's father, Michael, in the sunny garden of the Middleton family home in early August.

And the royal couple – dressed casually, while the Prince of Cambridge snoozed in the same blanket he was originally introduced in – didn't forget the fourth member of their household. Lupo, the cocker spaniel William and Kate adopted in early 2012, is featured in one of the shots, along with the Middleton's retriever, Tilly.

A Palace source tells PEOPLE William and Kate thought having a family member take the photos was the "best way to capture the couple in a relaxed manner."

More formal images of the Cambridges and other members of the royal and Middleton families will come at the christening, which is expected in the fall.

               The Prince, Duchess and Duke of Cambridge

Monday, August 19, 2013

What Can I Do When my Child is Being Bullied?

What can I do when my child is being bullied?

If you suspect that your child is being bullied at school, then you need to trust your instincts. Schools are a great place for bullies to build their reputation of power and control.

First, let your child know that you believe that something is wrong. Don't try to "bully" the information out of your child. Be patient. Promise that you will not make the situation worse. Do not promise to keep it a secret, or that you will not report the problem. Do promise that you will not do anything without your child knowing what you are going to do. Be sure that your child knows that this situation will not get better on it's own, and that appropriate adult intervention is needed.

Second, contact the school, once you know what the issue is. Before identifying yourself, ask what the school's policy is on keeping kids safe once they have reported a bullying incident. Do not give out any information until you have a satisfactory answer to that question. If the school does not have an answer for you, ask when can you call to get an answer. Do not go charging into the school demanding justice. This will only make the situation worse for your child, and will likely embarrass him or her.

Third, set up a meeting to problem solve your way through this situation with your child and members of the school faculty, including the teacher and the counselor. Your goal must be getting this situation solved, rather than seeking revenge. This is a highly emotional time for parents, and there is NOTHING tougher than seeing your child hurting because of another's actions. Your child deserves to feel safe and welcome at school. Be sure to keep that the focus in the meeting.

Thanks to a concerned parent and school board member


Friday, August 16, 2013

Is Your Kid Being Bullied.?...What to Watch for

Is your kid being bullied?

Is your kid being bullied?For any parent, that first day of sending your child off to school can be positively nerve-wracking. Will my child make friends? Will he do OK in school? What will he do without me all day? And most kids do adapt to school well - falling into a normal and healthy school routine mere weeks after starting school for the first time. But for some, school can turn into a frightening place.

Years ago, it was thought that teasing was just a natural part of growing up. But over the past few decades, we have realized that teasing can have lasting effects, and if teasing turns into full-on bullying, the effects can be much worse. So how do you know if your child has become a victim of bullying? Here are some signs to look out for:

1. Is your child suddenly coming home from school very hungry? Often, bullies will take a child's lunch or his lunch money. Is he missing items, such as school supplies or clothing, with no explanation? Sometimes bullies will take these items as a means of intimidation.

2. Is your child afraid to ride on the school bus? The bus to and from school can be a bullying hot spot since no teachers are present and the bus driver is preoccupied with (we hope) driving.

3. Is your child running to the bathroom right when he gets home? The bathroom can also be a prime bullying spot (since there's only one way in and one way out and it's hidden from teachers), so much so that a child who's being bullied might avoid going to the bathroom during the school day altogether.

4. Is your child suddenly withdrawn, unexplainably moody or upset, or anxious? Does he seem clingy at the beginning of the day or say he doesn't want to go to school a lot? Is he suddenly having trouble sleeping? All of these, as well any marked changes in your child's personality, can be a sign that something is up.

It's important to note that kids don't always feel comfortable going to their parents with concerns about what's been happening at school, and it's hard for parents of bullying victims to know that something is even going on. That's why it's critical to get into the habit of talking to your child about their day and communicating with them about their daily life on a regular basis. This way, if something does come up, you're more likely to notice a difference in what they say, or how they say it. Oftentimes a child will tell you more with their body language than with their words.

It's also important to note that a child can experience the effects of bullying without being physically bullied. Kids (girls especially) can be ruthless to each other - excluding each other and making other kids feel left out and alone. An excellent book to learn more about dealing with this topic is "Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls" by Rachel Simmons.

If you do suspect a problem, speak up, either directly with your child's teacher or an administrator. Often the school doesn't even know what's going on, and it's good to enlist everyone's help early, since bullying can turn severe quickly. Luckily, in many schools today, bullying seems to be a buzzword and one that teachers are often trained in workshops to identify and deal with. Find out if your school has an active anti-bullying program in place and if not, work to get one in order. Our kids will have enough reality to deal with later on in life - it's important that we help to make their schools as fun, safe and warm an environment as possible.
Remember, the effects of bullying can follow your children into adulthood and could determine the path they follow and some of the important decisions they make.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sometimes digging for treasure really pays off.

Michael Dettlaff, 12, was visiting Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park with his family last month when he found a 5.16-carat "honey brown diamond" in the park's designated diamond search area.
"What they tell you you're going to find is these little diamonds [that are] so small," Michael told ABC News. "I kind of expected to maybe get a couple of those.
After being cut and polished, appraisers believe Michael's diamond will be worth between $12,000 and $15,000.

"Michael had only been searching for about 10 minutes when he found his diamond," said Park Interpreter Waymon Cox in a press release. "In fact, Michael's dad was renting mining equipment to begin his own diamond search when Michael showed the gem to him at the park's Diamond Discovery Center!"
"It is thrilling any time a child finds a diamond here at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Michael was excited to have found his own diamond, as just about any boy would be, but he was absolutely awestruck when he realized its significance," Cox added.
The Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world's only diamond-producing site that is open to the public. Visitors are invited to dig for diamonds in the park's 37.5-acre plower field, which is a previous mining site.
An average of two diamonds are found every day at the park. And fortunately for Michael, the park has a "finders, keepers" policy. The diamond, which the Boy Scout named "God's Glory Diamond," is his to keep.
"If it can get cut and it's valuable, I think I’d probably want to have it cut and sell it," Michael told ABC News. "If it's not, well, then it’s a souvenir."
Michael's find was the twelfth diamond found this year that weighs more than one carat. The impressive rock is the 27th largest diamond found in the history of the park. The largest? The 40.23-carat "Uncle Sam" diamond, the largest ever found in North America.

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
I don't know how to get rid of my pest of a neighbor, I moved to this community  three years ago  after my divorce . I befriended "Joyce" a woman in her 70s who lives two doors down .
Joyce won't leave me alone . When I entertain my fiance  or friends, she is sure to walk over uninvited  and interrupt  us . I've given her my business card and asked her to call first  to make sure I'm not busy . It hasn't worked . She also drinks  my wine  and even though she has an extensive wine collection, she never ofters to replace  the bottle she consumed at my place .
At times, I've had to shut my curtains  and hide in my bedroom  until she is gone . Help.
Prisoner in My Own Home

Dear Prisoner ,
Joyce  is lonely  and either clueless  or deliberately obtuse .It is a kindness to include her  when you can , but you are entitled  to entertain without her . So you will need to be a bit more assertive  and willing to upset her . The next time  Joyce  comes over  unannounced  and unwanted, stop her at the door  and say, "I'm sorry, Joyce," I have company . You will have to come back at another time ." If she gets teary, pushy or anything else, simply repeat  that she will have to come back at another time .

Dear Maxy,
My 16-year-old son likes a young lady  who lives in our neighborhood . He told me he would like to take her to the movies  for their first date . I'm am a little nervous to say yes because  this is the first time my son has expressed to me this type of feeling  toward this young lady . I think I would chaperone my son on his first date . I don't want to embarrass my son, but I want him to have a great time . What is a mother to do ?
Mother May I

Dear Mother May I ,
Going to the movies  can be a nice first date . What's even nicer  is that your son asked your permission  to set it up . At age 16, it is normal for him to want to court a young lady . I suggest  that you remind him  of boundaries  and approptiate  behavior  and let him go, on his own, with your blessing . If he has his own money , that's great . If he needs financial assistance, give him what it costs  for the two tickets plus  a little extra  for snacks . You want him to feel empowered during the date and to be a gentleman .
Give him a curfew .
 When he  comes home, give him a little space . You can ask him how his date went  but let him reveal  details . He could easily be a little  uncomfortable  about talking  about the first time  he has invited a girl to go out . If he seems to like this young lady, suggest that he invite her over  sometime so you can meet her .

Dear Maxy ,
I placed an order with a local restaurant  and at the end of the order  I told them that I would come to the restaurant to pick it up .
When the food was ready, I went to the restaurant  to pay . The cashier asked  if I would like to leave a tip . I did not leave a tip  because I went to the restaurant  to pick up my food . Do you think I should have left a tip ? What is the proper etiquette when it comes to tipping for picking up an order ?
Hungry Man

Dear Hungry Man ,
As you might imagine, there are varying opinions  on this topic . People who have worked  in food service  suggest  that you should leave something  up to 10 percent  of the bill  because people  who worked at the restaurant  prepared the food , packaged it  and got it ready  for you to pick up .
I would say that if you placed a very large order  or complicated  order or if the restaurant  did something  extra, above  and beyond  the basics , it would be  thoughtful to add a small tip . Outside of that, though, I do not subscribe to the automatic tip for takeout .
When it comes  to  eating in, 20 percent  or more is the norm to follow  unless you receive  horrible service .

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Prince William: George 'loud but extremely good looking'

Prince William talks about his new son George at a farm show in Anglesey. He addresses the Welsh people in their own tongue. 


 In a speech which he began in Welsh, the Duke of Cambridge thanked the people of Anglesey for being so welcoming to him and his wife.
Prince William said his wife the Duchess of Cambridge and his son "would have loved to have been here. He's pretty loud and of course extremely good looking".
"I thought search and rescue duties over Snowdonia were physically and mentally demanding but looking after a three-week old baby is right up there.
"I know that I speak for Catherine when I say I have never in my life known somewhere as beautiful and welcoming as Anglesey."
The Anglesey Show is the largest two-day agricultural event in North Wales and attracts around 56,000 people.


Invasive ants: 'Stowaway' insects spreading around world

Invasive ants: 'Stowaway' insects spreading around world

Argentine ants
Argentine ants have spread across Europe, but there are many more alien species

The problem of invasive ants may be far worse than previously thought.  A Spanish team of scientists has found that larger than expected numbers of the insects are being unwittingly shipped around the world.

The researchers warn that many of these species are establishing colonies in their new habitats that could pose a threat to the environment, infrastructure and human health. Lead author Veronica Miravete, from the University of Gerona in Spain, said: "Due to their small size, most ants are transported involuntarily in containers and other boxes, together with soil, wood, ornamental plants and fruits etc, on ships or airplanes."

Tiny globetrotters

The research team looked at the numbers of exotic ants in the Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand.

Fire ant
Fire ants, with their painful stings, have been an unwelcome invasive species

They found far more of these accidental stowaways than had previously been reported. Extrapolating from this data, they estimate that 768 exotic ant species could have been introduced around the world through trade routes. Of these, they believe that more than 600 species could have established new colonies.

Dr Miravete said: "The number of ants arriving is very large and 85% of the introduced species are able to establish successfully. This indicates that there are many introduced species that are living around us as of yet undetected." While not all animals that move to a new region pose a threat, some can wreak havoc - and invasive ants are some of the worst alien offenders.

In Europe, aggressive Argentine ants have been building mega-colonies, and they are out-competing local ant populations, which has sent ripples through the ecosystem. And in the US, the invasion of South America's Rasberry crazy ants has caused a host of problems as the insects swarm inside electrical equipment.

The spread of fire ants has also been unwelcome because of their painful sting. The researchers said that more needed to be done to halt the spread of these pests. Dr Miravete said: "Once exotic ants establish a new region it is very difficult eradicate them.

"There are different methods to prevent alien species, such as pre-border risk assessments, black lists and quarantine inspections. But especially, we have to observe and monitor shipping routes from the regions with the highest probability of possible invasive insects."

I have often had the disturbing thought that insects may some day iradicate all other forms of life on the planet  by their sheer numbers and survive here long after we are gone. If you have ever read 'The Green Brain ' by Frank Herbert, you know what I'm talking about. In Mr Herbert's book insects band together against us and form a communal brain and build creatures woven of live insects that look human and can infiltrate our society.  I just gave myself the shivers.
 Okay, I don't think the situation will ever get that far but let us not underestimate ants and other creepy little guys.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The 75-Year Study That Found The Secrets To A Fulfilling Life

What if there was a study dedicated to unearthing the secrets to a happy and purposeful life? It would have to be conducted over the course of many decades, following the lives of real people from childhood until old age, in order to see how they changed and what they learned. And it would probably be too ambitious for anyone to actually undertake.

Only, a group of Harvard researchers did undertake it, producing a comprehensive, flesh-and-blood picture of some of life’s fundamental questions: how we grow and change, what we value as time goes on, and what is likely to make us happy and fulfilled.

The study, known as the Harvard Grant Study, has some limitations -- it didn’t include women, for starters. Still, it provides an unrivaled glimpse into a subset of humanity, following 268 male Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 (now well into their 90s) for 75 years, collecting data on various aspects of their lives at regular intervals. And the conclusions are universal.

We spoke to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004 and wrote a book about it, in order to revisit the study’s findings. Below, five lessons from the Grant Study to apply to your own pursuit of a happier and more meaningful life.

Love Is Really All That Matters:
It may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Love is key to a happy and fulfilling life. As Vaillant puts it, there are two pillars of happiness. "One is love," he writes. "The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away."

Vaillant has said that the study's most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships. A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn't be happy ("Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse.").

It’s About More than Money and Power:The Grant Study's findings echoed those of other studies -- that acquiring more money and power doesn't correlate to greater happiness. That’s not to say money or traditional career success don’t matter. But they’re small parts of a much larger picture -- and while they may loom large for us in the moment, they diminish in importance when viewed in the context of a full life.

"We found that contentment in the late 70s was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man’s own income," says Vaillant. "In terms of achievement, the only thing that matters is that you be content at your work."

Regardless of How We Begin Life, We Can All Become Happier:A man named Godfrey Minot Camille went into the Grant study with fairly bleak prospects for life satisfaction: He had the lowest rating for future stability of all the subjects and he had previously attempted suicide. But at the end of his life, he was one of the happiest. Why? As Vaillant explains, "He spent his life searching for love."

Connection Is Crucial:"Joy is connection," Vaillant says. "The more areas in your life you can make connection, the better."

The study found strong relationships to be far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction. And in terms of career satisfaction, too, feeling connected to one's work was far more important than making money or achieving traditional success.

"The conclusion of the study, not in a medical but in a psychological sense, is that connection is the whole shooting match," says Vaillant.

As life goes on, connections become even more important. The Grant Study provides strong support for the growing body of research that has linked social ties with longevity, lower stress levels and improved overall well-being.

Challenges –- and the Perspective They Give You -- Can Make You Happier:The journey from immaturity to maturity, says Vaillant, is a sort of movement from narcissism to connection, and a big part of this shift has to do with the way we deal with challenges.

Coping mechanisms -- "the capacity to make gold out of shit," as Vaillant puts it -- have a significant effect on social support and overall well-being. The secret is replacing narcissism, a single-minded focus on one's own emotional oscillations and perceived problems, with mature coping defenses, Vaillant explains, citing Mother Teresa and Beethoven as examples.

"Mother Teresa had a perfectly terrible childhood, and her inner spiritual life was very painful," says Vaillant. "But she had a highly successful life by caring about other people.

Creative expression is another way to productively deal with challenges and achieve meaning and well-being.

"The secret of Beethoven being able to cope with misery through his art was when he wrote 'Ode to Joy,'" says Vaillant. "Beethoven was able to make connection with his music."
By Carolyn Gregoire
Thanx Carolyn .... NEE

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ginger Pride Parade

Ginger Pride march takes place in Scotland as hundreds of redheads protest against discrimination. The parade, led by Canadian comic Shawn Hitchins, wound through Edinburgh city centre to demonstrate against "gingerism"

Proud redheads have taken to the streets in their hundreds for the UK's first ever Ginger Pride march.
A parade led by Canadian comic Shawn Hitchins wound through Edinburgh city centre to demonstrate against "gingerism" - described as prejudice or discrimination against people with red hair.
The march created an "amazing" atmosphere as it made its way from the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street across North Bridge to the city's Royal Mile, Mr Hitchins said.
"Everyone was cheering and we definitely let everyone know that it gets redder," he said.
"I just want to thank all my fellow gingers who took the time attend today's inaugural Ginger Pride event."
"I believe we truly sent a message to the world of how proud we are to be ginger. It was a special moment for gingers everywhere. All hail the red, orange and pale."

Marchers held aloft signs carrying messages such as "For the love of ginger", "All hail! The red, orange and pale" as well as "Ginger and proud".
Mr Hitchins is also performing a show inspired by his hair colour called Ginger Nation at this year's Edinburgh PBH's Free Fringe.

Go Gingers!! They have feelings too...under that pale complexion. And heaven help you if you make them angry.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bush Has Been Pruned....All in a good cause

George HW Bush shaved his head in solidarity with cancer stricken toddler

President George H.W. Bush with his U.S. Secret Service Protective Detail (and Patrick!)
The former president, 89, recently shaved his head to show his support for Patrick, the two-year-old son of a member of his Bush's Secret Service who has leukaemia.
Bush's spokesperson, Jim McGrath, tweeted the photo of the former president's new 'do yesterday.

Bush said it was very easy for him to do. Bush's daughter, Robin, died of the same disease in 1953, when she was just 4 years old. And he wasn't the only one to lose his hair in solidarity with the sick toddler undergoing chemotherapy. Members of the Bush Protective Division are also bald, and are organizing a 50-mile motorcycle ride through Maine to help pay for Patrick's medical bills.
They also launched the website Patrick's Pals to help financially support the young cancer fighter.
Patrick's prognosis is "good," McGrath said yesterday.

It's heart warming to hear that good deeds are being done by good people . It helps to soften some of the harsher things in this mean old world that we have to tolerate every day. Why don't you go to Patrick's website and see what you can do?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I left my hometown when I was 19 and have lived in a nearby state  for the past 27 years . Two of my children are grown  and on their own  and my youngest  currently lives  with my ex-husband overseas .
My mother is now in her 70s  and has many medical problems, lives alone and rarely leaves the house . I am also in a long-distance relationship with a man that lives near my mother .
I am planning to move back to my home state  to help my mother  and also pursue this relationship . However, I am torn  between  moving back there  and being able  to see my children who live in various places . It breaks my heart for my mother to be all alone . I also feel this man is "the one," and I want to see him .

Maxy, I spent nearly 30 years caring for my kids , I plan to see them every few months  and create a visitation schedule  for my son  to be with me . Am I being selfish to move away ?

Dear Torn,
Absolutely not .
You are not abandoning young children . Your kids no longer live with you, so you are free  to go where you wish . As long as you can visit your children and work out a time for your youngest  to be with you, you are under no obligation  to remain  in your current home .
You have spent  27 years taking  care of your kids  and now you are going  to take care of your mother . You deserve to also take care of yourself .

Dear Maxy,
I recently invited  some friends  to my home  for an informal Suppey supper .
We've known each one another  for 10 years  and usually go out to restaurants . This is the first  time we've had them over to our home .
Since then , I have not received  any kind of invitation  from them . Worse, one of them recently  said they had such a good time  that we should do it again . But no one volunteered to use their home .
I have done a lot of entertaining in the past, and going over my guest lists, I realize that very few people  have returned  the favor . Before my husband died last year, he said flat out he was tired of entertaining  people who do nothing for us in return . One of our neighbors was invited twice to our home  and I have yet to be inside her home . Is reciprocity some old social  rule that no longer exists ?
Still  Waiting

Dear Still ,
No, but many people no longer feel obligated  to follow  any social rules at all . We think your particular problem is home entertainment . Too many people  are embarrassed by the condition of their houses  or by their cooking skills . They don't realize  that their friends  aren't interested  in comparing  furniture  and appetizers . They simple  want to enjoy  the company . The solution  for you is to entertain in your home  only those who will reciproate .

Dear Maxy,
A young woman at my job  has been  wearing skirts and dresses  recently  that are see-through . In the regular office  light  you can't tell , but in the sunlight  or any strong light  you can see  right through them  to her underwear . I know I am kind of old fashioned  ... I still wear  slips when they are called for . I want to tell this young woman  how sheer  some of these garments  are so that she can at least decide  if a slip is worth considering . She doesn't seem like the kind of person who wants  people looking at her privates, but men at work  definitely do when she is not looking .

Dear Peek-a-Boo ,
As you already know this  young woman  may not welcome  your comments . Share them any way ... privately . Pull her aside  and explain  that you have something sensitive  you want  to share  with her . Tell her  that sometimes you can see  her underwear through her skirts  and dresses . Acknowledge that you weren't sure  if she was aware  of it and recommend  that she consider  a slip  when wearing  sheer garments . Leave it at that unless  she asks  you for specifics about which clothes you mean . If she asks, tell her .