Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Listening to Books Is Exciting

Ever since I was a little child, I have been reading. I read books at as young an age as the age of three. My dad bought me a composition book and I learned how to write. After I learned how to write, I started reading what I wrote and eventually, I read what others wrote in books. My dad bought me a lot of books with pictures in them. Even though I enjoyed looking at the pictures more, I still loved reading the words. I took reading for granted back then, however, I now realize how invaluable it is. Currently, when I read, I cannot help but pronounce the words aloud, because I want to feel each word on the page enter my brain.
Reading out loud, whether with my voice, or through sub-vocalization is something that reminds me of the days when my dad would read to me. It also reminds me of the tapes my dad bought me where a lady or gentleman read nursery rhymes to me. I miss having the words read to me and that's why I read them to myself. Whenever I read a classic book, like The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye, I read aloud to myself. It takes me longer to finish the book, because I get exhausted vocalizing each word.
Luckily, there's new technology available where I can listen to a book instead of reading it aloud. Books are a very entertaining form of media because the words speak straight to one's heart. One is not distracted by the looks of actors or actresses. He or she is not distracted by the sounds of the score or by the cinematography. He or she can just focus on the actual words themselves and the action of the plot. It is why audio books are a great form of entertainment in today's world.
I have read many classic books and I understood them deeply. However, my understanding will certainly grow when I purchase them in the audio format and listen to them. The details that I missed while reading aloud to myself will be revealed when I listen to the audio versions of the classical tales. It will be like watching a movie without all the cinematographic hoopla. Listening is very powerful, certainly a highly dominant way of receiving information. From now on, I am listening to an audio version of a book, shortly after reading it.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Hermaphrodite

1 He had an iron peg for a nose; his future wife, named Kciroy, she was a toothless dwarf and thus, they would soon marry, and that in itself is a long story, that I shall try to make short in a jiffy. 2 She was the morbid princess of Oxas, a puzzled little kingdom in the high mountains of Bulgaria, during the early Dark Ages. 3 The king upon his daughter's wedding day, gave his son-in-law Ailepho, double golden nose-plugs, to plug those hug nostrils of his, likened to a hogs snout, without a snout-just deep rooted holes. 4 They smelt worse than rotten game, skunk-holes you could call them, even worse than, devils-breath. 5 To be honest, there are no words in those far-off vocabularies that would have described such a stink. 6 Ailepho was in his middle years, whereas his wife, half his age, and the father, twice the age of Ailepho. 7 Soon after they had married, Kciroy gave birth to a hermaphrodite; the Princess Dwarf went absolute into rage over the sight of the child, and Ailepho, likewise. 8 As for the king, he took it no different than he had when his wife-now deceased, gave birth to Kciroy, that is to say: his daughter and when he allowed his daughter to marry Ailepho, now his son-in-law: -like to like, same to same, simply taking it as a human tragedy in sum. 9 But to go back to why the king allowed Kciroy to marry Ailepho: to be put in a nutshell, it was as this: he got rid of all the rats, with that cursed smell of his throughout the kingdom. 10 No more said on the subject that was the deal, lock-stock-and barrel: "Get rid of the rates, the rats the rates!" 11 Well, now seven years had passed, and the old king was still alive-eighty-seven to be exact, and the child was no more a child, he was a youngster of formal reasoning. 12 Thus, out of bitterness, he was called 'it' not by the grandfather of course, but rather the mother and father: out of repugnance.
13 Now before I go on with this story it must be explained, if only for the sake of psychology, or insight, what started as a good omen, or out of good will, as often it does, ends up in a state of ill-will. 14 A child knows at the age of six months, the nature of his mother and father, hence the child has to adjust, for the purpose of survival, smile when the child doesn't want to. 15 Cry the child will, when the child knows s/he can get out of that cry whatever he or she wants. 16 On another note before we go on, evil knows evil, as well as a fool knows the mind of a fool, as much as a thief knows the heart of another thief. 17 And let it be said, a king knows how much his people will take before they rebel, he knows what they mostly need, that will settle them down. 18 With this in mind I continue with the story.
19 Back to the poor child: was 'it' more male than female? 20 Or vice versa? 21 This of course was gossip among the inhabitants of the kingdom. 22 Who is to say? 23 I mean, does it really matter, and on the other hand, some things may never be known, and for the better, and less gossip. 24 The prince and princess never loved this child, and that was the thorn, and the child and Grandfather knew this-in particularly the child. 25 It was obvious; such things cannot be kept in secret forever. 26 And the child remembered when it was just three years old, one evening, his mother had left the bedroom window open, hoping the crows and the hawks and the ravens, and even perhaps the great owls would pick out the eyes, and pluck out the guts and eat the child alive, little by little unto its death, and low and behold, profess it was an accident. 27 But the child was smart, he unplugged his father's golden nose plugs that night, and slept under his bed, thus, he had saved himself, and in the morning, put the plugs back into his nostrils, and rushed back into his bed, with the windows open, this seemed to its parents to be an omen of some sort, that is to say, leave well enough alone. 28 Well, the child may have been a hermaphrodite, but it had a memory like an elephant. 29 At seven years old, the age of formal reason, this event came to haunt him (I shall now call him, him, because I really don't like the name 'it', respectfully). 30 And to say the least, the child was getting tired of watching so carefully, his mother and father, lest he stop and they poison him, or push him off the tower wall, who's to say what goes on in a morbid mind.
31 It happened on the boy's seventh birthday; he snuck into his father and mother's bedroom, pulled the golden pegs out of the father's noise, and it stunk up the whole kingdom, to kingdom-come, you might say, and no one could find the golden pegs, especially made with two shutoff valves to be put deep into those big hole like nostrils. 32 In addition, he pulled off (softly) the iron nose, his grandfather had made for Ailepho, causing even a more deadly sticky and suffocating uproar. 33 Oh it was terrible; everyone in the kingdom wore masks. 34 Day after day, they could not find those pegs, nor was the goldsmith around to make him new ones-where he was, only the child knew, and played dumb, he had paid him well, to take along trip to China or somewhere, that same distance: again, who's to say. 35 In any case, the persistence in these pestilential gusts from his nostrils was so disgusting, that they curled man and beast's eyelashes. 36 Well what could the king do? 37 What started as a good omen, turned out to be an evil one, rebellion was emanating throughout the kingdom; consequently, he had them both beheaded, in lack of a crime, he called it, causing rebellion. 38 And yes, 'it' took its rightful place as King and Queen of Oxas in due time.
39 And perhaps it is better said, in this case anyhow: if one dares to beat out resistance or existence of another they breed in hatred, and mayhem, if not dark dreams and revenge. 40 Such as it is, in this case, where like to like, was not liked: the hunted becomes the hunter.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Barleycorn Fight (1971, Vietnam)

There are no rules in fighting, although all the guys bigger than I, whom I fought felt I violated some made up rule of theirs.
In Vietnam, I had a fight with a sergeant in our company quarters one evening, we all called him Crusher, after the infamous, wrestler, and madman, "The Crusher," he was per near six foot tall, blond short hair, and muscular, looked like a gorilla, as did the sergeant, they could have been twin brothers, except for the age difference; perhaps of Polish or Irish stock. We both had enough malt produced barleycorn in us, this one evening, both half drunk, thereabouts. He told his friend I used a trick when we fought one another in tearing off my opponents face with my long fingernails, his face.
I had blocked his big burley muscular fists, and forearms, and at each thrust, I had moved quick enough to out maneuver him: I tried blow after blow to his face, and torso, but they bounced off him, like rubber, as if he was a danseur, nor did my elbows into his ribs move him one bit, and a good solid kick to the groin did little to nothing, he had a cast iron, whatever. And so I came to the conclusion, I couldn't beat him any other way, and thus, I was limited to my selection of attacks, I had used them all up, so I warped my body likened to wringing a wet rag dry, to gain momentum, jumped up about five inches into the air, and on my way down like a cat with his talon sticking out of his paws, my thorn like fingernails multitudinously swept across his face, like hard nails scratching through sandpaper, and he yelled bloody murder, and fell back a foot! His face was damaged. And the fight was over, and the fight was a draw.
It was no trick, not really, that was the purpose for the long nails and the jump, and two years of karate practice; and if it was a trick, it was a learned one for just that occasion, because I never had to reuse this so called 'trick'; a strategy I prefer to call it. And I consider that trick as legal as any kick in the groin, or punch to the face or ribs, although sober I might not have used that so called 'trick' I might not have thought of it. And here he was sixty-pounds heavier than me, and three inches to four inches taller than me, which was to his advantage-what did he expect-that was his trick, he thought he could bully?

By Dennis Siluk Dr.h.c. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Creating Your Sewing Sanctuary

Don't panic! Find a space of your very own. Nothing sparks your creativity as much as having a special place to sew with well organized sewing equipment stored within easy reach. Once you have found a place to sew, sewing will become more enjoyable.
Pick a space with several considerations in mind. Most importantly, your space must be accessible to electrical outlets and adequate lighting. In addition, think about the noise factor. Will the sound of your machine distract others? Will the sounds of others distract you?
To simplify the planning of your sewing area and to stimulate your own originality, here are some necessities for sewing conditions:
1. Both natural and artificial lighting is required. You should have an overhead light for basic lighting and a high intensity lamp for making small detailed work easier.
2. Convenient outlets for all your electrical equipment are obvious necessities. An extension cord must be available when needed.
3. You will require a cutting table. The ideal table should be accessible from all 4 sides, hard surfaced. Some may choose to use the floor or kitchen when cutting. Be sure that the surface is clean and flat.
4. Your sewing machine section must be wide enough to enable free movement of your fabric and room to place your utensils.
5. To provide proper back support during stitching, select a comfortable chair with a straight back.
6. To avoid wasting valuable time in searching for a needed item, organize a storage system of rollout drawers.
7. A box or tote bag to move equipment from one work area to another can be another time-saver.
8. A large storage area will be needed. This way, large pieces of fabric or incomplete projects can lie flat.
9. A pressing area near your machine and storage space is essential.
10. Supply closet space for hanging nearly finished projects and clothes that need repairing.
11. Have a full-length mirror near ample lighting for viewing your garments. The 3-way variety above the mirror is ideal, especially for fittings.
12. For a cheerful atmosphere, choose a soft color with bright accents.
13. To keep your lovely area neat, place a wastebasket under the machine area and near the cutting table.
Try to combine your wishes with the ideas mentioned above to create your very own sewing space. Whether it's just a corner of a room, your originality can make it a warm haven for producing several of fashionable masterpieces. Don't constraint your shopping to the sewing notions counters. Browse in every department to complete your dream of a sewing sanctuary. Anything to which you devote so much of your time deserves to have special considerations.

By Kashopae Evans

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tips On How To Take Good Care Of Your Acrylic Painting

Acrylic is a transparent material that is used for many purposes. One of the major functions of the material is to display paintings. If you have an acrylic artwork you need to put a number of measures in place to ensure that it retains its elegant look for a long time. Some of the measures that you need to put in place include:
Avoid placing the paintings under direct sunlight. To ensure that the artworks don't fade you should place them under indirect sunlight, halogen lights or under recessed lighting. These lights don't affect the paintings thus the artworks retain their original look for a long time.
You should also avoid displaying the artworks in places of high or too low temperatures. For example, you should not display them in areas that are above 60 °C or below 40 °C.
For ideal results you should ensure that you place paintings in places with relative humidity. You should also ensure that the artworks are in places where the temperature is constant.
You should not allow rigid objects to press against the front or the back surface of the stretched canvas because this results to permanent indentation damage. If you are transporting or storing the painting you should ensure that you place it in a package that is moisture and water resistant.
The package should also be cushioned to absorb shock the may result from bumps. Experts recommend that the package should be wrapped and sealed to ensure that its dent, puncture, and humidity resistant.
If you want to clean the surface of the painting, you should avoid using solvents or other cleaning products. This is because the cleaning products usually embed the dirt into the artwork and cause permanent liquid lines over the surface which gives the painting a very displeasing look.
Instead of using cleaning liquids you should use compressed air in a can to blow away the surface dust. If you don't have access to compressed air you should use a dry, soft brush to lightly brush the surface. You should be careful when brushing and ensure that you don't bump or scratch the painting.
If you clean your artwork for a long time and you notice that the dirt is not coming off you should seek out for professional services. For ideal results you should hire the services of an experienced art conservator who will know the best way of cleaning the painting without causing any damage.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Current Korea Fashion Trend

Korea is a giant when it comes to fashion. Just like anywhere else in the world, fashion in Korea keeps on changing depending on people's tastes and preferences. At this time of the year one great piece of clothing that is making a re-appearance is the pastel.
Experts believe the reason why this clothing is making a reappearance is because it's palette soothing and easy on the eyes. The piece of clothing is also very flattering regardless of the type of outfit that you are wearing it with.
In addition to Pastels, pullovers, long-sleeve shirts and dresses in pink, salmon, peach, orange and aqua are very common both in the office and on the streets.
Statement stripes are being donned by thousands of people who never get tired of this external trend. There are many types of stripes that are being worn by different people. The different stripes are: candy stripes, nautical lines, geometric prints, tribal streaks, and hairline stripes. The good side is that the clothes are being worn by both men and women.
These pieces of clothing are made from different fabrics such as organic cotton, jersey, and lace. Presence of different fabrics gives a wide range of options to choose from thus you are able to have an easy time when you want to look and feel cool.
As Korea is preparing for summer there has been great changes in the manner of dressing. One great style that is rearing this summer is the sailor look.
People are been seen wearing a number of sailor outfits inspired by the sea, marine life and sailors themselves. The outfits have white and blue color schemes, anchors, double breasted tops, sailor collars, and stripes. Each of these creates a different look which makes the wearer look unique.
Sailor print dress is one of the most common dresses at this time. This dress has a different front and back. The front is simple with a sailor collar print while the back has a flashier look with gold buttons. Since it's a loose fit, the dress gives the wearer a formal look.
There is also the sailor print blouse which is a sailor collar print with lettering embroidery. The shirt has an unbalanced length which gives an elegant look. When it's paired with a skirt, the shirt creates a girlish look; however, when it's paired with pants it creates a boyish look.
This is the current fashion trend in Korea. If you live in Korea and you would like to be part of the trend you need to ensure that you buy your products from reputable stores that stock high quality products.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Tips For Plein Air Painting In The Snow

Have you ever thought about plein air painting in the snow? It might sound challenging, but it's actually very rewarding and enjoyable. When snow falls, you just have to go out and capture the wonderful effects it has on the land. Winter landscapes are often characterised by long, dark shadow and a variety of brilliant colours. A blanket of snow can work wonders in completely transforming a scene into something completely new. So here are some tips to help you capture some winter magic.
Combat the cold
It's very important to keep warm while you work in the cold. This is because you're going to be much more motivated, focused and productive when you're warm. To combat the cold, wear several layers of clothing and have a hot drink in a thermos flask with you. Don't expose your painting hand to the elements - wear a woollen sock on your painting hand. Thread the tail through the sock and hold the brush in your covered bare hand. Keep your feet warm by standing on a bare bit of ground or bring a mat with you and stand on that instead.
Avoid windy days
As mentioned previously, you can work your way round the cold. The most problematic part of winter weather is definitely the wind. Even in summer, the wind can be a hindrance to plein air painting. When it's winter, it's going to hinder your painting and it's going to make it seem a lot colder than what it actually is. It's best to avoid wind altogether if you can. If you do find yourself fighting the wind, use an umbrella to try to block it from your painting.
Take your time
Unfortunately, snow melts. Many places are lucky to get any snow at all and when they do, it seems to melt away as quickly as it came. However, this doesn't mean you should rush to capture a winter landscape even if you're racing against time. Take some time to appreciate the details and beauty of the winter landscape before you. Take your time when capturing these in your painting. An incomplete painting that you can finish at home is better than a rushed and messy one.
Take breaks
If you find that you can't handle the weather, simply take a break whenever you need to. Paint for 10-15 minutes or so then head back to your car, turn the engine on and warm yourself up for a bit. Have a hot drink and enjoy the break. Then head back and work on your painting for another 10-15 minutes and keep the cycle going. It might take you longer than if you were doing your painting in a single sitting, but it's better than getting overcome by the cold.
These are just a few basic tips to get you started on plein air painting in the snow. If you have any more tips you'd like to share, please do feel free to share them.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Entrainment Vs Entertainment

People often ask me, when they first see the word "entrainment" if I meant "entertainment." We all know what entertainment is, and because I am a performing musician, people assume that I have misspelled the word entertainment, but no, entrainment is very, very different!
Think of a time when you went to a concert of any kind and when the music started, the rhythmic nature of it made you start clapping, tapping or moving your whole body in synch with the rhythm! That's entrainment! The phenomenon of entrainment was named in the Journal "Cortex." This was written as the abstract of an article on entrainment:
"Wherever human beings live, and however they may organize their affairs, they gather from time to time to sing and dance together, often in a ritual setting. In doing so they synchronize their voices and bodily movements to a shared, repeating interval of time, the musical pulse, beat or tactus. We take this capacity to "entrain" to an evenly paced stimulus. (isochrony) so much for granted that it may come as a surprise to learn that from a biological point of view such behavior is exceptional. But it is not altogether unique."
So how does this apply to surgery? One of the reasons that music is so powerful during surgery is that the pulse of the music entrains your heartbeat and breathing, even when you're under general anesthesia. Many people believe that when you're under anesthesia you can't actually "hear" the music. That's where the difference between entertainment and entrainment comes in.
The idea began to take shape in my mind that some people in comas had been observed for years, tapping a toe or foot or finger, in rhythm with music being played or sung in the room. Some people would awaken from lengthy comas, reporting that they ha indeed heard and appreciated music that was played or sung to them while in a coma.
After researching similar phenomena during surgery, I found that hundreds of people each year awaken from general anesthesia saying that they heard not only conversations during their surgery, they heard music that was being played through speakers, intended for the doctors. They also heard, during certain surgeries, the sound of drills, hammers and saws!! This is when I began wondering if music that would start the entrainment process, played through super-lightweight headphones, might not be a wonderful thing.
Before I proceeded further, I was advised to get a U.S. Patent, which I did, and we now have the only patented process for choosing the most successful music for starting the entrainment process for the patient. Once the patient's heart-rate, breathing, and emotional state are entrained to the music, the patient stays relaxed during the surgery and less anesthesia and other meds are required to keep the patient asleep and comfortable during whatever procedure they are undergoing.
Today, our Surgical Serenity Solution provides this calm and relaxing process to patients around the country. After researching the very best music for entrainment, I have come up with a playlist that is soothing, comforting, and starts the entrainment process. If you are having surgery in the near future, please consider using music, through lightweight, cordless headphones!

By Dr. Alice Cash

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Father of a King (2006-2012; Updated 2014)

When his first child of his second marriage-a boy, was old enough to attend college, he found him a private college to attend, and sent him to medical school, he was very proud he could do that with the money in which he sold his wife's condo for, to pay for the college tuition, although they had another home, the condo was an investment, which they rented out.
He, the father, felt as if he came from a line of kings. And his son played the game, of course he was. So for nearly two years he just paid the bills, the tuition- giving it to the boy, to pay for the schooling, and watched his investment money dwindle to zero.
Fine, his uncle brought up: how can my brother-in-law's boy, watch so much television in the afternoons, and then just fall to sleep watching it, wake up whenever, rest the rest of the afternoon, and just mosey about the house and cafe, and not have to study to pass those heavy-duty school tests, he must be a genus! I mean this was obvious to the uncle, who ate at their restaurant every day, but evidently not to the Father of a king, or the boy's family per se.
And it was at the end of that second year, the father got a notice that his son was not doing not so well in college, that he should make arrangements to find future schooling elsewhere, and perhaps a different career, in some other area than medical.
Well, this was a blow not only to the father, but the mother as well. But why was he doing so bad, was never made clear. Thus, he went to teller school, to become a bank teller, yes, a bank teller of all things-from a medical career to a bank teller, to a department store teller, to being unemployed, all in the following additional two years. But the kicker is this: he was doing badly because he was giving his tuition money to his girlfriend, he wasn't for the most part, attending college those last several months. Yes, I said girlfriend, who was also working on a professional career, can you beat that. Then when she graduated, she flew the coop, and went to another city, and the father of the king, and his wife, were stultified over the matter, but what can you do. Just go cook some more goulash, or chicken or whatever-get it off your mind it will madden you. Or it would me!
Now I got to backtrack a bit, before all this took place, this other situation took place.
The father of the king, inherited $40,000-dollars. And his daughter of his second family, was coming of age to attend college. But he had two other daughters from a previous marriage, both in their mid-twenties, both having finished college, one married, the other one had a good and steady job, - both like the father, thinking highbrow thoughts.
One wanted their father to put money down on a condo for her, the other wanted to pay up some bills- and they wanted the $40,000-dollars to do it with; the apple doesn't fall far from the cart, as they say, or tree: these two daughters were evidently princess' of a grandfather king.
"I'll look into it right away," he told both of them, and he did by bring the issue up to his present wife, he told her, "They're my children from before you; I'll attend to it myself."
(Now before I go any further, let me point out this: the house they now live in is hers, inherited from her family, the car he drives is hers from her work money, the land he will eventually sell, is the land she has inherited. So you see, what is his, is his, and what is hers is his... if not so it would seem so... )
And the two daughters, played the game, as if he came from a line of kings, and they too.
Then in a week he had signed the papers for the daughter's apartment-she per near hogtied him inside the lawyers office to make sure he signed on the dotted line; and he sent his other daughter the other $20,000-dollars- the very one that was rude to him when he had come visiting for a long spell, and was told often: "Are you still here?"
Nobody could tell him what to do, I mean nobody on either side of the globe, could tell the father of the king what to do.
He had the money, he bought their love.
"All right" said his other youngest daughter, the one from the present marriage, the daughter now ready to attend college: "which college are you expecting me to attend?" she asked the father. I mean all the money was gone.
He had sold some of his wife's land that she had inherited from her family, invested it into a café. He made a little profit from it. It was tight, but he figured he could afford to have her attend the area's National University, -it wasn't all that prestigious- but it would have to do.
It was good thinking, businesslike thinking for once, but she couldn't pass the tests either, so he put her into a private college-I hate to say it but I will, like brother like sister, although she had a little more stamina, and better grades, and fortitude.
And she played the game just like her two older half-sisters played, as if he came from a line of kings, of course he did.
And as the business flourished-the café business, he became boorish, ill-mannered, and he lost customers, he told his family and friends "Keep out of my business," no one on either side of the globe could tell him otherwise.
"All right, if that's the way you feel about it," they all said, complied, then inferred: to your own business. And they stopped eating at his café-wouldn't you?
Well, the kids never helped much-that same old thing: sister like brother, and there were two brothers, one younger one older, the younger one not yet ready for college, and perhaps will never have the chance to get ready, and if given the chance, what then? But that's yet to be seen, they have good godparents, with deep pockets, at least the younger boy does.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Black Chaos (Or, "The Meatpacker's Boy") 1967

A mind trying to recover from a night's drinking, the following morning can and more often than not is, a black chaos-naturally, not everybody understands this. I don't think my mother could. I lived on York Street, on the Eastside of St. Paul, Minnesota, it was 1967, late fall.
I heard the horn honk, it was my mother with her boyfriend, Earnest Brandt, they both worked at Swift's Meats, in South St. Paul, they came to pick me up, this being the 3rd month of my employment, working for them.
No sooner thought than done, I rolled out of my bed, in my studio apartment, flung my clothes off a hanger, in the closet, wiped my feet on a clean rug on an unusually dirty floor, and duplicated my morning a hundred times over, meaning, I would take the ride to work, I worked on the Hog-kill assembly line. My mother was a Meatpacker, she had worked there at Swift's going on twenty-two years, Earnest her boyfriend, thirty-years.
So I took the generously offed ride, in that, I had resolved I'd go to work today, not every day did I come to this decision, I think I missed as much work as I worked, in those days, and in particular at Swift's. I was nineteen at the time, and on the road to becoming a professional drinker, some call it: alcoholic. But I never did give it such a distaining name, back in those days.
Anyhow, it did take me a while to get to the car, I had to search for my apartment keys through a heap of clothes, as Ernie's face blazed with wrath, "Where is that son of yours," he asked my mother, Elsie. And he surely would have used stentorian tones, that vibrated up to my apartment had my mother not been a few feet from him, but he held his cool: not that I blame him.
I kind of new I was doomed today, I had missed a few days this week, it was now Friday, and to be frank and honest, every day I came in late, or not all, and with a handover, well there it is, there was nothing left to do but fire me.
The old man, that's what I called the Manager of our department, would be frustrated as he was always frustrated with me, or nearly always. And the Union, at my Mother's beck and call, and Ernie's at request, always came running to the rescue, and saved my job, three times previously, and this was only the end of the third month, going into the 4th month, god forbid, it be more. But I knew the Union would try to iron things out again, on their behalf, not on mine of course.
I worked hard, when I worked, and it was of course always with a hindered hangover, sometimes my teeth rattled and my head ached and sometimes the manager marveled at that I could keep up with the strong longtime Polish and Irish men on the line: but I was of Irish stock, and Russian stock, and Polish stock myself, hard muscled, strong willed, stubborn, and I could flip the back of those hogs as easily as any other longtime worker, and these hogs weighed 250 to 400 pounds each, and their backs which ended up being bacon, were heavy, perhaps a decent portion of that 400-pounds of hog, and I had to cut the back out of the hog, and flip it over, 180-degrees; and you do that for eight hours see how you feel: you have to lift them up from the iron-belt and turn them about, after four hours no simple task.
This morning the manager had called me into his office. There were several other people in there. I kind of expected it, "I can't take you anymore," said the Old Manager, "you're driving me crazy with your chaotic schedule of work, for the fourth and last time, you're fired, fired, you make me look bad in front of my peers, get out of my office."
I suppose my face was blank, back in those days, I showed little emotion, and I was half under the weather to speak of, recovering from the aftermath of a night's drunk and that so called black chaos inside the head was stirring, what else would you expect. I simple smiled, he was a good man, and I told myself: it's really long overdue. I never said anything but I knew he had a wife whom was bipolar, and once when he was in a daring mood, and asked me to take a minute to listen to him, so he could get me to work harder one day, he told me of all people, about his wife, indicating, I had problems, but so did he. I'm not sure where he was going with this, but I simply agreed to work harder that day, in a different department for him.
Anyhow, back to the manager's office, and ridding of his pest.
With a trembling finger, the old man pointed it at the door, a sign for me to hit the road. As he went "Ha! Ha!" laughing nearly madly.
For me, it was not the same snowstorm, as it was for him. I was young, and he was old. Now writing this out today, I know what it is to be old, and I know what it is to be youth. Like him, he knew both of them, back then. I had another forty-five years to go, but I did understand, I got his goat. And I knew he was putting on a demonstration, perhaps to show his strength, he was lenient with me in the past. And perchance he needed to reinforce to his subordinates, he was in charge.
Now again, my mother and Earnest reached out to come to my rescue, they were going to talk to the Union Representative.
"No," I told both of them, "I don't want the Union's hot-irons trying to fix things for me, I deserve what the old man is doing; matter of fact, he's just doing his job, and I should have been fired long ago."
Well, to be frank, they didn't argue the point.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

4 Creative Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding Flowers

Flowers usually beautify a wedding; however, the unfortunate thing is that they tend to be expensive thus unaffordable for many people. The good side is that there are some measures that you can take and save on the flowers. Some of the measures that you can take include:
Picking a gorgeous venue
While there are some benefits that come with hosting a wedding at a hotel, most of the reception and ceremony spaces in these hotels tend to be raw; therefore, you have to bring in a lot of décor and flowers in order to liven up the places.
To avoid buying a lot of flowers, you should choose a venue that has a lot of built-in charm. For example, you can go for a historic church, botanical garden or a quaint country inn. Choosing any of these places means that your guests will have a lot of things to ogle at and they won't even remember that the venue has no flowers.
Buying what is locally available
If you are set to buy a bouquet, you should go for flowers that are in season and can be easily sourced. This way you won't need to pay premium amounts of money. Although, you save money doing this, it's usually hard to get the flowers that you are looking for.
Going for silk flowers
Silk flowers are usually less expensive and look and feel like the real thing. You can either rent or buy the flora. If you choose to buy the silk flora, you don't have to throw them away once the ceremony is over. This is because you can give them as a token of thanks to your guests.
Using non-floral elements
Since the floral elements tend to be expensive, you can try to lower the cost by using non-floral elements. Some of the great elements that you can use are: candles, books and lanterns. These are much cheaper than flowers and as a result you save a lot of money.
If there are fruits in your area, you can use them instead. Some of the great fruits that you can use are: apples, pumpkins, artichokes, grapes, and gourds.
Bottles have also been shown to be very effective in making a visual impact in your wedding décor. Here you need to collect the bottles that fit your theme. For example if you have a rustic theme, you should go for vintage bottles. The good side with using bottles is that they are cheap and easy to find.

By P K Martin

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Getting Those Creative Juices Flowing

Some artists can get into the zone whenever they want. They get their equipment ready and can paint just like that. They seem to be able to get their creative juices whenever it suits them. Most people are not as efficient as this. Most people need a little bit of extra help to get the juices flowing and the creativity going. Here are some tips that will help you get in the zone for a really productive period of painting.
Scientists have concluded that doing a bit of exercise every now and then is a good way to boost creativity. Whether it's a strenuous gym session or a relaxing walk in the park, all physical activity can be good. Physical activity makes you think more flexibly and creatively. For it to work really effectively, you should be doing physical activity regularly so your body's used to it. If you only exercise once in a while, all the energy will go into the movement, and not to firing up those creative juices. Many artists, writers and other creative people strongly recommend any form of physical activity before starting work.
Brain training
Do a few brain training puzzles before you get started on your painting. The good thing about brain training activities is that they can be quite easy and quick, but they still get your brain going. There are loads of great puzzles to get your brain fired up - sudokus and crosswords are two of the most popular ones. Alternatively, you could try brain training exercises that are more related to the work you're about to do. Challenge yourself to do a quick painting in a limited amount of time or try painting something you've never painted before. The possibilities are endless!
Reading can be a great way to boost creativity. All sorts of books can help you before you get started on your painting, from novels and autobiographies to factual books and reference guides. Think of the sort of book you find mentally stimulating, something that made you feel motivated and creative. Read a chapter or two before every painting session and, if you can, pick up some ideas while you read.
These are just a few ways you can boost your creativity. It's always good to do a warm-up session before you tackle a big creative project. Doing little things to boost your creativity can make your painting session much more interesting, manageable and enjoyable. Do you know of any other ways to boost creativity?

Front Yard Right of Ways - Who Owns It?

Most subdivisions that create individual lots, also have streets, drainage systems and utility easements that are either dedicated to the local jurisdiction or an easement over your private property. Streets are often designed to certain standards and their overall width as shown on the subdivision plat map often encroaches onto what you may think is your property. A Right of Way or Rights of Way, is typically the section of land between the edge of the street and your actual front property line. This Right of Way allows the city or county to do a number of things including access utility connections, maintain drainage ditches, curb and gutter, sidewalks or even to widen the road if that is in the master plan.
Most homeowners are not aware that this section of land has restrictions on its use. Whether it is an easement across your property or the Right of Way is city or county owned, you may not build or construct anything you want without risking it being removed if access to land is required. Often a Right of Way permit is required to do anything.
So what can you build in your front yard? First, you must determine exactly what you own and what the city or county owns. In a Right of Way, typically you may install a driveway across the ROW to access the street. But building any kind of wall is typically not allowed within a Right of Way or Easement. If the city or county was to grant you a permit to build it, who then would maintain it and if the city had to dig up utility lines and remove the structure, who would pay to replace it? These are the reasons, only minimal improvements are allowed such as driveways and landscape plant material.
You will also find out about your front yard building setback which is different than an easement or a ROW. It is a part of the Zoning District setup by the city to regulate how close buildings can be to their lot lots on all four sides. Front yard setbacks restrict how close to the front yard property line you can build your house or any extension of it including low walls such as for a courtyard.
In planning the design of residential landscape, I check with the city as the first step to determine where the Right of Way, Easements and Setbacks are located. These are all building restrictions that must be followed, especially if what the homeowner wants to do requires a building permit.
Jurisdictions have different regulations and use restrictions as to what can be done and who will maintain it. The city may turn maintenance responsibility over to the homeowners even though they own the underlying property. If a homeowner improves the Right of Way with landscaping for their benefit, then it is in their best interest to continue to maintain it so it looks good. The one thing the city is most concerned about is liability. If the Right of Way is subject to flooding or has excessive weed growth, it may go ahead and perform maintenance because, legally it is the owner of the property.
Restrictions on the use of one's property is part of the due diligence everyone should perform when buying new real estate. Locating the property corners will often reveal that a good portion of the front yard is really not your property, or may have restrictions that may not be acceptable to you. This is often the case with raw land where the actual property lines are not obvious.
I have seen where a person property is actually the center line of the street and also where the property line is about 25 feet away from the edge of pavement. These Right of Ways and Easements can vary widely among jurisdictions. If you have an issue with your Right of Way landscaping, I may be able to help.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Star-Crossed Lovers

This beautiful, heart-tugging, mind-stretching Young Adult novel centers hauntingly around cancer-stricken students, especially focusing on Hazel Grace and her cancerous lungs and Augustus (Gus) who befriends her. They meet at a cancer anonymous center in an old church, where Gus, who has beaten cancer but lost a leg in the process, mesmerizes Hazel, who slowly falls in love with him.
Their parents are very supportive.
Hazel has read a book obscurely entitled An Imperial Affliction, by Peter Van Houten, numerous times that ends abruptly without a conclusion. She and her male friend make use of his Cancer Wish to make a trip to the picturesque Netherlands, with her mother, to visit the reclusive author to find out what happened to the characters in the book after the alleged death of a child with cancer.
The meeting is a disaster. Hazel and Gus find the author insulting, somewhat irrational, and unwilling to talk about his book, and he detests Americans, even though he is one. However, the star-crossed lovers' visit is not completely wasted. Thanks to Houten's assistant, they find themselves exposed to the scenic beauty of the city of Amsterdam and romantic dining. The author through his character Hazel treats the reader to a vicarious experience of the delights of the country.
There are numerous thoughts about the meaning of life, youth angst, and related references to various famous authors like Anne Frank and T. S. Eliot. The novel is both sad and emotion-wrenching but also inspiring through the unquenchable spirits of the characters, whom the author John Green has fleshed out well. I was so impressed by the star-crossed lovers that I immediately ordered two more of Green's works: Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, the latter an unusual mystery, both focusing on troubled, free-spirited girls.
The following passage from the book emphasizes the poignancy and resilience of the story and its characters in an intimate scene between Hazel and Gus:
"The space around us (Hazel narrating) evaporated, and for a weird moment I really liked my body; this cancer-ruined thing I'd spent years dragging around suddenly seemed worth the struggle, worth the chest tubes and the PICC lines and the ceaseless bodily betrayal of the tumors".
In a scene from the Support Group, Hazel underscores the horror of one member's type of cancer to illustrate the pain and anguish he experiences but stoically deals with. This person, named Isaac, has cancer of an eye: "... his eyes were the problem... One eye had been cut out when he was a kid, and now he wore the kind of thick glasses that made his eyes (both the real one and the glass one preternaturally huge, like his whole head was basically just this fake eye and this real eye staring at you... From what I gather on the rare occasions when Isaac shared with the group, a recurrence had placed his remaining eye in mortal peril... "
What is cancer? Gus, when he and Hazel arrive in Amsterdam, reveals shocking news and adds that it is a war between a disease and a person: "... My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me... It is a civil war, Hazel Grace, with a predetermined winner".
Have some tissue handy--you who are prone to tears! I guarantee that the reader will find it almost impossible to lay the novel aside once he or she starts reading it.
A final note: Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, the brother and sister Tris and Caleb in the film Divergent, by Veronica Roth, co-star in the film version of The Fault in Our Stars that is due out in theaters in June.
Copeland is the author of The Patient Quest, a novella available Print-on-Demand, and four books published electronically through Kindle. The writer is a former journalist, editor, and teacher.

Bram Stoker and the Village of Easenhall

Before Bram Stoker turned his talent to writing, he worked as a tour manager for the great English actor, Henry Irvine. They travelled the country packing out the local theatres. One of Stoker's many tasks would be to book the accommodation. As you might expect, they would often stay in the best hotels and private houses. Sometimes however, if it were a small, provincial town, they would kip at local Inns.
The Golden Lion in the village of Easenhall, a tiny, almost hidden-from-view hamlet deep in the heart of Warwickshire, is one such location. The Golden Lion is one of the oldest Inns in Warwickshire. Over the centuries it has played host to several notable personalities. The Inn sits at the very edge of the village itself. Surrounded by fields and woodland, The Golden Lion Inn is the perfect retreat for busy city dwellers. As part of his job, Stoker would have been familiar with many of the Inns that resided in central England. Henry Irvine was due on stage in Birmingham the following week. They had a few days to spare and Stoker had booked the Golden Lion Inn for two nights.
I lived in Brinklow a few miles down the road. I would often walk to Easenhall through the back fields and woods which enveloped both small villages. There is a solitary bridle-path which takes you, snake-like, through these woods and the fields of corn which live on either side. There is a lake too and a series of old buildings which have all but collapsed into dust. I never knew their purpose. If local village legend was to be believed, these peculiar remains were once follies from the early eighteenth century. It's hard to verify fact from fiction. Never-the-less, I would often imagine Stoker wandering in between the same ruins and woodland that I had come to know so well during the long summer months.
Stoker would have been thinking about his future works at this point in his early life. Of course, Dracula was still some way off. It would be several years before he would start to pen that particular work of fiction. It's still interesting to picture Stoker wandering through the surrounding fields, perhaps thinking about his future novel. The Golden Lion itself would have been the ideal retreat too for a budding writer to scribble down his thoughts. Maybe Stoker had already begun to make notes on his infamous vampire whilst staying at the Inn. Of course, it's impossible to prove but interesting to think about over a quiet pint.

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What Is A Giclee Print And What Is Its Life Span?

What is a giclee print?
Giclee prints are digital reproductions of works of fine art that are usually printed on a canvas or on watercolour paper. Giclee printing refers to an advanced method of printing whereby these works are produced to have a much higher quality and much longer lifespan than those produced by a standard inkjet printer. The prints are created from a highly detailed digital file which is sent to a specialised printer that is much more advanced than a typical inkjet printer and is capable of handling several different types of printing materials.
What's the difference between a giclee and a standard inkjet print?
The document from which the giclee is to be printed has to have a resolution greater than 300 DPI (dots per inch). Any camera or scanner used to capture the image must also have a resolution greater than 300 DPI. The substrate the work is printed on to has to be of archival quality because archival paper lasts much longer and reproduce colours much more effectively than standard paper. Giclee prints are usually created using professional printers and pigment-based inks. These inks have a much longer lifespan than dye-based inks and are thought to last over 100 years without fading. The printers used to create giclees can produce works in a much larger format and can typically hold up to a dozen ink cartridges, allowing for highly detailed works to be produced.
Where does the term 'giclee' come from?
The term 'giclee' comes from the French word meaning a spray or squirt of liquid. It was first coined in 1991 by the printmaker Jack Duganne to refer to the process of creating prints of fine art using IRIS printers, a process which was invented in the late 80s. Nowadays the term 'giclee print' can refer to other types of inkjet printing and works of art that are created digitally on a computer program, such as Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, before being processed on to a substrate.
What's the lifespan of a giclee print?
It is currently uncertain how long a giclee will last because the technology used to create them is fairly recent. Some websites say a giclee will last over 100 years, while others offer a more modest estimation of over 35 years. Some sites do mention aging simulations carried out in laboratories to try to determine how long giclees will last, but there is no way to verify any claims. Obviously giclees will last if they are cared for well; it can also be safely assumed that they will last considerably longer than inkjet prints thanks to the quality of the printers, archival paper and inks used to create them.
Why go for giclees?
One of the main advantages of giclees is that they can be created on-demand as the process is digital. Artists can therefore create their own prints whenever they want with ease. This is a much better option for artists who might not want to mass-produce their works. Once a file is digitally archived, it won't deteriorate in quality or gradually fade like physical works do. Each giclee print can be customised, whether it's printed on to a number of different substrates or whether its size is altered. Giclee prints are very popular thanks to their high quality and the fact that they can be more advantageous to artists than standard methods of printing. Giclees are commonly seen in galleries and exhibitions all around the world.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

What you To Know About Psychic Reading

How great would it be to know what the other person is thinking? It would be great if you could be able to know the questions that you will be asked in an interview, which girl will say yes to your proposal, and who is planning bad things about you. Having the ability to sense a storm or an earthquake before it hits you is great, isn't it?
What is Psychic Reading?
Psychic reading is the ability of a person to sense things that are beyond the perception of many people. As cool as it sounds, this would mean that a person with psychic reading abilities is capable of perceiving more than an average human being. This is usually said to be magic to a layman.
How do they do that?
Is it possible that all people who claim to have psychic abilities are psychic readers? That's debatable to an extent. But yes, there is a possibility that some people can tell more things with their senses and cognitive ability which has evolved differently in comparison to other people.
People who do that do it with more evolved perception or through highly developed normal sensing capabilities. This may include highly improved sensitivity to touch, sight, or sound.
Different types of Psychic Reading
As mentioned before, a psychic reader has higher abilities and knowledge than an average person. Although, a psychic reader has higher abilities than a normal person, there are different types of psychic readers. The psychic readers usually differ on the sense of perception.
Some of the great abilities in different psychic readers include: aura reading, Playing card reading (also known as Cartomancy), Astrology, Numerology, Palm reading, Rune reading, Distant reading, Tarot reading (also a form of Cartomancy) and Psychometry.
If you want a psychic reader you should look for one with the abilities that you are interested in. In addition to using his abilities, a psychic reader also uses his divination tools in his work.
Many people usually don't differentiate between a psychic ability and divination tool. The truth is that the two are very different.
A psychic ability is something that is untouchable while a divination tool is a tangible thing that is usually used to delve into what is going on beyond the surface of the situation. The tool is also used to gain insight especially if a person is interested in exploring what is likely to unfold.

How To Care For A Giclee Print

ow best to care for them to ensure their longevity. Even though the technology used to create them is relatively recent, it is widely thought that giclee prints can last for a substantial amount of time - much longer than standard prints. In order to potentially last this long, they must be cared for properly.
Firstly, if you ordered your print unframed, it will come rolled up inside a protective tube. When it comes to framing your print, you should only use a professional framer who is familiar with the process of stretching and framing giclee canvases. It is advisable that the framer only use the finest materials to frame the print.
Handle your print only when necessary, never handle it from the corners and only ever handle it from the sides. Always try to handle prints with gloves. Whenever the print is being transported, it should always be well protected and should be kept flat and facedown. Never place any object on the canvas, no matter how small or light, and never lean the canvas against anything. When a canvas is left exposed it's more susceptible to damage and denting.
Canvas pieces that have been stretched or mounted should be stored upright and should never have any weight placed upon them. They should be stored with archival paper dividers interleaved between them and should never touch any other canvas pieces. Ensure that tape never comes into contact with any prints as it can cause peeling. If you intend to roll your prints up, you should roll them it up very tightly so they don't sag as this can cause permanent. Prints should be carefully laid on their side before being rolled up and should be kept standing up if they are to be stored for an extended period of time.
Lighting conditions:
Even though canvas giclee prints come with ultraviolet coating, it is still advised not to hang them in direct sunlight. This is because exposure to UV from sunlight over an extended period of time can still cause them damage.
Room conditions:
Canvas lets out and takes in a lot of moisture, which can cause too much shrinking or stretching. To avoid this, the climate of the room needs to be carefully monitored and regulated. Exposing prints to extreme temperatures and sudden changes in temperature can affect their longevity and the materials they're made from. Keeping the room at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity at 55% should do the trick. The room should not have a high amount of traffic and any prints should hung high off the ground out of the reach of children.
To clean a canvas print you should use a soft, dry cloth to wipe off any dust or dirt. Never wash any printed surfaces with water and never expose your print to any solvent-based substance as this can cause yellowing. If you use a light-coloured or white cloth you will be able to see when too much dust or dirt has been picked up. You can carefully wipe your canvas print with a soft cloth that has been slightly dampened with water, though you should only do this if absolutely necessary. The print should be left to dry at room temperature once you've cleaned it.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Compare Current Versus Past Merchant Statements

Business owners wear many hats in their daily activities. There's managing inventory, employees, appearance of their establishment, marketing and on and on. One of the less than pleasant things that I find merchants tend to put off is reading and understanding their merchant statements. They typically aren't the easiest things to comprehend and, unfortunately, that is by design. However, let me encourage you here that if there is ever a time to take a thorough look... it's right now.
As you may know, every April and October Visa and MC make adjustments to Interchange Rates. And, since this is the baseline of all your rates, any increases can change your Discount Rate that you are paying your payment processor for the "privilege" of accepting plastic in your business. So, the purpose of this brief article is simply to encourage you to take a look at your merchant services processing statement from, oh let's say March or maybe even February. Then take a look at your April statement that you likely just recently received.
Here's what you're looking for. Every statement will have a "comments" or "important information" section where your provider will inform you of a variety of things. This is the spot where they will let you know that your rates may be increasing due to Interchange adjustments. So, see if there was any indication of this on your February and March statements in anticipation of April adjustments. If so, then you want to thoroughly check your actual rates to see how much and what adjustments were made to your plan. Sometimes processors won't make any moves with every interchange rate hike and will simply absorb small upticks. However, some will also utilize this semi-annual phenomenon to pass it on or pass it on plus some for themselves. What I'm getting at here is that you absolutely need to know what is going on, what your rates are and how you are being charged.
Now, let's say that you did see some upticks in your rates. Was it across the board on all types of transactions that you receive or was it adjustments only on certain card/transaction types? Then, once you get a grasp on exactly what adjustments are being made, decide if it's worth sticking with the current provider based on what type and quality of services you are receiving from them. Personally I have a very high retention rate with my merchants simply because I take care of them and am responsive to their needs. So, even if there is a need to pass on slight increases, they don't mind because I take care of them. Plus, I'm always proactive with them in looking for and providing other valuable services to benefit their business.
So, get on it and don't delay. And, if I can be of any assistance, you know how to reach me.

By Michael Saum

Contemporary Art in Your Homes

In today's modern era contemporary art remains to find its place in homes, commercial offices and buildings. This is because contemporary art is a true beauty of the handiwork of seasoned artists and they are a great addition to beautifying a room. Whether you want to create an ambient atmosphere suited for a relaxing environment or one that will stimulate the senses of the viewer of the artwork, it takes different forms to accomplish that effect. Some art collectors like to keep artworks created by contemporary artists because of how intricately their works are made. If you are planning to buy one, it helps to know these tips to help you find a great collection of this artwork and how you can make them perfectly fit your home designs.
Understand the purpose of buying contemporary art
There are many reasons why people like to buy inspiring art from the 70's. Some buy them plainly for home decorating while others like to keep them at home for their art collection gallery. There are also those that are looking for a good investment to make from its designs and value. These are important considerations when looking for the contemporary masterpieces to buy and make sure that when buying one it suits your purpose well.
Keep an eye on the price tag
Not all aged arts are created equal. Older pieces of artworks usually cost more than the latest creation of the modern artists. If your goal is investment when buying the artwork, then you should invest well and choose the higher priced antique collections. If you simply want to show off a beautiful painting on your walls, there are cheaper art collections that come as nice as the expensive ones in terms of the design value.
The artistic value
The contemporary art value is also regarded in consideration of its creator. Seasoned contemporary artists are known for their handiwork, skills and reputation in their field of industry and their works are already considered of high value in terms of quality, design and longevity. Avoid buying contemporary arts that are worthless and created by artists that simply copied their art from the style of the other artists. Good artists are those that can express inspiring ideas and their works are marked with originality. High quality masterpieces of this kind are likely to be good investment. They usually retain their quality value especially in public auctions.
Determine your taste
Contemporary art evolves and it may take different forms. Your choice will depend upon your own taste of style and design from a contemporary masterpiece. You can choose from the modern approach of contemporary designs or remain to opt for the conservative style of this masterpiece. Landscape paintings remain to be popular in the industry but more bizarre and abstract designs of contemporary paintings begin to emerge and are quite accepted by the contemporary art community because of its exciting, intriguing and unique forms. When choosing the contemporary art to buy, make sure that the design and color best suit in complementing your home furniture and walls.

To Beat the Red!

To beat the Red!
(... or, 'The Loop!') 1992
In St. Paul, Minnesota or for that matter in other cities as well people are inclined to call a certain area of the city, in particular a busy area, such as downtown St. Paul, the Loop; it's kind of an area you circle around in a loop with you automobile. Drivers do it to look at girls, sell drugs, and check the inner city out. Girls walk the loop to be picked up, or drug dealers stand on corners to sell drugs, that kind of thing. And those not into that kind of stuff, mosey about it crisscrossing the streets to get to other parts of the city, to and fro.
In St. Paul there was such a thing, location, in downtown, it circled around a number of bars, and Seventh Street, and a bus station, a few show houses, a parking lot, the loop had just about everything a night shopper or night adventurist would be seeking.
Hence, when you stopped at the red light at 'Wabasha and Seventh,' you were facing a stop-and-go-light, in this case I had stopped on the red light. Sometimes when I'd stop, the light would turn nearly instantly Green to Go! And of course you'd catch now and then a pedestrian off-guard. And they'd run to cross to get to the other side, lest they get jammed in by the oncoming, slough of cars. This of course being the logical thing to do. While others seemed to have foresight, and be waiting at the corner for the light to turn Green for them to go, and not rushing anything, so as not to be caught in-between.
Sometimes you'd even see people eating this and that as they were moseying across the street on a yellow, and then turn green kind of jumping the gun as they say, then rushing to escape the rush of cars.
So you see, crossing or crisscrossing the streets at a loop, has many variables. And usually when I'd blow the horn, they'd wake up, if half asleep, run to the other side to escape the approaching cars, if indeed this was the case at hand. It's kind of like knowing your rights, and not wanting the other person to violate them, that is to say, if you had, or have the right-of-way.
People around this loop, back in the day-or twenty-two years ago, when this mishap took place, the people were like flocks of quails, and when they'd reach the other side sometimes you'd see a face or two among the other faces, in triumph, especially if they were trying to beat the odds, rushing on a yellow light to join the flock, before the red appeared. And god-forbid it be rush-hour and you find someone playing the suicide game: starting out on a yellow, 'to beat the red!'
This old drunk, the man who stepped off the corner of the sidewalk, who had walked down from a local bar, from up the block, stepped out on a yellow light, unknowingly I believe; looking ahead in his hazy drunken stumper, seeing other folks across the two way, four-lane crossing, and seeing them folks stepping up from a green light, that now was yellow, but perhaps was green when he first saw it-half drunk I should say-it was late Friday afternoon, close to rush-hour, when everyone wants to get home for the weekend, take off early from work. No exception, me too.
He fiddled about in his pocket, I believe he had a pint of whiskey he was feeling for, and to make sure it was still there, what else could it be?
And as in inferred, he looked pretty looped himself, now in the middle of the loop. I told myself as the streetlight as it turned red for him, 'woops, now what?' It was green for the cars, red for the walkway.
There must have been three dozen cars on both sides of the streets, ready to go West from East, it was a four-lane street, two west, two east, I was west, and there were cars to my left, and in front of me, and the drunk was nearly in the middle of the two lanes, some thirty-five feet in front of me, going south from north, and a dozen cars on my side hit their accelerator, steering right towards the drunk, perhaps sixty-years old. What was on his mind? What was the matter with him? He stopped as the cars approached him, was it physical tiredness? I was inclined to stop, he was to my right, and cars now passing me, and now him, cars in front of me and in back of me, he was unsure of his next move, and the cars were unsure of his next move as I was also unsure of his next move and so I stopped right in the middle of the intersection, as now cars circle around me: and the car in back of me stopped also, and the car in back of him, maneuvered around both of us, not knowing why we had stopped, he didn't see the old man, the old man smiled at me, put out his thumb as if in triumph, and as he took a step forward, that car cut his thumb into shreds, with his side mirror, and now the old man froze in place, looking at what was left of his thumb, gushing red, spurting up blood like a flood, or gusher, or what was left of it; had a dog been nearby, he'd had had himself a little jump for an afternoon snack. It was being held by a thread, no more.
Now I drove by him, I knew he'd not move, he was in some kind of monothematic moment: what just happened?
As I drove down to the next stop-and-go-light, I heard a policeman's whistle from behind me... , the rest I assumed, an ambulance would soon be forth coming.

Violin Strings for Beginning Players

Once the parent purchases a violin for your child who is a beginning player, the parent quickly finds out that the violin, bow and case is only the beginning. To allow one's child the richest playing experience - especially if the child is taking lessons in school or studying privately - an additional minimum investment in the proper violin accessories is necessary.
Probably the single most important accessory to purchase is better and additional violin strings. One cannot overstate the importance of good, high-end violin strings, and for a number of reasons. If a parent purchases a beginner violin online or from a private party, odds are that the violin is outfitted with cheap, low-end strings. On the other hand, if a parent purchases a beginner violin from a reputable violin shop, odds are that the violin is outfitted with higher-end strings that are appropriate for that particular violin.
Violin strings come in many, many different qualities and brands and just changing and upgrading the strings can noticeably improve the sound of the violin. The right strings can actually make playing the violin easier for the student; the easier the violin is to play, the more likely it is that the child will continue to play it.
If a parent decides to upgrade the strings for the beginning student, the best thing to do is to take the violin to a local violin shop that not only maintains and repairs violins, but that also sells accessories for the violin. Ask them their advice on which strings are appropriate for the student violin. If you purchased the violin from an online store or a private party, this would be a good time to ask the violin shop if the violin is properly set up for a student player.
Not only will they recommend and restring the violin, but they may also recommend a new bridge, a carved piece of wood that supports the strings on the violin. Adjusting the size and position of the bridge can, like upgrading the strings, make the violin much easier to play, as well as improve the sound of the instrument.
Once the violin is restrung, a parent should not hesitate to ask the violin shop to instruct them on how to restring an instrument, in case that the student breaks a string while playing. This brings up an important point: Make sure that you purchase a backup set of strings to keep in the student's violin case. While a student is learning to play and to tune his or her own instrument, it is very likely a string can break.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

What Do You Do If You "Find a Strad?"

A Stradivarius Violin in Your Attic? How to Know.
It would be a great shock to the world of fine stringed instruments if a lost violin from a great Italian luthier turned up. Many imitations were made 100 years ago.
It is not unusual to come across a violin in someone's attic, at a flea market or any other such corners of life where forgotten items surface. Sometimes the condition of the instrument makes it obvious that a student long ago abandoned the instrument when other pursuits just took over. Other times, the condition of the instrument or its case or something known about the owner - an eccentric uncle with some money, perhaps - lend the situation a bit of excitement.
Could it be? Is it possible? This excitement is heightened even further when a name, presumably of its maker, is on a label or stamped inside the f-hole of the instrument, on the back plate. There it is! It says "Stradivarius"!
Alas, there are many violins that were made toward the end of the Victorian era, in the late 19th century, that were falsely labeled with the names of the fabled great luthiers: Stradivari, Stainer, Guarnerius, Amati or Maggini among them. They were considered of a "student" level of quality at the time, and the ruse of their violin shops was less a lie than homage: the makers were saying the violins were made in the same style or to approximate the physical specifications of the great Italian violinmakers of the earlier era.
Recently, the excitement around the dollar value of antique violins (and violas and cellos) rose considerably, and raised controversy, when Chicago rare violin dealer Jeff Fushi placed the 269-year-old "Vieuxtemps" Guarneri del Gesu up for sale for $18 million in 2010. At last check it has yet to sell, but it illustrates what has happened with rare violins. Over the past 50 years, their value has appreciated 26,000 percent (compared to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which in the same time period has risen a mere 1,400 percent). Indeed, the problem has now arisen that only millionaires and billionaires can afford them. At best, the instruments are loaned to great contemporary players, concertmasters and soloists with the world's top orchestras. Otherwise, they are held as precious investments, perhaps seen by a rarefied group but only infrequently heard.
There are less than one thousand instruments by Guarneri and Stradivari in existence, and the discovery of a lost stringed instrument found by these or other great makers would be exceedingly rare. If you find one of the 19th century imitations, expect its value to be under $1500 (with a few exceptions) and that to restore it to playable condition could easily cost as much money or more. But do not be embarrassed about asking a professional in a shop for fine violins to look at it - they are accustomed to these requests, and are responsible to all ends of the market to encourage a love of violins (and violin playing) while providing a realistic assessment and encouragement. Even the fake "Strads" were once made, sold and purchased with intent to create beautiful music.